5 Teachings of Tibetan Monks (Minus the Trek Through the Himalayas!)

Tibetan Buddhism is the most practiceD form of Buddhism in western cultures.

Elements of this branch of Buddhism have woven their important message into our everyday, and its teachings are intrinsic with other spiritual pursuits like yoga and meditation.

There’s a good chance that if you’ve ever done a mindfulness exercise, read anything by the Dalai Lama, or practiced present-moment living; you’ve lightly dabbled in Tibetan Buddhism yourself, without even knowing it!

Unlike many religions, the Buddha is not regarded as a God as much as he is looked at as an example for those following the teachings. 

The Buddha was able to be one with this mortal plane, yet see the enlightenment within himself. 

Tibetan Buddhism generally outlines that we, as humans, are basically good.

If you’re ready to further your self-awareness, embrace everything as it is more fully, and unveil compassion within yourself you never dreamed imaginable… 

Join us for a climb through the Himalayas, to discover the principles the Tibetan monks structure their beautiful existence around.

So, first up, let’s get schooled on the four pillars of Tibetan Buddhism before hitting the highway to enlightenment:

4. Old School (Nyingma)

Nyingma, (which is also super fun to say!) translates to “ancient” and was one of the first schools of Buddhism that wasn’t from India, but instead originated in Tibet. 

Those who practice under the Nyingma school seek an understanding of the natural mind.

Dzogchen (the great perfection)

is the main practice of the Nyingma school.
This practice is designed to help you cut through your everyday mind to reach the true nature of the mind.

This natural mind is where you can find essential purity and spontaneity which can be obstructed by the negativity and negative emotions of the everyday mind.

3. Transcending the Ego (Kagyu)

This school of Buddhism is all about grinding out your ego. 

Six Dharmas make up the yoga practices of the Kagyu school: 

The yoga of inner heat, of illusory body, of the radiant light, of the dream state, of the in-between, and yoga of the transference of consciousness.

Kagyu helps you develop a single-pointedness of the mind...

A transcendence of all conceptual elaboration, an understanding that all phenomena are of a single taste and the fruition of the path. 

2. The Ultimate Acceptance (Sakya)

The Tibetan word for “gray earth”, Sakya is far from a gray area, with an emphasis on reincarnation. 

Sakya teaches you to not cling to this life, but rather to detach yourself from your own interests to lead your mind to awakening. 

It is important under these teachings that you are free from these bonds, because if you hold a position, you don’t have the correct view.  

Break free of what is holding you back and you’ll truly see the world for what it is.

1. Detachment Abounds (Gelug)

The newest school in Tibetan Buddhism has a focus on a correct view of emptiness, the intention to leave cyclic existence, and an intention to attain awakening for all sentient beings. 

The Gelug school focuses on insight meditation, and being present only in the activity one is engaged in.

So, now that you’ve been schooled... 

What does it all really mean? What do the Tibetan monks believe?

There are varied beliefs in Tibetan Buddhism, but all the teachings and practices are mostly based on The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eight Fold Path.

foundations of the tibetan buddhist monks

5. Mantras

You know that song you play on repeat over and over again until it seems to become part of your soul?

Well, that’s a kind of mantra. 

Said to represent enlightenment, these repeated words are used in meditation and are syllables or words that are changed repetitively.

4. Reincarnation

Rebirth and reincarnation are foundational pillars of Tibetan Buddhism.

Where you are reborn depends on how your karma stands on different realms of existence. 

Possible realms for rebirth include: the animal realm, the human realm, the godly realm and the ghost realm.

If you have committed a lot of bad karma in this life, you will be reborn into a lower realm to face the consequences of your bad karma. 

Reincarnation is viewed as a choice, rather than rebirth being an involuntary process.

3. Meditation

Meditation is essential to the practice of Buddhism and it is used to practice all of the teachings and to find enlightenment.

During meditation, you can focus on a mantra, or a flame, incense smoke, or your breathing. 

The purpose of meditation is to still and calm your mind, while pinpointing your focus onto one thing.

2. Karma

Everybody's thought about karma at one time or another: 

When your ex-partner who cheated gets cheated on, you call it karma. When you see a sports car race ahead of you, only to be shut down by a well-timed red light, you call it karma. When the guy you hate at work runs into a shelf, you call it karma.

In terms of Tibetan Buddhism, however, karma is not only consequence or cause and effect, but is looked at as the flow of every action by every living being. 

Karma can move slowly following the initial event, or be an immediate reaction to an action- but is always seen as a chain or flow of events. 

The more good you can put into the world, the more good will come back into your life...  

So pay for the guy behind you at the drive-through, hold a door open for a stranger, compliment the cashier's nails... Go forth into the world and do good.

1. Mandalas

Mandalas are spiritual art pieces created by monks to represent the cosmos.

These pieces of art take weeks of work and multiple artists to make, and are made of colored sand. 

Rituals are conducted throughout the production of the mandala. 

Mandalas often symbolize the cycle of existence; and as such, much to the fascination of onlookers, are always swept away after the completion of each piece.

We could all learn a little about balance from these sage devotees of Tibetan Buddhism. 

The good news is, however, that you don’t need to give up all your worldly belongings, shave your head, don saffron robes and live out your days at a monastery to experience the bliss and peace of Tibetan Buddhist ideals.

By simply adopting some of their ways of life and thought processes, you can make significant changes to your spiritual consciousness and uncover your most tranquil, content self.

So channel the quiet, steady teachings of Tibetan monks to find your inner peace and power within, breaking down any negativity on your noble path toward enlightenment...


Melisa Suchy
Incense Falls Wellness Contributor

Meditate with the Little Monk

Tap into the tranquility of Tibet without the trek through the Himalayas with the Little Monk burner from Incense Falls...


Incense Falls Little Monk

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