13 votes
Accepted

What teachings do all schools of Buddhism share?

There is an existent reference to the similarities between Theravāda & Mahāyāna which I will cite: (I think it also applies to Vajrayāna although I may be wrong in this regard.) Whatever our ...
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  • 3,726
13 votes

Are Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism the same thing?

No they are not the same, Tibetan Buddhism is a broader concept that subsumes Tibetan Vajrayana. Also, there's non-Tibetan Vajrayana, some still practiced in e.g. Japan. To some degree all schools ...
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  • 55.4k
10 votes
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Are there any cultural or religious guidelines for Buddhist tattoos?

Japan- tattoos are taboo in general, since the assumption only criminals, prostitutes and other low class sorts have tattoos. I think it would be hard to distinguish a religious from a classist ...
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8 votes

According to Buddha's characteristics and teaching in Pali Canon, could he have taught Vajrayana (and Karmamudra)?

According to the early texts the Buddha didn't have any secret teachings. Somewhere in the Digha Nikaya (I think it's in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, but it's a very long Sutta and I can't quite locate ...
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  • 7,376
8 votes

Finding The Right Buddhist "Vehicle" / Sect For An Individual

Demographically the majority of Buddhists today (nearly 99%) are born in Asia into Buddhists families and would likely follow their family or local tradition. But assuming your question is regarding ...
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  • 9,482
7 votes

What are the main differences between the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana branches of Buddhism?

This question, indeed, requires a whole book in order to be answered completely. Let me address only Theravada and Mahayana here. In two words: The most important aspect is that Theravada is focused ...
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7 votes

Are Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism the same thing?

Vajrayana was practiced in China, Vietnam and Korea. This is often called esoteric Buddhism. Kukyo brought esoteric Buddhist to Japan and founded the Shingon sect. In Russia (well, Kalmykia and ...
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7 votes

Sutras in Western Buddhism?

I practice with the Triratna Buddhists which is an explicit attempt to bring Buddhism into the Western context. It is ecumenical so brings in all traditions so for me this question is very interesting....
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6 votes

What teachings do all schools of Buddhism share?

As well as the list which is quoted in Unrul3r's answer there are, also, three other lists included on Wikipedia's Basic points unifying Theravāda and Mahāyāna article. A less canonical list was ...
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  • 43.4k
5 votes

Buddhas of The Ten Directions

Firstly, what are the 10 directions: "Specifically, the ten directions are the eight directions of the compass—north, south, east, west, northwest, northeast, southeast, and southwest—plus up ...
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5 votes

What is a refuge tree?

My understanding of a refuge tree is a visual representation of a lineage of a particular school of Buddhism. From Wikipedia the lineage of gurus and transmission of teachings is depicted in ...
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  • 20.9k
5 votes

Which Buddha do Buddhists take refuge in?

I think both interpretations should be somewhat intertwined and doesn't need to be clearly distinguished. See, you'll not say 'I only take refuge in Gautama Buddha, but not Buddhahood', or 'I will ...
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  • 1,991
5 votes

How do Buddhists use mudras?

In Vajrayana every practice is done on 3 levels - on the level of body, speech and mind. We work with the mind through visualising the Buddha forms, the speech centre is exercised through mantra ...
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  • 2,756
5 votes
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Distinction between Dharmaguptaka and Mahayana

The Dharmaguptaka school was one of the old 18 to 20 early schools of Buddhism that arose before the arrival of Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism is really just a blanket term we use to refer to ...
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  • 7,376
5 votes

How does Buddhism reconcile evolution with reincarnation?

It's important to keep in mind the true pupose of a reincarnated Teacher: "As long as sentient being remain, may I too remain and dispel the miseries of the world". If there was no one left, then the ...
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  • 9,628
4 votes

What are the main differences between the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana branches of Buddhism?

As @bytebuster said, this could take an expert a book to answer. But in the spirit of constructive collaboration, let me throw in my two cents: In Theravada, the focus is on escaping from Samsara to ...
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4 votes
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How does Shambhala differ from traditional Vajrayana Buddhism as it is practiced in Asia?

In the editor's preface of my copy of Trungpa's 'Shambhala - The Sacred Path of the Warrior' it is claimed (and I do well agree with that), that the Shambhala teaching is "a major departure" from ...
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  • 1,544
4 votes

Are there any cultural or religious guidelines for Buddhist tattoos?

Beyond culture, and more towards the philosophy of Buddhism, if you look up the 'Eight Percepts', you will notice that number seven mentions abstainment from cosmetics, jewelry, etc.. Yes, this ...
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  • 141
4 votes
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What are the core Mahayana and Vajrayana Sutras?

I think your question is much larger than can be answered with just three texts. Mahāyāna is not one thing, it is many Prajñāpāramitā, Madhyamaka, Pure Land, Yogacāra, Chan/Zen, Huayen etc. Similarly ...
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  • 4,247
4 votes
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What is a wrathful Buddha?

Wrathful Buddhas (or wrathful gurus for that matter) are not actually angry, in the way untrained people are. In Vajrayana before we even reach highest tantra, we learn to transmute emotions. If you ...
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  • 55.4k
3 votes

What is a refuge tree?

Refuge tree is a visual representation of the objects of refuge. All the Buddhist schools take refuge in Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) but in Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners also take ...
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  • 2,756
3 votes
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Green Tara Light?

In the theory of Five Buddha Families, green light is associated with Karma-family, which is where Green Tara comes from. The family of Karma-Buddhas, green, in its neurotic aspect stands for a ...
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  • 55.4k
3 votes

Sutras in Western Buddhism?

Since the question is broad my answer is opinionated towards the Theravada tradition. Main aspect of Buddhism is that your practice should cover the 8 fold path (which is part of Bodhipakkhiyādhammā)...
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3 votes

Buddhas of The Ten Directions

The notion of Buddhas of the 10 directions is used to depict the first Jewel - Buddha - in some refuge trees. (In the picture below on the left one can see a circle of 10 Buddhas) Some refuge trees ...
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  • 2,756
3 votes
Accepted

Vajrayana Buddhism relies on a teacher-pupil relationship. What in tradition or the literature explains how to find the appropriate teacher?

"The Words of My Perfect Teacher" by Patrul Rinpoche has a chapter (Ch. 6) on how to choose, test and follow a "spiritual friend" (teacher): pure, never having contravened any of the commitments or ...
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  • 55.4k
3 votes
Accepted

What is a Vajrasattva?

Vajrasattva is a specific bodhisattva, not another word for "bodhisattva." In esoteric traditions Vajrasattva is invoked as a counter measure to unwholesome actions. Esoteric traditions, and Tibetan ...
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3 votes

How do Buddhists use mudras?

Since this question has sat for 3 weeks without anyone attempting an answer, I will try to add something that may perhaps point the questioner in a good direction. Mudras seem to be used mainly by the ...
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