What Is The Meaning Of Lama In Tibetan Buddhism-Explore Tibet.

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Monks in Tibet

“Lama” is the Tibetan term used to translate the Sanskrit” Guru”,which simply means “Spiritual Teacher”. Thus a Lama is someone who is qualified to guide others along the path to enlightenment. A Lama need not to be a monk, and most monks are not Lamas. Some of the greatest Lamas in the Tibetan Tradition, Padmasambhava ( Guru Rinpoche),Marpa,Milarepa,Kunga Nyingpo, Drom Tonpa etc for the example,took no monastic vows and lived as laymen and Yogis. The term for a monk in Tibetan is Trapa not Lama. Moreover to call Tibetan Buddhism” Lamaism” is also a misuse of words. The Tibetans call ” The Dharma of the Insiders”( a term used by Buddhists throughout Asia). Lamaism was a term coined by Western scholars and gives the impression that Tibetan Buddhism is something at odds with ” Orthodox”Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism , the spiritual teacher plays a very prominent role,especially in the Vajrayana. Before embarking upon a tantric practice it is necessary to find a qualified guide who is willing to initiate you into the mandala of an appropriate deity and instruct you in the subsequent stages of meditation. Such a teacher will henceforth be considered your Lama and you will be expected to devote yourself wholehearted to his or her instructions. This special role of Lama in the Vajrayana has been applied throughout the whole of Tibetan Buddhism,giving a strong devotional quality to the religion. The term “Lama” also has some specialized usages. If you go to a monastery and ask how many Lamas are there, you will be told,perhaps, that there are two.This would mean that the monastery honors within its ranks two lines of reincarnating teachers. This system of recognizing the reincarnations of particularly great teachers dates from the end of the twelfth century when a great master called Karmapa declared that he would deliberately take rebirth in Tibet and a few years later a young boy was subsequently recognized as his successor, Most monasteries of any standing traditionally had at least one such great Lama and sometime there would be two or three Lamas for those larger monasteries. These men( rare cases it would be women) would serve not as abbot,which is more a post within the monastic administration but as the spiritual head of the monastery. such Lamas are also referred to by the titles of “Tulku” and “Rinpoche”.