List of schools and lineages of Tibetan Buddhism
This is a list of schools and lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. It includes monastic and ngagpa lineages. It includes lineages that are entirely non-Tibetan in their current teaching membership, but which are derived from Tibetan Buddhism.
The diagram to the right shows the growth of Tibetan Buddhist traditions. The four main ones overlap markedly, such that "about eighty percent or more of the features of the Tibetan schools are the same". Differences include the use of apparently, but not actually, contradictory terminology, opening dedications of texts to different deities and whether phenomena are described from the viewpoint of an unenlightened practitioner or of a Buddha. On questions of philosophy they have no fundamental differences, according to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama  The Tibetan adjectival suffix -pa is translatable as "-ist" in English.
These first four major schools are sometimes said to constitute the Nyingma "Old Translation" and Sarma "New Translation" traditions, the latter following from the historical Kadam lineage of translations and tantric lineages. Another common but trivial differentiation is into the Yellow Hat (Gelug) and Red Hat (non-Gelug) sects, a division that mirrors the distinction between the schools involved in the Rimé movement versus the one that did not, the Gelug. The correspondences are as follows:
|Old Translation||New Translation||New Translation||New Translation|
|Red Hat||Red Hat||Red Hat||Yellow Hat|
"The Ancient Ones" are the oldest Buddhist school, the original order founded by Padmasambhava and Śāntarakṣita. Whereas other schools categorize their teachings into the three yānas or "vehicles", Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana, the Nyingma tradition classifies its teachings into Nine Yānas, among the highest of which is Dzogchen. Terma "treasures" (revealed texts) are of particular significance to the Nyingma school.
Nyingma Terma lineages
- Palyul is the seat of the Nam Cho Terma of Terton Migyur Dorje. Its monastery was founded in 1665 by Rigdzen Kunzang Sherab in Derge, on the eastern edge of Tibet, a town in today's Dêgê County, Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China's Sichuan province.
- Longchen Nyingthig is a terma, revealed scripture, of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, which gives a systematic explanation of Dzogchen. It was revealed by Jigme Lingpa (1730–1798).
- Aro gTér is a ngagpa (non-monastic) lineage that was founded in the 1980s by a westerner who adopted the name "Ngakpa Chögyam" and now calls himself "Ngak'chang Rinpoche". All of Aro gTér's contemporary teachers are ethnically non-Tibetan.
“Lineage of the (Buddha's) Word”. This is an oral tradition which is very much concerned with the experiential dimension of meditation. Its most famous exponent was Milarepa, an 11th-century mystic. It contains one major and one minor subsect. The first, the Dagpo Kagyu, encompasses those Kagyu schools that trace back to the Indian master Naropa via Marpa Lotsawa, Milarepa and Gampopa and consists of four major sub-sects: the Karma Kagyu, headed by a Karmapa, the Tsalpa Kagyu, the Barom Kagyu, and Pagtru Kagyu. There are a further eight minor sub-sects, all of which trace their root to Pagtru Kagyu and the most notable of which are the Drikung and Drukpa Lineages. The once-obscure Shangpa Kagyu, which was famously represented by the 20th century teacher Kalu Rinpoche, traces its history back to the Indian master Naropa via Niguma, Sukhasiddhi and Kyungpo Naljor.
The "Grey Earth" school represents the scholarly tradition. Headed by the Sakya Trizin, this tradition was founded by Khön Könchok Gyelpo (Wylie: 'khon dkon mchog rgyal po, 1034–1102), a disciple of the great lotsāwa Drogmi Shākya (Wylie: brog mi lo tsā wa ye shes) and traces its lineage to the mahasiddha Virūpa. A renowned exponent, Sakya Pandita (1182–1251CE), was the great-grandson of Khön Könchok Gyelpo.
The "Way of Virtue" school was originally a reformist movement and is known for its emphasis on logic and debate. The order was founded in the 14th to 15th century by Je Tsongkhapa, renowned for both his scholarship and virtue. Its spiritual head is the Ganden Tripa.
The Jonang is a minor school that branched off from Sakya traditions; it was suppressed in 1650 in Gelug-controlled regions and subsequently banned and its monks and nuns converted to the Gelug school in 1658.
The Jonang re-established their religio-political center in Golok, Nakhi and Mongol areas in Kham and Amdo centered at Dzamthang Monastery and have continued practicing uninterrupted to this day. An estimated 5,000 monks and nuns of the Jonang tradition practice today in these areas and at the edges of historic Gelug influence.
However, their teachings were limited to these regions until the Rimé movement of the 19th century encouraged the study of non-Gelug schools of thought and practice. In modern times has been encouraged to grow by the 14th Dalai Lama, who installed the 9th Jebtsundamba Khutughtu as its head.
- Introductory Comparison of the Five Tibetan Traditions of Buddhism and Bon, http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/study/comparison_buddhist_traditions/tibetan_traditions/intro_compar_5_traditions_buddhism_bon.html, Retrieved 31.07.2013
- http://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=The_four_main_schools_of_Tibetan_Buddhism, retrieved 31.07.2013
- Berzin. Alexander (2000). Introductory History of the Five Tibetan Traditions of Buddhism and Bon: Berzinarchives.com
- Kagyuoffice.org Archived 2013-05-11 at the Wayback Machine. See section: The Nine Yana Journey
- Zagpo, Ven. Tsering Lama jampal (1988). A Garland of Imortal Wish-fulfilling Trees: The Palyul Tradition Of Nyingmapa. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 0-937938-64-5.
- Cousens 2010, p. 196.
- Gruschke 2001, p.72; and A. Gruschke, "Der Jonang-Orden: Gründe für seinen Niedergang, Voraussetzungen für das Überdauern und aktuelle Lage", in: Henk Blezer (ed.), Tibet, Past and Present. Tibetan Studies I (Proceedings of the Ninth Seminar of The IATS, 2000), Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden 2002, pp. 183-214