Sample Religious Studies Essay Paper on Vajrayana Buddhism

Similar types of beliefs are interpreted differently leading to the rise of different denominations of religions. The denominations of a given religion have similar general believes but have different practices and interpretations of the faith. For instance, many interpretations of Christian beliefs led to the rise of Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodox denominations among others. Similarly, Islam has two groups, including the Sunni and Shiite groups. In the case of Buddhism, the two major groups are the Mahayana and the Theravada, which developed in the early years of the faith, Vajrayana Buddhism emerged from the Mahayana. It is believed that the mentioned branch of Buddhism developed in India and the neighboring regions such as Tibet in China. The term “Vajrayana” is of importance to the history of Buddhism as it underlined the shift to the enactment of Buddhist ideas and practices in people’s daily lives. At times, it is referred to as Mantrayana meaning the use of the mantra to focus the mind.

From a philosophical viewpoint, Vajrayana Buddhism entails ideas of the Yogachara discipline that stresses the mind’s ultimacy as well as the Madhyamika philosophy or discipline that reject efforts to consider a relativistic principle as the ultimate. Vajrayana also helps its followers to deal with inner experiences. It encompasses symbolic language texts that help in evoking valuable experiences within and amongst followers. This way, Vajrayana Buddhism aims at recapturing the enlightenment experience of the Buddha that is widely talked about in the history of Buddhism. That is, Vajrayana is majorly based on a ritual and complex philosophical system that offers a path to enlightenment.

Vajrayana Buddhism is believed to have developed around the sixth and seventh century CE in India and regions such as Tibet hence the name Tibetan Buddhism. The emergence of the denomination came as a result of the incorporation of Tantric ideas into Buddhist teachings in the higher educational institutions in Northern India. The new tradition (Vajrayana Buddhism) gradually spread to other areas such as the Himalayas and eventually reached Tibet in 747 CE. An Indian Monk known as Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche played a major role in the spread of the tradition to Tibet. In the new region, the faith grew gradually and later became one of the most dominant factions of Buddhism. It later spread to Japan, China, and Mongolia.

Followers of Vajrayana Buddhism believe in venerated deities which include Buddhas, female Buddhas who are also referred to as Dakinis, as well as fierce deities who are mainly considered protectors. In the tradition, Bodhisattvas are also venerated and are key figures or individuals who are known for their achievement of high levels of enlightenment and focus on benefiting others around them. One of the most important concepts in Vajrayana Buddhism is Karma. The concept means that every individual and his or her actions are interconnected and to some extent related to the universe. The notion also defines morality and ethics and stresses that suffering is as a result of holding on to experiences and things that are not permanent. Another major belief of Vajrayana is samsara whereby life is regarded as a stage in a continuous cycle of births and rebirths.

Different religions have multiple denominations. Vajrayana is a denomination of Buddhism. It originated in India and gradually spread to other regions, including Japan and China. Vajrayana Buddhists believe in Karma, which means that actions have consequences and are connected to the universe. The adherents of the mentioned denomination believe that it grants them a path to enlightenment.