From the perspective of the difference in Buddhist doctrine, Tibetan Buddhism practices both Sutra and Tantra but focuses more on Tantra. The Buddhism introduced to Tibet from the northwest of my country belonged to Mahayana Buddhism, and the Buddhism introduced from India and Nepal belonged to Hinayana Buddhism. The so-called Mahayana, in layman’s terms, means to save all sentient beings and advocates full participation in life, while Hinayana is relative to Mahayana and overemphasizes personal practice.
Therefore, after integrating the teachings of Mahayana and Mahayana, Tibetan Buddhism has formed its own characteristics: comprehensive participation in social, political and economic life, while emphasizing personal tantric practice. In fact, Tibetan Buddhism emphasizes Tantra, which is closely related to the influence of Bon religion, which emphasizes witchcraft.
The distinctive feature of Tibetan Buddhism is the original reincarnation system of living Buddhas and the participation of many schools in local political activities, and finally the establishment of a local government that integrated politics and religion.
Since the 10th century AD, Tibetan Buddhism has successively formed the Nyingma sect, Sakya sect, Kadam sect, Kagyu sect and Gelug sect. The Gelug sect, which originated from the Kadam sect, eventually unified all regions and became the mainstream sect. Because the monks of this sect wear yellow hats, some people call Tibetan Buddhism the Yellow Sect. In addition, Tibetan Buddhism is also commonly known as Lamaism. Lama means “guru” in Tibetan, which means living Buddha. It refers to a senior monk who has practiced to a very high level. However, Tibetan Buddhist monks are generally called lama now, which is an honorific title.
After the 10th century AD, with the beginning of the “Later Propagation Period” of Tibetan Buddhism, many sects emerged one after another. The early ones included the Nyingma Sect (commonly known as the “Red Sect”), the Sakya Sect (commonly known as the “Flower Sect”), the Karma Sect Dang sect, Kagyu sect (commonly known as “Bai Jiao”), etc. At the beginning of the 15th century, Tsongkhapa implemented religious reforms and founded the Gelug Sect (commonly known as the “Yellow Sect”). In addition, there are some independent sects of Tibetan Buddhism: Xixue sect, Xijie sect, Jueyu sect, Juenang sect, Kuozha sect, Xialu sect, etc.