Nepal Trekkings

Travel Guide

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Design your own tour with our help to meet your unique interests, we never force our customers to follow our set itinerary rather we prefer to follow the idea suggested by our clients & arrange the trips accordingly.

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Religion and Culture

Religion:

  • Tibetan Buddhism is divided into schools which have different philosophical emphasis rather than fundamental differences
  • Virtually all temples and monasteries are aligned with a specific school although visible differences are few

Buddhism: A Brief Introduction
Buddhism is one of the most tolerant of religions – everywhere it went it adapted to local conditions, yet the basic tenets have remained the same and all schools are bound together in their faith in the value of the teachings of Shakyamuni. The Buddha is the archetype of the enlightened consciousness who, by attaining his own awakening as the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, proved that enlightenment bodhi was possible for all sentient beings. In brief, Buddhism teaches that all life is essentially suffering, an endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth that can only be broken by attaining Nirvana. This can only be achieved by loosing desire for all things of the world. Nirvana means cessation or to extinguish – liberation from the cycle of rebirth and should not be equated with a western ‘heaven’ concept. An essential concept is the interconnectedness of all things; the Buddha concept of the universe is often depicted as a net of jewels: each jewel endlessly reflecting the totality of reality.

There are two principal schools of Buddhism.
The Hinayana or Theravada (Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka) originated in Sri Lanka. The earliest available teachings of the Buddha are to be found in Pali literature and belong to the school of the Theravadins, who may be called the most orthodox school of Buddhism. This school admits the human characteristics of the Buddha, and is characterized by a psychological understanding of human nature; and emphasizes a meditative approach to the transformation of consciousness. The teaching of the Buddha according to this school is very plain. He asks us to ‘abstain from all kinds of evil, to accumulate all that is good and to purify our mind’. These can be accomplished by The Three Trainings: the development of ethical conduct, meditation and insight-wisdom.

The Mahayana (Nepal, China, Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan, Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan, Japan) elevates compassion to an all important ideal and teaches that perfection for the individual is not possible without perfection for all, and that many of those who have already attained enlightenment would remain in the world as bodhisattvas to help others. Over time bodhisattvas came to be ascribed miraculous powers and were worshipped in a manner very similar to traditional ancestor worship.

Buddhism in Tibet
Tibetans first came into contact with Buddhism when they occupied the oasis cities of Central Asia. In the 8th century, the first of many missionary monks (Padmasambhava/Guru Rinpoche) arrived and the country's first monastery was established in 787. However, despite some early success Buddhism soon went into decline due to opposition from Bon, the indigenous religion, and political turmoil. In the 10th century monks from India and Tibetans going to India re-introduced the religion together with many aspects of Indian civilization and it soon began to flourish. As Tantra was the main type of Buddhism in India at the time, it was that which became established in Tibet.

From the 7th century a new tradition of Buddhism began to develop that was in several important respects radically different from the earlier traditions. This new tradition incorporated Tantric elements and is known as Vajrayana (diamond or thunderbolt vehicle). Tantrayana is characterized by an emphasis on the value of magic and the propitiation of the bodhisattvas and gods in the quest for Nirvana. It is an esoteric and ritualistic doctrine that incorporates the use of rituals, sacred gestures, symbols, mantras and visualization to achieve realization.

The fundamental precepts of Tibetan Buddhism are:
Refuge in the ‘Three Precious Jewels’ - the Buddha (Shakyamuni), Dharma (his teaching) and Sangha (the monastic community)
‘Bodhicitta’ – the fervent wish for the salvation of all living things and the desire to free them from their worldly suffering.
‘Altruism’ – a dedication to bring happiness to others.

Culture

History & Politics:

  • What is commonly referred to today as Tibet is the Chinese designated 'Tibet Autonomous Region' (TAR).
  • This region represents only a portion of historic Tibet which incorporated the entire expanse of the Tibetan plateau.
  • To gain a true appreciation of the country an understanding of its political past and present is necessary. We recommend that all our travellers try to gain an insight into the country's political history before arriving in Tibet.
  • Avoid demonstrating obvious pro-Tibetan political sympathies as it could land you in trouble.

People:

  • Tibetans are very curious and may stare at you or want to look at your guidebooks. Be polite and patient and you may find the experience rewarding.
  • Tibet observes the Buddhist tradition of begging for alms. You will probably find yourself approached many times but they are rarely pushy and do not target foreigners any more than locals.

Cultural groups:

  • Tibetans
    Like almost all ethnic groups in China Tibetans belong to the Mongoloid group of peoples. They are probably descended from a variety of nomadic tribes who migrated from the north and settled into sedentary cultivation of Tibet’s river valleys. Within the Tibetan population there are a number of distinct groups.
  • Drokpa
    The nomads who comprise approximately one quarter of Tibet’s population.
  • Khampa
    The most visually distinct of Tibet’s peoples, the Khampa of eastern Tibet wear red or black tassels in their long hair and are usually a heavier build than other Tibetans.
  • Golok
    The Golok are an independently minded nomadic people who have maintained their distinctive cultural traditions for centuries. Their homeland is the Golok Tibetan Autonomous Region of Qinghai Province centered on the holy mountain Amnye Machen.
  • Hui
    Tibet’s original Muslims were largely traders (or butchers). Most recent immigrants are traders and restaurant owners from Gansu.