6. Tibetan Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna

  1. Steven M. Emmanuel
  1. Douglas Duckworth

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch6

A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy

A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy

How to Cite

Duckworth, D. (2013) Tibetan Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna, in A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy (ed S. M. Emmanuel), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch6

Author Information

  1. East Tennessee State University, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470658772

Online ISBN: 9781118324004



  • Madhyamaka;
  • pantheism;
  • philosophical Vajrayāna;
  • tantra;
  • Tibetan Mahāyāna


The culminating philosophy and practice for Buddhist traditions in Tibet is what is found in tantra, or Vajrayāna. Yet Tibet is unique in the Buddhist world in that it is a place where not only the traditions of tantra are practiced, but where the epistemological traditions of valid cognition and what came to be known as Prāsaṅgika-Madhyamaka also took root. This chapter briefly surveys a range of ways in which Madhyamaka is represented in Tibet. Madhyamaka takes the place of the highest philosophical view among Tibetan Buddhist sects, and seeing how different traditions formulate the view of Madhyamaka is an important part of understanding how these traditions relate to tantra and negotiate the relationship between Madhyamaka and Vajrayāna. Vajrayāna in Tibet is pantheist to the core, for, in its most profound expressions all dualities between the divine and the world are radically undone.