meindzai wrote:It's hard to be any kind of Buddhist I think without being seen as identified with the Dalai Lama in some way. Most people don't know that there are different types of Buddhism. He ends up serving as a representative of Buddhism, though rather inadvertently.
I think Tibetan Buddhism is a little weird but I think he's a wonderful person. I did get a chance to see him speak a few years back to a general audience. Most of what he said was so basic that it really did not have anything to do with any particular school. When I say basic I don't even mean "four noble truths" basic, I mean like "doing good things is good," "loving kindness is good," etc.
Why is it weird?
(I have no problem answering Wadey's question here.)
TB has a lot of ritual and mythology associated with it that IMO have more to do with Tibet than with Buddhism. It tends to wind it's way around the dharma in rather complex and ornate ways, sometimes ensnaring it's practitioners into a kind of magical thinking, much of which bears little resemblance to what the Buddha taught, and some that he explicitly warned against (such as fortune telling). A lot of it is representative of pre-Buddhist Shamanism.
Having said that, the practice has produced a very rich body of writings with a lot of food for thought (like Chogyam Trungpa), compassionate monks and meditation masters. Their emphasis on compassion is (to me) pretty inspiring. I really like Shantideva's "The Bodhisattva Way of Life," as it makes some very good points (pretty logically argued) about how to practice compassion. This is not a Tibetan work per se but it is preserved in that tradition with many commentaries by Tibetan masters, including the Dalai Lama himself.
So, to me, a bit weird, but not bad weird. It often strikes me as somewhat experimental in a sense and I kind of see it as the Research and Development branch of Buddhism. They occasionally produce some real gems, but overall the practice is not for me.