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Traditions of Buddhism

Similarities and differences of the various Buddhist traditions

A talk given at Drepung Loseling School, Mundgod, South India, by invitation of Geshe Damdul, Principal of the monastic school at Drepung Loseling Monastery. Geshe Damdul translated the talk into Tibetan for the monks.


  • Drepung Loseling School welcomes Venerable Thubten Chodron (English and Tibetan)

Similarities and differences: Introduction (download)

Dispelling myths

  • Experience connecting with practitioners who represent the various traditions
  • Dispelling myths about differences in scriptures, practices, vows, and prayers between traditions
  • Variations in the color and style of robes

Similarities and differences: Part 1 (download)

Differences and similarities

  • Lay respect for the sangha in the various traditions
  • The basis of the Tulku system in Tibetan culture, rather than in the Vinaya
  • Differences in personal grooming, acquiring and eating food, and handling money

Similarities and differences: Part 2 (download)

Differences and similarities, continued

  • Differences in terms of eating meat and meal frequency
  • Variations in the ability to have money for personal requisites
  • Similarities and differences in practices such as prayers, chanting, meditation, and prostrations
  • Respect for His Holiness the Dalai Lama throughout the traditions

Similarities and differences: Part 3 (download)

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.