In a letter that was published in the Buddhist journal, "The Middle Way", His Holiness the Dalai Lama said:

"...I am happy and inspired that in the course of our exile many Tibetan scholars and lamas have been contributing their knowledge and experience to individuals and institutions alike. Many of them have migrated to the West, where they have founded Dharma centres. I would like to stress here the immense importance of adopting a non-sectarian attitude in running these centres, as well as in practicing the teachings. It is utterly disheartening to see that owing to a superficial knowledge of Buddhism as practiced in Tibet a number of followers are very sectarian. This is an absolute contradiction to the basic teaching of The Dharma. Not only must we respect equally the different sects and schools within Buddhism itself which are fundamentally the same and taught by the same Teacher, but we must show equal respect to other religions as well." His Holiness the Dalai Lama has mode this appeal, and it is essential to bear this in mind in practicing the Dharma. All four schools of Tibetan Buddhism Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu and Geluk - possess authentic lineages going back to Sakyamuni Buddha. The difference occurs in that each school stresses a different approach. The initial experience towards enlightenment is the same for all.

The work of spreading the Dharma in the West has been shared by all Four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism. His Holiness Karmapa has travelled extensively, and given tirelessly of himself to the many Dharma students who revere him. Dujom Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma order, has done the same. H.H. Sakya Trizin, visited the West last year. His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited England and Europe in 1973. He is expected in the West some time this year. In Europe, Kalu Rinpoche and Geshe Rabten, both high lamas, have many devoted students. Both lamas have written manuals of the introductory practices. In America, Tarthang Tulku, and Chogyam Rinpoche have Dharma centres. They too have written books more in keeping with the modern approach of America. In Scotland, Akong Rinpoche, is abbot of Samye Ling, the oldest centre in the West. Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa have been the spiritual directors of "Manjushri Institute" another major Dharma centre.

The scholars of old in Tibet had the following statement among themselves about the Four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism:

"The Nyingma has paved the road for the Dharma teachings in Tibet. The Kadampas were the source of hundred thousand upholders of the teachings. The Sakyapas explained the complete teachings of the Dharma. The Kagyupas offered a special path for the incomparable master meditator. Je Tsongkhapa was the son of the expounders of the excellent doctrine."


Chogyam Trungpa, meditation master in the U.S., has said this about the Four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism:

"The Four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism were integrated in the work of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great in the nineteenth century. Ordained Kagyupa and initiated into the other three schools, he collected works of mediation practice of all the schools as well as instructing students of different schools in accordance with their own backgrounds, His collected works, which together consist of 101 volumes, is the most inclusive work on the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, containing many teachings that would otherwise have been lost. Jamgon Kongtrul the Great presented the teachings in terms of the psychological development of the individual through the various yanas from Hinayana through Mahayana, Mahamudra and Maha Ati. Despite criticism of his ecumenical approach, he remains the embodiment of the esoteric and intellectual tradition of the Tibetan Buddhism." Sakyamuni Buddha said that he held nothing within a closed fist. By holding sectarian views, one is far from the great openness of the Buddha.

Sheila Fugard