The main religion in Tibet has been Buddhism since its outspread in the 8th century AD. The historical region of Tibet (the areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetans) is nowadays mostly comprised by the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, and partly by the provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan. Before the arrival of Buddhism, the main religion among Tibetans was an indigenous shamanic and animistic religion, Bon, which now comprises a sizeable minority and which would later influence the formation of Tibetan Buddhism.
The religion of Tibet is mainly composed of the Bonismo, Tibetan Buddhism and folk religion, as well as Islam and Catholicism. There are more than 1700 Tibetan Buddhist temples in the Tibet Autonomous region, with about 46,000 monks and nuns living in the monasteries; about 88 Bon religion temples, more than 3000 monks, 93 living Buddhas and over 130,000 religious believers; And 4 mosques with more than 3000 followers of Islam; A Catholic church, more than 700 believers.
In terms of geographical distribution, they have different degrees of social influence in different regions of Tibet, and the existence of folk religions has even been neglected by many people. From the perspective of religious taxonomy, Tibetan Buddhism, Bon religion, Islam and Catholicism belong to theological religions, while folk religions lack systematic theory, and there are no special venues and professional religious groups. Islam and Catholicism in Tibet are relatively small, and their influence is limited to local areas. In the encirclement of many theological religions, folk religion still has certain influence in Tibetan folk, especially in remote areas.
Religions in Tibet have different stories due to its long history, but generally it is categorized by three main religions as Animism, Bon and Buddhism. The Animism subjects to the control of animistic forces by bards and storytellers, and Bon emphasizes the purity of space, funerary rituals and certain meditative practices, that may have originated in either Zoroastrianism or Kashmiri Buddhism, and Buddhist is the means of liberation from the sufferings of cyclic existence as originated from ancient India by Shakyamuni Buddha or Gautama Buddha.
1. Bon Religion
Bon is the indigenous religion of the Tibetans of the ancient Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. As a shamanistic religion, it is characterized by mystic rituals, spells, sacrifices, and spirit manipulation. This religion involves much emphasis on meditative practice. It was the major religion of the people of Tibet before Buddhism found its way in the 7th century and has significant influence on Tibetan Buddhism. The current traditions of Buddhism such as prayer wheels, sky burials, prayer flags, spirit traps, festival dances, and rubbing holy stones have all come from the Bon religion.
2. Tibetan Buddhism
The origin of Tibetan Buddhism can be traced back to the ancient Shang Shung dynasty(古象雄王朝) more than 18,000 years ago. Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Tibetan Language Buddhism, or Lamaism, refers to the branch of Buddhism introduced into Tibet, China. It belongs to North Buddhism, is called the three major geographical system of Buddhism with Han Buddhism and south Buddhism, belonging to Mahayana Buddhism, but with the main characteristics of tantric inheritance. The spread of Tibetan Buddhism is concentrated in Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Yunnan, Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan, India’s Himachal Pradesh, Ladak and Dharamsala, and Kalmyk in Russia, Tuva and Buriat. In modern times, Tibetan Buddhism has been gradually spread all over the world.
Zhang Zhung Culture象雄文化
Zhang Zhung culture is the traditional culture of the Tibetan people, also known as the basic culture of Tibet, the trace of ancient Zhang Zhung culture runs through every aspect of Tibet. From production to life, from folklore to belief, there is the shadow of Zhang Zhung culture everywhere. For example, worship of mountain gods, walking around the mountains and other religious ceremonies are all derived from the culture of Zhang Zhung.
Ancient Zhang Zhung Buddhist Dharma occupies a supreme position in the ancient Zhang Zhung traditional culture. It is the oldest Buddhist Dharma in Tibet, the oldest Buddhist Dharma in human history, and the total source of all Dharma.
Nowadays, the Tibetan Region, as well as India, Nepal, Budan, Mongolia, Russia and other regions, still has many relics, temples and monks, of religious cultures derived from the Zhang Zhung civilization. There are many people from Tibet to all over the world who believe in the Zhang Zhung Buddhist Dharma in the Zhang Zhung Culture.