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Madhyamaka and Yogacara-Vajrayana

Madhyamaka and Yogacara-Vajrayana

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Published by: Milan Shakya on Jul 15, 2010
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Milan ShakyaBuddhist DepartmentPatan Multiple Campusakyamuni Buddha in his lifetime found that this world is full of suffering and before hisenlightenment, he sought the permanent solution to this unsolved predicament. He was theepitome of wisdom and compassion. He was very skilful too. Skilful means was one of theattributes of the Lord Buddha. This signifies that he led sentient beings of various inclinations, predelictions and mental propensities from their suffering to the truth--the sorrow-free state of Buddhahood. His main intention was to liberate all sentient beings without exception from their suffering and fill their lives with supreme happiness.Sakyamuni Buddha presented a vast array of instructions, both conventional andunconventional. First, the conventional teachings included the preliminary phase of Buddhistteachings such as the Sravakayana, Pratyekabuddhayana and the advanced phase of Mahayanateachings. The Buddha gave these teachings in the three turnings of the Wheel of the Dharma.
 Secondly, the unconventional instructions of the Vajrayana comprises the entire view of theBuddha's teachings brought to its full maturation, including extensive meditation practices.In Buddhism, there are three progressive vehicles, Sravakayana, Pratyekabuddhayana andSamyaksambuddhayana. Samyaksambuddhayana is also called Mahayana because it developsBodhicitta and great compassion in order to lead all sentient beings from the suffering of samsarato perfect Buddhahood. Mahayana is further subdivided in two ways, the vehicle of perfections(
) and the Mantra vehicle (
The Path of Vajrayana
The Vajrayana tradition is known by various names such as the Vajrayana, Tantrayana,Upayayana, Secret Mantra Vehicle, and Resultant Vehicle (
). Paramitayana is a causalvehicle (hetuyana) and Mantrayana is a resultant vehicle. The indivisibilty of cause and result,method and wisdom is called Vajrayana. Vajrayana utilizes skilful means to transform the three poisons, viz. desire (
), hatred (
) and ignorance (
) into wisdom. This is mentionedin the
Guhyasamaja Tantra
, “Teachings that purify desire, hatred and ignorance are the vehicle of Vajrayana.
 Vajrayana is also called Tantrayana. Tantra means continuity which has no beginning andend. For example, the beginningless and endless continuity of mind is called Tantra.
Tantra hasthree constituent parts: Ground tantra (
asraya tantra
), Method or Path Tantra(
) and Fruition Tantra (
 phala tantra
). According to Je Tsongkhapa, ground tantra isthe naturally abiding lineage, the element, the Buddha nature, and the Tathagata essence. It iscalled the ground because it is the basis of the activity of the path. The path tantras are the paths
For the information about these three turnings, see John Powers,
Wisdom of Buddha: TheSamdhinirmocana Mahayana Sutra
(Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1995): 139-141. The sutra is extantonly in the Tibetan version compiled in the Kanjur, the original Sanskrit is no longer extant.
Haraprasad Shastri,
(Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1927): 14. The Sanskrit text reads:
dxfofg+r låljwd\, kf/ldtfgof]dGqgoZr]lt .==-#= tTj/TgfjnL_
Swami Dwarikadas Sastri (ed.),
Guhyasamajatantra or Tathagataguhyaka
(Varanasi: Bauddha Bharati,2003): 27. The Sanskrit text reads:
/fuåifdf]xjh|jh|ofgk|b]zs .===== ! .. ci6dM k6nM lrQ;dok6nf]gfd .
Wangchuk Dorje Negi,
Vajrayana Darsana evam Sadhana
(Sarnath: Central Institute of Higher TibetanStudies, 1998): 8.
which purify that ground. The practices according to the lower tantras include yogas with andwithout signs and, according to Highest Yoga Tantra (
anuttarayoga tantra
), the stages of generation (
) and completion (
) that purify the defilements arerelated with the suchness of the mind (
The Fruition Tantra is the state of the effect, theDharmakaya, the complete extinguishment of all defilements as a Vajradhara.
 Vajrayana is also called the secret Mantra Vehicle. According to Je Tsong Khapa, the word‘mantra‘ means ‘mind-protection’. It protects the mind from ordinary appearances andconceptions.
It is secret and hidden, and thus, not appropriate for many people.. Practices for achieving activities of pacification, increase, control and fierceness are taught in the MantraVehicle in a secret way because those practitioners with impure motivation would harm boththemselves and others. If the mental continuum has not been ripened by the practices common both to Sutra and Tantra Mahayana--realization of suffering, impermanence, refuge, love,compassion, bodhicittotpada, and emptiness of inherent existence-- the practice of the MantraVehicle can be harmful through one's false assumption of an advanced practice inappropriate toone's capacity. According to Je Tsong Khapa, secrecy must be maintained from those who arenot ready for this path.
 There is no distinction between Paramitayana and Mantrayana in terms of their starting points, both systems comprise the generation of Bodhicitta and the attainment of CompleteBuddhahood. The only difference lies in methodology. The secret Mantra vehicle is very rich inutilizing skilful methods in order to reach the goal quickly on the condition that the practitioner isgifted already, versed in the practice of the Paramita vehicle and Sravakayana. As Reginald Rayobserves, “One is first to practice the Hinayana, then the Mahayana, and finally the Vajrayana.Each subsequent yana rests on the preceding ones: the Hinayana acts as the foundation for thetwo higher yanas.”
In this way, the practitioner first practices the teachings of the Sravaka andPratyekabuddha consisting of taking refuge (thereby entering the path) and following the courseof training in ethics, meditation and wisdom. He then practices the Mahayana, the great vehicle,involving taking the Bodhisattva vows to liberate suffering beings and engaging in the paramitas.The paramitas are altruistic practices devoted to developing both compassion for all beings andthe wisdom to see the nature of things as they are. Then the practitioner is a fit candidate for theVajrayana.Just as the teachings of the Sravakayana was delivered in the first turning (
 prathamadharmacakra pravartana
) in Sarnath, the Mahayana teachings on emptiness and compassion inGrdhakuta hill in Rajagrha in the second, and the third Mahayana teachings of Buddhanature inVaisali, Sakyamuni Buddha also taught Vajrayana teachings on the Dhanyakataka mountain.
 When the time was ripe, it was disseminated extensively by the eighty-four great mahasiddhas.In addition, philosophically, one must have a sound footing on all four philosophies likeVaibhasika, Sautrantika, Yogacara, and Madhyamaka. This progressive practice in the higher training is well highlighted in the
 Hevajra Tantra
The Vajrayana is classified in four ways: 1. Kriya tantra, 2. Carya tantra, 3. Yoga tantra and 4.Anuttarayoga tantra
Jeffrey Hopkins (tr.),
Tantra in Tibet: The Great Exposition of Secret Mantra by Tsong ka pa
(London:George Allen and Unwin, 1977): 54. This is an English translation of Je Tsong Kha pa's magnum opus
ngag rim chen mo
. Je Tsong Khapa (14th century) is the founder of Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
, 47.
Reginald A. Ray,
Secrets of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet 
(Boston: ShambhalaPublications, Inc., 2001): 66
Franscesco Sferra (ed.),
The Sekoddesatika by Naropa
(Rome: Instituto Italiano Per L‘oriente, 2006): 66.The Sanskrit text reads:
u[w|s" 6]oyf zf:qf k|1fkf/ldtfgo]. tyf dGqgo]k|f]Qmf >LwfGo]wd{b]zgf .. ! ..
The Lord Buddha said, “First of all, the instructions for Uposadha conduct must begiven, then the moral trainings must be taught, after that, the sutranta doctrine(Sautrantika). Then the Yogacara doctrine should be taught followed byMadhyamaka doctrine. After teaching all the practices of mantra, then commencewith the instruction on the Hevajra practice. Should the disciple attentively graspthis, he will succeed without doubt
, it is stated,
In the Hearer's Vehicle, the view is explained from the standpoint of Vaibhasika andSautrantika. In the Perfection Vehicle, it is explained from the standpoint of Sautrantika, Yogacara and Madhyamika. In Mantranaya, it is explained from thestandpoint of Yogacara and Madhyamika
 So according to these two texts, even though the Vaibhasika and Sautrantika doctrines areessential, two underlying philosophies of the Mahayana, the Yogacara and Madhyamika, arefoundational views of the Vajrayana.
Yogacara Philosophy as the Vajrayana Foundation
The 3rd century master Asanga propounded the philosophy of Yogacara (Mind only or Vijnanavada) based on the third turning at Vaisali and other parts of India. These are propoundedin the
 Lankavatara Sutra
Samdhinirmocana Sutra
and other texts. Vasubandhu (4th century CE)also further developed the Mind only or Vijnanavada theory in his
. After Asanga and Vasubandu, the Yogacara developed into anumber of different schools. Chief among the schools are the True Aspect Cittamatrins(
) and the False Aspect Cittamatrins (
). They are alsocategorized as adherence to scriptures (
) and adherence to logic (
).Asanga, Vasubandhu and others adhere to scriptures whereas Dignaga, Dharmakirti and othersadhere to logic. The Cittamatrins’s teaching include the three natures, eight consciousness,Buddha nature and forth. By these teachings, the Yogacarins or Cittamatrins prove that externalappearance is false whereas the mind only is the ultimate truth.Generally, Yogacara philosophy maintains that phenomenal existence which is generallysupposed to have objective reality in the external world, is no other than the “ideation” or representation (
), or the generation of images of objects appearing in consciousness(
). Human beings and objective things, to which various terms - such as “self” (
),“living being” (
), “pot” (
) and “cloth” (
) are applied, are in reality the“modifications or transformation of consciousness only.”
The consciousness that undergoesmodification consists of three strata: 1. the six kinds of consciousnesses produced through thevisual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory and tactitle senses and the mind, collectively known as
 prvritti vijnana
, 2. the afflicted "I" consciousness (
), which accompanies the six
Ram Shankar Tripathi & Thakursen Negi (ed.),
 Hevajratantram: mahapa itacaryaratnakarasantivira-cita hevajratantrapanjika muktavalisa valitam
(Sarnath: Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, 2001):222-223. The Sanskrit text reads:
eujfg\cfx M ækf]ifw+bLot]k|yd+tbg'lzIffkb+bzd\. j}efio+tq b]zt+;" qfGt j}k'g:tyf .. of]ufrf/ ttM kZrft\tbg'dWods+lbz]t . ;j{dGqgo+1fTjf tbg'x]jh| +cf/e]t .. u[X0fLoft\;fw{ +lzioM l;Bt]gfq ;+zo .. -x]jh|tGqd\M @=*÷!)–!!_
op cit 
, f.n. 2.
tq j}eflifsl:yTof >fjsofg+k|To]sofg+r JofVofot]. tq oM kf/ldtfgoM ;f}qflGts– of]ufrf/–dWodsl:yTof JofVofot]. dGqgo:t'of]ufrf/–dWodsl:yTof JofVofgot].====-#= tTj/TgfjnL_
Haatori Masaki, “Yogacara” in Mircea Eliade & etal. ed.
The Encyclopedia of Religion
, Vol. 15 (NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987): 526.

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