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Vajrayana Radiations

Vajrayana Radiations

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Published by HeatherDelancett
Buddhism, at the present time, can be considered to consist of 3 main forms - Hinayana (the Lesser Vehicle), Mahayana (the Greater Vehicle), and Vajrayana (the Diamond Vehicle). All of the Tibetan schools are considered to be in the Vajrayana tradition. However, Vajrayana is also considered as inclusive and part of the Mahayana tradition. Each can be thought of as nesting eggs, which increase in size and scope...
Buddhism, at the present time, can be considered to consist of 3 main forms - Hinayana (the Lesser Vehicle), Mahayana (the Greater Vehicle), and Vajrayana (the Diamond Vehicle). All of the Tibetan schools are considered to be in the Vajrayana tradition. However, Vajrayana is also considered as inclusive and part of the Mahayana tradition. Each can be thought of as nesting eggs, which increase in size and scope...

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Published by: HeatherDelancett on May 07, 2012
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Vajrayana Radiations
When seeking to distinguish Tibetan Buddhism, images of brightly coloredcomplex tapestries, prayer flags and the
Dalai Lama 
may be conjured by the mind.
Martin Scorsese’s
cinematographic masterpiece
 
“K
undun
 
gives us a peak into variousTibetan Buddhist cultural elements and rituals
the meditative making of temporalsand
mandalas 
(concentric meditation diagrams), symbols such as the hand-bell(
ghanti 
) and a strange sort of scepter (
vajra 
: Sanskrit,
dorje 
: Tibetan), the recitation of 
Säntideva's Bodhisattva Vow,
and droning chants repeating sacred
mantras 
(words orphrases of power). But what philosophically distinguishes Tibetan Buddhism from otherforms of Buddhism?First, we must acknowledge that even within Tibetan tradition, there are a varietyof schools with different approaches. Of the original eight different Buddhist schools of Tibet, currently only four remain -
Nyingma, Kargyu 
 ,
Sakya 
and the largest
,
 
Gelug 
.
1
 Buddhism, at the present time, can be considered to consist of three main forms
 
Hinayana 
, (the Lesser Vehicle),
Mahayana 
(the Greater Vehicle), and
Vajrayana 
, (theDiamond Vehicle). All of the Tibetan schools are considered to be in the
Vajrayana 
 tradition. However,
Vajrayana 
is also considered as inclusive and part of the
Mahayana 
 tradition. Each can be thought of as nesting eggs, which increase in size and scope butcontain the others, hence,
Mahayana 
includes the
Hinayana 
goal of personal salvation
1
John Bowker,
Beliefs That Changed the World: The History and Ideas of the Great Religions
(London: QuercusPublishing, 2007), p. 157
 
2
(
nirvana 
) from the cycle of worldly rebirth and death (
samsara) 
, but increases themagnitude of its aim to prescribing the liberation (
nirvana 
) of all sentient beingsthrough the
bodhisattva 
ideal.
Vajrayana 
includes both of these goals but uses
Mantras 
 and the path of 
Tantra 
 
as a “skillful means” of method or technique
.
2
Each of the manydistinguishing features of the Tibetan traditions of Buddhism arises out of the focus oneither
Tantra 
or
Mantra 
, and often the combination of both. Hence,
Vajrayana 
is alsoreferred to as
Tantrayana 
or
Mantrayana.
 It is thought by the
Mahayana 
and
Vajrayana 
traditions that the
Buddha Sakyamuni 
“explained his essential teachings in a form which corresponded to thecapacity of his hearers”
3
and confided deeper aspects of his teachings to his moreadvanced disciples to be revealed to the reincarnations of his followers when they hadadvanced sufficiently to understand the higher teachings. The
Nyingma 
school, forexample, refers to its disciples as
Tertons 
, or “treasure
-
finders.”
4
They believe theyremain in direct communication with
Padmasambhava 
, often considered a second
“Buddha” or “Enlightened One.”
Padmasambhava 
is better known as
Guru Rinpoche 
("Precious Master") in Tibetan traditions. Among the treasured texts revealed through
“pure visions” of 
Guru Rinpoche 
is
The Tibetan Book of the Dead 
.
5
 From the
Vajrayana 
perspective, their approach has direct lineage from the
Sakyamuni Buddha 
:
2
Khandro Net,
Tibetan Buddhism: Lesser, Greater, and Tantric Ways to Enlightenment 
,http://www.khandro.net/buddhism_paths.htm.Accessed December 17, 2009
 
3
Govinda, Lama Anagarika, Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism, 4
th
ed. (Great Britain: Samuel Weiser, 1972), p. 36
4
John Bowker,
Beliefs That Changed the World: The History and Ideas of the Great Religions
(London: QuercusPublishing, 2007), p. 157
5
Ibid.
 
3
After his Awakening to full consciousness -- usually referred to as hisEnlightenment -- he is said to have given three sermons or "Turnings of the
Dharma
Wheel" which are understood not only as stages on a path but asdifferent approaches. The first was at the Deer Park when he taught moderationand morality, the second at Vulture's Peak when he taught concerning wisdom,the third Turning concerned meditation and clarity. He is said to have taught afourth approach assuming the form of
Vajradhara
in order to do so. That topicand its method is the
Vajrayana
.
6
 The first three teachings would be
Hinayana
as expressed in the
Pali
Canon,
Sutrayana
 Mahayana
, as expressed by the teachings of
sunyata
(emptiness) in the
Prajnaparamitasutras,
and
 
“Tantrayana” Mahayana,
as expressed in the teachings of
tathagatha-garbha
 ,
orBuddha-nature
.
The fourth, is the transmitted “treasure” from the
Vajradhara
, alsocalled the
dharmakaya
, or
the unmanifested “truth
-
body” eternal aspect of Buddha
-nature present in all things.
7
 
Mantras 
appear to be the foundation of this region’s Buddhism. This foundation
was heavily influenced by the prior ancient native religion,
Bon 
(pron. Beun), which canbe thought of as a type of shamanistic animism. The original
Bon 
peoples wereresistant to Buddhism, and as Buddhist practices were introduced to Tibet, many of theelements of the earlier religion were incorporated into Indian
Mahayana 
practices.
8
 Much like the earlier Aryan culture of the
Vedas 
, the
Bon 
Tibetans relied heavily on thepower of words and language. The
Mahayana 
Buddhist notion of 
sunyata 
fit nicely with
6
Khandro Net,
Tibetan Buddhism: Lesser, Greater, and Tantric Ways to Enlightenment 
, Accessed December 17,2009 http://www.khandro.net/buddhism_paths.htm. 
7
Khandro Net, Tibetan Buddhism History, Accessed December 17, 2009.http://www.khandro.net/buddhism_paths_tibetan.htm 
8
John Bowker,
Beliefs That Changed the World: The History and Ideas of the Great Religions
(London: QuercusPublishing, 2007), p. 156

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