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Tantric Practice

12-06-12 4:12 PM

WHY IS TANTRA CALLED A SWIFT METHOD?
A View on Buddhism

TANTRIC PRACTICE
PAGE CONTENTS Why is Tantra called a Swift Method? Initiation Deity Practice Deciding Which Tantra to Practice Mantras Sexuality in Tantra Wrathful forms of the Buddhas Is Buddhist Tantra Derived from Hindu Tantra?

"The more we train to see ourselves as such a meditational deity, the less bound we will feel by life's ordinary disappointments and frustrations. This divine self-visualisation empowers us to take control of our life and create for ourselves a pure environment in which our deepest nature can be expressed." Lama Yeshe "The wisdom that realizes emptiness, that has gained insight into the nature of reality, is of varying kinds, depending upon the level of subtlety of the consciousness perceiving the emptiness. In general, there are rough levels of consciousness, more subtle levels, and then the innermost subtle level of consciousness. It is the uncommon characteristic of Tantric practice that through it one can evoke this most subtle consciousness at will and put it to use in a most effective way. For example, when emptiness is realized by this subtlest level of mind, it is more powerful, having a much greater effect on the personality. In order to activate or make use of the more subtle levels of consciousness, it is necessary to block the rougher levels--the rougher or grosser levels must cease. It is through specifically Tantric practices, such as the meditations on the chakras and the channels, that one can control and temporarily abandon the rougher levels of consciousness. When these become suppressed, the subhttp://viewonbuddhism.org/tantra_practice.html Page 1 of 13

org/tantra_practice. Bodhisattva or even tantric vows? Why do I really want to receive the permission for this practice? Do I want to practice it. Hence. a Guru can demand that the disciple will commit to a daily practice (like reciting a certain number of mantras or doing a daily meditation practice). bodhicitta and emptiness? (Please check out the page Preliminaries to Tantra. but perhaps even most important is the teacher. If you seriously intend to take an initiation." From Answers: Discussions with Western Buddhists by the Dalai Lama INITIATION Depending on the specific lineage and class of tantra. a ritual is carried out in which the Guru transmits the potential of the specific tradition of the practice and gives the permission to practice.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM tler levels of consciousness become active. Highly qualified disciples sometimes achieve immediate realisations due the combined power of this transmission and their practice (maybe in previous lives).html Page 2 of 13 . http://viewonbuddhism. please verify the following beforehand: Do I have a reasonable understanding of renunciation. And it is through the use of the subtlest level of consciousness that the most powerful spiritual realizations can come about. Next. Do I really have full confidence in him/her? Have I checked this person out? Does the teacher accept me as his/her disciple? The teacher/disciple relationship is extremely important in tantra. or is it only because everyone else is going? What are the daily commitments? Am I prepared to do these daily practices every day for the rest of my life? Are there retreat commitments? What does this retreat mean? Last. it is through the Tantric practice involving the most subtle consciousness that the goal of enlightenment can most quickly be realized.) What are the prerequisites of this initiation? Am I prepared to do the preliminaries? What are the vows I need to take? Am I willing to take aspiring Bodhisattva.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has given this initiation to hundreds of thousands of people at a time. try to be very alert and aware of what is happening. like establishing your tantric name. This mind of ours.what we term 'the buddha nature'. His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the meaning of initiation or 'empowerment'. or empowerment. a commentary to the practice is given or even a retreat may be organised after the initiation. what does the term wang. It is best to check with your teacher or more experienced other practitioners on these details.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM During an initiation. signify? To begin with. also books may be available on how to do the practice. and so has the more subtle nahttp://viewonbuddhism. the subject at hand. giving a mantra for the deity to practice etc. An initiation allows one to engage in only one specific practice.org/tantra_practice. the Kalachakra practice is the famous exception to this rule.html Page 3 of 13 . During an initiation many different ritual implements are used. has been going on throughout beginningless time. so it is important to note exactly what the practice is. or tathagatagarbha. If you are lucky. from Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection "As for empowerment in general. Most initiations should be given to small groups of disciples at a time. the very nature of our mind. see also the page on tantric symbols. is inherently present within us as a natural attribute. our fundamental nature . It is also very helpful to make notes of the visualisations and aspects that happen during the ritual.

it allows this special quality of mind. there dwells within us all this potential which allows us to awaken into buddhahood and attain omniscience. is a representation that honours someone who attained buddhahood. or tathagatagarbha.org/tantra_practice. in the presence of which we are now sitting. so in the future we can become buddhas too.In any case. this beautiful statue of Lord Buddha here. .. This potential is what we call 'the seed of buddhahood'. For example. 'the fundamental nature'. In particular. the conditions are right for the essence of the empowerment to awaken within you. and allows it to express itself more fully.that provides a basis upon which the empowerment can ripen you. We all have this buddha nature. with these auspicious circumstances established in your mindstream." DEITY PRACTICE Much of the popular confusion around tantra can be traced back to two aspects: deity practice and sexual practice. 'buddha nature'. So. this new capability. Deity practice is a profound meditation practice which uses the projection of already being enlightened to speed up one's good potential and reduce one's negative mind states. and when you reflect on what is taking place and maintain the various visualizations. as it were.the buddha nature . and just as the Buddha attained enlightenment in the past.a very special state that is the inseparability of basic space and awareness.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM ture of that mind. each and every one of us. you are empowered into the essence of the buddhas of the five families. The empowerment process draws that potential out. As you focus your devotion in this way. it is the nature of your mind . to awaken.html Page 4 of 13 . He awakened into that state of enlightenment because his nature was the buddha nature. It is important to understand that this should only be done from the perspective of http://viewonbuddhism. as a state of wisdom which is blissful yet empty . On the basis of the continuity of that subtle nature of our mind rests the capacity we have to attain enlightenment. Through the empowerment. When an empowerment is conferred on you. you are 'ripened' within that particular family through which it is your personal predisposition to attain buddhahood.. Ours is as well.

otherwise one may not be much different from the people behind bars in mental institutions who claim to be Napoleon. For untrained minds. free from the delusions of attachment.org/tantra_practice. Don't think that you are just pretending. anger and ignorance. bring to mind your bodhicitta motivation to work for the sake of others and make the strong determination to arise in a form to which even more beings can relate. Understand this as being the actual emanation body (nirmanakaya) of full awakening that replaces the gross physical body of ordinary rebirth and has the nature of simultaneous bliss and wisdom.) In the words of Lama Yeshe from "Introduction to Tantra": Green Tara . (Remember that meditation stands for habituating the mind to positive states. the time that one notices some positive difference is brief." In this way. you should be convinced. as with most things. "This is the real nirmanakaya.. you should feel that you are the real emanation of the deity. ordinary rebirth is taken into the path as the emanation body of a Buddha. you might surprise yourself to find that you have actually become the http://viewonbuddhism.html Page 5 of 13 . With this compassionate motive the seed-syllable suddenly transforms into the transparent rainbow body of the deity itself. identify strongly with this appearance by thinking.a popular female Buddha "When you are ready. like the actor who remains in character even after the play is finished. one can notice a slight difference in attitude after the meditation. it is who I really am. Then.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM emptiness (or a mental arising from emptiness).. then. regular practice enhances the positive feeling and gradually one's mind becomes habituated to a more positive state. However. loving being. If one imagines in deep meditation that one is a perfect. Once again. When you see yourself as a deity.

Seeing one's environment as the pure land or mandala of the deity 3.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM deity. and therefore they are content with their meditation.org/tantra_practice. tantric transformation will come naturally and be very powerful. Nevertheless. Those people who think that tantra is only involved with pretending to be a deity are completely mistaken. Those. who understand that each consciousness perceives in a different way know that mental images aren't as clear as the forms perceived with eyes. because the meditation on a deity does not happen through the medium of the eye consciousness. one imagines these four purities and familiarises oneself http://viewonbuddhism. Beginners do indeed meditate in the hope of attaining such clarity. The mind consciousness most definitely does not work like the eye consciousness. but through the medium of the mind consciousness. and thus their meditation works well. however. The result is that they develop an aversion for the meditation. They know how to meditate. Performing one's actions only for the benefit of others (bodhicitta motivation. That's why some meditators who perceive a vague mental image think they are not capable of meditating correctly on a deity. Seeing one's body as the body of the deity 2. The eyes.html Page 6 of 13 . have a much coarser way of perceiving concrete forms. altruism) During the "generation stage". free from attachment 4.is crucial.the strong sense of actually being the deity ."The main tantric practices can be summarised in the "Four Purities": 1. The objects of the mind consciousness are much less clear. Such divine pride . from 'Everyday Consciousness and Buddha-Awakening': "A beginner who visualizes the body of a deity and does not know the distinctive characteristics of the different aspects of consciousness would think that the deity must be seen as clearly during the mental meditation as if seen directly with the eyes." Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. however. it will not arise. do indeed so meditate. With it. Perceiving one's enjoyments as bliss of the deity.

During the "completion stage". This usually involves extensive visualisations and mental exercises to achieve single pointed concentration on the emptiness of the deity and surroundings. 'Mind' here refers to all six consciousnesses -. or protected. the transformation to Buddhahood gradually takes place. The word 'mantra' means 'mind-protection'. body and mind are inseparable aspects. 'Kundalini' (Skt. the pride of being a deity emerges. it requires taking control over our deluded emotions. At a very subtle level. whatever forms are seen are viewed as the emanations of a deity and whatever sounds are heard are viewed as the mantras of a deity. His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Divine pride protects one from the pride of being ordinary. this is quite something else then repressing our delusions. The mental energy of anger is transformed into powerful compassionate action. mainly while working with the subtle energies in the channels and chakras.eye. ear. A typical aspect of tantra is that limitations and obstacles are used and transformed in the path. Tsong-ka-pa and Jeffrey Hopkins from Tantra in Tibet DECIDING WHICH TANTRA TO PRACTICE From an interview of Alex Berzin with His Holiness the Dalai Lama (from Berzin Archives): http://viewonbuddhism.html Page 7 of 13 . pride in oneself as a deity and vivid appearance of that deity.which are to be freed. for instance. One is thereby protected from ordinary appearances. It protects the mind from ordinary appearances and conceptions. and divine vivid appearance protects one from ordinary appearances. and through this transformation of attitude. desire is transformed into compassion for others.org/tantra_practice. Whatever appears to the senses is viewed as the sport of a deity. Therefore. from the ordinary world. tongue. nose. Both mind and energies need to be fully controlled to make the transformation to Buddhahood possible.) or 'tummo' (Tib. the extensive yogic practices found in tantra are aimed at controlling the energies within the body. ignorance into omniscience etc. body and mental consciousnesses -. The main aim is to direct all energies into the central channel. There are two factors in mantra training.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM with them.. like the practice of 'inner fire'. Such protection of mind together with its attendant pledges and vows is called the practice of mantra.).

http://viewonbuddhism. Then. the generation and complete stages are integrally related.html Page 8 of 13 .Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM Berzin: When practicing in the Gelug tradition. When all preparations are finished and we can put all our energies into practice of the generation stage alone. In other words. Thus. which subtle energy-system is most prominent in us] and on our previous karmic connections. we would accordingly practice that generation stage. We just simply get used to this generation stage or that. since we are not yet devoting our entire energies and time. Chakrasamvara. This will depend on our own physical condition [particularly. is it only when we reach the complete stage that we need to decide the specific Buddha-figure system through which we will reach enlightenment – for instance. Based on this decision. Berzin: On the generation stage? His Holiness: We are not yet at the above stage where we can concentrate fully on the generation stage. It is impossible for someone fully practicing the Guhyasamaja generation stage to transfer on the complete stage to the Chakrasamvara complete stage. and Vajrabhairava? His Holiness: You cannot practice both [as your actual path for reaching enlightenment]. Then. then that is the stage at which to decide. first we need to ascertain very clearly [in terms of our subtle energy-systems and so on] that our stable connection is with the Kalachakra complete stage or with the Guhyasamaja or Chakrasamvara one. on this basis. so there is not much harm in practicing several systems. that doesn’t concern us now. When we reach the point at which we single-pointedly practice the generation stage with fully qualified bodhichitta and a correct understanding of voidness. then it is best to find out whether we fulfill the defining characteristics for someone who will reach enlightenment through this path or that path.org/tantra_practice. the complete stage of that particular generation stage will follow. through Kalachakra or through the joint practice of Guhyasamaja. But. we definitely decide. and we decide fully to devote ourselves to a course of generation and complete stage practice.

the primal sounds that give shape to the relative reality filling the ultimate reality of the void. the sound of OM takes an essential part in the creation of the universe. contains the root 'man' which means 'to think' and the syllable 'tra' which means 'tool'.. in Hinduism. and it cannot be uttered by the mouth but only by the mind. Thus. The mantra has power and meaning only for the initiated. is it helpful to practice many generation stages? His Holiness: That is what we do. For example. in the Christian bible it reads: "In the beginning was the Word. Mantras do not act on account of their own 'magic' nature. because we make some connections with various practices and lay instincts. It cannot be heard by the ears. mantra is a 'tool for thinking'..org/tantra_practice. Similarly. as even prominent Western scholars repeat again and again. Sometimes mantras are are defined as 'protectors of the mind'. but only by the heart. The sound of the mantra is not a physical sound (though it may be accompanied by such a one) but a spiritual one. and the Word was with God. The power and effect of a mantra depend on the spiritual attitude..html Page 9 of 13 . It should be noted that in all main religions much importance is given to speech / the word / mantra. very popular among Tibetans. but only through the mind that experiences them.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM Berzin: Before we reach that point.. and it is better.. most mantras are pronounced in the original Sanskrit. relates to Buddha Avalokiteshvara "It is the essence of the creative word.. the knowledge and the responsiveness of the individual." Lama Anagarika Govinda from 'Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism' In Buddhism. and the Word was God". The mantra OM MANI PADME HUM. Mantras are not 'spells'. MANTRAS The Sanskrit word 'mantra'. http://viewonbuddhism. That is helpful. A mantra is a sacred letter-form and sound that contains the genetic essence of a specific energy.

That is why his utterance is a mantra. "A mantra is something that you utter when your body. after the two of them have been silent for a long time.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM The recitation of mantras is a very important part in tantric practice. mantras can be found for the purpose of warding off danger. sitting together in a park. Then one day. she trembles. and he may wait a long time before saying it. A statement that has such power of transformation is called a mantra. when no one else is nearby and everything is quiet. Like with other tantric practices. He became completely liberated.org/tantra_practice. but with your whole being. Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin Bodhisattva) saw the nature of interbeing and overcame all pain. When the young lady hears this. If the young man is a very responsible person. When two young people love each other.html Page 10 of 13 . speech and mind into the respective pure aspects of a Buddha). as it is used to transform the speech as part of transforming our body.org. When you say something like that not just with your mouth or intellect. Looking deeply into the five skandhas. of joy. he utters these three words. SEXUALITY IN TANTRA http://viewonbuddhism. they only become really effective after oral transmission from a teacher. he probably wants to be sure of his feeling. It was in that state of deep concentration. but the young man has not said so yet. because it is such an important statement. and breath are at one in concentration. as well as for the creation of beneficial conditions. of liberation. it can transform the world. It is interesting to note also that even in the earliest Pali (Theravadin) texts. speech and mind. the young lady may be waiting for three very important words." From: "The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra" by Thich Nhat Hanh A wonderful page on the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM at Amitabha Hospice You can find more information on mantras and several examples (including the proper pronunciation) at Wildmind. that he uttered something important. When you dwell in that deep concentration. you look at things and see them as clearly as you see an orange that you hold in the palm of your hand.

But using this transformation principle has two sides: it is not only a very effective means of making mental changes. the practitioner can easily increase negative emotions rather than reducing them. It is quite the opposite of ordinary sex with attachment and craving.html Page 11 of 13 ." From 'Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism' by John Powers This also illustrates one of the typical aspects of tantra: rather than repressing negative emotions like attachment. and only very advanced practitioners should try these practices after permission from their teachers. Sexual energy happens to be one of the strongest forms of physical energy. (See also Keith Dowman's website for a more elaborate explanation. What is usually overlooked is that sexual practices in tantra should be free from the ordinary desires and lust. Arousal of the sexual energy is preferably done by just visualising a consort. meditators are able to cultivate pleasure in a way that actually aids in spiritual progress. not happiness and pleasure.) "Through the skillful methods of tantra.org/tantra_practice. Simply said. or more specific in tantra. http://viewonbuddhism.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM Please note that this very brief explanation is merely intended to give a taste for the profundity of tantric practice as antidote to what many people think is a mere superstitious belief in thousands or strange "gods" with many arms and feet that are having sex all the time. part of the exercises in tantric practice are involving controlling and transforming bodily energies. then it can be incorporated into the path and will even become a powerful aid to the attainment of enlightenment. Also these sexual energies need to be completely controlled and transformed. Afflicted grasping and desires based on mistaken ideas are the problem. but if they are done without proper guidance of a qualified teacher. If the pursuit of happiness and pleasure can be separated from afflictive emotions. The union of male and female are symbolic for the union of method or compassion and wisdom. the union of bliss and emptiness. So very powerful psychological techniques like tantra need to be treated with much care and consideration to avoid disastrous results for the practitioner. All the images and ritual involved are merely intended to practice very advanced techniques for training the mind and controlling subtle energies within one's body. they are transformed into positive energy. it has very little to do with ordinary sex. As mentioned above. simply said. it is built-in by nature to ensure the survival of the species.

this technique will lead us to Buddhahood. The aim is to realise that only our own mind determines the way in which the world appears to us. and then by changing the mind.an angry Buddha is a contradiction in terms? Thubten Chodron explains in 'How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator': "Why are there fierce protectors? Peaceful deities such as Tara have a certain energy that calms and gladdens our mind. not like that horrible person treated you. "Poor you. so in those cases. For this reason. when someone explains that these so-called Protectors are Buddhas. our mind tends to resists change. "Well. If we combine this insight with a compassionate motivation and advanced energy practices. it's forceful: "Cut it out! Stop those false expectations and preconceptions right now!" Sometimes we need that strong. especially if our ego is under threat. You deserve to be treated well." or." So.) http://viewonbuddhism. we can change this appearance. Directing anger-energy makes a powerful antidoteagainst our own negative emotion of anger." Instead. and not a goal as such. we need to realise that tantra is very much a method. The power of tantra here is again to redirect the force of a negative emotion like anger towards negative aspects of the mind in order to transform them into positive attitudes like love and compassion. these angry-looking Buddhaforms can wake us up towards aspects of our own deluded mind. wise energy to be in our face to wake us up to the fact that our afflictions and old patterns of thought and behavior are making us miserable. a 'kick in the butt' may well be necessary. This wisdom doesn't say. the Buddhas' wisdom and compassion appear in the form of these wrathful deities to demonstrate clean-clear wisdom and compassion that act directly. This active wisdom doesn't vacillate and pamper us. Just like we sometimes have to act wrathful to make clear to a small child that something is very dangerous. maybe.html Page 12 of 13 . once more. (See for example the meditation on anger on how this process works.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM WRATHFUL FORMS OF THE BUDDHAS Many people (including myself) are confused when they first see the representation of wrathful or fierceful (angry looking) images in the Tibetan tradition. However.org/tantra_practice. similarly. the confusion is complete . But sometimes our mind is so belligerent and stuck that we need the kind of energy that goes "Pow!" to wake us up or to pull us out of unproductive behavior.

" LINKS If you are seriously interested of engaging in tantric practice. Although there are striking external resemblances.net site. Professor of Physiology at Toulouse.html Page 13 of 13 .. that the Buddhists were the first to introduce the tantras into their religion. and that it is idle to say that later Buddhism is an outcome of Saivaism. The literature. As Benoytosh Bhattacharyya notes in his 'Buddhist Esoterism': "it is possible to declare. Have a look at the page of Keith Dowman to see a large number of deity images. the reverse may be true. arose almost immediately after the Buddhist ideas had established themselves. Pierre Pachet.org Tantric Buddhism in India is a brief but interesting article from Wisdom Books Just for fun: Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction. More information on initiations can be found on the Khandro. 1872 Previous Page | ^Top of Page | Next Page . and that the Hindus borrowed them from the Buddhists in later times. . 2011 http://viewonbuddhism.General Buddhist Symbols Last updated: May 8.Tantric Practice 12-06-12 4:12 PM IS BUDDHIST TANTRA DERIVED FROM HINDU TANTRA? It is often claimed that Buddhist tantra is a derivative from tantric practices of Shivaism.org/tantra_practice. the index page 'Tantra Teachings' of Berzin Archives leads to some essential reading. but in fact. the differences in methods and aims are much more significant. which goes by the name of the Hindu Tantras. without fear of contradiction. On mantras: Wildmind.