What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:12 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Aemilius wrote:About Abhisheka
According to certain authorities there is formal initiation and informal intitation (abhisheka).
I would not have believed that people really believe that placing objects on their heads is the all-decisive thing! But this seems to be the case, is it?


Abhisheka is method of arranging the dependent origination of a person's basis with the result so the result can be taken as the path. This is the unique feature of abhisheka in Vajrayana.



Chogyam Trungpa refused to give abhishekas for a long time, he said that everything a true Guru does is an abhisheka.


he gave them a lot early on, then stopped because he saw that people were only relating to them as a kind of ritual, not understanding the real meaning.

However, in his Vajrayāna seminaries he always gave a transmission called "direct introction" which is characteristic of Kagyu Mahamudra and Dzogchen.

In Dhagpo Kayu Ling Gelongma Rinchen said that Initiation means that you are taught a spiritual practice. She said that even teaching Tongleng is an initiation in the full sense of the word.


Teaching someone a practice is not an abhisheka. There is no initiation for tonglen, since it is sutrayāna. Merely teaching someone a practice is not an "initiation". You either misunderstood what she meant, or she is wrong.

N


Chogyam Trungpa talks a lot about "grasping at abhishekas", or "collecting abhisekas", which he calls "spiritual materialism".
There is immense grasping at "mere ritual", I feel. At the same time I do not deny that tantra and vajrayana exist and function. In the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni "one should become free of dependence on rules and rituals", how do you understand this ? Or does it not apply anymore when you are a tantrika ?
Do you accept that people who met Shakyamuni and discussed with Him, sometimes became enlightened as a consequence of this discussion? Or do you demand some "ritual authorisation" for them? Because otherwise their enlightenment is not acceptable to a true tantrist !?
On this ground I understand Gelongma Rinchen's teaching about initiation.
Teaching a meditation practice to a person is in accordance with the meaning of the english words "to initiate" and "intiation". Initiation also means "to reveal something that people did not know before". This definition accords with the buddhist tradition, I think.
Buddha Shakyamuni did not hold back anything when teaching the Dharma. He boasts this several times, about Himself and about His teaching. Tantrikas and vajrayanists do not seem to understand this statement, which is a great pity.
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:46 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Chogyam Trungpa talks a lot about "grasping at abhishekas", or "collecting abhisekas", which he calls "spiritual materialism".
There is immense grasping at "mere ritual", I feel. At the same time I do not deny that tantra and vajrayana exist and function. In the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni "one should become free of dependence on rules and rituals", how do you understand this ? Or does it not apply anymore when you are a tantrika ?
Do you accept that people who met Shakyamuni and discussed with Him, sometimes became enlightened as a consequence of this discussion? Or do you demand some "ritual authorisation" for them? Because otherwise their enlightenment is not acceptable to a true tantrist !?
On this ground I understand Gelongma Rinchen's teaching about initiation.
Teaching a meditation practice to a person is in accordance with the meaning of the english words "to initiate" and "intiation". Initiation also means "to reveal something that people did not know before". This definition accords with the buddhist tradition, I think.
Buddha Shakyamuni did not hold back anything when teaching the Dharma. He boasts this several times, about Himself and about His teaching. Tantrikas and vajrayanists do not seem to understand this statement, which is a great pity.


You complicate what is simple. Receiving empowerments doesn't mean becoming depend on them. If you become dependent, then you've misunderstood the view you should have developed when you received the empowerment. People have different capacities. Some benefit from receiving empowerments while others don't. Buddha taught a path that leads to Nirvana. There are many ways of traveling that path. There were further developments on the method taught by Buddha according to the needs of those practicing. We don't have the historical Buddha around any longer. Vajrayana is the essence, perhaps the refined essence, of what Buddha taught.

Buddha's direct disciples had great capacity and didn't need fancy empowerments. Just imagine the tremendous amount of merits one would have to take birth near the Buddha and actually being his disciple. I'd say that's not our case. So we need all the help we can get. For some that help comes in the form of empowerments. For others it doesn't. There are indeed people who collect empowerments like they were "medals". That's the wrong attitude. A surgeon uses a blade to save a life. A murderer uses a blade to take one. The blade is not to blame. Some practice Vajrayana with right intention while some just add a new layer to their ego. Others do both and it's a mess, but can still manage to go in the right direction.

The word initiation is not a very good translation. Even if it was, one word says always little, so maybe we should go beyond the face value of words and understand the meaning of what goes on during an abhisheka. Namdrol already explained it.

I think that blanket statements as "Tantrikas and vajrayanists do not seem to understand... [insert whatever you want]..." aren't very useful, if not by the simple fact you don't know all tantrikas and vajrayanists, right?

edited for clarity purposes... I wish my English was a little better. :smile:
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:00 pm

Aemilius wrote: Buddha Shakyamuni did not hold back anything when teaching the Dharma. He boasts this several times, about Himself and about His teaching. Tantrikas and vajrayanists do not seem to understand this statement, which is a great pity.


Shakyamuni did not hold anything back. But this does not mean he taught everything to everyone.

He taught was useful to his students at that time and that place, without holding anything back. Those teachings are the ones contained in the Agamas and Pali Canon.

You seem to forget that Shakyamuni also compared what he taught to his disciples with a handful of leaves, and compared what he knew with all the leaves in a forest.

N
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:04 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Aemilius wrote: Buddha Shakyamuni did not hold back anything when teaching the Dharma. He boasts this several times, about Himself and about His teaching. Tantrikas and vajrayanists do not seem to understand this statement, which is a great pity.


Shakyamuni did not hold anything back. But this does not mean he taught everything to everyone.

He taught was useful to his students at that time and that place, without holding anything back. Those teachings are the ones contained in the Agamas and Pali Canon.

You seem to forget that Shakyamuni also compared what he taught to his disciples with a handful of leaves, and compared what he knew with all the leaves in a forest.

N


Shakyamuni gave a key to people so that they could themselves find out everything they wished to know.

Secondly, the Agamas and Nikayas do not tell everything that happened during Buddha Shakyamuni's lifetime, rather I think they give a very partial and very onesided view of the first decades of Buddhism.

There are various kinds of reasoning to prove this, one of them is that you first attain the Five Eyes and then see it for yourself!
And secondly, if you have any kind of trust in people like JeTsongkhapa, Gampopa, Karmapa, Aryadeva, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Nagarjuna, etc... who according to tradition have attained the divine vision, and transcendental vision. Because they have not declared that "only Agamas are true", but rather they have said the opposite, you should take it for granted that it is possible to see the origin of Buddhism, and other even more distant things, like the palm of your hand! And as you know, they have all said that the Mahayana is a faithfull presentation of Buddhist history, and said it in many different ways.

This boils down to the question whether you have faith in the divine and transcendental vision of the buddhist masters, or not!? Or in your own divine and transcendental vision!?

In the vein of Shunyatavada we could say that there is no independent history at all ! I.e. independent of the perceiver, independent of the consciousness of the perceiver.

There are also analytical methods to prove that the Mahayana did in fact exist before the advent of the Shravakayana, if you are so inclined. One of them is the phrase "three turnings of the Wheel of Dharma". It proves that the Three Turnings did originally exist. Knowledge of them was so wide spread that the phrase has been included in the Dhammacakkapavattanasutta where it means that the Four Noble truths were taught three times, indeed???!!!
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:11 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Aemilius wrote:
Chogyam Trungpa talks a lot about "grasping at abhishekas", or "collecting abhisekas", which he calls "spiritual materialism".
There is immense grasping at "mere ritual", I feel. At the same time I do not deny that tantra and vajrayana exist and function. In the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni "one should become free of dependence on rules and rituals", how do you understand this ? Or does it not apply anymore when you are a tantrika ?
Do you accept that people who met Shakyamuni and discussed with Him, sometimes became enlightened as a consequence of this discussion? Or do you demand some "ritual authorisation" for them? Because otherwise their enlightenment is not acceptable to a true tantrist !?
On this ground I understand Gelongma Rinchen's teaching about initiation.
Teaching a meditation practice to a person is in accordance with the meaning of the english words "to initiate" and "intiation". Initiation also means "to reveal something that people did not know before". This definition accords with the buddhist tradition, I think.
Buddha Shakyamuni did not hold back anything when teaching the Dharma. He boasts this several times, about Himself and about His teaching. Tantrikas and vajrayanists do not seem to understand this statement, which is a great pity.


You complicate what is simple. Receiving empowerments doesn't mean becoming depend on them. If you become dependent, then you've misunderstood the view you should have developed when you received the empowerment. People have different capacities. Some benefit from receiving empowerments while others don't. Buddha taught a path that leads to Nirvana. There are many ways of traveling that path. There were further developments on the method taught by Buddha according to the needs of those practicing. We don't have the historical Buddha around any longer. Vajrayana is the essence, perhaps the refined essence, of what Buddha taught.

Buddha's direct disciples had great capacity and didn't need fancy empowerments. Just imagine the tremendous amount of merits one would have to take birth near the Buddha and actually being his disciple. I'd say that's not our case. So we need all the help we can get. For some that help comes in the form of empowerments. For others it doesn't. There are indeed people who collect empowerments like they were "medals". That's the wrong attitude. A surgeon uses a blade to save a life. A murderer uses a blade to take one. The blade is not to blame. Some practice Vajrayana with right intention while some just add a new layer to their ego. Others do both and it's a mess, but can still manage to go in the right direction.

The word initiation is not a very good translation. Even if it was, one word says always little, so maybe we should go beyond the face value of words and understand the meaning of what goes on during an abhisheka. Namdrol already explained it.

I think that blanket statements as "Tantrikas and vajrayanists do not seem to understand... [insert whatever you want]..." aren't very useful, if not by the simple fact you don't know all tantrikas and vajrayanists, right?

edited for clarity purposes... I wish my English was a little better. :smile:


There are different views about the Mahamudra, whether it is the so called sutra mahamudra or tantra mahamudra. Tsele Natsok Randrol ( in Lamp of Mahamudra) and Karma Chagme ( author of Spacious Path to Freedom) don't make this distinction.
Karma Chagme talks about Mahamudra, throughout his book he quotes many sutras, sometimes also tantras and other tantric texts, but these are minority. Would this then be condemned by the "true tantrics"?

Tsele Natsok Rangdrol equates the Five paths & Ten bodhisattva levels with the the 37 Bodhi-factors and the stages of Mahamudra Ngodro. This is very interesting. He says that Four mindfulnesses correspond to the Four ordinary Ngondro Practices; Four right efforts equal Taking Rafuge, Generating Bodhicitta, Mandala Offering and Vajrasattva recitation; he further says that the Four Bases of Miraculous Powers correspond to the Four Aspects of Guru Yoga, in which receiving the four initiations equals one of the Four legs of Miraculous powers!! And so on...
( then follow Five Spiritual Faculties, Five Strenghts, Seven Bodhyangas, and the Noble Eightfold Path, which he puts on a very advanced level.)
If you are interested, I'll find the page numbers in the book of Natsok Rangdrol.

A somewhat similar table of correspondences is in Bokar Rimpoche's book Opening the Door to Certainty, which is based on the Ninth Karmapa's mahamudra book Ocean of Certainty.

I apologize for "unthinking rashness" in categorizing vajrayanists ...

I think initiation is a good word per se, it is latin derived, I think. There have been several systems of initiations in ancient roman, egyptian and greek cultures, for example,...
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:54 pm

From the beginning there have been buddhist laypeople, upasakas and upasikas. Therefore "taking food, sex and wealth on the path" would not be something unprecedented!! I wonder how such ideas have arisen in the first place??

Moreover in the Noble Eightfold Path there is the branch of Right Livelihood. This would mean taking power and wealth on the path.
It also means that buddhism is primarily addressed to all human beings. Here no distinction is made between laypeople and renunciates. What is more, here laypeople are emphasized, because renunciates do not have a livelihood, in the normal sense of the word.

There have always been a class of people that are ex-monks, or renegade monks, or what ever they may be called in buddhist languages ? Sometimes they have been members of the renunciate sangha for a very long time, and thus they do have certain spiritual status. They have acquired spiritual discipline, and spiritual experience.
When they had been expelled from the official sangha they have "survived" somehow, and at some period in history they most likely have formed, or caused to form, the original buddhist tantric community.

Sometimes in buddhist history they have started new schools. I'm thinking of certain Mahayana schools in Japan as an example.

Buddhist sangha usually reluctantly expells anyone.In the old days it may have been different, atleast the Edicts of King Ashoka talk about it as a necessary, severe punishment.

In the stories of the 84 Siddhas there are a couple of cases of this kind. I think siddhas have really existed contemporaneous with the whole buddhist history, but they were ignored and ridiculed, and even executed, during the first 1000 years, approximately, of buddhist history. In the end they were accepted, in India. But not everywhere outside of India.

Longchenpa says in the Great Chariot that sutra and tantra exist as a unity. I understand this so that all the dark and hidden aspects of mind always exist, and certain unpleasant aspects of reality always exist. You can't escape them. You will not understand them before attaining some substantial level on the buddhist path. Before that there is really no use in knowing them, at a later stage this knowledge will be necessary. Knowledge exists in many different ways. If sutra and tantra are a unity you will always get the other one too.
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Enochian » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:20 pm

Tantric teaching in buddhism is anything that references esoteric anatomy like channels, chakras, bindus etc. :hi:
There is an ever-present freedom from grasping the mind.

Mind being defined as the thing always on the Three Times.
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Wed Apr 27, 2011 1:38 pm

Enochian wrote:Tantric teaching in buddhism is anything that references esoteric anatomy like channels, chakras, bindus etc. :hi:


Some western doctors in collaboration with indian yoga practitioners have put forward a view that channels correspond to nerves. Prana would thus be energy, i.e. electric and chemical impulses flowing in the nerves. They are transmiting information from the senses to the brain and commands from the brain to the muscles. And other things..
There is even a drawn chart of nerves in the body that corresponds roughly to a chart of traditional chakras.

In some tantric texts, dug out by Alex Wayman, bindus are the first cells of the human, or other, embryo. The embryo has been called bindurupa, it is a form consisting of the bindus that the embryo has received from father and mother. The meaning of bindu here includes the chromosomes that the emryo has received from father and mother.
The first bindu of a being's life is described by the symbol E-Vam. E is the mother side bindu and Vam is the father side one.
In the first bindu, or cell, of the embryo you have 22 chromosomes from mother and 22 from father.

This corresponds to the number of deities in some important mandalas, like the Guhyasamaja mandala and the mandala of peaceful deities of the Bardo Thödrol. This is about 44 or 42 deities.
It means that the male and female buddhas in this mandala correspond to the chromosomes received from a human being's mother and father. They are here visualized in the human being's first form, bindurupa, or the E-Vam.

This knowledge is derived from Alex Waymans two books; The Arcane Lore, Yoga of the Guhyasamajatantra and Buddhist Tantras, Light on Indo-Tibetan Esoterism.

Generally bindu is not used in the sense of a human cell, usually it has quite different meanings and functions.
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:24 am

To explain a little more about a detail:
The cells that you receive from your mother and father are haploid cells, they each have 22 chromosomes. When they unite they form one diploid cell, which has 44 chromosomes. After that all of the cells in the growing organism have 44 chromosomes, ( excepting the haploid cells that are later produced in the germline of your body).

I have concluded that a similar thing is found in tantric literature, i.e. that you get a bindu from your mother and a bindu from your father. They coalesce and from just one bindu, that is the beginning of your new life and your new body, which is rupa in sanskrit, and thus we have the term bindu-rupa.
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:01 pm

46, not 44. We have 23 pairs, not 22. We have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes. :smile:
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Mon May 02, 2011 1:27 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:46, not 44. We have 23 pairs, not 22. We have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes. :smile:


Thanks for correction.
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue May 03, 2011 4:45 pm

:thumbsup:
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Aemilius » Tue May 10, 2011 12:35 pm

It is some years ago, at that time I thought it in these lines: There are 42 deities in the Bardo Mandala of the Peaceful Deities, in the Bardo Thödol itself there appears actually more Buddhas in the first Bardo of Dharmata than the 42, thus we can add Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri and we have 44 deities, then we can add Vajrasattva with Consort and we have the exact number of 46 deities.
Then we visualize that our chromosomes are the Mandala of the Peaceful Deities.
There is also a Guhyasamaja Mandala where you have the right number of deities, described in Alex Wayman's Yoga Of the Guhyasamajatantra. And so on...
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby fragrant herbs » Tue May 10, 2011 9:26 pm

I have been doing research on this very subject today. Not sure what to think about my findings, but maybe others will have something to enlighten me on it:

http://www.iivs.de/~iivs01311/SDLE/Part-1-02.htm

(This online free book is very well documented.)
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby conebeckham » Tue May 10, 2011 10:34 pm

Oh, the Trimondis, eh?

Complete and utter garbage. It's a hit piece.
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Mr. G » Tue May 10, 2011 10:36 pm

conebeckham wrote:Oh, the Trimondis, eh?

Complete and utter garbage. It's a hit piece.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby fragrant herbs » Tue May 10, 2011 11:11 pm

they have a very long list of references. Can you prove them wrong? Can you prove that the texts that they claim to be quoting from are not in those texts?
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Jikan » Wed May 11, 2011 12:24 am

Urgyen Chodron wrote:they have a very long list of references. Can you prove them wrong? Can you prove that the texts that they claim to be quoting from are not in those texts?


The burden of proof is on the author to demonstrate the claims made. Which reminds me...

Urgyen Chodron wrote:(This online free book is very well documented.)


You're making a positive claim that the book is very well documented, which puts the burden of proof on you. On what basis do you make this claim?
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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby fragrant herbs » Wed May 11, 2011 1:19 am

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Re: What is a tantric teaching in Buddhism?

Postby Jikan » Wed May 11, 2011 1:29 am

Urgyen Chodron wrote:http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/dalai_lama/References.htm

above are the references


Yes, that's a list of books (citing Adorno earns extra points), but that doesn't touch the question of how sound the argument is. How is this body of evidence used? You're saying the claims in the Trimondis' book are well-documented. Specifically, how are those claims documented by the references cited in that bibliography?

Frankly, I'm curious how they worked Adorno into it.
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