Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Forum for discussion of Tibetan Buddhism. Questions specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Post Reply
SleepingTurtle
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2020 10:10 pm

Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by SleepingTurtle »

As a new follower of Dharma, reading about Buddhism can sometimes feel overwhelming. I was very curious about the main differences between Therevada, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

After searching google for a while, I have stumbled upon this article.

To my surprise, I found the following statement:
An adherent, therefore, does not have to give up bad habits such as drinking alcohol or smoking right away in order to begin one’s work on the path; one only has to commit to following the path and the desire to engage in unhealthy and damaging behaviors will steadily lose their allure. Instead of distancing one's self from desire, one steps toward and through it, shedding one's attachment as one proceeds in the discipline.
I tried to google more about this and how it works, but everything was filled with many confusing terms, or didn't reveal much.

Now, I am living very responsible and don't abuse life, so my question stems from such a sharp contrast between Therevada/Mahayana and Vajrayana.

Can someone please explain to me how does Vajrayana differ and what kind of practice leads them to Kensho?
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 12117
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Kensho is a Zen term and pretty specific to that tradition, unrelated to Vajrayana.

As far as Vajrayana overally, that's a huge question. Not to be mean, but you will need to educate yourself somewhat, as it is a huge tradition and you won't get an accurate picture from a few paragraphs.

The two things I would mention are:

1) it is a path of transformation, not renunciation. Meaning, it is more about transforming the kleshas than renouncing them. Meditatively one of the things it means is that you don't reject certain experiences in the way you would in some traditions - say sensual desire-, but you bring them onto the path.

2) Vajrayana is built "on top" of the Hinayana and the Mahayana, there is no Vajrayana without those foundations.

3) The way one of my teachers put it is that Vajrayana allows you to "buy the whole house on credit", meaning you -start- with enlightenment - the result- as the path itself.

Hope that helps, but yeah, you'll need to do some reading. There are a number of good introductory books out there.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
Varis
Posts: 328
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:09 am

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by Varis »

It can be difficult to understand Vajrayana without understanding Mahayana. In Mahayana we believe that when a Bodhisattva achieves the 10th bhumi (a stage on the path to Buddhahood), Buddhas from the ten directions converge to give the Bodhisattva what is known as an "empowerment". This empowerment removes obscurations from the Bodhisattva, among other things.

Vajrayana is a special method by which any sentient being, regardless of whether or not they're a Bodhisattva, can recieve this empowerment. In theory you can attain enlightenment instantaneously as a result. However most people do not, and this is where the practices come into play.

The empowerment itself is the point of Vajrayana, everything else is secondary.
PeterC
Posts: 2933
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:38 pm

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by PeterC »

SleepingTurtle wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 9:45 pm As a new follower of Dharma, reading about Buddhism can sometimes feel overwhelming. I was very curious about the main differences between Therevada, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

After searching google for a while, I have stumbled upon this article.

To my surprise, I found the following statement:
An adherent, therefore, does not have to give up bad habits such as drinking alcohol or smoking right away in order to begin one’s work on the path; one only has to commit to following the path and the desire to engage in unhealthy and damaging behaviors will steadily lose their allure. Instead of distancing one's self from desire, one steps toward and through it, shedding one's attachment as one proceeds in the discipline.
I tried to google more about this and how it works, but everything was filled with many confusing terms, or didn't reveal much.

Now, I am living very responsible and don't abuse life, so my question stems from such a sharp contrast between Therevada/Mahayana and Vajrayana.

Can someone please explain to me how does Vajrayana differ and what kind of practice leads them to Kensho?
That quoted description is wrong and quite misleading.

Vajrayana is Mahayana. Kensho is a zen term and it’s not a good idea to try to equate technical vocabulary across systems as they often don’t align.

Vajrayana is not a license to party. In vajrayana abusing your bodily aggregates is a breach of vows. Vajrayana practitioners hold many more vows than (non-monastic) common Mahayana or theraveda practitioners - they do daily confession practices in part for that reason. And for a common Mahayana or theraveda practitioner, broken praktimoksha vows (eg by having a drink) can also be renewed.

There really is no simple explanation of vajrayana and indeed if you’re interested you should seek out a teacher and receive (non-vajrayana, initially) teachings, then see if you want to continue. Information on the internet is worth exactly what you pay for it.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 4403
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

PeterC wrote: Thu Nov 05, 2020 2:55 am
SleepingTurtle wrote: Wed Nov 04, 2020 9:45 pm As a new follower of Dharma, reading about Buddhism can sometimes feel overwhelming. I was very curious about the main differences between Therevada, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

After searching google for a while, I have stumbled upon this article.

To my surprise, I found the following statement:
An adherent, therefore, does not have to give up bad habits such as drinking alcohol or smoking right away in order to begin one’s work on the path; one only has to commit to following the path and the desire to engage in unhealthy and damaging behaviors will steadily lose their allure. Instead of distancing one's self from desire, one steps toward and through it, shedding one's attachment as one proceeds in the discipline.
I tried to google more about this and how it works, but everything was filled with many confusing terms, or didn't reveal much.

Now, I am living very responsible and don't abuse life, so my question stems from such a sharp contrast between Therevada/Mahayana and Vajrayana.

Can someone please explain to me how does Vajrayana differ and what kind of practice leads them to Kensho?
That quoted description is wrong and quite misleading.

Vajrayana is Mahayana. Kensho is a zen term and it’s not a good idea to try to equate technical vocabulary across systems as they often don’t align.

Vajrayana is not a license to party. In vajrayana abusing your bodily aggregates is a breach of vows. Vajrayana practitioners hold many more vows than (non-monastic) common Mahayana or theraveda practitioners - they do daily confession practices in part for that reason. And for a common Mahayana or theraveda practitioner, broken praktimoksha vows (eg by having a drink) can also be renewed.

There really is no simple explanation of vajrayana and indeed if you’re interested you should seek out a teacher and receive (non-vajrayana, initially) teachings, then see if you want to continue. Information on the internet is worth exactly what you pay for it.
:good: This is the best reply.

What that quote is attempting to explain (I think), and isn’t doing so very well, is that Vajrayana Buddhism takes everything as path. You look at your habits and negative behaviors directly as a means of knowing your own mind.
But as suggested above, this is really not something you can do in 5 minutes, or just from reading books by lamas. This really does require a teacher with whom you can personally interact.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
SleepingTurtle
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2020 10:10 pm

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by SleepingTurtle »

All the comments were super helpful! I got the general idea of it now :3

I really wish to reach Vajrayana teacher, but there are many flavors/paths/schools(?) of it(according to google). Sadly, Vajrayana communities are not so close to where I live and I will have to travel in real life.

Therefore, can someone help me out on what major paths/flavors/variation of Vajrayana are there, and in short how they differ?
PeterC
Posts: 2933
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:38 pm

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by PeterC »

SleepingTurtle wrote: Thu Nov 05, 2020 11:41 am All the comments were super helpful! I got the general idea of it now :3

I really wish to reach Vajrayana teacher, but there are many flavors/paths/schools(?) of it(according to google). Sadly, Vajrayana communities are not so close to where I live and I will have to travel in real life.

Therefore, can someone help me out on what major paths/flavors/variation of Vajrayana are there, and in short how they differ?
Pick the teacher, not the school

A few teachers of excellent repute who have online teachings:
Garchen Rinpoche
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche
Mingyur Rinpoche
There are many more
User avatar
treehuggingoctopus
Posts: 2003
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:26 pm
Location: EU

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by treehuggingoctopus »

PeterC wrote: Thu Nov 05, 2020 2:50 pmPick the teacher, not the school

A few teachers of excellent repute who have online teachings:
Garchen Rinpoche
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche
Mingyur Rinpoche
There are many more
:good:
To offer care and affection to sentient beings
In desperate situations who lack protection
Brings just as much merit as the meditation
On emptiness with compassion as its core—
So it has been said by glorious Lord Atisha.

Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche

If you cannot generate an altruistic mind, even extensive retreat will be of not much benefit.
Garchen Triptrul Rinpoche
User avatar
Caoimhghín
Posts: 3065
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:35 pm
Location: Whitby, Ontario

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by Caoimhghín »

Explain vajrayāna to you like you're five?

"One day, son, you will grow up to become a wizard!"

I joke. Folks can delete.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
cjdevries
Posts: 480
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:06 pm

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by cjdevries »

One really good Vajrayana book is The Right View by Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro; it's simple, but profound. He's a very skilled teacher. He also provides videos of some of his teachings online; do a search for his name and you'll find it.
"Please call me by my true names so I can wake up; so the door of my heart can be left open: the door of compassion." -Thich Nhat Hanh

"Ask: what's needed of you" -Akong Rinpoche
Tata1
Posts: 236
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:57 pm

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by Tata1 »

Caoimhghín wrote: Thu Nov 05, 2020 5:00 pm Explain vajrayāna to you like you're five?

"One day, son, you will grow up to become a wizard!"

I joke. Folks can delete.
Good one
User avatar
Jangchup Donden
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:44 am

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by Jangchup Donden »

So generally speaking there are three levels of Buddhist practice.

Hinayana: You recognize the suffering of samsara and practice to free yourself from suffering. In the best case you can become enlightened as an arhat in this life, or at least a stream enterer and become enlightened as an arhat within 7 lives.

Mahayana: you recognize all other sentient beings are suffering in the same way you are, and instead of seeking your own freedom from suffering you take the greater intention to become a Buddha to free all beings from suffering. Unfortunately, this takes a number of kalpas to accomplish (a very very very long time, a kalpa is the time a universe lasts before being destroyed).

Vajrayana: The time to Buddhahood of the common Mahayana approach is not fast enough, beings are suffering now and you want to be able to benefit them as quickly as possible. Because of this you'll utilize the potentially more dangerous but much much quicker special methods of the Vajrayana to become a Buddhahood as fast as possible, potentially even within this life, but in the worst case within 17 (assuming you keep your samaya an devotion to your guru).
Charlie123
Posts: 347
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:10 pm

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by Charlie123 »

PeterC wrote: Thu Nov 05, 2020 2:50 pm
SleepingTurtle wrote: Thu Nov 05, 2020 11:41 am All the comments were super helpful! I got the general idea of it now :3

I really wish to reach Vajrayana teacher, but there are many flavors/paths/schools(?) of it(according to google). Sadly, Vajrayana communities are not so close to where I live and I will have to travel in real life.

Therefore, can someone help me out on what major paths/flavors/variation of Vajrayana are there, and in short how they differ?
Pick the teacher, not the school

A few teachers of excellent repute who have online teachings:
Garchen Rinpoche
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche
Mingyur Rinpoche
There are many more
:good:

Specifically, study with someone whose presentation of the dharma interests and inspires you, not just someone who you think is a nice person.
fckw
Posts: 657
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:10 am

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by fckw »

"...like I'm 5". Ok, let's try.

Vajrayana is a bunch of guys believing that when you study veeeery closely what your mind does all day long, then you eventually will get something out of all this studying. Now, it just so happens that actually many other people believe same, but with some completely random tiny little differences between the beliefs of some and those of others. It's like everyone loves eating pizza, but some just love them with anchovies and others without. And then of course they make a very big fuzz about what's the only right way to eat your pizza! It is for this reason that some who totally coincidentally shared same taste for anchovies created a club and started calling it "Vajrayana". What distinguishes this club now from all other existing clubs? Well, if you look from the outside, nothing relevant really. But as is always the case with every club, the members of this club will totally disagree with this assessment and start serving you all sorts of quite silly reasons why in their view their club is really the crème de la crème, the non-plus-ultra, the sine-qua-non. It's like saying that eating pizza with anchovies is clearly superior to eating pizza without! Now, if you want to go and figure out all the tiny details then you can easily spend a lifetime discussing with them about the right type of anchovies to put on your pizza. If you find this a bit silly then you can just lean back and relax. You really won't miss so much not joining that particular club because other clubs are just as fun.
User avatar
Lingpupa
Posts: 429
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:13 am
Location: Lunigiana (Tuscany)
Contact:

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by Lingpupa »

@SleepingTurtle, I don't think that anyone has yet pointed out that the article you link to in your OP is of very poor quality. I haven't read it all, but the section on vajrayana looks like it was cobbled together after googling "vajrayana" for ten or fifteen minutes. Sorry to say that, but it's true. So you can delete it from your favourites!

Discovering the richness, vastness you might say, of vajrayana is a long adventure. It's a jungle out there, and there are nasty beasts in some places. Some might try to seduce you with cheap bliss, some might try to pull the wool of mindless devotion over your eyes, some deflect you with advice that nothing really matters. But there is real treasure in the jungle, so make sure your brain is switched on - and welcome to the trip!

I also don't think we know whereabouts you live, do we? It's always possible that in the light of your approximate location someone might have an obscure tip to share.
All the best
Alex Wilding
Stupa in the Snow blog at http://chagchen.org/
User avatar
FiveSkandhas
Posts: 386
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:40 pm

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by FiveSkandhas »

Explain it like you are five? OK here is one possible answer:

"Son, these nice men in robes have arrived from far off and say you might be a Tulku. What's a Tulku? Never mind that for now. All they are going to do is place some objects in front of you. If any one of them seems especially familiar, touch it."

I joke, but indeed something like that might be a five-year-old's first brush with Vajrayana, in certain contexts...

For a more helpful answer, see some of the excellent ones above.

If I was forced at gunpoint to give a one-sentence definition of something as complex as Vajrayana, I might sputter out something like the following:
"Vajrayana is a suite of transformative techniques whereby one utilizes the body, the mind, and the voice to change harmful causes and conditions within oneself into beneficial and enlightening causes and conditions."
"One should cultivate contemplation in one’s foibles. The foibles are like fish, and contemplation is like fishing hooks. If there are no fish, then the fishing hooks have no use. The bigger the fish is, the better the result we will get. As long as the fishing hooks keep at it, all foibles will eventually be contained and controlled at will." -Zhiyi
Crazywisdom
Posts: 2366
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 5:48 pm

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by Crazywisdom »

It is the case of becoming a Buddha using the adage, fake it til you make it.
Danny
Posts: 608
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:43 pm

Re: Can someone explain me Vajrayana like im 5?

Post by Danny »

Vajrayana deals mostly in transforming energy.
Key word is transforms, that why it’s called vehicle of transformation. It’s a graded path.
Empowerment’s play central steps in ones development, it’s why the vajra master is central to its core, and the students relationship with the vajra master is emphasized so heavily.
Post Reply

Return to “Tibetan Buddhism”