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Thread: Tibetian Buddhism & Tantra

  1. #1

    Tibetian Buddhism & Tantra

    This thread is primarily intended for Vajradhara or any other practicing Tibetan buddhist. However any knowledgeable person should pitch in.

    Essentially this is a spin off from the Tantrik Monism thread.

    Prelude: Unlike Tantrism or Kaula Tantrism in particular, Tibetan buddhism is regarded as a religion (loosely used-I mean a complete tradition on it's own, not dependent on outside systems). Though it has been argued well that Kaula Tantrism is also self contained and independent (and I can somewhat agree to it) but nonetheless this is not widely held in Bharatiya society. Tantrism will be generally regarded as a specific path within sanatana dharma primarily aimed at God-realization.

    I'm neither a tantrism scholar nor Tibetan buddhist scholar - infact know hardly anything on either. But discussion here and elsewhere has given me the following impression.

    Kaula Tantrism
    Sex and other items which are often considered counter to dharmic sadhna are accepted in the ritual of Tantrika. But more importantly sexula rituals in Kaula tantra as per our in-house practitioner , and he has said the following with evidence and conviction, is not mere acceptance but regards it as the fundamental point of the path. It seems view held is that chakra sadhna and sexual rituals is not a test of one's ability to master carnal urges but is a genuine method which grants experiences and takes the sadhak to the next level. It seemed Kaula tantrism as practiced today is overtly clear about this point.

    Tibetian Buddhism
    Tibetan buddhism is not tantrism but tantra is integrally associated with the tradition. It is buddhism in philosophy but tantra in practice and interpretation. Being an indian hindu my idea of this path is even much shallow than Tantrika. But some searched in internet and spending some time on buddhist forums in past, I gathered that Vajrayana stress the role of sexual rituals in much lighter shades at least to the public. Most websites stress much more on basic purification practices like ngondro which are required to enter the path.


    Above are my impression ofcourse.

    My question is a bit more deeper than just how much sex is stressed.
    As I said Arjuna has made a point that sexual rituals in kaula are not a test of mastering one's desires but to give real spiritual experiences, which he (being a kaula) treats with high regards. He has even put down celibacy as the lowest level (pasu) in Tantrism (though I'm not convinced here as it seems counter intuitive).
    So does Vajrayana holds the same view about sexual rituals? i.e they are practiced to give higher experiences and not just a test of one's progress? If so, does it views that these rituals are unavoidable if one chooses to follow the path and one remains at a lower stage if he/she doesn't participate in chakras?

    It may be there are many views, but I would like to know the most prevalent.
    Last edited by Singhi Kaya; 13 April 2006 at 12:26 PM.

  2. #2
    Since Vajradhara only occationally comes here - I'll post what seems to the official view of Dalai Lama's Kalachakra website. Again, this is a public info, and very short intro - and I expect that contents are toned down to keep pasu's away.

    But the view expressed below doesn't refute Kaula idea, but is non-the-less much less toned down and seem to me more close to kundalini yoga traditions than kaula - because word controlling sexual energy is stressed. I expected the words like restraining in kaula context as well, but Arjuna at least did not use any such notion. It seemed (only to me) from his discourse that kaula tantra sanctions normal sexual enjoyment - and use it as a stepping stone to more higher enjoyment. The view below clearly refutes normal sexual enjoyment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalachakra web site
    SEXUALITY IN TANTRA

    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. 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. It is quite the opposite of ordinary sex with attachment and craving.
    As mentioned above, part of the exercises in tantric practice are involving controlling and transforming bodily energies. Sexual energy happens to be one of the strongest forms of physical energy; simply said, it is built-in by nature to ensure the survival of the species. Also these sexual energies need to be completely controlled and transformed. What is usually overlooked is that sexual practices in tantra should be free from the ordinary desires and lust, and only very advanced practitioners should try these practices after permission from their teachers. Simply said, it has very little to do with ordinary sex. Arousal of the sexual energy is preferably done by just visualising a consort.
    The union of male and female are symbolic for the union of method or compassion and wisdom, or more specific in tantra, the union of bliss and emptiness.
    (See also Keith Dowman's website for a more elaborate explanation.)
    "Through the skillful methods of tantra, meditators are able to cultivate pleasure in a way that actually aids in spiritual progress. Afflicted grasping and desires based on mistaken ideas are the problem, not happiness and pleasure. If the pursuit of happiness and pleasure can be separated from afflictive emotions, then it can be incorporated into the path and will even become a powerful aid to the attainment of enlightenment."
    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, they are transformed into positive energy. But using this transformation principle has two sides: it is not only a very effective means of making mental changes, but if they are done without proper guidance of a qualified teacher, the practitioner can easily increase negative emotions rather than reducing them. So very powerful psychological techniques like tantra need to be treated with much care and consideration to avoid disastrous results for the practitioner.

  3. #3
    Namaste Singhi Kaya,

    thank you for the post.

    i've recently become unemployeed, so my time is mostly spent in other activities

    Quote Originally Posted by Singhi Kaya
    Prelude: Unlike Tantrism or Kaula Tantrism in particular, Tibetan buddhism is regarded as a religion (loosely used-I mean a complete tradition on it's own, not dependent on outside systems). Though it has been argued well that Kaula Tantrism is also self contained and independent (and I can somewhat agree to it) but nonetheless this is not widely held in Bharatiya society. Tantrism will be generally regarded as a specific path within sanatana dharma primarily aimed at God-realization.
    Vajrayana Buddhism, which is the form practiced in Tibet, is an authentic Buddhist tradition which fully relies upon and supports the Orthodox and the Heterodox teachings of the Hinyana and Mahayana.

    Tibetian Buddhism
    Tibetan buddhism is not tantrism but tantra is integrally associated with the tradition. It is buddhism in philosophy but tantra in practice and interpretation.
    correct, Vajrayana Buddhism is not pure Tantra though a large tantric teaching is present within the yana.

    the philosophical position of the Vajrayana Buddhists, especially as found in Tibet, is the Prasangika Madhyamika school.

    there are 4 main schools of philosophical Buddhist thought, so it is a bit incorrect to hold the view that Buddhism has a monolithic philosophical view.

    Being an indian hindu my idea of this path is even much shallow than Tantrika. But some searched in internet and spending some time on buddhist forums in past, I gathered that Vajrayana stress the role of sexual rituals in much lighter shades at least to the public. Most websites stress much more on basic purification practices like ngondro which are required to enter the path.
    indeed. recall, one of the main features of Vajrayana Buddhism is the direct mind to mind transmission of the teachings from guru to student. in particular, the tantric teachings are given only to students that have advance a sufficient degree along the path.

    So does Vajrayana holds the same view about sexual rituals? i.e they are practiced to give higher experiences and not just a test of one's progress? If so, does it views that these rituals are unavoidable if one chooses to follow the path and one remains at a lower stage if he/she doesn't participate in chakras?

    It may be there are many views, but I would like to know the most prevalent.
    the Vajrayana, as a whole, does hold the same view regarding the specific sexual rituals detailed in the tantras, that such are practice to remove the taints not as a measure of progress.

    by the by.. one of the ways in which ones progress is measured is a technique called "tummo" or inner fire. this is where a wet sheet is draped across ones body and one uses their inner fire to dry the sheet.

    i wouldn't say that they are "unavoidable" since it is quite possible that a being will never be at a the point, in their current arising, that they could practice the tantras with any benefit. that being said, in terms of a linear progression along the path, the tantras are said to be something of a "short cut" due to the nature of the energy which is being worked with.

    this "short cut" has a broad appeal to many western hemisphere beings, and others as well. as such, the Tantra taught in Buddhism is called the "Secret Oral Transmissions" given by Buddha Shakyamuni to those specific disciples that he knew could uphold and practice them, at least in the Tibetan understanding

    metta,

    ~v
    Meditation brings Wisdom, lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back.

    ~Buddha Shakyamuni

    *******************************

    I have gained this from philosophy:

    That i do, without being commanded, what others do only through fear of Law.

    ~Aristotle

  4. #4
    Namste Vajradhara,

    Sorry to hear about the job. Pray that you find another soon.

    Thank You for the post ... it clears the doubt, not too much different from kaula after all

    Peace
    Singhi

  5. #5

    For discussion purposes

    Namaste all,

    would it be of interest for me to post a Tibetan Tantrik teaching?

    metta,

    ~v
    Meditation brings Wisdom, lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back.

    ~Buddha Shakyamuni

    *******************************

    I have gained this from philosophy:

    That i do, without being commanded, what others do only through fear of Law.

    ~Aristotle

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