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Tantric Buddhism

ZenSamZenSam ZenJew Explorer
edited March 18 in Faith & Religion

First of all, i have no idea what this is, and thats why i'm posting this. Trying to learn about it from non- buddhist sources left a pretty bad taste in my mouth, it was basically described as s*x=enlightenment, but this is almost definitely untrue, so i must ask, what is tantric buddhism?

Comments

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited March 18

    Tantra refers to Buddhism taught in Tibet and is four schools: Gelug, Kagyu, Nyingma, and Sakya. Historically I believe there was for awhile Tantric teachings in the Theravada in India too but that ended ages ago and I don't know the 'story' of what happened.

    Those 4 Tibetan schools teach tantra (I believe) and also they teach Mahayana as well. And they teach so called "hearer" teachings as well.

    Some practitioners like myself are part of those schools teaching but I focus on the Mahayana teachings rather than practicing tantra but my teacher learned in the Mahamudra tradition which is tantric so that probably flavors what I am seeing and hearing and reading in our Sangha's teachings.

    Also probably an oversimplification but some schools of Tantra see the Mahayana (emptiness of phenomena) as the principal teaching and then you practice Tantra to enhance that. Whereas some it is reversed and the tantric vows and practices are the most important and you use Mahayana to support that. This is a generalization and might not be strictly true.

    Another idea to understand the relation between Mahayana and Tantra is that if you are practicing the emptiness teachings and you have no skillful means or compassion or other qualities of bodhicitta then probably your understanding of emptiness is not quite there.

    So Tantra has to do with developing the qualities of enlightenment. The bodhicitta. So you can't say you understand Mahayana without development of bodhicitta which is in the realm of Tantra. "endless Buddha qualities"

    In the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism I believe there are different Tantras taught. Some are "lower" and I haven't heard the names of those and also I have not heard the doctrines and common practices of those. The two "highest" are Dzogchen and Mahamudra.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzogchen

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahamudra

    lobster
  • ZenSamZenSam ZenJew Explorer

    @Jeffrey perhaps so, but what are the teachings? I could scarcely say i believe what you said(in the last paragraph) without knowing more about the teachings.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited March 18

    Look at the link to Dzogchen and Mahamudra in wikipedia. I don't know the names or beliefs of the other tantras. My teacher knows about Mahamudra and her husband Dzogchen.

    A lot of their teachings are the same but from their perspective. So Pali Canon from their perspective or Mahayana sutras from their perspective.

    Also some examples of sutras about Buddha nature (a topic in tantra) are: Nirvana sutra, Ratnagotravibigga sutra, and Shrimaladevi sutra. But as I said you can read other sutras but you have your own schools perspective in that reading and contemplation.

  • ZenSamZenSam ZenJew Explorer

    Interesting..........

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    I was involved in TB for most of my Buddhist life, but like @Jeffrey I too focused primarily on the sutra side. To my knowledge tantra is more a practice than a set of knowledge and the knowledge that there is is of a symbolic nature. So if one reads it and takes it literally, which some do and can lead to harmful things, then the sexual or violent imagery can be off putting.

    I imagine you'll get a fairly unbiased basic understanding of Buddhist tantra from the Wikipedia page.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajrayana

  • ZenSamZenSam ZenJew Explorer

    @person

    The Tattvasaṃgraha Tantra, classed as a "Yoga tantra", is one of the first Buddhist tantras which focuses on liberation as opposed to worldly goals and in the Vajrasekhara Tantra the concept of the five Buddha families is developed.[14] Other early tantras include the Mahavairocana Tantra and the Guhyasamāja Tantra.[15] The Guhyasamāja is a Mahayoga class of Tantra, which features new forms of ritual practice considered "left-hand" (vamachara) such as the use of taboo substances like alcohol, sexual yoga, and charnel ground practices which evoke wrathful deities.[16] Indeed, Ryujun Tajima divides the tantras into those which were "a development of Mahayanist thought" and those "formed in a rather popular mould toward the end of the eighth century and declining into the esoterism of the left",[17] mainly, the Yogini tantras and later works associated with wandering antinomian yogis. Later monastic Vajrayana Buddhists reinterpreted and internalized these radically transgressive and taboo practices as metaphors and visualization exercises. -wikipedia

    Seems like Guhyasamāja sucked.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @ZenSam said:

    Seems like Guhyasamāja sucked.

    Can you be more specific? I've long been exposed to the more controversial things when taken literally or out of the context of their spiritual training. So I don't see what people new to them see and it isn't obvious what you are averse to or exactly why and its hard to address your interest well.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    but what are the teachings?

    Skilful means.
    In initial tantra, the power of the monkey mind tendencies are used as the fuel to change or purify our being.

    For example a lama or yidam (abstract idealisation) is focussed on, resonated with and begins to transform our being.

    Hail Hydra Lama Buddha! Here for example is one of my tantric ipad shrines and an actual practice mantra ...
    https://cundi.weebly.com/yidam.html

    paulysopersonfederica
  • ZenSamZenSam ZenJew Explorer

    I'll have to look in to these practices, there are very interesting

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @ZenSam said:
    First of all, i have no idea what this is, and thats why i'm posting this. Trying to learn about it from non- buddhist sources left a pretty bad taste in my mouth, it was basically described as s*x=enlightenment, but this is almost definitely untrue, so i must ask, what is tantric buddhism?

    Actually, what you were told is true, except for the Dalai Lama's reformed sect. But traditionally, there were many stages of instruction, lasting years, before one arrived at a point, where one might choose to study Highest Yoga Tantra, which is the part the people you discussed it with were referring to. So first, one would go through the "Hinayana" teachings, Mahayana, texts like the Bodhisattva Way of Life, and so on. Then the preliminary tantric stage might involve simply visualizing oneself as Avalokiteshvara, or another deity (Medicine Buddha, etc.).

    Anyway, the HYT component has been so problematic, that Shamar Rinpoche, one of the top officials in the Kagyu school (who passed away a few years ago, RIP), started his own group of centers, called Bodhi Path Centers, that avoid HYT altogether. I think he deserves respect for acknowledging the abuses that have occurred, and doing something about it, to the extent he was able within his own sphere.

    The Tantric path is referred to as the "quick path", that can lead one to Enlightenment in one lifetime, but it's also known as the most dangerous path, because people can focus on the wrong thing (ahem) and become distracted, and completely derailed from their goal. This, apparently, has happened to many teachers, as well as seekers/students, judging by the many scandals.

    lobsterZenSampaulyso
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 8

    @ZenSam said:
    @person

    The Tattvasaṃgraha Tantra, classed as a "Yoga tantra", is one of the first Buddhist tantras which focuses on liberation as opposed to worldly goals and in the Vajrasekhara Tantra the concept of the five Buddha families is developed.[14] Other early tantras include the Mahavairocana Tantra and the Guhyasamāja Tantra.[15] The Guhyasamāja is a Mahayoga class of Tantra, which features new forms of ritual practice considered "left-hand" (vamachara) such as the use of taboo substances like alcohol, sexual yoga, and charnel ground practices which evoke wrathful deities.[16] Indeed, Ryujun Tajima divides the tantras into those which were "a development of Mahayanist thought" and those "formed in a rather popular mould toward the end of the eighth century and declining into the esoterism of the left",[17] mainly, the Yogini tantras and later works associated with wandering antinomian yogis. Later monastic Vajrayana Buddhists reinterpreted and internalized these radically transgressive and taboo practices as metaphors and visualization exercises. -wikipedia

    Seems like Guhyasamāja sucked.

    Interestingly, the DL has taught the Guhyasamaja Tantra in the US. I saw an announcement for his teaching of it, scheduled for, I think, Washington DC a few years ago.

    I think some Tibetan traditions said they "reformed", and reinterpreted the practices into symbolic form to be done as meditations, but secretly were carrying them out as before. In some instances, only the tulkus and high-ranking monks practiced them in secret, while the rank-and-file monks "practiced" via meditation.

  • herbieherbie Veteran

    It's a paradox situation that information about secret teachings nowadays is available through searching the web. And many teachers even publish books about them. And they even bestow initiations in public to crowds of anymous people.
    On the other hand tradition says that these teachings, their efficiency, will decline if not kept secret.
    I am at a loss about that.
    guru pema siddhi hūṃ

  • cazcaz Veteran

    @ZenSam said:
    First of all, i have no idea what this is, and thats why i'm posting this. Trying to learn about it from non- buddhist sources left a pretty bad taste in my mouth, it was basically described as s*x=enlightenment, but this is almost definitely untrue, so i must ask, what is tantric buddhism?

    A good source which is freely available is Geshe Kelsangs Modern Buddhism which covers the union of Sutra and Tantra according the the Gelug POV so it acts as a very good context for learning and is also the source of the following info transmitted via my format of writing.

    In a nutshell Tantra or Highest Yoga Tantra is the method to accomplish the teachings of sutra quickly it comes in two stages 1. Generation and 2. Completion stage.

    1. Generation is continuing with the theme of Sutra emptiness but taking it further, dissolving the things we normally see into emptiness and arising as a yidam, Heruka/ Vajrayogini/Yamantaka etc this prevents ordinary conception and ordinary appearance which tantra describes as the root of self grasping Ignorance again taking it further then Sutra teachings.

    2. Completion uses the basis of generation stage to access the very subtle mind, Sutra talks about Buddha nature but doesn't tell you exactly what it is Tantra says it is your very subtle mind, completion stage uses meditation techniques to access this very subtle mind which has two half's indestructible wind and mind and uses various meditation techniques to access it.

    For highly advanced yogi's some took physical consorts who also where highly accomplished mediators to practice certain completion stage practices, however this is not actually necessary Je Tsongkhapa's transmission of Tantra is practiced without physical consort because it uses an uncommon technique of completion stage meditation.

    Anyone Buddhist can practice Tantra so long as they have a good grounding of Sutra and take empowerment, keep the commitments etc but enlightenment cannot be accomplished via Sutra practice alone according to Tantra, as Gross minds meditating on emptiness are not sufficently powerful to clear subtle obstructions, only the very subtle mind meditating on emptiness via Tantra generates sufficent power to clear all obstructions and accomplish enlightenment.

    Hope this helps.

    Tantric instructions are widely available via published books now so are out in the open,a practitioners job is to keep their inner experience secret.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Good post @caz B)

    Tantric instructions are widely available via published books now so are out in the open,a practitioners job is to keep their inner experience secret.

    As we know experiences are subtle and difficult to express conventionally. That is the inner meaning of 'secret'.

    Meanwhile ... consorts, concerts and concerned tantrickery is always open too ...

    For example skilful means precisely that. Whatever it takes ... and no more ...
    https://alannak.com/the-dangers-of-buddhist-tantra-power-struggles-faulty-gurus-and-alternatives/

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