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re Hindu Tantra and Buddhsit Tantra

To: alt.magick.tantra,alt.religion.buddhism.tibetan,alt.religion.tantra
From: "Robert Thomas" 
Subject: re Hindu Tantra and Buddhsit Tantra
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 18:31:51 +0100


Various Aspects of Tantra
by His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche
Excerpts from a discussion by Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang, junior tutor to His
Holiness the Dalai Lama, on points raised by western students at Dharamsala,

The Relationship between Buddhist Tantra and Hindu Tantra

Although some scholars have maintained that Buddhist Tantra was derived from
Hinduism, this is not correct. The theory, prevalent among those who adhere
to the tenets of the Hinayana is based on a superficial resemblance of
various elements of the two systems, such as the forms of the deities, the
meditations on psychic veins and airs, the fire rituals, etc. Though certain
practices, like the repetition of mantras, are common to both Hindu and
Buddhist tantric traditions their interpretation, i.e. the inner meaning is
vastly different. Furthermore, Buddhist Tantra is superior because, unlike
Hinduism, it contains the three principal aspects of the Path: renunciation,
the Enlightened Attitude and the right philosophy.
To elaborate: as even animals want freedom from suffering, there are
non-Buddhist practitioners who wish to be free from contaminated feelings of
happiness and so cultivate the preparatory state of the fourth absorption
(Dhyana). There are even some non-Buddhists who temporarily renounce
contaminated feelings of happiness and attain levels higher than the four
absorptions. However, only the Buddhists renounce all these as well as
neutral feelings and all-pervasive suffering. Then by meditating on the Path
sufferings together with their causes, which are mental defilements can be
abandoned forever. This is why, while non-Buddhists meditate on the form and
formless states and attain the Peak of Worldly Existence Samadhi, they
cannot abandon the mental defilements of this state. So, when they meet with
the right circumstances anger and the other passions develop, karma is
created and the Wheel of the Circle of Rebirth begins to turn.

Because of this and similar reasons, such practices are not fit to be
included in the Mahayana. They resemble neither the common Sutra path
comprising: the attitude of renunciation which wishes for freedom from the
cycle of rebirths; the wisdom which correctly understands egolessness which
is the right philosophy acting as an opponent to ignorance-the root of
cyclic existence; and the development of the mind which aims for complete
Enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings; nor do they resemble the
practices of the exclusive tantric path of the Great Vehicle.

The Origin of Tantra
The tantras were spoken by the Enlightened Buddha himself in the form of his
supreme manifestation as a monk. also as the great Vajradhara and in various
manifestations of the central deity of specific mandalas. The Great Beings,
Manjushri, Samantabhadra, Vajrapani and others, urged by the Buddha also
taught some Tantras.
In terms of the four classes of Tantra, the Kriya Tantras were taught by the
Buddha in the form of a monk, in the realm of the thirty-three gods on the
summit of Mt. Meru, and in the human world where Manjushri and others were
the chief hearers.

The Pung-Zang Tantras were taught in the realm of Vajrapani. Others were
taught by the Teacher Buddha himself and with his blessings some were
explained by Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani while others were
spoken by worldly gods.

The Carya Tantras were also taught by the Teacher Buddha in the form of his
supreme manifestation in the celestial realms and in the realm called Base
and Essence Adorned with Flowers.

The Yoga Tantras were taught by the Enlightened One when he arose in the
form of the central deity of each mandala in such places as the summit of
Mt. Meru and in the fifth celestial realm of desire.

The Anuttara Tantras were also taught by the Enlightened Buddha. In the land
of Ögyan the Buddha, having manifested the mandala of Guhyasamaja, taught
King Indrabodhi this Tantra. The Yamantaka Tantras were taught by the
Teacher Buddha at the time of the subduing of the demonic forces and they
were requested by either the consort of Yamantaka or by the consort of
Kalacakra. The Hevajra Tantra was taught by Lord Buddha when he arose in the
form of Hevajra in the land of Madgadha at the time of destroying the Four
Maras. The Tantra was requested by Vajragarbha and by the consort of
Hevajra. Having been requested by Vajra Yogini, the Enlightened Buddha, in
the manifestation as Heruka on the summit of Mt. Meru, taught the Root
Tantra of Heruka and, when requested by Vajrapani, taught the Explanatory
Tantra. As for the Kalacakra Tantra. the Mighty Buddha went south to the
glorious shrine of Dharnacotaka and there, manifesting the Mandala of the
Dharmadhatu Speech surmounted by the Mandala of Kalacakra, taught this
Tantra to King Chandrabhadra and others. Although he appeared in many
different manifestations, actually the Tantras were taught by the
Enlightened Teacher, Lord Buddha.

What happens during an initiation
In the initiations of each of the four classes of Tantra there are many
differences, some great and some small, and so therefore one initiation is
not sufficient for all mandalas. At the time of initiation some fortunate
and qualified disciples, when receiving the initiation from a qualified
master, develop the wisdom of the initiation in their mind streams. Unless
this happens, sitting in initiation rows and experiencing the initiations of
the vase and water, etc. will implant instincts to listen to the Dharma but
little else. An initiation is necessary to study Tantra because if the
secrets of Tantra are explained to someone who has not received initiation,
the guru commits the seventh Tantric root downfall and the explanation will
be of no benefit whatsoever to the mind of the disciple.

The relationship between Sutra and Tantra
Regarding renunciation and Bodhicitta, there is no difference between
Sutrayana and Tantrayana, but regarding conduct there is. Three kinds of
conduct have been taught: the disciple who admires and has faith in the
Hinayana should separate himself from all desires; the disciple who admires
the Mahayana should traverse the Stages and practise the Perfections; while
he who admires the deep teachings of Tantra should work with the conduct of
the Path of Desire.
From the point of view of the philosophy, there is no difference in
Emptiness as an object of cognition but there is a difference in the method
of its realization.

In the Sutra tradition the conscious mind engages in meditative equipoise on
Emptiness, while in Tantra the Innate Wisdom, an extremely subtle mind, is
involved and the difference therefore is great. The main practice of
Sutravana, engaging in the Path as a cause to achieve the Form Body and
Wisdom Body of the Buddha, is the accumulation of wisdom and virtue for
three countless aeons and the accomplishment of one's own Buddhafields.
Therefore Sutrayana is known as the causal vehicle. In Tantra one
concentrates and meditates, even while still a beginner, on the four
Complete Purities which are similar to the result-- that is, the completely
pure body, pure realm, pure possessions and pure deeds of an Enlightened
Being. Thus Tantra is known as the resultant vehicle.

The Four Traditions
As for the Sutra tradition, the explanation of the Hinayana and Mahayana is
the same in all the Four Great Traditions. Also. as far as the preliminary
practices are concerned, there are no differences apart from the names. In
the Gelug tradition they are called the Stages of the Path of the Three
Motives; in the Kargvü they are known as the Four Ways to Change the Mind;
the Sakya refer to separation from the Four Attachments; while the Dri-gung
Kargyu speak of the Four Dharmas of Dag-pa and the Five of Dri- gung.
In Tantra, the individual master's way of leading the disciples on the path
depends on his experience and the instructions of the Tantric Root Texts,
together with the commentaries of the great practitioners, result in the
entrance into practice being taught a little differently. However, all are
the same in leading to the final attainment of the state of Vajradhara.

Translated by Gavin Kilty. Prepared by Michael Lewis.
From From Tushita, Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre is the FPMT centre in
New Delhi, India.

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