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Tantra and alt.magick.tantra

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.tantra
From: "John B" 
Subject: Re: Tantra and alt.magick.tantra (was Is this a valid "Tibetan ...)
Date: Tue, 9 May 2000 09:30:10 -0700

nagasiva yronwode wrote in message <8f824e$>...
>50000508 IVom
> (Gnome d Plume):
>>...Also we have managed to correct what appears to be a
>>major misconception here on alt.magick.tantra: that Hindu
>>and Buddhist Tantric philosophies are essentially identical.
>my impression is that this was not truly what was being advanced
>by the advocates of their particular lineages of instruction,
>but that their limited exposure and lack of maturity led to the
>advancement of untenable generalizations. there have been a few
>of us (some of us neo-Tantrics) attempting to combat this
>fundamentalism, and it is helpful to have your assistance. you
>are certainly not the first such champion in the newsgroup.
>>I don't know where they got this idea, but it was certainly
>>due for a correction. I could not have done it - but you did.
>in your eyes. realize that your eyes are limited in what they
>have seen in the alt.magick.tantra newsgroup and that those who
>are not convinced by this agreement between you and Xennu will
>continue in their generalizations. the more of us who demonstrate
>the contrary, especially those who are firmly a part of the
>tradition which they seek to represent, the easier that kind of
>generalization will be seen through and abandoned in favour of
>specific claims from the backgrounds of those making them.

Although I am not a Tantric practitioner, I have some training in Asian
studies, and I have no idea how anyone could see "Tantrism" as a single
entity, with certain core principles which are always interpreted the same
way ( as the original discussion was arguing of "maya") As an example of the
unlikelihood of this being the case, an excerpt from Mkhas Grub Rje's
"Fundamentals of the Buddhist Tantra's" (ca.1385-1438) :

"Moreover, according to the Jo-nan-pa's own school, paratantra is equivalent
to a hare's horn (sasa-visana) [ie. an impossibility] and the vehicules are
ultimately one. But if we take the Samdhinirmocana-sutra to be of final
meaning (nitartha) [ as Jo-nan-pa maintains], the contradiction is made
obvious by their own school [which disagrees with a sutra they say has
'final meaning'].
 According to our own school.
  (a) if there were no Embryo of the Tathagata in the stream of
consciousness of a sentient being, there would be no cause of becoming
"fully expanded" (vibuddha) in the stream of consciousness of a sentient
being, and hence there would be no possibility that a sentient being could
become "awakened" and "expanded";
  (b) if the Embryo of the Tathagata meant the same as intrinsic nature Body
(svabhava-kaya) and were in the stream of consciousness of all sentient
beings, all sentient beings would be "fully expanded"; and since what is
fully expanded does not again become "awakened, but not expanded", there
would be no possibility that a sentient being could become "awakened" and
"expanded". Therefore our school does not admit either one of those two

 Well then what is the situation? the citta is void of real production, but
in that voidness the supreme state of thought is called "instrinsically
....Of the three wheels, this first is the Hinayana collection (pitaka); the
other two, the mahayana collection. Futhermore, the first wheel teaches the
Sravaka doctrine; the intermediate one teaches the Madhyamika doctrine; the
last one teaches the Cittamatra doctrine. Consequently, the intermediate
wheel has final meaning and the other two have provisional meaning. "

- p.52-53 Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems, F.D. Lessing and A.
Wayman (translators) 1968.

 Forgive the long quote, but I think it illustrates well the internal
dialogue among Tibetan Buddhist regarding the meaning of doctrine. Arguments
between schools and individual teachers seem to be common and accepted
discussions. What is interesting is that the author of the text, a student
of Tson-kha-pa and an abbot of Galdan monastery, attributes final meaning to
the intermediate promulgation of the Law, the mahayana promulgation, as
opposed to the final one, the vajrayana promulgation. If we follow his lead,
we can suppose that the tantras, and their constitutive elements (including
the concept of 'maya')  do not possess a single meaning, but rather must be
interpreted. And interpretations don't seem to agree at all times. If this
is the case within medieval Tibetan Buddhism, imagine trying to assert a
single meaning across not only all of Buddhism for all time (in Japan,
China, Tibet, India, etc... over thousands of years in some cases) but also
across religious boundaries... I don't think it's very probable.


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