Tantra

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible in order to double-check alignment to Theravāda orthodoxy.
green
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Re: Tantra

Post by green » Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:01 pm

I agree with with many of the Theravadins in that modern Mahayana and Vajrayana are grossly lacking in basic understanding of the 4 Noble Truths -- and are given this mantra or that mantra and empowerments without even understanding basic meditation and that precepts are mandatory in one's practice.

These "secret" teachings are not supposed to be secret -- they are advanced and NOT FOR BEGINNERS nor can they be understood by beginners.

Now because these guys aren't grounded in basic Buddhist teachings - I would doubt any teacher who tells me to go steal some prostitutes panties. :cookoo:

In that sense many of these Mahayana/Vajrayana practices are no different than Hinduism, because of this lack of understanding of basic Buddhism.

This is not the old time Mahayana of Nagarjuna or Ashvaghosha, all the old Mahayana schools had a sound and thorough grounding in the Aghama (Tipitika) texts and only then moved onto development of psychic powers through mantra/tantra. -- I have not heard of Ven.Nagarjuna or Ven. Ashvaghosha trying something that ridiculous.

Now I have provided plenty of evidence that the TIPITIKA NEVER states that the Tipitika is all that Buddha's taught -- he had taught throughout the world to different people in different languages and taught in different worlds as well.

And it is right to question and doubt any new teachings, especially a, ahem, :quote: teacher, who is teaching to steal someone's panties. :cookoo:

In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, Buddha gives a manner of finding evidence if it is the Dhamma or not:

8-11. Then the Blessed One said: "In this fashion, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might speak: 'Face to face with the Blessed One, brethren, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a community with elders and a chief. Face to face with that community, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name live several bhikkhus who are elders, who are learned, who have accomplished their course, who are preservers of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with those elders, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a single bhikkhu who is an elder, who is learned, who has accomplished his course, who is a preserver of the Dhamma, the Discipline, and the Summaries. Face to face with that elder, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation.'

"In such a case, bhikkhus, the declaration of such a bhikkhu is neither to be received with approval nor with scorn. Without approval and without scorn, but carefully studying the sentences word by word, one should trace them in the Discourses and verify them by the Discipline. If they are neither traceable in the Discourses nor verifiable by the Discipline, one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is not the Blessed One's utterance; this has been misunderstood by that bhikkhu -- or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' In that way, bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if the sentences concerned are traceable in the Discourses and verifiable by the Discipline, then one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is the Blessed One's utterance; this has been well understood by that bhikkhu -- or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' And in that way, bhikkhus, you may accept it on the first, second, third, or fourth reference. These, bhikkhus, are the four great references for you to preserve."



Now this also brings into question comparatively new books such as the Abhidhamma, which is attributed to Ven. Sariputta who recieved it in heaven. How is the Abhidhamma to be verified? There are various Abhidhammas in various schools.

So this verification process is difficult indeed.

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Prasadachitta
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Re: Tantra

Post by Prasadachitta » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:03 am

In this sutta the Buddha inflames the passions of the Bikkhu Nanda by showing him 500 extremely sexy Nymphs. Then he informes Nanda that these Nymphs can be had by him. Nanda then says he will follow the Buddha because the Buddha has guaranteed that Nanda will have these sexy Nymphs. Then in the course of practice Nanda feels shame at having practiced for such a purpose. His intense shame causes him to practice for the right reasons.

This is what I call "Skillful Means"

Obviously only a teacher who is profoundly skilled could expose a lustful celibate monk to 500 erotic temptresses and be doing it for his well being.


Metta

Gabriel
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"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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mikenz66
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Re: Tantra

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:32 am

For something about the relationship between early Buddhism and Tantra see the final chapter of Richard Gombrich, "How Buddhism Began", where he hypothesises that Angulimala's finger necklace was actually some sort of tantric practise.

http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=aIOY ... #PPA156,M1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Whatever you think of his theory, there is some interesting discussion of Tantra there.

Metta
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Dan74
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Re: Tantra

Post by Dan74 » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:20 am

Thank you Gabriel and Mike for posts that provide relevant information rather than bigotry.

It is sad to see all that misinformation and accusations flying against a fellow school of Buddhism.

Although I am not a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, the story of "prostitute's panties" is almost certainly bogus and just perpetrates this stereotype of "crazy wisdom" that "good Buddha-fearing folk" can used to justify their dismissal of Vajrayana as a degenerate and decadent perversion of Dhamma. From what I understand such "crazy wisdom" is almost non-existent in the tradition.

In fact every Tibetan teacher I've come across (not many granted) emphasised the Agamas as the foundation of any respectable Buddhist practice and taught that the tantras and various Tibetan teachings are either elaborations or skillful means to realise the teachings. But I am in no way qualified to be a spokesperson for Tibetan Buddhism - I practice Zen (Seon) Buddhism.

The bottom-line as I see it is if folks like to feel that "their" school is the "true" one or "the superior one" - go for it. You are building just another ego fortress.

Or we could just put that energy into being the best practitioner of Theravada/Vajrayana/Zen and not worry about slanging traditions that we understand so little about?

Or am I missing the point here?

_/|\_
Last edited by Dan74 on Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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davcuts
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Re: Tantra

Post by davcuts » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:34 am

Some peoples logic is tantra makes people see that both holy objects, and objects of disgust are empty of inherent existence. I can see how that is true, because everything in samsara deceives us into believing it is real, or "out there". But does that mean a person should view feces and gold as the same? If you eat feces isn't it still feces no matter how pure you make it. Most Buddhist I know are hardcore vegetarians, yet in their tantra practice they eat meat, saying they transferred it into emptiness. My thought is tell that to the cow who had it's throat slit at a slaughter house. Was it empty? Did it not suffer so someone could use it's flesh in a religious ceremony?

I hope I'm not angering anyone with my doubts about tantra. Some have already pointed out I'm not supposed to make people lose faith in tantra, because I have had HYT empowerments. It seems I'm supposed to keep my doubts to myself, or I might take rebirth in a vajra hell.
Vajrayana is all I know. Some of you know I got involved with Buddhism through a cult. I have spoke out against that cult to the point they felt it was necessary to put my name and picture on one of their websites. People have threaten me saying I may go missing one day, so I need to make sure my affairs are in order. It's not a direct threat, but a threat just the same. I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared. All my teacher would have to do is give the order for me to be killed, and it will be done. That's because people view him as a Buddha or Bodhisattva. He knows best in their eyes. Am I to take it there are no such beliefs in Theravada Buddhism? It seems killing and sexual misconduct can be seen as pure in Tibetan Buddhism. I still don't see how that is possible. I have a lot of guilt for feeling this way.

David

davcuts
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Re: Tantra

Post by davcuts » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:38 am

Dan74 wrote:It is sad to see all that misinformation and accusations flying against a fellow school of Buddhism.

Although I am not a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, the story of "prostitute's panties" is patently bogus and just perpetrates this stereotype of "crazy wisdom" that "good Buddha-fearing folk" can used to justify their dismissal of Vajrayana as degenerate and decadent perversion of Dhamma.

_/|\_
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jcsuperstar
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Re: Tantra

Post by jcsuperstar » Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:01 am

it's definately the left hand path of buddhism...

in these discussions skillfull means will always be brought up, but i'm of the school of thought that skillfull means take skill, where as just breaking a precept does not... a true master should be able to get the job done with his/her virtue remaining in tact, as that would be what makes him a master....

however i do like the crazy zen story now and again , guys like ikkyu are a hoot, but they are always intended to be a one shot deal and not tthe bringer of a new crazy path.. they are simply iconoclasts who come when the time is needed. much different i believe.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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srivijaya
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Re: Tantra

Post by srivijaya » Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:34 am

Hi David,
You raise some good points, which I will attempt to address, as I suspect we share a common background and some of the problems you are now struggling with were the self same problems I had to deal with too.
davcuts wrote:Some peoples logic is tantra makes people see that both holy objects, and objects of disgust are empty of inherent existence. I can see how that is true, because everything in samsara deceives us into believing it is real, or "out there".
I hardly know where to start with this statement. It's what 'they' tell you, but it is wrong on so many counts. When looking at the 'theory' of the 'emptiness of inherent existence' you need to be aware that these teachings were used in debate between monks. They are conceptual and intellectual conclusions and do not represent direct experience in any way. Why? because they set it up and knock it down. If I claim that unicorns never existed, then I'm right, you see, or am I? When did you ever say they did exist? Never. In the same way I only have to sell the concept of Maya (a Hindu Advaita Vedanta philosophy btw) and convince you that you perceive things in a mistaken manner for you to assume that you are in error and need to learn how to see things properly (in their ultimate sense), as if there is such a thing as an "ultimate state". Whoops, sorry there isn't - it's a non-affirming negation (silly me). So why bother then?

To see what I'm getting at, read the following quote and substitute the word Brahman for Emptiness and you'll be quite astonished.
Advaita Vedanta
Adi Sankara - The great Advaita philosopher
Advaita Vedānta was propounded by Adi Sankara and his grand-guru Gaudapada, who described Ajativada. According to this school of Vedānta, Brahman is the only reality, and the world, as it appears, is illusory. As Brahman is the sole reality, it cannot be said to possess any attributes whatsoever. An illusionary power of Brahman called Māyā causes the world to arise. Ignorance of this reality is the cause of all suffering in the world and only upon true knowledge of Brahman can liberation be attained.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedanta" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Interesting eh?
But does that mean a person should view feces and gold as the same? If you eat feces isn't it still feces no matter how pure you make it. Most Buddhist I know are hardcore vegetarians, yet in their tantra practice they eat meat, saying they transferred it into emptiness. My thought is tell that to the cow who had it's throat slit at a slaughter house. Was it empty? Did it not suffer so someone could use it's flesh in a religious ceremony?
tut tut - dude that's all because you can't get over this *ahem* "conventional appearance" thingie and see the ultimate Maya-free state... and pass me the vodka while we're at it.
hope I'm not angering anyone with my doubts about tantra. Some have already pointed out I'm not supposed to make people lose faith in tantra, because I have had HYT empowerments. It seems I'm supposed to keep my doubts to myself, or I might take rebirth in a vajra hell.
That's what they told me too. Scare tactics. You need to ask in Buddhism otherwise you won't get anywhere.
Vajrayana is all I know. Some of you know I got involved with Buddhism through a cult.
This says it all. Me too. They don't even bother to teach you how to meditate properly. This isn't a personal criticism, as this isn't your fault but I bet you've only ever been told to visualize things and chant mantras right? Buddha never taught that. The basics are all Buddha ever taught and they are all anyone needs. Look into cultivating Jhana, it's what Buddha really taught and it works. It is straightforward, clear and very beautiful.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared. All my teacher would have to do is give the order for me to be killed, and it will be done.
Chances are, they wouldn't touch you. If that sort of activity got linked to them their PR would be down the drain. I wouldn't worry over much about their bogey man either.
Am I to take it there are no such beliefs in Theravada Buddhism? It seems killing and sexual misconduct can be seen as pure in Tibetan Buddhism. I still don't see how that is possible. I have a lot of guilt for feeling this way.
Killing and sexual misconduct are killing and sexual misconduct. They are not pure acts period. Such transgressive practices came from sects akin to the Kapalikas:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapalika" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In all fairness, most Tibetan Buddhist teachers would never condone these activities and to be honest I have rarely encountered such mention within the Tibetan tradition. The cult you were involved with have gone well off the rails. I would hesitate to call them Buddhist at all.
There is much of great value in genuine Tibetan traditions but most Westerners haven't got a clue about the social and cultural context from which these teachings originated. You'd be best advised to take a big step back from it all and take meditation into your own hands and actually discover what Buddha taught his disciples. It's well worth it.

Good Luck

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Dan74
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Re: Tantra

Post by Dan74 » Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:29 am

davcuts wrote:I was taught tantra was taught by Buddha, but it was a secret teachings only passed along to a chosen few. If it was a secret then why was tantra introduced in Hinduism first? I'm not getting a clear answer. Vajrayana is all I know. I have had Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments, yet I still don't know why I'm supposed to take something disgusting and make it pure.
David
I've not done my homework into tantra, but I know enough that certain things shouldn't be talked about
These were said by the same person within a week. So which is it: not done homework or had highest empowerments? I thought you belonged to NKT which is denounced by the Dalai Lama and the majority of Tibetan establishment and is notorious for half-baked teachers. So are you just rubbishing things you do not understand? If you find yourself more comfortable with the Theravada approach by all means practice Theravada, but why pore scorn on what you clearly have no understanding of? Do you know better than all the great Tibetan teachers and calling the entire tradition a fraud? You are taking on a tad too much I think...

...
_/|\_

mudra
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Re: Tantra

Post by mudra » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:07 pm

Dan74 wrote:
davcuts wrote:I was taught tantra was taught by Buddha, but it was a secret teachings only passed along to a chosen few. If it was a secret then why was tantra introduced in Hinduism first? I'm not getting a clear answer. Vajrayana is all I know. I have had Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments, yet I still don't know why I'm supposed to take something disgusting and make it pure.
David
I've not done my homework into tantra, but I know enough that certain things shouldn't be talked about
These were said by the same person within a week. So which is it: not done homework or had highest empowerments? I thought you belonged to NKT which is denounced by the Dalai Lama and the majority of Tibetan establishment and is notorious for half-baked teachers. So are you just rubbishing things you do not understand? If you find yourself more comfortable with the Theravada approach by all means practice Theravada, but why pore scorn on what you clearly have no understanding of? Do you know better than all the great Tibetan teachers and calling the entire tradition a fraud? You are taking on a tad too much I think...

...
I ask the same question.

Methinks, Dan74, not only taking on too much - perhaps as a result of personal trauma or not - but actually a little off track. I thought this forum was for us non-Theravadins to learn about Theravada, which is a good thing to do. But the thread hasn't revealed anything new.

I was hoping, against all odds, when I began reading the thread that the OP's question would at least lead into a discussion of whether the rumours of a so-called 'tantric' practice in Burma had any grain of truth in it, or even better what would be the foundation that would lead to such rumours.

Sigh. no such luck. Same old lumping of everything into one bag. There are tantrikas and there are tantrikas. I am sure in other traditions that there are embarassments as well (tell me it ain't so).

Now, can anyone here explain to me why there are these stories of Tantra in theravadin countries like Burma, or what would lead to such conjecture? Also I have read at least one seemingly reputable account of Bodhissatva "commitment" in Theravadin schools.

Should I make this last query it's own thread?

Respectfully,

M

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clw_uk
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Re: Tantra

Post by clw_uk » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:23 pm

Ive never really understood the need for tantra at all, the buddhas teachings were perfect and would only need one turning of the wheel wouldnt they?
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Dan74
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Re: Tantra

Post by Dan74 » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:34 pm

Again I wish an experienced Vajrayana practitioner comes and replies properly. But to my (very) limited knowledge, the "need" is in the speed. Tantra is meant to be the quick way because it employs quite radical methods of overcoming the dualistic mind, the deluded clinging mind and realising the Buddha-nature. There is a huge array of techniques - from yogic kind of energy exercises, visualisations, guru worship, etc etc. They are often risky practices and should be done only under the direction of a competent and reliable Lama.

On the other hand, perhaps some people can overcome delusions upon hearing and contemplating the scriptures, meditating or using other (non-tantric) techniques. There are past examples of this of course. So they would (presumably) not need the tantras although it may be argued that they were Vajrayana practitioners in past lives.

This is an ancient tradition that benefitted from some of the greatest early Indian masters coming to Tibet as well as some native saints. Whatever the pitfalls and slipups, I think that anyone with just a little familiarity (such as myself) cannot fail but be impressed by the profound nature of this school of Buddhism and of its alignment with Shakyamuni Buddha's Agama teachings and aim.

_/|\_
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Rui Sousa
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Re: Tantra

Post by Rui Sousa » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:44 pm

Dan74 wrote: These were said by the same person within a week. So which is it: not done homework or had highest empowerments? I thought you belonged to NKT which is denounced by the Dalai Lama and the majority of Tibetan establishment and is notorious for half-baked teachers. So are you just rubbishing things you do not understand? If you find yourself more comfortable with the Theravada approach by all means practice Theravada, but why pore scorn on what you clearly have no understanding of? Do you know better than all the great Tibetan teachers and calling the entire tradition a fraud? You are taking on a tad too much I think...
...
I only see doubts that need to be cleared out.

This forum is "Discovering Theravada" and I think it's purpose is to answer this questions from a Theravadin point of view. Right Speech must be observed, while questions are to be answered, but if we don't accept but one turning of the wheel, and base our tradition on the Pali Canon, we should say exactly that. In my opinion that is not divisive speech.

For example: Nagarjuna's texts are not on the Pali Canon, so I don't consider them in my practice. Am I saying he is a fraud? Or that all teachers who follow him are frauds?
With Metta

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Rui Sousa
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Re: Tantra

Post by Rui Sousa » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:54 pm

Dan74 wrote:Again I wish an experienced Vajrayana practitioner comes and replies properly. But to my (very) limited knowledge, the "need" is in the speed. Tantra is meant to be the quick way because it employs quite radical methods of overcoming the dualistic mind, the deluded clinging mind and realising the Buddha-nature. There is a huge array of techniques - from yogic kind of energy exercises, visualisations, guru worship, etc etc. They are often risky practices and should be done only under the direction of a competent and reliable Lama.

On the other hand, perhaps some people can overcome delusions upon hearing and contemplating the scriptures, meditating or using other (non-tantric) techniques. There are past examples of this of course. So they would (presumably) not need the tantras although it may be argued that they were Vajrayana practitioners in past lives.

This is an ancient tradition that benefitted from some of the greatest early Indian masters coming to Tibet as well as some native saints. Whatever the pitfalls and slipups, I think that anyone with just a little familiarity (such as myself) cannot fail but be impressed by the profound nature of this school of Buddhism and of its alignment with Shakyamuni Buddha's Agama teachings and aim.

_/|\_
Thank you for your answer.

In my perspective the Buddha's teaching are recorded in the Pali Canon, and as far as I know in there is no mention of a need for developing such knowledge to reach liberation from suffering.

As for speed of the path let me quote the Buddha, DN 22 Maha-Satipatthana Sutta:
"Now, if anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for seven years, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or — if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance — non-return.

"Let alone seven years. If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for six years... five... four... three... two years... one year... seven months... six months... five... four... three... two months... one month... half a month, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or — if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance — non-return.

"Let alone half a month. If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for seven days, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or — if there be any remnant of clinging-sustenance — non-return.

"'This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding — in other words, the four frames of reference.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words.
With Metta

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Dan74
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Re: Tantra

Post by Dan74 » Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:02 pm

Rui Sousa wrote: For example: Nagarjuna's texts are not on the Pali Canon, so I don't consider them in my practice. Am I saying he is a fraud? Or that all teachers who follow him are frauds?
No problem. Theravada works for you, but what doesn't follow is that Mahayana or Vajrayana are deficient. Still you may consider Nagarjuna in your practice - a lot of wonderful Theravada masters do.

As for speed, it is developing these four frames of reference properly that is tricky and may take quite some time. Are you there?

I don't know if in practice Tantra is speedier or not. But what is true is that they have a great array of methods to overcome a great array of defilements accumulated from time immemorial. So I am guessing that there is some merit there. Still I believe a lot more hinges on the dedication of the practitioner..

On that thought, may we all do our best in whatever Dharmic/Dhammic practice we have chosen and Good Night!

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