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.
davcuts
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Re: Tantra

Post by davcuts » Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:41 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...

...
Dan, I'm sorry you take offence to the remarks I've made. I am doing my homework that's why I've come here to get a Theravada perspective on tantra. I have had HYT empowerments, but I clearly did not know what tantra was about. So yes I should have done my homework in that regard, but when you are in a cult you take things at face value. I was told I needed the HYT empowerments, and did just that. If you don't understand the logic behind that, then you have never been in a cult, so please don't pass judgment on something you don't understand.

I didn't call the Tibetan tradition a fraud, all I asked was proof that tantra was taught by Buddha. For someone who doesn't practice Vajrayana you sure go out of you way to defend it. If you have any proof that tantra was taught by Buddha then please state so. If not then please feel free to overlook my post if they upset you.

Take care,
David

ps How do you know I was in the NKT? I only discuss it at e-Sangha and Beliefnet in their Tibetan Buddhism sections. You must care more about Vajrayana then you are leading people to believe.

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Dhammanando
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Re: Tantra

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:04 pm

Hi Mudra,
mudra wrote: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.
You are welcome to start a thread on that topic. But in this thread I believe the OP's question is concerned with whether there is any tantra in Theravada Buddhist teachings, which is a separate issue from whether there is (or ever has ever been) a tantric presence in the Asian Theravadin cultural milieux.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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clw_uk
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Re: Tantra

Post by clw_uk » Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:22 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
Thats the thing though, Buddha taught patience not to seek quick solutions


Everything needed for enlightenment is found in the pali canon, anything else i see as just extra elaborations and interpretations and not all of them always accord with Dhamma. Stick with the basic teachings of the four noble truths, dependnet origination, three marks and meditation and you cant go wrong in my view


:anjali:
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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Rui Sousa
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Re: Tantra

Post by Rui Sousa » Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:02 pm

Dan74 wrote: As for speed, it is developing these four frames of reference properly that is tricky and may take quite some time. Are you there?
Certainly I am not there, but in my understanding there is no short path to be considered, because the Buddha's recommendations were clear and I accept them as complete, it is a hard path in which a lot of effort has to be placed in the practice, but I have faith in the Buddha and I trust his teaching, and I trust the Pali Canon is a reliable vehicle of his teaching.

For me that is the bottom line, in Theravada only one turning of the wheel is accepted, and so Tantra is considered as not important for the path leading to freedom of suffering.
With Metta

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Dan74
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Re: Tantra

Post by Dan74 » Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:46 pm

davcuts wrote:
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...

...
Dan, I'm sorry you take offence to the remarks I've made. I am doing my homework that's why I've come here to get a Theravada perspective on tantra. I have had HYT empowerments, but I clearly did not know what tantra was about. So yes I should have done my homework in that regard, but when you are in a cult you take things at face value. I was told I needed the HYT empowerments, and did just that. If you don't understand the logic behind that, then you have never been in a cult, so please don't pass judgment on something you don't understand.

I didn't call the Tibetan tradition a fraud, all I asked was proof that tantra was taught by Buddha. For someone who doesn't practice Vajrayana you sure go out of you way to defend it. If you have any proof that tantra was taught by Buddha then please state so. If not then please feel free to overlook my post if they upset you.

Take care,
David

ps How do you know I was in the NKT? I only discuss it at e-Sangha and Beliefnet in their Tibetan Buddhism sections. You must care more about Vajrayana then you are leading people to believe.
Hi David,

You posted a link to an ESangha thread and looking at your recent posts to understand where you were coming from immediately showed your NKT background.

I think if you want to do your homework on tantra, you should first ask a reputable Tibetan teacher. The answer I got when I asked once was that nothing in the tantra or the termas is contrary to the Buddha's teaching or intention. If you want to find out about the use of cardamom you don't ask a Thai chef who has no use for it at all. You ask an Indian chef.

Of course Theravada practitioners will say that it is not necessary and not a part of the Buddha's teaching. And in a way they are right. It is part of the skillful means which are not restricted to the Agamas.

As for me and my motivation, I guess it is more about respect than any special interest in tantra which I have never practiced. Your posts represented Vajrayana in the worst possible light whether that was your intention or not, you should have been aware of it. I am not a fan of sectarian bashing nor one-man-upmanship sometimes seen around the forums, so I try to speak up in y little way. I'm sorry if what i've said has upsetted you and I hope you recover from your NKT experience and find the right Buddhist teacher for you in whatever tradition you settle on.

_/|\_
_/|\_

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srivijaya
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Re: Tantra

Post by srivijaya » Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:27 pm

mudra wrote: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.

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?
I'd like to read it if you do, as I have also heard similar things.

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pink_trike
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Re: Tantra

Post by pink_trike » Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:37 pm

Hi davcuts,

For a comprehensive, accessible introduction to tantric Buddhism in Tibet, I recommend:

Indestructible Truth: The Living Spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism by Reginald Ray

Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantirc Buddhism of Tibet by Reginald Ray

http://www.amazon.com/Indestructible-Tr ... 731&sr=1-5" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Vajra-Worl ... 778&sr=1-4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

green
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Re: Tantra

Post by green » Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:10 am

gabrielbranbury wrote: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
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... urn false;
That's not a tantric context. Real Tantra is more concerned with the chemical aspect of sex (woman's cycles, sex during different cycles, use of these substances in performance of rituals, etc.)

Nanda was already pining and lusting after his fiance...Buddha just showed him that women in heaven are better looking and took his mind off of his fiance...it was incentive.

Lusting after beautiful forms is quite easy.

Buddha in another sutta states clearly that sensual lust is a fetter or an obstacle in the path -- I think to a fisherman's son. When I have more time, I'll find it and post it...unless someone else can post it first. ;)

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Prasadachitta
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Re: Tantra

Post by Prasadachitta » Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:14 am

green wrote: That's not a tantric context. Real Tantra is more concerned with the chemical aspect of sex (woman's cycles, sex during different cycles, use of these substances in performance of rituals, etc.)

Nanda was already pining and lusting after his fiance...Buddha just showed him that women in heaven are better looking and took his mind off of his fiance...it was incentive.

Lusting after beautiful forms is quite easy.

Buddha in another sutta states clearly that sensual lust is a fetter or an obstacle in the path -- I think to a fisherman's son. When I have more time, I'll find it and post it...unless someone else can post it first. ;)
I do not practice Tantra but I have never heard anything about chemical aspects.

We agree that the Buddha used the possibility of having erotic relations with 500 of the most enticing females Nanda has ever seen as "incentive".

What we have here is the skillful use of what is called a "fetter or an obstacle in the path". The Buddha takes this obstacle and turns it into a mechanism for propelling Nanda into a more healthy and engaged practice of the Dhamma. Much like NASA uses the gravitational pull of distant planets to slingshot exploration satellites farther and farther into space.

Metta

Gabriel
"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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Ravana
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Re: Tantra

Post by Ravana » Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:10 pm

I'm having doubts about the nature of tantra. Why is tantra not apart of Theravada Buddhism? I'm having doubts Buddha ever taught tantra. The fact tantra was first taught in Hinduism makes my doubts even stronger.
Invoking deities through visualization, meditation and ritual are not seen solely in Indian occultism, but can be seen in Western occult traditions as well, which obtained them from Egypt. In Western traditions it is called Godform Assumption, where the magician visualizes, chants, meditates and assumes him/herself to be a god, whereby certain qualities of that godform are said to be obtained by the magician.

Assumption of the Godform

The question is, if you add teachings such as the Four Noble Truths, Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta, Emptiness, etc to occultism then would it provide a path to liberation?

The Buddha said
"In whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline, Subhadda, there is not found the Noble Eightfold Path, neither is there found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, or fourth degree of saintliness. But in whatsoever Dhamma and Discipline there is found the Noble Eightfold Path, there is found a true ascetic of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees of saintliness." - Maha-parinibbana Sutta
So if Tantra contains the Noble Eightfold Path intact, then it should be able to provide a path to nibbana.

However, it shouldn't be forgotten that at least theoretically, the enlightenment promised in Tantra is not the same enlightenment promised in Theravada. According to my understanding, this stems from the fact that 'Theravada Emptiness' and 'Mahayana Emptiness' are not the same thing. In Theravada, emptiness is about anatta, but in Mahayana emptiness is about all things having not just the anatta characteristic, but all things having no intrinsic characteristics whatsoever. I assume that Samasara=Nibbana is derived from this and hence in Mahayana, one who has awakened can 'switch' between samsara and nibbana.

Hence it seems to me that if Nagarjuna is correct, then Theravada is indeed an 'incomplete' path, and if Theravada is correct, then Nagarjuna must have made a mistake - or later Mahayanists made a mistaken in understanding Nagarjuna.
But I should add that it has not made the Mahayana or Tantra any less 'Buddhist' than what Theravada/Pali Canon is or has been.
While all these schools certainly fall under the umbrella of Buddhism, I think it is more helpful to think of them as 'Buddhisms'. If you think about it, Theravada and Mahayana are like Christianity and Islam. While Muslims acknowledge Jesus as a prophet, they maintain that sooner or later one must accept their teachings to reach the end goal.

When talking about Buddhist schools, most people say "all schools lead to liberation" - but how do they know this? What is true is that "all schools claim to lead to liberation".

And regarding Advaita Vedanta, I remember reading that Adi Sankara basicaly took Nagarjuna's Sunnata and applied it to Hinduism to create Advaita Vedanta. May be someone can clarify.
“The incomparable Wheel of Dhamma has been set in motion by the Blessed One in the deer sanctuary at Isipatana, and no seeker, brahmin, celestial being, demon, god, or any other being in the world can stop it.”

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Dan74
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Re: Tantra

Post by Dan74 » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:51 pm

Regarding the supposed great differences between Theravada and Mahayana, here's what Ven Dr Walpola Rahula whom I guess many here would know, has to say:
I have studied Mahayana for many years and the more I study it, the more I find there is hardly any difference between Theravada and Mahayana with regard to the fundamental teachings.
from
http://www.geocities.com/jolly2be/thera ... ayana.html

and also

http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Zen_ ... ola_Rahula


_/|\_
_/|\_

green
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Re: Tantra

Post by green » Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:07 am

Dan74 wrote:Regarding the supposed great differences between Theravada and Mahayana, here's what Ven Dr Walpola Rahula whom I guess many here would know, has to say:
I have studied Mahayana for many years and the more I study it, the more I find there is hardly any difference between Theravada and Mahayana with regard to the fundamental teachings.
from
http://www.geocities.com/jolly2be/thera ... ayana.html

and also

http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Zen_ ... ola_Rahula


_/|\_
The more you actually study the texts, the more you know they are not different.

What's different for the schools is the emphasis on different beliefs and practices - not the texts.

All schools at one time did hold the Aghama/Tipitika as their central teachings, with Mahayana sutras/mantras as rays spreading outwards from this core...however, today the practices of the Mahayana schools is very different than Theravada (and very different from early Mahayana)...Theravada too is very different from the earliest practices.

Both schools share the same texts and share Buddha...so I can't see how one can call the different "buddhisms" as "abrahamic religions" :jawdrop:...they don't share the same texts or the same founder and have different names for their different "one God".

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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: Tantra

Post by Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:26 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, visuali sations, guru worship, etc etc. They are often risky practices and should be done only under the direction of a competent and reliable Lama.
Dear Dan,

I am a practitioner, but I feel no urge to rush to the defense of tantra. I have so much confidence in this particular path that I feel it needs no defense.

I finally spoke up to correct one little thing ;) Guru Yoga isn't guru worship. In vajrayana nothing is worshipped as in any other school of Buddhism. The guru is seen as a means to access the teachings and pure view, just like everything else is a matter of method. You're quite right though, that it's all about method and pulled out of a substantial context, certain aspects make less sense.

:namaste:

Individual
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Re: Tantra

Post by Individual » Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:45 pm

davcuts wrote:I'm having doubts about the nature of tantra. Why is tantra not apart of Theravada Buddhism? I'm having doubts Buddha ever taught tantra. The fact tantra was first taught in Hinduism makes my doubts even stronger. How can a person prove tantra was or wasn't taught by Buddha? If this question goes against the TOS moderators please delete it.

Thanks,
David
If I may be blunt, tantra was a later corruption of Buddhism. It comes even after the age of Nagarjuna's scholastic Buddhism. At best, (right-handed) tantra is merely an unnecessary superstition. At worst, (left-handed) tantra is outright evil and demonic. If you read some of the tantras, some of them seem to expound wrong views, especially eternalism. In the Kulayarāja Tantra, Samantabhadra essentially makes the same ridiculous utterance of being a creator god, which was previously stated by a Maha-Brahma and refuted, in the Brahmajala Sutta. In some of the other tantras, there are bizarre descriptions of concoctions involving blood and semen, and ritualistic sex.

Some of the Tibetan Buddhists' techniques and teaching styles are interesting, and worth taking a look at, but I don't think their grandiose claims can be taken seriously. After all, some of their Lamas, when they're sick, won't tell their followers and while preaching various superstitions, they'll secretly run off to western hospitals.

Oh, but tantra isn't simply Tibetan, though, to make that clear. The Mahayana canon has some tantras as well and there is Vajrayana in Japanese, under Shingon, too. From what I've seen, Shingon Buddhists tend to be a bit more reasonable.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Rui Sousa
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Re: Tantra

Post by Rui Sousa » Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:36 pm

Individual wrote:At worst, (left-handed) tantra is outright evil and demonic. If you read some of the tantras, some of them seem to expound wrong views, especially eternalism. In the Kulayarāja Tantra, Samantabhadra essentially makes the same ridiculous utterance of being a creator god, which was previously stated by a Maha-Brahma and refuted, in the Brahmajala Sutta.
:shock: The text excerpts at wikipedia remind of how Brahman is described in the Upanishads.
With Metta

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