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.
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.
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
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.