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.

Re: Tantra

Postby 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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Re: Tantra

Postby 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.
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Re: Tantra

Postby 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

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

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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Re: Tantra

Postby 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...

...
_/|\_
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Re: Tantra

Postby 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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Re: Tantra

Postby 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?
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
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Re: Tantra

Postby 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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Re: Tantra

Postby 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?
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Re: Tantra

Postby 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.
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Re: Tantra

Postby 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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Re: Tantra

Postby 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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Re: Tantra

Postby 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
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: Tantra

Postby 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


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Re: Tantra

Postby 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.
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Re: Tantra

Postby 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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Re: Tantra

Postby 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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Re: Tantra

Postby 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

http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Vajra-Worl ... 778&sr=1-4
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.
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Re: Tantra

Postby 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

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http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html[/url]


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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Re: Tantra

Postby 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
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Re: Tantra

Postby 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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