Tantra - reincarnated thread

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by Pathless, Feb 4, 2004.

  1. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Tantra

    I was hoping that some people might post what they know about Tantra. I'm aware that there is a huge misconception in the West about Tantra being all about sex. From what I have learned, though, actually Tantra is more about following a set of spiritual practices such as meditation and yoga. I'm aware that Tantra today survives mostly in Buddhism, although it also may still be found in some aspects of Hinduism. If anyone has any specialized knowledge on what Tantra is or the history of it, could you please post it here? Thanks in advance. :)
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste pathless,

    thank you for the post.

    i do have some understanding, small as it is, that i could pass on though it will take me a little while to actually compose a coherent response.

    you are correct in your assertion that Tantra is either understood poorly or completely misunderstood in the west.

    just a note... my school of Buddhism is predicated on one of the Tantras that were brought to Tibet by Padmasambhava. there are some "public" aspects that i can freely discuss though there are other areas where this is not the case, i hope that the interested reader will allow for some leeway in my next posting regarding this topic.
     
  3. Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine Junior Moderator, Intro

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    Zdrastvuitsye, hola, shalom, salaam, Dia dhuit, namastar ji, hej, konnichiwa, squeak, meow, :wave:, Pathless.

    I can't wait for Vajradhara's post concerning Padmasambhava (minds that need examining want to know. ;) :D)

    Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
     
  4. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Namaste Vajradhara,

    How's the composition of coherency coming? I'm looking forward to reading it.

    Again, if anyone else has a perspective on Tantra, I'd appreciate your thoughts, too. I have a bit of a perspective on it, but I think it's a bit generic and perhaps not very well-informed, so I'm anxious to read anything anyone might be able to share.

    Thanks!
     
  5. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste pathless,

    grr... i've scrapped it twice now... the first time because it was way too long... something like 5 pages or so... the second time because i was revealing some information that, upon further investigation, i should not have been.

    i suspect that i'll have it worked up by the end of this weekend or so... sorry for the delay but it's a broad subject and needs to be treated properly so that it makes sense to the unfamiliar reader.
     
  6. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Namaste Vajradhara,

    No trouble. Thanks for putting so much thought and effort into it. I am looking forward to being educated. :)
     
  7. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    Until then, here's my opinion on the very complex matter of tantra.

    The basics of Buddhism are set out in the tripitaka. They are like the old testament for Buddhists. The primary method of cultivation being one where the practioner increases their everyday awareness of their body, feelings, thoughts and the phenomena of reality.

    There's no hocus pocus. It's simple and straightforward and is found in the Theravada tradition.
    The Mahayana tradition adds more insight into the abhidarma, or the metaphysical teachings such as emptiness and cause and effect.

    Tantra however contains a volume of different techniques to do with the subtle body or energy of the individual.
    By manipulation of the subtle body, one can accomplish much more, much faster, but not without certain risk.
    It's like Buddhism on steroids. How crass. Anyway, it echoes my point.

    Tantra uses the negative energies like desire and hatred (hence the scouring faces of demon deities and the naked virginal ones), AND the positive ones in order to attain enlightment, whereas the hinayana teachings (Theravadin) sublimate the negative energies.

    Tantra uses techniques such as visualising yourself as a particular deity, reciting mantras, breathe work, visualising the flow of Kundalini energy etc.There are some explainations posited as to how this actual works, but none have been able to fully explain them.
    The Kundalini energy resides from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head. They say it has something to do with the nerves.
    Just as someone can take control of their breathing where it was before automatic, so you can take control of the Kundalini.
    If you choose not to breathe however, there are dire consequences, and if you mess around with the Kundalini, the consequences can be just as bad. This is why the teachings are supposed to be secret.

    The use of sexual energy is the same. It is a powerful tool which one can use to overcome the primary obstacle to one's enlightenment, the ego. Of course it is exceeding difficult to remain equanimous in the face of great temptation and even while in the act. Consort yoga is therefore only taught and practiced by the elite.

    All the while these techniques are being used, the basic motivation much be carefully watched. This is why purification and devotional exercises are so important in Tantra even though they may seem a waste of time.

    Tantra provides a fast way to progress spiritually, and should only be attempted by the sincere and well-meaning person.

    If you're interested in Buddhism, I suggest you start with the four Noble Truths and work from there. Trying tantra without a basic understanding of Buddhism is like putting a cherry on a cake that isn't there. No cake(hinayana), no icing(mahayana).

    Anyway, good luck in your search.
     
  8. sjr

    sjr New Member

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    excellent post I'm waiting with baited breath to see how deep down this rabbit hole people are willing to go."Secret" information bulls**t, "tell the children the truth".
    Great information on this site:http://www.shivashakti.com







    .

    The basics of Buddhism are set out in the tripitaka. They are like the old testament for Buddhists. The primary method of cultivation being one where the practioner increases their everyday awareness of their body, feelings, thoughts and the phenomena of reality.

    There's no hocus pocus. It's simple and straightforward and is found in the Theravada tradition.
    The Mahayana tradition adds more insight into the abhidarma, or the metaphysical teachings such as emptiness and cause and effect.

    Tantra however contains a volume of different techniques to do with the subtle body or energy of the individual.
    By manipulation of the subtle body, one can accomplish much more, much faster, but not without certain risk.
    It's like Buddhism on steroids. How crass. Anyway, it echoes my point.

    Tantra uses the negative energies like desire and hatred (hence the scouring faces of demon deities and the naked virginal ones), AND the positive ones in order to attain enlightment, whereas the hinayana teachings (Theravadin) sublimate the negative energies.

    Tantra uses techniques such as visualising yourself as a particular deity, reciting mantras, breathe work, visualising the flow of Kundalini energy etc.There are some explainations posited as to how this actual works, but none have been able to fully explain them.
    The Kundalini energy resides from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head. They say it has something to do with the nerves.
    Just as someone can take control of their breathing where it was before automatic, so you can take control of the Kundalini.
    If you choose not to breathe however, there are dire consequences, and if you mess around with the Kundalini, the consequences can be just as bad. This is why the teachings are supposed to be secret.

    The use of sexual energy is the same. It is a powerful tool which one can use to overcome the primary obstacle to one's enlightenment, the ego. Of course it is exceeding difficult to remain equanimous in the face of great temptation and even while in the act. Consort yoga is therefore only taught and practiced by the elite.

    All the while these techniques are being used, the basic motivation much be carefully watched. This is why purification and devotional exercises are so important in Tantra even though they may seem a waste of time.

    Tantra provides a fast way to progress spiritually, and should only be attempted by the sincere and well-meaning person.

    If you're interested in Buddhism, I suggest you start with the four Noble Truths and work from there. Trying tantra without a basic understanding of Buddhism is like putting a cherry on a cake that isn't there. No cake(hinayana), no icing(mahayana).

    Anyway, good luck in your search.[/QUOTE]
     
  9. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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  10. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Thanks for the posts--lots of good info. Samabhudi, your words of caution are heard and heeded, and actually I have heard them before.

    sjr, thanks for the link. I've only checked out the home page at this point, but it looks very promising, especially since my own experience has been within what has been labeled "Hinduism," and that for whatever reason has resonated with me a bit more than Buddhism, although I dig that, too.
     
  11. Avinash

    Avinash New Member

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    Tantra

    My understanding of Tantra is that it is an intuitive science developed mainly in India. Most of what I write here comes from the two volumes of 'Discourses on Tantra' by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti (1921-1990). Tantra is supposed to have been practised for over ten thousand years, long before caucasian peoples entered India from the west bringing their Vedic religion with them. After that time around seven thousand years ago, the later Vedic teachings underwent much influence from Tantra.

    The meaning of the word Tantra is 'that which liberates you from ignorance or darkness'. It is a practical science and belongs to the same category as Yoga and Mysticism in general. Lord Shiva systematized and improved Tantra around 7000 years ago and so became the father or guru of Tantrics and yogis. Lord Krishna is considered by some Tantrics as another great tantric guru (around 3500 years ago). The science also spread to China (Ta-o = Tantra) and Japan (the 'To' in Shin-to). The behaviour and teachings of Jesus and certain practices in Islam can also be traced back to tantric origins.

    After Shiva, different schools of Tantra (Post-Shiva Tantra) evolved from the Shiva Tantra such as the Gaod'iiya School and the Ka'shmiirii School. The Ka'shmiirii School was influenced by the Vedas but the Gaod'iiya School which was popular in Bengal much less so. When Buddhism and Jainism arrived, script had already been invented and so Buddhist Tantra, Jain Tantra and Post-Shiva (Shivottara) Tantra started some sort of mutual exchange. All three schools broadly accepted the division of Tantra into sixty-four main branches. Only the terminology that was used remained different. Even different deities were mutually accepted (but given different names).

    Within Tantra, Avidya Tantra and Vidya Tantra can be distinguished. When the science of Tantra is not used for liberation or emancipation but for selfish reasons such as the misappropriation of occult powers, it is called Avidya Tantra. Both Vidya and Avidya Tantra have six branches, one of which is common to both.

    If I'm right, the Buddhist Tantra was influenced most by Gaod'iiya Tantra at the time when Buddhism was strong in Bengal. Tantra should be considered as a single science with different branches and not in the same way as religions and sects.

    Andrew
     
  12. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    here's a bit from the other Tantra thread that may be relevant:

    According to Min Bahadur Shakya of the Nagarjuna Institute, Nepal:

    Vajrayana and Hindu Tantra are NOT the Same.

    Vajrayana Buddhism is also called the path of skilful means, secret path or effect vehicle. It is not limited to the Tantric process only. Its main principle is based on Madhayamika and Vijnanavada doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism.

    The main goal of Hindu Tantra is to actualize the permanent, eternal Brahma as the realisation of the ultimate truth. In Vajrayana Buddhism, on the other hand, there is the system of meditation of the unity of Samatha and Vipashyana according to the Tantric or Sutra Mahamudra systems. These methods are unknown to Hindu Tantric systems.

    The purpose of Vajrayana Buddhist practice is to attain the perfect enlightenment of Buddha whereas in the Hindu Tantric system, the basis is to realize the Ten Mahavidyas as the highest forms of deities.

    In Vajrayana Tantric meditation, the method is the generation and completion stage of the meditation whereas in Hindu Tantric meditation system, the method is limited to the generation stage.

    As a result of these meditation[s,] ... Vajrayana practitioners achieve the state of complete enlightenment, whereas in Hindu Tantric system, the attainment is the Brahma realm. Therefore, it is a gross mistake to state that Vajrayana and Hindu Tantra are similar.

    Furthermore, in Vajrayana Buddhism, there are innumerable methods of meditations on Gurus, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Istadevatas, [Tib. yidam] Dakinis and Dharmapalas. The Ten Mahavidyas ... considered [the] highest deities in [the] Hindu Tantric system, are relegated to the positions of [mere] ... protectors of the Dharma (ie. Dharmapalas,) who can only clear obscurations in a practitioner's practice but not really give enlightenment.

    The deities in Buddhist Tantras are considered as the manifestation of our mind whereas in [the] Hindu system, it is the ultimate principle itself.

    for more information the interested reader is directed to:

    http://lywa.rootr.com/otherteachers...ng/tantra.shtml

    http://lywa.rootr.com/lamayeshe/etb/etb_1.shtml

    the other Tantra thread can be found here:

    http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showthread.php?t=904
     
  13. Avinash

    Avinash New Member

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    Namaskar,

    Religious or sectarian people will always try to maintain that one type of mysticism is different from theirs or that one type of Tantra is different from another. Tantra however is a science and science is not concerned with such religious bias.

    The goal of Tantra is liberation from all bondage. One stage is to reach the state of Saguna Brahma (qualified realised state) or Nirvana and the next stage is to reach the state of Nirguna Brahma (unqualified realised state) or Maha-Nirvana.

    The last step from Saguna to Nirguna Brahma can only be bridged with the help of a Maha-Kaula or Taraka Brahma Himself.
    Whether you see the mind as expanding into "Nothingness" or into the Infinite Supreme Consciousness is not very relevant for spiritual progress except that the vehicle of Bhakti Yoga ( developing Love for the Supreme) can help you in speeding up the process of spiritual emancipation.

    Andrew
     
  14. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Namaskar Andrew,

    It's interesting that you've arrived here. :) Welcome. As for your take on Tantra, I am familiar with it, having been exposed to Ananda Marga philosophy myself. As a bhakti-yogi, you may not care much for what I have to say about the Margi concept of Tantra being "scientific" and therefore unique; or rather, I don't expect it to have any effect on you. But, I do want to point out something.

    You say:
    Note that when you separate your correct and "scientific" Tantra from those others, you are also maintaining that one type of Tantra is different from another. What seems to be implied is that the Ananda Marga "scientific" Tantra is true; the others are simply "religious bias[es]"...which is biased.

    Also:
    Indeed, this is actually the goal of many Hinduistic sects and also of Buddhism. So, this is nothing unique, but, yes, Ananda Marga uses some different terminolgy, some of which, like "Taraka Brahma," to my knowledge can be found nowehre else.

    Finally, in your last paragraph, you say:
    I have not heard of a "Maha-Kaula" before; perhaps you could define that for me? Also, I never really understood the concepts of "Saguna" and "Nirguna" Brahma. Brahma, I get, but not these different degrees of It. Again, maybe you can explain more in depth about the "qualified realized state" versus the "unqualified realized state."

    Also, when you claim that Bhakti Yoga can speed up the process of spiritual emancipation, I urge you to keep in mind that there are many other systems, as well, that claim to do the same thing. Perhaps it depends on the individual and each person needs to find the way, the techniques, best suited for their temperment. Personally, I don't think everyone is cut out to be a Bhakti Yogi; but I am also inclined to believe that one doesn't need a system at all for "spiritual emancipation." Maybe I've been reading too much Alan Watts lately, but it does seem possible that none of us truly need to be "emancipated" from anything; rather, we need simiply realize that we are emancipated, here, right now.

    Of course, perhaps there are all sorts of systems in place so that we can realize that we are emancipated... :confused:

    When it comes down to it, though, this emancipation thing cannot be pinned down with words or techniques; it simply has to be lived.

    Best,
    pathless
     
  15. Avinash

    Avinash New Member

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    Namaskar Pathless,

    The Ananda Marga system of Yoga Tantra is not only Bhakti Yoga but a combination of other Yoga's (Raja Yoga). Aquiring knowledge and understanding what you are doing (rationality) is also part of it. In fact, the rational aspect is more pronounced as in some other paths with Bhakti. But it is not quite as "dry" as paths who have little or no Bhakti.
    Your technique of twisting is very clever. I admire that. Nevertheless I maintain that separating science, even when it is an introspective science, does not make sense. Like most New Age people I believe that spirituality is a universal thing. Techniques may differ somewhat but they all take place in the same "reality" however that is described.
    I have no idea how extensive your knowledge on the subject of Tantra (not just Buddhist Tantra) is. However I do know that some aspect of the description of Taraka Brahma I know coincide with what Krishna says about Himself in the Bhagavad Giita. Lord Shiva lived long before the invention of script so much of what He taught is lost. Only Taraka Brahma Himself would be able to explain how He came about and what His role is.
    A kaula is someone who has mastered the art of raising their kulakundalini (coiled serpentine at the base of the spinal column) to the crown of their head. There have been many such kaulas in human history. Only a Maha-kaula is capable of raising the kulakundalini of any other being with a spinal column.

    In Buddhism there is no Brahma, but in our philosophy there is a relative truth which is our own consciousness and the Absolute or Supreme Consciousness in which these individual consciousnesses are an internal projection. When we clean our mental plate (finish all our samskaras) and merge our kulakundalini in the topmost Cakra, the individual consciousness loses its identity and becomes one with the Cosmic Consciousness. However the Cosmic Consciousness has a qualified aspect (with Mind) and an unqualified aspect (beyond the Mind). The first aspect is called SA-guna (with gunas of which there are three) and the second is called NIR-guna (without gunas). Saguna Brahma is a partial modification of Nirguna Brahma like an iceberg floating in the ocean (Cosmic Mind floating in the Absolute Unqualified Consciousness).
    In any type of spiritual practice at some point the mind will expand and love will spread from love for ones own small circle to love for all the things we encounter. The unconditional love is already Bhakti, whether you call it so or call it universal compassion or something else. Bhakti Yoga is nothing else than using different techniques to speed up this process.
    So are you saying we don't need to follow any instructions or advice from someone who went there before us? Then why do you need to read any book at all about spirituality? Maybe one should just go sit on a mountain and wait for it to happen, is that what you're implying?
    You answered my question. :) As long as we are caught up in the dimensions of time, place and person, we need to strive for liberation. We are already a part of that vast (non-dualistic) ocean of Consciousness, but caught up in the dream that is our individual consciousness (dualism).

    That's why the philosophy of Ananda Marga is called Non-dualistic Dualistic Non-dualism (In Hinduism there are other philosophies such as Pure Non-dualism which perhaps somewhat resembles your appraoch). In Ananda Marga we don't deny the existence of this relative truth we must travel through in order to return to our origins (without an individual self).

    best wishes,
    Andrew
     
  16. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Hi Andreas, and welcome to CR. :)

    Interesting replies so far across the threads - glad to have you aboard. :)
     
  17. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Andreas,

    thank you for the post.

    let's talk about this for a moment. what do you feel that "science" is? what is the scientific method and does it apply to Tantrik practice?

    indeed... Tantrik practice is concerned with liberation. in my tradition, we call these by different terms... generation and effect stages.

    this is the role of the lama or guru in my tradition.

    i don't see mind expanding into anything or joining any type of consciousness, universal or otherwise. mind cannot see mind like a sword cannot cut itself. of course, i speak from the Buddhist perspective on this so our views may differ to some degree.
     
  18. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Namaskar Andrew,

    As you've percieved, maybe even where I wasn't aware of it, I do think a certain amount of striving towards "liberation" is healthy and perhaps necessary for recognizing the ultimate reality of things. Yet, there is striving and striving; it seems to me--from my personal experience--that we as human beings can get so caught up in one system of practice that we become focused to the point of distraction and miss the point. So, I think that exclusively pursuing one system of practice, as with the Guru system, is dangerous, lest we, caught up and perhaps subdued by the peaceful and spiritual flow of our practices, miss the greater point that no matter how hard we strive, we are not going to get anywhere, we are not going to merge in anything, because we are, and always have been, where we are going, fully "merged" just as we are. And, maybe that is a difference in point of view, as you suggestsed when you mentioned "Non-dualistic Dualistic Non-dualism" (what a mouthful!! ;) ) vs. "Pure non-dualism."
     
  19. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Pathless,

    ah.. wu wei. striving without striving... though, i rather perfer the translation of effort without intention....

    now.. interestingly enough.. this is almost completely opposite of the Buddhist approach of my tradition.... we are encouraged to explore the various traditions and to determine which one speaks to us most clearly... we are then encouraged to take up the practice to the exclusion of other practices. we should learn about the other practices and traditions, though.

    for my school, this is the point of comitting to the path of liberation for all sentient beings.
     
  20. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    I am aware of the Ananda Marga position that Anandamurti, Krishna and Shiva are all different manisfestations of "Taraka Brahma." However, what I am not aware of and what I am curious about is whether or not "Taraka Brahma" per se is mentioned in other Hinduistic literature. Although I was familiar with the Gita before I came across Ananda Marga, I had never heard of the "Taraka Brahma" concept before. Nowhere in the Gita, to my knowledge, does it make any direct mention of this concept. When you say, "I do know that some aspect of the description of Taraka Brahma I know coincide with what Krishna says about Himself in the Bhagavad Giita," you are simply stating that the way Krishna describes himself allows him to be categorized as Taraka Brahma, which to my knowledge is a unique term to Ananda Marga phiolosophy.

    I was not (and still am not) trying to twist your words against you in vindictive spirit, but I was trying to point out that when a person sets his or her preferred system apart from others, whether he uses claims of relgion or science to do so, he is still setting it apart and creating distinctions. Maybe "bias" was a strong word to use, but usually when people do practice one system over another, they do so because they feel that it is superior in some way.

    :) Pathless
     

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