Vajrayana Buddhists believe that, as all things are in truth of one nature—the void—physical-mental processes can be used as a vehicle for enlightenment. According to the Kalachakra-tanta , the Buddha taught that, in this age of degeneration, enlightenment must be achieved through the body, which contains the whole cosmos.
The master directs every step so that the pupil learns to control mental and physical processes instead of being dominated by them. After sympathy for human suffering has been aroused, the student is taught yogic, or contemplative, exercises that help to produce inner experiences corresponding to the various stages of spiritual growth. Advancement toward enlightenment involves the identification of the initiate with deities that represent various cosmic forces.
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These gods are first visualized with the help of mudras meditative gestures and postures , mantras sacred syllables and phrases , and icons portrayed in a mandala , all of which are believed to possess the essence of the divinities to be invoked. According to Vajrayana traditions, the culmination of this process, called vajrasattva yoga, gives the initiate a diamond-like body beyond all duality.
The four stages in the process are described in four different groups of tantras the Kriya-tantra , Charya-tantra , Yoga -tantra , and Anuttarayoga-tantra that are compared with the fourfold phases of courtship the exchange of glances, a pleasing or encouraging smile, the holding of hands, and consummation in the sexual act. The first stage involves external ritual acts, and the second combines these outward acts with contemplation.
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The third stage involves only contemplation, and the fourth is the unification of all dualities in the sexual act, symbolically or effectively. The last stage is divided into two phases. In the first the initiate uses controlled imagination to experience the union on an ideational level. The second phase is the maithuna , or sexual coupling. Unlike the ordinary sexual act, which gives only momentary pleasure, the maithuna is considered a technique to attain enlightenment and eternal bliss because the initiate has already realized the voidness of all things, allowing perfect control over emotions and a complete absence of attachment.
These Vajrayana practices have been condemned by some Buddhists and some modern scholars as degenerate, a view ostensibly borne out by the Guhyasamaja-tantra , which states that adultery and eating of human flesh are actions of the bodhisattva. Vajrayana practices and the imagery of its texts, however, were designed to shock the complacency and self-righteousness of more traditional Buddhists.
Moreover, the imagery of the texts was based on the belief that voidness alone exists and that it is beyond good or evil in the usual sense. The imagery is also based on the belief that any acts that bring about this realization are acts that benefit the practitioner and all sentient beings. The tantras, the genre of texts unique to the Vajrayana tradition, are written in a highly figurative and symbolic language to enable individual spiritual development.
Because of this symbolic character, the tantras have usually been kept secret, and a literalist interpretation of such texts has usually failed to make any sense out of them. Unlike most tantras, which do not explain the technical or symbolic terms that they employ, the Guhyasamaja-tantra devotes a very long chapter to the elucidation of these terms.
An important feature of all tantras is a polarity symbolism, which appears on the physical level as the union of male and female, on the ethical level as the union of beneficial activity and an appreciation of what there is as it is, and on the philosophical level as the synthesis of absolute reality and absolute compassion.
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The richness of this symbolism is apparent in the opening of the Guhyasamaja , where the absolute, which is depicted as a polarity, manifests itself in various mandalas circular diagrams that have both a psychological and a cosmic reference , each related to one of the celestial buddhas—Akshobhya, Vairochana, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha , and Amoghasiddhi. Each of these buddhas again represents a polarity that is often portrayed in iconographic works through their union with female consorts. It taught that the Adi-Buddha—primeval Buddhahood—manifested itself as a continuum of time kala and space chakra.
Shingon rituals, however, have been guarded in secrecy.
source url Its teachings have only been passed down orally, until 9 when Shingon arrived in countries outside of Japan. Abe, he Weaving of Mantra, p. Action tantra is based on meditation, where the deity is seen as an external object.
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In conduct tantra there are phases of practice with an inner deity and in yoga tantra the deity is the true nature of the practitioner. In the highest yoga tantra one sees oneself as a deity from the very beginning. Now meditation is of equal importance to purity. Lessing, A. Wayman, Delhi Although the ive initiations have the same names as in the lower tantras, their mean- ing is diferent. Each of the four parts is connected with a special man- dala. Drogi buddyzmu, p. An inevitable part of all high initiations are the tantric vows and pledges, which are numerous.
Furthermore, the four mandala representation occurs in each tantra class, although some diferences in names and symbolism can be found. In Tibetan Buddhism we have four mandalas which have a slightly diferent symbolism.
We talk about four mandalas, but each mandala has signs of these four types and each of the four types can be found in one of them. Japanese Esoteric Buddhism. Here the title is only a basis for further training. Here a student must use of all bodily senses — taste, sight, hearing, smell. Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, Shambhala, Bo- ston Related Papers. Shingon Buddhism and the Tantras. By Justin A Harris.
By Claire Villarreal. By Peter D. By David Gardiner.