Principles of Buddhist Tantra
Ian Coghlan, Voula Zarpani
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Kirti Tsenshap Rinpoche was a renowned teacher of Tibetan Buddhism with students worldwide. Revered as a teacher by even the Dalai Lama, he was known especially as a master of Buddhist tantra, the powerful esoteric methods for attaining enlightenment swiftly. The teachings in this book are a singular record of his deep learning in that field. Originally delivered in California to a group of Western students, the teachings comment on a classic introduction to tantra by the nineteenth-century Mongolian lama Choje Ngawang Palden. The work, Illumination of the Tantric Tradition, is a staple even today of the curriculum for training young monastics.
Kirti Tsenshap Rinpoche explains the distinctive features of the four classes of tantra--action tantra, performance tantra, yoga tantra, and highest yoga tantra--by describing the way to progress through their paths and levels. He illuminates key issues in tantric practice that are still a matter for debate within the tradition. Finally, he gives a special treatment of the unique methods of Kalacakra tantra, which is regularly taught around the globe by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
a union of calm abiding and the insight that comprehends emptiness through alternating between analysis and placement. In the three lower tantras, calm abiding is established during the practice of yoga with signs, while meditation on emptiness is established during yoga without signs. Similarly, in highest yoga tantra, calm abiding is established in the generation stage, while meditation on emptiness is established in the completion stage.82 For example, in self-generation in action tantra, we
attained, it is certain that we will manifest enlightenment in the same lifetime. But Atiśa’s point was that the illusory body is a subtle type of body that is different and separate from our ordinary, coarse body. Since enlightenment is attained on the basis of the illusory body, the statement of Lord Atiśa is well founded. Therefore enlightenment is attained in one lifetime, but it is not attained on the basis of one ordinary, coarse body. Instead it is attained on the basis of another, subtler
the author that the requisite order of the levels of the path that has been explained so far reflects the sequence of practices in Guhyasamāja tantra. It does not necessarily describe the way disciples of mother tantra progress on the path. For, as Illuminating Lamp states: The yoga of caṇḍālī is an alternative to the winds of vajra recitation inducing mental isolation. The four joys, which are great bliss derived from the winds penetrating and dissolving in the central channel dependent on
Breathing is also a rhythmic movement of wind with three repeated phases: (1) the exhalation of wind from the nostrils, (2) the inhalation of wind, (3) a short period where the wind abides before it is again exhaled. Vajra recitation is the natural, uncontrived occurrence of the rising, entering, and abiding of the winds. The word vajra in vajra recitation conveys not only the meaning of something that cannot be destroyed by others but also something that exists naturally, from the beginning. If
obscurations. Moreover this single session is relatively brief, and any discussion of four or even nine rounds of abandonment is meaningless. Less potent Mahāyāna sūtra-level paths abandon knowledge obscurations in just four or nine rounds in order to achieve the same level of abandonment as a single session of tantra. This is similar to a strong explosive causing as much destruction as four or nine smaller bombs. If we could destroy the target with one bomb, why would we bother serially