Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
The paths in Buddhism are Hinayana, mahayana, and tantrayana. Hina means small vehicle, maha means great, and vajra means indestructible as a translated term. I guess you would call it the indestructible, secret or immutable vehicle. They are directly related to personality as into how a person practices. For example, I teach mahayana Buddhism, but I could be a hinayana practioner. Meaning, if I talk about my own state of mind, I am very much concerned with my own well being and welfare but I teach in wondrous terms of the mahayana vehicle. Although we might be part of what is termed as mahayana classic teachings, we as individuals may be hinayana because of our personality or the way we act.
In that way the reality of mahayana, hinayana, vajrayana is the persons perspective and the way they approach life. On the side of the teachings, the emphasis of the teachings of the particular yanas is different. Each of the vehicles is defined in the way of the basis, the goal and the means that one attains to the goal.
In the lesser vehicle the basis is the need of the freedom from suffering. From that basis you strive for the goal. In the hinayana path they do not teach to strive for enlightenment, but rather for nirvana which is considered to be the quenching of all suffering, the release of ourselves from all of the types of sufferings that can be available. In this way one has nirvana which is everlasting peace. An analogy for nirvana is if one attains it, when a candle flame burns to the end and there is no more wax to support the burning flame and the wick is also consumed, which direction did the flame go? North, south, east or west? And if you were to strive to answer, you couldn't because the conditions for the flame were finished, therefore the flame was ceased. So in the same way, when you cease the causes of ignorance within your mind, then you will no longer will produce the flame. When you realize nirvana, you have stopped creating the causes therefore you cannot say that you go north, south, east or west. Your stream of consciousness attains nirvana which is an unexplainable state of being. You cannot put words to it, you cannot put words to where the flame went. The flame has ceased to be. That is the analogy given to nirvana within the hinayana terms.
In striving for nirvana, the style of practice is to teach first that one take refuge in the Buddha as the fully exalted enlightened being who has completely attained nirvana, decided not to leave cyclic existence but decided to teach us. So the Buddha is very compassionate. But his state of realization was so great that we could possibly never attain it so we should venerate the Buddha but not be concerned to strive for lit because this state is far too difficult to attain. It is much easier to get nirvana so you should strive for the state of nirvana. But you take refuge in the Buddha because he explains it.
You take refuge in the teachings which are the path of how to attain nirvana, and you take refuge in the sangha which is the spiritual community. In that then, when we speak of the dharma, the dharma is all of the teachings within what they practice. The first of the teachings is karma, the law of cause and effect. That all you experience is karma. In the most fundamentalist of the hinayana sense is pre-determinism, in the sense that you are pre-determined, that you have no volition, that you are tied by the ignorance in your mind and you act out in a stimulus response manner. That there is very little freedom. That is ignorance, and therefore in that ignorance there is always great suffering that is always created. For example there is sufferings of attachment which is like fire. Every time you get attached to something you burn yourself because the nature of attachment is delusion. Delusion is based on not realizing that things are impermanent, not realizing the suffering nature. Therefore if I have attachment to my watch, that is like fire that burns me and I suffer because I am attached. Therefore I am deluded, and that delusion is suffering. Also all of the outcome of my attachment, all the things we do because of attachment are suffering. Therefore that is identified as suffering.
The cause of my suffering is that my mind is unrealized. It is in the ignorance of thinking that this is happiness therefore I should abandon that and recognize it as suffering. There is a lot of emphasis on the world is ugly out there. And you are continuously burned and polluted by it and you should reject it. That you should strive for peace. So having established the cause of that is the unrealized mind which is not at peace with itself. Then they teach that nirvana is ultimate peace. And how to attain that is to abandon attachment, desires and delusions. Then you try to basically give up or renounce, but it is a strong negative emphasis in the sense that all attachments are horrible, all desires are bad, and you should continuously try to realize that when the mind is drawn through the sense doors and interacts with objects, that because of the attachments which is generated, that is suffering. So sense data which stimulates you is considered bad and you should try to be not stimulated by things. You should try to have peace of mind. In that you should abide. By developing that tranquillity, you develop samadhi. By developing samadhi you should realize that your personality is egoless, selfless.
It doesn't deal with anything in the outside world. It just says realize that your ego, your personality, is like an illusion, based on illusory beliefs, concepts, and those are wrong, they are not real. If you investigate the nature of your being, you will not find a definite self or sense of self that you can say is me. Because of that, then, you abandon the creation of any desire. If you don't have a self, then you don't have anything to be creating desires on, so therefore you should just stay in that state of consciousness and reach the state of nirvana that way.
So it is said that having realized that as best you can, you should strive to continuously be at peace with yourself and to try to greater and greater realize nirvana. The objective or goal of the hinayana practioner is the total quenching of all desires and expression of those things. So you basically try to shut down all expressions of desire and have your mind realize the eternal peace within. And within that there is great bliss as soon as you start to center very powerfully. You do experience great bliss. And in that bliss then you find nirvana and then it is finished. The causes of ignorance are ceased. You don't create any ideas of self existence based on self. Therefore the mind becomes free of those, liberated. That liberated mind then attains nirvana and then there is no more creation of any existence. Therefore which direction did the candle go? In the same way, which direction is your mind is going to go? When you die or when you reach what is termed the great nirvana at the time of death, then you are not worried about where your mind is going to go. You go into that state of the great emptiness, the great voidness, the nirvana of eternal bliss. Alright?
So that is the hinayana goal in a very simplistic manner and I might have even made a few mistakes but that is the general idea. That any sense data, any sense information that you get is polluted by attachments and desires therefore we should abandon it, and the abandonment should be that we try to find peace, and finding peace we find nirvana, and in finding nirvana we should cease all existence.
In the Mahayana tenants, it agree fully with the previous tenants, the basis of the practice is the fact of the world is suffering. But the Mahayana tenets have a different idea of the wisdom. First, A mahayana practioner doesn't say that because the self is not truly self existent, it is non existent. Because if one says that self is non existent, that is the extreme of nihilism. And in the mahayana practice it says one should always tread the middle path and avoid extremes. So for example, to have been in samsara, and to strive for nirvana, is to go from one extreme to the other because one completely ceases all existence, all that is being created is ceased if one attains nirvana and he clings to it. So they say the Hinayana practioners by clinging to the idea of nirvana are in an extreme position and therefore do not really attain true nirvana or the ultimate nirvana which is freedom from all preconceived ideas.
So a mahayana practioner would say look, you cling to nirvana. Because your mind is grasping at that as being ultimate peace, you still have a hangup. You are still limited by those ideas. You have not been able to go beyond samsara. If you go back to samsara and so to speak laugh in the face of samsara, saying it's all free now, you are really free. So you have to be more dynamic. You have to be more realized. So in the Mahayana tenets they say just as your self is not independently self existent, but is still created from causes and circumstances, so also the outside world is not truly existent, it is created from causes and circumstances. So why are you afraid of the outside world. You should look at that the nature of the world is free of that, and in that there is a sense of liberation.
The basis of the practice in the Mahayana tenets is based on what they would consider a more broad perspective in that the nature of reality should be identified as being not truly existent, and one then should be more comfortable in samsara because one doesn't have to be afraid of it. The objects of desires are not truly existent so why be afraid of them? Why see them as evil? They are not evil. They are just neutral. They do what they do. They are in the process of karmic evolution, karmic expression.
So the mahayana practioner says because the nature of reality is free of any self and true existence, I will not go to the extreme of eternal peace and nirvana. I will strive for the path of the middle road which is neither part of samsara or nirvana. And that is considered enlightenment. The mahayana enlightenment or mahayana nirvana. The mahayana nirvana is considered the great nirvana because it does not cling to either extremes.
That establishes the basic ideal or principles of the Mahayana practioner. In dealing with outside reality, the principle cause of suffering is self cherishing. Cherishing yourself and what you feel you need and being very attached to that. The method to overcome that is to develop love and compassion. If one has greater concern and awareness for others, one is therefore not creating negative karma because one is truly concerned in the sense that one does not have attachment to them. One is looking for their well being. So therefore the mind has a sense of love and compassion towards others. The mind in that sense is not creating negative karma so therefore it is not going to create suffering. In that way, in dealing with the samsaric world, if you have love and compassion and realize love and compassion, then you can deal with the outside world in a positive manner. On the other side though, you have to realize that the nature of reality is not truly existent. And so if you realize that, you avoid clinging to samsara, but by having an expression of love and compassion as an ongoing practice, you avoid clinging to nirvana. So the two balance each other and that is the important thing of the mahayana practioner. To avoid the extreme of nirvana, the eternal ceasing of all productivity, they practice love and compassion as the positive expression of being in the world. To avoid clinging to what they are doing in the world, they realize that all phenomena both internally, your personality, or externality is not truly self existent. So there is no need to be afraid of it, there is no need to cling to it. So therefore they avoid the extreme of clinging to it or grasping at eternal peace. So it is said that the mahayana practioner goes to the great nirvana because they avoid the extremes of nirvana or samsara.
In that way the mahayana practioner is not afraid of their delusions and their interactions in the world around them. A mahayana practioner can use delusions in working for the benefit of others and not have it actually be a cause for greater suffering. For example, having attachment for other people and working for their benefit, although attachment does create suffering and in the final degree will have to be abandoned, in the meantime it can be used in your practice of love and compassion. So for a mahayana practioner, they can use certain styles of delusion and solution to their advantage in creating good karma. It does not create the ultimate realization of the true nature of reality but it doesn't make them inhibited in acting with the world around them. As I say, they continuously say the world is not truly existent so therefore why should I be afraid of the world. In that way they overcome their fear that they might become polluted and dirty and then they can't attain nirvana. Which, if you went to hinayana country, in some of the theravadin countries, there is a strong sense of any bad karma will be a cause of rebirth in hell. And you must be unsullied by negative karma. So they are very uptight about things.
In Thailand for example, a monk cannot touch women. They cannot even be close to women. If I was a monk, I couldn't have a woman sitting beside me. It would be considered a heinous crime, very bad because women are the cause of desire and attachment. You should completely not look at them. And in the hinayana tradition for example, you should only look at the ground within three feet in front of you because you do not want to be stimulated by any desires. That is in the ordination of a monk. In the mahayana tenets it says that one should be careful when one is around the objects of attachments and desire, but if there is a need to benefit those sentient beings, then they should do what is necessary in benefitting those sentient beings. In generally speaking mahayana countries you will find a monk that will shake a woman's hand, teach women and such things, whereas in theravadin countries it is considered quite bad. It is a different ideal about how to practice.
The idea is basically that the outside world is not be rejected. It is a place for you to collect good karma. Therefore you should strive to do good things in the world. And of course, be a little careful. So the mahayana path is moved a little to the side of saying, let's still be part of the world but let us not get hung up about it! Being a mahayanist is that you are still part of the world but you continuously try to realize that all things are not truly existent. In that, the final enlightenment is the full enlightenment of the Buddha. And you do that by practicing being a bodhisattva. And in obtaining full enlightenment, you are still in full nirvana when you become enlightened, but you are fully capable of working with the outside the world because you are not hung up about the outside world as being polluted. You do not look at it as being evil or that which burns your senses and creates delusions in your mind.
The other thing, to talk about the attainment of the goal, you can attain hinayana nirvana if you just stop thinking, basically. The hinayana nirvana says, if you can stop the creation of gross delusions such as the expression of gross delusions. For example your mind inside looks at an object. And you cognize the object. If then you say that is my pillow, I want that pillow. Mine. Then your mind is being deluded and polluted. You are creating samsara. So if when you look at the object, your mind does not move. And maybe it does know that it is my pillow, but you can sort of freeze your mind inside, suppress it by your samadhi. Then that is good enough. Because then what you do is you take your samadhi and you go inside. You reject the outside world. The outside world is delusion and suffering. And you just concentrate on the nature of your own mind, on your personality as being not truly existent, as being like an illusion. And that is quite easy to realize. As soon ass you realize that with your samadhi, you start experiencing bliss. That bliss then feeds into attaining the everlasting bliss of nirvana where there is no more hassles! Total freedom and everlasting ecstasy. You go for it. You completely reject the outside world. And all you have to do is stop getting enticed by the outside world.
So if you can go dead pan, you have no more feeling about the outside world, you don't worry about the outside world, you are just focused on the inner experience of bliss and that you are not truly existent meaning wisdom, then you by your samadhi will be in nirvana. But it does not deal with the issue that if you let your mind relax a little, and when you looked at an object and had a little delusion in there, you would respond and then immediately shut it down again. Yeah? Because you do not deal with that. You just deal with the fact that you are going to put your concentration into that bliss which is not truly existent and is everlasting. And if you do that it is good enough. That is hinayana. They say you will attain nirvana by that method. And that bliss if you attain it,and if you can stabilize your concentration on it, will last for eternity. If your mind never moves from there, it will be continuously focused on everlasting bliss and ecstasy. It will be like you jumped into this massive hot tub of bliss. And you just splashed around in there all day long. You never get tired of it, the mind does not have any conceptions any more. It is considered absorbed into everlasting bliss. It fully cognizes that it's personality is not truly existent so any time there is some energy to formulate a personality you just pop the bubble and you are back in bliss. That is the hinayana practioner attains that.
The problem is though, as soon as they start to animate their mind again, they get hangups because they do not deal with world. They do not resolve the issue of what they had as attachments. They basically go for the greater internal bliss and they don't worry about that any more. They have never dealt with the issues. And because of that it is said that their minds have a very subtle level of delusion. Now on a gross level they have completely ceased it. They are peaceful and tranquil and blissful and maybe radiate a lot of good energy. But they are totally innerly focused. BEcause of that, they attain nirvana but their nirvana is not total because they still have repressed feelings and thoughts and things they have never resolved.
So a mahayana practioner comes along and says you do not have eternal bliss because as soon as you move out of your bliss, you are hassled. You did not get it. You are doing good. You are doing wonderful, you are in everlasting bliss and it feels good doesn't it? But you did not make it really. You are a partially realized being. What you have got to do is resolve the issues in the world. You do that by looking at the objects around you and you deal with them. You work them through. And you do it with love and compassion. I am sure in the teachings I have taught enough about that. If you do become more and more involved with love and compassion, you don't express your attachment or your hatred or such things on the on objects around you. You try to change your perspective and and look at that person's point of view and ask Where they are coming from? What is happening for them? And you try to understand them better. And in there is compassion. If you start to understand someone for why they are obnoxious or miserable, then you do have a compassion for them because you say hey, you are really missing the mark. I wish you would be more intelligent. So you are working through problems. And regarding all objects. Whether it is objects of attachment or aversion, for a mahayana practioner they try to work it through. And that is being a bodhisattva. They are not focused about themselves. They are, but in a secondary manner. The principle thing is to say when I interact with the objects around me, I would like to interact with them in the most positive way with bodhicitta to bring about the best or whatever is good for sentient beings. I would like to bring it about in a relative manner, definitely in the ultimate manner I would like to bring them into true enlightenment.
So the mahayana practioner as they work toward their nirvana, continuously work through all of the hassles and it takes a lot longer. That is one of the points the hinayana people would say is it takes three eons to become a Buddha. You want to spend three eons in that, go for it! But you can do it in one lifetime for nirvana. So you have to think about it. Do you want to spend three eons working through all your little quirks? To go for the great enlightenment when you could get everlasting bliss in one lifetime with just a little bit of samadhi? It is an interesting set of thoughts there, yeah?
Hinayana practioners do teach that enlightenment is possible. They will say it is so difficult don't do it! Just go for nirvana. That is good enough for you. You don't have to be a Buddha to get to nirvana. They have some good points. And if you hear a good teacher on hinayana you can be quite inspired. The practices are good.
But for a mahayana practioner, they say it's alright, but you didn't really do it. You didn't resolve the issues that are still problems in your mind. The mahayana practioner goes further in their practice always trying to approach things. As they approach nirvana they have less hassles with the world around them. When they start getting into liberation and enlightenment they are completely out in the world as much as they are in their own nirvana. In the Zen practice they say, when you receive enlightenment, the pure land is here now. And that is really important to think about it that you don't have to go to nirvana. Or destroy the world outside, reject the world outside of you. You realize the real nature of the world around you. And with positive means of love and compassion you work through your neurotic tendencies and negativity. And in that way when you attain the full enlightenment you are still part of the world around you expressing love and compassion but you have the full realization of that everlasting bliss and eternal happiness. So you have the best of both worlds and that if full enlightenment.
We would say for example, Lord Buddha Shakyamuni practiced that for three great eons. He finally became enlightened and in the Mahayana tenets they say that he actually went to a pureland called Tushita and lived there for a long time and then finally took rebirth in our world and taught Buddhism. And it was all mainly for the benefit of us.
Mostly I want to give you the idea that a Mahayana practioner tries to not be afraid of the world around. What sense data the Mahayana practioner receives, he or she would translate that with their bodhicitta, their love and compassion into how can I work this through? What is the best way I can deal with these issues? So the mahayana practioner tries to still engage the outside world with love and compassion, and yet also tries very much to always be very much aware of both internal selflessness and non independent existence and external non independent existence. It is said that the hinayana practioner only has the selfessness of personality. The mahayana practioner has selflessness of personality and selflessness of phenomena. Because they want to destroy both the more subtle delusions of interacting with the world and the principle delusions which are in our mind. Alright. There is a different perspective there.
From there you move to the vajrayana teachings. It says look, the world is non self existent so why are you hung up about delusions? They are not self existent and such things. The problem is you believe your basis personality is ordinary and mundane. For example a mahayana practioner who might be like a very wonderful person, still has that hang up that they are a bodhisattva and they are striving for enlightenment which is somewhere there, ten thousand lifetimes ahead of you. Alright? So the mahayana practioner is doing good, but they still have some hangups. They have troubles with the basic concepts of their self and a few other things. So the vajrayana practioner comes along and says, first off, if you start thinking of yourself as the Buddha, you are there! You are that much closer to being enlightened than you were before. So just change your perspective. Don't think of yourself as a mundane sentient being. Think of yourself as an enlightened sentient being.
So to help that, there are realized forms. So all tantric deities were manifested by the Buddha at different times. The manifestations of the deities are related to the particular delusions which are predominant in particular sentient beings. For example if you have anger, you would relate with Yamantaka. Or if you have heavy attachment or passion, you have Heruka or Hevajra. There is also Guyasamaja, taught particularly to one king called Indrabuti. He told the Buddha he didn't want to give up being king. So how can I go to enlightenment with that! So the Buddha taught him Guyasamaja where you visualize all your courtesans and such around yourself and you are the lord of the court. By relying on that, INdrabuti obtained full enlightenment.
Vajrayana says give up all your hangups. You still have hangups even as a mahayana practioner. But first off, delusions don't have independent self existence. Although you act them out, if you realize their nature in doing that, you are continuously creating your own enlightenment in the immediate moment. Also if you change your perspective, that you are enlightened here and now, all of your activities are Buddha activities. So it more powerful position. And they say that in the tantrayana, it is like a bamboo tube with a snake in it. The snake either comes out one end or the other. And you don't know which end it comes out. So they do say in tantrayana for example if you get into the practices intensively, you can go either directly to enlightenment or directly to hell! It depends on how well you practice. So the tenets of the vajrayana practioner have to be fully based on that you are a bodhisattva or A buddha which was created by being a bodhisattva. Which means that your activities are on the benefit of all sentient beings.
But you can give up being hung up about the fact that virtue is good and bad karma is bad. Your mind is the creator of every moment of every situation you are in. So if you stop believing yourself to be an ordinary sentient being, you say I am fully enlightened, I am in the nature of an enlightened being, your personal perspective is changed from being I am a little me to I am an enlightened being. and you do that with the help of mantras and identifying with the deity.
Secondly then, in interacting with all sentient beings, your motivation is that I am going to bring these sentient beings into enlightenment. But you don't have to worry about what method you use. You can use anything. Because what is the hangup. You don't have to worry. The true nature of reality is all things are wide open. Nothing is independently self existent. So in helping any sentient being, whatever method is appropriate can be used, totally, fully and freely. Because if you realize that all things are in the nature of non-self existent, then you mind never creates the cause of a deluded perspective. It is much more profound. So you shouldn't think that tantracism is easy. Bit it is a shifting to a more profound level of being in that the basis of your practice is not based on being a sentient being or a bodhisattva. It is based on enlightenment is here and now.
Secondly the activities which come from that basis are the expressions of love and compassion. Now because sentient beings are enlightened in different ways, some sentient beings need different things to bring about the process of their enlightenment, no holds barred, you can do as you want! And so in interacting with sentient beings, if you use attachment, or if you use anger, or whatever, in acting that out, if you understand that in every moment your mind is not independent and self existent, you mind is part of the interactive nature of phenomena, then your activities as they you into sentient beings can bring them into enlightenment. Although they might been seen as uncommon or unorthodox. What is the problem? As long as you are helping sentient beings become enlightened, that is good karma. So why have hangups about it, alright? That is the way that you act as a tantric yogi or yogini.
The second point is also that the practice of a tantric practioner it says that the principle cause of samsara is that the mind is not properly centered in the central channel and because of that, the mind is continuously caught up with what is called running in the two side channels. I have talked about that in the sense that you have three channels. And when you do breathing meditation, breathing in with the right nostril and exhaling through the left nostril and so on, they say that the mind finds it's real center so to speak. And in finding it's real center, if you can withdraw all the energies back to the heart, and in doing that then focus to the most subtle level of consciousness, that most subtle level of consciousness is the same for the Buddha as for us as sentient beings. Why is it possible for any of you to become enlightened? Because the most subtle level of your consciousness is the same as the enlightened being consciousness. If we didn't have that quality, none of us would become enlightened who why the hell be a practioner! But because all of us have Buddha nature, the most subtle level of consciousness being the Buddha nature, if you can reveal that level of consciousness then you have obtained the state of enlightenment.
So the vajrayana practice first says in the outside world no holds barred. It really cracks everything wide open. Providing you have the right understanding all phenomena are independently self existent. The more subtle level of vajrayana practice says, inside you, your most subtle level of consciousness is the enlightened nature of mind. To obtain enlightenment, you have to be able to completely withdraw all the energy in your body, the coarse energies and the subtle energies up into the heart. And at that time then, generate the most subtle level of subtle level of consciousness consciously. And if you can do that, you have obtained enlightenment. You have the activities down pat, the only thing you haven't got is the inner attainment. So if you can get the inner attainment and realize it, you have got it. So what else is there to do?
So vajrayana practices are dealing with how to straighten channels in the body. Having straightened them, how to be able to draw the energy, how to start to loosen up the energies that run in the body. And there is considered five coarse and five subtle energies. The five coarse energies are for example the energies that help you urinate and defecate, the upward energy helps you digest food, another which helps us swallow and such things. Anyhow they are to do with major energies in the body. The five subtle energies are the eye consciousness, ear, nose, tongue and body consciousnesses. Those ten energies are the ones you then have to learn how to first identify them, clean up the nerve channels they run on and be able to draw them back up to the heart by concentration and you get special exercises and techniques of how to do that. Having drawn them to your heart, then actually you have to learn how to realize at that point how that the most subtle level of consciousness, and if you realize that by just being able to be consciously doing it,then you can have enlightenment.
There is one energy which is sort of called the body energy. It is the coarse body energy. You can't withdraw that through normal means. It just doesn't happen. It is really fixed in the body. There is only two times that it withdraws back to the heart. One time is at death, because it is what let's you die and go to your next rebirth. The other time is during intercourse and at that time due to the male and female having intercourse it is said that s the central channel opens and at that time it is possible that the physical body energy becomes loose and you could draw it up into the central channel. So in tantracism you often see male and female in union and in tantracism there is a great deal of emphasis to the duality of the world. That there is male and female and such things. And there is all sorts of different levels of it. On the highest levels so to speak on the level of practice where one is trying to receive enlightenment, one needs to have a physical consort to rely on to be able to loosen the last of the gross physical energies to be able to draw it into the heart. In the highest of tantric meditations it is necessary to have a physical consort or to wait for the time of death. One of those two. So if you are developed enough you look for a consort. When you find a consort you practice the particular yogas of intercourse which has nothing to do with sitting down and making love with someone. It is where you sexually enter into union and at that time then you enter into your meditation. Because the body naturally experiences stimulation, at that time then your nerve energy becomes loose enough that you can draw it up into your heart channel. So you allow your body to do it's thing without moving it or anything. The body becomes naturally excited. And in that you can draw the energy into the central channel. And then if at point you realize the most subtle level of consciousness, you have real true and full enlightenment because you have fully gotten control of all of what it means to be in the body, alright! At that point you can change reality. You can manifest things. You can change objects around you. You have a lot of magic power.
So that is the tantric practice. Tantric practice relies on receiving initiation, to be able to identify with the deity, then to leave off your ordinary perspective about yourself, and you identify yourself as being the fully enlightened being. To be able to do that, you rely on common such things as doing mantra, retreats and such things. When you become more involved with the vision or the perspective of a tantric practioner which says the pureland is here and now, I am an enlightened being in the pureland and the pureland is the world around me, then you start to practice what is called the completion stage. These are the higher yogic practices of learning how to straighten the nerve channels in the body, learn how to gain control of the breathing process, learn how to withdraw the energies up into the central channel, how to open the central channel, and then at that level you have to start to realize different levels of consciousness within the central channel. And when you finally start to get to the point where you realize quite a few levels, but you are still held back by the gross physical level of energy in your body, then you look for a consort of equal level, and relying on a consort of equal level you can break that final thing which stops you from completely drawing your energies into your heart channel, then you rely on the consort, draw the energies into your heart, and your enlightened.....
The morning after.... you are a tantric deity then. You have got no holds barred because you have full enlightenment. They say you have control over all of the energies in your being totally. They talk about you completely transform your body into any form or shape you want. You can completely alter the physical reality of the world around you. In that way, you are fearless. You have conquered the final thing which is only death, by relying on a consort, so you are free in the world. But what you do you do because you are a Buddha, you work for the benefit of sentient beings.
So that is the hinayana, mahayana and vajrayana practices. And actually all three are inter related. They are not separate practices. For example a hinayana practioner which is considered the initial level, work at creating good karma, the better the karma the more you can create merits and the better to realize nirvana. They have refuge, the law of cause and effect, the realization of the world as suffering. On the basis of that, when you move to the mahayana practice, you still have the law of cause and effect, refuge, and you still recognize that the world suffers. If you have a delusion perspective, if you are still full of delusion and you interact with the world around you, you are going to suffer. You are creating negative karma. So the mahayana practioner completely relies on the hinayana practice. But it steps further and says don't give up the outside world, interact with it and in positive means, try to help sentient beings be loving and kind and considerate. The perspective is based on being a bodhisattva and you try to be a good person and deeds and such things and you are striving for enlightenment because you realize that if you had the hinayana nirvana liberation, you still have repressed things that we not worked through. And because we are more broad minded in the mahayana we should resolve all issues. In that way we can become the Buddha and the Buddha is the best one to help all sentient beings. So why not go for the best! Why go for a second rate realization.
So a mahayana practioner ten strives for enlightenment. The tantric practioner says wonderful. I am a bodhisattva I want to be a good bodhisattva, but even the delusions are non self existent. Everything is non self existent. So why is there no holds barred. The world is free in that way. So if the world if free, enlightenment is here and now. So you seek out a tantric master that helps you realize enlightenment in the here and now. You are right now the Buddha and that is why you receive the initiations. The tantric practice is a little more profound.
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