Annual India Tours
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.
SEPT 19 1989
Having finished the six perfections, I would like to talk about tantracism because it's an integral part of Tibetan Buddhism. The principles of the path in the general teachings of Buddhism are to be approached and practiced the best we can but always practiced according to what we feel we could practice, not according to what the possibilities or options are. We should not feel we should practice Tantracism. "Tantracism is a secret practice! It's supposed to be the faster path and therefore I should practice it!" That's not the way to go at it. It's more important to say, "I have a personality and I have an inkling that I might enjoy the tantric presentation or philosophy and therefore it suits me and I will seek it out!" So do always appreciate that you are the controller of your own individual practice, your own way of gaining realizations, which is the sole purpose of it.
In the general or common practices, there are three principal groupings. You can term them as the determination to enter into practice, termed traditionally as renunciation, although I agree with those who teach Buddhism about a better word for it. So rather than "renunciation" which is a negative term for it, to use "determination" which is "I am making a decision, determining that I would like to go into a different direction in regards to my life!" Which means then, that one is realizing that there is something more than just a material existence. So I determine to move myself in a non material line, a non material approach to life, a spiritual approach.
The second fundamental or principle which is the corner stone is the practice of altruistic love and compassion. Meaning is that we don't practice with the focus upon our self as being the sole... like "I am practicing so I gain realizations"... There is definitely the emphasis that we need to be more realized as an individual to be more happy, more realized, more integrated, but the focus of that, the object of that, is the expression of it which is love and compassion for others. So in being the second principle you could say is the opening of one's expression of existence, on opening of one's existence, to be more universal, to not be self centered. And I gave a lot of teachings about that.
The final principle is the realization of the true nature of reality. That realization means seeing things just as they are. You don't elaborate them, you don't color them. You should try to see the world as it is truly, naturally. And in that there is a very deep wisdom. That there is a scheme for things which is the development of your realization of that wisdom.
So those three aspects, the aspect of realizing or making the determination that you would like to realize something more lasting more integral with yourself, the second aspect of love and compassion and the third, the true nature of reality. Those three are very important, the meat of your practice. And as much as you participate in the lectures you should try to find them and make them your own. It doesn't mean that you take my words, it means that you try to find them in the way that you express them. Because that is where you will find bliss and joy. Find yourself getting your act together. It's not like you are part of a "trip" or a Buddhist religion or such, but that you are actually realizing yourself which is the real intent.
If you think about those principles, and let's say you are in a practice and you make your practice and such, the whole focus is that you start to take your basic mind, and the basic nature of your mind is that we grasp about it. Like if we are sitting here and all of a sudden Tom pulls back, the mind, his mind's energy goes tight and says "Hey, what is going on here!" What we are talking about is that you mind contracts and questions what is happening. In Buddhism, the whole of the mundane practice is to say that your mind's energy, you want to learn how to realize it and open it. Means that, if you have a heavy duty projection, or your mind is very tight, like you are very miserly or to pick a few heavy points, maybe you are a little racist, or biased or prejudiced. You understand, your mind gets very tight and looks at things only in that way. Like that white caucasian people are only the people that should live in the world, or something! Or that WASP attitude, the white anglo saxon protestants are the best people in the world! That is a bias. But that makes your whole mind narrow. So from a Buddhist perspective, we would say that that mind is very unrealized or tight. It has a very narrow focus. So the Buddhist emphasis is to say, hey, open up your mind! So how do you do that? Initially you say hey, one day you are going to die. If you put all your energy into amassing a nice house, getting lots of money together, those sorts of things, you are not going to really be that fulfilled because they can all be lost, the people and friends around you are not permanent people. They will pass away themselves. Also relationships fluctuate. I mean, divorce now a days is common. So it indicates that if we put our emphasis on the material world, on relationships, in property and such, it is not gong to be that fulfilling. We can end up at a loss. At the end of our life we can end up being very lonely and unhappy.
So the initial principle says if you are going to make your mind a little more attuned with reality, give up grasping the material world. That is the first function. The mind starts to open, says there are other options. And the focus is in saying there is options on the very nature of my being, my mind! My mind opening up becoming more realized! Because if my mind opens up, then that is something that I have. Death can't take that away.
In Buddhism of course, they say there is a future life. Whether you believe in it or not, the point is, is that your being is a more beautiful character. It opens up. Becomes a little less tight. So the first principle is the first way of breaking down that shell which makes you uptight. And as I say, that up tightness is in you. And how, is that just like every time you get uptight about something, then everything gets narrowed down! That tightness is a conscious energy we have. If you were very confident, very self realized, you don't get uptight about things. You are open, relaxed, and just go with the flow. Maybe sometimes it is a little nervous at points, but at least we should not try to make our mind uptight. So the first principle in opening up our mind is to maybe make ourselves a little more aware of where we should put our emphasis.
Second point. Love and compassion. Again the whole focus is to make the mind open. Don't be self centered. All the teachings of the second principle of love and compassion say, if you have two people, a selfish person and a person who is less selfish, automatically if you look at those two people we will like the less selfish person. Why? Because they are a nice person. It is just natural. I could get into a lot of ideas about it, but basically we can say, the less selfish anyone is, the more we like that person automatically. So love and compassion is a very integral part of your spiritual practice. Why? Because it opens you up more. It makes that little tight mind a little more open. So the second principle and what it is trying to do, is to open your mind.
The third principle is the true nature of reality which says that you are completely a non independent entity. Like, the final barrier that mind has is the belief that I am a very singular independent self centered person. And I can do what I want! And I am free to make the decisions that I want and nothing can stop me! And I can do what I want to the world around me! And like that! A high sense of independence. That sense of independence is the main source of all our problems. If we realize the wisdom of the true nature of reality, says we are fully interdependent with the world around us. I mean, if the world, every millisecond didn't support my existence with warmth and air and food and such, I'd be dead! So I am completely part of the world around me. All aspects of me are completely part of the world. It's called the law of interdependence or the truth of interdependence. I am a fully interdependent being in all aspects of my existence. That is not the full gambit of the true nature of wisdom, but it is the major portion of it. So, if you start realizing that you are not independent, what do you do? You dissolve that sense of selfishness, that sense of tightness in your mind. So when you think about it, the whole basis of the Buddhist practice is to open you up. To make you a nicer person. Really it is trying to get you in tune with reality. And full nature of reality! Not a half truth, not a partial nature of reality, the ultimate opening where your mind is fully into it.
That gives you the context of how your practice is going. So let's say you start practicing. And we will get on to the esoteric sense of lifetime after lifetime, and one day you are finally going to become enlightened. Now, one of the important aspects in Buddhism, we say is the mind is the creator. Your mind creates your reality. So I am sitting here and I grasp in a particular way, I hold tightly to certain ideas about myself or something, I create that reality. So in Buddhism we say, start to et in touch with that. Realize that we create our own reality!
When you get into that thing, think about it! If you are going to go lifetime after lifetime and as you practice you become more generous, more patient, kind, loving. Then as you do that, your very existence, your very physical being changes. Lets say you become, like they say there are particular karmic relationships: to the more generous you are, the more beautiful your form becomes, the more naturally full it becomes. So generosity has a natural quality in that you have a very nice vibration of affluence, or of generosity and it makes a certain physical character of yourself. You are not thin or obese. It cultivates you in a physical way. They say patience makes beauty. Why they say that is because if you see an angry person, their brows are furled and they get all red in the face. Anger makes you ugly. If you are into your spiritual practice, the more you practice patience, the more your form from lifetime to lifetime becomes beautiful.
And then morality they say, the main principle of morality is not harming others. If you don't harm other sentient beings, they say that your life force is very strong. Like if I run around and kill things all the time, then my life force, the karmic retribution for that, is my life force is going to be hassled. I'll have minor illnesses and diseases and such. If I actually go out and murder people or am evil in the sense that I do a lot of damage to others, my life force will have a lot of problems in it. I might die of cancer, have a lot of illness and such. So if I do the opposite of that, I am very moral, meaning is, not harming other sentient beings, my life force gets stronger, more pure. I live longer lives. I live healthy lives. It's a natural evolution we get into.
They say as you become fully enlightened, let's say you after many lifetimes, start to get fully enlightened, you have had to though allow yourself to die is one existence to take up a new existence and let the new image of you come through. Lets say, in this moment, I'm a little bit thin, nervous, I'm talking about me in reality, well that's because the way I am, I'm going to have to practice patience and being more laid back and things, and then in my next existence I won't be so thin because my temperament makes me this way. So if I start to tone down my temperament, in my next lifetime I can have a little fuller body. And if I practice better in that lifetime then maybe I'll have a more handsome body. You understand. There is a process of cultivating yourself. But you have to die in between each lifetime to take a new image. That is the mundane practice of how you do it. As they say in esoteric Buddhism, it takes about three eons of rebirths to become a fully enlightened being and have a perfect form with all the aspects of a fully enlightened being, the thirty two major and eighty two minor marks of a Buddha. The whole form is beautiful. And that is the final expression of enlightenment. When you cultivate yourself lifetime after lifetime, there is an process that you have to go through. Ten or twenty lifetimes related to a particular aspect that was related to negativity that you had and you had to work out the negativity, then your form can take a new aspect. Alright?
Well, that is the mundane style of practice and as you can see it takes a long time. But lets go back to that original idea which I said that mind is the creator. So in tantracism, the focus is saying, hey, if mind is the creator of reality, what is the problem with being able to visualize yourself better than you are. If you take up a mental image of yourself better than you are, there is nothing false in that. You are an interdependent being. You are directly related, you are interdependent, you are created from causes and effects. So, if you take an internal image of yourself, lets say a much more divine image of yourself, that will change you. And it is actually a catalyst. It's a more powerful way to spiritually practice. So if you think about it, it actually seems obvious. The better you visualize yourself...I mean even in modern psychology they talk about it. Like have a good personal self image. Well in buddhism, they have been saying that for hundreds of thousands of years. Saying, your personal image, in tantracism, particularly, if you visualize yourself as being divine, you are already putting yourself closer to enlightenment. You don't have to go through that slow laborious process of giving up an old image and taking on a new image. It's not like that! You can be much more dynamic in your practice.
So the first aspects of tantric practice is saying that your main problem with your whole existence has been that you grasp at your mundane self. You feel that I am just a so and so. Like I am just a simplistic Canadian, and such and such a person, look like this, and because I look like this I am like that. You put yourself down a lot. You drag yourself down with a lot of what we would term mundane imagery.
In tantracism it is said, the first step in the process of entering into the tantric practice is you need all the principles, the fundamentals. You need the determination to get your act together, you need love and compassion, and you need the true nature of reality. Those are all so integral. You have to have them in your practice. But, what we are going to say is, we are going to give up our grasping our mundane image of ourself and take a divine image. In tantric initiation, the first phase of it is, is when you take an initiation you are introduced to a divine aspect. And you are given permission to visualize yourself with that. And the special thing of it, well, you might say you can just visualize myself as being wonderful and that is good enough, sure, it could be helpful, but the particular power of tantracism is, is that these have been images which have been going for a long time. They carry what you could call an archetypal energy with them. They have been tapped by very deep spiritual beings. Their energy is a little special, a little more powerful than your own imagination of what it is like. So that is why taking an initiation is a little more powerful than allowing your ow imagination to go to work on what you would think a more creative image of yourself might be.
So the first phase is to receive initiation where you take on a more divine image of yourself. And the identity with that is the important issue. And in that you can go into retreats where you do mantra recitation and such. The point is, that you try to learn to identify more and more with the divine image. And that is the process of the meditation practice. And that is dropping your mundane grasping that I am a thin man and that I am getting to be almost forty, am getting grey hair. That is a very mundane image of myself. So you take on a new image saying I am a divine being. You identify with that. You recite the mantra of the deity to make your mind closer to that. You try to visualize yourself at all times yourself in the divine aspect.
And that is quicker. Because you are already making yourself the divine being. You are not waiting for that process of life after life to transform yourself. You are taking it now. So the main aspect of tantracism is to say the result is now. It is not after a long time. So you make enlightenment here and now so I have the divine form by visualizing myself divinely right now.
The second point of tantracism is the using the body and the chakras of the nervous system to gain realizations and by that is meant that, let's say you meditate on love and compassion. So you sit down and you think, everyone is wonderful, they are not really, I hate them, but, everyone is wonderful. I mean, you have this mind, and you process yourself through well I'd like to love everybody but I can't really because people are a real pain. You know. That is the mundane style of practice. It has no direct point related to how to gain realizations. So instead of that, in the tantric practice, there are particular points in the body, by focusing on them, and by working with your visualizations and mantras and such, you open them. By opening them, you access a much higher energy. So it is said, for example, it is a little bit of an nasty example, but if you want to kill something, you can beat it all over it's body and you might be successful in killing it, or you might not. If you know what you are doing, and you take a dagger and just insert it right between the ribs, you can stab someone and kill them outright.
So the same thing. If you have delusions like anger, don't like people and ill will, and things, you might beat yourself all over trying to get rid of them. But if you don't quite hit the right point, you might have to beat for a long time before you kill that negativity.
Whereas if someone gives you a special long pin, and you say, ah ha, that's where anger is, you stab it right there, you kill it outright. Same thing. Tantracism has an added quality that it hits you at the right point where ill will is functioning. Which is maybe a tight heart or something. So tantracism has the added aspect of using points on the body, and by receiving initiation, by receiving the teachings related with the initiation, you then get given specific points of visualization, the ways of visualizing, that goes right to the mark. Like I say, instead of beating all over, with this little pointed dagger, and you get it right on the point, it's more powerful. Makes the practice quicker. That's why tantracism is termed a quicker practice generally.
Also ways which are more profound which are specific for why it is even more quicker, but they are difficult to teach a lot of. I can only give you a general idea of the principles. That is the second point, meditating on points of the body makes the tantric practice unique and adds more power to it. And as I say, if you start to think about it it, it means your mind becoming realized quicker. Because you always have to come back to what it means. Like I am visualizing myself as being a divine white being, my hands are in such a position, and it's all malarkey, a silly dream, you know. Say it's just a bunch of silly imagination. Why though? Why, that aspect is a positive identity which if I relate to, I upgrade myself automatically. Secondly, by visualizing, for example, in the center of your heart, there is a white disk, called the moon disk, on the center of that disk is a little seed syllable, and around that disk is a mantra, I mean, it sounds like a bunch of silly gibberish. But it's positioned in particular parts of your body, and the visualization and mantras and all that has particular way of opening your body nervous energy. And by doing that, you realize more love. Or there is different points, or different visualizations to be done. It's not a simplistic practice. It's quite developed. And the practice has been going for two thousand plus years so it has some validity in being successful or else it wouldn't have worked for two thousand years. No one does a practice and if it doesn't work, say, yeah, this is a good thing to do, rather they practice because it shows success.
So in entering into the tantric practice, there has to be the idea that one, mind is the creator. And that you can more dynamically take hold of your existence and do something about it. Two, tantracism does have power above the mundane practice because it deals directly with the points of getting rid of delusions and opening yourself up and getting more realizations. So tantric practice is again, more powerful than the common practices. The reason it is taught privately is because it definitely has to be practiced in relationship to a teacher. You cannot practice tantracism on your own. It has to be transmitted to you by a teacher, the meditation practices, your capacity to practice and your experiences should be related to your teacher so that you grow properly, that you don't do things wrong because you can, if you do practice wrong, make problems for yourself sometimes by meditating in the wrong way, in particular parts of your body and such. That is the general ideas behind tantracism. There is more detail but as I say, it's difficult to teach the higher aspect of tantracism because they are much more secret and requires a better understanding or grasp of the path.
One aspect of tantracism that I can talk a little bit about is the generation of bliss. If you come back to fundamentals, the reason you practice spirituality is to open your mind, open yourself up in the full sense of when I say mind, I mean the whole of your being opens and becomes more loving and kind. So we have the determination to practice spiritually. Makes you a little more focused on yourself Love and compassion which opens you more. True nature of reality which makes you realize that actually you are fully involved in the world around you, more fully open. So those are the principles.
Now bliss is very strongly taught in the tantric practices. They actually say that wisdom consciousness and bliss are synonymous. And by bliss, it means, the ecstasy of the nervous system. Like if you talk about yourself, and you think about it..... one of the best things I things I can think of is the first time I fell in love. I felt so wonderful! I remember running up these stairs, I was maybe thinking of the girl I fell in love with or something, but I was just wide open and full of happiness. I was blissed out! I was thinking of this girl and I was blissed out! At that moment I was so wide open and so open to the world about me and stuff. Now, that is just a very mundane example but it is so true, so what's happening?
If you can get into an experience of bliss in your nervous system, you are approaching a consciousness which is similar to wisdom consciousness. Now it doesn't mean it is. Let's say if I bliss out because I am thinking of my girl friend, there's not a lot of wisdom in that. But, if I am getting bliss in my system and I focus on the true nature of reality, you could understand my heart's opening and I am getting more in tune with reality. Because, when you are happy, everything is fine! "What are you talking about? I feel really good right now. " You know, you are wide open to what's happening around you. Because I am happy. Your mind is happy. So, in tantracism there is a lot of emphasis placed on the wisdom of what is called the bliss voidness or bliss reality. And bliss reality refers to touching points in your nervous system which give you bliss. And by generating bliss, using that to say, the true nature of reality is all phenomena are interdependent, all phenomena are inter related. And then you focus on that point where you can generate bliss from and by focusing on that, and as you experience bliss, you merge it together with the true nature of reality. It makes a much more powerful practice.
Like I said, if you want to talk about that little dagger with which you are going to stab a delusion, our principle delusion is selfishness, being a very selfish uptight person. You want to kill that, the way you kill it best is bliss out with the true nature of reality. So if you can enter into the state of bliss, and in that moment say, my whole body physically and actually my mind, and my whole existence is part of the world around me. And then you enter into bliss, open yourself. By opening yourself you put yourself much more in tune with reality. A much more powerful technique.
So, in tantracism there are many teachings on the generation of bliss, whether you meditate on the center of the heart chakra, or you meditate in other ways, there are many ways to generate bliss which is used in the nature of reality. And in the final aspect of bliss, in the sense of consummate bliss, it's the aspect I am sure of which you are aware of when you say tantracism, everyone thinks sex. Tantracism is sex, tantric yoga sex. You get all these funky books if you go into book stores! Saying how to practice tantric yoga. And they give all these silly exercises. Where there is actually something to that a little bit! There are two levels of generation of bliss. They say there is the visualized consort and and the actual physical consort. And the authors of these particular books get the teachings where you have a physical consort and write them all down and present them as being some highly religious practice from Eastern Asia. But they have missed the mark. They are basically into eroticism without any spirituality.
The principles of utilizing bliss and opening your mind, and then how, deals with imagery, because again, tantracism is imagery. We talked about how you imagine yourself, image yourself, the imagination of yourself, if you imagine yourself as divine, there must be a counter part of divine. If I am the divine male, then there must be the divine females here too! Wonderful women, and they are all divine really in my eyes! The thing is then obviously the unification, if the divine male and the divine female come together and they were full spiritual beings, the consummation of those two people would be ultimate bliss. It's just reality if you think of it! I mean, the most wonderful man and the most wonderful woman got together, wouldn't they just be wonderfully happy?
So, the point in tantracism which has a practice which initially starts on a visual level where you visualize your consort and in visualizing that, and there are very specific ways that you visualize and meditate, you generate bliss and again, you make it that you have personal image, I am fully enlightened, I am a fully spiritual being and right now I am in union with the divine counter part of myself, the counterpart being a member of the opposite sex. And in that there is unbelievable bliss, and in that you are having a very deep mystical religious experience. It's an imagery, but we are on a very imagery level arn't we? I mean half of us here are men and half of us are women. So we are into an image of it as it is. So tantracism adds more power to the practice by giving you a divine form, by telling you that if you can access bliss, you can access a higher wisdom consciousness. And it says also that it is suitable to generate bliss using the divine imagery that you are given but it's expression is spirituality. Love and compassion for others.
Remember, come back again. You always have to ask "What is this all about?" If you come back, the whole process is opening your mind to be what? A more loving person, a kind person, a realized person, more in tune with reality. So, when you do these visualizations, as I say, they are secret. You have to receive initiation, you have to have a teacher guide you into the different meditation techniques. But the whole focus is that you become realized and then your whole body, speech, and mind opens and becomes a very spiritual person.
So that is the tantric practice. It's much more specific on how you gain realizations but then it is also much more demanding of you as a practitioner. You have to have the principle of love and compassion as being very important in your life. If it is, then how you want to be able to express love and compassion better. So rather than like I say, beating your anger and your delusions and your selfishness all over, we will give you a special little dagger which you can kill your selfishness with, and you do that with your tantric practice. And if you do your practice well, you will better be able to express love and compassion and such things. In that way, tantric yoga, and then the idea people sometimes put with sexuality is completely off base. Completely out of touch with reality. Real reality is the expression of kindness, love and compassion, helping others get their act together, realized and such. So.
A more lengthy lecture tonight, but I wanted to give you the principles of the tantric practice. So in appreciating all the different things that you have had over the months that we have been teaching, you have and idea of what it is all about. And maybe what it could be if you have an interest to practice that way. And if you don't, if you say well, it sounds interesting but it doesn't mean so much to me, that is perfectly alright. Practice what you like to practice. Not that there is any demand being made that you have to practice on this level. Alright?
For our meditation, maybe the simplest thing to meditate on is the fact that our mind does create our reality. And maybe think a little bit about the nature of your mind, in the sense of like I say, the more closed minded we are, the more unrealized we are, I mean just how uptight our reality is, how brittle it is. And that the whole focus of realization is to open our mind.
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