What would “modern Buddhist tantra” even mean? – Vividness
life at Dunhuang in the tenth century: the case of Cao Yuanzhong / Rong Xinjiang -- Where chan and tantra meet: Tibetan syncretism in Dunhuang / Sam van. The most surprising of these are combinations of Zen and tantra. Both Tibetan and Chinese Chan Buddhist teachers at Dunhuang show up in. I will join in by suggesting renewed Buddhist Tantra as a possibility. language such as “Buddhism doesn't meet what Westerners wants”, relationship between Chan and Dzogchen based on the Dunhuang manuscripts.
Alternatively, you can reinterpret them as a rich system of metaphors. The terma that are absolutely essential to Nyingma teachings concern supernatural beings who delivered them to very specific people at specific times.
How could you chant mantra thinking that it is just a sequence of random sounds? Again, thank you for keeping up with these discussions, as well as your great effort to maintain these valuable sites. Tom January 9, at 2: Turning raw recordings into podcasts is much more work than it seems, unfortunately, and volunteer enthusiasm varies for that. I think you are right that one could not start from Tibetan Buddhism, simply delete its supernatural elements, and expect the rest to function well.
The approach I will sketch starts instead from abstract principles of Vajrayana, and works toward making those concrete in the modern world. Jayarava has done some work on this, for instance.
However, one could also just accept that the mantra works, without needing an explanation. Or, you could accept that it is random. Repeating any random sequence of sounds a few million times might have a powerful effect. Or, you could do without mantras. You could drop any one, or even most of them, and still have a functional path, I suspect. But this is an empirical question, that could only be answered for sure by trying. Just pointing out that it may be possible to make very large changes, if the underlying abstract principles are understood.
January 9, at 8: However, atheistic materialism is not as compatible with the systematic method of knowledge creation as the more evangelical atheists would like to admit. It only gets worse as time t gets larger. The other side of my objection to fetishizing authenticity is that the human brain responds well to behaving as if gods are real, despite whether they are or not.
Want to say your tantra was written by Ten Headed Snake-man King? Is your tantra useful? Which you pointed out in the bit about Shambala in your other post. The Romans considered themselves very modern and rational, and they liked to watch people die, live in an arena. January 10, at 6: I wonder if the importance is here because we all feel so revolted by the Christian literalists, creationists, etc.?
Do we need to pay for their sins, so to speak? You may find belief in entities like dharmapalas distasteful, but can you say that such a belief is dangerous, or counter-productive to the goal of Vajrayana? I am not at all anti-science, I think it represents the pinnacle of conceptual mind. January 10, at 8: Relies on meditation techniques, scripture, behavior modification, etc. Sure, modernize at will. No problem, as the abstract concepts can be reformulated to fit with the current world system.
Relies on powerful images, sounds, and body movements. Can be abstracted and modernized? The tools have to come from somewhere. There is always a teacher. I suppose an abstract Tantra could involved the practice of each individual creating and painting their own Yidam, according to their own cultural preferences, and then formulating their own mantra, etc.
But this is a bit laughable, for sure. For those who cringe at the thought of having to receive a teaching from a teacher, what you probably want to practice instead is something along the lines of the Jungian personality type system. As for realizing emptiness — and then returning from emptiness into form?? You can probably get really sophisticated at cherry-picking Buddhist concepts and symbols that seem to have power, and that jive with whatever current cultural trends are being practiced at the time.
With Vajrayana Buddhism, what you get is what you get. No need to change anything. January 10, at 2: It is possible to be a methodological naturalist and not a materialist. Rituals definitely have powerful effects!
I think Vajrayana has unique value for the modern world. Current presentations of Vajrayana are repellent, obscure, and irrelevant for most Westerners.
Is it legitimate to change the presentation? Yes, because that has been done, over and over, throughout history. Originally I planned several posts here explaining that history of innovation, but dropped them in order to get to more important topics.
Our conditions are very different from pre— Tibet, so radical changes are justifiable again. Is it possible to create a modern presentation? I suspect Vajrayana is compatible with most of that framework; perhaps not the Protestant criteria.
As I said in the next post, I think Shambhala Training is proof of this. Polytheism is out of the question. I noted in the post that Different aspects of modernism are important to different people. Some modern Buddhists would strongly reject some of these criteria, while considering others essential.
In future, there may be many different modern Vajrayanas, some of which may have spooks and some not. Some may have priests in robes, and some not. Some may advocate social change, and some not. These are independent choices. I hope the future holds diverse modern tantric Buddhisms.
Currently, we have none, so it seems worth considering whether and how Vajrayana could be modern according to each of the criteria, separately. I would enthusiastically support a modern Vajrayana that did have spooks. Let a thousand flowers bloom!
- Reinventing Buddhist Tantra
- What would “modern Buddhist tantra” even mean?
You seem quite sure about these… Why? How do you know? It seems to me that no one can know for sure what is possible, because not many things have been tried. This is false, as a matter of historical fact never mind future possibilities.
We both think that teachers are key for Vajrayana. I agree also about the importance and power of the blessings of the lineage.
Reinventing Buddhist Tantra – Vividness
Thinley Norbu Rinpoche made this point forcefully in Magic Dance: Some easterners, or westerners who think like easterners, believe that westerners cannot have lineage because they have no tradition.
If we believe that westerners are too materialistic to have any spiritual lineage, we are disrespectful to pure Buddhist lineage. If we are not concerned with true spiritual qualities but are superficially seduced by eastern customs and manners because we associate the east with Buddhist lineage, we are also disrespectful to pure Buddhist lineage.
If we think that only priests, lamas and gurus have lineage, then we have title lineage conception and padlock and key lineage conception which is disrespectful to pure spiritual lineage. The process of viewing the of the thief appears in the teachings attributed to Moheyan, as a mind is described as an intellectual enquiry, similar to the method symbol for the distractions of the six senses. The metaphor also of PT and PT, but with considerably greater detail. The same injunction to turn the Northern Chan doctrines and the teacher of Moheyan's teach- away from six senses and to view the mind is found in the teachings ers.
This there is no further drawing upon Chan practices and teaching tech- school seems to have exerted a direct influence on Tibetan Chan, niques. As we have seen, there is a great deal of overlap between the which has been described as a dovetailing of late Northern and Chan elements of PT and PT and the teachings of Shenxiu Baotang Chan.
While Shenxiu is representative of the Northern man ngag gsum are mentioned by name: The opment which combined the Northern Chan practices with ele- original Chinese phrases of Wuxiang wu nian, wu yi, wu wang ments from other strands of Chan. There, it the Lamp for the Eyes in Contemplation Bsam gtan mig sgron appears in passages criticizing the Northern Chan, indicating that under the title Brief Precepts lung chung. It also appears elsewhere the single-method samadhi was associated with that SChOOPl in the Dunhuang manuscripts on its own ITJ ,23 in a Chan PT does not employ the richness of metaphors found in compilation PT and in an incomplete and previously unno- PT and PT, but we do see again the metaphor of the sense ticed manuscript, where it appears in the company of some notes objects as thieves and the awareness of them as a watchman.
This rather compacted dis- contemplation.Tantra of Gyuto - Sacred Rituals of Tibet (1968) [Full Documentary]
It begins with an evocation of the compassionate cussion is clarified by a passage attributed to Moheyan in which he motivation to end the suffering of all sentient beings. Then the explains that, just as when one is aware of a thief, the thief cannot meditation proper is discussed, beginning with the practice of enter one's home, so when one is aware of the arising thoughts and viewing the mind, and moving on quickly to the instruction not to concepts, one is liberated from them.
The text then describes the resulting is very similar to our commentary. The term has a specific from which the mind is liberated of itself rang grol with no need meaning in Chinese treatises and translations of Chinese sutras to obstruct or suppress concepts. The meditator is instructed from this period; rather than standing for the Sanskrit vedana to remain in an unmoving samadhi, while the meditative ,feeling' or 'sensation' as it does in translations of Sanskrit texts, it experience becomes increasingly subtle, peaceful and clear.
The stands for the Chinese jue Yl meaning 'to understand, to be aware, Brief Precepts concludes with the following statement: Dharmatala meditated This wakeful awareness is described in PT as 'the antidote in this way. Unsurprisingly then, it appears more than once in the writings attributed to Moheyan.
The great compilation of Tibetan Chan material PT1l6 is a rich source for similar terminology. Interestingly, most of the points of similarity in PT1l6 occur in a discrete section of the man- uscript that is framed as a treatise written as an aid to Mahiiyogins, a term usually used to refer to tantric practitioners. This is not the only instance of the use of the term Mahiiyoga in manuscripts otherwise entirely Chan in character, a phenomenon we will return to in the conclusion.
PTl21 contains five works, of which the third is a copy of the Brief Precepts.
The fourth is a dis - cussion of the three phrases ofWuxiang, and the fifth is an analysis of the meaning of the three jewels dkon mchog gsum.
The third and fourth texts are clearly linked thematically to PT The fifth is similar to another of our group of manuscripts, PT, which is also a discussion of the three jewels. The two discussions of this topic differ in certain details, but use much of the same terminol- ogy. Thus we can infer that the compiler of the PT collection moved in the same Chan circles as the author of our group of doc- uments.
A Mahayoga interpretation of a Chan text: PT Thus in writing his commentary to the Chan text known as the BriefPrecepts, the author ofPT was clearly drawing on a specific tradition of Chan teachings, and it is quite possible to read the text as a straightforward Chan commentary. Yet when read alongside PT and PT, certain references to Mahayoga practice become apparent, suggesting that the author also had in mind the three samiidhi structure when composing this commentary.
That is to say, his commentary interprets a Chan text in terms of Mahayoga Fig. The Brief Precepts is a Chan or Zen text. Some of There may have been some precedent for this. Some brief the versions found at Dunhuang, such as the one in notes on the Vajrayana are appended to the version of the Brief Tibetan shown here, mention Mahayoga teachers which suggests that the text may have enjoyed pop- Precepts found in ITJ Fig.
This would be rather a Brief Precepts may have enjoyed a wider popularity among the stretch when the root text, the Brief Precepts, remains firmly on the Mahayoga practitioners around Dunhuang.
Among several definitions, ignorance is said to be 'not Mahayoga before the final explicit syncretism of the colophon dis- seeing the face of the deity and the master. After a statement that equality cha the face of the deity carries a strong implication of the presence of snyom requires a full abandonment of self, the author asks, 'where Vajrayana practice.
This is no more than a hint by our author, but it is this shown? Chan texts, but not this set of five.
His allusions to elements of these practices, Having assumed the physical posture for Mahayoga practice, and the way in which his Chan and Mahayoga commentaries PT instructs the meditator in the Chan method of 'viewing the mirror each other's structure brings the Chan text into the realm of mind'.
The 'three phrases' ofWuxiang which appear in this section of PT Syncretism in Dunhuang and the 'dark period' have an analogous triad in PT, where the three pairs of In a groundbreaking article on Mahayoga texts from Dunhuang, metaphors are arranged into: There is, in of the three phrases in PT It seems then that the traditions, but it is rather simply a Ch' an treatise masquerading as a three phrases ofWuxiang are employed as a suggestive allusion to treatise on Mahayoga. As noted above, there are a number of Chan manuscripts Having discussed the three phrases of Wuxiang, PT goes which use the term Mahayoga in this way, without incorporating on to compare meditation to the reflections of the sun and moon.
Given the existence of the Similarly PT, after discussing the analogous triad, calls attention syncretism in the texts discussed above, the judgement that such to the reflective quality of meditation, like reflections of the moon treatises are merely masquerading as Mahayoga is thrown into and the stars in waterY In PT this image bridges the thusness question.
It is more likely that a number of Chan texts were in fact samiidhi to the all-illuminating samiidhi, symbolizing the transi- well studied within Mahayoga circles. Even when such works made tion from the empty aspect of the mind to the luminous aspect of no explicit attempt to incorporate Mahayoga elements, they would compassion.
In search of the Guhyagarbha tantra
After the 'dark period', all visible influences of the all-illuminating samiidhi to the detailed visualizations of the Chan were eliminated from Tibetan Buddhism, and Mahayoga and causal samiidhi. The system of practice set out in these manuscripts did not Sam van Schaik and Jacob Dalton both work on the International survive into the later Tibetan tradition. Indeed, this creative inte- Dunhuang Project at the British Library on an AHRB-funded gration of meditation practices derived from both Indic and Chi- collaborative project with SOAS to catalogue and digitize the nese traditions could only have been possible during the earliest Tibetan tantric manuscripts from Dunhuang.
Dalton, "The Development of Perfection". The work actually has practices derived from a genre of tantras which appeared from the mid-sev- two parts. The first part delineates a hermeneutical system that differs some- enth century onwards, including the Guhyagarbha tantra, the Sarvabud- what from the principal system used in the second part. Thus the first system dhasamayoga tantra and the Guhyasamaja tantra. Monks compiled collections of gongansayings and deeds by the famous masters, appended with poetry and commentary.
This genre reflects the influence of literati on the development of Chan. People from this time idealized the previous period as the "golden age" of Chan, producing the literature that portrays the supposed spontaneity of the celebrated masters. Although McRae has reservations about the division of Chan's history in phases or periods,  he nevertheless distinguishes four phases in the history of Chan: It was based on the practice of dhyana, and is connected to the figures of Bodhiharma and Huike.
Prime figures are the fifth patriarch Daman Hongren —his dharma-heir Yuquan Shenxiu ? Main factions were the Hongzhou school and the Hubei faction [note 1] An important text is the Anthology of the Patriarchal Hallwhich gives a great amount of "encounter stories", and the well-known genealogy of the Chan school. Key figures were Dahui Zonggao —who introduced the Hua Tou practice, and Hongzhi Zhengjue —who emphasized shikantaza. Main factions were the Linji school and the Caodong school.
Classic koan collections, such as the Blue Cliff Recordwere assembled  and reflect the influence of the literati on the development of Chan. Neither Ferguson nor McRae gives a periodisation for Chinese Chan after the Song Dynasty, though McRae mentions "at least a post-classical phase or perhaps multiple phases".
Theories about the influence of other schools in the evolution of Chan vary widely and heavily reliant upon speculative correlation rather than on written records or histories.