Studies in Buddhist Tantra
to all our
The former text entitled "On Buddhist
Tantra" has been replaced by these Studies in Buddhist Tantra,
Lower Tantras : Generation Phase Yogas
Higher Tantras : Generation & Completion
Ati-Yoga : Supreme Yogas : Mahāmudrā, Other
Emptiness, Dzogchen, Ch'an
Buddhist Tantra is preceded by the study &
practice of Sūtra (or Pāramitāyāna - Sūtrayāna - Bodhisattvayāna -
Great Perfection Vehicle). Sūtra is based on the
Lower Tantras, Higher Tantras & Ati-Yoga define a
graduated, integrated path to awakening. Tantra depends on the approximate
realization of emptiness & vast compassion on the basis of the mind of
("Bodhicitta"). Ati-Yoga depends on devotion to the Buddha Within.
Lower Tantra recapitulates the Sûtra-based teachings &
meditations on emptiness in terms of profound Deity Yoga, but without
directly addressing the subtle energy-matrix or Vajra Body. In Book II of the present
studies, Higher Tantra is defined as the common ground shared by the
Tantras of the class of "Highest Yoga Tantra" ("annutarayogatantra").
These aim to bring down innate self-grasping by manipulating the Vajra
Body, the energy-matrix relating body & mind. Still an indirect
Only Ati-Yoga directly focuses on the mind. Because the
awakening recognition (of the natural mind) spontaneously leads to the self-liberation of the
mind and this without actively manipulating any underlying structure (like
the energy-field), Ati-Yoga is not really a "tantra". This classification
suggests a graduated approach, and this despite the fact the actual
recognition of the original mind is sudden.
Practicing the Buddhadharma
Book I :
Body, Breath & Mind
Realizing the Approximate Ultimate
Book II : Tantra
(1) First Division :
Tantra : Action, Performance & Yoga Tantra
(2) Second Division :
: Generation & Completion Stage Yogas
Book III :
III depends on
Book I and
Sûtra aims to purify, ending the
Five Hindrances (sense desire, ill
will/aversion, sloth & torpor, restlessness & remorse and doubt)
and their underlying tendencies, the Ten
Great Vehicle Sûtra heals the body by means
Great Vehicle Tantra
(Vajrayâna) transforms impure energy into pure energy.
It manipulates the winds & wheels using speech ("bīja",
Great Vehicle Ati-Yoga is the work of the self-liberating mind.
Each set attends one of the Three Gates of body, speech (energy) and
Sûtra : body : renunciation (takes a very long time)
speech : transformation (at best finished in a single lifetime) ;
self-liberation (in this very moment here &
body & mind pliant & supple, contains the complete path. In the
Lesser Vehicle (Śrâvakayâna,
Pratyekabuddhayâna), this leads to
Arhathood. In the Great Vehicle (Pâramitâyâna) to a
Bodhisattva, who, after having realized approximate emptiness (at the end
of the Path of Preparation), takes three aeons to realize Buddhahood
(finish the Paths of Seeing, Meditation to No More Learning). Tantra
allows to realize Buddhahood
in a single lifetime. It does so by integrating desire while taking the
fruit (Buddhahood) into the path. In Completion Stage Yoga, Buddha-mind is
directly recognized. The Ten Stages are completed with more ease & faster.
Ati-Yoga (crowning the Mahâyâna) aims at
awakening in this very instance.
This is the work of no-work, the
yoga of no-yoga, the station of no-station, where meditation &
postmeditation merge. What is there to meditate on ?
This is the
yoga of nonduality. The method of no-method. It directly aims at the mind, not attending the
energy-matrix, nor the physical body. This absence of attention refers to preceding
preliminaries precisely dealing with these points. Supreme Yoga is the
crown of the practice. It is not for beginners.
Without devotional practices these supreme yogas are pointless.
To self-liberate the mind, the essential point is to
immediately recognize the instant present state of mind. This is like
being introduced to something totally, radically & absolutely
new ("totaliter aliter"). This holds for every instance of this
Such Bodhi-mind is the union of appearance & emptiness,
of bliss & emptiness, of the heart of compassion & the wisdom
realizing emptiness, of bliss & space. But these Sutric & Tantric characterizations are
mere symbols, not the direct, immediate, unmediated enlightened experience
Ati-Yoga attends the mind itself, not its objects (attributes),
nor its vehicles (gross & subtle bodies). The "method" being the no-method of
Ati-Yoga introduces or points at the
nature of mind. After this introduction, sustaining the recognition of
this mind is accommodated, cutting-through all what appears, "sealing" it
with the "great seal" ("mahâmudrâ") of emptiness-bliss.
Indeed, every object appearing is blissful and empty of own-self. Placing this seal
on what appears, is like the genuine & effective mental affirmation
that the appearing object is defined by the radical absence of
self-powered "own" nature ("svabhâva"), while simultaneously attending the
luminous root-mind at hand in every instance of the mindstream.
After placing the Great Seal on all appearing sensate & mental objects, no
other mental operation need to be done than resting in the natural mind.
This "procedure" or path, compared to Sūtra & Tantra, is of the most
In the view of Other Emptiness, the original, primordial, natural "mind of Clear Light", is
clear, vivid, intense, naked, transparant, pure, non-reactive and totally open
Beginningless & always there, it is free from any label, while no
label contradicts it. Nameless, it has been given all names. This
self-luminous, self-knowing and absolutely relaxed mind never tights up,
is beyond conceptuality and so beyond verbal description. Buddha-nature is
fully actualized, inseparable from its enlightened properties, always
existence, without increase & decrease ... This "special"
dependent-arising, like all other phenomena, lacks inherent existence, but
is a "holomovement" (Guenther), a harmoniously moving form.
stop talking about Buddha-nature because it irreversibly ends suffering.
nondual mind of awakening cannot be
approached from the outside, as an object. As the fundamental layer of the mind, there
is nothing supporting it. It is the groundless ground of all our
conceptual and other mental structures, and so can only be a datum of a
direct & nonlocal (scalar) prehension, not a perceptual &
conceptual (vectorial) apprehension.
Ati-Yoga is a set of essential
points facilitating the continuous recognition of this one-fold mind of
introduction into the nature of mind is the first imperative.
conviction in the practice is the second imperative.
Gain confidence in
release is the third imperative."
Garab Dorje : The Three
The Ati-Yogas are : Mahāmudrā ("Great Seal"), Other
Emptiness Yoga, Mahāsandhi ("Great Perfection", also known as "Dzogchen")
& Ch'an (Zen).
To situate Ati-Yoga in the
Buddhayâna as a whole, the device called "The Three Turnings of the Wheel
of Dharma" is helpful. Ati-Yoga belongs to the Third Turning of the Wheel
In these studies,
Indian, Tibetan & Chinese tantric yogas are transposed to the Western mindset, seeking
attunement with its own millennarian
depot of esoteric correspondences (as perfected in Qabalah). These practices are "open" and so adjustable when necessary. In
this case, to the Western mindset of
criticism, with its demythologisation and focus on factuality
(logic & efficiency), rationality & conceptuality (discursive thought).
The millennarian practice lineages of Tibet safeguarded Indian Sūtra &
Tantra. How wonderful ! Since 1959, Tibetan Buddhism spread to the West
and is being practiced there, integrating the yogas of the five schools
with Western science and philosophy. Thanks to the countless Tibetan yogis
& wise men, a true science of mind is transmitted. This is Tibet's gift to
"When the iron bird flies, and horses run on
wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the World,
and the Dharma will come to the land of the Red Man."
attributed to Padmasambhava