Portal:Vajrayana Buddhism

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Vajrayana Buddhism Portal

What is Vajrayana?

A digug dorje.

Vajrayāna ( Bengali: বজ্রযান; Devanagari: वज्रयान; Sinhala: වජ්‍රායන; Malayalam: വജ്രയാന; Oriya: ବଜ୍ରଯାନ; Tibetan: རྡོ་རྗེ་ཐེག་པ་, rdo rje theg pa; Mongolian: Очирт хөлгөн, Ochirt Hölgön; Chinese: 密宗, mì zōng), also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Way or Thunderbolt Way, is a complex and multifaceted system of Buddhist thought and practice which evolved over several centuries.

According to Vajrayāna scriptures "Vajrayāna" refers to one of three vehicles or routes to enlightenment, the other two being the Hinayāna and Mahayana. Note that Hinayāna (or Nikaya) is not to be confused with Theravada (a practice lineage); although is sometimes equated to it. Founded by the Indian Mahāsiddhas, Vajrayāna subscribes to Buddhist tantric literature.

Although the first tantric Buddhist texts appeared in India in the 3rd century and continued to appear until the 12th century, scholars such as Hirakawa Akira assert that the Vajrayāna probably came into existence in the 6th or 7th century, while the term Vajrayāna itself first appeared in the 8th century.

Selected article

Thangka showing a mountain deity carrying a sword.

Buddhism in Mongolia derives much of its recent characteristics from Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelug and Kagyu lineages. Traditionally, Mongols worshiped Tenger (the "eternal blue sky") and their ancestors, and they followed ancient northern Asian practices of shamanism, in which human intermediaries went into trance and spoke to and for some of the numberless infinities of spirits responsible for human luck or misfortune.

Although the emperors of the Yuan Dynasty in the 14th and 15th century had already converted to Tibetan Buddhism, the Mongols returned to their old shamanic ways after the collapse of their empire. In 1578 Altan Khan, a Mongol military leader with ambitions to unite the Mongols and to emulate the career of Chinggis, invited the head of the rising Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism to a summit. They formed an alliance that gave Altan Khan legitimacy and religious sanction for his imperial pretensions and that provided the Buddhist school with protection and patronage.

Altan Khan of Mongolia gave the Tibetan leader the title of Dalai Lama (Ocean Lama), which his successors still hold. Altan Khan died soon after, but in the next century the Yellow Sect (Gelug) spread throughout Mongolia, aided in part by the efforts of contending Mongol aristocrats to win religious sanction and mass support for their ultimately unsuccessful efforts to unite all Mongols in a single state.

Monasteries (Mongolian: datsan) were built across Mongolia, often sited at the juncture of trade and migration routes or at summer pastures, where large numbers of herders would congregate for shamanistic rituals and sacrifices. Buddhist monks carried out a protracted struggle with the indigenous shamans and succeeded, to some extent, in taking over their functions and fees as healers and diviners, and in pushing the shamans to the fringes of Mongolian culture and religion.

Selected concept

The deity Kalachakra with consort Visvamata.

Kālachakra (Sanskrit: कालचक्र, IAST: Kālacakra; Telugu: కాలచక్ర Kannada: ಕಾಲಚಕ್ರ; Tibetan: དུས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོ།Wylie: dus-kyi 'khor-lo; Mongolian: Цогт Цагийн Хүрдэн Tsogt Tsagiin Hurden; Chinese: 時輪) is a Sanskrit term used in Vajrayana that literally means "time-wheel" or "time-cycles". The spelling Kālacakra is also used.

Kālachakra refers both to a tantric deity (yidam) and to the philosophies and meditation practices contained within the Kālachakra Tantra and its many commentaries. The Kālachakra Tantra is more properly called the Kālachakra Laghutantra, and is said to be an abridged form of an original text, the Kālachakra Mūlatantra which is no longer extant. Some Buddhist masters assert that Kālachakra is the most advanced form of Vajrayana practice; it certainly is one of the most complex systems within Tantric Buddhism.

The Kālachakra tradition revolves around the concept of time (kāla) and cycles (chakra): from the cycles of the planets, to the cycles of human breathing, it teaches the practice of working with the most subtle energies within one's body on the path to enlightenment.

The Kālachakra deity represents a Buddha and thus omniscience. Since Kālachakra is time and everything is under the influence of time, Kālachakra knows all. Whereas Kālachakri or Kālichakra, his spiritual consort and complement, is aware of everything that is timeless, untimebound or out of the realm of time. In yab-yum, they are temporality and atemporality conjoined. Similarly, the wheel is without beginning or end.[1]

The Kālachakra deity resides in the center of the mandala in his palace consisting of four mandalas, one within the other: the mandalas of body, speech, and mind, and in the very center, wisdom and great bliss. The Kālachakra sand mandala is dedicated to both individual and world peace and physical balance. The Dalai Lama explains: “It is a way of planting a seed, and the seed will have karmic effect. One doesn’t need to be present at the Kālachakra ceremony in order to receive its benefits.”

Selected biography

Akong Rinpoche.

Chöje Akong Tulku Rinpoche (25 December 1939 – 8 October 2013) was a tulku in the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and a founder of the Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland.

He was born in 1939, near Riwoq, in Kham, Eastern Tibet. At the age of two he was discovered by the search party seeking the reincarnation of the previous (1st) Akong, Abbot of Dolma Lhakang monastery near Chamdo. The search party was following instructions given by the 16th Karmapa.

At four he was taken to Dolma Lhakang to receive an education that included religion and traditional Tibetan medicine. When only a teenager he travelled, performing religious ceremonies and treating the ill. Later he went to the great monastic university of Sechen where he received transmission of the Kagyu lineage from Sechen Kongtrul Rinpoche, one of two tulkus of the first Jamgon Kongtrul. He also received instruction from the 16th Karmapa, who also certified him as a teacher of Tibetan medicine.

In 1959, in the aftermath of that year's Tibetan Rebellion, he fled to India at age 20. Of the three hundred in his party only thirteen arrived successfully in India. They were so hungry after running out of food on the journey that they had to boil leather shoes and bags to make soup.

After spending time in refugee camps he was asked to teach at the Young Lamas Home School in Dalhousie. In 1963, a sponsor paid for Akong Rinpoche and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche to go to Oxford to learn English. As only Trungpa had a bursary, Akong worked as a hospital orderly in the Radcliffe Infirmary in order to support himself, Trungpa and Lama Chime Tulku Rinpoche (who had joined them at Oxford).

Categories

Traditions

Selected picture

Tsongkhapa with his chief disciples.

Selected deity

Painting of the Vajrayogini.

Vajrayoginī (Sanskrit: Vajrayoginī; Standard Tibetan: 'རྡོ་རྗེ་རྣལ་འབྱོར་མ་', Dorje Naljorma Wylie: Rdo rje rnal ’byor ma; Mongolian: Огторгуйд Одогч, Нархажид, Chinese: 瑜伽空行母 Yújiā kōngxíngmǔ) is the Vajra yogini, literally "the female yogi holding the diamond (thunder)". She is a Highest Yoga Tantra yidam (Iṣṭha-devatā), and her practice includes methods for preventing ordinary death, intermediate state (bardo) and rebirth (by transforming them into paths to enlightenment), and for transforming all mundane daily experiences into higher spiritual paths.

Vajrayoginī is a generic female yidam and although she is sometimes visualized as simply Vajrayoginī, in a collection of her sādhanas she is visualized in an alternate form in over two thirds of the practices. Her other forms include Vajravārāhī (Tibetan: Dorje Pakmo, Wylie: rdo-rje phag-mo; English: the Vajra Sow) and Krodikali (alt. Krodhakali, Kālikā, Krodheśvarī, Krishna Krodhini, Sanskrit; Tibetan: Troma Nagmo; Wylie:khros ma nag mo; English: 'the Wrathful Lady' or 'the Fierce Black One'). As a ḍākiṇī and a Vajrayāna deity, she is considered to be a female Buddha.

Vajrayoginī is often described with the epithet sarva-buddha-dakinī, meaning 'the dakini who is the essence of all Buddhas'. Vajrayogini's sādhana, or practice, originated in India between the tenth and twelfth centuries. It evolved from the Chakrasaṃvara sādhana, where Vajrayoginī appears as his yab-yum consort, to become a stand-alone practice of Anuttarayoga Tantra in its own right. The practice of Vajrayoginī belongs to the Mother Tantra (Standard Tibetan: ma-rgyud) class of Anuttarayoga Tantra, along with other tantras such as Heruka Chakrasaṃvara and Hevajra.

  1. ^ The term "wheel" evoked herewith is a principal polyvalent sign, teaching tool, organising metaphor and iconographic device within Indian religions. Some Dharmic "wheel" cognates: Dharmachakra, Sudarshana Chakra and Samsara.