Vajrayāna (Sanskrit: वज्रयान; Bengali: বজ্রযান; Devanagari: वज्रयान; Sinhala: වජ්රයාන; Malayalam: വജ്രയാന; Oriya: ବଜ୍ରଯାନ; Tibetan: རྡོ་རྗེ་ཐེག་པ་, rdo rje theg pa; Mongolian: Очирт хөлгөн, Ochirt Hölgön; Chinese: 金剛乘, pinyin: Jīngāng chéng), 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.
The Kadam (Tibetan: བཀའ་གདམས་པ་, Wylie: Bka'-gdams-pa) tradition was a Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist school. Dromtönpa, a Tibetan lay master and the foremost disciple of the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (982-1054), founded it and passed three lineages to his disciples.
The Kadampas were quite famous and respected for their proper and earnest Dharma practice. The most evident teachings of that tradition were the teachings on Bodhichitta (later these special presentations became known as Lojong (Blo-ljong) and Lamrim (Stages of the Path) by Atisha.
Tsongkhapa (Btsong-ka-pa) a reformer, collected all the three Kadam lineages and integrated them, along with Sakya, Kagyu and other teachings, into his presentation of the Doctrine.
The pervasive influence of Tsongkhapa was such that the Kadampas that followed were known as "New Kadampas" (Tibetan: Sarma Kadampa) or, more commonly, as the Gelug school, while those who preceded him became retroactively known as "Old Kadampas," or simply as "Kadampas."
In Tibetan Buddhist and Indian Hindu/Buddhist traditions, Shambhala (also spelled Shambala or Shamballa; Tibetan: བདེ་འབྱུང་; Wylie: bde 'byung, pron. de-jung; Chinese: 香巴拉; pinyin: xiāngbālā) is a kingdom hidden somewhere in Inner Asia. It is mentioned in various ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra and the ancient texts of the Zhang Zhung culture which predated Tibetan Buddhism in western Tibet. The Bön scriptures speak of a closely related land called Olmolungring.
Hindu texts such as Vishnu Purana mention Shambhala as the birth place of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu who will usher in a new Golden Age (Satya Yuga).
Whatever its historical basis, Shambhala gradually came to be seen as a Buddhist Pure Land, a fabulous kingdom whose reality is visionary or spiritual as much as physical or geographic. It was in this form that the Shambhala myth reached the West, where it influenced non-Buddhist as well as Buddhist spiritual seekers — and, to some extent, popular culture in general.
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).
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.