Portal:Vajrayana Buddhism

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Vajrayana Buddhism Portal

What is Vajrayana?

Vajrayāna (वज्रयान), Mantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Tantric Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism are terms referring to the various Buddhist traditions of Tantra and "Secret Mantra", which developed in medieval India and spread to Tibet, Bhutan, and East Asia. In Tibet, Buddhist Tantra is termed Vajrayāna, while in China it is generally known as Tángmì Hanmi 漢密 (唐密, "Chinese Esotericism") or Mìzōng (密宗, "Esoteric Sect"), in Pali it is known as Pyitsayãna (ပစ္စယာန) , and in Japan it is known as Mikkyō (密教, "secret teachings").

Vajrayāna is usually translated as Diamond Vehicle or Thunderbolt Vehicle, referring to the Vajra, a mythical weapon which is also used as a ritual implement.

Founded by medieval Indian Mahāsiddhas, Vajrayāna subscribes to the literature known as the Buddhist Tantras. It includes practices that make use of mantras, dharanis, mudras, mandalas and the visualization of deities and Buddhas. According to Vajrayāna scriptures, the term Vajrayāna refers to one of three vehicles or routes to enlightenment, the other two being the Śrāvakayāna (also known as the Hīnayāna) and Mahāyāna.

Selected article

Vajradhara, the tantric form of Shakyamuni, teacher of the tantra.
Mahasiddha (Sanskrit: mahāsiddha "great adept; Tibetan: གྲུབ་ཐོབ་ཆེན་པོ, Wylie: grub thob chen po, THL: druptop chenpo) is a term for someone who embodies and cultivates the "siddhi of perfection". A siddha is an individual who, through the practice of sādhanā, attains the realization of siddhis, psychic and spiritual abilities and powers.

Mahasiddhas were practitioners of yoga and tantra, or tantrikas. Their historical influence throughout the Indian subcontinent and the Himalayas was vast and they reached mythic proportions as codified in their songs of realization and hagiographies, or namtars, many of which have been preserved in the Tibetan Buddhist canon. The Mahasiddhas are the founders of Vajrayana traditions and lineages such as Dzogchen and Mahamudra.


Selected concept

Pages 35 and 67 of the Bardo Thodol.

The Tibetan word bardo means literally "intermediate state"—also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva. It is a concept which arose soon after the Buddha's passing, with a number of earlier Buddhist groups accepting the existence of such an intermediate state, while other schools rejected it.

Used loosely, the term "bardo" refers to the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one's next birth, when one's consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable, and then proceeding to terrifying hallucinations that arise from the impulses of one's previous unskillful actions. For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality, while for others it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth.

The term bardo can also be used metaphorically to describe times when our usual way of life becomes suspended, as, for example, during a period of illness or during a meditation retreat. Such times can prove fruitful for spiritual progress because external constraints diminish. However, they can also present challenges because our less skillful impulses may come to the foreground, just as in the sidpa bardo.

Selected biography

Thubten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama photographed in Calcutta in 1910

Thubten Gyatso (February 12, 1876 – December 17, 1933), was the 13th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

In 1878, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. He was escorted to Lhasa and given his pre-novice vows by the Panchen Lama, Tenpai Wangchuk, and named "Ngawang Lobsang Thupten Gyatso Jigdral Chokley Namgyal". In 1879, he was enthroned at the Potala Palace, but did not assume political power until 1895, after he had reached his majority.

Thubten Gyatso was an intelligent reformer who proved himself a skillful politician when Tibet became a pawn in the great game between Imperial Russia, China, and the British Empire. He was responsible for countering the British expedition to Tibet, restoring discipline in monastic life, and increasing the number of lay officials to avoid excessive power being placed in the hands of the monks.

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Traditions

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Selected deity

Vajrayogini from Thangka.jpg
Vajrayoginī (Sanskrit: Vajrayoginī; Tibetan: རྡོ་རྗེ་རྣལ་འབྱོར་མ་, Wylie: rdo rje rnal ’byor ma, Dorjé Neljorma; Mongolian: Огторгуйд Одогч, Нархажид, Chinese: 瑜伽空行母; pinyin: Yújiā Kōngxíngmǔ) is a Tantric Buddhist female Buddha and a ḍākiṇī. Vajrayoginī's essence is "great passion" (maharaga), a transcendent passion that is free of selfishness and illusion — she intensely works for the well-being of others and for the destruction of ego clinging. She is seen as being ideally suited for people with strong passions, providing the way to transform those passions into enlightened virtues.

She is an Anuttarayoga Tantra iṣṭadevatā (meditation deity) 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. Practices associated with her are Chöd and the Six Yogas of Naropa.

Vajrayoginī is often described with the epithet sarvabuddhaḍākiṇī, meaning "the ḍākiṇī who is the Essence of all Buddhas".

According to scholar Miranda Shaw, Vajrayoginī is "inarguably the supreme deity of the Tantric pantheon. No male Buddha, including her divine consort, Heruka-Cakrasaṃvara, approaches her in metaphysical or practical import."


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