May there be the auspiciousness of the great elders! With the sound of the traditional instruments, the three lamas depart through the door to the Vajra Asana accompanied by thousands multiplied to myriads of vast and deeply felt wishes for their long lives and the success of their Dharma activity benefitting all living beings.
Then the gelong lined up behind them. Gyaltsap Rinpoche watch as the alms procession goes by. As each monk approached the steps leading to the exit gate they were handed a large, black metal alms bowl. A few evenings earlier, His Holiness had conducted a lively rehearsal at Tergar Monastery to ensure that we knew how to receive and hold the bowl.
He had called a group of monks forward and each was handed a bowl. At that point, His Holiness handed the microphone over to one of the discipline masters, and then, to the delight of those watching, gave a comic demonstration of how not to do it—holding the bowl lopsided, holding it too high, holding it too close to the body, and so on.
Then he demonstrated how to walk, with the monks following him. Suddenly he speeded up and raced round the Dukhang. Laughter filled the hall, but, as always, His Holiness, in choosing comedy, had chosen exactly the correct approach so that we would not forget the correct way to hold the bowl, with the left hand supporting the bowl beneath and the right holding the rim, or the correct pace, steady and dignified, not too slow and not too fast.
At the beginning of the alms procession there were so many gelong it was a while before the seven gelongma finally joined the line and received their bowls. Gelong and gelongma of the Taiwanese, Korean and other traditions also joined the line for the alms procession. Getsul and getsulma [novice monks and nuns] do not join the alms procession so they remained seated and the umze led them in chanting The King of Aspiration Prayers during the procession. As the gelong and gelongma made their way along the outer circumambulation path towards the main gate, a few lay devotees standing along the circumambulation path put candies, etc into the bowls.
Once we reached the main exit there were crowds of people waiting to put offerings of candy, fruit, nuts, rice, etc into the bowls. The discipline masters and Dharmapalas were at hand for crowd control. There was a cord set up along with signs indicating to people where to stand making ample room for the gelong and gelongma to walk.
On the other side of the line, there were also volunteers holding large bags; whenever the bowls became full the gelong and gelongma poured the contents of their bowls into these bags. The purpose of the alms procession is to recall the tradition of monks and nuns begging for alms during the time of the Buddha. As Tibetan Buddhism developed monasteries developed that were sustained by the laity thus it was no longer necessary to go out for alms.
The gelong and gelongma do not keep these offerings. They are collected and distributed to different monasteries and some of the offerings are given to the poor. At the end of the alms procession all the gelong and gelongma went to the rose garden, a beautiful park which is right next to the Mahabodhi temple and is usually not open to the public, for the final Monlam lunch. His Holiness was seated at the very front within a white tent-like structure which had a canopy with all four sides open.
There were flowers in each of the four corners and on the floor. His Holiness sat on his beautifully carved wooden chair which had been brought for the occasion. There was a bowl on the table before him. All were seated on chairs with a table before them on which the bowl was set. Their attendants were standing beside their chairs. Finally when everyone had entered and was seated, the umze began the lunch prayers. Then there was the clap of the wooden blocks, an indication to the monks and nuns that they could take up their bowls and begin their meal.
HIs Holiness who had been leaning against the back of his chair when we came in, sat up very straight, took up his bowl and began the meal and then all followed. His Holiness maintained this very straight posture for the whole meal. At the end he said a few words in Tibetan and then in Chinese, reminding the monks and nuns of the kindness of the donors and volunteers and to dedicate their merit to them.
Then he thanked the sponsors and volunteers for their meritorious work which made all of this possible. The final prayers for the hungry spirits were said. Then His Holiness arose and left with the Rinpoches, after which all the monks and nuns got up, removed their chogus and exited the warm, sunny park. The Offering to the Gurus continued preceded by opening remarks by His Holiness. He began by stating that the root of the path is the lama, the spiritual friend. We should follow a true spiritual master properly and never give up.
The introduction to this practice of Offerings to the Gurus affirms:. The first of all instructions Is not to abandon the exalted friend, Who is the source and treasury of All qualities, such as faith and bodhicitta. It is difficult to recognize the nature of the mind, and without faith it will not happen.
The secret mantra is based on the blessing of the lama and the lineage. To receive it, we need devotion and faith. If we do not follow a teacher properly, we can be with hundreds of lamas without any benefit. We should follow a good lama in this life, and not just because the lama has a high status or big reputation. There are two types of lamas: one is a lama who is a learned scholar who gives us teachings, and another is a lama who instructs us on how to practice.
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Of the two, it is this second type on whom we should rely with great respect. A stanza or even a word from them can free us. The Karmapa then gives refuge and bodhisattva vows as they are found in the text. He continues to say that the tendrils of myriad numbers of causes and conditions have joined together to make the pattern of our gathering.
Since we are here at this essential place of practice where the Buddha became fully awakened, we should engage in the practice of genuine Dharma so that our reserve of virtue does not diminish or disappear. Beginning now and throughout our lives, we aspire to make our minds workable, to maintain our discipline, and to benefit not just ourselves but also engage in what helps others as well. If we can do this, it is wonderful. At least, we should make ourselves into a kind person.
We cannot say we are Buddhists and then avoid the practice of changing our mind. It is important to become kind and considerate people, to work on ourselves so that our conduct becomes peaceful and positive. All we do is not just for ourselves, but for all living beings. So we should make a vow to help as much as we can, and then we will not leave this life with our hands empty.
Making a stash of money is of little ultimate benefit; what is truly valuable is transforming our mind and behavior. As the assembly gathered for the fourth session of the day, a space was cleared between the front rows where the highest lamas were seated. Fewer than a dozen cushions were set out, and monks slowly began escorting forward a small number of people whose generosity had played a crucial role in making the 28th Kagyu MonlamChenmo possible.
When all had been seated facing His Holiness, with Lama Chodrak in the front row, the special appreciation of sponsors commenced. After expressing his gratitude for their support, His Holiness conducted a special ceremony in which each sponsor personally, and the entire assembly, were blessed one by one, for auspiciousness, by the eight auspicious substances and symbols.
His Holiness prefaced his special address with the disclaimer that he had already spoken so much during the three days of teachings, and the previous eight days of Kagyu Monlam that there was little left to say. His treasure chest of Dharma was in fact not inexhaustible, he stated, and was in fact now running out. Nevertheless, as usual His Holiness did indeed have apparently endless reserves of Dharma wisdom to draw on, and went on to outline three major topics.
First, elaborating on an issue that has long been of great concern to him, the Gyalwang Karmapa spoke on the urgent need to act to protect the natural environment. Global warming has had a particularly strong impact on the Himayalan region, he noted, urging monasteries in the region to take the lead, and to make a strong impact on the issue through their own environmental protection activities.
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His Holiness noted that the Karma Kagyu monasteries and nunneries have made inroads in that direction, holding conferences to raise awareness and taking concrete measure in environmental protections. Tens of thousands of trees have been planted, and the Gyalwang Karmapa warmly commended that fact, but cautioned that environmental action should not be limited to the monastery. To do it in a way that the broader community is included and involved would be very good, His Holiness added. This is not something to be done by working out a philosophical position on the issue, or making prayers and offering tormas.
Rather, urging his followers to take practical steps to protect the environment, His Holiness said that what is necessary is direct action. Generally, each monastery runs its own affairs, and maintains its practice, ritual and educational programs, he commented. This is worthy of praise and a cause of rejoicing, yet,he added, until we are enlightened, there will always be room for improvement in our activities.
Monasteries are home to large numbers of young monks and nuns, and, as they now do, it is important that they continue to develop skills in the areas of ritual practice and monastic study. Yet there is also a need for them to receive a modern education. When they grow older, if they remain in the monasteries they will require such an education in order to uphold the Dharma in a way suited to modern society.
In the event that they they later choose not to continue their lives as monastics, they will need skills that allow them to function within society and earn a livelihood. The monastery has a responsibility to provide such an education, and could not content itself with caring for their physical needs, as if they were just so many horses kept in a corral. Along with a Dharma education, monks and nuns should receive a basic grounding in science and other basic subjects.
His heart was open towards me, and mine towards him: we entered into relationship. It was meaningful for both of us. Towards the end of our meeting we seemed connected and full, we gave to, and supported one another. There are an estimated 6,,, people on Earth, and the person who I just described above is just one of them. I find this very humbling. Perhaps this is what an open heart truly is. These are, the lama as a human being belonging to a lineage, the lama as awakened word, the lama as appearance, and the lama as ultimate nature.
The lama of appearance is described as appearance as teacher; that all that we see, hear, touch taste, and smell, all of our thoughts are all our teachers. How do we react to them? What do they cause to arise in us? There is a beautiful simplicity in appearance as teacher; it is loose and freeing; it allows us to go out and interact with the world around us; it allows us to enter into relationship with everything around us. This is wonderfully special.
We are constantly surrounded by countless ordinary, everyday teachers, all of whom offer us the possibility of connection and growth. I recently spent time considering the importance of my teachers and how fortunate I feel to have received just a portion of the stream of their experience through instruction. The importance of the teacher, whether we call him or her lama or guru, is central- for where would we be without their guidance, their compassion, and their wisdom?
Through the openness that we allow ourselves to have with our teachers, a connection of transmission occurs through which we can experience our own fullness and Buddha potential, just as they themselves have done. This first one is entitled Hail to Manjushri , it was written by the third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje This next song is from the larger section of the collected songs of Milarepa Milarepa, one of the greatest yogins tha Tibet saw was the heart student of Marpa Lotsawa. The pure fruit of the Bodhi-Heart thus attains perfection. The third passage is from Gampopa , one of the two main students of Milarepa, and the first to combine the ear-whispered teachings of Milarepa with the Kadampa monastic tradition, thus institutionalizing the Kagyu lineage as a generally monastic lineage.
What follows is his description of the first thing that one should rely on as we tread the path, from the third portion of the text entitled, Ten Things Upon Which To Rely :. The first thing on which we must rely is a holy guru who possesses both realization and compassion. The lama must possess realization because a teacher who has no realization or actual experience is like a painting of water, which cannot quench our thirst, or a painting of fire, which cannot warm us. As well, a lama must possess compassion. If the lama merely has realization but has no compassion, he or she cannot teach and will not help sentient beings develop virtuous qualities and relinquish defects.
Thus the first thing ton which we must rely is a lama who possesses both realization and compassion. I hope that these passages contribute to a sense of connection and warmth with our teachers, and I hope that this connection helps foster inspiration. May we develop the same stainless conduct as our teachers! May we too raise the victory banner in the citadel of enlightenment! May the activities of his Holiness the 17th Karmapa flourish and may all obstacles naturally dissolve into emptiness.
May his life be long, and may the compassionate wisdom of his example be known to all beings! Songs of Spiritual Experience. Shambala Publications, Shambala Publications, The Instructions of Gampopa. Snow Lion, It was wonderful to have time at the Garrison Institute to reflect upon these five essential points:.
I am the owner of my actions. They are the ground of my being, whatever actions I perform, for good or ill, I will become their heir. In the reading of the sutta by Kamala Masters, the Buddha points out that the first four Remembrances serve us well to return our focus onto the primacy of impermanence; doing so is a remedy towards arrogance, over-confidence, and conceit.
I will become sick. I will become old. I will experience loss. I will die. There is nothing that I can do to change this. When that happens, as this whole existence plays out, my only companion who remains with me throughout is the collection of my actions. The Fifth Remembrance, which relates to our actions, the quality of our actions, or karma, colors the experience of each facet of our being. It can be the root of our liberation, or the hard kernel from which our suffering manifests. Action, movement, friction, trajectories, potential energies. These can easily refer to different forces and dynamics involved within the study of physics, which at close glance looks like a wonderful symbolic structure parallel to aspects of Buddhism, and yet as qualities they easily also connect to our behavior.
Our behavior is composed of reactions or responses to the events around us, how we see the play of phenomena unfold before our very eyes. The quality of our perspective acts to determine the flavor of our actions, and the quality of our actions affects the continuum of our perspective. The more self-involved our perspective is, the more our actions involve the preservation and protection of self interests. The more we act to preserve and protect self-interests, the more easily we may think that others or events may be hindering our self-interests. Likewise, a more expansive perspective affords us the ability to act in a more expansive way.
As we pass through this life, a conditioned existence that has been flavored by past events, the habits of reacting to the display of phenomena around us our daily lives often become stronger and more ridgid. The phrase goes: Actions speak louder than words. Such elaborate verbal adornments so that we can feel okay about how we are right now. This type of story is not so unique. The life story of the Mahasiddha Virupa and many others contain descriptions of such events- they are powerful descriptions of activities that certainly appear to run counter to the typical notion of what buddhist behavior is thought to be.
How can we touch the quality of Senge Dradrok within ourselves? What does it feel like to be him, or Mahakala, Vajrakilya, or Palden Lhamo? What is the focus of these energies? How can we completely liberate the hundreds on non-dharmic impulses within us like Senge Dradrok?
While in this form Guru Rinpoche spent time in the eight great charnel grounds and taught Secret Mantra tantric Buddhism to the dakinis, while binding outer gods as protectors of his secret teachings. This is an act of magnetizing, drawing towards him the dakinis and protectors of his treasured teachings, spreading the dharma in the form of may important masters. In the form of a tantric master his intensity and use of whatever arises as a teaching tool captures the great energy deeply-seated within through which magnetizing activity becomes manifest.
It seems that essential to the quality of magnetizing is the general awareness of skillful means; knowing just when to act in a way to be of the most benefit in any given situation. In the form of Pema Gyalpo, Guru Rinpoche taught the inhabitants Oddiyana the Dharma as he manifested as the chief spiritual advisor for the King of Oddiyana. His selfless dedication and compassionate timely teaching activity enriched all who came into contact with Pema Gyalpo such that they became awareness-holders in their own right.
This enriching activity has untold benefits; the effects of the nurturing support that Pema Gyalpo displayed through his teaching activity caused an incredible expansion of the Dharma in Oddiyana. This final image is of Guru Rinpoche as himself, who among most Himalayan Buddhists is considered the second Buddha in the sense that he is credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet.
A dynamic teacher, Guru Rinpoche embodied all of the qualities of his eight manifestations and countless others. Through the expression of his life Guru Rinpoche was able to display pacification, enriching, magnetizing, and subjugation both in Oddiyana, India, Bhutan, Tibet, and even now.
Within tantric Buddhist literature we often find references to the importance of adopting the behavioral modalities of pacifying, enriching, magnetizing, and subjugating as illustrated by the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. These activities were seen as extremely important as they pertain to embodying the qualities of a variety of tantric buddhas as well as the essence of Buddhahood in all emotions.
Furthermore, they are utilitarian activities, they support and enrich and massage us as we travel the path of enlightenment. References to these activities can be found in the translations of various tantric texts by a variety of outstanding Buddhist scholars such as David Snellgrove, David B. Gray, Christian K. Wedemeyer, and Vesna A.
Wallace to name a few. One can also rely upon the namthars liberation stories of many Indian and Himalayan Buddhist Siddhas to feel the range of possible human action on both inner and outer levels of being. Finally, our practice sadhanas contain a wealth of wisdom and guidance- the words in sadhanas are not arbitrary- and they often capture with great clarity the essence of dharma being.
We are aging. We will experience illness. We will die. We will experience loss. Our actions are our ground and we are the owners of our actions. That this is the case is undeniable. We cannot change the first five certainties, but we can change our actions. Our actions, and the related ability to perceive, directly determine how we relate qualitatively towards aging, illness, death, and impermanence. No one can do this for us. At the end, as we lay dying, who can really blame for our shortcomings?
We recently finished a great week of classroom experience which included a conversation with Morgan Stebbins, the Director of Training of the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association, a faculty member of the C. Jung Foundation of New York, and a long time student of Buddhism.
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Very timely indeed. Within the framework of Buddhism geography and therefore pilgrimage, has come to be something of an important phenomena. Certainly this is not anything unique to Buddhism; we have a tendency to want to return to places that are significant for us. Sometimes there is spiritual significance, sometimes it is societal, and most often it is interpersonal.
An example of these would be making the Hajj if you were Muslim, perhaps visiting Washington D. Geography allows us to honor the meaning that we value in our lives. We live within time and space, and within the latitude and longitude that time and space afford us, we intentionally and even unintentionally plot the course of our lives and identities within their dynamics.
On the other hand, the Fall months feel like a time of rich growth for me- they always have, and for some reason these months continue to prove to be significant for me. These are two examples of how I plot meaning within my experience of time. In most faiths pilgrimage has become something that one engages to touch the past; it is a means to feel the link of those who have come before us and charge the present moment with their power.
It can be the Wailing Wall, St. He stressed that this may be something that one does if they want to, if it brings meaning, inspiration, and context to their path. It was a suggestion, not a directive, and ultimately a very insightful reading of how we relate to time and space. Within Vajrayana, or tantric Buddhism, pilgrimage appears in a more visionary manner.
The pithas, while relating to actual places, also correspond to places within our bodies that have an internal energetic significance. Stay in the mountain hermitage and practice self-restraint. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye lived in Tibet from to Zangpo includes a chart listing the manner in which the pithas correspond to the body according to the Chakrasamvara tantra, an appendix that includes three fascinating texts one by Kongtrul and Khyentse Wongpo, one by Chokgyur Lingpa, and a compiled list of sacred sites in Tibet by Ngawang Zangpo. It must be remembered that sacred geography does not follow the same criteria as ordinary geography.
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche , for instance, said that within any single valley one can identify the entire set of the twenty-four sacred places. Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche also said that sacred places, such as Uddiyana, can shrink and even disappear when conditions are no longer conducive to spiritual practice.
The twenty-four sacred places are also present in the innate vajrabody of each being. A similarly fascinating book on this subject is the collection of essays edited by Toni Huber entitled Sacred Spaces and Powerful Places in Tibetan Culture. Templeman considers the importance of these sites as internal locii and suggests that while pilgrimage to these sites was indeed important, there is little evidence to support that many siddhas visited all of them.
In fact, Templeman suggests that some sites more than others are of particular significance and have been over time, while others are dangerous, home to subtle harmful beings wild flesh eating dakinis that need to be appropriately tamed before one can occupy that particular location. In the case of the mahasiddha Krishnacharya, his untimely end occurred at the site of Devikotta, as this site had a reputation for incredible unpredictable volatility that was well known throughout India at the time.
I tend to wonder where this place of volatility, with beings that need to be subjugated, resides within me. What I find most compelling about these books, and this subject in general is that it has a lot to do with how we relate to the world around us, how we import meaning to this world, and what we allow of ourselves in being in relation to time and space. While the distinction is subtle, it speaks to how meaning is translated. Or more playfully perhaps, Brooklyn?
It seems that some of this has to do with fully owning and bringing vajrayana home. In so doing, I would love to see how this type of re-orientation occurs. As Buddhism takes root here in the U. Perhaps as we learn to slow down and notice our relationship with our surroundings this will be more evident. As the Kagyu monlam begins I would like to share a feast song, a ganachakra celebration, composed by the third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje. With the monlam and all of its blessings in mind, I offer this song. This poem was sung in Lhasa at the assembly gathered to celebrate a religious feast on the evening of the eighth day of the tenth month of the dragon year [i].
By Thupten Jinpa and Jas Elsner. Shambala, While I never had the chance to meet Kalu Rinpoche, I have met many Tibetan, American, British and French students of Rinpoche who often spoke of his direct orientation towards practice, his passion for transmitting instruction, and his easy going trust in the dharma- these seem to be qualities that I associate with Milarepa. Similarly, Bokar Rinpoche with his purity of heart, emphasis upon transmission of the lineage teachings and stainless vinaya, truly does remind me of qualities that were emblematic of Je Gampopa.
In expressing the direct simplicity of mind, Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche was known as a great master of Mahamudra. That they both maintained, preserved and expanded the Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya is important.
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When he began the monlam it was a small informal gathering. After his passing, Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche continued the practice of maintaining and further developing the Kagyu monlam; it slowly grew and grew. I attended several of these earlier monlams where Bokar Rinpoche and Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche presided over a much smaller number of monks, nuns and lamas than those that attend present monlam celebrations. They were a combination of grand and intimate, which seemed just right for reciting aspiration prayers and receiving inspiration.
After His Holiness the 17th Karmapa escaped from Tibet in January of and was allowed to travel inside of India, he presided over the monlam. Since the sudden death of Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, the monlam has been run by Lama Chodrak the lama he appointed to organize the monlam and the monlam committee. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa has also taken a strong role in monlam planing, and feels strongly about its mission and goals. With their activities in mind I offer this song of supplication written by Kaybje Bokar Rinpoche.
May it be of benefit!! May it prove meaningful. Snow Lion Publications. Ithaca, NY. This is a moment to celebrate and praise the history of the Kamstang Kagyu Lineage and all of its wonderous lineage holders, siddhas, yogins and yoginis. I am humbled to know that His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Drodul Trinley Dorje will be leading the prayers along with the leading lineage holders of the Kagyu lineage.
May we enter the forest of the three solitudes, the capital of the forebears of the practice lineage. It was one of those incredible experience of being shown something for the first time: electrifying, new and magical. One of the things that instantly spoke to me about the practice was the imagery of the inner offering of the five meats and five nectars that appears in the beginning of the text. Indeed, in looking back at it I think that the inner offering in Milarepa practice as well as in many other tantric Buddhist practices has been something that has held great meaning for me.
Part of it may be the fact that this prelude to Milarepa practice is a wonderfully clear metaphor for Mahamudra; one of the central forms of meditation passed down through the Kagyu Lineage. Each of these emotive backgrounds illustrate a modality, an emotion, a style, or an outlet through which we may we express and experience ourselves within the context of awakened activity; the union of clarity of being and luminosity of mind.
Within the context of the inner offering, the metaphor is that of boiling and melting not unlike the athanor which refines the prima materia in Alchemy.
This burning and melting is so powerful that a sublime blissful nectar is produced, a non-dual nectar that confers the blessing of the Buddha. The inner offering is a product of medieval India roughly between the 6th through 12th centuries , when both Tantric Buddhism and Tantric Hinduism were taking shape. This was a time of immense social upheaval throughout the Indian sub-continent.
In both Hindu and Buddhist circles, groups of siddhas broke away from the orthodoxy of their respective majorities in order to develop, practice and teach tantric forms of Hinduism and Buddhism. This shift was often exemplified by the lives of the 84 mahasiddhas, some of whom left their teaching positions at the famous monasteries of Nalanda, Somapuri, and Vikramashila to practice in jungles, others were kicked out for their outlandish behavior, while a few were kings or princes and princesses afraid to give up their wealth, and many were of low-caste status.
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It was a time where meditation instruction was sung in vernacular so that the everyday person could be touched, not just those who were ordained or occupants of a higher social station. This time also marked a focal shift as far as practice goes towards cities where the concentrated hustle and bustle of everyday life revealed itself as a ripe field of opportunity, a place where one is faced to deal with a full range of emotions.
For some it was also a shift into the seductive luxurious courts of both major and minor royalty. Human experience, in all of its forms was recognized as embryonic in nature allowing most anyone who exerted themselves in practice to become pregnant with realization. This became the birth right of all, not just those born into one caste, and certainly not just those who were literate or educated.
Perhaps one could go so far as to say that this period was a time of spiritual anarchic-democratization. One of the most interesting aspects of this time period was the apparent looseness of sectarian divisions between the then Saivite sub-sects that represented the forefront of Hindu tantra and the Buddhist equivalents who ushered in Chakrasamvara, Hevajra, Candamaharosana, Guhyasamaya and other early tantric deity practice. Such symbolism makes use of skulls, flayed animal and human skins, invocations of the more wrathful nature of these deities, and sexual union with their consorts.
Similarly, the dual identities of the siddhas Matsendryanath, Gorakanath, Jalandhara, and Kanhapa who are counted as four of the eighty-four Buddhist mahasiddhas as well as founders of the Hindu Nath lineages suggests that there was much more dialog between the more iconoclastic progenitors and practitioners of Hindu and Buddhist Tantra. These four siddhas are credited with the development of Hatha Yoga, which has many applications within Buddhism and Hinduism.
David Templeman, in his fascinating paper Buddhaguptanatha and the Survival of the Late Siddha Tradition has suggested that the interaction between Buddhist and Hindu yogins was more common than most Tibetan scholars had assumed. This was a perplexing and fascinating subject for the erudite Tibetan scholar Taranatha, and according to Janet Gyatso, in her book Apparitions of the Self , the great Nyingma terton Jigme Lingpa was very curious about such points of contact.
In some way it appears that the assumption of difference seems to be a convenient projected organizational tool used to try to clarify such a difficult topic of study. A way to try to define that which tries to defy definition. The Centre for Tantric Studies offers a forum for exploring the history and development of tantra in and around the Indian Sub-continent. Much debate and uncertainty surrounds the issue of how tantra came into being, even more debate surrounds how we should approach understanding tantra.
The works of scholars like Geoffrey Samuel, Roger Jackson, Ronald Davidson, David Gordon White, Elizabeth English and Christian Wedemeyer to name a few have helped to illustrate some of the more pertinent issues surrounding the subject of Buddhist tantra. These particular objects, when handled and offered by practitioners of this more radical form of Hindu Tantra were held with the left hand, the hand reserved for handling impure substances.
In adopting an enthusiasm and greater equanimity towards these violations of cultural mores regarding cleanliness spiritually as well as otherwise one was directly contradicting the rules of conventional Hinduism. This dynamic was central to the Kapalika sect whose influence upon the corpus of Yogini Tantas was considerable. While few scholars can agree who influenced who, the most important thing is that these traditions arose. Light from the three seeds attracts wisdom nectar.
Samaya and wisdom become inseparable and an ocean of nectar descends. The five meats are representative of the five skandhas: form, feeling, discrimination, action, and consciousness. Depending on the explanation lineage of the inner offering, these associations may vary, but generally the essence is the same. In this practice we join the five wisdoms with the five elements to produce a non-dual intoxicating ambrosia that has the capability of revealing the qualities of awakening and in that sense provides a powerful spring-board of potential realization.
Related Calling the Glorious Karmapa Rigpe Dorje Longingly from Afar
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