EL1A Mindfulness Meditation. Theravada vs. Mahayana

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1 EL1A Mindfulness Meditation Lecture 2.4: The Tantrayana or Vajrayana Tradition Theravada vs. Mahayana! Teaching Quick of discussion the elders to! consolidate Spirit of the elders your! Key virtue: wisdom (bodhi)! memory! Key virtue: compassion (karuna)! Religion is primarily for monk! Religion is for laypersons as well! Ideal: the Arhat (lonely saint)! Ideal: the Bodhisattva and Mahayana Buddhism! Nirvana for the individual! Nirvana delayed until all beings relieved of suffering. Describe 3 differences between Theravada! Avoids metaphysical speculation! Conservative in views Ok to chat with your neighbours! Tipitaka texts only! A bit like Catholicism! Elaborates metaphysics! More liberal and inclusive! Many, many texts revered wisdom as evolving with sages.! A bit like Protestantism 1

2 Lecture Overview Evolution, distribution and diffusion Belief system Meditation practices Icons and symbolism Key Learnings:! Key Learning #1:. Evolution, diffusion & distribution: Tantrayana evolved out of India in the 5-8 th century and spread primarily to Tibet, Mongolia and Nepal. Popular in North America now.! Key Learning #2: Beliefs: rapid, but risky, enlightenment through secret and esoteric meditative practices. An evolutionary offshoot of Mahayana Buddhism and Tantric Hinduism, mixed with local religious beliefs.! Key Learning #3:. Meditation: Master to student transmission in secret is key to meditation approaches. Tantrayana explored a number of technical meditation approaches, but also adopted local esoteric belief systems (rituals, magic, demons, etc). Chanting quite common.! Key learning #4: Symbols & art: Artistic and symbolic expression reached a zenith in Tantrayana Buddhism, by the adoption of Tibetan cultural gods, demons and beliefs that were already in existence. 2

3 Key Learnings:! Key Learning #1:. Evolution, diffusion & distribution: Tantrayana evolved out of India in the 5-8 th century and spread primarily to Tibet, Mongolia and Nepal. Popular in North America now.! Key Learning #2: Beliefs: rapid, but risky, enlightenment through secret and esoteric meditative practices. An evolutionary offshoot of Mahayana Buddhism and Tantric Hinduism, mixed with local religious beliefs.! Key Learning #3:. Meditation: Master to student transmission in secret is key to meditation approaches. Tantrayana explored a number of technical meditation approaches, but also adopted local esoteric belief systems (rituals, magic, demons, etc). Chanting quite common.! Key learning #4: Symbols & art: Artistic and symbolic expression reached a zenith in Tantrayana Buddhism, by the adoption of Tibetan cultural gods, demons and beliefs that were already in existence. Divisions of Buddhism! Three Rafts for Crossing the River Theravada Buddhism Mahayana Buddhism Tantrayana or Vajrayana or Esoteric Buddhism 3

4 Vajrayana Buddhism Developed in India around the 5 th century CE Came to Tibet in 7 th 8 th centuries CE Often viewed as the third major school of Buddhism, after Theravada and Mahayana Esoteric, secret practices designed to achieve enlightenment quickly 8 4

5 Distribution of Vajrayana Buddhism Quick check: How much can you recall so far? Which of the following countries is NOT a Tantra country? a) Thailand b) Tibet c) Mongolia d) Nepal 5

6 Key Learnings:! Key Learning #1:. Evolution, diffusion & distribution: Tantrayana evolved out of India in the 5-8 th century and spread primarily to Tibet, Mongolia and Japan. Popular in North America now.! Key Learning #2: Beliefs: rapid, but risky, enlightenment through secret and esoteric meditative practices. An evolutionary offshoot of Mahayana Buddhism and Tantric Hinduism, mixed with local religious beliefs.! Key Learning #3:. Meditation: Master to student transmission in secret is key to meditation approaches. Tantrayana explored a number of technical meditation approaches, but also adopted local esoteric belief systems (rituals, magic, demons, etc). Chanting quite common! Key learning #4: Symbols & art: Artistic and symbolic expression reached a zenith in Tantrayana Buddhism, by the adoption of Tibetan cultural gods, demons and beliefs that were already in existence. Tibetan Buddhism The goal of spiritual practice is to become a Bodhisattva (i.e. attainment of a state in which one will subsequently become a Buddha after some further reincarnation), Faster, but riskier path to enlightenment Importance of the Lama or teacher Importance of ritual and initiations Preoccupation with relationship between life and death Reincarnation belief Rich visual symbolism Prominence of supernatural beings Incorporated elements of earlier Tibetan and Hindu religions 12 6

7 4 Major Tibetan Schools 1. Nyingma 2. Sakya 3. Kagyu 4. Gelug (yellow hat) 13 Vajrayana Buddhism 1. Tantra is Concerned with Direct Experience 2. Tantra Works with symbols and magic & rituals. 3. Tantra Addresses the Whole Person 4. Tantra Sees the World in Terms of Energy 5. Tantra Makes Use of the Strongest Experiences of Life 6. Tantra Sees Samsara and Nirvana as Interrelated 7. Tantra Begins at the Highest Point: enact enlightenment 7

8 Vajrayana Buddhism & Death Reflections on Death I. Death is certain (i.e., inevitable). II. The time of death is uncertain (i.e., unpredictable). III. Only spiritual practice is of help at the time of death. Bardo Thodol: Tibetan Book of the Dead! Composed in the 8th century by Padmasambhava! The text describes, and is intended to guide one through, the experiences that the consciousness has after death, in the bardo, the interval between death and the next rebirth.! The text also includes chapters on the signs of death and rituals to undertake when death is closing in or has taken place. 8

9 Quick check: How much can you recall so far?! Which of the following is NOT a characteristic of Tantra? Faster, but riskier path to enlightenment Importance of the Lama or teacher Importance of mindful breathing Importance of ritual and initiations Key Learnings:! Key Learning #1:. Evolution, diffusion & distribution: Tantrayana evolved out of India in the 5-8 th century and spread primarily to Tibet, Mongolia and Nepal. Popular in North America now.! Key Learning #2: Beliefs: rapid, but risky, enlightenment through secret and esoteric meditative practices. An evolutionary offshoot of Mahayana Buddhism and Tantric Hinduism, mixed with local religious beliefs.! Key Learning #3:. Meditation: Master to student transmission in secret is key to meditation approaches. Tantrayana explored a number of technical meditation approaches, but also adopted local esoteric belief systems (rituals, magic, demons, etc). Chanting quite common.! Key learning #4: Symbols & art: Artistic and symbolic expression reached a zenith in Tantrayana Buddhism, by the adoption of Tibetan cultural gods, demons and beliefs that were already in existence. 9

10 Tantra in Vajrayana Buddhism Jambhala (Lord of Wealth) in ritual sexual union with consort, Sino-Tibetan, 18th-19th century! Mindfulness evolves in Tantric Buddhism Mantra (om mani padme hum - hail to the jewel in the lotus) magic ( mysticism ): magical world view demonic dimension of human experience: sex & death Tantric sex as a form of meditation esotericism: importance of relying on a guru or lama Western Trantra coming back to mindful breathing. The Vajrayana Buddhism of Tibet! Mahayana Forms with Tantric elements example: Visualization Practices! Focused on the Archetypal Buddha.! Use of mantras & mandalas Performing 100,000 prostrations by monks as a sign of respect, overcoming conceit, & helps you accumulate merit. Mandala s as maps of the spiritual world: the universe, nirvana, and provide an aide to meditation. 10

11 Quick check: How much can you recall so far?! After making a beautiful mandala, why do monks destroy it? a) They didn t like it and wanted to start again b) Symbolized impermanence and non-attachment c) The master ordered it so d) Part of a magic ritual to achieve Nirvana Key Learnings:! Key Learning #1:. Evolution, diffusion & distribution: Tantrayana evolved out of India in the 5-8 th century and spread primarily to Tibet, Mongolia and Nepal. Popular in North America now.! Key Learning #2: Beliefs: rapid, but risky, enlightenment through secret and esoteric meditative practices. An evolutionary offshoot of Mahayana Buddhism and Tantric Hinduism, mixed with local religious beliefs.! Learning #3:. Meditation: Master to student transmission in secret is key to meditation approaches. Tantrayana explored a number of technical meditation approaches, but also adopted local esoteric belief systems (rituals, magic, demons, etc). Chanting quite common.! Key learning #4: Symbols & art: Artistic and symbolic expression reached a zenith in Tantrayana Buddhism, by the adoption of Tibetan cultural gods, demons and beliefs that were already in existence. 11

12 Vajrayana Buddhism! Vajra: symbolizes the impenetrable, immovable, immutable, indivisible, and indestructible state of enlightenment or Buddhahood.! Bell: hand bell sends the message to evil spirits that they must stay away from the consecrated area where the ritual is being performed.! Phurpa, sometimes called a "magic dagger", is a tantric ritual object used to conquer evil spirits and to destroy obstacles.! Singing Bowl: used to mark the beginning and conclusion of meditation periods. Ritual Objects 12

13 Vajrayana Art Golden skinned Buddha Tibet Nagarjuna. Tibet, Gelug lineage 18th-century Eastern Tibetan thanka, with the Green Tara (Samaya Tara Yogini) in the center and the Blue, Red, White and Yellow taras in the corners Final Quiz: what does this object represent? Bell: hand bell sends the message to evil spirits that they must stay away from the consecrated area where the ritual is being performed. 13

14 Part 2: Hand s on practice breath to body meditation 14

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