Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mahasiddha: Wikipedia


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mahasiddha Ghantapa, from Situ Panchen's set of thangka depicting the Eight Great Tantric Adepts. 18th century
Mahasiddha (Sanskrit: mahāsiddha "great adept; Tibetan: གྲུབ་ཐོབ་ཆེན་པོWylie: grub thob chen po, THL: druptop chenpo) is a term for someone who embodies and cultivates the "siddhi of perfection". They are a certain type of yogin/yogini recognized in Vajrayana Buddhism. Mahasiddhas were tantra practitioners or tantrikas who had sufficient empowerments and teachings to act as a guru or tantric master. A siddha is an individual who, through the practice of sādhanā, attains the realization of siddhis, psychic and spiritual abilities and powers. 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.
Robert Thurman explains the symbiotic relationship between Tantric Buddhist communities and the Buddhist universities such as Nalanda which flourished at the same time:
The Tantric communities of India in the latter half of the first Common Era millennium (and perhaps even earlier) were something like "Institutes of Advanced Studies" in relation to the great Buddhist monastic "Universities". They were research centers for highly cultivated, successfully graduated experts in various branches of Inner Science (adhyatmavidya), some of whom were still monastics and could move back and forth from university (vidyalaya) to "site" (patha), and many of whom had resigned vows of poverty, celibacy, and so forth, and were living in the classical Indian sannyāsin or sādhu style. I call them the "psychonauts" of the tradition, in parallel with our “astronauts”, the materialist scientist-adventurers whom we admire for their courageous explorations of the "outer space" which we consider the matrix of material reality. Inverse astronauts, the psychonauts voyaged deep into "inner space", encountering and conquering angels and demons in the depths of their subconscious minds.[1]


Genealogy and historical dates

The exact genealogy and historical dates of the Mahasiddhas are contentious. Dowman (1986) holds that they all lived between 750 and 1150 CE.

Primary tradition

Abhayadatta Sri is an Indian scholar of the 12th century who is attributed with recording the hagiographies of the eighty-four siddha in a text known as The History of the Eighty-four Mahasiddha (Sanskrit: Caturasitisiddha pravrtti; Wylie: grub thob brgyad bcu tsa bzhi'i lo rgyus).
Dowman holds that the eighty-four Mahasiddha are spiritual archetypes:
The number eighty-four is a "whole" or "perfect" number. Thus the eighty-four siddhas can be seen as archetypes representing the thousands of exemplars and adepts of the tantric way. The siddhas were remarkable for the diversity of their family backgrounds and the dissimilarity of their social roles. They were found in every reach of the social structure: kings and ministers, priests and yogins, poets and musicians, craftsmen and farmers, housewives and whores.[2]
Reynolds (2007) states that the mahasiddha tradition "evolved in North India in the early Medieval Period (3–13 cen. CE). Philosophically this movement was based on the insights revealed in the Mahayana Sutras and as systematized in the Madhyamaka and Chittamatrin schools of philosophy, but the methods of meditation and practice were radically different than anything seen in the monasteries.[3] He proffers that the mahasiddha tradition "broke with the conventions of Buddhist monastic life of the time, and abandoning the monastery they practiced in the caves, the forests, and the country villages of Northern India. In complete contrast to the settled monastic establishment of their day, which concentrated the Buddhist intelligenzia [sic.] in a limited number of large monastic universities, they adopted the life-style of itinerant mendicants, much as the wandering Sadhus of modern India."[3]
The charnel ground conveys how great mahasiddhas in the Nath and Vajrayana traditions such as Tilopa (988–1069) and Gorakshanath (fl. 11th – 12th century) yoked adversity to till the soil of the path and accomplish the fruit, the "ground" (Sanskrit: āśraya; Wylie: gzhi) of realization:[4]
The charnel ground is not merely the hermitage; it can also be discovered or revealed in completely terrifying mundane environments where practitioners find themselves desperate and depressed, where conventional worldly aspirations have become devastated by grim reality. This is demonstrated in the sacred biographies of the great siddhas of the Vajrayāna tradition. Tilopa attained realization as a grinder of sesame seeds and a procurer for a prominent prostitute. Sarvabhakṣa was an extremely obese glutton, Gorakṣa was a cowherd in remote climes, Taṅtepa was addicted to gambling, and Kumbharipa was a destitute potter. These circumstances were charnel grounds because they were despised in Indian society and the siddhas were viewed as failures, marginal and defiled.[5]

Other traditions

According to Ulrich von Schroeder, Tibet has different traditions relating to the mahasiddhas. Among these traditions, two were particularly popular, namely the Abhayadatta Sri list and the so-called Vajrasana list. The number of mahasiddhas varies between eighty-four and eighty-eight, and only about thirty-six of the names occur in both lists. In many instances more than one siddha with the same name exists, so it must be assumed that fewer than thirty siddhas of the two traditions actually relate to the same historical persons. In the days when the siddhas of the later Tibetan traditions flourished in India (i.e., between the 9th and 11th centuries), it was not uncommon for initiates to assume the names of famous adepts of the past. Sometimes a disciple would have the same name as his guru, while still other names were based on caste or tribe. In such a context the distinction between siddhas of the same name becomes blurred. The entire process of distinguishing between siddhas with the same name of different texts and lineages is therefore to large extent guesswork. The great variation in phonetic transcription of Indian words into Tibetan may partly be the result of various Tibetan dialects. In the process of copying the Tibetan transcriptions in later times, the spelling often became corrupted to such an extent that the recognition or reconstitution of the original names became all but impossible. Whatever the reasons might be, the Tibetan transcription of Indian names of mahasiddhas clearly becomes more and more corrupt as time passes.

Geographical sites

Local folk tradition refers to a number of icons and sacred sites to the eighty-four Mahasiddha at Bharmour (formerly known as Brahmapura) in the Chaurasi complex.[6] The word chaurasi means "eighty-four".
It is also very significant that nowhere else, except at Bharmaur in Chamba district, may be seen the living tradition of the Eighty-four Siddhas. In the Chaurasi temple complex, near which the famous temple of goddess Lakshana (8th century A.D.) stands, there once were eighty-four small shrines, each dedicated to a Siddha.[7]
A number of archaeological sacred sites require iconographic analysis in the Chaurasi complex in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh. Although it might be hagiographical accretion and folk lore, it is said that in the reign of Sahil Varman:
Soon after Sahil Varman's accession Brahmapura was visited by 84 yogis/mahasidhas, who were greatly pleased with the Raja's piety and hospitality; and as he ad no heir, they promised him ten sons and in due course ten sons were born and also a daughter named Champavati.[this quote needs a citation]


The Caturasiti-siddha-pravrtti (CSP), “The Lives of the Eighty-four Siddhas”, compiled by Abhayadatta Sri, a Northern Indian Sanskrit text dating from the 11th or 12th century, comes from a tradition prevalent in the ancient city-state of Campa in the modern district of Bihar. Only Tibetan translations of this Sanskrit text seem to have survived. This text was translated into Tibetan by sMon grub Shes rab and is known as the Grub thob brgyad cu rtsa bzhi’i lo rgyus or “The Legends of the Eighty-four Siddhas”. It has been suggested that Abhayadatta Sri is identical with the great Indian scholar Mahapandita Abhayakaragupta (late 11th–early 12th century), the compiler of the iconographic compendiums Vajravali, Nispannayogavali, and Jyotirmanjari.
The other major Tibetan tradition is based on the list contained in the Caturasiti-siddhabhyarthana (CSA) by Ratnakaragupta of Vajrasana, identical with Bodhgaya (Tib.: rDo rje gdan) located in Bihar, Northern India. The Tibetan translation is known as Grub thob brgyad cu rtsa bzhi’i gsol ’debs by rDo rje gdan pa. There exist several Tibetan versions of the list of mahasiddhas based on the Vajrasana text. However, these Tibetan texts differ in many cases with regard to the Tibetan transcriptions of the Indian mahasiddhas names.[8]

Eighty-four Mahasiddhas

By convention there are eighty-four Mahasiddhas in both Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, with some overlap between the two lists. The number is congruent with the number of siddhi or occult powers held in the Indian Religions. In Tibetan Buddhist art they are often depicted together as a matched set in works such as thangka paintings where they may be used collectively as border decorations around a central figure.
Each Mahasiddha has come to be known for certain characteristics and teachings, which facilitates their pedagogical use. One of the most beloved Mahasiddhas is Virupa, who may be taken as the patron saint of the Sakyapa sect and instituted the Lamdré (Tibetan: lam 'bras) teachings. Virupa (alternate orthographies: Birwapa/Birupa) lived in 9th century India and was known for his great attainments.
Some of the methods and practices of the Mahasiddha were codified in Buddhist scriptures known as Tantras. Traditionally the ultimate source of these methods and practices is held to be the historical Buddha Shakyamuni, but often it is a transhistorical aspect of the Buddha or deity Vajradhara or Samantabhadra who reveals the Tantra in question directly to the Mahasiddha in a vision or whilst they dream or are in a trance. This form of the deity is known as a sambhogakaya manifestation. The sadhana of Dream Yoga as practiced in Dzogchen traditions such as the Kham, entered the Himalayan tantric tradition from the Mahasiddha, Ngagpa and Bonpo. Dream Yoga or "Milam" (T:rmi-lam; S:svapnadarśana), is one of the Six Yogas of Naropa.[citation needed]
Four of the eighty-four Mahasiddhas are women.[9] They are:
  • Manibhadra, the Perfect Wife
  • Lakshmincara, The Princess of Crazy wisdom
  • Mekhala, the elder of the 2 Headless Sisters
  • Kanakhala, the younger of the 2 Headless Sisters
Von Schroeder (2006) states:
Some of the most important Tibetan Buddhist monuments to have survived the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976 are located at Gyantse (rGyal rtse) in Tsang province of Central Tibet. For the study of Tibetan art, the temples of dPal ’khor chos sde, namely the dPal ’khor gTsug lag khang and dPal ’khor mchod rten, are for various reasons of great importance. The detailed information gained from the inscriptions with regard to the sculptors and painters summoned for the work testifies to the regional distribution of workshops in 15th-century Tsang. The sculptures and murals also document the extent to which a general consensus among the various traditions or schools had been achieved by the middle of that century. Of particular interest is the painted cycle of eighty-four mahåsiddhas, each with a name inscribed in Tibetan script. These paintings of mahasiddhas, or “great perfected ones endowed with supernatural faculties” (Tib. Grub chen), are located in the Lamdre chapel (Lam ’bras lha khang) on the second floor of the dPal ’khor gTsug lag khang. Bearing in mind that these murals are the most splendid extant painted Tibetan representations of mahasiddhas, one wonders why they have never been published as a whole cycle. Several scholars have at times intended to study these paintings, but it seems that difficulties of identification were the primary obstacle to publication. Although the life-stories of many of the eighty-four mahasiddhas still remain unidentified, the quality of the works nevertheless warrants a publication of these great murals. There seems to be some confusion about the number of mahåsiddhas painted on the walls of the Lam ’bras lha khang. This is due to the fact that the inscription below the paintings mentions eighty siddhas, whereas actually eighty-four were originally represented. [Note: According to the Myang chos ’byung, eighty-eight siddhas are represented. G. Tucci mentions eighty-four, whereas Erberto Lo Bue assumed that only eighty siddhas were shown, as stated in the inscription. Cf. Lo Bue, E. F. andRicca, F. 1990. Gyantse Revisited, pp. 411–32, pls. 147–60]. Of these eighty-four siddhas painted on the walls, two are entirely destroyed (G55, G63) and another retains only the lower section; the name has survived (G56). Thus, the inscribed Tibetan names of eighty-two mahasiddhas are known. Of the original eighty-six paintings, eighty-four represent a cycle of mahåsiddhas (G1–G84).[8]

List of the Mahasiddhas

In Buddhism there are eighty-four Mahasiddhas (an asterisk denotes a female Mahasiddha):
  1. Acinta, the "Avaricious Hermit";
  2. Ajogi, the "Rejected Wastrel";
  3. Anangapa, the "Handsome Fool";
  4. Aryadeva (Karnaripa), the "One-Eyed";
  5. Babhaha, the "Free Lover";
  6. Bhadrapa, the "Exclusive Brahmin";
  7. Bhandepa, the "Envious God";
  8. Bhiksanapa, "Siddha Two-Teeth";
  9. Bhusuku (Shantideva), the "Idle Monk";
  10. Camaripa, the "Divine Cobbler";
  11. Champaka, the "Flower King";
  12. Carbaripa (Carpati) "the Petrifyer";
  13. Catrapa, the "Lucky Beggar";
  14. Caurangipa, "the Dismembered Stepson";
  15. Celukapa, the "Revitalized Drone";
  16. Darikapa, the "Slave-King of the Temple Whore";
  17. Dengipa, the "Courtesan's Brahmin Slave";
  18. Dhahulipa, the "Blistered Rope-Maker";
  19. Dharmapa, the "Eternal Student" (c.900 CE);
  20. Dhilipa, the "Epicurean Merchant";
  21. Dhobipa, the "Wise Washerman";
  22. Dhokaripa, the "Bowl-Bearer";
  23. Dombipa Heruka, the "Tiger Rider";
  24. Dukhandi, the "Scavenger";
  25. Ghantapa, the "Celibate Bell-Ringer";
  26. Gharbari or Gharbaripa, the "Contrite Scholar" (Skt., pandita);
  27. Godhuripa, the "Bird Catcher";
  28. Goraksha, the "Immortal Cowherd";
  29. Indrabhuti, the "Enlightened Siddha-King";
  30. Jalandhara, the "Dakini's Chosen One";
  31. Jayananda, the "Crow Master";
  32. Jogipa, the "Siddha-Pilgrim";
  33. Kalapa, the "Handsome Madman";
  34. Kamparipa, the "Blacksmith";
  35. Kambala (Lavapa), the "Black-Blanket-Clad Yogin";
  36. Kanakhala*, the younger Severed-Headed Sister;
  37. Kanhapa (Krishnacharya), the "Dark Siddha";
  38. Kankana, the "Siddha-King";
  39. Kankaripa, the "Lovelorn Widower";
  40. Kantalipa, the "Ragman-Tailor";
  41. Kapalapa, the "Skull Bearer";
  42. Khadgapa, the "Fearless Thief";
  43. Kilakilapa, the "Exiled Loud-Mouth";
  44. Kirapalapa (Kilapa), the "Repentant Conqueror";
  45. Kokilipa, the "Complacent Aesthete";
  46. Kotalipa (or Tog tse pa, the "Peasant Guru";
  47. Kucipa, the "Goitre-Necked Yogin";
  48. Kukkuripa, (late 9th/10th Century), the "Dog Lover";
  49. Kumbharipa, "the Potter";
  50. Laksminkara*, "The Mad Princess";
  51. Lilapa, the "Royal Hedonist";
  52. Lucikapa, the "Escapist";
  53. Luipa, the "Fish-Gut Eater";
  54. Mahipa, the "Greatest";
  55. Manibhadra*, the "Happy Housewife";
  56. Medhini, the "Tired Farmer";
  57. Mekhala*, the Elder Severed-Headed Sister;
  58. Mekopa, the "Guru Dread-Stare";
  59. Minapa, the "Fisherman";
  60. Nagabodhi, the "Red-Horned Thief'";
  61. Nagarjuna, "Philosopher and Alchemist";
  62. Nalinapa, the "Self-Reliant Prince";
  63. Nirgunapa, the "Enlightened Moron";
  64. Naropa, the "Dauntless";
  65. Pacaripa, the "Pastrycook";
  66. Pankajapa, the "Lotus-Born Brahmin";
  67. Putalipa, the "Mendicant Icon-Bearer";
  68. Rahula, the "Rejuvenated Dotard";
  69. Saraha, the "Great Brahmin";
  70. Sakara or Saroruha;
  71. Samudra, the "Pearl Diver";
  72. Śāntipa (or Ratnākaraśānti), the "Complacent Missionary";
  73. Sarvabhaksa, the "Glutton");
  74. Savaripa, the "Hunter", held to have incarnated in Drukpa Künleg;
  75. Syalipa, the "Jackal Yogin";
  76. Tantepa, the "Gambler";
  77. Tantipa, the "Senile Weaver";
  78. Thaganapa, the "Compulsive Liar";
  79. Tilopa, the "Great Renunciate"
  80. Udhilipa, the "Bird-Man";
  81. Upanaha, the "Bootmaker";
  82. Vinapa, the "Musician";
  83. Virupa, the "Dakini Master";
  84. Vyalipa, the "Courtesan's Alchemist".

Names according to the Abhayadatta Sri tradition

According to Ulrich von Schroeder, Tibet has different traditions relating to the mahasiddhas. Among these traditions, two were particularly popular, namely the Abhayadatta Sri list and the so-called Vajrasana list. The number of mahasiddhas varies between eighty-four and eighty-eight, and only about thirty-six of the names occur in both lists. It is therefore also wrong to state that in Buddhism are 84 Mahasiddhas. The correct title should therefore be Names of the 84 Mahasiddhas according to the Abhayadatta Sri Tradition. It should also be clearly stated that only Tibetan translations of this Sanskrit text Caturasiti-siddha-pravrtti (CSP) or The Lives of the Eighty-four Siddhas seem to have survived. This means that many Sanskrit names of the Abhayadatta Sri tradition had to be reconstructed and perhaps not always correctly.


According to Ulrich von Schroeder for the identification of Mahasiddhas inscribed with Tibetan names it is necessary to reconstruct the Indian names. This is a very difficult task because the Tibetans are very inconsistent with the transcription or translation of Indian personal names and therefore many different spellings do exist. When comparing the different Tibetan texts on mahasiddhas, we can see that the transcription or translation of the names of the Indian masters into the Tibetan language was inconsistent and confused. The most unsettling example is an illustrated Tibetan block print from Mongolia about the mahasiddhas, where the spellings in the text vary greatly from the captions of the xylographs.[10] To quote a few examples: Kankaripa [Skt.] is named Kam ka li/Kangga la pa; Goraksa [Skt.]: Go ra kha/Gau raksi; Tilopa [Skt.]: Ti la blo ba/Ti lla pa; Dukhandi [Skt.]: Dha khan dhi pa/Dwa kanti; Dhobipa [Skt.]: Tom bhi pa/Dhu pi ra; Dengipa (CSP 31): Deng gi pa / Tinggi pa; Dhokaripa [Skt.]: Dho ka ra / Dhe ki ri pa; Carbaripa (Carpati) [Skt.]: Tsa ba ri pa/Tsa rwa ti pa; Sakara [Skt.]: Phu rtsas ga’/Ka ra pa; Putalipa [Skt.]: Pu ta la/Bu ta li, etc. In the same illustrated Tibetan text we find another inconsistency: the alternate use of transcription and translation. Examples are Nagarjuna [Skt.]: Na ga’i dzu na/Klu sgrub; Aryadeva (Karnaripa) [Skt.]: Ka na ri pa/’Phags pa lha; and Ghantapa [Skt.]: Ghanda pa/rDo rje dril bu pa, to name a few.[8]

Concordance lists

For the identification of individual mahasiddhas the concordance lists published by Ulrich von Schroeder are useful tools for every scholar. The purpose of the concordance lists published in the appendices of his book is primarily for the reconstitution of the Indian names, regardless of whether they actually represent the same historical person or not. The index of his book contains more than 1000 different Tibetan spellings of mahasiddha names.[8]

Other mahasiddhas

Tibetan masters of various lineages are often referred to as mahasiddhas. Among them are Marpa, the Tibetan translator who brought Buddhist texts to Tibet, and Milarepa. In Buddhist iconography, Milarepa is often represented with his right hand cupped against his ear, to listen to the needs of all beings. Another interpretation of the imagery is that the teacher is engaged in a secret yogic exercise (e.g. see Lukhang). (Note: Marpa and Milarepa are not mahasiddhas in the historical sense, meaning they are not 2 of the 84 traditional mahasiddhas. However, this says nothing about their realization.) Lawapa the progenitor of Dream Yoga sadhana was a mahasiddha.

See also


  • David B. Gray, ed. (2007). The Cakrasamvara Tantra: The Discourse of Śrī Heruka (Śrīherukābhidhāna). Thomas F. Yarnall. American Institute of Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. pp. ix–x. ISBN 978-0-9753734-6-0.
    1. Egyed (1984)


    • Dowman, Keith (1986). Masters of Mahamudra: Songs and Histories of the Eighty-four Buddhist Siddhas. SUNY Series in Buddhist Studies. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-88706-160-5.
    • Dudjom Rinpoche (Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje) (2002). The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: Its Fundamentals and History. Translated and edited by Gyurme Dorje with Matthew Kapstein (2nd ed.). Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-087-8.
    • Egyed, Alice (1984). The Eighty-four Siddhas: A Tibetan Blockprint from Mongolia. Akadémiai Kiadó. ISBN 9630538350.
    • Gray, David B. (2007). The Cakrasamvara Tantra (The Discourse of Sri Heruka): A Study and Annotated Translation. Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0975373463.
    • Hāṇḍā, Omacanda (1994). Buddhist Art & Antiquities of Himachal Pradesh, Upto 8th Century A.D. Indus Publishing. ISBN 9788185182995.
    • Simmer-Brown, Judith (2002). Dakini's Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism. Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1-57062-920-4.
    • von Schroeder, Ulrich (2006). Empowered Masters: Tibetan Wall Paintings of Mahasiddhas at Gyantse. Chicago: Serindia Publications. ISBN 978-1932476248.

    Further reading

    External links

  • Dowman, Keith (1984). "The Eighty-four Mahasiddhas and the Path of Tantra". Retrieved 2015-03-21. From the Introduction to Masters of Mahamudra, SUNY, 1984.

  • Reynolds, John Myrdhin. "The Mahasiddha Tradition in Tibet". Vajranatha. Vajranatha. Retrieved 18 June 2015.

  • Dudjom Rinpoche (2002), p. 535

  • Simmer-Brown (2002), p. 127

  • Hāṇḍā (1994), p. 85

  • Hāṇḍā (1994), p. 98

  • von Schroeder (2006)

  • "Names of the 84 Mahasiddhas". Retrieved 2015-03-21.
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    Power's out

    Not too long after I wrote about trees coming down the inevitable thing happened here. The power went out around just after dark. So, I built a fire in the fireplace since no heaters can work without power and started up the generator in the motor home and ran a 100 foot cord to the kitchen and with a surge protector set up a lamp in the kitchen and turned on the Wifi also. So, the refrigerator can run until 8:45 or 9pm so they neighbors won't get angry about the noise of a generator and we can charge our cell phones up for overnight.  I'm also trying to make a pan fried frozen pizza because everything in the freezer compartment has to be eaten or thrown away by tomorrow night within 24 hours. So, we'll have to either eat a whole bunch of stuff or throw it away. I put a big plastic dish in the freezer of water (about a half gallon to gallon of water) to turn to ice in the next hour or so before I have to shut off the generator until about 9 or 10 am tomorrow if the power isn't back on by then. Saw some neighbors leaving and going to hotels as since people aren't poor around here that's often what older residents do during power outages rather than stumble around in the dark, freeze and hurt themselves since you can't really heat bedrooms just the kitchen and living room with a fireplace and cook stove.

    I'll probably be up late stoking the fire so it stays as warm as possible in the house overnight. And if it gets too cold I'll just get in one of our down camping sleeping bags we use when camping and traveling  and for emergencies.

    Just told my daughter to take a shower now because there likely won't be warm water by morning unless the power comes back on by then. We've had power off up to 5 days at a time here around this time of year because sometimes we get gusts of 100 mph or more winds off the ocean from storms like the one that whooshed through last night and today and brought down all the trees and branches and likely that's how power lines likely went down too. Luckily with the rain there likely won't be fires hopefully when this happens.

    Yeah! We lucked out! The power came on about 10 pm as we were watching the first Narnia movie on DVD on my Macbook pro laptop. So, we only were without power for around 4 hours which is good. I may or may not have saved the stuff in our freezer. We'll see. At least 2 1/2 of the hours I ran the generator so the refrigerator was running so maybe the stuff might be okay.

    We'll do a thorough inventory in the morning to make sure things are safe to eat now or in the future in the freezer.

    But, for now it's nice to have central heating and lighting on once again.

    Note: By the way for a pan fried frozen pizza with lid on frying pan I cooked it on low for two 5 minute stretches ( a little too long as it charred the bottom a little). So, maybe somewhere between 6 to 7 minutes frying in butter with the lid on would be better next time I or you try to do this. This was a large pizza by the way. For other sizes you are on your own.

    Soul Travel

    Since my first "normal" memory was of Archangel Michael and his band of angels healing me when I was 2 from whooping cough, ever since then I wanted to be like them. I considered what they were doing always "Soul Traveling", so I started to pray to be able to do this like they did from about 5 or 6 years of age. I became proficient at this between 20 and 22. But, at about age 25 or 26 when I tried Soul Traveling through Bi-Location past our galaxy I sort of freaked out when there was no time or space or place to relate to and this scared me so bad I didn't try to soul travel much until I started meeting Tibetan lamas. They didn't seem bothered by the Void beyond the Galaxy and so I realized it wasn't something to be afraid of if you were a master of this art.

    So, my solution was just to go to other galaxies if I felt I was needed there on some pilgrimage sort of the same way I went through the sun portal into the center of the Galaxy as a Soul Traveler originally in my 20s. It is sort of like going "Lightspeed" and avoiding the void entirely which also would be likely how people will eventually travel between galaxies physically like our ancestors did and likely still do.

    Trees going down all over from heavy winds off the ocean after so much rain

    As I was hiking with my dogs about every hundred yards I noticed I had to move branches that had blown or were blowing out of trees as I walked by.

    Then as I got into my 4 wheel drive truck I went my main route home from the forest. however, it was blocked by a huge 3 foot through very tall pine tree likely more than 100 years old.

    Then I took an alternate route home but found I had to drive into the oncoming lane because two more large branches from huge pine trees were blocking the road.

    Then finally I realized I couldn't drive on that road at all because a 2 foot through large dead pine tree had come down and completely blocked the road. So, I put my emergency flashers on so people coming up behind me wouldn't hit me and got out and tried to move the tree. I realized the weight was over 1000 pounds because of the rain so I realized I couldn't move it unless I had a winch built into my front bumper so I gave up and turned around and drove back the other way with my emergency flashers on so no one else got into trouble on that road.

    Then I waved for oncoming traffic to stop. It looked like a Volunteer Firewoman by her uniform and I told her this road was blocked too and to watch out for the two huge branches blocking this lane she was in too.

    She said exasperatedly, "You mean this road is blocked too!" Because she was only at this point about 3 blocks from the fire Station which is a CDF Fire Station and would now have to drive miles to get to some place only 3 blocks away from her.

    I went back now to a 3rd alternate route which took me about 100 feet from the first 3 foot through 100 plus year old pine tree that was down. But I made it home okay.

    Before I left to walk the dogs I opened a window for some fresh air but it blew the louvres almost off the hinges so I thought better of it and it also slammed my bedroom door very hard. So, this was a clue that we probably had at least a 50 mile per hour ongoing wind with gusts possibly higher to around 70 or 80.

    Vajrayana Buddhism



    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    For the EP by Bass Communion, see Vajrayana (EP).
    Vajrayāna (Sanskrit: वज्रयान), also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism, Diamond Way, Thunderbolt Way, or the Indestructible Way, is a complex and multifaceted system of Buddhist thought and practice which has evolved over several centuries.[1]
    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.
    Founded by Indian Mahāsiddhas, Vajrayāna subscribes to Buddhist tantric literature.[1]


    History of Vajrayāna in India

    Although the first tantric Buddhist texts appeared in India in the 3rd century and continued to appear until the 12th century,[2] scholars such as Hirakawa Akira assert that the Vajrayāna probably came into existence in the 6th or 7th century,[3] while the term Vajrayāna itself first appeared in the 8th century.[1] The Vajrayāna was preceded by the Mantrayāna, and then followed by the Sahajayāna and Kalacakrayāna.[4]
    The period of Indian Vajrayāna Buddhism has been classified as the fifth[3] or final[1] period of Buddhism in India. Vajrayāna literature does not appear in the Pāli Canon and the Agamas.
    Although the Vajrayana claims to be as ancient and authentic as any other Buddhist school, it may have grown up gradually in an environment with previously existing texts such as the Mahasannipata and the Ratnaketudharani.[5] The basic position of Vajrayana is still the same as the early Buddhist position of anatta.[6] The changes that took place reflected the changing society of medieval India: the presentation changed, the techniques of the way to enlightenment changed, and the outward appearance of Buddhism came to be dominated by ritualism and arrays of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and gods and goddesses.[6]

    Statues of Padmasambhava, Buddha and Amitayus at Namdroling Monastery.
    There are differing theories as to where in the Indian sub-continent that Vajrayāna began. There are assumptions about the origin of Vajrayana in Bengal,[7] Oddiyana, located at Odisha, or in the modern-day Swat District in Pakistan.
    The earliest texts appeared around the early 4th century. Nālanda in East India became a center for the development of Vajrayana theory, although it is likely that the university followed, rather than led, the early tantric movement.
    Only from the 7th[8] or the beginning of the 8th century, tantric techniques and approaches such as Mahamudra and Sahaja increasingly dominated Buddhist practice in North India.[2]

    Influence of Saivism

    Various classes of Vajrayana literature developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism and Saivism.[9] The Mañjusrimulakalpa, which later came to classified under Kriyatantra, states that mantras taught in the Saiva, Garuda and Vaisnava tantras will be effective if applied by Buddhists since they were all taught originally by Manjushri.[10] The Guhyasiddhi of Padmavajra, a work associated with the Guhyasamaja tradition, prescribes acting as a Saiva guru and initiating members into Saiva Siddhanta scriptures and mandalas.[11] The Samvara tantra texts adopted the pitha list from the Saiva text Tantrasadbhava, introducing a copying error where a deity was mistaken for a place.[12]

    Sahaja-siddhis and Kalacakra tantra

    The Vajrayana established the symbolic terminology and the liturgy that would characterize all forms of the tradition.[8]
    The sahaja-siddhi movement developed in the 8th century in Bengal.[13] It was dominated by long-haired, wandering siddhas who openly challenged and ridiculed the Buddhist establishment.[8] Its most important text is the Dohakosa of Saraha.[13] Saraha is considered the founder of the Mahamudra traditions of Vajrayana.
    The Kalachakra tantra developed in the 10th century.[4] It is farthest removed from the earlier Buddhist traditions, and incorporates concepts of messianism and astrology not present elsewhere in Buddhist literature.[8]

    Place within Buddhist tradition

    Various classifications are possible when distinguishing Vajrayana from the other Buddhist traditions.

    Third turning of the wheel

    Vajrayana can also be seen as the third of the three "turnings of the wheel of dharma":[8]
    1. In the first turning Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths at Varanasi in the 5th century BC, which led to the founding of Buddhism and the later early Buddhist schools. Details of the first turning are described in the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta. The oldest scriptures do not mention any further turnings other than this first turning.
    2. The Mahayana tradition claims that there was a second turning in which the Perfection of Wisdom sutras were taught at Vulture's Peak, which led to the Mahayana schools. Generally, scholars conclude that the Mahayana scriptures (including the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras) were composed from the 1st century CE onwards.[a]
    3. According to the Vajrayana tradition, there was a third turning which took place at Dhanyakataka sixteen years after the Buddha's enlightenment. Some scholars have strongly denied that Vajrayana appeared at that time,[8] and placed it at a much later time. The first tantric (Vajrayana Buddhist) texts appeared in the 3rd century CE, and they continued to appear until the 12th century.[2]

    Sutrayana and Vajrayana

    Vajrayana can be distinguished from the Sutrayana. The Sutrayana is the method of perfecting good qualities, where the Vajrayāna is the method of taking the intended outcome of Buddhahood as the path.

    Paramitayana and Vajrayana

    According to this schema, Indian Mahayana revealed two vehicles (yana) or methods for attaining enlightenment: the method of the perfections (Paramitayana) and the method of mantra (Mantrayana).[15]
    The Paramitayana consists of the six or ten paramitas, of which the scriptures say that it takes three incalculable aeons to lead one to Buddhahood. The tantra literature, however, claims that the Mantrayana leads one to Buddhahood in a single lifetime.[15] According to the literature, the mantra is an easy path without the difficulties innate to the Paramitayana.[15] Mantrayana is sometimes portrayed as a method for those of inferior abilities.[15] However the practitioner of the mantra still has to adhere to the vows of the Bodhisattva.[15]

    Philosophical background

    Tibetan Buddhist Rongzom Chokyi Zangpo (1012–1088) held that the views of sutra such as Madhyamaka were inferior to that of tantra, as Koppl notes:
    By now we have seen that Rongzom regards the views of the Sutrayana as inferior to those of Mantra, and he underscores his commitment to the purity of all phenomena by criticizing the Madhyamaka objectification of the authentic relative truth.[16]

    Characteristics of Vajrayana

    A Buddhist ceremony in Ladakh.


    The goal of spiritual practice within the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions is to become a Bodhisattva (i.e. attainment of a state in which one will subsequently become a Buddha—after some further reincarnation), whereas the goal for Theravada practice is specific to become an arhat (i.e. attain enlightenment with no intention of returning, not even as a Buddha).
    In the Sutrayana practice, a path of Mahayana, the "path of the cause" is taken, whereby a practitioner starts with his or her potential Buddha-nature and nurtures it to produce the fruit of Buddhahood. In the Vajrayana the "path of the fruit" is taken whereby the practitioner takes his or her innate Buddha-nature as the means of practice. The premise is that since we innately have an enlightened mind, practicing seeing the world in terms of ultimate truth can help us to attain our full Buddha-nature.[17]
    Experiencing ultimate truth is said to be the purpose of all the various tantric techniques practiced in the Vajrayana. Apart from the advanced meditation practices such as Mahamudra and Dzogchen, which aim to experience śūnyatā, the empty nature of the enlightened mind that can see ultimate truth, all practices are aimed in some way at purifying the impure perception of the practitioner to allow ultimate truth to be seen. These may be ngöndro "preliminary practices" or the more advanced techniques of the tantric sādhanā.


    As with the Mahayana, motivation is a vital component of Vajrayana practice. The Bodhisattva-path is an integral part of the Vajrayana, which teaches that all practices are to be undertaken with the motivation to achieve Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.


    The distinctive feature of Vajrayana Buddhism is ritual, which is used as a substitute or alternative for the earlier abstract meditations.[18][19] For Vajrayana Tibetan death rituals, see phowa.


    The Vajrayana is based on the concept of "skilful means" (Sanskrit: upaya) as formulated in Mahayana Buddhism. It is a system of lineages, whereby those who successfully receive an empowerment or sometimes called initiation (permission to practice) are seen to share in the mindstream of the realisation of a particular skillful means of the vajra Master. In the Vajrayana these skilful means mainly relate to tantric, Mahamudra or Dzogchen practices. Vajrayana teaches that the Vajrayana techniques provide an accelerated path to enlightenment.[citation needed]

    Esoteric transmission

    Three ritual implements: vajra, bell, and counting beads.
    Vajrayana Buddhism is esoteric in the sense that the transmission of certain teachings only occurs directly from teacher to student during an empowerment and cannot be simply learned from a book. Many techniques are also commonly said to be secret, but some Vajrayana teachers have responded that secrecy itself is not important and only a side-effect of the reality that the techniques have no validity outside the teacher-student lineage.[20] In order to engage in Vajrayana practice, a student should have received such an initiation or permission:
    If these techniques are not practiced properly, practitioners may harm themselves physically and mentally. In order to avoid these dangers, the practice is kept "secret" outside the teacher/student relationship. Secrecy and the commitment of the student to the vajra guru are aspects of the samaya (Tib. damtsig), or "sacred bond", that protects both the practitioner and the integrity of the teachings."[21]
    The teachings may also be considered "self-secret", meaning that even if they were to be told directly to a person, that person would not necessarily understand the teachings without proper context. In this way the teachings are "secret" to the minds of those who are not following the path with more than a simple sense of curiosity.[22][23]

    Vows and behaviour

    Main article: Samaya
    Practitioners of the Vajrayana need to abide by various tantric vows or samaya of behaviour. These are extensions of the rules of the Prātimokṣa and Bodhisattva vows for the lower levels of tantra, and are taken during initiations into the empowerment for a particular Anuttarayoga Tantra. The special tantric vows vary depending on the specific mandala practice for which the initiation is received, and also depending on the level of initiation. Ngagpas of the Nyingma school keep a special non-celibate ordination.
    A tantric guru, or teacher, is expected to keep his or her samaya vows in the same way as his students. Proper conduct is considered especially necessary for a qualified Vajrayana guru. For example, the Ornament for the Essence of Manjushrikirti states:[24]
    Distance yourself from Vajra Masters who are not keeping the three vows
    who keep on with a root downfall, who are miserly with the Dharma,
    and who engage in actions that should be forsaken.
    Those who worship them go to hell and so on as a result.

    Tantra techniques

    Classifications of tantra

    The various Tantra-texts can be classified in various ways.

    Fourfold division

    The best-known classification is by the Gelug, Sakya, and Kagyu schools, the so-called Sarma or New Translation schools of Tibetan Buddhism. They divide the Tantras into four hierarchical categories:
    • Kriyayoga, action tantra, which emphasizes ritual;
    • Charyayoga, performance tantra, which emphasizes meditation;
    • Yogatantra, yoga tantra;
    • Anuttarayogatantra, highest yoga tantra, which is further divided into "mother", "father" and "non-dual" tantras.

    Outer and Inner Tantras

    A different division is used by the Nyingma or Ancient Translation school. Kriyayoga, Charyayoga and Yogatantra are called the Outer Tantras, while Anuttarayogatantra is divided into Three Inner Tantras, which correspond to the

    Annuttara-yoga tantras

    In the highest class of tantra, two stages of practice are distinguished. Details of these practices are normally only explained to practitioners by their teachers after receiving an initiation or 'permission to practice'.
    In some Buddhist tantras, both stages can be practiced simultaneously, whereas in others, one first actualizes the generation stage before continuing with the completion stage practices.

    Generation stage

    Main article: Generation stage
    In the first stage of generation, one engages in deity yoga. One practices oneself in the identification with the meditational Buddha or deity (yidam) by visualisations, until one can meditate single-pointedly on 'being' the deity.[b]

    Four purities

    In the generation stage of Deity Yoga, the practitioner visualizes the "Four Purities" (Tibetan: yongs su dag pa bzhi; yongs dag bzhi)[web 1] which define the principal Tantric methodology of Deity Yoga that distinguishes it from the rest of Buddhism:[25]
    1. Seeing one's body as the body of the deity
    2. Seeing one's environment as the pure land or mandala of the deity
    3. Perceiving one's enjoyments as bliss of the deity, free from attachment
    4. Performing one's actions only for the benefit of others (bodhichitta motivation, altruism)[web 2]

    Completion stage

    Main article: Completion stage
    In the next stage of completion, the practitioner can use either the path of method (thabs lam) or the path of liberation ('grol lam).[26]
    At the path of method the practitioner engages in Kundalini yoga practices. These involve the subtle energy system of the body of the chakras and the energy channels. The "wind energy" is directed and dissolved into the heart chakra, where-after the Mahamudra remains,[27] and the practitioner is physically and mentally transformed.
    At the path of liberation the practitioner applies mindfulness,[28] a preparatory practice for Mahamudra or Dzogchen, to realize the inherent emptiness of every-'thing' that exists.[29]

    Deity yoga

    Hevajra and Nairātmyā, surrounded by a retinue of eight ḍākinīs. Marpa transmission.
    Main article: Yidam
    Deity yoga (Wylie: lha'i rnal 'byor, Sanskrit devatāyoga) is the fundamental Vajrayana practice. However, in this context the term "Deity" should not be understood as "creator/god", nor as a being separate from the practitioner.
    It is a sādhanā in which practitioners visualize themselves as a deity (devatā, Tibetan: ཡི་དམWylie: yi dam).
    Deity Yoga employs highly refined techniques of creative imagination, visualisation, and photism in order to self-identify with the divine form and qualities of a particular deity as the union of method or skilful means and wisdom. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, "In brief, the body of a Buddha is attained through meditating on it".
    By visualizing oneself and one's environment entirely as a projection of mind, it helps the practitioner to become familiar with the mind's ability and habit of projecting conceptual layers over all experience. This experience undermines a habitual belief that views of reality and self are solid and fixed. Deity yoga enables the practitioner to release or purify themself from kleśās and to practice compassion and wisdom simultaneously.
    Recent studies indicate that deity yoga yields quantifiable improvements in the practitioner's ability to process visuospatial information, specifically those involved in working visuospatial memory.[31]

    Guru yoga

    Guru yoga (or teacher practice) (Tibetan: bla ma'i rnal 'byor)[32] is a tantric devotional process whereby the practitioners unite their mindstream with the mindstream of the guru.
    The guru is engaged as yidam, as a nirmanakaya manifestation of a Buddha. The process of guru yoga might entail visualization of an entire lineage of masters (refuge tree) as an invocation of the lineage. It usually involves visualization of the guru above or in front of the practitioner. Guru yoga may entail a liturgy or mantra such as the Prayer in Seven Lines. (Tibetan: tshig bdun gsol 'debs)[33]
    The Guru or spiritual teacher is essential as a guide during tantric practice, as without their example, blessings and grace, genuine progress is held to be impossible for all but the most keen and gifted. Many tantric texts qualify the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha thus: "The Guru is Buddha, the Guru is Dharma, the Guru is also Sangha"[34] to reflect their importance for the disciple. The guru is considered even more compassionate and more potent than the Buddha because we can have a direct relationship with the guru. The guru therefore appears with the yidam and dakini in the Three Roots refuge formulation of the three factors essential for tantric attainments.

    Death yoga

    Main article: Bardo
    According to the Vajrayana tradition,[35] at certain times the bodymind[36] is in a very subtle state which can be used by advanced practitioners to transform the mindstream. Such liminal times are known in Tibetan Buddhism as Bardo states and include such transitional states as during meditation, dreaming, sex and death.
    Death yoga, or "bringing the three bodies into the path of death, intermediate state (bardo) and rebirth",[37] helps to prepare the practitioner for what they need to do at the time of death. It can be practiced first according to generation stage, and then according to completion stage. The accumulation of meditative practice helps to prepare the practitioner for what they need to do at the time of death.
    At the time of death the mind is in a subtle state (clear light) that can open the mind to enlightenment if it is skilfully used to meditate on emptiness (shunyata). During completion stage meditation it is possible to manifest a similar clear light mind and to use it to meditate on emptiness. This meditation causes dualistic appearances to subside into emptiness and enables the practitioner to destroy their ignorance and the imprints of ignorance that are the obstructions to omniscience. It is said that masters like Lama Tsong Khapa used these techniques to achieve enlightenment during the death process. Actually, there are three stages at which it is possible to do this: at the end of the death process, during the bardo (or 'in between period') and during the process of rebirth. During these stages, the mind is in a very subtle state, and an advanced practitioner can use these natural states to make significant progress on the spiritual path. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is an important commentary for this kind of traditional practice.
    This death yoga should not be confused with the non-Tantric meditation on impermanence and death, which is a common practice within Buddhist traditions used to overcome desirous attachment.
    Another Tibetan ritual practice related to death is phowa (transference of one's consciousness), which can be done by oneself at the moment of death or by ritual specialists, phowa-lamas, on behalf of the dead. For the Anuttarayoga Tantras (Tib. rnal-’byor bla-med-kyi-rgyud), transferring one’s consciousness constitutes one of the two ways to separate the coarse and subtle bodies through meditation. Daniel Cozort explains that ’pho-ba (phowa) merely separates the coarse and subtle bodies without leading to the attainment of an “illusory body” (Tib. sgyu-lus). On the other hand, during the perfection type meditation, known as the “final mental isolation” (Tibetan: sems-dben) because it necessitates the presence of an “actual consort” (Tib. las-rgya), “the winds are totally dissolved in the indestructible drop”, and “the fundamental wind naturally rises into an illusory body”.[38]

    Symbols and imagery

    The Vajrayana uses a rich variety of symbols and images.

    The Vajra

    The Sanskrit term "vajra" denoted the thunderbolt, a legendary weapon and divine attribute that was made from an adamantine, or indestructible, substance and which could therefore pierce and penetrate any obstacle or obfuscation. It is the weapon of choice of Indra, the King of the Devas in Hinduism. As a secondary meaning, "vajra" refers to this indestructible substance, and so is sometimes translated as "adamantine" or "diamond".[citation needed] So the Vajrayana is sometimes rendered in English as "The Adamantine Vehicle" or "The Diamond Vehicle".
    A vajra is also a scepter-like ritual object (Standard Tibetan: རྡོ་རྗེ་ dorje), which has a sphere (and sometimes a gankyil) at its centre, and a variable number of spokes, 3, 5 or 9 at each end (depending on the sadhana), enfolding either end of the rod. The vajra is often traditionally employed in tantric rituals in combination with the bell or ghanta; symbolically, the vajra may represent method as well as great bliss and the bell stands for wisdom, specifically the wisdom realizing emptiness.

    Imagery and ritual in deity yoga

    Representations of the deity, such as a statues (murti), paintings (thangka), or mandala, are often employed as an aid to visualization, in Deity yoga. Mandalas are sacred enclosures, sacred architecture that house and contain the uncontainable essence of a yidam. In the book The World of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama describes mandalas thus: "This is the celestial mansion, the pure residence of the deity."
    All ritual in Vajrayana practice can be seen as aiding in this process of visualization and identification. The practitioner can use various hand implements such as a vajra, bell, hand-drum (damaru) or a ritual dagger (phurba), but also ritual hand gestures (mudras) can be made, special chanting techniques can be used, and in elaborate offering rituals or initiations, many more ritual implements and tools are used, each with an elaborate symbolic meaning to create a special environment for practice. Vajrayana has thus become a major inspiration in traditional Tibetan art.

    Vajrayana textual tradition

    The Vajrayana tradition has developed an extended body of texts:
    Though we do not know precisely at present just how many Indian tantric Buddhist texts survive today in the language in which they were written, their number is certainly over one thousand five hundred; I suspect indeed over two thousand. A large part of this body of texts has also been translated into Tibetan, and a smaller part into Chinese. Aside from these, there are perhaps another two thousand or more works that are known today only from such translations. We can be certain as well that many others are lost to us forever, in whatever form. Of the texts that survive a very small proportion has been published; an almost insignificant percentage has been edited or translated reliably.[39]

    Schools of Vajrayana

    Although there is historical evidence for Vajrayana Buddhism in Southeast Asia and elsewhere (see History of Vajrayana above), today the Vajrayana exists primarily in the form of the two major sub-schools of Tibetan Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism in Japan known as Shingon, with a handful of minor subschools utilising lesser amounts of esoteric or tantric materials.
    The distinction between traditions is not always rigid. For example, the tantra sections of the Tibetan Buddhist canon of texts sometimes include material not usually thought of as tantric outside the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, such as the Heart Sutra[40] and even versions of some material found in the Pali Canon.[41][c]

    Tibetan Buddhism

    Main article: Tibetan Buddhism
    The Tibetan Buddhist schools, based on the lineages and textual traditions of the Kangyur and Tengyur of Tibet, are found in Tibet, Bhutan, northern India, Nepal, southwestern and northern China, Mongolia and various constituent republics of Russia that are adjacent to the area, such as Amur Oblast, Buryatia, Chita Oblast, the Tuva Republic and Khabarovsk Krai. Tibetan Buddhism is also the main religion in Kalmykia.
    Vajrayana Buddhism was established in Tibet in the 8th century when Śāntarakṣita was brought to Tibet from India at the instigation of the Dharma King Trisong Detsen, some time before 767. He established the basis of what later came to be known as the Nyingma school. As a Tantric Mahasiddha Padmasambhava's contribution ensured that Vajrayana became part of Tibetan Buddhism. While Vajrayana Buddhism is a part of Tibetan Buddhism in that it forms a core part of every major Tibetan Buddhist school, it is not identical with it. Buddhist scholar Alexander Berzin refers to "the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions of Tibetan Buddhism".[web 3] Training in the "common paths" of Sutra (including Lamrim) are said to be the foundation for the "uncommon path" of Vajrayana.[42] The Vajrayana techniques add 'skillful means' to the general Mahayana teachings for advanced students. The 'skillful means' of the Vajrayana in Tibetan Buddhism refers to tantra techniques, Dzogchen (Tibetan; Sanskrit:maha-ati) and Mahamudra (Tibetan:Chagchen).

    Chinese use of the Siddhaṃ script for the Pratisara Mantra. 927 CE.

    Nepalese Newar Buddhism

    Main article: Newar Buddhism
    Newar Buddhism is practiced by Newars in Nepal. This is the only form of Vajrayana Buddhism in which the scriptures are written in Sanskrit. Its priests do not follow celibacy and are called Vajracharyas.

    Ari Buddhism

    Ari Buddhism was common in Burma, prior to Anawrahta's rise and the subsequent conversion to Theravada Buddhism in the 11th century.[citation needed]

    Azhali religion

    The Acharya religion is said to be a form of Vajrayana Buddhism transmitted from India to the Kingdom of Dali of the Bai people.[43] The monks have families, eat meat and drink wine. The Zhengde Emperor banned it in 1507.[44][45][46]

    Chinese Esoteric Buddhism

    Esoteric practices related to Cundī have remained popular in Chinese Buddhism and East Asia.
    Esoteric teachings followed the same route into northern China as Buddhism itself, arriving via the Silk Road sometime during the first half of the 7th century, during the Tang Dynasty. Esoteric Mantrayana practices arrived from India just as Buddhism was reaching its zenith in China, and received sanction from the emperors of the Tang Dynasty. During this time, three great masters came from India to China: Śubhakarasiṃha, Vajrabodhi, and Amoghavajra. These three masters brought the esoteric teachings to their height of popularity in China.[47] During this era, the two main source texts were the Mahāvairocana Abhisaṃbodhi Tantra, and the Tattvasaṃgraha Tantra. Traditions in the Sinosphere still exist for these teachings, and they more or less share the same doctrines as Shingon, with many of its students themselves traveling to Japan to be given transmission at Mount Koya.
    Esoteric methods were naturally incorporated into Chinese Buddhism during the Tang Dynasty. Śubhakarasiṃha's most eminent disciple, Master Yixing (Ch. 一行), was a member of the Chán school. In such a way, in Chinese Buddhism there was no major distinction between exoteric and esoteric practices, and the northern school of Chán Buddhism even became known for its esoteric practices of dhāraṇīs and mantras.[48][49]
    The practice of Tantric Buddhism in Western Xia led to the spread of some sexually related customs. Before they could get married to men of their own ethnicity when they reached 30 years old, Uighur women in Shanxi in the 12th century had children after having sex with multiple Han Chinese men, with her desirability as a wife corresponding to if she had been with a large number of men.[50][51][52]
    During the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongol emperors made Esoteric Buddhism the official religion of China, and Tibetan lamas were given patronage at the court.[53] A common perception was that this patronage of lamas caused corrupt forms of tantra to become widespread.[53] When the Mongol Yuan Dynasty was overthrown and the Ming Dynasty was established, the Tibetan lamas were expelled from the court, and this form of Buddhism was denounced as not being an orthodox path.[53]
    In late imperial China, the early traditions of Esoteric Buddhism were still thriving in Buddhist communities. Robert Gimello has also observed that in these communities, the esoteric practices associated with Cundī were extremely popular among both the populace and the elite.[54]
    In China and countries with large Chinese populations such as Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore, Esoteric Buddhism is most commonly referred to as the Chinese term Mìzōng (密宗), or "Esoteric School." Traditions of Chinese Esoteric Buddhism are most commonly referred to as referred as Tángmì (唐密), "Tang Dynasty Esoterica," or Hànchuán Mìzōng (漢傳密宗), "Han Transmission Esoteric School" (Hànmì 漢密 for short), or Dōngmì (東密), "Eastern Esoterica," separating itself from Tibetan and Newar traditions. These schools more or less share the same doctrines as Shingon. Casual attempts to revive Esoteric Buddhism occur in modern china.[55]
    See Zhenyan at on Chinese Esoteric Buddhism.


    Shingon Buddhism

    Main article: Shingon Buddhism
    The Shingon school is found in Japan and includes practices, known in Japan as Mikkyō, which are similar in concept to those in Vajrayana Buddhism. The lineage for Shingon Buddhism differs from that of Tibetan Vajrayana, having emerged from India during the 9th-11th centuries in the Pala Dynasty and Central Asia (via China) and is based on earlier versions of the Indian texts than the Tibetan lineage. Shingon shares material with Tibetan Buddhism–-such as the esoteric sutras (called Tantras in Tibetan Buddhism) and mandalas – but the actual practices are not related. The primary texts of Shingon Buddhism are the Mahavairocana Sutra and Vajrasekhara Sutra. The founder of Shingon Buddhism was Kukai, a Japanese monk who studied in China in the 9th century during the Tang Dynasty and brought back Vajrayana scriptures, techniques and mandalas then popular in China. The school mostly died out or was merged into other schools in China towards the end of the Tang Dynasty but flourished in Japan. Shingon is one of the few remaining branches of Buddhism in the world that continues to use the siddham script of the Sanskrit language.

    Tendai Buddhism

    Main article: Tendai
    Although the Tendai school in China and Japan does employ some esoteric practices, these rituals came to be considered of equal importance with the exoteric teachings of the Lotus Sutra. By chanting mantras, maintaining mudras, or practicing certain forms of meditation, Tendai maintains that one is able to understand sense experiences as taught by the Buddha, have faith that one is innately an enlightened being, and that one can attain enlightenment within the current lifetime.

    Shugendō practitioners in the mountains of Kumano, Mie.


    Main article: Shugendō
    Shugendō was founded in 7th century Japan by the ascetic En no Gyōja, based on the Queen's Peacocks Sutra. With its origins in the solitary hijiri back in the 7th century, Shugendō evolved as a sort of amalgamation between Esoteric Buddhism, Shinto and several other religious influences including Taoism. Buddhism and Shinto were amalgamated in the shinbutsu shūgō, and Kūkai's syncretic religion held wide sway up until the end of the Edo period, coexisting with Shinto elements within Shugendō[56]
    In 1613 during the Edo period, the Tokugawa Shogunate issued a regulation obliging Shugendō temples to belong to either Shingon or Tendai temples. During the Meiji Restoration, when Shinto was declared an independent state religion separate from Buddhism, Shugendō was banned as a superstition not fit for a new, enlightened Japan. Some Shugendō temples converted themselves into various officially approved Shintō denominations. In modern times, Shugendō is practiced mainly by Tendai and Shingon sects, retaining an influence on modern Japanese religion and culture.[57]

    Literary characteristics

    Vajrayana texts exhibit a wide range of literary characteristics—usually a mix of verse and prose, almost always in a Sanskrit that "transgresses frequently against classical norms of grammar and usage," although also occasionally in various Middle Indic dialects or elegant classical Sanskrit.[58]

    Dunhuang manuscripts

    The Dunhuang manuscripts also contain Tibetan Tantric manuscripts. Dalton and Schaik (2007, revised) provide an excellent online catalogue listing 350 Tibetan Tantric Manuscripts] from Dunhuang in the Stein Collection of the British Library which is currently fully accessible online in discrete digitized manuscripts.[web 4] With the Wylie transcription of the manuscripts they are to be made discoverable online in the future.[59] These 350 texts are just a small portion of the vast cache of the Dunhuang manuscripts.

    Academic study difficulties

    Serious Vajrayana academic study in the western world is in early stages due to the following obstacles:[3]
    1. Although a large number of Tantric scriptures are extant, they have not been formally ordered or systematized.
    2. Due to the esoteric initiatory nature of the tradition, many practitioners will not divulge information or sources of their information.
    3. As with many different subjects, it must be studied in context and with a long history spanning many different cultures.
    4. Ritual as well as doctrine need to be investigated.
    Buddhist tantric practice are categorized as secret practice; this is to avoid misinformed people from harmfully misusing the practices. A method to keep this secrecy is that tantric initiation is required from a master before any instructions can be received about the actual practice. During the initiation procedure in the highest class of tantra (such as the Kalachakra), students must take the tantric vows which commit them to such secrecy.[web 5] "Explaining general tantra theory in a scholarly manner, not sufficient for practice, is likewise not a root downfall. Nevertheless, it weakens the effectiveness of our tantric practice." [web 6]


    The terminology associated with Vajrayana Buddhism can be confusing. Most of the terms originated in the Sanskrit language of tantric Indian Buddhism and may have passed through other cultures, notably those of Japan and Tibet, before translation for the modern reader. Further complications arise as seemingly equivalent terms can have subtle variations in use and meaning according to context, the time and place of use. A third problem is that the Vajrayana texts employ the tantric tradition of twilight language, a means of instruction that is deliberately coded. These obscure teaching methods relying on symbolism as well as synonym, metaphor and word association add to the difficulties faced by those attempting to understand Vajrayana Buddhism:
    In the Vajrayana tradition, now preserved mainly in Tibetan lineages, it has long been recognized that certain important teachings are expressed in a form of secret symbolic language known as saṃdhyā-bhāṣā, 'Twilight Language'. Mudrās and mantras, maṇḍalas and cakras, those mysterious devices and diagrams that were so much in vogue in the pseudo-Buddhist hippie culture of the 1960s, were all examples of Twilight Language [...] [60]
    The term Tantric Buddhism was not one originally used by those who practiced it. As scholar Isabelle Onians explains:
    "Tantric Buddhism" [...] is not the transcription of a native term, but a rather modern coinage, if not totally occidental. For the equivalent Sanskrit tāntrika is found, but not in Buddhist texts. Tāntrika is a term denoting someone who follows the teachings of scriptures known as Tantras, but only in Saivism, not Buddhism [...] Tantric Buddhism is a name for a phenomenon which calls itself, in Sanskrit, Mantranaya, Vajrayāna, Mantrayāna or Mantramahāyāna (and apparently never Tantrayāna). Its practitioners are known as mantrins, yogis, or sādhakas. Thus, our use of the anglicised adjective “Tantric” for the Buddhist religion taught in Tantras is not native to the tradition, but is a borrowed term which serves its purpose.[61]

    See also


  • Large numbers of Mahayana sutras were being composed in the period between the beginning of the common era and the fifth century.[14]

    1. Skilling, Mahasutras, volume I, parts I & II, 1997, Pali Text Society, page 78, speaks of the tantra divisions of some editions of the Kangyur as including Sravakayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana texts


    1. Isabelle Onians, "Tantric Buddhist Apologetics, or Antinomianism as a Norm," D.Phil. dissertation, Oxford, Trinity Term 2001 pg 8

    Web references


    • Akira, Hirakawa (1993), Paul Groner, ed., History of Indian Buddhism, Translated by Paul Groner, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers
    • Banerjee, S. C. (1977), Tantra in Bengal: A Study in Its Origin, Development and Influence, Manohar, ISBN 81-85425-63-9
    • Buswell, Robert E., ed. (2004), Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Macmillan Reference USA, ISBN 0-02-865910-4
    • Datta, Amaresh (2006), The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature (Volume One (A To Devo), Volume 1, Sahitya Akademi publications, ISBN 978-81-260-1803-1
    • Harding, Sarah (1996), Creation and Completion - Essential Points of Tantric Meditation, Boston: Wisdom Publications
    • Hawkins, Bradley K. (1999), Buddhism, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-21162-X
    • Hua, Hsuan; Bhikshuni Rev. Heng Chih, Bhikshuni Rev. Heng Hsien, David Rounds, Ron Epstein, et al (2003), The Shurangama Sutra - Sutra Text and Supplements with Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, Burlingame, California: Buddhist Text Translation Society, ISBN 0-88139-949-3 Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)[dead link]
    • Kitagawa, Joseph Mitsuo (2002), The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion, History, and Culture, Routledge, ISBN 0-7007-1762-5
    • Mishra, Baba; Dandasena, P.K. (2011), Settlement and urbanization in ancient Orissa
    • Patrul Rinpoche (1994), Brown, Kerry; Sharma, Sima, eds., The Words of My Perfect Teacher (Tibetan title: kunzang lama'i shelung). Translated by the Padmakara Translation Group. With a forward by the Dalai Lama, San Francisco, California, USA: HarperCollinsPublishers, ISBN 0-06-066449-5
    • Ray, Reginald A (2001), Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet, Boston: Shambhala Publications
    • Schumann, Hans Wolfgang (1974), Buddhism: an outline of its teachings and schools, Theosophical Pub. House
    • Snelling, John (1987), The Buddhist handbook. A Complete Guide to Buddhist Teaching and Practice, London: Century Paperbacks
    • Wardner, A.K. (1999), Indian Buddhism, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers
    • Williams, Paul; Tribe, Anthony (2000), Buddhist Thought: A complete introduction to the Indian tradition, Routledge, ISBN 0-203-18593-5

    Further reading

    • Rongzom Chözang; Köppl, Heidi I. (trans) (2008). Establishing Appearances as Divine. Snow Lion. pp. 95–108. ISBN 9781559392884.
    • Kongtrul, Jamgon; Guarisco, Elio; McLeod, Ingrid (2004). Systems of Buddhist Tantra:The Indestructible Way of Secret Mantra. The Treasury of Knowledge (book 6 part 4). Ithaca: Snow Lion. ISBN 9781559392105.
    • Kongtrul, Jamgon; Guarisco, Elio; McLeod, Ingrid (2008). The Elements of Tantric Practice:A General Exposition of the Process of Meditation in the Indestructible Way of Secret Mantra. The Treasury of Knowledge (book 8 part 3). Ithaca: Snow Lion. ISBN 9781559393058.
    • Kongtrul, Jamgon; Barron, Richard (2010). Journey and Goal: An Analysis of the Spiritual Paths and Levels to be Traversed and the Consummate Fruition state. The Treasury of Knowledge (books 9 & 10). Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications. pp. 159–251, 333–451. ISBN 1-55939-360-2.
    • Tantric Ethics: An Explanation of the Precepts for Buddhist Vajrayana Practice by Tson-Kha-Pa, ISBN 0-86171-290-0
    • Perfect Conduct: Ascertaining the Three Vows by Ngari Panchen, Dudjom Rinpoche, ISBN 0-86171-083-5
    • Āryadeva's Lamp that Integrates the Practices (Caryāmelāpakapradīpa): The Gradual Path of Vajrayāna Buddhism according to the Esoteric Community Noble Tradition, ed. and trans by Christian K. Wedemeyer (New York: AIBS/Columbia Univ. Press, 2007). ISBN 978-0-9753734-5-3
    • S. C. Banerji, Tantra in Bengal: A Study of Its Origin, Development and Influence, Manohar (1977) (2nd ed. 1992). ISBN 8185425639
    • Gyatso, Geshe Kelsang (2003). Tantric Grounds and Paths. Glen Spey: Tharpa Publications ISBN 978-0-948006-33-3.
    • Gyatso, Geshe Kelsang (2005). Mahamudra Tantra. Glen Spey: Tharpa Publications ISBN 978-0-948006-93-7.
    • Arnold, Edward A. on behalf of Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, fore. by Robert A. F. Thurman. As Long As Space Endures: Essays on the Kalacakra Tantra in Honor of H.H. the Dalai Lama, Snow Lion Publications, 2009.
    • Snellgrove, David L.: Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. Indian Buddhists and Their Tibetan Successors. London: Serindia, 1987.

    External links



  • A comparison may be made with the "Role theory" of Hjalmar Sundén, which describes how identification with a religious figure can lead to conversion. See (in Dutch) N. Hijweege (1994, Bekering in de gereformeerde gezindte, which describes how the story of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus serves as an example of the "ideal-conversion" in orthodox Protestant churches.

  • Macmillan Publishing 2004, p. 875-876.

  • Williams 2000, p. 194.

  • Akira 1993, p. 9.

  • Schumann 1974.

  • Warder 1999, p. 459-461.

  • Warder 1999, p. 477.

  • Banerjee 1977.

  • Kitagawa 2002, p. 80.

  • Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period." In: Genesis and Development of Tantrism,edited by Shingo Einoo. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 2009. Institute of Oriental Culture Special Series, 23, pp. 124.

  • Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period." In: Genesis and Development of Tantrism,edited by Shingo Einoo. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 2009. Institute of Oriental Culture Special Series, 23, pp. 129-131.

  • Sanderson, Alexis. "The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period." In: Genesis and Development of Tantrism,edited by Shingo Einoo. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 2009. Institute of Oriental Culture Special Series, 23, pp. 144-145.

  • Huber, Toni (2008). The holy land reborn : pilgrimage & the Tibetan reinvention of Buddhist India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 94–95. ISBN 978-0-226-35648-8.

  • Schumann 1974, p. 163.

  • Buswell 2004, p. 494.

  • Macmillan Publishing 2004, p. 875.

  • Koppl, Heidi. Establishing Appearances as Divine. Snow Lion Publications 2008, chapter 4.

  • Palmo, Tenzin (2002). Reflections on a Mountain Lake:Teachings on Practical Buddhism. Snow Lion Publications. pp. 224–5. ISBN 1-55939-175-8.

  • Warder 1999, p. 466.

  • Hawkins 1999, p. 24.

  • Dhammasaavaka. The Buddhism Primer: An Introduction to Buddhism, p. 79. ISBN 1-4116-6334-9

  • Ray 2001.

  • Morreale, Don (1998) The Complete Guide to Buddhist America ISBN 1-57062-270-1 p.215

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  • Tsongkhapa , Tantric Ethics: An Explanation of the Precepts for Buddhist Vajrayana Practice ISBN 0-86171-290-0, page 46.

  • Yuthok, Choedak (1997) p.27. Lamdre: Dawn of Enlightenment. (Transcribed and edited by Pauline Westwood with valued assistance from Ot Rastsaphong, Rob Small, Brett Wagland and Whitethorn. Cover Design: Rob Small) Canberra, Australia: Gorum Publications. ISBN 0-9587085-0-9. Source: PDF

  • Harding 1996, p. 19.

  • Snelling 1987, p. 116.

  • Harding 1996, p. 17.

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  • M. Kozhevnikov, O. Louchakova, Z. Josipovic, and M.A. Motes (2009). "The Enhancement of Visuospatial Processing Efficiency Through Buddhist Deity Meditation". Psychological Science 20 (5): 645–53. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02345.x. PMID 19476594.

  • Patrul Rinpoche 1994, p. 416.

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  • Lobsang Chökyi Gyaltsen, Offering to the Spiritual Guide (Tib. Lama Chopa), Tharpa Publications, p. 12

  • Luminous Emptiness. 2001. Francesca Fremantle. Boston: Shambala Publications. ISBN 1-57062-450-X

  • Arpaia, Joseph & D. Lobsang Rapgay (2004). Tibetan Wisdom for Modern Life. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-1955-1.

  • Guide to Dakini Land, pages 109-119, Tharpa Publications (2nd. ed., 1996) ISBN 978-0-948006-39-5

  • Highest Yoga Tantra: An Introduction to the Esoteric Buddhism of Tibet. Ithaca: Snow Lion, 1986: p. 98.

  • Isaacson, Harunaga (1998). Tantric Buddhism in India (from c. 800 to c. 1200). In: Buddhismus in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Band II. Hamburg. pp.23–49. (Internal publication of Hamburg University.) pg 3 PDF

  • Conze, The Prajnaparamita Literature

  • Peter Skilling, Mahasutras, volume I, 1994, Pali Text Society[2], Lancaster, page xxiv

  • Tantric Grounds and Paths: How to Enter, Progress on, and Complete the Vajrayana Path, page 1, Tharpa Publications (1994) ISBN 978-0-948006-33-3

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  • 南诏大理国佛教新资料初探

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  • Baruah, Bibbhuti (2008) Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism: p. 170

  • Sharf, Robert (2001) Coming to Terms With Chinese Buddhism: A Reading of the Treasure Store Treatise: p. 268

  • Faure, Bernard (1997) The Will to Orthodoxy: A Critical Genealogy of Northern Chan Buddhism: p. 85

  • Michal Biran (15 September 2005). The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World. Cambridge University Press. pp. 164–. ISBN 978-0-521-84226-6.

  • Dunnell, Ruth W. (1983). Tanguts and the Tangut State of Ta Hsia. Princeton University., page 228

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  • Nan Huaijin. Basic Buddhism: Exploring Buddhism and Zen. York Beach: Samuel Weiser. 1997. p. 99.

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