Tantrayana, Short excerpt From Arnaud Desjardins – Religion

 

Tibetan tantra - yab-yum
Tibetan tantra – yab-yum

Tantrayana or Tantra means  loosely – “Sacred teachings” – (thankas) often written in book form and then handed down to a younger generation for study. Tantra teachings consist of diagrams, images, and symbolism. There is not one iota of pornography in Tibetan tantrism.

My original idea for this post was to use a short excerpt from Arnaud Desjardin’s  “Message Of The Tibetans.”  I see though, it is a deep philosophy and perhaps a clearer explanation in plain and simple English is better used here. I have kept the Desjardin excerpt, in part, because it’s extremely interesting, while  expressing the qualities of  male and female within us all. Also the idea of non-dualism. One without a second. Advaita.  

A very special book on Early Women in Tantra Buddhism.

http://books.google.fr/books/about/Passionate_Enlightenment.html?id=dahS9CHLfXoC&redir_esc=y

“The practice of having female companions for meditation is called ” the union of voidness and happiness” or the union of the two polarities (yab-yum). This practice, based on the theory of the Mahavairocana-sutra and the Vajrasekhara-sutra, is a distinctive feature of the Esoteric Buddhism. Sex is strictly forbidden by the Exoteric Buddhism, but it is part of meditation practice in the Esoteric Buddhism. As Vajrasekhara-sutra says, “How pure is man’s mind! It’s only natural that lust should change him. Keeping away from lust will restore purity in him, and keeping away from lust means conquering it with another form of lust.” Sex is thus shrouded in mysticism and given the role of “conquering lust”. It becomes a mean by which the follower of the Esoteric Buddhism can achieve self-purification of his nature. According to the Esoteric Buddhism, “the attraction of lust will draw one into the realm of the wisdom of the Buddha”, that is, by means of carnal love the bodhisattva leads one to liberation. This accounts for the fact that the Esoteric Buddhism treats women as offerings. What “The Collected Works of Buddhism Literature” terms as “love for offerings”: refers to the love for women. This theme is repeated in the Mahavairocana-sutra, which says,”Satisfy the desire for sex so that all beings will be happy.” According to the Esoteric Buddhism, Mahavairocana lives in Heaven like an earthy being- accompanied by the Marici (Queen of Heaven) and surrounded by female attendants. As a result, the rajas (devas and vajras), instructed by Mahavairocana to subdue demons, are in their “wrathful forms” accompanied by devis, their female counterparts.”

http://www.surrenderworks.com/library/imports/esotericbuddhism.html

Paramasukha Cakrasamvara Yab-Yum Luipa Mandala
Paramasukha Cakrasamvara Yab-Yum Luipa Mandala

Message From The Tibetans

Why all this symbolism of the union of the sexes, what the Tibetans call ‘yab-yam’? Several works associate the Tibetan concept with the Hindu term ‘shakti’. And most certainly, the Hindu images of sexual union, which are equally numerous and equally sacred, represent the union of the God with his ‘shakti’, where the God is considered as passive non-acting and his ‘shakti’ being his power of manifestation, thus active and acting, although feminine.

But the Tibetans never use either the word or the idea of  “shakti” and although the identification of Hindu with Buddhist Tantrism may be justified at a pretty deep level of understanding, this is not the case at the level of outward formulation. For example, in Tibetan Buddhism, contrary to Hinduism, it is the masculine principle which is active and dynamic and the feminine principle which is passive and static. The best use of the word ‘yum’ would be “spouse.” And it is obvious that the purpose of this symbolism is to represent the union of a married couple engaged in the sexual act.

Why choose this? This is the very heart of both Vedantist and Mahayana metaphysics. When Hindus speak of Reality, of Unity (there is no place for  “Two”), they never use the word “Monism” but the term non-dualism, “Advaita” . It is an attempt at the impossible; to describe what is indescribable, supreme reality.

But sages are in agreement that it is non-dualistic. And yet, it is this unity of two, which is symbolized by their statues, murals and paintings/ thankas, representing Tantric divinities in sexual union with their spouses. This non-dualism is the union of prajna with upaya. Prajna, wisdom, infinite consciousness, is feminine, passive, non-manifest. Upaya, activity is masculine, dynamic, manifest. It is compassion, the heart, united to wisdom, the head.

The Tibetans will never speak of Reality as being beyond appearances, of Shunyata beyond Samsara. No, Reality and appearance are one and the same thing. Two sides of one coin. Unity in diversity  IS unity, this is the great experience, or realization, as Tibetans like to describe it.

Another meaning of the sexual symbolism of the Tantras is that in every man and woman there exists a masculine and feminine principle. And often, when the Tantras speak of the union of man and woman, there exists a masculine and feminine principle.

Short excerpt From Arnaud Desjardins – The Message of the Tibetans. Translated from the French.

Parabola Mag. Summer, 2007.

Tan tra  – very detailed history from Tantra Buddhism in the 1960’s.


Light On Arnaud Desjardins – Children Of Light

One day someone asked me, “How can I progress in spite of everyday difficulties?” I gave the somewhat hard answer, “How can you get to the second floor in spite of the stairs?” So the real question on the path is: “How can I progress on the Way thanks to every day difficulties.”

– Arnaud Desjardins

My thanks to  Michel Tardieu for this wonderful website and introducing me to  French Advaita Vedanta Master Arnaud Desjardins. My impression of him is that he was the “real deal” (he passed away just last year) and that one on the advaitan path could learn so much from such a wise and good-hearted teacher.

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http://www.arnauddesjardinsdvds.com/index.php?page=04&lg=e  –  This website contains excerpts from dvd clips of talks given by Arnaud Desjardin. 
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About Arnaud Desjardin’s Guru
Swami Prajnanpad was a traditional Hindu monk who lived on a tiny ashram outside of Calcutta. He was virtually unknown outside of his small circle of students. Prior to this while teaching science at the University level, Swamiji discovered and studied the work of Sigmund Freud. He later incorporated critical elements of early psychoanalysis into the traditional spiritual path of non-dualism that he offered. Arnaud absorbed Swami Prajnanpad’s precise and potent Advaita Vedanta teachings over a period of nine years and was then sent to teach in his own right. For the following thirty years Arnaud guided his body of students, which grew to be about 2000 in number, and inspired other teachers and students from many different paths. Arnaud left his body in August of 2011, though his widespread influence continues to inspire practitioners all over the world. His wisdom and instruction are sought through his French books and films as well as these teachings in English. His senior students sustain his ashrams in France and Canada and continue making Arnaud and Swami Prajnanpad’s teachings available.
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Arnaud Desjardin Speaking to Enlightenment Magazine
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Though Sri Mataji Anandamayi Ma was not, strictly speaking, my guru, she certainly played a major role, to say the least, in my life and my sadhana [spiritual practice]. In fact, she still does today. Her memory is alive deep within my heart and there are several pictures of her on the walls of the ashram where I now teach.From my first physical encounter with her, in 1959, to the day in 1965 when she gave me her blessing to go to Sri Swami Prajnanpad (1891-1974), a relatively unknown master who was to become my guru—though I’d rather say of whom I gradually became the disciple—I considered Mataji as my guru. During those years, I repeatedly stayed with her for extended periods of time. Even after meeting Swami Prajnanpad, I always felt her active influence and kept visiting her, up to my last trip to India a few years before she left her body.To state things simply, I could say that, though in the course of my search and travels I have had the privilege to closely approach quite a few extraordinary beings—Tibetans, Sufis, Hindu gurus and Zen masters, many of whom left a deep imprint in my heart—to me Anandamayi Ma was and remains the embodiment of transcendence, the living proof of the actual existence of a transcendental reality. “Extraordinary,” “superhuman,” “divine”. . . I still feel today that no adjective is big enough to describe her presence, particularly when I met her, in the full blossoming of her radiance. I could barely believe that such a being could walk the earth in a human form, and I have no difficulty understanding how a whole theology was developed around her. I never, never met a sage whose divine appearance I admired so much. In truth, I admired her beyond all words.Thousands of pilgrims were of course similarly touched by her extraordinary presence, but I’d rather insist here on another aspect of Mataji: the relentless way in which she sometimes crucified the ego of those who wanted more than her occasional blessing. In fact, in her ashram, there was a very clear distinction between two kinds of visitors: those who came for her darshan [personal audience] and who received a warm welcome, and those who insisted on being considered her disciples, who were challenged and put on edge, to the limit of what they were able to bear—but never beyond. No guru wants to bring someone to absolute despair or to leaving the path because of unbearable trials. During the years when Denise Desjardins and myself were spending several months within the ashram as candidates to discipleship rather than as mere visitors, we went through a lot of that “special treatment.”Of course I realize, as I am about to recall a few examples of that treatment, that these stories may look very innocent, not so terrible to casual readers. The truth is, it is always easy to hear descriptions of someone else’s sadhana and to imagine: “Oh, had I been in this situation, I would not have been affected in such a way. I would have immediately taken it as a lesson, a challenge to my ego, etc. . . .” When you actually are tested, when your mind and ego are being provoked through situations which sometimes are in themselves very simple disappointments and difficulties, you are not hearing a story anymore. You’re in the fire, plunged into what constitutes the essence of all sadhanas: a persistent, sometimes harsh challenging of your ego and mind through situations which call into question your present identifications and attachments.
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In those years, I was a professional filmmaker, working for French television. One of the things Mataji used to crucify my ego and teach me was the film I was shooting in her ashram. She sometimes granted me exceptional opportunities and then caused me to waste my last rolls, which I had very much been counting on. This was hard to accept. Following the advice of one of her ashramites, I had preciously saved three rolls of film until the very end of my stay. This had caused me to renounce shooting scenes which could have been important. Then, during those last days, every time I started filming, Anandamayi Ma, in front of everybody, either turned her head or winced. This was all the more cruel to me since I believed the person who had asked me to save those rolls had been inspired by Ma. Eventually, Ma only allowed me to shoot one roll. As this was after sunset, I was convinced there would be no visible image on the film. Incredible as it may seem, there was something: three of what may well be the most beautiful shots of the whole film, where Ma can be seen at night surrounded by a few disciples. These miraculous forty seconds were worth the sacrifice of those three rolls. Once she asked me to project the images which to me were most precious with some worn-out Indian equipment, when I knew for sure that it would irremediably damage the film.

I also remember a particular incident. I had always dreamed of meeting what I then called true yogis—not yoga teachers, but yogis having attained mastery over certain energies or developed certain powers. To me, those yogis embodied the whole legend of India. They lived in the high valley of the Ganges where I had not yet been able to go, since the Indian government had not granted me the special permit then necessary to travel to that region. One of those famous yogis was about to come down to the plains to visit Anandamayi Ma. On this very day, Ma asked me if I could travel with my Land Rover to a distance of some 150 kilometers where I was to pick up some luggage and bring it back. The roads were not tarred, it was raining, there was mud all over, so that when I left the ashram, the yogi had not arrived, and when I came back, he had already left. To me, at the time, this was a terrible disappointment indeed, a broken dream.

Every time my ego desperately wanted to be acknowledged by Ma, circumstances were such that I could not see her privately for weeks. But once, when, after having gone through what one usually calls intense pain, I at last changed my inner attitude, she herself took me for a ride in the car. I was alone with her, the driver, and a great pundit whom I very much admired. She had me sit next to her and did not allow anyone else to go with us.

We often had the impression that others were also brought to teach us and that the whole world was consciously or unconsciously serving Mother’s purpose. She was an incredible source of energy, the center of a huge activity.

It is difficult to imagine what surrender to Anandamayi Ma, as some of her closest disciples were living it, could mean. I remember one monk whose ideal of life was to meditate. He had been meditating in an isolated ashram in the Himalayas and was very happy, until Ma appointed him as the swami in charge of the Delhi ashram. Every day, he had to deal with curious visitors, Europeans, people from the embassies and consulates. He was forced to be no longer a meditator but an administrator, immersed head to toe in active life—the exact opposite of what he had been aspiring to. He was working twenty hours a day and I even once saw him slowly fall down. He had simply fallen asleep while walking. Just contemplating Anandamayi’s radiant smile, one could not imagine the pressure she put on some—in the name of ultimate freedom.

To conclude, I’d like to say that, remembering Ma as well as my guru, Swami Prajnanpad, I feel especially grateful for the occasions when they caused me pain, when they brought suffering to my ego. They, of course, never did me any harm. On the contrary, everything they did, whether they smiled or were angry at me, served my ultimate good. But they certainly made me feel severely hurt at times.

And the truth is, one cannot make any progress in one’s sadhana if one’s ego and mind are not sometimes painfully shaken.

Arnaud Desjardins is the author of many books, including two which have been translated into English: Toward the Fullness of Life (Threshold Books) and The Jump Into Life: Moving Beyond Fear (Hohm Press). He resides and teaches at his ashram, Hauteville, in the south of France. (died in 2011)

-Source Enlightenment Magazine
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An adult is one who has lost the grace, the freshness, the innocence of the child, who is no longer capable of feeling pure joy, who makes everything complicated, who spreads suffering everywhere, who is afraid of being happy, and who, because it is easier to bear, has gone back to sleep. The wise man is a happy child. ~ Arnaud Desjardins