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.


Shri Yantra – Sacred Geometry

A saying from the Vedas claims that “Speech is the essence of humanity.” All of what humanity thinks and ultimately becomes is determined by the expression of ideas and actions through speech and its derivative, writing. Everything, the Vedas maintain, comes into being through speech. Ideas remain idealised until they are created through the power of speech. Similarly, The New Testament, Gospel of John, starts “In the beginning was The Word. And the Word  was with God and the Word was God.” Different cultures use language differently. The Buddhist and Hindus have always looked for esoteric sounds that correlate with the universe. The Latin language, also ancient, led to  the Monks creating perfect mantras in the musical composition of the Gregorian chants.

Gregorian chant has been used around the world in the Roman Catholic liturgy for over a thousand years. The chants are most closely associated with the Benedictine order of monks, who would use the chants daily in services and in prayer. The Gregorian tradition superseded the Ambrosian, Gallican, and Mozarabic chants between the eighth and 11th centuries, except in Milan, where the Ambrosian chants are used to this day. The chants formed part of the day to day worship; the choir, clergy and congregation would sing prayers instead of saying them.

 

 

Shri Yantra

The most important of all Tantrik yantras –

The outer triangles are occupied by divinities which represent the subdivided energy-self of the Great Goddess.

A standard table providing complete information about the file, including description of what it shows and how it was made, copyright status and source.

  • Description – Sri Yantra 256bw.gif Sri-Yantra B/W picture
  • Date – 10 December 2006(2006-12-10)
  • Source – Own work
  • Author
  • N.Manytchkine

What is Yantra Art?


Yantras are of geometrical design and traditionally contain the energy of a particular deity as perceived or seen by ancient rishis or enlightened masters. They are visual forms of mantric energy and often contain a mantra associated with it. Yantras are also used for purposes such as to attract harmony, peace, enhance learning and the quality of one’s life, promote healing, and more.

Though drawn in two dimensions, a yantra may represent a three dimensional sacred object. Once such example is the  2D representation of a 3D Maha Meru as shown here in the yantra image. They are made out of metal plates like copper, created on silk fabric or paper, and used for worship and meditation. Even if the yantra art enthusiast is not a meditator, it’s ok. Viewing yantra art itself works through its symbolism subtly on you and your environment infusing it with an uplifting, healing and centering energy. It helps you to connect with the center of your Being to experience more inner peace, bliss and harmony in your life.

In ancient texts, Lord Shiva is supposed to have explained the mystical meaning of the yantra to his consort Goddess Parvati.

Yantras as Meditation and Centering Device

Keeping yantra art like a Sri Yantra is an expression of the Divine Mother Goddess, or a Maha Meru image, a three dimensional representation of the universe, in your home, or on an altar, is auspicious. These images can be used for worship or as meditation and centering devices.

The Meru Chakra or Sri Chakra is a three-dimensional Shri Yantra, the embodiment of Sri Lakshmi (abundance) and Tripura Sundari (beauty).  It is the yantra of Sri Vidya, sacred knowledge of the Goddess. It can also be seen as the unification of Masculine Divine and Feminine Divine:  Shiva and Shakti, Lakshmi and Narayana, Purusha and Prakriti. It can be effectively used for correcting defects of the north (direction of health, fortune, career, and money) and northeast (energetically, the most sacred and important area of any building). When placed in the northeast, it improves the spatial energies of the whole house. Defects in the northeast and north are the most serious, so the Meru Chakra is a valuable corrective tool of Vedic yantra technology. Even if your home or office has been built according to Vastu, the Gold Meru Chakra is a great energetic blessing that enhances
the flow of vibrant energy of health and abundance.

-Sadhana.tamilelibrary.org.

Yantra and Astrology

Yantra may be used to represent the astronomical position of the planets over a given date and time. It is considered auspicious in Hindu mythology. These yantras are made up on various objects i.e. paper, precious stones, metal plates and alloys. It is believed that constantly concentrating on the representation helps to build fortunes, as planets have their peculiar gravity which governs basic emotions and karma.  These yantras are often made on a particular date and time according to rules defined in the vedas.


A mandala  bought some years ago in Puttaparthi

(I  believe it is the Dalai Lama’s Yantra, although not sure.)

Mantra

Several aspects must be distinguished in the universal vogue of the sacred formula – a vogue that, on one hand, led to the highest speculations on ‘mystical sounds,’ and on the other, to the Lamaistic prayer wheel. First of all, we must take into consideration the inevitable ’popular success’ of such a method, of the apparent ease with which salvation, or at least merit, could be gained, simply at the cost of repeating magical words, or mantras or dharanis. We shall not dwell on this popularisation and degradation of the spiritual technique; it is a familiar phenomenon in the history of religions, and, in any case, it is not its popular success that will teach us the secret of the mantra-yana. The practical value and philosophic importance of mantras rest upon two orders of facts; first, the yogic function of the phonemes used as “supports” for concentration; second and this is the peculiarly trantric contribution of the elaboration of a Gnostic system and an interiorised liturgy, through revalorisation of the archaic traditions concerning mystical sound.

The dharani, literally, ’she who upholds or encloses,’ was already employed in Vedic times as a ’support’ and ’defence’ for concentration (dharana).

Phonemes discovered during meditation probably expressed states of consciousness ‘cosmic’ in structure and hence difficult to formulate in secular terminology. Experiences of this kind were already known in the Vedic period, although the few documents by which they have been transmitted to us seldom contain more than allusions, particularly in the form of images and symbols. It is a definitely  archaic spiritual technique that here confronts us; some cosmic ecstasies of the shamans are expressed by unintelligible phonetic inventions, which sometimes result in the creation of a secret language. These are experiences, then, that are in some measure bound up with the discovery of language and that, by this ecstatic return to a primordial situation, shatter diurnal consciousness. All of the tantric yogin’s effort is expended upon reawakening this primordial consciousness and rediscovering the state of completeness that preceded language and consciousness of time. In tantrism, the tendency toward a rediscovery of language to the end of a total revalorization of secular experience is shown especially by its employment of secret vocabularies.

The unlimited efficacy of mantras is owing to the fact that they are (or at least, it correctly recited can become) the objects they represent. Each god, for example, and each degree of sanctity have a bija-mantra, a ’mystical sound,’ which is their ’seed’ their ’support; – that is, their very being. By repeating this bija-mantra in accordance with the rules, the practitioner appropriates its ontological essence, concretely and directly assimilates the god, the sate of sanctity, etc. Sometimes an entire metaphysics is concentrated in a mantra.

The entire cosmos, with all its gods, planes, and modes of being, is manifested in a certain number of mantras; the universe is sonorous, just as it is chromatic, formal, substantial etc. A mantra is a ’symbol’ in the archaic sense of the term – it is simultaneously the symbolized ’reality; and the symbolizing ’sign.

There is an occult correspondence between the mantra’s mystical letters and syllables (the mairkas, ’mother’ and the bijas, ’seeds’) and the subtle organs of the human body on the one hand and on the other, between those organs and the divine forces asleep on manifested in the cosmos. By working on the ’symbol’ one awakens all the forces that correspond to it, on the levels of being.

Excerpted from Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Willard R. Trask tr. Bollingen Series.LV1.