Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

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thomaslaw
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Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Tue May 14, 2019 3:10 am

Dear Dharma friends,

I have noticed that the sexual intercourse image clearly presented in the Kalachakra deity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalachakra) in the Tantric Buddhism. The followers actually get involved in 'sexual intercourse' during the process of Kalachakra practice. It is surrounded by mystical and magical rituals, and includes the union of male and female yogic practitioners. Tantric deities in yab-yum (meaning: union of compassion and wisdom) are presented. A master would lead the initiated person to meditate through secret rituals with the hope to reach enlightenment quickly. Why such a practice is able to become an essential part of Buddhist tradition?

Kind regards,
Thomas

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Wayfarer
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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by Wayfarer » Tue May 14, 2019 4:50 am

I am not a Vajrayana initiate, but from my general knowledge, I think it is fair to say that the depiction of sexual acts in Tantric traditions (not only Buddhist) is easily misunderstood.

I've searched for some useful introductory writings on the topic, and one I have found is Alexander Berzin's article on Tantric Imagery (although there is also a wealth of other books and resources available on the topic.)

One point that Berzin makes is that 'Misunderstanding about tantra...is a perennial problem. The reason for tantra's insistence on secrecy about its teachings and images is to avoid such misconceptions, not to hide something perverse. Only those with sufficient preparation in study and meditation have the background to understand tantra within its proper context.'

This is the reason why the details of Tantric practices are revealed only to initiates, as I understand it. (Perhaps some of those who are, would like to comment, or to advise on the suitability of this topic of discussion.)
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by Miroku » Tue May 14, 2019 8:25 am

thomaslaw wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 3:10 am
Dear Dharma friends,

I have noticed that the sexual intercourse image clearly presented in the Kalachakra deity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalachakra) in the Tantric Buddhism. The followers actually get involved in 'sexual intercourse' during the process of Kalachakra practice. It is surrounded by mystical and magical rituals, and includes the union of male and female yogic practitioners. Tantric deities in yab-yum (meaning: union of compassion and wisdom) are presented. A master would lead the initiated person to meditate through secret rituals with the hope to reach enlightenment quickly. Why such a practice is able to become an essential part of Buddhist tradition?

Kind regards,
Thomas
Sexual intercourse is a way how to practice, but one that is very rare. Not many practitioners can actually do it. So usually just the visualisation yab/yum is enough. Like seriously, tantra is no longer that secret and not many people do the whole sex thing (that is really just a small amount of the entire tradition like 1% the rest can be done without it). And it is part of Buddhist tradition because it was taught by Buddha Shakyamuni.
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.
~ Khunu Lama Rinpoche

Even non-buddhists have many virtuous accomplishments
~ Jigten Sumgon

smcj
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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by smcj » Tue May 14, 2019 11:04 am

As an oversimplification, the female deity represents enlightened knowing, and the male deity enlightened doing. They are two sides of the same coin. So they are shown in “union”.

The vajra & bell also represent Wisdom and Skillful means, but you don’t get as big a response to those symbols. People react to sexual images. Dorje & bell—not so much.

There’s more to it, but that’s a start.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by SunWuKong » Wed May 15, 2019 5:15 pm

Personally I've never had a problem with the understanding that there are 5 skandhas, that are subject to male, female, conception, birth, death (some may remember the opening graphic of the Ben Casey show). The idea that YabYum imagery or what it depicts is somehow less sacred than other iconography escapes me. Sorry if my lack of sympathy for your view offends you.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by conebeckham » Thu May 16, 2019 1:36 am

thomaslaw wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 3:10 am
Dear Dharma friends,

I have noticed that the sexual intercourse image clearly presented in the Kalachakra deity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalachakra) in the Tantric Buddhism. The followers actually get involved in 'sexual intercourse' during the process of Kalachakra practice. It is surrounded by mystical and magical rituals, and includes the union of male and female yogic practitioners. Tantric deities in yab-yum (meaning: union of compassion and wisdom) are presented. A master would lead the initiated person to meditate through secret rituals with the hope to reach enlightenment quickly. Why such a practice is able to become an essential part of Buddhist tradition?

Kind regards,
Thomas

Hi, Thomas. A question in response: Why shouldn't such practices become part of Buddhist tradition?

This is rhetorical--you needn't provide an answer.

Vajrayana Buddhism does include techniques that deal with "sex," or "Sexual energy" as well as Desire, etc. In Vajrayana Buddhism we talk of poisons as methods, or of transformation of poisons, etc. There is powerful energy in desire, and in sexual activity, and this energy can be harnessed for purposes of transcendence. But these are very advanced practices, honestly, and they require years of diligent preparation.

Kalacakra is just one Tantric system, and what we call "Completion Stage practices" that involve so-called "sex" are common to many tantric systems, in fact. Modern people often have two distinct reactions: one sort of person is disgusted or disturbed because these activities are seen as "base," or "immoral," "Dirty," etc. The other sort of person equates regular old sexual activity with the Vajrayana practices of the so-called "lower doors," and decides that their own sexual activity is somehow a manifestation of enlightenment or a great "meditation." Either of these attitudes won't allow you to practice the Vajrayana, frankly, even if you are never going to be instructed into such Completion Stage practices.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by Konchog1 » Thu May 16, 2019 7:09 am

“Qualm: You may wonder, “Well then, what about the need to utilize alcohol and women [that is taught in the tantras]?”
Response: This permission is given to those lion-like beings who have attained control over the exalted wisdom. This is not permission given to all Mantra practitioners.”
-The Essence of the Vast and Profound pg. 421
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by Caoimhghín » Sat May 18, 2019 8:43 pm

thomaslaw wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 3:10 am
Why such a practice is able to become an essential part of Buddhist tradition?
It's not an essential part of Buddhist tradition. If it was an essential part of Buddhist tradition, all Buddhist tradition would incorporate it. That's what 'essential' means to me, at least.
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by smcj » Sun May 19, 2019 1:28 am

HHDL has given that initiation many times. Not only has he not instructed others to engage in sexual activity, to the best of my knowledge he has never done so himself. Or if he has it been kept secret.

The founder of the Gelugpas, Tsongkhapa, eschewed consort practice. Not because it was un-Dharmic, but because other people would misunderstand and think he was having sex. Which is the same misunderstanding this thread is based on.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

crazy-man
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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by crazy-man » Sun May 19, 2019 9:03 am

Relying on a Sealing Partner
In order to make primordial simultaneously arising clear light mind fully and completely manifest, we must totally stop or cease all coarser levels of energy-wind and mind. In order to stop the coarser levels of energy-wind and mind from predominating, we need to generate a greatly blissful deep awareness. To generate a blissful awareness that is sufficiently intense and powerful to accomplish these aims, it is necessary for most persons to rely on a mudra, a sealing physical partner. The reason why the central Buddha-forms in the mandalas and symbolic universes of the anuttarayoga tantra class are mostly in the aspect of a father and mother couple is to indicate this necessity.
There is a great difference between relying on a sealing partner with full awareness that doing so is solely to provide the circumstance and source for developing a greatly blissful awareness to be used for the above purposes, and relying on one as a pathway of practice in the manner of a trespasser. Therefore, only especially well-qualified practitioners well-advanced on anuttarayoga tantra’s complete stage, who have trained in the practices of the subtle energy-channels and winds and who have gained mastery over them, are permitted to practice with an actual, physical karmamudra, a sealing partner for their behavior. Because they have gained full mastery over their energy-winds and channels, such practitioners never have the danger of experiencing the ordinary bliss of orgasmic emission that would either prevent or destroy their generation of a greatly blissful deep awareness. They are merely using their external and Vajra-bodies as a mechanical device to intensive the blissful awareness of voidness they have already achieved.
Before we have reached this advanced level of accomplishment, we are permitted to practice only with a visualized jnanamudra, a sealing partner for deep awareness. In An Ornament for “The Stainless Light” [Commentary on “The Abbreviated Kalachakra Tantra”] Kaydrub Norzang-gyatso has explained that, for practitioners of especially sharp faculties, relying on a visualized jnanamudra partner can also serve as a method for generating a greatly blissful awareness strong enough to dissolve at the center of the heart chakra all the energy-winds that are the most difficult to dissolve so that the clear light mind becomes totally and completely manifest. Thus it is not absolutely mandatory to rely on a physical karmamudra partner.
But regardless of our level of realization and whether we are practicing with a visualized jnanamudra partner or a physical karmamudra one, it is extremely essential to keep the purpose in mind and never practice without the three types of discernment or recognition. In order to block the mind’s ordinary appearance-making and apprehension of true and inherent existence, we visualize ourselves and our partner in the aspect of Buddha-forms made to appear by a mind blissfully aware of voidness. We discern our speech as the expression of clear light mind of inseparable bliss and voidness, symbolized by the seed syllables from which the appearance of our sexual organs arises in a purified form and with which they are “crowned” or marked. Furthermore, we understand our mind as always being a primordial clear light mind that arises simultaneously with each moment as a blissful awareness that is inseparable from also being a discriminating awareness of voidness. These are extremely important points that render reliance on a visualized or physical sealing partner into a skillful method on the path. Such reliance generates a deeply blissful awareness that acts as a circumstance for blocking the coarser levels of energy-wind and mind and making manifest clear light mind so that this clear light mind can be generated as a greatly blissful deep awareness of voidness. Only such awareness can eliminate the obstacles preventing liberation all at once and only such awareness can remove the obstacles preventing omniscience. To rely on a sealing partner as a method of practice without these three types of discernment is a transgression of the tantric vows.
– HH Dalai Lama, translated by Alexander Berzin, 1997; The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra; Snow Lion Publications; pp. 254-255
https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2 ... alai-lama/

smcj
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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by smcj » Sun May 19, 2019 11:39 am

Yep. Correct.

:bow: :namaste:
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

thomaslaw
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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Mon May 20, 2019 1:42 am

crazy-man wrote:
Sun May 19, 2019 9:03 am
Relying on a Sealing Partner
... Because they have gained full mastery over their energy-winds and channels, such practitioners never have the danger of experiencing the ordinary bliss of orgasmic emission that would either prevent or destroy their generation of a greatly blissful deep awareness. They are merely using their external and Vajra-bodies as a mechanical device to intensive the blissful awareness of voidness they have already achieved ... Only such awareness can eliminate the obstacles preventing liberation all at once and only such awareness can remove the obstacles preventing omniscience. To rely on a sealing partner as a method of practice without these three types of discernment is a transgression of the tantric vows.
– HH Dalai Lama, translated by Alexander Berzin, 1997; The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra; Snow Lion Publications; pp. 254-255
https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2 ... alai-lama/
Yes, the practice is clearly presented in sexual intercourse as a mechanical device to "intensive" the blissful awareness of voidness. It stresses the importance of the feminine and utilises the forms of sexual yoga.

thomaslaw
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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Tue May 21, 2019 1:50 am

smcj wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 5:04 pm
Read it slowly & try to digest it.
My understanding of it is that consort practice and "sex" are mutually exclusive.
Could you please explain?

Consort practice (as presented in the Tantric Buddhist tradition) clearly refers to both the physical and mental contact with the opposite sex (it seems never mentioning with the same sex). So, consort practice and sex are certainly not mutually exclusive. Note: Sex here does not mean just ejaculation-orgasm; it has a peaceful intension in the consort practice.

A question is needed to consider carefully for academic discussion: What is the purpose in the Buddhist tradition for that consort practice, the union of yab-yum?

smcj
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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by smcj » Tue May 21, 2019 4:22 am

Consort practice (as presented in the Tantric Buddhist tradition) clearly refers to both the physical and mental contact with the opposite sex
Correct. However consort practice is not sex.

The analogy I was taught is that stabbing someone with a knife is violence. However a surgeon also will cut someone with a knife and it is absolutely not violence—even though a primitive person might not grasp the difference.

I’m that analogy, people that can’t imagine that kind of physical contact between the sexes being anything other than sex are tha ignorant primitives.

Sex produces babies and anyone can do it.

Consort practice produces liberation and only advanced yogis can even attempt it. If you read HHDL’s description you’ll see he talks about yogic accomplishments. “Generating the bliss of emptiness” is meaningless to us. However a much more nuts & bolts accomplishment is the ability to use your penis like a straw and ingest a bowl of milk that way.

So if you can do that it’s possible your yogic attainments are good enough to try doing something even stranger with your penis—like practice Dharma.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

thomaslaw
Posts: 115
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Location: Australia

Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by thomaslaw » Tue May 21, 2019 6:02 am

smcj wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 4:22 am
Consort practice (as presented in the Tantric Buddhist tradition) clearly refers to both the physical and mental contact with the opposite sex
Correct. However consort practice is not sex.

The analogy I was taught is that stabbing someone with a knife is violence. However a surgeon also will cut someone with a knife and it is absolutely not violence—even though a primitive person might not grasp the difference.

I’m that analogy, people that can’t imagine that kind of physical contact between the sexes being anything other than sex are tha ignorant primitives.

Sex produces babies and anyone can do it.

Consort practice produces liberation and only advanced yogis can even attempt it. If you read HHDL’s description you’ll see he talks about yogic accomplishments. “Generating the bliss of emptiness” is meaningless to us. However a much more nuts & bolts accomplishment is the ability to use your penis like a straw and ingest a bowl of milk that way.

So if you can do that it’s possible your yogic attainments are good enough to try doing something even stranger with your penis—like practice Dharma.
It seems the consort practice in the tradition does not produce babies. It produces liberation of a very good sex (without producing babies), which is called union of compassion and wisdom (yab-yum), the bliss of emptiness.

smcj
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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by smcj » Tue May 21, 2019 1:31 pm

It produces liberation of a very good sex
Nope. If you’re having”good sex” you’re not doing consort practice.
HHDL wrote:Such reliance generates a deeply blissful awareness that acts as a circumstance for blocking the coarser levels of energy-wind and mind and making manifest clear light mind so that this clear light mind can be generated as a greatly blissful deep awareness of voidness.
The bolder part refers to excluding what normal people think of as “sexual”. At least that’s the way my Gelug lama put it. Nyingmapas may not agree. But since we’re referencing HHDL anyway then it’s appropriate. Although I’ll say HHDL’s fancy language isn’t clear enough for the common reader.
HHDL wrote:Because they have gained full mastery over their energy-winds and channels...
But like I said, unless you can drink liquids through your penis you aren’t qualified to even attempt it.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Miroku
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Re: Kalachakra deity, Tantric Buddhism

Post by Miroku » Tue May 21, 2019 4:47 pm

The thread has been gone through and will stay locked as this topic is a controversial one and there is a suspicion around the motive behind this thread.
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.
~ Khunu Lama Rinpoche

Even non-buddhists have many virtuous accomplishments
~ Jigten Sumgon

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