A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

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Malcolm
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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Malcolm » Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:32 pm

TrimePema wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:27 am

Can you explain how a non-arya bodhisattva of limited range actually benefits beings in the same way a less limited, arya bodhisattva benefits beings?
If a common bodhisattva has a more limited range than an āryabodhisattva, it stands to reason they cannot immediately benefit as many sentient beings, right?

On the other hand, a first stage bodhisattva has a limited range compared with a tenth stage bodhisattva as well.

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by LolCat » Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:21 pm

Would it matter that non-arya Bodhisattvas may be very afflicted, does the force of the Bodhisattva aspiration ensure beings are benefited even if they don't consciously intend it?
I can imagine Arya Bodhisattvas having powers like clairvoyance which would help them know what sentient beings need, but isn't it possible for non-arya Bodhisattvas to screw things up, even if they may have the best of intentions(and at other times perhaps not even that).

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Jangchup Donden
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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Jangchup Donden » Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:41 pm

LolCat wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:21 pm
Would it matter that non-arya Bodhisattvas may be very afflicted, does the force of the Bodhisattva aspiration ensure beings are benefited even if they don't consciously intend it?
I can imagine Arya Bodhisattvas having powers like clairvoyance which would help them know what sentient beings need, but isn't it possible for non-arya Bodhisattvas to screw things up, even if they may have the best of intentions(and at other times perhaps not even that).
Well if you think of it on a long enough timescale, even if I'm going around today being an ass, I'm still forming connections with other sentient beings (good or bad) who I will liberate in the future due to my aspiration to achieve Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings.

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by LolCat » Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:57 pm

Jangchup Donden wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:41 pm
LolCat wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:21 pm
Would it matter that non-arya Bodhisattvas may be very afflicted, does the force of the Bodhisattva aspiration ensure beings are benefited even if they don't consciously intend it?
I can imagine Arya Bodhisattvas having powers like clairvoyance which would help them know what sentient beings need, but isn't it possible for non-arya Bodhisattvas to screw things up, even if they may have the best of intentions(and at other times perhaps not even that).
Well if you think of it on a long enough timescale, even if I'm going around today being an ass, I'm still forming connections with other sentient beings (good or bad) who I will liberate in the future due to my aspiration to achieve Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings.
Makes sense, thank you. My idea of benefitting beings was too narrow.

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Jangchup Donden
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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Jangchup Donden » Tue Nov 20, 2018 5:28 pm

LolCat wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:57 pm
Jangchup Donden wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:41 pm
LolCat wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:21 pm
Would it matter that non-arya Bodhisattvas may be very afflicted, does the force of the Bodhisattva aspiration ensure beings are benefited even if they don't consciously intend it?
I can imagine Arya Bodhisattvas having powers like clairvoyance which would help them know what sentient beings need, but isn't it possible for non-arya Bodhisattvas to screw things up, even if they may have the best of intentions(and at other times perhaps not even that).
Well if you think of it on a long enough timescale, even if I'm going around today being an ass, I'm still forming connections with other sentient beings (good or bad) who I will liberate in the future due to my aspiration to achieve Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings.
Makes sense, thank you. My idea of benefitting beings was too narrow.
Also, if said person is reciting a mantra daily (e.g. om mani padme hung) then simply having contact with them brings benefit:

https://fpmt.org/education/teachings/la ... padme-hum/

Malcolm
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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Malcolm » Tue Nov 20, 2018 5:41 pm

LolCat wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:21 pm
Would it matter that non-arya Bodhisattvas may be very afflicted, does the force of the Bodhisattva aspiration ensure beings are benefited even if they don't consciously intend it?
I can imagine Arya Bodhisattvas having powers like clairvoyance which would help them know what sentient beings need, but isn't it possible for non-arya Bodhisattvas to screw things up, even if they may have the best of intentions(and at other times perhaps not even that).
This is very far off the point of the original topic, however, the Mahāyāna bodhicitta is based on compassionate intention. As ordinary bodhisattvas, we do our best.

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by TrimePema » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:08 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:32 pm
TrimePema wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:27 am

Can you explain how a non-arya bodhisattva of limited range actually benefits beings in the same way a less limited, arya bodhisattva benefits beings?
If a common bodhisattva has a more limited range than an āryabodhisattva, it stands to reason they cannot immediately benefit as many sentient beings, right?

On the other hand, a first stage bodhisattva has a limited range compared with a tenth stage bodhisattva as well.
I understand what you are saying, Lopon. I am asking about the specific mechanics by which one can prove that a non-arya bodhisattva is already engaged in the same caliber of benefit to any given sentient being as an arya bodhisattva is but with less range. Here speaking of let's say only one subject of benefit.
I am asking this question regarding what I said earlier - that in order to benefit sentient beings as a bodhisattva one must really first attain at least the first bhumi (but now I think, after having read all of your responses, that I was mistaken and I really should have said the 8th bhumi). That being said, with regards to OP post, what I really want to say is that if one is truly engaged in the path and has developed bodhichitta, it would naturally follow that one would search for the quickest path, which would be Vajrayana, and more specifically Ati.

I hope this is sufficient to prod you to offer a more substantive answer. I really don't have any training as you have said so I want to clarify my own view.

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Caoimhghín » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:11 pm

So from this thread I gather that tantrikāḥ believe that they have received abhiṣeka from the 10-directional Buddhas. This is the same abhiṣeka that "common-path" (or whatever the appropriate term here is) bodhisattvāḥ receive at the close of the 10th bodhisattvabhūmi. This abhiṣeka takes place in ākaniṣṭagandavyūha.

By question is: what does this mythic story of receiving abhiṣeka from the 10-directional Buddhas at the culmination of your bodhisattvayāna practice even mean in this new context? You already have the highest ordination that exists, if you believe in your empowerment. To quote the words of a certain tīrthika: tvāmamareśvarasyābhiṣiktapūtraḥ, you are the deathless lord's anointed son.

I'm not knocking it, I am obviously a little bit personally skeptical of such a grand place in the cosmos, once again, tvāmamareśvarasyābhiṣiktapūtraḥ, but most religions set themselves up so that their practitioners are part of a special club of some sort. If you actually read into the theology surrounding baptism, for instance, it is quite an extraordinary claim being made, in the context of that cosmology, about a simple pouring of water. That the guru's hands can be the 10-directional Buddhas is no less extraordinary.

The special bodhisattva club amongst the śrāvaka practitioners was the first example, and as Malcolm said earlier:
These polemics are built into Vajrayāna just as Mahāyāna has built in polemics with regards to Hinayāna.
So I'm not knocking it despite my reservations about ever wanting to claim something so grand about myself. I could not handle that. It would give me a big head.
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

Malcolm
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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Malcolm » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:57 pm

TrimePema wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:08 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:32 pm
TrimePema wrote:
Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:27 am

Can you explain how a non-arya bodhisattva of limited range actually benefits beings in the same way a less limited, arya bodhisattva benefits beings?
If a common bodhisattva has a more limited range than an āryabodhisattva, it stands to reason they cannot immediately benefit as many sentient beings, right?

On the other hand, a first stage bodhisattva has a limited range compared with a tenth stage bodhisattva as well.
I understand what you are saying, Lopon. I am asking about the specific mechanics by which one can prove that a non-arya bodhisattva is already engaged in the same caliber of benefit to any given sentient being as an arya bodhisattva is but with less range. Here speaking of let's say only one subject of benefit.

I am asking this question regarding what I said earlier - that in order to benefit sentient beings as a bodhisattva one must really first attain at least the first bhumi (but now I think, after having read all of your responses, that I was mistaken and I really should have said the 8th bhumi).
Well, if there is no ārya bodhisattva around, but there is someone who wants to hear the dharma, and there is a regular guy named joe who has some understanding of Mahāyāna, and give an explanation, who is benefitting that being more? An absent ārya bodhisattva or a present common bodhisattva name joe?

And what is meant here by benefit? The only truly beneficial things Buddhas and bodhisattvas do is demonstrate the path. Of the three kinds of giving, the gift of Dharma is the most meaningful. Of course, giving material gifts to the needy and protection to the fearful is beneficial, but the most profound generosity is the gift of Dharma.

One might not be an ārya bodhisattva, but if one can bestow the gift of Dharma, the benefit of this gift is truly inconceivable, and it really does not matter whether you are an awakened bodhisattva or not. You never know if the person to whom you bestow the gift of Dharma won't manifest high level of realization.

The aspiration to attain full buddhahood itself is of inconceivable benefit from the point of view of the cause. It is the cause of all benefit in samsara. Therefore, even the aspiration of a common person to full buddhahood is inconceivably beneficial to all sentient beings, far more profound than the awakening of an arhat or pratyekabuddha.

The idea that one can only benefit sentient beings as a first or an 8th stage bodhisattva is therefore erroneous.

Shantideva says in The Way of the Bodhisattva 1:9:

Should bodhicitta come to birth
In those who suffer, chained in the prison of samsara,
in that instant they are called Children of the Blissful One,
revered by all the world, the gods, and humankind...


Shantideva also mentions that of course the bodhicitta of aspiration itself is not sufficient, one needs to have engaged bodhicitta as well. And here, in 1:17-19, he says:

From bodhicitta in intention,
Great results arise for those still turning in the wheel of life;
But merit does not arise from it in ceaseless streams
As is the case for active bodhicitta.

For when, with irreversible intent
the mind embraces bodhicitta,
Willing to set free the endless multitude of beings,
In that instant, from that moment on,

A great and unremitting stream,
A strength of wholesome merit,
even during sleep and inattention,
Rises equal to the vastness of the sky.
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Malcolm
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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Malcolm » Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:10 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:11 pm
So from this thread I gather that tantrikāḥ believe that they have received abhiṣeka from the 10-directional Buddhas. This is the same abhiṣeka that "common-path" (or whatever the appropriate term here is) bodhisattvāḥ receive at the close of the 10th bodhisattvabhūmi. This abhiṣeka takes place in ākaniṣṭagandavyūha.
Well, Vajrayāna is called the result vehicle, because it takes the result as the path. When one enters into any mandala, one is entering into the mandala of Ākaniṣṭa Ghanavyūha (not gaṇḍavyuha, common error here), and one receives the empowerment there, from the guru who embodies the buddhas of the ten directions.
By question is: what does this mythic story of receiving abhiṣeka from the 10-directional Buddhas at the culmination of your bodhisattvayāna practice even mean in this new context? You already have the highest ordination that exists, if you believe in your empowerment.
The point of empowerment is to wake up. If you don't wake up during the empowerment, then you have a sadhana to practice. In that sadhana, you continue to take gather the two accumulations, take empowerment, and so on. And yes, one has received the highest ordination that exists, in this very life, rather than the long, slow, brutal, path of the common Mahāyāna.

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:47 pm

I do recall H H the Dalai Lama saying:
superior Bodhisattvas, who have attained the path of seeing, are not reborn through the force of their karma and destructive emotions, but due to the power of their compassion for sentient beings and based on their prayers to benefit others. They are able to choose their place and time of birth as well as their future parents. Such a rebirth, which is solely for the benefit of others, is rebirth through the force of compassion and prayer.
:namaste:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by TrimePema » Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:56 am

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:57 pm
TrimePema wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:08 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:32 pm


If a common bodhisattva has a more limited range than an āryabodhisattva, it stands to reason they cannot immediately benefit as many sentient beings, right?

On the other hand, a first stage bodhisattva has a limited range compared with a tenth stage bodhisattva as well.
I understand what you are saying, Lopon. I am asking about the specific mechanics by which one can prove that a non-arya bodhisattva is already engaged in the same caliber of benefit to any given sentient being as an arya bodhisattva is but with less range. Here speaking of let's say only one subject of benefit.

I am asking this question regarding what I said earlier - that in order to benefit sentient beings as a bodhisattva one must really first attain at least the first bhumi (but now I think, after having read all of your responses, that I was mistaken and I really should have said the 8th bhumi).
Well, if there is no ārya bodhisattva around, but there is someone who wants to hear the dharma, and there is a regular guy named joe who has some understanding of Mahāyāna, and give an explanation, who is benefitting that being more? An absent ārya bodhisattva or a present common bodhisattva name joe?

And what is meant here by benefit? The only truly beneficial things Buddhas and bodhisattvas do is demonstrate the path. Of the three kinds of giving, the gift of Dharma is the most meaningful. Of course, giving material gifts to the needy and protection to the fearful is beneficial, but the most profound generosity is the gift of Dharma.

One might not be an ārya bodhisattva, but if one can bestow the gift of Dharma, the benefit of this gift is truly inconceivable, and it really does not matter whether you are an awakened bodhisattva or not. You never know if the person to whom you bestow the gift of Dharma won't manifest high level of realization.

The aspiration to attain full buddhahood itself is of inconceivable benefit from the point of view of the cause. It is the cause of all benefit in samsara. Therefore, even the aspiration of a common person to full buddhahood is inconceivably beneficial to all sentient beings, far more profound than the awakening of an arhat or pratyekabuddha.

The idea that one can only benefit sentient beings as a first or an 8th stage bodhisattva is therefore erroneous.

Shantideva says in The Way of the Bodhisattva 1:9:

Should bodhicitta come to birth
In those who suffer, chained in the prison of samsara,
in that instant they are called Children of the Blissful One,
revered by all the world, the gods, and humankind...


Shantideva also mentions that of course the bodhicitta of aspiration itself is not sufficient, one needs to have engaged bodhicitta as well. And here, in 1:17-19, he says:

From bodhicitta in intention,
Great results arise for those still turning in the wheel of life;
But merit does not arise from it in ceaseless streams
As is the case for active bodhicitta.

For when, with irreversible intent
the mind embraces bodhicitta,
Willing to set free the endless multitude of beings,
In that instant, from that moment on,

A great and unremitting stream,
A strength of wholesome merit,
even during sleep and inattention,
Rises equal to the vastness of the sky.
Thank you. This is really wonderful.

Does it follow then that an arya bodhisattva benefits sentient beings similarly to a non-arya bodhisattva but any given instance of their activities are 100x, 1000x, etc more inconceivably beneficial? Since at the very least, not considering any siddhi like knowing the karma of others and being able to teach directly according to the needs of any being, an arya being can display the path 100 or 1000 (etc) more times than a non-arya bodhisattva?

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Jangchup Donden » Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:26 am

TrimePema wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:56 am
Thank you. This is really wonderful.

Does it follow then that an arya bodhisattva benefits sentient beings similarly to a non-arya bodhisattva but any given instance of their activities are 100x, 1000x, etc more inconceivably beneficial? Since at the very least, not considering any siddhi like knowing the karma of others and being able to teach directly according to the needs of any being, an arya being can display the path 100 or 1000 (etc) more times than a non-arya bodhisattva?
Well given that an arya has had a glimpse of emptiness, the activity they're able to engage in is greater. For example, a non-arya probably cannot give up limbs or their life without regret or selfishness, which limits its benefit. That would not be a problem for an arya. Also, a non-arya can't dedicate merit of those actions in the same manner as an arya (except through emulation) because they haven't realized emptiness.

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by pael » Wed Nov 21, 2018 11:56 am

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:57 pm
The aspiration to attain full buddhahood itself is of inconceivable benefit from the point of view of the cause. It is the cause of all benefit in samsara.
Is it only cause of benefit?
May all beings be free from suffering and causes of suffering

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by MiphamFan » Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:05 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:29 pm
MiphamFan wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:45 am
Malcolm wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:17 pm


Ngondro practice, refuge, bodhicitta, Vajrasattva, Mandala offerings, and Guru Yoga. One does not really need any other practices.
Where would shamatha fit in?
In Vajrayāna, sadhana recitation is śamatha.

Here, specifically, after the dissolution of the refuge field, Vajrasattva, or taking empowerment from the guru, one rests in the nature of mind.
Right now I'm doing sun salutations and mentally reciting the refuge verses. Do you think that's OK or should I try to sound out? Seems a bit difficult though.

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Wed Nov 21, 2018 3:54 pm

pael wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 11:56 am
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:57 pm
The aspiration to attain full buddhahood itself is of inconceivable benefit from the point of view of the cause. It is the cause of all benefit in samsara.
Is it only cause of benefit?
Imo,

Yes if for happiness you mean the happiness of not being ignorant of reality any more. The happines of dharma.

No if for happiness you mean the happiness one can attain always circumstantially in samsara, even causes of happiness can also indirectly causes suffering.

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Malcolm » Wed Nov 21, 2018 5:21 pm

MiphamFan wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 1:05 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:29 pm
MiphamFan wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:45 am


Where would shamatha fit in?
In Vajrayāna, sadhana recitation is śamatha.

Here, specifically, after the dissolution of the refuge field, Vajrasattva, or taking empowerment from the guru, one rests in the nature of mind.
Right now I'm doing sun salutations and mentally reciting the refuge verses. Do you think that's OK or should I try to sound out? Seems a bit difficult though.
You recite the verses of refuge at the top, then do the prostration.

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by TrimePema » Wed Nov 21, 2018 7:40 pm

Jangchup Donden wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:26 am
TrimePema wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:56 am
Thank you. This is really wonderful.

Does it follow then that an arya bodhisattva benefits sentient beings similarly to a non-arya bodhisattva but any given instance of their activities are 100x, 1000x, etc more inconceivably beneficial? Since at the very least, not considering any siddhi like knowing the karma of others and being able to teach directly according to the needs of any being, an arya being can display the path 100 or 1000 (etc) more times than a non-arya bodhisattva?
Well given that an arya has had a glimpse of emptiness, the activity they're able to engage in is greater. For example, a non-arya probably cannot give up limbs or their life without regret or selfishness, which limits its benefit. That would not be a problem for an arya. Also, a non-arya can't dedicate merit of those actions in the same manner as an arya (except through emulation) because they haven't realized emptiness.
So a common mahayanika cannot benefit beings in any way that is close to the ways in which an arya bodhisattva can? In that case, wouldn't a common mahaniyaka would be best served using this lifetime practicing the swiftest path to enlightenment?

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Re: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Caoimhghín » Wed Nov 21, 2018 11:24 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 7:10 pm
If you don't wake up during the empowerment, then you have a sadhana to practice. In that sadhana, you continue to take gather the two accumulations, take empowerment, and so on.
In your experience and/or opinion, how common is it to quote-on-quote "not wake up" during empowerment?

Also, for those who are not mantrayanikāḥ, what are these sādhanāni and what, in your opinion, are some good internet resources for learning about them?

Is it appropriate for you to discuss your own sādhanāni as an example? Or is it rather that you would not like to discuss your practice in public? It both? As a more general question, what would you consider a "normative" sādhana? Please note these questions come from a position of complete ignorance with regards to Vajrayāna.

I would also like to thank the OP, avatar being Anders, for making this thread. I am another "common" Mahāyānika who would like to learn from this, to me, "alternative" perspective, but I myself could not think of a way to ask, unlike the aforesaid and thanked OP.
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: A request to explain Vajrayana to a common Mahayanika

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Nov 21, 2018 11:54 pm

You might wanna read some of the (relatively accessible) books recommended earlier. There innumerable non- academic books out there with ( for instance )explanations of creation and completion stages, categories of tantra, etc.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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