Buddhism in the Eastern Himalayan sector has a special significance. Tibetan Tantric Buddhism has
been introduced by Guru Padmasambhaba more than 400 years ago. The mystic
Monasteries, belonging to the different sects & sub-sects of Mahayana
Buddhism dominate the whole of Sikkim and Darjeeling Himalayas. There are
numbers of Buddhist Monasteries in this region of which 20 are very
important. Each one has its own fascinating history, generates tremendous
interest among the visitors, be it the architectural feature or the
spiritual message embedded in them. The Tantric factor has added to the
legends and to the beliefs of Lamaism (Tantric Buddhism). The Lamas here are
believed to have the power of flying from one place to another. The colors
add to mystery and so do the mask dances. Discover the culture, where only
peace prevails making this the Abode of the Gods. Our specially designed
monastery tours gives you an opportunity to know the every details accepts
of the Tantric Buddhism & the Tibetan culture of the Eastern Himalayas
while exploring the monasteries of the region.
PRELIMINARIES TO TANTRA
"Tantra activates many powerful subtle
energies in our body and mind and, if we do not have any mental training or
discipline, this excess energy will take the path of least resistance
through our negative emotions of attachment, jealousy, pride, egotism, and
so on"Lama Ganchen
intellect, indeed, detached from soul, is the death of Man. Intellect,
self-confident and isolated in arrogant complacency, does not ennoble Man.
It humiliates him, deprives him of his personality. It kills that loving
participation in the life of things and creatures of which the soul, with
its emotions and intuitions, is capable. Intellect, by itself alone, is dead
and also deadly - a principle of disintegration."
Giuseppe Tucci's "The Theory and Practice of the Mandala" -
RiderWhy are Buddhists so secretive of tantra? Tantric practice is a highly
advanced form of psycho-physical exercises in order to achieve
transformation of one's body and mind quickly into the perfected state of a
Buddha. Simply said, these methods are not without danger when used without
the proper guidance and precautions. To avoid people getting involved in
these practices without proper guidance, the practices are kept secret for
people without explicit permission to practice from a qualified teacher.
Often, teachers require disciples to do extensive practices before being
allowed any permission; more about that is written in below paragraphs on
prerequisites and preliminaries. So please keep in mind that the secrecy
around tantra is basically for safety, just like it is proper to lock a gun
away from the reach of children.
Whatever is included on these
web pages about tantra is general knowledge which is allowed for uninitiated
to read, and is intended to at least take away some misunderstandings about
MOTIVATION FOR PRACTICE: To clarify
where tantric practices fit in the Buddhist system, it may be useful to
explain a bit more about the various motivations or scopes. Traditionally,
only the "small, middle and high scope" are taught to distinguish
the various motivations for practising. Here, I would like to present a
somewhat unconventional approach, starting even below spiritual practice:
- The "Animal Scope": Wanting immediate happiness for
- The "Worldly Human Scope": Wanting immediate
happiness for oneself and others.
- The Buddhist Small Scope: Wanting
happiness for oneself in a future life.
- The Buddhist Middle Scope:
Wanting to escape the cycle of uncontrolled rebirth for oneself. (Hinayana)
- The Buddhist Great Scope: Wanting others to go beyond suffering forever
(enlightenment), and reach Buddhahood oneself to help others on their path.
- The "Buddhist Tantric Scope": Wanting others to
be happy as soon as possible, and reach Buddhahood oneself quickly to serve
A teaching from "Being Peace" by
Thitch Nhat Hahn: "A woman who practices reciting Buddha Amitabha's
name, is very tough and recites "NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA" three times
daily. Although she is doing this practice for over 10 years, she is still
quite mean, shouting at people all the time. She starts her practice
lighting incense and hitting a little bell.
A friend wanted to
teach her a lesson, and just as she began her recitation, he came to her
door and called out: "miss Nuyen, miss Nuyen!".
was the time for her practice she got annoyed, but she said to herself: "I
have to struggle against my anger, so I will just ignore it." And she
continued: "NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA, NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA..."
But the man continued to shout her name, and she became more and more
She struggled against it and wondered if she should stop
the recitation to give the man a piece of her mind, but she continued
reciting: "NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA, NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA..."
The man outside heard it and continued: "Miss Nuyen, miss
Then she could not stand it anymore, jumped up, slammed
the door and went to the gate and shouted: "Why do you have to behave
like that? I am doing my practice and you keep on shouting my name over and
The gentleman smiled at her and said: "I just
called your name for ten minutes and you are so angry. You have been calling
Amitabha Buddha's name for more then ten years now; just imagine how angry
he must be by now!"
PREREQUISITES: The following
aspects are considered prerequisites before a disciple can engage in tantric
1. Refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
2. Renunciation: a realisation is best, but a proper understanding
3. Bodhicitta: a realisation is best, but a
proper understanding is essential. For most of the initiations, it is
required to take the aspiring Bodhisattva vows or the Bodhisattva vows.
4. Emptiness: a direct realisation is best, but a proper
understanding is essential (see the page on Wisdom).
on a spiritual teacher: proper confidence in a teacher and verifying
his/her qualifications is essential.
6. Empowerment or
initiation: without this ceremonial permission to practice by a qualified
teacher, tantric practice is improper.
7. Tantric vows: for
the higher tantric classes, one needs to take tantric vows. These vows are
secret to the uninitiated, so students need to take 'a leap of faith' and
trust the teacher and the practice before taking them. <br>
Faith/confidence: solid confidence both in the teacher and the
teachings is essential to avoid serious karmic problems when doubts arise.
'Blind faith' will generally not have the power to pull someone through when
things are difficult.
The only proper motivation to practice
tantra is bodhicitta, or the wish to become fully enlightened in order to
help all sentient beings. This is the reason why at least an understanding
of bodhicitta is essential prior to engaging in tantric practice. To enforce
this motivation, usually, an extra prerequisite is taking either the
Aspirational Vows or the full Bodhisattva Vows.
Next, at least
some understanding of the philosophy of emptiness is essential for tantric
practice, as this is the basic mental state in which tantric practice
becomes more than just ritual or strange practice of imagination.
Ideally, a tantric practitioner should have full realisations of
bodhicitta and emptiness instead of merely a conceptual understanding. In
that case, tantric practice can guide one very swiftly to the state of
PRELIMINARY PRACTICES: Many teachers
(depending on the specific school) require one to engage in the so-called
preliminary practices before giving initiation to disciples.
preliminary practices traditionally consist of:
- Making 100,000
mandala offerings to generate merit by generosity
100,000 refuge prayers (to increase one's confidence
Reciting 100,000 Vajrasattva mantras to purify obstacles
Making 100,000 prostrations to counteract pride
on the teacher and the disciple, other practices are sometimes given:
- Offering 100,000 water-bowls.
- Reciting 100,000 Guru's
name mantras: Guru-yoga, to generate confidence and establish a deeper
relationship with the teacher.
- Making 100,000 clay images or 'tsa-tsas'
- Reciting 100,000 Samayavajra mantras (somewhat
similar to Vajrasattva)
- Making 100,000 fire offerings to
Vajra Daka (Dorje Khadro).
Not only are these excellent methods
to accumulate the necessary positive energy (karma) to have success in the
practice, but they also help in the purification of obstacles to the