El·e·na [el-uh-nuh, uh-ley-nuh; It. e-le-nah] /ˈɛlənə, əˈleɪnə; It. ɛˈlɛnɑ/ –noun a female given name, form of Helen // A proud student of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche // Personal assistant with a BSc (Hons) Psych from Uni of Warwick // These are snapshots of my life, in words and pictures

Tantra is a Trip

August 29, 2015 0

To the uninformed (or the misinformed?), tantra is a badge of pride meant to be worn loud and proud on your chest – “See? I got such and such initiation.” So these days, you will find some practitioners running from one teacher to another, gathering as many practices as they can.

Yes, due to the nature of the object of refuge, one can argue that these initiations are a blessing, planting seeds of enlightenment in the practitioners’ mindstreams to fruition in future lifetimes.

However, for those who know better, yet still attend initiations for reasons other than blessings, examine their behavior – do they become kinder after receiving initiation? Do they become more skilful in their actions, more patient, more generous? Or are they still angersome, still jealous, still cutting with their speech? Are they still sneaky, still manipulative, still lying?

Their behavior will be a reflection of their practice because in their behavior, you will see if their practice has made a difference to their mind.

BAM. Neuropsychology 101. (No, seriously though. The first lesson we learned in our Neuropsych class is that human behavior is a manifestation of what’s going on in our brain and nervous system.)

So if the person is the same before and after they have received a tantric initiation, is it the fault of the teachings or the responsibility of the practitioner? If it is the fault of the teachings, then all practitioners should have the same result – failure. If it is the responsibility of the practitioner, then the results will vary across people because it is dependent on their commitment and practice.

These masters show that tantra, when practiced with the correct motivation, definitely delivers results. So it can’t be the fault of the teachings…

If we aspire to practice tantra, it is important to understand what the practice entails, what commitments we need to keep, and our responsibility as spiritual practitioners with higher aspirations. Until then, Rinpoche encourages us to stick to the Lamrim (which in itself is infinitely profound) and the preliminary practices (ngondro), to build a solid foundation for our practice.

Ultimately, as Rinpoche explained, a real practitioner will see no difference between the Lamrim and tantra; they will not see the Lamrim as inherently inferior and tantra as inherently superior, because in practicing tantra they know they are practicing the Lamrim simultaneously. Can you practice tantra without practicing the Three Principle Paths? Can you practice tantra without any kind of mind transformation (lojong) teachings? It is those who see a difference between tantra and the Lamrim that we have to be careful of when they encourage us to join them in receiving initiation upon initiation.

So are we stuck on the preliminary practices forever? Can the preliminary practices lead to the higher practices and if so, how? Tsem Rinpoche explains all in this super trippy video:

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Reflections and Teachings, Tsem Rinpoche

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