Tantric Practice in Cultivation
Dharma of Tantra Buddhism
The profound mystical Dharma of Tantra Buddhism is to coordinate mutually and harmoniously the triple activities of the mouth reciting the True Word, the hands posting the symbol of a manta, and the mind entering into profound meditation on mandalas with Form and without Form. During the practice, when the benevolent power of Shakyamuni Buddha’s three pure mystical elements (Mudra, Manta and Dhyana) flows into the activities of the body, mouth and mind of the practitioner and as a result of the integration of his divine power and one’s self-power and with the body, mouth and mind all in the inconceivable state, the practitioner is at one with him and of one substance with him, the karmic seeds of the Eighth Consciousness are turned karma-free at once and return to their original state (karma-free seeds are fundamentally inherent in everything and while we open our eyes to Buddha wisdom, the mind turns to be the pure and illuminating Bodhi). However, except those well-trained adepts, the excellent Tantric practice is not easily comprehensible.
Red Hats Sect and Yellow Hats Sect
In History, the Lotus Bodhisattva founded the ‘Red Hats’ Sect and its teaching is based on the Lotus of Good Law of the Tantric Lotus Division, emphasizing the Tathagata Ambitabha’s profound-Observing Wisdom to be the fundamental Wisdom. The lotus Division covers a wide range of cultivation and practices vary according to the substance and form of the Tathagata. However, the objective of the various Practices is all the same. The cultivation of the Red Hats Sect is considered to be the most complete because of its great working efficacy, but if it is passed into the wrong hands, it will be abused and become corrupted.
At later time, the ‘Yellow Hats’ Sect was founded and set up by Tsong Ka Pa, with the view of reforming the teaching of Tantric Buddhism. In fact, there is no essential difference between the two sects, as the Dharma of the Yellow Hats Sect is also based on the Lotus Division in line with the teaching of Nargajuna; moreover, both sects hold that the fundamental objective of cultivation is Pure Bodhi. However, the latter sect puts more emphasis on Discipline, which, as expounded in the Lotus Division, is considered to be necessary for achieving the self-realization of Purity and Enlightenment. After all, what is said in the above is but a cursory view of the basic issue of the Tantric Buddhism.
Four Division in Tantric Practices
Tantric practices may be classified into four divisions:
- Activities to prevent calamities and to increase blessings;
- Preliminary meditative practice for beginners;
- Yogic practice to coordinate the triple mystic element with the triple activities of the practitioner; and
- Advanced Yoga, the most advanced of the four. The last division may be graded at three levels;
- Great Response (Mahayoga), to enter the profound luminous state by holding on to the True Word;
- Intermediate Response (Annuyoga), the profound and luminous state is no other than the meditator himself; and
- the Great Complete and Perfect Response (Atiyoga), this includes the advanced practice of the “Essentials of the Great and Perfect” and “Heart of Hearts” method, and the fundamental thing of this practice is to realize the Truth that all things are embraced by the mind, and that mind and Buddha are identical and not two, and ultimately, nothing is to be attainable.
As a rule, as those various mystical Tantric practices with their respective mudras and mantras are only known to the guru and the initiated, it is utterly impossible for us to present them fully here at all.
Yogic Practice – Vajrayana Sect
However, the yogic practice of the Mind pertaining to the Formless Path of the Vijrayana Sect may be singled out and concisely presented here as it may be of interest to those readers who are inclined to take up that practice. This yogic practice consists of six mudras and one mantra, each mudra to take eight sittings and each sitting to take two full hours. After completing the six mudras, it calls for specific and intensive practices of the fourth and the second mudras (the fourth helps the initiated to be born in the buddhaland of Supreme Happiness), and all the rituals involved in the practice are very simple. During the two-hour practice, the initiate keeps on reciting the mantra, with the hand holding on to the mudra and the mind intensely concentrated on the mantra and completely indifferent to any external influence or rising thought. Because of its holding on to the manta and the mudra, the mind is not Non-Being (void); because of the nature of non-interpretation and non-conceptualization of mantas and mudras, it is not Being. Neither Being nor Non-Being, it is detached from thoughts, and in this way it wipes them out as soon as they arise; this may carry on until it is completely free from thought and then the state of Samadhi will be realized. After four or five hundred sittings in this manner, when those of superior root are able to realize the fundamental Dharma of the mind, they can make use of the profound wisdom to good effect. For those, weak in concentration, who may find it too difficult to do the Ch’an practice or the Name-reciting method, it may be advisable and feasible to take up this yogic practice, for during the two-hour sitting the persistent and intense discipline may quickly and effectively do away with those timeless dormant habits, and concentration and wisdom would be highly developed. The Buddha’s Heart Sutra says: “If one holds on to the Heart of Hearts, ‘Recognition of Non-arising’ will be quickly realized”. The celebrated Tantric Master Naropa once said that the Formless Dharma is superb and unexcelled. Deplorable to say, those who take up this yogic practice are exceedingly few, for the opportunity of obtaining such initiation largely depends on the question of causes and conditions, which always vary from person to person.