Tantra: Enlightenment Through The Ordinary.

‘Tantra (तन्त्र) is a Sanskrit term that translates literally as ‘weave’ – but more specifically refers to the ‘weft’ of a loom, or the horizontal threads that are ‘weaved’ through the lengthwise warp threads. Indeed, the Sanskrit term ‘tantravaya’ refers to a ‘weaver’. The term ‘tantra’ can also be used to refer the ‘thread’ that is actually ‘weaved’, and is related to the Sanskrit term ‘tanti’ (तन्ति) which translates as a ‘cord’ traditionally used to tether calves. Furthermore, the verbal root ‘tan’ is defined as to ‘stretch’. This description of a practical handicraft has become adapted to describe a specific practice that links the practitioner to his teacher, to the Buddha, and to the goal of enlightenment. There is a common ‘thread’ that weaves its way through time and space, and which also links the practitioner as existing in the deluded sphere, to that of the unconditioned enlightened sphere.’

Sunyata: The Beautiful Emptiness.

‘To understand this developmental process, an assessment of ‘emptiness’ (sunyata) must be undertaken. It is clear that in early Buddhism emptiness refers to the lack of the presence of greed, hatred and delusion, as well the abandonment of the notion of a permanent self. It is an emptiness that marks the absence of delusion. Delusion is no longer present in the mind or perceived in the environment (in relation to the mind). The mind does not create the conditions that lead to the desire of external entities or attachment to those entities. It is true that no further karma is produced but that the karma relating to the world and the physical body continues until it is fully burnt off (at the point of death), and there is no more re-birth. The nirvanic state has present within it certain powers of the mind, and perfected knowledge. This concept of nirvana exists as an escape from the physical world of samsara. It is viewed very much as an antidote to the suffering experienced within ordinary life.’

The Buddha’s Enlightenment.

‘Through austerity and meditation, and after leaving the world of plenty, the Buddha roamed from place to place with only his begging bowl and robe as possessions. After practicing austerity, he rejected this method as not being able to reach the highest enlightenment. He trained in, and fully mastered the meditative methods of his day, and despite achieving the highest state, rejected these paths as not going far enough toward the ultimate enlightenment. Having abandoned the conventional spiritual teachings, he embarked upon his own meditative practice, a practice that would eventually lead to a full and profound inner metamorphosis, more commonly known in English as ‘enlightenment’.’

Buddhist Saddha Distorted As ‘Faith’.

‘From the assessment of (the Pali) and Sanskrit terms ‘sraddha’, ‘prasada’, and ‘adhimukti’, as used within Buddhist philosophy, (both early and late), together with a cross-referencing of the translation terms used to render these notions into written Chinese, it is clear that these terms can not be interpreted through the lens of a Christian concept of ‘faith’. Buddhist philosophy is an example of the product of pristine ‘logical’ thought that is dependent upon personal experience and spiritual experimentation. The Buddha’s system is simple in essence – over-come greed, hatred and delusion, and suffering will stop – but extraordinarily extensive in presentation. Each expressed idea and concept fits neatly into every other idea and concept. It is precise, exact and constant in its original form, and a simple idea, (the product of a profound enlightenment), requires literally hundreds of sutras to express its totality. Whereas St Augustinedescribes Christian faith as coming before knowledge, the Buddha’s message is exactly the opposite – it is the presence of exact and profound knowledge – that generates a confidence and a therefore a ‘qualified’ belief in it. Although it is true that ‘faith’ In a deity is a Hindu belief, and that the Buddhist terms are also used within Hinduism, nevertheless, the Buddhist usage is of a specific type that alters considerably, the original Hindu meanings, which are dependent upon a belief in a deity, (or divine concept) for salvation.’

Jhana: The Buddhist Search For Focused Equanimity.

‘The physical material of the universal itself is not necessarily morally corrupt as it exists, but rather is made so by a mind projecting a distorted meaning onto, and into it. However, as the karmic fruits of an individual actually ‘pull’ a physical world into place, even morally inert matter is designed, through circumstance, to create experiences relevant to the karmic root actions themselves. Early Buddhism envisages 31 such states of existence that are only transcended through the experience of enlightenment at the point of the death of the last karmically inspired physical existence. Until that time, the mind appears to ‘burn’ with sensation and obsessive thought patterns that inspire actions that inevitably lead to further effects. This mechanism that sees the mind fabric intimately entwined with the physical world, has to be prevent from functioning in an unquestioned manner. The power of habit moves in one perpetuating direction, as like a piece of metal drawn to a strong magnet. Habitual tendencies appear ‘normal’ because they are familiar. Delusion is a comfortable state that ‘hurts’ those residing within it. The pain of delusion is never associated with the ‘delusion’ itself. The human will (cetana) is the Buddha’s key to suffering and its over-coming.’

Karma: Buddhist Action Defined.

‘The Buddha ascribes a special status to in the human realm (this realm is number 5 of the 31 – which occurs as a karmic stage within the broad category of ‘kama loka’, and is known as the ‘manussa loka’ – with ‘manussa’ meaning ‘human), and in so doing automatically elevates this karmic formation as being superior in potential to all other realms, or types of re-birth. It is true, of course, that as long as an ordinary human remains with a mind driven by craving (tanha), no progress can be made and the individual, as a collection of habitual tendencies will bob around on the karmic seas for innumerable ages, experiencing the painful fruits (vipaka) of karma. However, despite this immense image of futile suffering, the Buddha teaches that salvation is possible on the human plane through the understanding and practicing of the noble eightfold path – which is contained within the teachings of the four noble truths.’

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