Guhyasamāja-tantra, (Sanskrit: “Treatise on the Sum Total of Mysteries”,)also called Tathāgataguhyaka, (“The Mystery of Tathāgatahood [Buddhahood]”), oldest. Teachings on Guhyasamaja Tantra — by Tsongkhapa – translated by Gavin Kilty. Tsongkhapa’s A Lamp to Illuminate the Five Stages () is. A Critical Study of the Guhyasamaja Tantra – Free ebook download as PDF File . pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online for free. _A Critical Study of the.
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Guhyasamāja-tantra | Buddhist text |
Let me begin guhyasxmaja telling you a little bit of the history of my own involvement with it. I first started studying the Guhyasamaja system in when I was at Harvard University as a graduate student. At that time we had a class in which we were reading the first chapter of Guhyasamaja, comparing guhyasaamaja Sanskrit, Tibetan, guhyasammaja Chinese versions. My friend Bob Thurman was in the class with me; we were schoolmates together at Harvard. And I was very drawn to the system — I liked it very much — although of guhyssamaja we had no idea of what really it meant or what was involved.
We were primarily looking at the way that it was translated. But my professor, Dr. Nagatomi, a Japanese professor, suggested that I study the Guhyasamaja system for my doctorate dissertation and write about it. But I had only studied the written Tibetan language. And there were no textbooks at that time, so like an anthropologist I had to figure out the sound structure and learn the spoken language once I got to India.
I met Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche in January of — he eventually became my main teacher along with His Holiness the Dalai Lama — and I asked his advice about whom I could study tantda system with although I was obviously totally unqualified to guhyasamaaj this. And he suggested that I study it with one guhyasamqja the retired abbots of Lower Tantric College because he was living in Dalhousie, where I was staying in the very beginning of my stay in India.
I think I received it before I asked him. Maybe it was a little bit afterwards, but it was together at that time.
Would you like to join me in this three-year retreat? So I decided that I would change my dissertation topic to the oral tradition of lam-rim instead of Guhyasamaja and put off my studies till later. And actually now I remember more precisely.
It was after that that I received the Guhyasamaja initiation for the first time. This was a wonderful occasion. It was in actually, and it was the last time that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was the disciple, the main disciple, for receiving the three major initiations — Trijang Rinpoche gave the Chakrasamvara initiation, and Ling Rinpoche gave Guhyasamaja and Yamantaka.
This was quite a special occasion. Tsongkhapa considered this to be the main tantra within the system that follows from him, that he established, and he wrote the most about it five volumes of his collected works are his commentaries on Guhyasamaja.
So where does this tantra come from? Some scholars, Western scholars, say that it first appeared in the early 8th century. The first reference to it in the literature is in a text by a Sogdian monk. His name was Amoghavajra, he was a translator into Chinese, and he lists eighteen texts in Chinese, and Guhyasamaja was one of them it was translated into Chinese.
He wrote that in the mid-8th century. Sogdians were the main merchants of the Silk Route, and they did a lot of translating into Chinese. Sogdia is what is currently Uzbekistan. So you have different versions now. You have a version in terms of history by Western scholars, and guhyasamajx you have the traditional Buddhist version of the history.
The traditional version is that Buddha manifested as Vajradhara and taught the Guhyasamaja system to King Indrabhuti, who was King of Oddiyana, Ogyen U-rgyan in Tibetan, which is the same place where Guru Rinpoche came from much later.
How do we approach this as Westerners? Because then from Indrabhuti, you get many different lineages. And not only from Indrabhuti. If you look at lineages, you have a lineage of the root tantra this is the one from Indrabhutiand you have a lineage of the initiation, you have a lineage of the generation stage and sadhana.
In the lineage prayer for Guhyasamaja guyyasamaja the sadhana, it goes from Vajradhara to a manifestation of Manjushri to Nagarjuna, so a completely different time in history. And then you have a lineage of the guhyasamja stage as well. So what is this? First we have to really divest our view of history from our Western biblical traditions.
And guhyasamajx does that type of overlay lead guhyasamaj It leads to a very sectarian view — that this is the highest, this is the best, this is the real truth, the final truth. Their view of history is very different. Our view of history tends to be very linear and based on objective facts and records, whereas an Indian guhyaszmaja of history is very much mixed with myth, what we would call myth. So from an Indian point of view, Krishna with the cow maidens and so on is as real as King Ashoka.
The Buddhist stuff is filled with that — Mahayana, and tantra within Mahayana. Vajradhara as a tantra form of Buddha is guhyasa,aja manifestation of the clear-light mind that we all have.
So within an Indian context, we all the ability to understand the truth — ways that will lead to liberation and enlightenment. We all have that ability because guhysaamaja all have clear-light minds.
So anybody ghhyasamaja has that type of revelation or understanding is receiving this from Buddha Vajradhara, because Buddha Vajradhara is not a historical figure from our objective Western point of view of history. And the person who receives that revelation first and passes it down is gubyasamaja some sort of final prophet or anything like that — an object of reverence and respect, of course, but not in the same way as Jesus Christ or Muhammad.
Guhyasamana are too few figures and too much of a gap in history. And His Holiness says it very nicely when people question the traditional Buddhist presentation that tantra material, like Mahayana material, was passed down orally in a secret fashion until it was finally written down and made more public: Enough about that topic.
Guhyaaamaja any case, Guhyasamaja is considered one of the oldest, if not the oldest, tantra systems to surface in written form in India. Now, anuttarayoga tantra is divided into several classes, and one could do a whole historical survey of the different ways in which it has been divided and the reasons for classifying it in one way or another.
But in any case, if we come down to the system that was started by Tsongkhapa, he divides anuttarayoga tantra into father and mother tantra pha-rgyud and ma-rgyud. From another point of view, father tantra has most emphasis on the various yogas dealing with the energy-winds for getting down to the subtlest level, and mother tantra has a great deal of detail of how to work with the increasing levels of blissful awareness within the central channel in order to get down to the clear-light mind with practices like tummo gtum-moinner heat.
So Guhyasamaja is the main system in father tantra. It has tremendous detail about how to work with the energy-winds within the chakras and channels, and so on, in order to get down to the subtlest level, and it has great detail about how you transform or get the subtlest level of wind or energy that is the mount of the clear-light mind — how you get that to appear in the form of illusory body, which will eventually then become a Form Body of a Buddha.
So if you divide the systems in general between method and wisdom, so-called method and wisdom, Guhyassamaja puts more emphasis on the method side. And just as an example of the emphasis on the method side: In other words, it gives the structure that is then followed in all the other tantra systems. It means that it is naturally hidden or obscure to those who are not ready to be able to understand it, hidden because of its language.
But also in terms of teaching it, you should keep it hidden from those who are not ready to understand it. And the assembly of these tantr factors can refer to all the deities within the system, or it can refer to the three main hidden factors, often called the three vajras — vajra body, vajra speech, and vajra mind — referring to the enlightened or enlightening aspects of these three.
In a sense, body, speech, and mind have been developed to the enlightened stage. But they are inspiring to others, so they are enlightening; they can help to enlighten others.
Seven of the chapters were translated into Chinese by Danapala in the year And the root tantra was translated into Tibetan around the same time by the great translator Rinchen Zangpo working together with a Kashmiri pundit called Shraddhakaravarman. And these are on various aspects of tantga generation and complete stage, but written in a very, very obscure, hidden manner so that only in later Indian commentaries do you get the system for being able to decipher the language and the images with which these texts are written.
And interestingly the major authors in it have the name of the major Madhyamaka authors:. We have again a problem with history. The tradition considers Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, and Chandrakirti as the same authors who wrote the most famous Madhyamaka texts. The point is that the tantra systems need to be understood and practiced within the context of tantea Madhyamaka teachings on voidness.
What Is Guhyasamaja Practice?
And the tradition for explaining the guideline teaching in terms of the practice come through Marpa. So the Gelug tradition follows both of these lineages, the one from Goe Lotsawa and the one from Marpa. And of the three forms of Guhyasamaja practice, the main one practiced in the Gelugpa tradition has Akshobhya as the main figure. And within that tradition, within the literature Akshobhya sometimes is called Vajradhara and sometimes called Vajrasattva.
Remember I told you this is the template. It gives the structure for all anuttarayoga tantra. Then there are two other guhyasa,aja of Guhyasamaja. And tanrra two lineages come through Goe Lotsawa.
Serkong Rinpoche did the retreat for that form of Guhyasamaja just before he died, and fuhyasamaja was only a few days after that that he actually passed away, so I never had a chance to ask him about it. This is according to the Guhyasamaja system. These are both blue figures as in the Guhyasamaja practice.
And then if one wants to do it in a more specialized form, one can substitute the main figures from a different anuttarayoga practice, like Kalachakra or Yamantaka. So we find Guhyasamaja popping up in all sorts of places within at least the Gelug tradition. What is it offering us? One of the main things that we find there is tremendous detail about what is the central practice of anuttarayoga tantra, which is the transformation of death, bardo, and rebirth.
So this is the source of the material about the eight-stage process of dissolution when we die. So if you think in terms of experiencing, I think that helps us get a little bit closer than just thinking of the word mindwhich makes you think of a physical object.
There are many levels of mental activity, and this level of subtleness or subtlety of the mental activity is directly related to the level of subtlety or grossness of the physical basis. So as we die, the consciousness withdraws from having as its basis the grosser aspects of the body which is similar to the process of how we fall asleep:. So the mental activity or consciousness is withdrawing — in other words, it has less and less of a solid basis or foundation — and eventually we get down to the clear-light level.
Guhyasamaja presents tremendous detail about this process. We want to simulate that process in meditation on the second stage of anuttarayoga practice, the complete stage, so that we can actually access that subtlest level, the clear-light level, without dying. This clear-light mind automatically is nonconceptual. So Guhyasamaja gives all the detail for how to attain that level by working with the energy-winds and, in a sense, dissolving these winds so that you get the mental activity no longer riding on them.