For all the hype and spectacle of its exposed and exhilarating drama of countless buffalo-masked lama dances, shrieking, prophetic oracles, initiations and what have you, the Vajrayana or the Diamond Way actually delineates a highly compact and structured Buddhist programme, a pedagogy in fact.
Around 2,500 years ago, the historical Buddha Shakyamuni gave an impressive spectrum of Teachings so that each and every being can find the method most suited to him or her in his or her search towards lasting happiness otherwise known as Enlightenment.
The BASIS of it all:
First, there is the basic and essential aspect of the Teachings
shared by all forms of Buddhism in the world: the 4 Noble Truths.
The first Noble Truth: "There is suffering" - we do not need the Buddha to convince us that there are both happy and unhappy days and that our lucky moments in life do not last forever.
The second Noble Truth: "These are the causes of suffering" - primarily, our totally mistaken grasping at a permanent sense of self.
From this deluded concept of an existent self arises the "self-cherishing" attitude. We cherish ourselves over and above all others. We must have a glossier car and mightier mansion than our neighbours. We must employ all resources within grasp to triumphed over and destroy, if possible, all our rivals.
"They are a threat to my country, my company, my school, my family and me! They have violated me! We cannot rest until we show them something!"
Anger, greed, jealousy and such formidably wicked throng completely overwhelm us.
Unfortunately, these wicked motivations rebound equally unhappy results for ourselves - the Law of Karma.
So long as we remain dominated by unwholesome attitudes arising from a "self-cherishing" false sense of a permanently existing "self", suffering entails.
The third Noble Truth: "There is an end to all these" - the Buddha gives us His assurance having personally experienced the end of suffering Himself.
The fourth Noble Truth: "These are the ways to end suffering" -
1) recognize and gain realization that there is no inherent existence of the "self". The "self" is illusory and possesses the nature of "emptiness". From here, we begin to ask ourselves, who are we selfishly cherishing? What is there for us to selfishly cling on to? It is ridiculous to generate anger or for that matter any other forms of mental defilement for or in the name of a non-existent "self".
2) As we can only expect more suffering to arise from the wicked hordes of anger, greed [ remember the Law of Karma? ], we should be most cautious not to create them if we do not want suffering. On top of this, if we desire happiness, we should have love instead of anger, generosity instead of greed and so on. In short, instead of acting on our "self-cherishing" attitudes, we "cherish others" through proper actions, proper speech and proper attitudes embodied in the Noble Eight-fold Path.
The NEXT STEP to the Vajrayana:
After interacting with, understanding and finally realising
the truths of
the above, we clearly recognize that although there is no inherent basis of a "self" for us to "self-cherish", we can obviously see that all others continue to grasp at a mistaken "self".
They all desire happiness for the "self" and strive to avoid even the slightest suffering for the "self". While pushing to gratify the "self", they create endless unwholesome actions that ripen into yet more sufferings for themselves. In other words, in spite of themselves, due to their entrenchment with the multitude of defilement over countless time, all unenlightened beings are all crazily creating the causes for suffering in a futile bid to achieve happiness.
The only way then to help them is to teach them about the 4 Noble Truths or whatever will help them towards full Enlightenment. But wait, they are not going to listen to me if I am as flawed as they are. Also, how can I ever know which teaching is best suited to them?
The only way to be of optimum benefit to all of them is when I become a fully Enlightened Buddha myself!
I then give rise to the common Enlightened Mind or Bodhicitta:
"May I endlessly engage in the Bodhisattva practices be it for incalculable aeons so that I can become a fully Enlightened Buddha for the sake of all beings!"
A person who gives rise to the above Enlightened Mind or Bodhicitta is known as a Bodhisattva.
These Bodhisattvas, just like the historical Buddha Shakyamuni in the Jataka Tales, then embark endlessly for countless aeons, overcoming unspeakable trials and tribulations, training in the 6 Perfections of Generosity, Patience, Ethical Conduct, Joyful Perseverance, Meditation and Wisdom. When they become perfected in the 6 Perfections, they will have attained to the state of Buddhahood whereby they can then be of the highest benefit to all beings.
This step is where the Mahayana Tradition addresses.
The FINAL STEP towards Vajrayana:
A group of these Bodhisattvas starts to question if there is
any other method where they can most quickly attain the state
of Buddhahood for the sake of all beings.
This group of Bodhisattvas gives rise to the Uncommon Enlightened Mind or Uncommon Bodhicitta:
"I cannot bear the idea of training for countless aeons in the 6 Perfections not because I cannot bear the austerities it entails but because I cannot bear the sufferings of all beings in the meantime. May I quickly, most quickly attain the state of Buddhahood through whatever means as is necessary!"
To these talented and extraordinarily compassionate people, the Buddha taught the Vajrayana or the Diamond Way.
It offers an amazing array of profound methods for attaining Buddhahood: the famed though frequently misunderstood and sometimes abused Guru Yoga practices, Deity Yoga practices, the actually rather technically-proned Completion Stage practices of the Winds, Drops, Channels, the "Pointing-Out" instructions of the Dzogchen Maha Ati, the Songs of Mahamudra, the "Giving and Taking" practices of unspeakable compassion and so on.
These practices, if carried out in the right way with the unspeakably compassionate uncommon Bodhicitta as the motivation, leads to the full attainment of Buddhahood in one lifetime.
All these practices do not subvert or even subsume any of the basic tenets of the 4 Noble Truths or the common Mahayana's 6 Perfections but is unquestionably rooted in them and necessarily has to fully integrate them.
The article above is hardly sufficient material for serious
engagement with the Vajrayana. Practitioners who aspire to achieve
Buddhahood in the shortest time so that they can kick off their
mission of emancipation for all beings must cautiously search
for and connect with an experienced, compassionate Teacher belonging
to a valid lineal tradition.
All the BEST !!!