Tantra is an Indianreligious tradition thatemphasises Ritual and Visualisation meditations, and values the gaining ofSiddhas – mysterious, magical powers. Some of my disciples call me the “Crazy Wisdom Guru”,because my teachings are often strange!
Vajrayana Buddhism isvery colourfuland its ritualsare often very loud as well.
The idea of the Mantra is really important in Vajrayana – this is a short phrase that is repeated while a person meditates…The most famous is “Om Mane Padme Hum” Click here to hear it chanted
“Aum mane Padme hum” literally means “Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus”, but Tibetans believe that the words themselves are powerful – just repeating this mantra often enough can make you enlightened. A good way to think about this is water dropping on a stone – after a few hours you have a wet stone, but after thousands of years, water can actually wear it’s way through. Mantras have a similar effect, slowly but surely breaking through to enlightenment.
Mantras can be used in lots of different ways – you can write them out and put them in a prayer wheel, which you can spin as you walk, ortalk – Tibetans believe that even doing this will gain merit, and help you get enlightened, as thereis a small part of yourmind that is still aware of the mantra as you spin it.
Some prayer wheels are very big indeed – you can see them on the streets, and around temples.
You can carve Mantras into rocksby the roadside, and their powerwill pass into the cosmos, as they erode…
You can writeMantras onto “WindHorses” – flags, and their power will be carried into thecosmos by the wind!
Vajrayana monks are called Lamas – and have some differences to other kinds of Buddhist monk –we are allowed to eat Meat (as it isa staple in Tibet), and we have tosupport ourselvesfinancially, as well as living a monastic life.
Many of our Pujasare long, complex rituals, involving specific types of meditation, aswell as the use of some particularritual tools, which are unique to Vajrayana
The Dorje, or Vajra – Thunderbolt Sceptre is heldin the hand while performing rituals, or meditating – it represents the Male Principle, and the idea of Action and may be thought of as a “battery” for storing spiritual power.
The Bell that is held in the other handrepresents the female principle, and the idea of “Wisdom”. Used together in rituals, the Bell and Dorje represent the union of Wisdom and Action.
The Phurba is a ritual dagger, that is used as a means of focussing and directing spiritual power, often to aidothers, in healing or exorcism rituals.
The Mala is another important ritual tool – anecklace of 108 beads that is used to count repetitions of mantras. This one, like many of the most powerful ritual objectsis made out of human bone – this is a way of showing that the Lamas do not fear the power of death!
Lamas are expected to be experts in Buddhist Philosophy – we argue with eachother every day in a very vigorous way – only the very finest get promoted!
Thankas are very detailed pictures of Bodhisattvas that are used as a focus for Pujas, and for meditation – some very large ones are used for festivals.
Offerings are made in front of the images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas – Light, Water, andFlowers you will be familiar with, butalso white scarves –which are a symbol of honour and respect – the Tibetan equivalent of garlands of flowers – as these do not grow easily in Tibet.
Lamps fuelled with Yak Butter are offered to Images of the Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors, as symbols of enlightenment
This complicated Mandala is a map of the Vajrayana Universe, meditating upon it can lead you to enlightenment – see if you can guess what it is made out of?
It is made out of sand – teams ofLamas painstakingly spend months creating these. They are created for particular festivals and celebrations
At the high point of the ritual, these mandalas are destroyed, and the sandswept up – this is an example of Anicca, andteaches us not to be attached to things!
I am the Dalai Lama, the Spiritual Leader of Tibet (although I now live in exile in India). I teach thatthe Vajrayana path is one that must emphasise Wisdom, and Compassion to all living beings.
Before the Chinese invasion, I was theruler of Tibet as well, and Tibet was a Buddhist state – everyone practicedBuddhism, and nearly every man was a monk.
I am the FourteenthDalai Lama, and I ama direct reincarnation of the previous thirteen – manyTibetans believe that Iam the incarnation of Chenzenrig – the Many senior Bodhisattva of Lamas compassion reincarnate like this, this called a “tulku”
This is the Potala –My palace in Lhasa. It is still a place ofPilgrimage for manyof my Countrymen.