Vajrayana Meditation


The Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen

I. Meditations of the First Initiation

Before we talk on this subject, we should have some definitions established. The First Initiation in Anuttara Yoga (fourth yoga) and those given in the third yoga may seem quite similar to beginners. How are they to be distinguished?

A. Comparison

  1. The difference between them concerns the outer initiation. In it the guru who gives the Wong, whether with or without a consort, must visualize himself in the Heruka-form. From his union in this form, he obtains some Vajra-love nectar for the initiation. In Japanese Tantra (third yoga) this process is unknown and only fragrant water is used.
  2. In the inner initiation, the disciple is asked to visualize himself in the Heruka-form regardless of whether or not he has a yogic partner. In the first Anuttara Yoga initiation which particularly concerns the inner initiation of the body, the student's consciousness is to be taken into the Dakini's womb from which he is reborn as a Heruka son. Such a process is not seen in the Japanese yoga.
  3. There is a complete classification of the Bodhicitta into its five kinds in the Anuttara Yoga while in Yoga Tantra only four are known. They are as follows:

    1. Bodhicitta of Will—corresponds to the Nirmanakaya.
    2. Bodhicitta of Conduct—corresponds to the Sambhogakaya.
    3. Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance—corresponds to the Dharmakaya.
    4. Bodhicitta of Samadhi—corresponds to Svabhavikakaya in Kriya Tantra only.
    5. Bodhicitta of the Essence of the Six Elements—corresponds to Mahasukha-prajnakaya, the Fifth Kaya.

    The first three are found in Mahayana texts. The last is found only in the highest yoga and has never been heard of in the Eastern Tradition. In it the Five Elements and the Five Wisdoms are well identified just as the sperm and the ovum unite and interpenetrate. Even in Tibet, all five Bodhicittas are never mentioned all together but I have collected them and find that they correspond to the five bodies of a Buddha.

B. Three Important Conditions

After one gets the Anuttarayoga First Initiation, one should practice the growing stage (utpannakrama) of the Samaya. We should give some definition of this term.

There are, altogether, three kinds of body of which Samaya is the gross one. A Samayasattva (in Tibetan literally 'oath-bound' natural holiness) or Yidam is that anthropomorphic form of Buddha or Bodhisattva on which the meditator regularly practices over a long period of time until he realizes unity with that wisdom form. A person has only one yidam, either selected by himself or chosen by the guru, and to this yidam one is bound by an oath taken at the time of initiation. This requires one to practice regularly with the yidam form and mantra according to the guru's instructions.

One's practice must of course be based upon a secure realization of Sunyata and without this there may be serious consequences. On this point there is a good story.

Once there was a lama of the Yellow Party who had taken for his yidam Jig-je (Vajrabhairava), a very wrathful form with an awe-inspiring face and three eyes angrily glaring. From the mouth come flames and any one caught in these would be completely burned up. Upon his yidam, this lama maintained a great concentration until particularly the eyes of Jig-je and his own became identified. After this he found that everyone he met died from his wrathful glance and anger seemed constantly burning within him. He became very distressed over this and did not dare go out or meet anyone. Finally, he told his guru what had happened: I am very sorry about this, said the Lama, for I want to save others, not to kill them. His guru told him to stop meditating on Jig-je's eyes and also that his ability to kill indicated that the Bodhicitta was not developed sufficiently.

But I think it was not the lack of Bodhicitta for in every Yana some degree of Bodhicitta is found. It was the fault of the guru who should not have given him initiation unless the Bodhicitta was already strong. But this lama had already come to the practice of a tantric yidam and therefore the time for the meditation on the Bodhicitta had passed. The guru was also at fault in that he should not only instruct in the form of the yidam but also in the philosophy underlying the practice. The yidam is the reflection of Sunyata and neither the void nor its reflections can work any harm when they are well identified. The wrathful eyes of Jig-je do not show human wrath, but the latter if not sublimated in the Mahayana can do much evil if associated with such deities in the Vajrayana. Thus, the lama's eyes killed from the power of the untransmuted human anger in himself and not by the Great Wrath of Jig-je.

This story shows the importance of going step by step and is surely a good warning for those who might think of rushing headlong into the Vajrayana. Especially it shows how important are the Sunyata meditations and their thorough realization.

Here the body is like the outer practice and every point of it has to be visualized minutely and perfectly identified with Sunyata. Even each little hair should be realized as void and in visualization be seen as though hollow. The inner practice means the recitation and visualization of the mantra. For the yidam practice, there are these three important conditions:

1. Clarity. This means that not only must the form and color of the deity be clearly seen but every hair of the eyebrows, the eyelashes and all the hair on the anthropomorphic body should be visualized clearly. As we do not speak of art, our subject being meditation, so besides form and color, there is also clarity of philosophy. It is essential that a good understanding and a deep realization of Sunyata accompany these meditations, otherwise they will not be effective. Therefore, besides stressing the fact that the deity must appear as a reflection, or as a bubble, light and translucent, so it is most important to be clear on Sunyata philosophy. I have written a paper on this as it seems to me that the venerable Tsongkhapa's otherwise excellent "Nga-rin" (Great Stage of Tantric Path) is deficient in its emphasis of the practical value in the realization of the void.

2. Firmness. In common books on this subject, it is said that in the visualized form there must not be any movement or change. Their instructions are that after the form is seen clearly, the practitioner should make the anthropomorphic body firm and unmoving while his flesh body is not recovered even for a moment—not even in a dream. For instance, if the practitioner visualizes himself as the great holy power vajra with two horns then when he passes through a door, he should bow his head so that the horns do not catch in the doorway.

But I should like to add firmness not only of form but also a steadfast samatha of samapatti on the entity of meditation. If one just sees something with the sixth consciousness (mind consciousness) and this is not accompanied by a deep samatha, then there can be no correspondence with the holy form. We must emphasize this: Firmness is really derived from the Force of Samatha. Without this (using the 6th consciousness), one is only thinking about the deity and this wrong method can, if persistently practiced, lead to all sorts of stresses and strains, even to lung disease and worse, to madness.

3. Holy Pride of Buddhahood. The pride of human nature is a sorrow of self conceit but the Pride of the anthropomorphic Buddha-body is a merit of voidness and mercy. Whichever holy being he visualizes, all those holy characteristics must be held by the practitioner and he should perform many actions for others, just as the holy being does.

I want to add what I mean by this term. The Holy Pride of the Buddhas comes from such factors as function of salvation, merits and virtues. Usually one hears gurus say: I am a Buddha. Here Mr. Chen did a bit of acting, sitting up very straight upon his wicker stool as though it were the costliest throne of brocade, and assumed as best he could a rather comical but undeniably haughty expression. And, he continued: These teachers sit in their finery and proudly proclaim their Buddhahood. "Look, so many disciples follow me; look, so many lay people worship me; look at all these books and holy treasures, and look at the wealth I possess!" In their pride, they may even say: Look at this or that mark of Buddhahood!

But then, said Mr. Chen relaxing and spreading his hands, one may look at their way of life, the way they treat people—then it becomes obvious whether or not they are really Buddhas. These sorts of teachers are neither Buddhas nor have they understood at all what is meant by a Buddha's Holy Pride.

But such teachers have rebuked me, telling me that I have no Bodhicitta because I have remained in seclusion and in hermitages for so long. What are you doing for such a long time, they say you should come out and proudly show the Buddha-attainment. All such talk, Mr. Chen said gravely, is a sorrow for those teachers.

The Buddha's pride is not like this: Holy Pride makes one to work for progress and cannot lead one to any sort of spiritual fall. It is not the same as human pride for Buddhas have long rid themselves of the defilements dependent upon which ordinary conceit arises. In this respect, it seems to me that my practice is correct. When something happens, we should immediately ask ourselves: What would be the action for a Buddha in this circumstance? If all the meditations so far described have been practiced and realized, then we should have a clear answer to this question. Our attainment of Buddhahood has to show in the ordinary situations of everyday life, it must be perfectly identified with these otherwise it is not perfect Buddhahood. If we have really attained Full Enlightenment then we shall, in all places and at all times, always show a Buddha's actions and never follow the way of men.

All these points are important for practical purposes and are lacking in even well-known Tibetan works. We should always hold to them for meditation on the yidam in the growing yoga.

C. Three Kinds of Samatha-Samapatti concerning the above Visualizations of the Growing Yoga

1. First is the philosophic meditation of Sunyata which is different from the Mahayana where there is no mantra repetition or visualization practice. Here one should repeat the mantra and visualize the world and all the beings in it, as all become Sunyata. This must be done before visualizing the Yidam.

2. From this Sunyata meditation, visualize the Yidam. This means a meditation on the reflection of Sunyata (Sunyata conditions, not Sunyata nature).

These two points taken together is the first step.

The second step is when the Yidam meditation is accomplished, that is to visualize all the worship, offering, etc. We can say that this is not the main meditation trunk but rather a samapatti branch. Nevertheless it has to be completed.

When all this is done, then one goes back to the main practice and, visualizing the mandala of the Buddha (Bodhisattava, etc.,) and places this in one's own body. This melts into the heart which in turn contracts into the mantra. This again disappears into the bija which finally melts away into Sunyata.

In the first step, one gets rid of the volitions of the human body moving in the everyday world. The second step gets rid of even the holy body and the mandala which is the Buddha's world—even this must be induced into Sunyata.

3. From the second Sunyata of reduction, the holy Yidam appears again. It must come just as a fish jumps out of the surface of the ocean: the Yidam must quickly appear from the voidness ocean. Like a flash, one sees the nature of Sunyata and its manifestation (the Yidam) are identical, one sees voidness and holy haveness as perfectly identified. When this stage has been experienced, this is the Real Enlightenment of a Buddha.

Through the above three kinds of Samatha-Samapatti, the three sorts of haveness (birth, death and the intermediate state) are one by one abandoned.

D. Visualization of the Surroundings (the Mandala)

Mr. Chen produced a large photograph of a mandala which he said he had managed to acquire from a departing Chinese Buddhist. It was not one which he had practiced himself and he was not sure which meditation it represented. As he explained, there are many hundreds of these mystic diagrams. It was, however, quite a typical example and served to illustrate his explanation. Now we have finished the meditations specially concerned with the body, he said, and we should go on to say something about meditations relating to the surroundings or mandala. Pointing out various features of the mandala as lay before him, we progress from the outside elements to those in the center.

The outside circle shows the eight Great Cremation Grounds with bones and decayed bodies in abundance. The next ring represents the five elements and is colored appropriately in bands of colors, each one associated with one of these elements. Inside this, three walls are shown, one of Vajras, one in the form of growing Lotuses, and the last composed of Skulls.

One must remember, reminded our yogi, that while the mandala picture is only in two dimensions, it is to be visualized as three-dimensional. For this reason, some features of the mandala are, it seems, under the surface of the picture, they are hidden underground. As an example of this, in the center of the mandala under the palace, is a large crossed vajra (visvavajra). Again, above the surface of the picture and therefore above the palace and its surroundings, is a vajra-net, visualized as being made up of linked vajras.

The Palace itself is square and set within a precious world of trees and flowers inside the various walls already mentioned. The four gates leading from this world into the palace have beautiful roofs and carved bars and are bedecked with Dharma pennants. Inwardly, the palace has a precious floor of gems which on the East side is white, the South is yellow, the West is red and the North side is green.

On the floor of the palace at its center is the Yidam sitting upon the appropriate kind of throne. Sometimes the figure is single or double and sometimes many forms appear there depending upon the ritual instructions.

But we should not only meditate on the forms, we must know the meaning of these things. And Mr. Chen described the symbolic significance of the mandala objects in some detail.

The Eight Graves: These remind us to begin with the two sorts of non-self (of pudgala and dharma), and the realization of impermanence also arises with this samapatti.

The Five Elements: In their treatment we may see a continuous evolution from the Japanese Tantra. There, the five elements are only a theory related to practice only on the mental side and also they are symbolized very simply in the pagoda form; here they are built into construction of an exact and complex structure—the mandala, and are also practiced in relation to the material aspect. They make up the Buddhas' surroundings in the Pure Land and are very exactly arranged: this differs from the Amitayus Samapatti Sutra where such complete directions are not given. When one visualizes these different parts of the mandala, their connotations must be kept in mind.

The Three Walls: As to the Wall of Vajras, this is one's strict observance of the silas and its purpose is to keep out demons and prevent them from disturbing the Precious Land within. This visualization depends upon keeping the precepts very well. If they are maintained pure and unbroken then this vajra wall will be strong and act as an effective protection against demons. Without pure morality, the vajra wall will be weak.

The Lotus Wall and the Skull Wall symbolize respectively renunciation and Sunyata.

The Lotus: Under the crossed vajra, a symbol here of the world of Lotus Ornament, is a thousand petaled lotus. At the same time it is a symbol of renunciation too in the Hinayana. Why? The fair Lotus grows out from evil-smelling mud, its beauty is not stained by the muck and the filth. Renunciation must be even so pure, unstained by worldly haveness.

There is another lotus on the precious palace floor and this one is the actual seat of the Yidam. This one has the meaning of renunciation of even dharmas accomplished during the sublimation process in the Mahayana. Even if one's renunciation is not complete, try to visualize these lotuses in their proper positions, after which renunciation may become perfect: this is an example of a method in the position of Consequence, which every Buddha has accomplished.

We notice again and again the close correspondence of all these details and the attainment of Buddhahood. For example, there are four gates of the palace and different books say that they mean: the Four Noble Truths, the Four Boundless Minds, or the Four Mindfulness. We should make this point certain. When the Yidam is a Nirmanakaya form such as Sakyamuni, then the gates stand for the Four Noble Truths; when Avalokitesvara is the Yidam then their meaning is the Four Boundless Minds; and if the center of the mandala is occupied by a Yidam of Wisdom, as Manjusri, then the gates are the Four Mindfulness. The meaning of the gates must correspond to the character of the Yidam although the Tibetan sages or scholars have not taught this before.

In the palace, the roof is held up by the eight pillars—the Noble Eightfold Path-factors. Even if we talk for one month we cannot finish all the meanings of the objects in the various mandalas for we must understand that nothing depicted there is just for ornament. It is all significant for meditation. To find out all this information, said our Yogi, it is necessary to read one of the books devoted to the description of Yidams and their surroundings.

The simple visual meditations on pagoda in Japanese Tantra are just preparations for these more complex practices.

E. Ranks of Realization

There are three ranks of achievement regarding holy appearances and these are correlated with our section in the Realization part of our Definition chapter (See Chapter II, V.D. of Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical.)  
  1. Inferior Rank: The practitioner achieves a vision of the Yidam in a dream state. (This is 'Me'.)
  2. Medium Rank: The second stage of the accomplishment of the holy appearance occurs during a type of between state in which the mind is still half-awake and not disturbed by dreams (called in Theravada, Bhavagacitta.) (This is 'Ta'.)
  3. Superior Rank: Finally, in oneness of meditative concentration, the holy appearance is achieved. Within this highest type of experience, there are also three grades, the lowest being when in unity of concentration and meditation the form of the deity can only be seen by the practitioner. The middle grade of achievement is where the holy one is seen by others also, while the top grade is when the practitioner can keep the holy being even when he leaves his meditation seat and can perform things just as that holy being does. His holy body may be touched by others also. (These three correspond to 'Yang'.)

II. Second Initiation Meditations

A. Practice

There are two big sections here, the main and the subsidiary practices. The main meditation is called Tomo in Tibetan (in Sanskrit: Candali, meaning the Wrathful Fire of Wisdom.) The subsidiary practices concern states of Dream, Sleep, and Phowa.

Evans-Wentz in the work he edited, Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, accords to all the six practices mentioned therein an equal position. Although this is according to the Tibetan original work, yet I do not agree with this for if one gains success in Tomo, then all the others are accomplished. Tomo is the main one and success in it depends upon the correct use of the deep breathing method. There are four important stages:

  1. Meditate on the Sunyata of the body—one has already practiced and realized this in the growing yoga. After that, visualize everything as unsubstantial, even tiny things are seen as hollow inside and with only the substance of a bubble. The flesh body is realized as completely empty inside while outside it is like a color-shadow of the Buddha form.
  2. In the void body, visualize the three great yogic nerves (to the left, the Shashi: on the right, the Mitira, and in the center, Sushumna), and they are all seen as void. The five or seven wheels (cakras) are also visualized and known to be void. The 72,000 small nerves also appear as void. It is more important to stress practice with the median nerve and realize its void nature. Sometimes it is contracted to the fineness of a fiery hair, and sometimes expanded to a torrent of fire engulfing the three worlds (See Evans-Wentz's edited book.)
  3. Practice the Sunyata meditations of energy breathing. During deep breathing, a breath should be held so that one can correspond its three stages of in-remain-out with the three vajra wisdom words, OM AH HUM. This should be done very carefully and must of course be very finely accompanied by Sunyata, then the energy breath becomes wisdom energy. In most books this process is not given, said Mr. Chen—and then laughed, saying further: This is my Pride!
  4. Sunyata of Essence. There are in the Vajrayana two sorts of semen, the red one (kun) and the white (tha or da), hence this practice is known as kunda. "Kun" means the five wisdoms, "Da" means the essence of the five elements. When the red one rises, the white point goes down. Together they make Buddhahood, but they must correspond very exactly to the Sunyata of wisdom (red) and the Sunyata of pleasure (white); and when they are well identified, the Buddha wisdom rises.

In the Five Meditation of the Hinayana there is one concerning breath. Now we see that the meaning here is quite different—this is the highest stage among the breathing practices. Readers should see our diagram (see Chapter VIII, figure 6 in Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical) for the correspondences through the various yanas.

B. Realization

This depends on two factors: Sunyata and breath. The realization of Sunyata has already been given (See Chapter X. pt. 2, IX of Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical) and it only remains to list here the three ranks of Breath-realization:
  1. Mr. Chen now showed how the breath timing is calculated. Sitting up straight, with the left hand in dhyana position, he drew in a breath and then tapped with the fingers of his right hand first upon his right knee, then left knee, then tapped his forehead and finally snapped his fingers. Tap, tap, tap, snap was the only sound in the room, regular and unhurried. When one can hold a single breath for 36 of these cycles (about one minute perhaps) then this is the lowest achievement.
  2. The middle rank is calculated in the same way but the breath is held for 72 cycles. I have arrived at this stage only at present, added our yogi.
  3. 108 times repeating this process during one breath is called the highest achievement.
Higher still is the accomplishment of some tantric sages who during their sitting practice only take six breaths in twenty-four hours.

For the Realization of Form: the sign of success is when the median nerve opens and all its knots untangle. Mr. Chen explained with a grimace that in most people their wheels are all blocked and their nerves all knotted. Before they are all open, five or ten signs are experienced such as sparks, the moon, the sun, or the light of stars, flashes of lightening, etc.

When the median nerve is opened, the Dharmakaya is won, and when the five wheels are cleared, the Sambhogakaya is attained and at the time when the 72,000 nerves are purified and straightened, then many Nirmanakaya forms may issue out from the yogin.

III. Third Initiation Meditations

There are two kinds to be considered here, Mr. Chen began. One is for monks and the other for laymen.

In the case of the bhikshu he is obviously not able by the nature of his precepts (the Vinaya) to use a physical Dakini. For his practice, there are visualizations to be performed in which he embraces a mind-made Dakini and this brings about the great pleasure which has to be identified with the great void. The purport of the meditation is in any case the same for the bhikshu or the layman and only the conditions are different. The layman can of course use a physical yogic partner if he wishes.

It must be as Milarepa said: "On the pleasure meditate with Sunyata; on the Sunyata meditate with pleasure." Sometimes when the yoga is practiced, these two factors are not identified. Sometimes there is more pleasure and at other times, more concentration upon Sunyata. But a good yogi will try to get these perfectly identified with one another.

A. Why is the Heruka Form Used ?

The reasons for this are written in detail in Professor Guenther's book Yuganaddha, the Tantric View of Life. Here we shall confine ourselves to some simple reasons.

Principally the answer to our question is because the female energy is the expedient force while the corresponding male energy is of wisdom force. This is the inward position. Outer bodies are the reverse of this where the female is associated with wisdom while the male represents the aspect skillful means and the compassion. The outside body of the female is wisdom, and Mr. Chen indicated the lines and curves of the woman's body, these breasts and hips, these are attractive. What does attractive mean? Wisdom. What causes others' excitement is of wisdom. Whatever there is of beauty, that too is of wisdom for beauty and wisdom are both attractive. Contrasting with this, female inner energy is of expedient force which after even a single touch-sensation by a man can result for him in seminal discharge. Our yogi warned that even swooning could come about from contact with a powerful dakini.

The male is complementary to the female, and although his outward aspect is of skillfulness, his inner energy is of the wisdom force. This we see since the outer body is not especially beautiful, only the male organ being attractive, while the inner energy is quickly excited and easily leads to a discharge. This is because the wisdom force energy acts abruptly without strong patience to hold in the semen during the love action. Usually the energy which comes into the median nerve is wisdom. Only through the median nerve will this energy become true wisdom, and the way for it to pass is through the reproductive organ, referred to as the lower gate. The upper gate is the nose and these two gates must be balanced, not one large and the other small. When balance of them is achieved, true wisdom results. In the act of love with the lower gate, one takes advantage of the female expedient force energy. At this time, the median nerve is easy to open.

All this constitutes our main reason why the Heruka form should be used.

B. On Tantric Precepts

During the last few nights I have had some special instructions in my dreams. In the light of my dream, my guru the Karmapa Rinpoche appeared, his room very full of fruits and flowers, some of which I offered him. Very clearly he said to me: You should talk about the Tantric Precepts according to the way they are explained in your book but not in the usual way of instruction.

Mr. Chen produced a handsome silk-covered Chinese work, saying: This is my book—the one the Karmapa Rinpoche referred to. In it all the precepts of the Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana on the subjects of lust and love are all collected together and classified. This subject has never been discussed by Tibetan writers but my "Essays of Tcho Kun-zai" (that is the book's title) have been much praised by some Chinese. They described it as a very fragrant work since at the time of reading it they noticed a sweet perfume in the room. Also when I was writing it, I would smell their fragrance quite strongly. Said Mr. Chen turning over its pages: It is beloved by Manjusri Mahabodhisattva who appears here on the front piece, and is protected by Wei-To as well, whose picture we see guarding the book's last pages.

Alas! In the Tibetan Anuttarayoga works which are translated into Chinese, such as some of the Wong rituals, I have never seen anywhere mention of the fourteen Vajrayana Precepts. This is an amazing thing!, said Mr. Chen. Only the Mahayana precepts have been emphasized and gurus instruct their disciples to get and practice these but do not advise them regarding the Vajrayana silas, although these are extraordinarily important.

1. The Fourteen Vajrayana Precepts

One of the five great Vajra herukas is called Secret Accumulation Vajra and his ritual is one of the Anuttarayoga practices now in Chinese. But in connection with this, the Vinaya (Hinayana) and the Bodhisattva Silas (Mahayana) are spoken of, but nothing is said about these fourteen silas of the Adamantine Vehicle. It is just the same in other Chinese works, they are all silent about the esoteric precepts. Even in the Nga-rin of the Yellow Party, these are not discussed. I managed to read of the tradition of these silas and then afterwards got them as a special instruction from my Gelugpa guru. But at that time I had not yet obtained the Third Initiation so he only bestowed upon me the tradition of the precepts but not their real explanation. In China, said our yogi, the tantric gurus mostly cannot get the Anuttara yoga initiations so they merely impart the silas without any comment on their meaning. I finally got them explained to me, not upon the occasion of a Wong, but specially inspired and comprehended by the grace of Karmapa Rinpoche. What are the reasons then why these precepts are neither written in TSongkhapa's book nor expounded upon the occasions of tantric instruction? This is because the fourteen are mostly concerned with the identification of Sunyata and pleasure and as it would be necessary to explain the details of Vajra love, so these precepts are kept secret.

If a Rinpoche is also a great scholar, he may be able to give other explanations. It even happens that disciples get the words of the precepts but do not know their meaning. For instance, one sila, the fifth one, says: "You should not lose your Bodhicitta." But this does not mean the common Bodhicitta of the Mahayana but is the fifth one and this has a secret meaning. Here, the proper explanation is: "You should not discharge your semen." Even if scholars are learned they will seldom give the hidden meaning.

To take another example, the ninth precept states: "You should not doubt the purified Dharma." What does this mean? The time of purification in the Hinayana and sublimation in the Mahayana has long passed, so what is the meaning here? This sorrow of lust has been purified by the Lesser Vehicle practices where the opposite sex is thought of as very dangerous and one's own body is analyzed to see the nature of the 36 corrupt parts. Following this comes the attainment of a meditative body and its subsequent sublimation in Sunyata, so it is not the body of flesh which is identified with the dakini's during vajra love. Further, the physical body realized as Sunyata in the Mahayana becomes transmuted in the tantra of the Growing Yoga when one attains a Buddha body. This body with its purified and opened median nerve, this is the body to use. In this initiation of the Vajrayana, the name "penis" is not given to the reproductive organ, here it is called "vajra." The practices which are part of this yoga, therefore, do not resemble the love for a human woman, one other important difference being that here the semen is retained.

Mr. Chen recapitulated: from the meditations of the Hinayana, we come to the Mahayana where every part of the body is seen as Sunyata and therefore the human penis no longer exists. From Sunyata meditations, one passes on to the Five Wisdoms and the Five Elements which go to form the vajra. This vajra we may then use to come into the lotus of the Dakini and even at that time one's power of meditation must be held. If it is not possible to hold on to spiritual power during vajra love, then whatever is done at that time is not this meditation.

These are the various reasons why this practice is called a holy and purified Dharma and this, according to the precept, "we should not doubt."

2. The Eight Precepts

This further group of tantric silas also are not discussed very much even in Tibet and for the same reason, as they concern vajra love. These are not so great that one will go to hell for breaking them for they are not dealing with such serious matters as the fourteen precepts. The latter, if broken sends one straight to hell, the Vajra Hell, from which one never (or hardly ever) can return to more pleasant states.

Outwardly these precepts may not seem connected with our subject but their inner meaning relates to the Third Initiation. For instance, our yogi remarked, one of the precepts is the following: "If a person asks you with faith about the Dharma and one then refuses to reply or tells the questioner not to ask, then this is a great sin." In this precept, the request seems to be just for the Dharma and nothing is said about the Dharma of vajra love. That the questioner in the precept really means this, is kept secret. Sometimes this is kept so secret that even gurus do not know the true meaning here.

3. When One May and May Not Practice

I am sorry to say, said Mr. Chen, that I do not know Tibetan very well and my gurus were not proficient in Chinese. My translator for discussing these matters with my teachers was a young bhikshu, so for this reason alone they would not discuss Third Initiation practice in detail. I asked my guru: What are the conditions for the practice of this initiation? He replied: If you can practice this vajra love yoga without any leak occurring, you can go to any girl. So in Tibet, I took some vajra girls but after trying hard to practice this yoga with them for some time, I found I received no benefit from it.

I came to the conclusion that first one should study and practice all the other yanas and yogas very deeply. Only after this would one be able to take up these methods with success. It was only after I had tried to practice vajra love that I discovered the twelve kinds of discharges mentioned so that my guru's advice was quite correct but unfortunately I did not realize that the word "discharge" could have so many meanings. In my book I have collected together from many sources all the twelve meanings of this term. As far as I know, said Mr. Chen, there is no other place where they are all found together.

(1)-(4): The first four pertain to the body; discharge of semen through the seminal duct, through the mouth, through the pores of the skin, and through the urethra. These are called the four leaks of the body.

(5)-(8): The four leaks of the mind. If while this vajra-love is going on, a mind arises dominated by human love, then this is the first mind-leak. Not only a thought of human love constitutes a leak but the slightest craving to do something lustful constitutes the second mind-leak. If avidya (ignorance) rules in the mind—this is also a leak. Lastly, if false views condition one's ways of thinking, this is a serious leak of the mind.

How can one accomplish meditation so successfully that these four mind-leaks cannot occur? It seems almost impossible! It means that first one must have attained success in Sunyata meditations. If there is no Sunyata attainment, then these four in particular can very easily leak. A Kargyupa treatise talks a little about these and in this respect it is better than the Nga-Rin but it was not my fortune to see the former before I began with the Third Initiation.

But there are still four additional leaks and these concern speech. In tantric philosophy, speech always corresponds to breath and inner energy mixed.

Mr. Chen now described both the kind of inner energies (prana) and the leakages of them:

(9): Upward-moving energy. If one talks love with a dakini while one's yogic love practice is going on, then this energy is leaked away. It is not so good to talk. The whole vajra love process should be carried out in silence and concentration, said Mr. Chen.

(10): Downward-moving energy. This is the vajra love action of in and out, penetration and withdrawal. The rhythm should be slow and the penetration sometimes deep and sometimes shallow. It should not be like that of the common lustful person, always going quickly and deeply. If one practices only quick and deep action, then this is a leak of the downward-moving energy.

(11): Energy of the Navel. This energy abides in the lower half of the body. If one always changes the posture for vajra love—and there are many different positions for its practice then this energy is leaked away.

(12): All-pervading energy of the body. In one's yogic love practice there are four events: the falling down of the pleasure, the retention of the semen, the taking up of the semen, and making the semen pervade everywhere in the body.

Now if one spends too long over this practice and repeats some of these steps again and again, then a leak will occur of this all pervading energy. One should only meditate on Sunyata during the whole process, there being no need to repeat some of its parts.

These four leaks of speech and of energy are my own opinion and although there is no basis for them in the works of ancients, still, said our yogi, they are quite reasonable.

This completes our twelve leaks but there is yet another energy. The fifth energy never leaks away on this occasion, otherwise one would die from sexual intercourse, for this energy is the very life energy itself. If it was easy for it to leak out then it would also be easy for people to die but for most people death is not so easy.

Since my experiences in Tibet, I have not dared to meditate in this way for two reasons: Firstly, I fear that one or more of the leaks might still occur and secondly, I have met no Dakini. My Sunyata meditation is still not perfect. I have tried but still it is not completely accomplished, said our yogi. He went on: The mental leaks are very subtle and I am not yet able to control the process without lust arising. As it is very easy to fall because of this, so I should not practice these methods. To think of it! That when I did practice, I knew only one out of these twelve leaks!

4. Classification of Precepts

I have made a list here of all these various precepts, said Mr. Chen picking up his book (i.e. "A Chart of Vajra Love and All its Concerned Silas, " New Booklet No. 47.) There are eight points drawn from the Hinayana and fourteen from Mahayana articles. In the tantra, there are also fourteen plus eight, and in addition to these there are twelve leaks and the precepts of the five Buddhas and their Dakinis, which are another ten. Finally, there are four precepts of the Dharmakaya in Chan which are also found in the teaching of Mahamudra. Altogether in that Chart are a grand total of 70 precepts from the different Yanas.

I have classified them according to yanas and then dealt with each precept under four different headings. Mr. Chen showed his book to the listener and writer. Along the top line were written the original precepts. The second row of characters contained, he said, accounts of those who had actually practiced that precept. Then followed the real meaning of the preceptual words. We shall only talk about a few instances from this line, our yogi said. The fourth line shows very clearly what may not be committed—that is, how the precept of the first line is broken.

In this way also the contrast between actions in the different yanas is clearly brought out. There is no actual contradiction between them for all the precepts emphasize what is right conduct, but this differs upon the various levels.

For example, a Hinayana precept states: "Even though you are a layman, you should not have sexual intercourse at the wrong time or in the wrong place." All the yogi's conduct in the Vajrayana is meditation, he never leaves it either by night or by day and in all actions he practices diligently. For the yogi practicing vajra love there is no wrong time and no wrong place. According to the eight Vajrayana precepts, meetings of yogis and yoginis for the purpose of making offerings and worship should be conducted decorously and there should be no squabbling among them. Such gatherings will be in a temple, and, according to the Hinayana precept, this would undoubtedly be a 'wrong place'. But, in the Vajrayana, it is quite in order provided that the union is carried out in the correct yogic manner. There seems to be a contradiction here but really there is none and it is just an instance of the relativity of conduct: what is a good sila in one yana and what is not a good sila in another may be quite the reverse of each other.

Now we should examine more closely the third line which gives the true meaning of these silas for meditation—for this is our subject. If one has no doubt about this purified Dharma then, as we have explained, one should diligently do it. But, and this cannot be said too many times, one should accompany one's actions with Sunyata meditation and completely identify this with the pleasure arising. A right dharma which is not an act of lust may be done at any time. The place of the holy tantric altar is just the place of the action and one may therefore perform vajra love there.

This precept is broken (our fourth line) if one makes love in a human way with neither purification nor skill in Sunyata. It is also broken if there is not the Holy Pride of Buddhahood present all the time. Even if the time and place are both auspicious but if the dharmas have not been purified and lust dominates one's practice, then still the precept is broken.

Let us take another example, this time from the Mahayana. In the Bodhisattva Silas, it says: "Neither hurt your enemies nor love your friends." But the yogi practicing the Third Initiation is bound to love his friends (the Dakinis). How is it then that he does not break this Mahayana precept? According to our meditation, love has already been identified with Sunyata and is therefore not a common love. Not being a common or selfish love, the precept is not broken.

Considering the fourth line in this case we find that common persons who try to practice vajra love first, lack the very essential basis of Sunyata realization. They have never tried practicing the Three Wheels of Sunyata (See Chapter X of Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical). Their application here would be to thoroughly understand the voidness of the yogi, the voidness of the dakini, and the void nature of the whole vajra love process. As they have not understood these aspects of voidness, so they are called 'common persons'. As they are common persons, so they are still full of lust. As they are still full of lust, so they break this precept by the selfish love of friends.

In my book every precept is mentioned thus. Having seen apparent contradictions between the Vajrayana spirit and the words of the two yanas, we might now examine a case where two tantric precepts appear to clash with each other.

One says: "If you do not obey the command of your guru and practice the rites of the Third Initiation when ordered, then this precept is broken."

On the other hand, this thirteenth precept seems to be contradicted by the fifth among the fourteen: "If you lose your Bodhicitta then this precept is broken."

Then suppose one practices in accordance with the guru's instruction but is unable to prevent a discharge; thus, the Vajrayana Precept bidding one not to lose one's Bodhicitta will be broken. This meditation should be practiced very well without a discharge occurring but if semen is lost, one should not go to the guru and say: Oh, this is a very bad meditation! One should ask the teacher in this way: First permit me to make very good foundations and when these are strong, then I shall practice. Please wait, I shall aim at attainment after the conditions for it are fulfilled. In this way, neither of the precepts are broken, indeed both may be perfectly observed.

Another group of precepts are to be found in the teaching of Mahamudra where there are four laws of nature which are not very widely known:

  1. One should not hold on to truth too tightly—this corresponds to realization in Sunyata, to no-reality.
  2. Keep the mind always vast as the Dharmakaya.
  3. Alone. This is the nature of the Dharmakaya.
  4. Always maintain a natural mind: no force is needed.

These four are very hard to keep without a realization of the Dharmakaya. In Mahamudra they are explained in this way but their correspondences with vajra love are never mentioned.

C. Vajra Love Action

These sections correspond one to one with the four Mahamudra precepts given above.
  1. If the semen is lost during vajra love action, one should meditate upon its no-reality. If the act is performed and great pleasure results, then this pleasure must be identified with no-reality. Our meditations so far are all of the Third Initiation but this process belongs to the Fourth, so how can a meditator be expected to keep this precept? If the semen can be held and the Sunyata meditation accomplished, then this may lead onto the practice of the Fourth Initiation, and if it is lost, while the precept is not in this case broken, still the practice is not good.
  2. Hold the semen in the penis. For this, one must maintain a samapatti upon the vastness of the sky. If one can do this, then no semen will escape nor any disease attack the reproductive organs and the samapatti under these conditions will cause the semen to dissolve.
  3. If one takes the semen up, one should think of pleasure and Sunyata identified and this state of non-dualism corresponds to "Alone".
  4. The semen should lastly be made to pervade the whole body and this must be done naturally and without force so that the fourth precept is not broken.
So I have just given some selections from the different precepts together with their interpretation, for, said Mr. Chen turning over many pages of his book, there is no room to deal with them all in our work here. I have humbly gathered them together and earnestly tried to practice them, but I confess with tears before our Lord that in the practice of most people, the breaches detailed in the fourth line are often committed.

In Tibet the books all emphasize the practice of meditation but do not discuss, as we have pointed out, the 14 tantric precepts. So in a dream last night, a protector deity came to me and asked: "What are the Fourteen Precepts?" This question shows lack of knowledge about these even in the East and more surprising still, among the tantric deities themselves. If this is the case, then how dangerous ignorance could be in the West where few books on the tantra have been published. In those, passages from tantric texts, such as the famous line permitting one to use any woman, whether mother, sister or daughter as a dakini, may be quoted and not understanding the context in which they occur or their hidden meaning, then great danger can come to the Dharma. Hence in this section on the Vajrayana, we have very strongly insisted upon firstly, the importance of the guru-disciple relationship and secondly, upon the neglected Vajrayana precepts.

However, if a person comes into the Third Initiation well prepared by his previous training in the other yogas and yanas, then there will be no danger for him. But our yogi warned very seriously: If one comes straight into the vajra love without the necessary preparations, then one will fall straight into Hell!

There are many practical methods for the Third Initiation but here we only give the main principles, that is, the perfect identification of the four pleasures with the four voidness. As to the practical methods themselves, they must be obtained from a guru.

D. The Four Sunyatas in the Vajrayana

The meaning of Sunyata in the Mahayana and in the Vajrayana is quite different though in "Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrine" they are listed by the editor as though they were comparable. As the idea of Sunyata differs between the Hinayana and Mahayana, so it is different here. Evans-Wentz has stated (see p. 206) that the third degree of Sunyata in the Vajrayana (All-Voidness) is equivalent to the thirteenth voidness (The Sunyata of Phenomena) in the Mahayana list of eighteen. We should not be confused by mere names thinking that because they appear to be similar, so they actually represent the same reality. His equation is not correct in this case, for Mahayana Sunyata lays more stress upon the mentality side, lacking a balancing emphasis on materiality. But the four Sunyata of the tantra concern the heavy sorrows of the Five Poisons and the material elements. Mahayana samapatti of Sunyata is done while sitting quietly engaged with mental elements and processes. Vajrayana samapattis of Sunyata are practiced during the vajra love act when the possibility of excitation is greatest and one is concerned particularly with physical force. It is when the semen is actually flowing that it is necessary both to have and to hold these four attainments in Sunyata.

Summing this up, our yogi said: In all three yanas there is the same Sunyata, but Hinayana doctrine holds onto some small particles, while in Mahayana one is meditating with the mind. How this contrasts with tantric meditation upon the occasion of the strong excitement of love when mentality and materiality are mixed!

E. Lines from the Ode 'Always Remember'

This long poem was written by me at the request of some friends. Another of my friends had meditated for 100 days three times without getting any positive results and feeling disheartened, had gone away. So it was requested that I write a poem as some good advice for him. After it had been printed in Hong Kong many people read it, including my friend. He appreciated its whole message though here we have space only for a few lines. Mr. Chen translated his poem giving between the lines his own commentary—here placed in brackets.

"Tantric Vinaya is like keeping precepts in the breaking of them."

(In Hinayana the precepts are used as an escape and one hides away in Sunyata in the Mahayana, but in the Vajrayana one tries to keep them while breaking them. This is very difficult to do, something to be done only after keeping the precepts pure in the other two yanas.)

"Tantric Samatha is like getting life from death."

(The deeper one goes into common samatha, the more like death the state of the yogi becomes. But the Vajrayana samatha is like the most vivid life for one obtains some functions of salvation from this highest samatha. In the concluding sections of the chapter on the yanas of Cause, I have given a guide for the yogi's practice. But I did not give this in the highest tantra because here one is always meditating at every time, in every place. Wherever one happens to be, that is the mandala; whatever words one utters, these are the mantric syllables; as to the mind, it is never without the Bodhicitta. In dream, in sleep, work or exercise, in all these the meditation must be preserved. So there is no need to give a list of times and practice because this meditation is in the position of Consequence.)

"Tantric Wisdom uses the Position of Consequence as the Position of Cause."

(Here one makes use of the wisdom of the final truth as one's instrument and from this some function of salvation issues out. The methods used are always in the position of Buddhahood. It is quite different from Mahayana in which Sunyata only seems to be the end of all things. In the Tantra however, we consider both the mental and material sides as a whole cause of salvation).

And the last line of the poem reads:

"If a little mistake is made, one will fall into Hell—always remember this."

F. Conclusion.

If one has already passed through and accomplished the previous yanas' meditation, then there will be no danger. One has to get the actual details from a personal teacher and here we have been content to outline the principles.
[Home][Back to main list][Back to Chenian][Go to Dr. Lin's works]