The value – and misunderstanding – of fantasy
The following is from Wikipedia:
Vajrayana Buddhism is esoteric in the sense that the transmission of certain teachings only occurs directly from teacher to student during an empowerment and cannot be simply learned from a book. Many techniques are also commonly said to be secret, but some Vajrayana teachers have responded that secrecy itself is not important and only a side-effect of the reality that the techniques have no validity outside the teacher-student lineage. In order to engage in Vajrayana practice, a student should have received such an initiation or permission.
If these techniques are not practised properly, practitioners may harm themselves physically and mentally. In order to avoid these dangers, the practice is kept “secret” outside the teacher/student relationship. Secrecy and the commitment of the student to the vajra guru are aspects of the samaya or “sacred bond”, that protects both the practitioner and the integrity of the teachings.
The teachings may also be considered “self-secret”, meaning that even if they were to be told directly to a person, that person would not necessarily understand the teachings without proper context. In this way the teachings are “secret” to the minds of those who are not following the path with more than a simple sense of curiosity.
The pointing-out instruction is the direct introduction to the nature of mind in the Tibetan Buddhist lineages of Mahāmudrā and Dzogchen. In these traditions, a “root guru” gives the “pointing-out instruction” in such a way that the disciple successfully recognises the “nature of mind.”
This is all about realising the true nature of mind
The important thing about Tantra/Vajrayana is the outcome, the result, the fruition of realising the ground – the true nature of mind.
The world is full of fantasy, appearances and craziness, and we can use these phantoms to realise the true nature of mind, which is Mahamudra/Dzogchen. If we choose to go directly to Mahamudra/Dzogchen, we do not need Tantra/Vajrayana. However, it’s a great back up!
Saying that the world is full of fantasy, appearances and craziness isn’t actually correct; it is the mind that is full of fantasy, appearances and craziness!
All appearances take place in the mind, sentient beings mistake these for reality. The true nature of mind is empty awareness, the reality that is aware of all mental fantasies…that’s if we have received the right instruction.
This is why it is said that we live in a dream world. When dreaming, these fantastical appearances seem real enough – until we wake up. And then, even in our ‘waking state’, we are still in a dream in believing that which appears to be real. Until we realise the nature of everything (which is empty of any reality), we will never wake up. This is why some advanced practitioners engage in dream yoga.
Tantra/Vajrayana is meaningful at death. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, it is said that we will meet all sorts of fantastical visions of peaceful and wrathful deities in the form of coloured lights, and if we don’t understand their appearances and symbology, we will be fearful, and panic.
Through proper practice, this need not be the case. Tantric/Vajrayana practice is the creation of visions of peaceful and wrathful deities; these are completely fantastical. We practise in developing detailed visualisation of deities, reciting their mantra and then dissolving all this into emptiness – the true nature of everything! We are practising, acknowledging and dissolving all appearances because we know that all appearances are empty, and merely projections of our mind. Because we are familiar with this, there is therefore no fear. This also applies to daily life.
We have to be aware of the context of traditions. Certain traditions suit certain cultures. For example, those who believe in ghosts and are superstitious will see these teachings in a certain light. If we are reasonable people, we can then accept that this is their tradition, but not ours and so, we practise from a slightly different perspective. If we went into a Tibetan house, their walls might be painted blue to remind them of the sky, but we don’t do that.
If we are not superstitious, we don’t have to become superstitious and start believing in ‘something’. Ideas are picked up without proper understanding; people believe that they are truly seeing ‘something’, and may even start talking to it.
We do make supplications in prayers, but this is a psychological enhancement, a reminder. The result is blessings of clarity.
Unfortunately, social media and conspiracy sites pick up bits of these ideas, and through ignorance, deceive themselves and others. The hallmark of this is that their emotions are not stable.
is creating and dissolving appearances into emptiness.
Dissolving into emptiness
is just letting go,
as with everything that occurs in daily life.