Why Vajrayana Now?

Vajrayana Now explores Vajrayana Buddhism’s unique relevance to contemporary life and spiritual practice.

Vajrayana is colorful and fiery. Its practices engage with and transform emotions, rather than detatching from them. Its meditations are spacious and passionate. It promotes real world involvement, mastery, and enjoyment. It is a religion of rituals, symbols, and multiple, colorful deities. It encompasses a variety of methods, ranging from lengthy liturgy to pithy spontaneity, elaborate formality to informal ordinariness.

It grew from North Indian Tantric practices during the 5th century and later spread to the Himalayas, notably Tibet and Bhutan, and some other countries in Asia. It comprises many lineages, paths, and different views. Some traditions combine Vajrayana with Mahayana Buddhism, others approach it as a path in its own right.

Early Western travelers to the Himalayas wrote about Vajrayana but it was not systematized for modern practitioners until the 1980s. Some teachers, including Namkhai Norbu and Chögyam Trungpa, left Tibet during the Chinese occupation and set up centers and communities which still exist today.

In principle, some aspects of Vajrayana have particular relevance today. It is pragmatically oriented, has real world results, trains creative, generous involvement. It leads to increased, congruent responsiveness in everyday circumstances. Relationships and sexuality are regarded as important aspects of the path, not rejected as irrelevant to spiritual practice.

But for Vajrayana to remain relevant, it must adapt to contemporary culture. My work here encourages that process. Some of the posts are explanations of Vajrayana in principle, some explore the collision between traditional, religious presentations and contemporary sensibilities. Others are more personal and practice oriented.

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Popular posts

My Mind Illuminated (TMI) meditation journal has had over 50,000 hits.

Not all Buddhism is about liberation from suffering. Non-monastic Vajrayana emphasizes appreciation and enjoyment.

Living contradictions is a critical appraisal of contradictions in Buddhist Sutrayana, the better known and most widely practiced form of Buddhism.

My revelatory no-God experience involves mysticism, expansion of consciousness, and a delinquent nonbinary eight-year-old.

Westerners can’t hack Vajrayana unpacks a misconception common in Tibetan Buddhism.

The limited language of the no-self criticizes the limited vocabulary of meditation-speak, which centes on abnegation of the self and subject-object duality. Much meditation and the discourse surrounding it is tied up in the revelatory discovery that we don’t have a self. This bias occludes other purposes. It narrows the potential results of meditation practice to a universal, constrained, prescribed experience.

Video and audio

The video and audio section of the site is a collection of podcasts I’ve been invited to and talks I’ve given as co-founder of Evolving Ground, a community of contemporary Vajrayana practice.

Vajrayana, engineering and jiu jitsu is a conversation at the Deconstructing Yourself podcast, with Michael Taft. We discuss how Vajrayana styles of meditation differ from popular methods of mindfulness and concentration. We use my commentary and series of journal posts on Culadasa’s The Mind Illuminated to explore two contrasting systems.

This podcast might be a good introduction to Vajrayana if you are unfamiliar with it. We discuss different approaches to Vajrayana view: adapting the principles and function of systems, like an engineer, or finding the space in physical combat, like a martial artist. If you prefer reading to listening, there is a full transcript of our conversation here.

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If you’d like to join in discussions on Vajrayana, metasystematicity, meditation and martial arts, follow me on Twitter. The best way to get notifications of new pages on this site is to subscribe by email.