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Vajrayana is a Buddhist path. The term covers a body of teachings and practices that developed over hundreds of years in India, Tibet and other Asian countries. It is used to describe a Buddhist approach in contrast to Hinayana and Mahayana. Vajrayana includes Buddhist Tantra. Vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning “thunderbolt”. Yana means “path” or “way”.
Vajrayana is relevant for practitioners wanting to apply meditation to daily living without a renunciative lifestyle. Many of its practices are transformative in principle. Tantrikas – Vajrayana practitioners – approach emotions, and all of life, as material to work with. The point of Buddhist Tantric practice is to develop skilful, competent activity in every-day circumstances. Qualities of anger such as clarity and energetic motivation are fuel for effective intervention when they’re experienced without self-justification or peevish vengeance.
The parts of Vajrayana I find most appealing and applicable to contemporary life are the practices and teachings that developed outside monastic systems – the yogic traditions. Yogis and monks were never entirely separate in practice: some monks became wandering yogis, monasteries institutionalized methods from great yogic masters, male and female. Nonetheless, a clear strand of non-monastic, yogic practitioners in the Himalayas is traceable back to early centuries AD in India. I belong to this tradition.
On Vajrayana Now I explore how Vajrayana adapts as it transitions from its pre-modern cultural formation into contemporary societies.
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