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  The moment of death

     The tantric path seems also to put an emphasis on death. We can see how most of the time we do react ourselves when we only hear the word "death" - because it is a socially loaded word. Whereas from the vajrayana point of view, the moment of death is a very important moment.
     Usually, our mind is completely uncontrolled at the moment we engage into the death process; our mind is like leaves in the wind. You will go from one vision to another vision without any control over this process. At one moment, all the gross conceptions are disappearing, and the mind is going to face the moment of Clear Light in death. But because we are not prepared to face the Clear Light which is the expression of the subtlest states, we become full of fear and try to flee this Clear Light. So, somehow we cannot benefit from being in touch with that subtlest state of mind; because we have not been prepared at all to face it. Thus, we generate some fear and escape from it.
Whereas, on the tantric path, the emphasis will be on the capability to be able to control the mind so that when once one will be facing the Clear Light one will be able to meditate upon the Clear Light (to be able to catch that moment and to focus on it, to remain longer in that experience). Thus, most of the practices of the tantric path will be to help us during the life to learn to operate a control on the mind at the time to face the Clear Light. We will try different methods explained in the tantric path, concentrate all energies into the central channel in order to experience the Clear Light - which is not the Clear Light of the moment of death, since we are not dying, but which will be very similar to the one we face at the moment of death. The Clear Light that one can experience during the life is called the 'Clear Light daughter', while the Clear Light experienced at the moment of death is called the 'Clear Light mother'. Thus, a lot of attention will be directed towards a better understanding and a better control of the whole process leading to face the Clear Light. And since it is a process which we experience at the time of death, since this is as well a process which we are experiencing at the moment of sleep, it is surely a process which we might be able to experience consciously within one's practice. Clearly, according to the tantric path, the experience of Emptiness is not something which is so far away, since it is an experience which we all have already had, but in an uncontrolled way.
But usually, we have such a low estimation of ourselves that when we approach a subject such as Emptiness, we feel quite discouraged and we cannot think one second that it will be soon possible to achieve such realization. But if through the practice of the tantric path you are able to overcome that low estimation mind mainly through visualizing yourself as the Deity while developing this kind of divine pride, then your mind will understand that this realization is indeed possible.
     There a four tantric classes. If you join the tantrayana, you may first join the Kriyatantra, for example, and then eventually progress through the different classes according to your inner transformation.


Question: What is the difference between Tantrayana and Vajrayana?

Answer: It is the same.

Question: On the one hand one should rely on a teacher, but at the same time it is said one shall not rely on outer phenomena; isn't this contradictory?

Answer: One can rely on a teacher mainly because the teacher is seen as the embodiment of the qualities of a Buddha. And when we say not to rely on what appears, then it means not to rely on all the projections which we are attributing to the outer phenomena. But since we need guidance, once we have checked carefully the qualities of a master, when we have have understood how compassionate and knowledgeable he is, then we may start to rely on such a qualified guide.

Question: If one sometimes has the feeling that one cannot have confidence in the teacher?

Answer: Then we may not yet have found the right teacher. In order to follow the tantric path, one must really find a qualified teacher, we are not referring to any teacher, somebody like me who is just giving a lecture or an introduction to something, but really a qualified person who has followed the path which he is teaching and who has gained a clear realization and understanding of what is taught. For that we have to follow a teacher long enough in order to be able to understand whether he represents all necessary qualities for a teacher on the tantric path. Thus, one should not rely easily on a teacher to get advised from him on the tantric path; one has to be sure about it; and that can take time. But it does not matter how much time it takes, since it is important to find a really qualified person.

Question: Is your explanation more suitable for a Western mind? Because there are examples in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, for example, from the Kagyu lineage, where disciples found their teachers more easily, where they had a kind of sudden feeling 'This is my master!', and remained with them in spite of the many troubles they had to endure.

Answer: I do believe that it applies to every situation, whatever mind, whatever lineage. On the one hand, it is still possible that after a few years of looking for a teacher, listening many teachings, finally you may find yourself in front of one specific teacher with whom there is an immediate recognition. But we have to be sure that this understanding is coming from a pure intuition and is not just a projection because somebody has a kind of charisma, or talks well, or gives details which we like. We have to be sure about what we do feel towards this person. Someone can have a very good charisma and talk very well, and yet may not have any inner realization, of Emptiness or of Bodhichitta. So, we have to be sure that the person we believe in and we feel good with has the necessary background to become a real guide. Because he/she is not only a guide for common things in daily life, it's specifically about the tantric path, somebody giving details on the tantric path, and those details have also to be adapted to the disciple; thus one really has to check well. It is said that once we have found our teacher, we have to follow him; even, as you said, if we find some obstacles, even if the teacher seems to be a little bit tough or show anger to us. If he is giving us some obstacles, we have nevertheless to follow, since he is the essence of the Buddhas. So, in order to be sure of that, I think it is better to spend some time, as much time as necessary to be sure that this is the right teacher. Because once we decide that this person will be our teacher, if you go to see that person and ask him/her to be your teacher, and if there is a reciprocal agreement, then, if you subsequently break this engagement, this is considered a very negative action. And we know from Milarepa's life story that a teacher can be very tough; but on the other hand, as far as I understood the story, Marpa never asked for anything which went against the Buddhadharma. He asked him many things which were very hard or tough for himself, but he never manifested things which are against the Buddhadharma. And this is one point to keep in mind, because His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that: when you chose to follow someone as a master, if you later see that this master obviously acts against the Buddhadharma, then you can put the qualities of the teacher in doubt. It is not me who said that, but His Holiness. Of course when I say that, I measure the weight of it, and when I say that you have to be sure that the teacher is acting against the Buddhadharma, it means that you have to be sure. It should not be just a feeling, or something that you have heard, or a misunderstanding about his activities. But if it appears clearly that the teacher asks you to kill someone, or that you act in a negative way for others, you must be careful about such orders.

Question: If one does not find a teacher, but there is a teacher who has already passed away, for whom one has great respect, reads all his books, and so on, can this teacher be one's teacher?

Answer: This is difficult, because while we are progressing on the path, we may meet some difficulties and have some questions, and then we need the appropriate answer. The appropriate advise is difficult to get from a book.

Question: And what about a Yidam being one's teacher? Can one practice the yidam as a teacher?

Answer: When we do the guru yoga or the practice of a yidam, we see our teacher as the essence of the Buddha that we are practising. We see clearly that all the deepest realizations come from the devotion which we generate towards our guru.
If one sees one's guru as a simple man, then one will receive the blessing of a simple man. If one sees one's guru as a bodhisattva, then one will receive the blessing of a bodhisattva. If one sees one's guru as a Buddha, then one will receive the blessing as if given from a Buddha. Answer:
     But only in some rare case the Yidam (as Näljorma, or Manjushri, etc) can be our teacher! Because this implies that one has already reached a very high state of realization, able to perceive the Deity clearly and have a direct relationship with.

Question: Concerning what you were explaining about the central channel and moving energies: This is also done in Qi Gong practice, but without the ethical background about Bodhichitta, and so on. Therefore I have a question: Can one be practised without the other or inhowfar are these things different.

Answer: From my understanding, this is not done in Qi Gong. It is visualised concentrating some energy in the so called central channel, but I have never read any precise descriptions from Qi Gong or Reiki and so on; the real way somehow to dissolve the energies into the central channel in a true and effective way, well detailled and described.
I am not a Qi Gong specialist, this is clear, but what I could read and hear about it is that they do some visualization, concentrating different energies in a "centralized" way, in order to have an appeased mind. But here stop the similarities with the tantric practice, because in the tantric practice we define exactly how to do it; not only how to visualize it, but to focus the mind on one of the specific chakras, describing exactly the place where the winds have to flow into the central channel and all those kinds of details, which, to my understanding, are not described in Qi Gong. When in Qi Gong we see the concentration of the vital energy in one spot of the body, we could see a parallel to the (Tibetan) 'tummo' (tib.: gtum mo) or the (Indian) kundalini practices, but even though there is a similarity, it ends there; there is no further description on how to awake this energy, and how to channel it into the central channel. Nevertheless, if somebody is doing Qi Gong generating the strong feeling or belief that some energy will move and that some energy will get concentrated and will produce something, it may in some cases really produce some experience. But since there is no background of Bodhichitta and no background of how to maintain and channel it, it will be a brief experience.
Therefore, if we want to engage into a deep and profound practice, we have to follow a traditional one, not existing since few years, and having a long lineage of practitionner who have acheive Enlightenment! We cannot become a Buddha by buying a trainning, we cannot channel those spiritual energies in few days. As we cannot become a healer after two-three week-ends of reiki.
It all depends what you want to acheive. It depends of your strengh and your motivation. Sure the Tantric Path, as any other traditional spiritual ways, require efforts and assiduity. We cannot buy Buddahood as a piece of cake, nor as a training!

We may end the evening here.
Thank you :-)

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