an introduction to the buddhist tantric systems

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  • 7/28/2019 An Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems




    E D I T O R - I N - C H I E F

    A . K. NarainUniversity of Wiscon sin, Mad ison, USA

    E D I T O R SHeinz Bechert Leon Hurvitz

    Universitat Gottingen, FRG UBC, Vancouver, CanadaLewis Lancaster A lexander W. MacDonald

    University of California, Berkeley, USA Universite de Paris X, Nanterre, FranceB.J. Stavisky A lex Wayman

    WNU R, Moscow, USSR Columbia University, New York, USA

    A S S O C I A T E E D I T O R

    Stephen BeyerUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

    Volume 2 1979 Number 2

  • 7/28/2019 An Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems


    C O N T E N T S

    I. ARTICLESDharmasri on the Sixteen Degrees of Comprehension

    by Leon Hurvitz 7Indrabhuti's 'Confession of Errors in the FundamentalTe ach ing s of the Vajrayana', A Critical Edition, EnglishTranslation and Discussion, by Nathan Katz 31Non-duality of the Tw o Tru th s in Sinitic Madhyamika: Originof the 'Third Truth' , by Whalen Lai 45Transpersonal Psychological Observations on TheravadaBuddhist Meditative Practices, by James Santucci 66Bodhicaryavatara 9:2 as a Focus for Tibetan Interpretationsof the Two Truths in the Prasangika Madhyamikaby Michael Sweet 79

    II . SHORT PAPER1. Some B uddh ist Poems in Tamil, by G. Vijayavenugopal 93

    I I I . BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTICESReviews:1. The Prajnaparamita Literature, by Edward Conze 992. Two Ways to Perfection: Buddhist and Christian

    by Shanta Ratnayaka 1033. An Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systemsby F. D. Lessing and A . Wayman 1044. Religion and the Legitimation of Power in South Asia;

    Religion and Legitimation of Power in Sri Lanka;Religion and Legitimation of Power in Thailand, Laosand Burma, by Bardwell Smith 1075. Studies in Pali and Buddhism, Edited by A . K. Narain 109

  • 7/28/2019 An Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems


    Notices:1. B uddh i s t Wisdom . The m ys te ry o f the self, by George Grimm 1112 . B uddhi sm . A se l ec t b iography , by Satyaprakasli 1123 . Liv ing B uddh i s t Mas te r s , by Jack KornjieUl 1124 . Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis , by Steven T. Katz 112

    I V . N O T E S A N D N E W S1. O n B uddh i s t R esea rch In fo rm at ion (B . R . I . )

    of the Ins t i tu te for Advanced Studiesof W orld Rel ig ions ( IASW R), New York 113O B I T U A R Y H 6

    L I S T O F I A B S M E M B E R S 117

    The Edi tor - in-Chief wishes to express thanks to Roger Jacksonand Rena Crispin for their assis tance in the production of this issue.

  • 7/28/2019 An Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems


    r ep resen t s a mode l fo r Buddh is t -Chr i s t i an d ia logue . Hav ing g ivendeta i led and accurate descr ip t ions of each t radi t ion , the authorimpar t ia l ly compares the major ideas of the two t radi t ions wi th noat tempt to advocate the super ior i ty of h is own t radi t ion . Theco m pa r iso n of th e two t radi t ion s is ef fective because i t focuses up on on especif ic representa t ive f rom each t radi t ion . Too of ten in Buddhis t -Ch r is t ian d ia log ue the two t radi t io ns have bee n seen as mo nol i ths ra the rth an as cum ulat iv e t radi t ions having mult ip le an d var ied perspect ives .When in terpreters have fa i led to recognize the p lura l ism with in thet r ad i t ion , they usua l ly have ended up compar ing soph is t i ca ted under s tandings of thei r own t radi t ion with car icatures of the o ther t radi t ion ,while missing s ignif icant points of commonality in various schools orf igures of the two t radi t ions .

    By tak ing B ud dh ag ho sa a nd Wes ley the au tho r is ab le to comp areboth the overall intention of their religious systems and the specif ice lements wi th in the sys tems . He f inds some impor tant s imilar i t ies , forexample , in the way they under s tood the human p red icamen t and intheir bel ief that the way to perfect ion represented the so lu t ion to thepr ed ica m en t . Bu t he is a lso able to show that signif icant d i f ferencesbec om e man i fes t when we exam ine the i r under s ta nd in gs of concep tslike faith and wisdom. So that in the end we must see that "The Ways ofPerfection they offer seem to be two different Ways which lead to twod i f f e ren t Goa ls . "

    T his book w ould be im po r tan t even if it were only an expla nat iono f t h e T h e r a v a d i n u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f t h e Visuddhimagga. Bu t beca use i t isth at as well as a solid co m pa riso n of the Visuddhimagga's viewpoint with am ajor C hr is t ian v iewpoint , it i s dou bly im po r tan t . Read ers wi th varyinginteres ts in Buddhis t s tudies , as wel l as in Comparat ive Rel ig ions , wi l lf ind th is book useful .

    George Bond

    A n Introdu ction to the Buddh ist Ta ntric Systems, tr . F.D. Lessing and A.Wayman . New Delh i : Mot i l a l Banar s idas s , 1978 .

    We have, wi th the recent republ icat ion of Fundamentals of theBuddhist Tantras, the sec ond edi t ion of a very wor thwhile work a t a m uchmore af fordable pr ice . The or ig inal publ icat ion of the work by Moutonand Co. in 1960 was a welcome addi t ion to the a l l - too-smal l corpus ofl i tera ture in the f ie ld of the Buddhis t Tantras , and th is second edi t ion ,recent ly brought out by the Indological publ ish ing f i rm of Moti la lBa na rs id ass a nd Co . , has al l of the advanta ges of the or ig inal 1960p u b l i c a t i o n .

  • 7/28/2019 An Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems


    The t rans la t ion of mKhas Grub r je ' s Kiyud sDe sPyi'i rNatn, th em ain focus of the work, is fou nd on the oppo si te page of an edi ted andtran s l i te ra te d vers ion of th e Ti be t an text , a t ru e asse t to the Tibe tologis t .T h e t r ans la t ion having been com ple ted by Drs . Lessing and Waym an inth e 1950's , i t was com piled a nd fo otno ted by Dr . Waym an af te r th eunt ime ly pass ing away of h i s co-author .

    T h e p res en t edi t ion is ident ica l in all respec ts to tha t previo us o ne ,with the except ion of the addi t ion of a new introduct ion. In i t , Dr .Wayman sheds new l ight on severa l of the ques t ions he le f t open in theea r l i e r ed i t ion ; t r ac ing , for exam ple , many of mK has Gru b r je ' s sourcesto the works of Bu sTon Rin Po Che (b. 1290). He also briefly discussessom e of the re la t ionships be tween the Ta nt ra and the Bu ddh is t ph i losophica l te ne t schools . I t i s a gre a t p leasu re to see t rea tm en t of this po int ,too of ten over looked or ignored in other discuss ions of this subjec t .

    There is however one point on which I would beg to dif fer wi thDr. W ay m an . In his discuss ion of ini t ia t ion (abhlseka), he states that Atisaprohib i t s the Sec re t {guhya) a nd W is dom (prajna) In i t ia t ions to ord a in edmonks , because they conta in mater ia l which would br ing comple te lossof the vows (skt. ji , t ib. pham pa). ' T h o u g h this is cer ta inly t rue , I wou ldno t co nc ur w ith th e reason given by Dr . Way m an, viz . tha t "only thep u re l ife (a m on k's l ife) is cons is tent wi th the B ud dh a ' s dh ar m a, whi lethese two ini t ia t ions viola te the pure l i fe : and he adds tha t there is nofaul t in knowing the s i tua t ion" . 2 Now Atisa , (and I would ment ion tha tTs on g-k ha -pa is e s sential ly in agr eem ent o n th i s po in t ) con s ide redconcre te consor t prac t ise ( the main viola t ion incurred by rece iving thesetwo int ia t ions) to be a s ine-q ua-n on for enl igh ten m en t . I f tha t is t ru e , itwould imply that such a practise is not only consistent with, but in fact isa necessa ry aspec t of the B ud dh is t p a th . How can this be jus t i f ied in l ightof the re m ar ks of Dr . W aym an c i ted above? It ap pe ars tha t if we take thel ine " th er e is no faul t in kno win g the s i tua t ion" in a di f fe rent context , wecan resolve the s i tua t ion. This la t te r l ine seems to be an Engl ishrender ing of the f ina l l ine of the Bodhipathapradipa:

    De nyid rig la nyes pa med4I f so, i f m igh t bes t be t rans la te d: "T h er e is no fault whe n kno win gt h a t n e s s {de nyid)." This reading is in fact confirmed by Atisa himself inh i s a u toc om m e nta r y w he r e he s t a t e s :

    As for the holy ones, whose eyes cognize alldh arm as as illusions, for these yogins whoknow the 'thatness' of these (dharmas),no fault whatsoever will be incurred.Dam pa la la'i zhal nas chos thams cad sgyu mar shes shingde'i de kh o na nyid rig pa'i rnal 'byor pa las nyes pa r 'gyur pagang yang med de.5

  • 7/28/2019 An Introduction to the Buddhist Tantric Systems


    Thus we see in fact that consor t pract i se i s permissib le , according toAt isa , af ter t he pract i t ion er has ob ta ine d some real ization of em pt ine ss ,tha t i s , af ter t he a t ta i nm en t of the s ta te of an Ary an. 6 T h e r e f o r e , w h i l eproh ib i t ing such p rac t i ces in the case o f non-Aryan monks , andd i sc ou rag ing th em a m on g non-A ryan l ay m en and wo me n , i t is by nom ea ns me an t to be an unqua l i f ied p roh ib i t ion .

    As fo r Dr . Wayman 's work itself, it is fair to say that the translat ion, i f diff icult at points, only ref lects problematic areas in the actualT ib et an te xt . I t i s on th e whole very acc urate an d fa i thful to the or ig inaland i t is for this very reason that the novice may f ind some diff iculty inusing th is work to in t roduce himsel f or hersel f to the s tudy of Tantr icBuddhi sm. One shou ld r ea l i ze o f cour se tha t even wi th in the dGe-Lugst r ad i t io n , the t ex t is con s idere d r a t he r conci se and t e r se .

    Be that as it may, i t is c lear that by any set of s ta nd ard s, the repu bl i cat ion of this classic wo rk m us t be heart i ly w elcom ed. I t is , af ter al l , on eof the most valuable sourcebooks in an a l l - too-neglected area of s tudy:t h e B u d d h i s t T a n t r a s .

    Jos Cabezon


    1. Viz. they involve breaking the vow of celibacy, which is zparajika offense.2. Lessing, F.D. and Wayman, A., A n Introduction to the Buddhist Tantrica

    Systems, p. 3 , (my insertion).3. In his famous sNgag rim chen mo Tsong-kha-pa says "The method (for

    attain ing e nligh tenm ent) is a blissful bind ing" and that "binding is the bliss of theun ion of the two orga ns (which is limited to the Highest Yoga Tant ra)" (Hopkinstranslation, p p. 119-121].

    4. Byang chub lam gyi sgron ma, from a personal manuscript published inIndia, p. 76.5. Byang chub lam gyi sgron me dang de'i dka grel. Council of Religious &

    Cultu ral Affairs, Dh armasala, India, 1969, p. 23 1.6. Atisa also brings up the p oint that othe rs hold that such practices can

    begin as early as the "weak stage of patience". R.F. Sherburne, A Study of Attsa'sCommentary on His Lamp of the Enlightenment Path, 1976, p. 445 .