Now this seminar this weekend concerns a subject which is so alien from anything that we understand in the West, that it may stretch our skulls a little. I don’t know. That as Westerners face certain forms of Mahayana Buddhism from the outside, they see what reminds them of total irrationality and superstition. And this in particular applies. To a form of Buddhism which has several names. And they’re all, well it’s really one form of Buddhism, but it’s named differently. And they are all sub-schools of Mahayana. It’s variously known as Vajrayana, Tantrayana, or Mantrayana. You remember the word Yana means because basically, sometimes a vehicle. And what isn’t is fundamentally likened. To a vehicle or something like a raft which you use for crossing a river. Or let’s say you want to get in a door, and you have to knock and you need a brick to knock on the door with so you pick up the brick and bang on the door. That’s a Yana. It’s an instrument, an expedient means a technique and method and the Buddha’s doctrine is called in Sanskrit the Tama and Dharma has whole multiplicity of meanings but one of them is method although its usually translated law in English, this is not a good translation.
So the Yana the whole idea of a Yana is related to the idea of Upaya, which I have previously explained to you. U.P. A. Y. A. meaning skillful means. What we would call it pedagogical device or. A sort-of-trick, because in politics. Means cunning. But in religion or philosophy it means the skill of a teacher. And getting something across to a student and so the whole essence of Upaya is really surprise. Because everybody wants a surprise, but you can’t surprise yourself because you know in advance what you’re going to do. When you have hiccups, then indeed you surprise yourself because you didn’t intend it. And Upaya and surprise is deeply connected with the home in a meaning of Buddhism. Life has to surprise itself. Because if it doesn’t, you don’t know you’re there. Because you only know existence to the degree that there is a balance between knowing and not knowing. See. So there must be the surprise and must always be something in you in other words it is sort of spiritual hiccups, that happens unbeknownst. So Upaya is a method of the teacher producing the surprise of enlightenment in the student, and he uses a yawner that is to say a vehicle or a course, just like we say we give a course in. Philosophy of semantics of chemistry or something, and so the course then is the Mahayana the great course which includes ever so many different Upayas, or different ways, the Hinayana the little course, which has only a few ways.
Now in the Hinayana, they are very tough minded. And they stick to the notion that all enlightened and meant depends on your own effort. The Buddha is supposed to have said just before he died. The you lamps unto yourselves. They were refuge and to yourselves. Take to yourselves no other refuge. And in Japanese classification output of Buddhist schools, they have two that are respectively called Ji and Tariki. And they classify all schools of Buddhism under these headings. Ji mean self. Riji means power. So there are ways of salvation or a better more accurately liberation by our own power directly and then Tariki, other ways by the power of another. That is to say liberation through what Christians would call grace. Rather than works. And it’s fascinating how the problem of faith and works of grace and works turns up in Buddhism just as it does in Christianity. And it’s really the same problem.
You see in the history of Christianity, there was a huge argument. Around 400 AD. Between a Welshman or a Celt. That the name of Palladius. And Gaston of Hippo. And Palladius was a kind of optimistic British, who believed in muddling through, and playing the game and putting your nose to the grindstone and so on. And he believed that one’s own will and effort could have day the commandments of God because he argued that God would not have given us any commandments unless we could have obeyed them. But St Augustine said that he missed the point entirely that if he had read St. Paul properly especially the Epistle to the Romans he would have found out that God did not give us commandments in order that we should have begun that in order to prove that we couldn’t. That is to say this, and Paul put it to convict us of sin. That the law in other words was a gimmick a new pious. Nobody was ever expected to obey the law. The Ten Commandments summarizing the law, especially Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind. Nobody can do that at all and so even the greatest saints are always beating their breasts and confessing that they’re abysmal sinners, because they’ve realized that they can’t live up to the commandments.
So therefore St. Paul taught that the the law he said is a pedagogue. To lead us to Christ. And you see a pedagogue, as the same meaning as Upaya. So what the law does is make you feel absolutely awful, because you can obey it or do anything about it. Now the Buddhists have come to an exactly same conclusion in the course of time. Because the Buddha was apparently in his or. Original teaching tough minded. And said ‘Listen boys you better discipline yourselves see, and you get to work and you cut out women and drink and possessions and meditate and control your minds.’
Well everybody tried this. And of course they couldn’t do it a few people did. Only they dried up. They found that was a kind of a Pyrrhic victory. That what you gain by stopping your humanity and stopping your emotions isn’t worth getting. It’s like cutting off your head to cure the headache. So they realize that wasn’t the way. But that was why Buddha suggested it, so that they’d find out. So then came in the new schools of Buddhism which said that you must be liberated by Tariki. And Ta, as I said, means other-power. That is to say the power of something in you that is not your ego, just in the same way as your heart doesn’t beat at the will of your ego. So in psychoanalysis for example, we would say that the unconscious has to be worked on and that it will be water and nourished and so on and eventually the unconscious will produce your integration This is Jungian language not Freudian. And you depend on that, it’s not you. Because of course integration means. That you get the two aspects of yourself together and that knowledge. Both as you the conscious and the unconscious. The power of the ego, and the power of the natural organism, of the psyche.
And so, in every art, one realizes there comes a point where your will is exhausted. You’ve tried everything to make something work, and it won’t work. And then to achieve the perfection of the art something has to happen of itself. Which we variously call grace, inspiration or tariki. And the problem and everybody is always wanted to know how to make that happen. Now you see, if we knew how to make it happen, it wouldn’t be it. Because it would be something we were doing and it would be there for the old story of just a simply an ego effort. And so, we don’t know how to make it happen. But if you just settle for that and say, ‘Well sorry but there’s nothing you can do about it,’ everybody is just going to go home. And forget the whole thing, commit suicide. The thing is that fog of the state we call faith is the key. And Faith means that we know it will happen. Only we’ve got to wait. Only don’t wait too hard. Because that will be ego effort again will stop it happening. So the thing is, to learn to wait soft. That is to say, in a state of openness.
Well now how do you do that? There are all sorts of Upayas you see, means that help one to do this and one of them is this thing that I’ve been referring to as. The Vajrayana. That means the Diamond vehicle. The Tantra Yana. That means the Web vehicle. And the Mantrayana, which means the sound vehicle. Sound in the sense of incantation.
I may as well begin with Mantrayana aspect of it. Because this is the most perplexing to us from our point of view, and doesn’t make any sense. That you know, there is an age old belief in spells. And that certain formulae, set in the right way, will produce results. All of this descends philosophically, so far as Asia is concerned from the Hindu Upanishadic idea that the world is the creation of sound. The Hindu say that in the beginning was Voc which is exactly the same thing as saying in the beginning was the word as in the Gospel of St John. But that doesn’t mean the authors like given the word. The Voc means vibration. And are. So they the name that is fundamentally Voc is the Sanskrit word ohm. Because when you say ohm, you begin at the back of your throat with oh, and you finish your lips. And so you take in the whole range of sound. And so this word ohm is called the pranava. And it is the holiest of all names. And so you can chant ohm, you know and really start up things. And so all but Hindus and Buddhists alike use this word ohm. And will use it to set going, a meditative state. This is very easy to do because it’s awfully easy to concentrate on sound. It’s much more difficult to keep your eyes still you flicker, because your eyes tend constantly, to it’s natural for the eyes to rove over things and you get, have difficulty, in stopping your eyes from scanning. But sound is very easy to concentrate on. And the the whole point of a Mantra, is it’s a method of digging sound. I hope you know what I mean by that, because I purposely use the very slang a popular word dig. I means get right down into.
So that you realise that the the the flow the vibration of sound, is a way in which you experience basic existence, being here. And you can learn everything from it because sound is not a constant, it comes and it goes, it’s on and off. You only hear it because it is vibrating. And so herein is the lesson that life is on and off black and white, life and death, inside and outside, knowing and not knowing, they’re all in the vibration. But it’s easy to explain that in words. But to understand it in your bones, to feel it, you have to learn how to listen to a sound. So then, they invented this way of making, chanting sounds.
Now there are various ways in which this is understood by people in Asia. Incidentally, I should say that this is as a form of Buddhism what I’m calling VagraYana, the whole movement. Sprung up in about the ninth century A.D.. And is its geographical distribution is from North India, into Tibet China and Japan and Mongolia. And it is highly characteristic of Tibetan Buddhism. So then, let’s say there are various ways of understanding it. The word, the formulas, used for mantra, are understood by the ignorant, as being short-cuts. Instead of saying the whole Sutra, the whole Sutra is summed up in the formula Ohmani Padme Hum. And you can say that that will do. You are a poor weak slob, and out of infinite compassion the Bodhisattva’s of a range to get you to Nirvana, instead of going through all the heroic efforts of those saints and sages. Meditation practices you can just say Ohmani Padme Hum. And in fact you don’t even need to say it you can have it printed on paper and enclosed in a silver box on the end of the stick and all you have to do is rotate the thing.
So the popular idea of this is the shortcut. The next idea of it, is the one I’ve been sort of talking about which is that you concentrate on these formulae, on these sounds. And there’s a third interpretation which as you might call the esoteric interpretation. Which was originally, as far as I know the first person to really bring this up was Vaso Banho, whom I told you about last week who lived. Shortly before four hundred [AD]. And he said the whole point of mantra is that they don’t mean anything at all. And that the word ohm is completely meaningless, and that all these various different kinds of incantations. Totally senseless and the idea of repeating them is to liberate yourself from the notion that the universe means anything. All those forms of Buddhism which are associated with the Vajrayana what is called Tantric. And tantric or the word it basically means web structure, warp and woof.
Well now, Tantra in Hindu context, is a discipline that is sometimes called the fifth Veda. There are four basic Vedas, the holy scriptures of Hinduism. The fifth Veda is as it were the esoteric one. Now according to the fall Vedas in order to be liberated, you have to give up physical life. That is to say you must not eat meat. You must not have sexual intercourse, you must not take alcohol or any kind of consciousness changing the substance. There are various other things I forget them all. But in tantra the whole idea is liberation through the forbidden things. That is to say liberation in the world belonging to the world participating, and sometimes it is therefore called the Left Hand Path.
Once there’s a Hindu story you know, that the Brahma has asked the question who will gain to union with you first teacher who loves you or he who hates you. And Brahman replied, ‘He who hates me because you can think of me more often.’ So, you can other words attain to liberation. By one of two ways. One is by complete altruism. And the other is by total selfishness. And the the the moral of the whole thing is that if you are completely and consistently selfish you will discover that your Self is the Other. That you don’t really experience yourself at all except in terms of others. When you say I love myself, what do you mean. You mean you love being alive. And when you push it you see this is the point to push it to an extreme.
So, the Left Hand Path is a very dangerous way of going about things because nobody approves of it. I was discussing this morning with my father, some time in the distant past we had witnessed a comedy wherein the stage was set of a man asleep in bed in a highly Victorian bedroom with all kinds of fancy furniture and terrible stuff you know, and the alarm clock goes out, and he wakes up in a total rage, immediately picks up his shoe and smashes the alarm clock. He then gets out of bed in fury, he rips the sheets to pieces, overturns the bed, finds a hammer somewhere, and starts breaking up all the crockery in the windows and still the place is a total demolition. Finally, there is left in one corner one of those enormous standard lamps you know. But sort of you girls on it. And he takes several runs at this and finally he picks it up and he flings it in the air, and as it comes down it bounces, it’s made of rubber. And this is the flip, to see that. And that’s the surprise I was talking about in the beginning. Satori, sudden awakening it bounced. You know, you thought you were going to crash and you bounced. And you see this is this is the whole thing about Buddhism, we all think we’re going to crash. And it must seem that way because otherwise it won’t be a surprise it bounced.
So, if in other words you press your selfishness and you go into this whole question of, what do I really want, supposing I could have it, supposing I had all the money, anything I can think of what is it I’m after? And you explore all the sensations you can imagine all the delights of pleasure all the ecstasies all the drunks, all the orgasms, all the anything you can think of go right sir to the end of it what is it you’re looking for. Well you say I want to be flipped. And I want to be let out of myself. Well, when you let out of yourself that’s altruism. He that would save his life shall lose it that, and he that loses his life or lose his life sometimes. They go one way or the other and or come to the same thing.
Right so, in the same way, take the path of meditative discipline on concentration, where somebody is sitting there with a stick this you attend, See I’m the master. You follow that way see what you want to get that out of that. Try and get rid of yourself. That’s one way of doing it, and certain kind of people who ought to take it that way, they want to, they they they, they don’t know they’re here unless they hurt. And that’s the right way for them we shouldn’t condemn it it’s just like there are certain kinds of plants that grow this way, there are certain kinds of plants or go this way and so there are many types. On the other hand, there’s the mantra game, where people say oh this is so simple to do you really don’t have to chant it at all it’s just the shortest formula and it’s this is kind of cup and then they get going into this thing and they get faster. Singing Ohmani Padme Hum. something like that or the like those Pure Land Buddhists in Japan Namu Amina Buddha. one minimum number a minimum number a minimum number a minimum number of minutes and eventually comes number on the number and then move on and on that I’m the one that. You really get with it. And when you get with it you suddenly realize, it’s doing you, now what’s the difference between you and it, self and other, self power other jariki, tariki, it’s all one. Only you play it isn’t. Because you have to do that. I say have to that’s not quite right. You do, that in order to create the sensation of existence, which is called now you see it, now you don’t.