Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet [NOOK Book]


This book provides an entrée into the Tantric (or Vajrayana) Buddhism of Tibet, as conveyed by Tibetan masters teaching in the West, and as received by their Western students. The Tantric tradition is a unique collection of lesser-known texts, concepts, and meditation practices that are usually made available only to experienced and specially initiated practitioners.

The "Vajra World" (vajradhatu in ...

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Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet

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This book provides an entrée into the Tantric (or Vajrayana) Buddhism of Tibet, as conveyed by Tibetan masters teaching in the West, and as received by their Western students. The Tantric tradition is a unique collection of lesser-known texts, concepts, and meditation practices that are usually made available only to experienced and specially initiated practitioners.

The "Vajra World" (vajradhatu in Sanskrit) is a realm of indestructibility, the level of reality beyond all thought and imagination, all impermanence and change, which a fully realized person knows and inhabits. Used metaphorically, "Vajra World" refers to the traditional culture of Tibet and the unique spirituality that is its secret strength.

Topics include:

  • The tantric view of human nature and the external world

  • The special role of the guru, or tantric mentor

  • The preliminary practices that prepare the student for full initiation

  • The major dimensions of Vajrayana practice, including visualizations, liturgies, and inner yogas

  • The tradition of the tulku, or incarnate lama

  • The lore surrounding the death of ordinary people and of saints

  • The practice of solitary retreat, the epitome of traditional Tibetan Buddhism

Secret of the Vajra World is the companion volume to the author's earlier book, Indestructible Truth: The Living Spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism. While that book focuses on the history, cosmology, philosophy, and practice of the more public, exoteric side of Tibetan Buddhism, this work treats its more hidden and esoteric aspects as they take shape in Vajrayana. Together, the two volumes provide a broad introduction to the major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An accessible, far-ranging guidebook."— Tricycle
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834825239
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/18/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Reginald A. Ray, PhD, is a faculty member at Naropa University and is President and Spiritual Director of the Dharma Ocean Foundation, which is dedicated to the practice, study, and preservation of the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa. He is also the author of many books, including Indestructible Truth and In the Presence of Masters.
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Read an Excerpt

the Introduction

world" translates a technical term in

meaning "realm of indestructibility." It refers to that level of
reality which is beyond all thought and imagination, all impermanence and
change. It is a realm that is described as colorful, vivid, and filled with
unexpected beauty and meaning. It is this vajra world, according to Tibetan
Buddhism, that a fully realized person knows and inhabits.

the title of this book, I use "vajra world" metaphorically to refer
to the traditional culture of Tibet. In many respects, Tibet was like any other
human society with its share of foibles and miscreants. But in another sense,
not only for many modern people but also—poignantly enough—for the Tibetans
themselves, Tibet came as close as perhaps a human culture may to being a vajra
world. The shocking splendor and magnificence of its landscape; the warm and
earthy character of its people; their seeming wholeness and rootedness in their
lives; the brilliance of Tibetan philosophy and ethics; and the color,
vividness, and drama of its religion—all communicate a life lived close to
reality and drawing on its deep springs.

course, to call Tibet a "vajra world" is ironic, for old Tibet—like
so many other premodern cultures—has shown itself to be anything but
indestructible. As is too well known and all too painful to bear repeating,
traditional Tibet has been overrun and nearly obliterated by the tidal wave of

there is something of Tibet that lives on, something that has survived the
mortal assault on the place and its people. This living quality of Tibet
continues to fascinate and compel us modern people, and to fuel our imagination
and inspiration. One may wonder, then, just what this enduring quality of Tibet
might be. What is the secret of Tibet? What is the secret of this vajra world?

believe that the attraction that Tibet continues to hold for modern people is
not based purely on naive romanticism and the exoticism that surrounds such a
far-off and different culture. It seems to me that there bleeds through Tibet
something else, something more basic and universally understood—an evident
commitment to life; a fullness of embodiment; a warmth toward others; a depth
of experience; a joy in the most simple and ordinary experiences of life; and
an ability to include and incorporate both happiness and the intense suffering
and grief that have lately been the fate of Tibet. But what, one may ask, is
the source of these profoundly human qualities that one finds so vividly
embodied among Tibetans? What is the secret of the world that was traditional

this book, I propose that the secret of this vajra world lies in something that
transcends Tibet itself, namely its spiritual traditions, and particularly the
Tantric or Vajrayana Buddhism that provided the foundation of Tibetan culture
for some twelve hundred years. As a tradition, far from being otherworldly, the
Vajrayana directs attention to this world of sensory experience, of happiness
and sorrow, of life and death, as the place where ultimate revelation occurs.
The practice of tantra opens up an appreciation for ordinary life as the fount
of inspiration, wisdom, and liberation. I suggest to the reader that the color,
energy, and vivacity of Tibet are owing, in some significant way, to its
tantric foundations.

the tantric viewpoint, the vajra world—now in the sense of the ultimate nature
of reality—is like a fiery ocean, an experiential intensity, that underlies
all human cultures and human life. This flaming substrate—which is none other
than the fire of primordial wisdom— continually gives rise to sparks and
plumes and occasionally to conflagrations of incandescence. In the modern era,
most people and most cultures preoccupy themselves with trying to blanket these
expressions, to ignore and deny them, in order to maintain their habitual
"business as usual." The Vajrayana, however, provides a means to open
to the burning, turbulent wisdom of reality and to allow it expression in
cultural forms and human creativity. It was Tibet's good fortune to encounter
the Vajrayana at a critical moment and to assimilate its perspectives. The
result is a culture that has, to a large extent, been born and shaped from the
unending inspiration of ordinary life itself, experienced without shadows. Old
Tibet, unlike most contemporary cultures, lay close upon the incandescent sea
and was particularly transparent to it. It is ultimately this quality, I think,
that people sense and that so many find engaging and compelling about Tibet.

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Table of Contents






ONE: Foundations of Vajrayana 7

The Indian Prelude 9

How the Vajrayana Came to Tibet: The Early Spreading of the Dharma 28

How the Vajrayana Came to Tibet: The Later Spreading and Beyond 40

The Vajrayana in the Context of the Three-Yana Journey 66

The View of Vajrayana 91

TWO: Entering the Vajra World 109

Some Initial Vajrayana Perspectives 111

The World Beyond Thought 126

The Vajra Master 153

Entering the Vajrayana Path 177

Tantric Practice: Meditation on the Yidam 209

Subtleties of Practice: The Inner Yogas 230

THREE: Meeting the Essence of Mind 259

Mahamudra: The Great Symbol 261

Dzogchen: The Great Perfection 294

FOUR: Tantric Applications 327

14. Lessons
in Mortality: Death and Dying in Tantric Practice 329

15. Bodhisattvas
in the World: Tulkus, Reincarnate Lamas 360

16. Themes
of a Tulku's Life 385

17. The
Practice of Retreat 426

18. The
Passing of a Realized Master 462






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