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Mar 24, 2007

Q&A on Buddhism - part 8

Disclaimer: For non-Muslims or Buddhists only unless if you are reading this for knowledge purpose. This is a Q&A session with HH Sakya Trizin.

This is the continuation from part 7.

Q: What is 'Mantrayana', Your Holiness?

A: Mantrayana or Tantra, actually is method. The first intentions, and the final goal, are exactly the same as they are in Mahayana, but since the Mantrayana is direct, more intelligent and has more methods, it reaches the same destination from the same starting place much more quickly: the difference is as between travelling by train and by aeroplane. The Mahayana practices consist mainly of meditation through thinking about things, but in the Mantrayana, our bodies are also extensively used. By knowing and using our bodies, we can reach our destination much more quickly. Now, many things are required for an aeroplane to fly, such as fuel, wind, the design of the machine, and so on, and in the same way, when we try to attain realization in the Mantrayana we practice not only in thought: we visualize different Mandalas, repeat Mantras, and so on, and you can say that if these practices are correctly followed, realization will automatically arise.

Q: Is this the only difference between Mahayana and Mantrayana?

A: The Mahayana is called the "Cause Yana", the Causal Path, and the Mantrayana is called the Result Path. In the Mahayana, you work only to create the right causes by practicing giving, moral conduct and so on. These practices are very valuable and correct, but they are still very different from the immense qualities of the Buddha. But in Mantrayana, you imagine yourself right from the beginning in the form of the result - the Buddha, in one form or another. By this practice, the result - which is the same as the practice - will arise and consequently Mantrayana is called the Result Path. Right from the beginning, you think of yourself as the Buddha with all the qualities, the thirty-two major signs, the eighty minor signs and so on.

Q: Is it wrong to think of ourselves as the Buddha?

A: Indeed not. It is said in Mahayana, too, of course, that the nature of our mind, of our entire organism, is actually Buddha, and always has been. However, we have not realized this and we are wrapped up in an illusion, so consequently we suffer. If the obscuration and defilement were intrinsically part of our mind, purification would not be possible. Coal will not become white, however much we wash it, but since the nature of mind is pure, it can be purified. Since other beings have attained Enlightenment, it is clear that it is possible for us, too, that our minds can also be purified.

Q: The teaching of rebirth is unfamiliar to the West. Can one practice Dharma effectively if one does not accept rebirth?

A: According to our definition of the practice of Dharma, no. We say that, whatever you practice, however high or good it may be, it is not Dharma if it is just intended for this life. Dharma is what you practice for the next life, so the idea of rebirth cannot be separated from the idea of Dharma. The law of Karma is an intrinsic part of Dharma and future rebirth is the result of present causes.

Q: Many people in the West might deny the universality of suffering.

A: Buddhists however say that, whatever you are in Worldly Existence, there is suffering. It is wrong to ignore the continual presence of suffering. One should not hide from suffering: one should know its cause and try to avoid creating the causes of suffering.

In the next part, we will look at what HH Sakya Trizin had to say about the ego-lessness doctrine taught by the Buddha and the mind.

Disclaimer: This interview was taken from the book "Pointing Towards Vajrayana" published by The Singapore Buddha Sasana Society Sakya Tenphel Ling. The Palden Sakya Centres of American Buddhism Sakya Shei Drup Ling actually holds the right of this text.

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