Will the Bliss and Wisdom community practice Vajrayana Buddhism? Will Vajrayana practices affect the upholding of vinaya?

Response:

To learn and practice gradually in the proper steps
To establish the complete curriculum of Buddhist teachings of the Mahayana and Vajrayana vehicles

Since the time of Late Master Jih-Chang, Bliss and Wisdom monastic communities have focused their studies on teachings such as the stages of the path to enlightenment, Five Great Treatises, vinaya, and other Mahayana texts. At the same time, many Buddhist masters were invited to impart various lineaged Vajrayana teachings, including empowerments and some Vajrayana traditional practices. The rules of Gelug, Nyingma, Sakya, and Kagyu schools require that Vajrayana practitioners must strictly uphold even more precepts. In particular, Great Master Tsong-kha-pa especially emphasized the requirement of a strong Mahayana foundation and a strict adherence to precepts in order to have achievements in the Vajrayana practice.

Renunciates who uphold monastic vows
A strict prohibition of twin-body practice

It is a misconception of Vajrayana to believe that a Vajrayana practitioner does not have to strictly uphold the Pratimoksa precepts. Also, if one is upholding the monastic precepts, the practice of Mahamudra and twin-body practice is even more strictly prohibited.

Therefore, Bliss and Wisdom monastic communities will adopt the ethos of Great Master Tsong-kha-pa and follow the guidance of our spiritual teachers. The monastics will strongly cultivate the fundamental concepts of ethical discipline and a foundation in studying the Mahayana vehicle. Furthermore, they will continue to gradually progress in their learning by following the proper steps, and establish a complete curriculum of both Mahayana and Vajrayana vehicles.

 

Notes:

Upholding the tantric vows
One cannot transgress the vinaya of the three yanas[1]

It is clearly stated within tantric vows that one must not transgress the vinaya of the three yanas set by Buddha after promising to uphold them. Therefore, it is a grave misconception to believe that one can disregard the upholding of the Pratimoksa precepts after practicing and upholding tantric vows. For practitioners who are upholding the Pratimoksa precepts and enter the Vajrayana path, once they violate their principal Pratimoksa precepts, not only have they committed a principal transgression of the Pratimoksa precepts, but they will have further committed a principal transgression of their tantric vows. Furthermore, if one is upholding the monastic precepts, the practice of Karmamudra and twin-body practice is even more strictly prohibited.

This point is elucidated in the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment by Honourable Je Atisha. In this text, after explaining the proper steps for Vajrayana practice, Honourable Je Atisha especially cautioned at the end:

"The Great Tantra of the Primordial Buddha
Forbids it emphatically,
Those observing pure conduct should not
Take the secret and wisdom initiations.

If those observing the austere practice of pure conduct
Were to hold these initiations,
Their vow of austerity would be impaired
Through doing that which is proscribed.
This creates transgressions which are a defeat
For those observing discipline.
Since they are certain to fall to a bad rebirth,
They will never gain accomplishments."

Honourable Je Atisha and Great Master Tsong-kha-pa: A lifetime of immaculate conduct

During their practice of Vajrayana, Honourable Je Atisha and Great Master Tsong-kha-pa attained achievements in sampanna-krama. However, both masters had immaculate conduct throughout their lives, having never practiced karmamudra (i.e. action seal). As such, all monastic practitioners must never partake in twin-body practice. This is the original law laid down by Buddha. On another level, even if lay practitioners have taken tantric vows and are not required to practice brahmacharya, from the perspective of tantric vows, it is still not up to their discretion to partake in this practice.

If one believes that one does not need to attain emptiness and can achieve buddhahood merely by engaging in the pleasures of consummation, and therefore partakes in this avaricious behavior, this results in the transgression of samaya vows. Therefore, even if a practitioner enters the Vajrayana path without having taken Pratimoksa vows, one must not practice karmamudra at one's discretion.

 

[1]Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana

 

 

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