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Home > Advanced Meditation > Tantra Teachings > Overview of Tantra > Session Three: Common Preliminaries of Sutra and Tantra

Overview of Tantra

Alexander Berzin
Tallinn, Estonia, November 2006

Session Three: Common Preliminaries of Sutra and Tantra

Unedited Transcript
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Preparation for Tantra Practice

Okay. Let’s continue for our second session.

We’ve seen that the practice of tantra needs to be done within the context of the four noble truths, which is the context of all the teachings of Buddha. It’s the most fundamental thing that Buddha taught. It was the first thing that Buddha taught, these four noble truths: true sufferings, the true origin of sufferings, the true stoppings of them, and the true pathway mind that leads to this stopping.

And, when we practice tantra, we need to of course have certain preliminary practices, preparation practices. Preliminary sometimes gives us a strange feeling, that we think “Well, I’m an advanced person. I don’t need to do these preliminaries. Let’s just get on with the main thing.” But if we translate these preliminaries as preparation then I think we get a better idea of what we are talking about and the necessity of them.

If we want to go on a journey, we need to prepare. We need to make our plans, pack our bags, buy the ticket, all these sort of things. Without the proper preparation, we won’t be able to go. Likewise, we need to prepare for our journey in the practice of tantra; and for these preparation practices, we have the practices that are common to sutra practice and then the uncommon practices that are specially for tantra. These are very important and are not things to be skipped. The style with which we do them, the actual practices that we do, will vary – from not only tradition to tradition, but lama to lama, and even among the disciples of one lama (the lama may suggest that we do one type of preparation practice or another). But, in any case, we have the common preparation practices common to all Mahayana practices, and this is always the case, regardless of who’s teaching. These are things that perhaps you’re familiar with, and they fit very much into what we’ve been discussing this morning.

The Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind to the Dharma

We think in terms of what’s usually called the four thoughts that turn the mind to the Dharma:

Thinking about the Precious Human Rebirth

We have a precious human rebirth. In other words, we have all the liberties and opportunities to be able to study and practice. We’re not born as an animal, or as some sort of creature that is being tortured in a sort of hellish rebirth, or ghost, or anything like that. We are not living in some terrible place where the Dharma is not available. We have all the freedoms and opportunities to be able to practice. And we have – what we were talking about – we have Buddha-natures. Everybody has Buddha-nature, which is the foundation that allows us to become Buddhas. And, with this precious human rebirth, this is the opportunity that we have to be able to purify away the fleeting stains from this Buddha-nature. Without this precious human rebirth, there’s no way that we can actually make progress in this lifetime.

Thinking about Death and Impermanence

But this precious human rebirth is not going to last. So we have this second thought, death and impermanence: That death will come for sure – everybody who’s been born has died – and there’s no certainty when death will happen. So we need to prepare. This is similar to what we were speaking about this morning: That death happens and, at the time of death, we activate the various karmic aftermath, the tendencies and habits, what’s left over from our karmic actions under the influence of our disturbing emotions and attitudes; and that’s going to come, that time when these are going to be activated.

Thinking about the Laws of Karma

That’s the whole discussion of karma, which is the third thought that turns our mind to the Dharma: That we have these various karmic actions done under the influence of confusion, whether it’s constructive or destructive. And those aftermath are there; we’re going to activate them.

Thinking about the Disadvantages of Samsara

Then we think of the disadvantages of samsara, the fourth thought. We’re just going to perpetuate our samsaric existence, to build up more and more karma, and more and more up and down of samsara. And it doesn’t matter whether we’re born in a better situation or a worse situation – all of them are just perpetuating samsara.

This fits in very much with our discussion. If we want to, then, take advantage of our precious human rebirth when we have the opportunity and the liberty to be able to actually work on purifying away these fleeting stains from Buddha-nature, we need to do that now, and try to do that now, and take advantage of our situation.

Renunciation

These are the thoughts that turn our mind to Dharma practice – and also to tantra practice – and lead us to develop what is called renunciation. Renunciation is the determination to be free; that’s another way of explaining it or translating it. We are determined: “I’ve got to get rid of samsara. I’ve got to get out of this. I’ve got to overcome it.” Now, without that, certainly our Dharma practice in general and our tantra practice is not going to be effective at all. If we’re just doing it in order to follow a nice trend, as I say, and be so-called cool, or we’re just doing it because it’s exotic and seems strange, or something like that, or we’re doing it like some sort of drug high to get intoxicated on it because we go into this Disneyland of visualization, then this is not going to be effective at all. We’re not determined to be free from our continuing uncontrollable samsaric existence. And we need to have this determination to be free, which implies being willing to give something up, be willing to give up samsara, to be willing to give up the causes of samsara.

So what are we dealing with specifically here in tantra is the way that our minds make things appear. Our minds make things appear in an impossible way. In the West we call that projection, the projection of fantasy. We project that things exist isolated from everything else, all by themselves. This is the way that our mind automatically makes things appear. It’s not as though we planned on doing this. It happens unconsciously; it happens automatically. That’s part of the whole samsaric problem, that the mind automatically makes things appear in this impossible way. Why? Because of this limited body and mind that we have, a samsaric body and mind. That’s all that a samsaric body and mind can do, unless we’re in total absorption on voidness nonconceptually.

So mind makes things appear to be truly existent, or it might even make things to appear truly nonexistent – I mean, there’s all sorts of variants here – and we believe that that’s the way things actually exist. Not only does the mind make things appear in a crazy way, we believe it and think that that is reality. This includes the appearance of ourselves, the appearance of everything around us, how things appear, our self-image, all these sort of things. And we need to be willing to give that up. That’s not an easy thing at all, not at all.

We were speaking yesterday about inseparable samsara and nirvana in the Sakya view, that whether the mind makes impure appearances of things existing with lines around them, or pure appearances of everything being interconnected and not like that, they both come from the clear-light mind, an aspect of Buddha-nature. Mind produces that and our energy which makes those appearances can vibrate on either of these levels – impure level and pure level – but still, the pure level is what’s going to be the most beneficial.

And so, when we are working with tantra, we want to renounce the impure appearance, the appearance of this solid existence and all the self-images and things like that that go with that. And instead have this pure appearance (a Buddha-figure), that our energy will manifest, rather than as a samsaric being (an ordinary human), it will manifest as a Buddha. So, that renunciation is essential. Without that renunciation, we’re just practicing to be reborn in samsara having the form of Yamantaka as a ghost. That’s not a wonderful thing to accomplish, not at all. So we have to have that determination to be free. And, when we have these pure appearances, these pure appearances are not just in our ordinary form – although a Buddha can manifest in our ordinary forms – but in these special forms that we’ll speak about this afternoon (of why they are so special and why they are beneficial). Anyway, this determination to be free – that is very, very important. That’s the result of thinking of these four thoughts that turn the mind to the Dharma.

We have of course taking refuge (going in the direction of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha), but to go in that direction we have to give up – be willing to get out of samsara. And that is a very high level of accomplishment – it’s not something to be trivialized – even just thinking in terms of improving our future lives so that we continue to have a precious human rebirth. That of course is necessary, because chances are we’re not going to achieve enlightenment in this lifetime. It’s theoretically possible, but maybe one in a hundred billion beings actually do that. For most of us, we certainly need more precious human rebirths. But to take that seriously – am I really thinking in terms of future lives and really following ethical discipline to stop acting destructively (which would be a cause for a terrible rebirth)? – that’s not so easy. And then to be willing to give up the whole thing, on top of that, despite needing a precious human rebirth in every life; that’s even more difficult. So we need to work with these. But that determination to be free is the willingness to give up our ordinary sense of ourself, our ordinary sense of how everything exists, without going into some fantasy, weird, impossible realm. We’re not talking about giving up this ordinary life and going to Disneyland and living in a fantasy world at Disneyland. That’s certainly not the case. Let’s think about this for a moment.

When we practice tantra, one of the things that we are asked to do is to try to imagine ourselves as a Buddha-figure and everybody else as a Buddha-figure – let’s say as Chenrezig – all day long, and to imagine our environment as a mandala all day long. That obviously is incredibly difficult to do. And very, very difficult to even remember to do. But, if we’re doing that, then we need to understand what that means. Because obviously that involves this determination to be free, this renunciation of the ordinary form of things. It doesn’t mean that we only see things as a mandala and deities – which would make it impossible for us to cross the street without getting hit by a car – but, rather, the way that it’s described is that to our eye consciousness we see things in terms of how they appear with this form or that form, but with our mental consciousness, though, it appears in a pure form. And so this is very reminiscent of this inseparability of samsara and nirvana, that things can vibrate on two different levels, the ordinary level and the pure level, the impure level and a pure level. If we can keep in mind, of course, that neither of them exists with a big solid line around them, that is what we’re aiming for. If we put big solid lines around each of them, then we become schizophrenic, which is certainly not the aim here.

So renunciation and giving up this ordinary appearance of things is a very, very delicate thing. It doesn’t mean that we are off in fantasy land all the time like a schizophrenic, but that we recognize that things don’t exist the way that they appear, with solid lines around them. And not only that, but there is a higher level of vibration of everybody’s energy which corresponds to Buddha-nature that is pure, without all these fleeting stains, and we relate to others, to ourself, to the environment in this way, recognizing the pure aspect of everything. So this topic of renunciation, determination to be free, can lead us very, very deep, and is very important as a preparation – that we already get into this way of thinking before getting into tantra.

Higher Ethical Discipline

Then what is very, very essential is: How do we gain this more purified state? We need ethical discipline. Discipline is, first of all, in terms of our behavior – the way we act, the way we speak – to refrain from acting negatively and to act in positive ways instead. And if we can discipline and gain this mindfulness and alertness in terms of our behavior… Well, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is like a mental glue; it’s to hold on to the discipline. And alertness is to watch to see when we lose that discipline, when we lose that mental hold, and then to bring it back. So we need to hold on with mental glue – that’s mindfulness – remember all the time not to act destructively, not to cause harm to others and to ourselves, do things that are helpful for others and for ourself. Now, if we can gain that – because we want to give up acting destructively, because it just brings more and more problems – then, on the basis of that discipline, we can develop concentration.

Higher Concentration and Higher Discriminating Awareness

Concentration: you apply that mindfulness and alertness to the state of your mind, so that you hold on to an object of focus or a state of mind. The state of mind could be love, compassion,… An object of focus: In tantra we train with a Buddha-figure in front of us, or ourselves as a Buddha-figure, to gain concentration. So, again, mindfulness – to hold on to this and not let go – and alertness to check if our mental hold is too loose, or it’s lost, or too tight, to correct it. So we gain the ability to do that, to gain concentration, by working first with ethical discipline. Because, if we’re going to focus and see this more pure level of everything, we need concentration, of course, to stay focused on that. And, with that concentration, to then be able to understand how things exist. You know, voidness – that things don’t exist in this crazy, impossible way; they’re devoid of that.

So we always have these three – higher discipline, higher concentration, and what’s called higher wisdom or higher discriminating awareness – on the basis of this determination to be free, on the basis of this renunciation. We need these in tantra practice. Tantra practice always entails tremendous discipline – taking of vows, and so on – to avoid acting in ways that would be contrary to the practice, or that would hurt others, or that would cause more suffering. So we need that discipline, we need the concentration, and we need the correct understanding. Let’s think about that for a moment.

Now, with this renunciation, this determination to be free, we give up our ordinary way in which our mind is making things appear, and our ordinary grasping at it to exist the way that it appears (as a false way). We are practicing discipline, discipline to not only refrain from destructive behavior, but refrain from just believing the way the things seem to exist in this impossible way. And the discipline to actually sit and practice and meditate; and not only sit, but try to have this pure vision all day long – with concentration, with correct understanding, all these things.

Bodhichitta

Now, in addition to this, which is absolutely necessary for tantra practice, then we need to have bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is absolutely essential. Bodhichitta, as I explained before, is not just wishing to achieve enlightenment just because “It’s the greatest thing, and I want to achieve the best,” but it’s motivated by love and compassion. We want to be able to benefit others. We want to be able to help others in the most deep and significant way that’s possible. In order to do that, we need to achieve enlightenment. So we need to have some understanding of what enlightenment is. How, with being enlightened, would we be able to benefit others? And then what we’re aiming for is not Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment, not just enlightenment in general – don’t think of enlightenment as some big ocean and we all merge with that, that’s some type of Hindu belief – but, rather, we are focusing on our own individual future enlightenment that has not yet occurred but which can occur on the basis of our Buddha-nature, our individual Buddha-nature – it’s the nature of our own mental continuum, our own minds – and we’re focused on that, with the wish to attain it. That’s our aim. We’re motivated, moved by love and compassion, that we want to attain it. And what do we want to do with it once we attain it? To help others as much as is possible, and to help them all along the way, to whatever capacity we’re capable of. That’s bodhichitta.

What represents this future enlightenment which hasn’t happened yet? These Buddha-figures. That’s why we’re focusing on them. They represent what we want to achieve. And why do we want to achieve it? To help others. That’s why, when we practice and imagine that we are a Buddha-figure, we send light out to others, we imagine sending light and nectar and so on, benefiting others. Well, that’s all based on love and compassion. If you haven’t developed love and compassion, what are you doing? Just squirting people with a hose of water or shining a flashlight on them? That’s silly.

So, for these practices to have any meaning that’s significant, they have to be on the basis of love and compassion and bodhichitta. Love is the wish for others to be happy and to have the causes of happiness. Compassion is the wish for others to be free of suffering and the causes of suffering, and not just on a trivial level, but the deepest level of suffering, this uncontrollably recurring samsara, the all-pervasive suffering. And it’s based on not just a good wish, a nice wish, but being convinced that it’s possible for others to actually be free of their suffering and the causes of their suffering. If we don’t think it’s possible, well, we’re just wishing them well. We don’t think that “I wish that the war in Iraq would go away, but I don’t really believe that it will.” We’re not talking about things like that. But being fully convinced that it is possible for others to become free of their suffering, and we understand how they will become free of their suffering. And we take some responsibility to be able to help them to overcome their suffering, but without the misconception that “I am almighty God, and I can just point my finger and everybody’s suffering goes away.” It’s not like that. They have to do something on their side.

So it’s with that love and compassion and understanding, and that bodhichitta, based on renunciation – giving up our ordinary self-image and idea – that we actually focus on being a Buddha-figure and actually practice trying to help others (as represented by these lights and nectars that go out from us, or from some seed syllable in our hearts). That’s what we’re doing. So it’s very, very important to already have this state of mind, as a preparation for being able to then put it into the tantra practice.

Remember, tantra was like the warp of a loom, the strings of a loom that you weave things on, put everything together. So we develop all these things as preparation – love, compassion, renunciation, bodhichitta, concentration, etc. And now you put it all together in your sadhana practice, in your ritual practice, and do it all. If we haven’t developed all of that before, and we’re just reciting the ritual, fine. But work on developing these other things and add it to the ritual, otherwise you’re just singing a nice song, nothing more. So let’s think about this.

The Six Far-Reaching Attitudes

Then, with bodhichitta, we need to develop the six far-reaching attitudes or six perfections. These are all brought into the tantra practice. So, again, preparation.

Generosity

Generosity. Well, we are imagining giving everybody everything that they need. If they are poor, giving them wealth; if they are hungry, giving them food. These rays of light and so on that go out to everybody are helping them, giving them generously, giving them liberation, giving them enlightenment – giving offerings to the Buddhas, the bodhisattvas, giving offerings to all beings as Buddhas and bodhisattvas. So obviously we need to have generosity in order to do that.

When developing generosity, it’s important not to leave it on the level just of visualization. “I’m very happy to visualize giving you everything, but in real life I’m not going to give you anything.” That’s not the practice. If we have something that we’re able to give, and it’s appropriate to give, we give – whatever we’re able to do. Remember, generosity is not just in terms of material things; it’s also in terms of being generous with the Dharma – giving advice, teaching, helping, answering questions. It’s also giving love, the wish for others to be happy. Giving of ourselves, giving time, giving energy. Also in tantra we speak of giving equanimity. What that means is that we give others the fact that we are not going to grasp at them, demand anything back from them, or expect anything back from them; we’re not going to cling to them, we’re not going to reject them, and we’re not going to ignore them. It’s a very important gift that we can give to others. “I am not going to cling to you, be attached to you. I’m not going to reject you, and I’m not going to ignore you. I’m going to try to help you in whatever way I can, and not expect anything in return.”

These are the practices of generosity, which we bring into our tantra practice when we have all these lights and nectars and things going out and helping others.

Ethical Self-Discipline

But of course we need the second far-reaching attitude, ethical discipline. It’s the discipline not only to refrain from destructive things, but the discipline to engage in constructive activities, like meditating, and it’s the discipline to actually help others – get off our chair and actually go out and do something for somebody. We need that discipline in our practice so that we continually practice. And we need that discipline to refrain from acting negatively or, as we said, to refrain from having our minds create all sorts of crazy misconceptions. And the discipline to actually help others – not just sit on our meditation cushion – help them when we can.

Patience

And we need the third far-reaching attitude, patience. Patience. It’s going to be difficult. We have to not get angry, not get upset, not get lazy, and so on, but be patient with the difficulties that are involved. It’s difficult to help others. It’s difficult to practice – we have to be patient with our knees hurting, and be patient with progress being slow and going up and down, and so on. We need patience.

Joyful Perseverance

And you need the fourth one, perseverance. We have to stick with it, no matter how hard it is. Not be lazy, not be discouraged, not think “I’m inadequate. I can’t do it.” But, despite the up and downs, just go ahead. That’s very important. Our practice some days goes well; some days it doesn’t go well. That is normal. No big deal. Don’t get disappointed when it doesn’t go well; don’t get excited when it goes well. Just continue. This is the perseverance which is like an armor; it gives us strength to go on, to withstand whatever happens. So that you need. Without it, we get discouraged and give up, which is not going to be helpful at all.

Mental stability

And then far-reaching mental stability (sometimes called concentration), the fifth far-reaching attitude or perfection. That’s a stable mind that not only doesn’t get dull and doesn’t get any mental wandering, but that also doesn’t go up and down with all sorts of disturbing emotions – being upset, and depressed, and overexcited, and all these sort of things – but that we have a constant positive mood. So that we need. That we need.

Discriminating Awareness

And then of course far-reaching discriminating awareness, to discriminate between how things exist and how they don’t exist. To understand that the ordinary way in which things appear – their ordinary form, and seeming to be isolated, independent – that’s crazy; and to imagine that these Buddha-figures exist like that, that’s crazy too. So to discriminate between what’s true and what’s false; what’s correct and what’s incorrect; what’s helpful, what’s harmful. These things are absolutely necessary for our tantra practice preparation.

Again, let’s think of this.

Relationship with a Spiritual Teacher

For all of these, we need a healthy relationship with a spiritual teacher, and a well-qualified spiritual teacher. As it says in so many texts, it’s going to be almost impossible to find a teacher who has all the good qualities that are explained in the texts – and there’s big long lists of the qualifications of a spiritual teacher and particularly of a tantric master – but we look to somebody who has far more good qualities than are missing them. In any case, if we look at what is the main purpose of the spiritual teacher and the relationship with the spiritual teacher, it is to gain inspiration from a living example of what we’re trying to achieve. We can get information from a book. We can get information nowadays from the internet. The teacher answers questions, corrects us when we are making mistakes, but the teacher might not be around all the time. So it’s not the ongoing necessity for the teacher [to be with us that’s important, but rather in terms of] the relationship with the teacher – and a healthy relationship with the teacher, not a sick, neurotic, dependency relation with the teacher, like “Oh, I’m a little child, and you are my parent.” – the ongoing benefit that we get from that relationship is inspiration. Even when the teacher is dead, you still gain inspiration from their example. That’s sometimes translated as blessings, and I find that not a very helpful translation. It uplifts us, gives us energy. It uplifts and helps us realize our Buddha-natures, our potentials. So this is very, very important.

Without the healthy relation to the spiritual teacher, then, it’s said in so many different texts that we’re not really going to make significant progress. Not only are we going to make mistakes in our practice – which is very easy to do if we don’t have someone to correct us, and to ask our questions to, and who can actually answer them – but we won’t have the energy, we won’t have sufficient energy in our practice to sustain us without this personal aspect of the relation with the spiritual teacher.

It doesn’t have to be somebody that you know terribly well, that you really have a lot of personal contact with. For many people, the spiritual teacher could be someone like His Holiness the Dalai Lama or His Holiness Drigung Chetsang Rinpoche. You might not have very much personal contact. You might not have any personal contact individually. But, from being in their presence and having some experience with them, you find this is really an inspiring person. “This is what I would like to become like. Here is an example. I can’t tell whether they’re fully a Buddha or not, but who am I to say that they’re a Buddha or not? But if I could become like that, this would be really magnificent.” So it gives us inspiration that it is possible – here’s somebody who did it. That’s very essential, especially for tantra practice.

And the relation has to be healthy, as I say, not one of dependency, not “I’m this horrible, miserable worm, and you’re so wonderful and I worship your feet.” Or “O Guru, Guru, tell me what to do. I’m a mindless, stupid baby.” It has to be as an adult, adult to an adult, with tremendous respect and appreciation of their kindness, and respect for their qualities that they actually have, without denying any of their shortcomings that they might have. We’re not in a state of denial here. But the shortcomings, there’s no benefit of focusing on them. Focus on their good qualities. That’s what it means to see the teacher as a Buddha. Focus on their good qualities, the aspects of Buddha-nature. We can see that in the other person and appreciate their kindness. On the basis of that, we get tremendous inspiration. That gives us the strength to start the path, to continue on the path, and to go all the way to the end. Let’s think of that.

So all of this is part of the common preliminaries or preparation, what is common to any type of sutra practice, not just tantra.

Do you have any questions on this? We only have few minutes left of this session.

Question about the Subtle Energy-System

Question: How should you understand the phenomenon of energy in the context of emptiness? There’s something that vibrates on different levels, and how is this related to the energy-winds, channels, and drops?

Alex: The question is about energy here. How do we relate this to voidness, and the various appearances, and the channels and chakras and winds, and so on? We can speak about gross energy, of course, the energy of when we’re digesting food, or moving our arm, or something like that. But we can also speak about subtle energy. Subtle energy is the energy within the body, within the subtle body, these channels and chakras, and so on, that are the physical carrier, in a sense, of conceptual thoughts. Let me provide a little bit of a background on this:

When we speak about mind in Buddhism, what we’re talking about is mental activity, the mental activity of making an appearance and knowing it, seeing it, hearing, and so on. Mind is always making mental holograms of things. We take in information; it’s like pixels of dots of light. Mind makes a hologram of it, a mental hologram. So mental activity, it’s making a mental hologram, and then that’s what seeing is, that’s what hearing is, that’s what thinking is. It’s not that first the hologram appears and then you see it; the making of that hologram is what seeing and thinking is. And there’s a certain energy that’s the physical counterpart of that, and that’s what we’re talking about here when we’re talking about energy.

So Buddhism is not denying a physical aspect of mind, but we have to distinguish the activity from the energy of the activity. They’re just two ways of talking about the same thing. So that energy, it is the substance, in a sense, of the hologram, of the mental hologram. The energy is configured in a certain way, like in a dream. And so, when we talk about the subtle channels and things like this, that would be the system within which these subtle energies are involved that are involved with conceptual thought. So visualization, imagining things, dreaming, this type of thing. Not necessarily dreaming, but imagining; dreaming is something else.

Now we can also speak about the subtlest clear-light mind. That is the subtlest level that provides the continuity. That also has a level of energy with it, the subtlest energy, and it’s from that subtlest energy of the clear-light mind that we will actually generate the body of a Buddha. Now we’re working with the grosser energies within this energy-system, the chakras and the channels, but that’s just practice to be able to get to the real thing that we want with this subtlest energy.

The understanding of voidness has to do with the fact that none of this exists isolated by itself in some impossible way. The understanding of voidness doesn’t refute the conventional existence of things. Things conventionally exist; they just don’t exist in impossible ways.

So energy is very, very central in the practice of tantra, in how we make appearances, and so on, how the mind makes appearances of things. And in the highest class of tantra, anuttarayoga – which is where practices like Kalachakra, and Yamantaka, and Vajrayogini, and Heruka, and so on are found – these are the actual practices in which we work with these subtle energy-systems to actually gain control over these energies. So that not just in imagination, but out of the energies themselves, we can shape them in a way that will act as a cause for being able to generate a body of a Buddha from that subtlest energy of clear-light mind.

Now I know that’s terribly complicated, what I just explained, and it brings in an awful lot of things. But this topic of energy is actually a very, very crucial and very important one, and is something that we really have to be aware of – that there are a lot of subtle energies that are involved when we try to do meditation practice. And there are a lot of dangers in doing the meditation practice, because if you don’t know how to meditate properly and you push too hard, and you squeeze down too hard – “Grrr, I have to concentrate! And I have to sit here and ignore the pain in my legs,” and all these sort of things – this affects the energy in the body very, very strongly, and that produces nervousness, stress, and what the Tibetans call lung (rlung, frustrated energy), and that could be very, very unpleasant to experience. And so not only does that happen in ordinary meditation, but then when you try to actually work with these energies, doing these advanced tantric exercises, and if you don’t know what you’re doing you can really mess up the energies. For this reason, the guidance of an experienced tantric master who actually knows what he or she is doing, and has experienced it, and can diagnose what you are doing wrong, is very, very important. Very important. And we have to have that confidence in the teacher – we’re confident that they know what they’re talking about, like a doctor – and follow their advice.

But, on a beginning level, if we just realize that the energy we’re talking about here is the physical component of mental activity and it’s what’s involved with mental holograms – so appearances, both impure appearances and pure appearances – then we start to get into this tantric way of understanding.

Okay. So let’s end here for this session, and we’ll begin again after lunch. Thank you.