Monday, July 18, 2011

Did Buddha Teach the Tantric Sex?

Submitted by GU

My first thought after my discovering that my teacher taught the tantras was to find out if Buddha actually taught them. If he did, then I wanted nothing to do with Buddhism. I first sought out sources from the Theravada Buddhists and then online research. Ven. S. Dhammika wrote this:

"Esoterism is the idea that some spiritual teachings should be kept secret from the majority and only be revealed to a select few. The Upanishads, which were composed around the time of the Buddha, were secret teachings only made available to high caste people who pledged total loyalty to the teacher. Even in Tibetan Buddhism or Vajrayana, some teachings are reserved only to those who have been initiated. The idea that the Dhamma should be restricted to or monopolized by an ‘in-group’ was repugnant to the Buddha. He perceived the truths he taught as being understandable to all, relevant to all and applicable to all. On one occasion he said, ‘Three things shine openly, not in secret. What three? The orb of the moon, the orb of the sun and the Dhamma and discipline taught by the Tathàgata’ (Anguttara Nikaya I. 283). He reiterated this same point just before his final passing when he said; ‘I have proclaimed the Dhamma without any idea of a hidden and open teaching. I do not have the closed fist of the teacher who holds anything back’ (Digha Nikaya II. 100).

Ven. S. Dhammika And here is what the Pali Canon says:

DN 16:32.

Thus spoke the Venerable Ananda, but the Blessed One answered him, saying: "What more does the community of bhikkhus expect from me, Ananda? I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back. Whosoever may think that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him, it is such a one that would have to give last instructions respecting them. But, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such idea as that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him. So what instructions should he have to give respecting the community of bhikkhus?"

My Tibetan Buddhist teacher claimed that they had to be secret because they would be misunderstood, that people would think that they are sexual, but as I learned, there is no way that you can read them and see them any other way than sexual. So my conclusion is this, they are kept secret so that people will not know that sexual practices are taught in Tibetan Buddhism.

And then I found this: "Tantrayana was taken to Tibet from India in the 9th Century by Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) and the abbot Santaraksita.

Sahara lived in India in the 10th century and was one of the teachers of Marpa the founder of the Tibetan Kagyu lineage. (Marpa travelled to India several times to get teachings from his main teacher Naropa and from other teachers including Sahara)

Tibetan Buddhists and followers of Vajrayana Buddhism believe there is more than one Buddha. Guru Rinpoche - Padmasambhava - who brought tantra from India to Tibet is considered as another Buddha - a fully enlightened being.”

And who was Padmasambhava? And someone posted: "Padmasambhava is considered as another Buddha." The Tibetan Buddhism scholar, Waddell, in his book "Tibetan Buddhism", says Padmasambhava had three wives, one of whom was Tibetan, and being a practitioner of tantra, had many consorts.

This doesn't sound like a Buddha to me. If I recall correctly, he also used spells/magic. He was from Odiyana in India, where tantra and magic flourished, and this is the form of Buddhism he brought to Tibet, which was very popular, I imagine because of the shamanic tradition already indigenous to the country. And this from another forum: “Tibetan Buddhism originates from the Vajrayana Buddhism which was practiced in India a long time after the death of the Buddha and it also contains aspects of the Bonpo shamanistic religion which was practised in Tibet before Buddhism and alongside of it.

The present day Bon religion we see imported in the west has now got aspects of Buddhism mixed in with it. (Just as an aside, I have a book of very old photos taken in Tibet in between 1880 and 1950 and there's a photo of a priest in a Bon temple with dead animals and human heads hanging from the ceiling)

The period of Indian Vajrayana Buddhism has been classified as the fifth or final period of Indian Buddhism. Although the first tantric Buddhist texts appeared in India in the 3rd century and continued to appear until the 12th century, scholars such as Hirakawa Akira believe that the Vajrayana probably came into existence in the 6th or 7th century, while the term Vajrayana first came into evidence in the 8th century."

So basically, unless a Tibetan Buddhist can prove to me otherwise, I am going with the belief that Buddha never taught the Tantras.

And how secret do they wish to keep them? Even reading them will put you in hell if you have not been initiated. In the initiation booklet that my teacher showed to me and in the Commentary of the Kalachakra Tantra it reads:

"ONLY THOSE WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE KALACAKRA INITIATION ARE PERMITTED TO READ THIS MATERIAL"<p> "If the secrets are not kept, one's head and heart will burst." Well, when I got this book and read it I felt like my head and heart would burst. It truly saddened me to see Buddha in this light.

"If one keeps the secrets, this water will turn into nectar, which gives rise to the siddhis or realizations; but if one fails to do so, it shall turn into the molten iron of the hell realm. This indicates the great danger of disclosing tantric secrets to those who are not fit to receive them."

So this book gives dire warnings about reading it if you are not initiated.

And I had recently had a discussion with my teacher when he sent me the second lesson that included teachings on Hell. I told him that I disagreed with this teaching on hell, and that it was only used to make people to conform. I knew that I was not supposed to argue with the teaching, but this type of teaching really bothers me to no end. He said that there was a hell, period, but he was very nice about it. It was a good lesson for him to begin with, because if you can convince people that hell exists, then you have control over them.

And to think that my teacher told me to consider him Buddha because he taught what Buddha taught, not that he is the real Buddha, but that he represents him. I am so disappointed in him. What else can I say? But I accuse him of nothing other than lying to me about what he teaches. I dare not accuse him of anything else because those Tibetan Buddhists come down on you like ugly on an ape. But you get my message here.


  1. If you read the Trimondi's "female sacrifice" chapters (there are two), you'll see that the instructions to these higher tantric practices say that "if the consort isn't willing, administer alcohol. If she still isn't willing, take her by force". I think that's specifically in the Hevajra Tantra. So it's not just about sweets.

    Some of the translations of the esoteric practices leave out the dicey parts deliberately. It can be difficult to find a complete text. I was researching the Hevajra Tantra, and there's what I suspect to be a complete translation available (now considered a rare book, and very expensive), but the University of Washington (Seattle) has a copy, so someday if I make it to Seattle I want to check it out.

    It seems like the guys on the Tibetan Buddhist forums are ok with tantra, but that's because the conscientious ones aren't participating. A couple of months ago a new member posted a thread about his girlfriend being told by her lama to strip half naked and do a ceremony (not involving actual sex) with a male member of the sangha, also stripped half naked (lower half for the guy, upper half for the woman). The woman was so uncomfortable about it that she had to down some alcohol before going through it. She was keeping it secret, but the boyfriend found out about it on one of her emails and freaked out, and came on to the forum to ask if this is normal practice in Tibetan Buddhism, and he was afraid she was in a cult. ALL the guys were very sympathetic and basically said it was disgusting, and sex has no place in religion.

    The problem, I think, is that people don't react well to what they perceive to be allegations. When someone posts about a real occurrence, then people are supportive.

  2. It's not that Tantric Buddhism isn't Buddhism. It just that these teachings are not really suitable for our times, the Dharma Ending Age. If you have doubts and trouble with your practice and your guru, maybe you can considering learning the Mahayana path from the Chinese linege?

    Oh and, Hell is a very important teaching, because it's real. Our mind is powerful, so of course it can create hell!!!

  3. All that "sex practice" is bad news. I really really encourage people to get out with these sort of practice asap WITHOUT slandering Tibetan Buddhism etc. Just find a different school thats more ethical and moral. From all my years of practicing Chinese Buddhism, these sort of issues have never came up because they just do not exist in our doctrines. And, there is none of this guru/disciple relationship within Chinese Buddhism. I find the guru/disciple relationship to be a extremely good idea to improve one's cultivation. but, what if your guru is corrupt? Thats the major problem these days by going down the Tantric path. So yeah, please consider the Chinese Mahayana school.

  4. The problem with any Mahayana school is the doctrine of master/guru infallibility, meaning: the teaching that enlightened beings are above mundane reality and therefore their actions are in principle motivated by compassion and are automatically above reproach. Just look at the Sheng Yen quote on the right side of this page. This type of "escape clause" is an invitation to disaster, and has no place in the modern world. If Eastern traditions want to be taken seriously in the West, they need to observe Western cultural norms and ethical behavioral standards for their leaders/teachers/spiritual guides.

    No one gets a free pass on morality. Gurus/lamas/masters need to walk their talk in order to be believed, and to prevent followers from becoming disillusioned with the Dharma. Behaving in a way that causes students to abandon the Dharma is considered a root downfall. Any teacher who wants to be taken seriously should observe this principle.