Geshe Jamphel on the  the Practice of Tantra...

In tantra, we need to eliminate or block out ordinary appearances and our grasping for them, and replace this with pure appearances.  At present we relate to the container (world) and contained (sentient beings) as being faulty; and we feel that what appears to us is true.  Ordinary appearances and grasping for them are the basis for our problems and faults; therefore, we need to replace ordinary appearances with pure appearances.  Therefore our main object of abandonment is to get rid of ordinary appearances and our grasping at them.

But somebody might argue, as we have to see everything as pure, does this then mean not seeing faults in samsara? Yes, indeed there are the faults of samsara; but they are not inherently existent. For instance, if someone says that Tharchin has faults and is a bad person, then we can say, yes Tharchin does have these faults, but they are not in his nature. Why? Because he wants to be happy and not suffer, which means, he actually wants to purify these faults. Therefore, the faults are not in his nature, and, because they are fleeting and adventitious they can be purified and changed. If you could point at these fault as being inherent existent, then yes, they would be in his nature; but you can neither point at the faults as being the person himself nor as being inherent existent.

By giving up on ordinary appearances, we will be able to protect our minds, which is actually is the meaning of “man-tra” – protecting the mind. But it might be that when Tharchin is looking at his faults, becoming aware of them, he ends up in a depressed state, where he is thinking “I am a bad person”. This is completely not the case; this is absolutely not true because the faults are not his nature. The faults are fleeting and adventitious, and he can purify, deal with them by working on transforming and changing them. The faults are not the nature of Tharchin; moreover, he is in need of love and affection. He is very much connected to this.

The very fact that we have been born means that we have come from states that are loving and caring. Usually, right from the beginning, when a mother learns she is pregnant, she becomes joyful. She supports and cares for the baby in the womb and when the baby is born both parents are very joyful and caring for their child on the basis of love and affection. Then, this child grows up on the basis of being cared for by other’s love and compassion.

If you look at our human features, for instance, our fingernails, you will notice that they have nothing to do with the claws of a tiger; our teeth have no connection to the fangs of wild animals. Therefore, even our features are such that they are connected with love, tenderness and affection. The child is born and grows with love and affection. Later on, faults will indeed develop but these are not in this person’s nature; they are adventitious and can be done away with.

Faults develop due to later conditions that come together; that is to say, they arise due to adventitious conditions. They are not part of the nature of these human beings. When we look at the sky, we can see clouds which gather due to causes and conditions such as wind and moisture in the air, but they never ever become the nature of the sky; and the sky is never affected by them. Similarly, due to adventitious conditions faults arise, but they do not become the nature of this person, as his/her nature is love and affection.

Such is the nature of human beings, and this is the basis from which we can start to improve our situation. With this basis of being by nature loving, affectionate and also having a certain amount of wisdom, we can improve these qualities by listening, reflecting and meditating on the dharma. This basis, however, cannot be improved much by only reciting mantras and so on.

Mind protection means we need to protect these minds of love, affection and wisdom, from other black, negative and heavy mind. “Protecting” can be expressed as being this love and affection, as well as this mind of wisdom. Love protects wisdom, and wisdom protects love: if you have enough love and affection, this protects your wisdom and if you have enough wisdom, this protects your love and affection.

Therefore, this practice of secret mantra protects us from ordinary appearance and grasping for it. We need protection from ordinary appearance and grasping at it, and this is something we have to do by ourselves. Nobody else can do this for us. It is up to us to improve and cultivate the minds of love, affection and wisdom – these alone will protect us from ordinary appearances and grasping at them.

Protection cannot be done through someone else, because, if this were possible, the buddhas of the past would long ago have achieved that, and there would be no sentient beings left by now. But there are many sentient beings around – which is a clear sign that the buddhas cannot protect us from ordinary appearance and grasping!

The Buddha has said: “only you yourself can protect yourself; how can anyone else do this for you?” This means, you have to work at developing your dharma practice by yourself. The Buddha’s role in this was to give us all the medication for pacifying our minds, in the form of the teachings of sutra and tantra. Now it is up to us to apply this medicine, because, without this, there will be no protection. If we don’t take it, nothing will happen and we will not get better; this is not the fault of the teacher nor is it the fault of the medicine. We have access to dharma; as we study we can come to know what the process is and how dharma works.

There are people who are very interested in this phenomenon of “energy”. This is actually quite misleading and leads to many problems. Indeed, if you are looking for “good energies”, then practise love and compassion! Other “energies” will lead to wrong procedures. Saying “I have very good connection with this or that Lama” shows how this Lama is important for you; however, if you don’t have good connection with love and affection, then the dharma he is presenting will not work. You need good connection with the love and affection that arise in your own mind, so you can achieve protection for yourself. As the Buddha has said, you need to protect yourself.

Whenever I am expressing the good qualities of Nalanda monastery, I always point out how this place is free from any pollution, it is quiet, it is vast and it is also a place where dharma studies take place. The community is made of dharma practitioners. All this means just that: this is a very good place, very conducive for dharma practice. I have never talked about “energies” here because, in fact, the “energies” are right those, the good conditions here which we need to be joyful about. This is very important.

In a nutshell, the meaning of “man-tra”, protecting the mind, refers to protecting the mind from ordinary appearances and grasping at them. If you engage in a practice of action, performance, yoga or highest yoga tantra the point is always the same: you are trying to protect the mind from ordinary appearances and grasping at them

FaLang translation system by Faboba