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"For all its ecstatic nature,
for all its power, sex is just

another human drive. If we

avoid it just because it is

more difficult to integrate

than anger or fear,then we

are simply saying that when

the chips are down we

cannot follow our own

practice. "This is dishonest

a nd unhealthy." The Mind of

Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist

Ethics (1984), Robert Aiten
Roshi said (pp. 41-42)


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Origins of Buddhist Tantra

Countless practices of several Asian religions have been lumped together by western scholars under the heading "tantra." The only commonality among these practices is the use of ritual or sacramental action to channel divine energies. The earliest tantra probably grew out of the Hindu-Vedic tradition. Buddhist tantra developed independently of Hindu for many centuries, however, and they are barely related now in spite of a surface resemblance. Even if we limit our study to Buddhist tantra, we are still Even if we limit our study to Buddhist tantra, we are still looking at a vast range of practices and multiple definitions. Very broadly, most Buddhist tantra is a means to enlightenment through identity with tantric deities. It is sometimes also called "deity-yoga." It's important to understand that these deities are not "believed in" as external spirits to be worshiped. Rather, they are archetypes representing the tantric practitioner's own deepest nature.

 

Vajrayana Buddhists say tantric practices were expounded by the historical Buddha. A king approached the Buddha and explained that his responsibilities did not allow him to abandon his people and become a monk. Yet in his privileged position he was surrounded by temptations and pleasures. How could he realize enlightenment? The Buddha responded by teaching the king tantric practices that would transform pleasures into transcendent realization.

 

Historians speculate that tantra was developed by Mahayana teachers in India very early in the first millennia CE, possibly as a way to reach those who weren't responding to teachings from the sutras. Wherever it came from, by the 7th century CE tantric Buddhism was fully systemized in northern India. This was significant to the development of Tibetan Buddhism.