Vajrayana is a Buddhist path. The term covers a body of teachings and practices that developed over hundreds of years in India, Tibet and other Asian countries. It is used to describe a Buddhist approach in contrast to Hinayana and Mahayana. Vajrayana includes Buddhist Tantra.
Vajrayana is particularly relevant for people who want to apply meditation practice to daily living without a renunciative lifestyle. Many Vajrayana practices are transformative in principle. Tantrikas – Vajrayana practitioners – approach emotions, and all of life, as material to work with. Tantric methods help practitioners embrace experience, and lead to competent action in the world. Qualities of anger such as clarity and energetic motivation, can be fuel for effective intervention when they’re experienced without self-justification or peevish vengeance.
The parts of Vajrayana I find most appealing and applicable to contemporary life are the practices and teachings that developed outside monastic systems – the yogic traditions. Yogis and monks were never entirely separate in practice: some monks became wandering yogis, monasteries institutionalized methods from great yogic masters, male and female. Nonetheless, a clear strand of non-monastic, yogic practitioners in the Himalayas is traceable back to early centuries AD in India. I belong to this tradition.
Here I explore how Vajrayana adapts as it transitions from its pre-modern cultural formation into contemporary societies.