I hope you’re doing well ☺ I write this from a small corner of London where I am helping my poor old tired father take care of my frail mother after her prolonged visit to hospital. It does not seem very long ago that my dad was a star athlete and my mom full of life and energy, and that they were both a lot younger than I am today. A poignant reminder that our bodies are simply not built to last and that we need to put effort into gaining the refuge of spiritual realizations before we get too old.
Given that a human life goes by so fast and old age and/or death are just around the corner, the quicker we gain true freedom from mental and physical suffering and the enlightened ability to really help our loved ones in significant ways, the better. This is why Buddha taught Tantra.
As you may well have heard by now, for perhaps the first time in recorded human history (and maybe the last) Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments and commentaries are being livestreamed across the entire globe this Summer, making them available to everyone without our having to get on a plane, find accommodation, take weeks off work, etc. I doubt there’s anything that can replace the life-changing experience of an in-person international Kadampa Festival, hanging out with Sangha from across the world. However, this year’s unprecedented accessibility to these most profound teachings of Buddha on the highest class of Tantra is nonetheless a significant silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Am I ready?, you may be wondering. If you have been enjoying the classes and/or are already interested in Buddhism, and if you have some faith in Buddha, his teachings (Dharma), and the teachers and spiritual community (Sangha), you probably are. Please check out these two teachings I gave recently that explain the special features of Highest Yoga Tantra and what we need to engage in this “quick path to enlightenment”. You’ll discover from these whether you are ready for this adventure.
One thing to bear in mind is that, unlike most other livestream offerings this year, the empowerments can only be taken on the actual days and at certain times so we’ll need to carve out the time over a few days (Fri. Aug. 6, 3-5:00pm, Sat. Aug.7, 9am-11:00am & 4-6:30pm, Sun. Aug.8, 9:00am-1:00pm). This will help us tune in along with everyone else, have the right motivation, and maintain mindfulness – just as we would do if we were receiving these in-person. The commentary and meditations will be available as usual for a longer period.
Buddha’s teachings are divided into Sutra and Tantra – Sutra being his public teachings and Tantra given to those with empowerment. Once you have received these empowerments you will be qualified to start the Highest Yoga Tantra practices of Heruka and Vajrayogini.
Generally at KMC Colorado you receive teachings on some aspect of Sutra in every class, and these all boil down to three things: developing renunciation (the path to lasting freedom from the delusions and all suffering), the compassionate heart of bodhichitta, and the wisdom realizing the true nature of things. These so-called “principal paths” are the motivation and reason for our Tantric practice. Sutra is said to be like the runway and Tantra like the airplane flying us swiftly to the fulfillment of our deepest wishes for happiness, liberation and enlightenment.
Tantra gives our Buddhist practice vision and brings our Sutra meditations alive. We gain a vision of what it is going to be like to be free from suffering, enjoy everything with a mind of great bliss, and have the ability to help all living beings continually. In these degenerate times, Tantra is a vital practice for enabling us to fulfil our potential to overcome our delusions and develop pure and peaceful states of mind.
As I explain in detail in the Tantric Opportunity classes, we harness the power of our wisdom, creative imagination, and bliss to quickly sever the root of ignorance in our minds and break free from the impure cycle of endless deaths and rebirths. Tantra is also the most powerful method on the planet for dealing with our attachments and addictions and enables us to manifest the deepest levels of joy. You can also read more about all this in these articles: https://kadampalife.org/tantra/
After the empowerments Gen-la Jampa will give commentary, which will be more than enough to get you started. We at KMC Colorado will, of course, also support you completely in your Tantric practice! I will be giving some basic teachings on Essential Vajrayogini later in the year to help you establish a short and sweet daily practice, and on Sundays those on the Teacher Training Program will have the rather rare opportunity to study the whole book The New Guide to Dakini Land.
I could talk for pages about Tantra and how much I love it, it is my life. But instead I will direct you once again to those two classes, the short articles I mention above, and, if you still have time, the first four chapters on Tantra in Part 2 of Modern Buddhism (available free from here.) If you have any questions at all between now and the Summer Festival, please send them to me at email@example.com.
My own feeling is that this will be a one-time opportunity – Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments are given every other year at international Festivals in the UK or elsewhere (occasionally in the US); and after the pandemic will most likely only be available once again in person. So if you have any sense that you’d like to receive them at some point, please don’t miss this chance.
(If you have time for two weeks of Festival this Summer, Dorje Shugden empowerment and teachings are being offered during the first week.)
Much love and prayers,