The Four Tantric Yogas

8. The Four Tantric Yogas

The Samantabhadrī Discourse continues:

“Suchness is devoid of one in the All of no-oneness. My Unborn Beingness is the Such that reflects through objectified dharmata. As such, each apparent separate object contains the seedness of the Such in unison with ITs undivided nature. Contemplating this empowers one to gaze inwardly into the Core-Such. As My Beingness is the Core-Such in Its Self-Actualization of non-dualness, there are four yogas that emanate from this inner-tranquility as drawn from the experience and differing modes and qualities of practitioners: Sattvayoga, Mahāyoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga.”

* According to “old tradition” or Nyingma, Buddhist tantra is divided to six classes: Three “external” tantras:

1. Kriya yoga
2. Charya yoga
3. Yoga tantra—[of which, concerns Sattvayoga]
[Sattvayoga constitutes working within the parameters of the body-consciousness., along with its accompanying sensate substrata.—inclusion mine]
And three “inner” tantras:

1. Maha-yoga
2. Anu-yoga
3. Ati-yoga

Here, Outer Tantras are mostly based on methods of purification and preparation to perceive the wisdom of Enlightened beings. Kriya-tantra (bya ba’i rgyud) particularly emphasizes the significance of rules of behaviour, purity, diets, etc. and visualization of deities as external to individual. Yoga-tantras (rnal `byor rgyud)- on opposite – are based on visualizing ourselves in form of deity by rather simple methods of transformation. Charya-tantras (spyod pa’i rgyud) are somewhat in the middle –similar to Kriya-tantras from viewpoint of ritual behaviour and similar to Yoga-tantras –for visualizing ourselves in form of deity.

Inner tantras, especially first two of them – Maha-yoga and Anu-yoga are based on the principle of transformation of emotions and karmic energies into primordial wisdom. This practice consists of two phases: Accumulation (bskyed rim) and Completion. During the phase of Accumulation one visualizes the empty space of deity, also called mandala, and the image of deity, called yidam. During the phase of Completion transforming concentration is focusing inside the three-fold structure of our own body: nadi or the subtle channels through which energy circulates, prana – life-force of our body and kundalini – the essence or potential of this energy. This method of practice is characteristic to Maha-yoga and corresponds to Anuttara-tantra in the “new” tradition.
Anu-yoga, which is characteristic for old tradition, more emphasizes the meaning of momentary visualization of deity and empty space, and also to phase of Completion.
Ati-yoga, also called “the Primordial yoga” is otherwise called Dzogchen or The Great Perfection and though it is classified as “inner tantra” is not really considered tantric, because its Path is the Path of self-liberation and not the Path of transformation.

As part of the Blog-history here at Unborn Mind Zen, a Tantric Trilogy exists: The Lankavatarian Book of the Dead, which constitutes Atiyoga; The Tathāgatagarbhatārā Tantra, which reflects Mahayoga; and Notes from the Iron Stupa, is a work bearing the Anuyoga strain.

The Lankavatarian Book of the Dead with its Atiyoga ranges from preliminary support exercises, including Primordial Qigong, to a more demanding Ten-Phases of Mind Ascension which incorporates reflections on the Five Dhyani Buddhas. This is a first exploration within the trilogy to elements of the sambhogakayic plane taking center-stage.

The Tathāgatagarbhatārā Tantra, a work that is essentially an exercise in Mahayoga wherein the aspiring mind adept witnesses (through the Tantra/scripture) the Tantric Consecration of the Nirvanic Element that is the Real Dharma-Realm implanted as a Seven-fold Supra-Mandala within one’s inmost self. Liturgical implementations are also included in this vast opus. Again, all experienced on the sambhogakayic-plane.

Notes From the Iron Stupa is primarily an exercise in Anuyoga; whereas the Tathatagarbhatara Tantra would be considered as a Father Tantra, this work’s formulation is that of a Mother Tantra—as the conduit of Primordial Wisdom is generated through the Skillful Means of actualizing the Vajra-Body. Anuyoga is spiritual-surgery wherein the Yogin’s chakra-channels, through the mystic-wind-breath of Bodhicitta, are set into vibratory-patterns awakening hidden deity-power that is the flowering of the sambhogakaya, the culmination of which results in the Five Yogas and Empowerments of the Dhyani Buddhas and their Consorts. Thus, whenever yogins meditate and the Tathatic-deities have been invoked, the soil of the inner-mind and spirit has been impregnated by the power of concentrated bodhicitta; therein the Element of Truth can be discerned and experienced in sambhogakayic-fashion. In yogic-terms this is known as the stabilization of the Samadhi of the Completion Stage. There is also a Dzogchen-element presiding over this series, and that is a recurring Chöd motif.

Now back to the Samantabhadrī Discourse:

“It needs to be stressed that the [lower] yogas herein mentioned [all apart from Atiyoga] do not originate from the Self-Same pure Awareness Mode and thus are “stages of development and cultivation” that lead up to the Great Perfection. As everything arises from the Supreme Source, this Self-Same Actualization has no need of any prior development, spiritual practices, and/or cultivation. IT is the Core-Such purely as such and nothing more need be added or subtracted. Hence, Hard-Core Atiyoga is a Self-arising Wisdom Vehicle of the Unborn, such is the “deedless-practice” of the Definitive-Atiyoga. Just Recollect the Core-Such Mind and you will contemplate and/or meditate on the Deathless Source-Supreme. Nothing matches Its directness. Such is the pathless and innermost familiarity with My Beingness.” 

[Thus Spoke Samantabhadrī]

[Thus Ends the Eighth Chapter]

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