Vajrayana - of Buddha's jewels, the diamond

The following is an extract from the Vajrayana chapter of "Karmapa":

Vajrayana is probably the form of Buddhism the least understood by the general public. And the most misunderstood. In temples, dharma centres and books, one can see its vivid, symbolic imagery—sometimes wrathful, sometimes erotic—and truly wonder what its role could be, in a faith famous for its peacefulness and disgust with worldly desires. Those thinking such thoughts, on first encounter with Tibetan Buddhism, could be compared to children, visiting a hospital for the first time, unaware of the needs of medicine and startled by the masks, gowns and needles; objects of fear. Unlike the child, an experienced doctor appreciates the use of such things which, for him, represent neither fear nor danger but safety. In a surgeon's skilful hands, a razor-sharp blade becomes an ultimate tool of healing. Likewise, once transmuted in the skilful hands of vajrayana practice, the energies of anger, sexuality and so forth become the finest remedies for the aggression and passions which spoil the world. Vajrayana Buddhism does not lead to a different enlightenment than that achieved through the compassionate, easily-explicable, path of mahayana Buddhism but it does lead to it infinitely more quickly.

There are two main barriers between the ordinary human mind and enlightenment: one is habits of self-centred thinking and the other is ignorance of the perfection buried deep within each of us. Mahayana Buddhism is a very skilful way of gradually changing these; a well- programmed path of mental transformation which, over many hundreds of lifetimes, will lead one to buddhahood. The vajrayana methods gathered by Tilopa are a set of powerful psychological tools which enable those same changes to take place in as little as one lifetime, or else in three, seven or more lifetimes. The majority of people are incapable of such rapid change. Few teachers are capable of guiding those changes in a student. When a suitable person does meet a competent teacher, and the bond of trust between them is as it should be, the ground for remarkable transformation is present. But in reality, such a meeting is quite rare. Should it occur ...

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