The Aura of Wisdom 

By Living Buddha Sheng-yen Lu
Translated by True Buddha Foundation Translation Team (Cheng Yew Chung, Victor Hazen, Dance Smith)

This was translated from Grandmaster Lu's 154th book, 智慧的光環.

CHAPTER 40 - The Heart Essence and the Orally Transmitted Secrets 

The cultivation of Tantric Buddhism is divided into the Generation Stage and the Completion Stage. These stages are very defined in their progressive steps. In Tantric Buddhism, we must receive empowerment and cultivate according to the respective stages. Otherwise, it would be dangerous. This is because, as one gains greater attainment in Tantrayana, greater dangers are involved.

I feel that the Tantric practitioner should begin with the practice of purifying one`s body, speech and mind. Following which, one should cultivate the winds, channels and drops. And through the stages of cultivation, one approaches the Highest Yoga Tantra and finally enters into the Great Perfection.

The stages of cultivation in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism are:

The Yoga of One-Pointedness. The Yoga of Simplicity. The Yoga of One Taste. The Yoga of Nonmeditation.

The detailed division of the stages includes: The Four Preliminaries, Guru Yoga, Deity Yoga, Treasure Vase Breathing Practice, Inner Fire Yoga, Yoga of Drops, Yoga of Non-leakage, the Approach to opening the Five Chakras of Channel Wheels, Vajra Deity Practice, Highest Yoga Tantra, and The Great Perfection.

One may cultivate the sadhanas or methods of Tantric Buddhism following the practice texts, but their deepest heart essence and orally transmitted secrets are never revealed in the practice texts. They must be transmitted orally through the Guru to the initiate, and the doctrines are unknown to the uninitiated. Thus, a sutra states, `The secrets of all Tantric practices must be transmitted personally by the Guru, or there can be no attainment.`

For example:

Only through the guidance of the Guru can one understand the secrets of how to channel the winds into the central channel.

The techniques of the Six Sakya Exercises of Non-leakage must be practiced with the secret keys revealed by the Guru so that the timely verification of one`s progress can be ascertained.

How does one regulate the descent, elevation, retention and dispersion of drops? Without the orally transmitted secrets of the Guru, there can be no progress. Like in the technique of `elevating the drops and leaping over Mt. Sumeru`, the Guru must demonstrate the yoga postures personally. And so must the other techniques be transmitted.

If a practitioner disregards the heart essence and secret keys of the Guru, he or she will have no idea what the keys are, and would not know how to progress. How can he or she achieve yogic response and results? Like a blind man walking along the verge of a cliff, it spells only danger.

The heart essence and orally transmitted secrets of Tantric Buddhism are extremely profound and secret. Tantric practitioners must be cautious!

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01 - Spiritual Conviction
02 - Vanity
03 - Adopting a Monistic Life
04 - Manifestations
05 - Spiritual Response
06 - Purification of One's Mind
07 - Right View
08 - The True Acharya
09 - Self Importance
10 - The Four Levels of Empowerment
11 - Making Offerings
12 - Making Offerings (2)
13 - Spiritual Authentication
14 - Keeping the Codes and Precepts
15 - The Spirit of Upholding the Precepts
16 - The True Buddha School
17 - True Practice
18 - Respect the Guru
19 - The Most Comprehensive System of Buddhist Practice
20 - Do Not Slander the Tantric Teachings
21 - Ignorance
22 - Liberal Authentication
23 - The Sutra and Tantra Traditions
24 - Dharma Epithet
25 - The Secret Referred to in the Secret Teachings
26 - Mahabodhicitta, the Mind of Perfect Enlightenment
27 - Perfect Penetration of the Sutra and Tantra Teachings
28 - The Mandala
29 - Attaining Budddhahood in this Very Body
30 - Refrain from Killing
31 - Taking Meat or Vegetarian Meals
32 - Offering Wine and Meat to the Buddha
33 - Why Practice Buddhism and Do Cultivation?
34 - The Guru's Power of Blessing
35 - The Precious Teachings of Tantric Buddhism
36 - The Jambhala or Wealth Deity Practice
37 - The Wrathful Guardian Deities
38 - Yab-Yum, the Consort Practice
39 - Fundamental Rationale of Tantric Buddhism
40 - The Heart Essence and the Orally Transmitted Secrets
41 - Cultivating with Contemplation and Visualization
42 - Aijikan, the Visualization of the Seed Syllable AH
43 - Choosing One`s Principal Deity (Yidam)
44 - The Fourfold and Sixfold Refuge
45 - Radiating Light Blessing
46 - Radiating Light Invocation
47 - The Importance of the Four Preliminaries
48 - The Secret of Contemplating on Emptiness
49 - Elucidation on the Three Powers
50 - Reverence for the High King Sutra
51 - A Buddha Manifestation of Great Authority
52 - Merging as One
53 - The Key Instructions of Entering, Abiding and Absorbing
54 - Seen in the Context of Heresy
55 - The Importance of Cultivating Chi