Traditions in Transition: Meditative Concepts in the Development of Tantric Sādhana
- The Rise of the Vajrayāna and the development of Buddhist Sādhana
- Structural Elements of Tantric Sādhana
- Proto-Sādhana in Pre-Tantric Buddhism
- Vajrayoginī in the Sādhanamālā
- The Power of the Embodied Image
- Tantra, Shamanism, and Cultural Continuity
The goal of the following paper is to examine the relationship between the development of Buddhist sādhana and broader conceptions regarding the nature of meditation-theory and the place of tantra within the greater Buddhist cultus. It will be asserted that Vajrayāna Buddhist sādhana, rather than divorcing itself from earlier Buddhist conceptions of meditation (dhyāna), has adapted and expanded upon classical conceptions of meditative praxis. This thesis is rooted in the idea that the theory and practice of tantric sādhana is rooted in the "classical" Indian Buddhist division of meditation into "tranquility" (Skt. śamatha, Pali samatha) and "insight" (Skt. vipaśyanā, Pali vipassanā) forms of meditation, representing respectively the mastery over what can be termed the numinous and cessative dimensions of the Buddhist path. The connection between this earlier strata of mediation-theory and the practice of sādhana is exemplified in a number of different dimensions of tantric theory and practice. Tantric conceptions of liberation in many respects resemble "classical" conceptions of nirodha (cessation), developed philosophically through metaphors of dissolution and visually through imagery of dissolution. This basic connection is even more concrete in the contexts in which śamatha and vipaśyanā is understood to be a indispensable prerequisite for the development of tantric practice. Furthermore, it will be shown how the series of Theravāda samatha meditation practices known as the "recollections" (anussati) can be considered as a prototype for the visualization and identification processes that are at the heart of Vajrayāna conceptions of sādhana, demonstrating deep conceptual if not developmental connections between samatha in the Theravāda context and śamatha and sādhana in the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna contexts.
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