Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Detachment and Tantric Buddhism

Our most recent readings on Tantric Buddhism delved into some of the precise details of ritual worship, and focused on a major thesis. The five "meats" and "nectars"--substances of profound and repulsive ritual impurity, are used, as the author argues, as something of a challenge in the tradition. True detachment from the world and true understanding of nonduality means losing the desire to differentiate between impure and pure, right and wrong, good and evil, lust and revulsion. Therefore the veneration and use in Tantric Buddhism of places, implements, and actions of ritual impurity are real or symbolic tests of enlightenment. The truly enlightened, or those that aspire to it, should be untroubled by anything worldly. I wonder however if the scriptures mention actually enjoying such practices. Would not someone truly enlightened feel as equally unaffected by an orgy as meditation in a temple? Participation in both would merely be proof of ultimate equanimity. That makes the label of moral degeneracy even more shaky, if such actions (even those which may be dubiously pleasurable) are fulfilled without emotion.

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