Why it is beneficial to receive advanced Vajrayana teachings

We might well ask what is the benefit of receiving advanced teachings that describe in a very detailed way how the Vajrayana works. After all, most of these teachings relate to things that we ourselves are not yet practising right now – practices which will take some time to be clear about in one’s mind – so why are these teachings taught? Isn’t it only lamas who need to know such details?

In one way, it’s true that it is especially important for a lama to know these things in order to be able to teach the Vajrayana effectively.

However, the general point here is that it’s vitally important for us to understand the intelligence of the dharma teachings – for us to see that there is always an intelligence, always a point, always a meaning – and that all of these things are accessible. It’s true, of course, that the experiences aren’t accessible just to intellect alone, and that it’s necessary to practise in order to be able to have those experiences.

However, despite the subtlety of the Vajrayana teachings, and despite the fact that some teachings have in a way to be presented in a somewhat covered way, we must progress in the Vajrayana (and indeed the dharma as a whole) in a step-by-step way according to our understanding and experience. Thus the more advanced teachings must be presented in a more subtle way. Nevertheless, finally everything has to be understood as an intelligent teaching.

If we do understand this point then we’ll have confidence and will be protected from mystifiers and mystifying presentations of Buddhism. The snake-oil salesmen, flim-flam merchants, and other dubious characters, rely upon mystifying their disciples, and not allowing them to see the intelligence of the teachings. In this way, tragically, they are all too often able to get away with conning, cheating and abusing their disciples by pretending to be teaching ‘the Mysteries of Vajrayana’ to people who, tragically, lack the intelligence to understand them.

Real lamas share the intelligence of the dharma with us. Even though the disciples may not really be practising these very subtle things yet, it is essential to know that they all can be understood. They are to be understood by the practitioners – rather than by the ‘mystifying’ teachers. There is no room for mystification and the like in the Vajrayana. When people do such things, it is a complete betrayal of the dharma, and a betrayal of the disciples.

Therefore we need to be patient with the advanced teachings. Some of them are a little tough, and most of them are not immediately applicable to us, when even just becoming a little more relaxed would be a very good start on the path.

Therefore it’s good for us to know about these high teachings and to have the confidence that these things are, in fact, accessible to our intelligence.