Frequently Asked Questions

What are the commitments required for the Yamantaka Initiation?
If you wish to take the Yamantaka Initiation you must have taken Refuge (i.e. become a Buddhist with the motivation to benefit all beings in all your lives, now and in the future. You take refuge in your Guru, the Buddhas, the Dharma, and the Shangha), take the Bodhisattva Vows (i.e. vows to practice the "bodhisattva's deeds") and take the Tantric Vows.

In addition to the above you must take on the following three commitments:

  1. Six Session Guru Yoga – three times in the morning and three times in the evening every day for the rest of your life. This prayer comes in two versions: long (7 pages) and short (2 pages), and you may choose either one depending on how much time you have.
  2. Solitary Yamantaka Sadhana – once daily for the rest of your life. This sadhana is available in two versions – long (40 pages) and short (9 pages) and you may choose either one depending on how much time you have.
  3. Solitary Yamantaka Retreat to be done at least once in your life. The standard retreat takes roughly 3-4 weeks during which time one completes 4 sessions of meditation and recitation of the long (40 page) sadhana daily while incorporating recitations of the main Deity mantra and each of the four other secondary mantras. Completing the 100,000 recitations of the main Deity mantra and 10,000 recitations each of four other secondary mantras marks the completion of the retreat. The completion of the retreat should be followed by a fire puja. Please consult your Guru for more guidance on your retreat.

Will the Solitary Yamantaka Sadhana, the Six Session Guru Yoga and other prayers be provided to us?
We will provide all Yamantaka Initiation participants with English (Vietnamese or Chinese) prayer booklets. We are unable to provide prayer booklets in other languages.

Why can't I see the Sadhana text in advance so I know what the commitments are?
In our tradition you are not permitted to see a Tantric text until you receive the Initiation specific to that text.

I am from a different lineage/tradition, can I still take the initiation?
You must be willing to accept His Holiness Dalai Lama as your root guru. It is also a very good idea to seek advice from your current teacher.

Who/what is the Yamantaka deity all about?
Rather than our trying to answer this excellent question briefly, we would urge you to visit www.yamantaka.org for an excellent explanation.

What are the Bodhisattva Vows?
Asanga (circa 300 AD) delineated 18 major vows and forty-six minor vows. These Bodhisattva vows are still used in all four major traditions of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. The eighteen major vows (as actions to be abandoned) are as follows:

  1. Praising oneself or belittling others due to attachment to receiving material offerings, praise and respect.
  2. Not giving material aid or (due to miserliness) not teaching the Dharma to those who are suffering and without a protector.
  3. Not listening to others' apologies or striking others
  4. Abandoning the Mahayana by saying that Mahayana texts are not the words of Buddha or teaching what appears to be the Dharma but is not.
  5. Taking things belonging to Buddha, Dharma or Sangha.
  6. Abandoning the holy Dharma by saying that texts which teach the three vehicles are not the Buddha's word.
  7. With anger depriving ordained ones of their robes, beating and imprisoning them or causing them to lose their ordination even if they have impure morality, for example, by saying that being ordained is useless.
  8. Committing any of the five extremely negative actions: (1) killing one's mother, (2) killing one's father, (3) killing an arhat, (4) intentionally drawing blood from a Buddha or (5) causing schism in the Sangha community by supporting and spreading sectarian views.
  9. Holding distorted views (which are contrary to the teaching of Buddha, such as denying the existence of the Three Jewels or the law of cause and effect etc.)
  10. Destroying towns, villages, cities or large areas by means such as fire, bombs, pollution or black magic.
  11. Teaching emptiness to those whose minds are unprepared.
  12. Causing those who have entered the Mahayana to turn away from working for the full enlightenment of Buddhahood and encouraging them to work merely for their own liberation from suffering.
  13. Causing others to abandon their Pratimoksha vows.
  14. Belittling the Śrāvaka or Pratyekabuddha vehicle (by holding and causing others to hold the view that these vehicles do not abandon attachment and other delusions).
  15. Falsely stating that oneself has realized profound Emptiness and that if others meditate as one has, they will realize emptiness and become as great and as highly realized as oneself.
  16. Taking gifts from others who were encouraged to give you things originally intended as offerings to the Three Jewels. Not giving things to the Three Jewels that others have given you to give to them, or accepting property stolen from the Three Jewels.
  17. Causing those engaged in calm-abiding meditation to give it up by giving their belongings to those who are merely reciting texts or making bad disciplinary rules which cause a spiritual community not to be harmonious.
  18. Abandoning either of the two types of Bodhicitta (aspiring and engaging).

According to Atisha, the Pratimoksha vows are the basis for the Bodhisattva vows. Without keeping one of the different sets of Pratimoksha vows (in one of existing Vinaya schools), there is no Bodhisattva vow.

The above text taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisattva_vows#Asanga.27s_Bodhisattvabhumi

Questions about Tantra

What are the Tantric Vows?
Please refer to many useful resources on the web. http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/index.html is a great site for most topics related to Tibetan Buddhism. A concise listing of the Tantric Vows are available at
http://www.nalanda-university.com/buddhist-ayurveda-encylopedia/samaya_t...

What in brief is the purpose of Tantra?*
Taking Tantric Vows puts you on the Vajrayana path, where you take the intended outcome of Buddhahood as the path. Vajrayana techniques are aimed at making it possible to experience Buddha-nature prior to full Enlightenment, and where Enlightenment is said to be possible in one brief lifetime. In order to transmit these experiences, a body of esoteric knowledge has been accumulated by Buddhist tantric yogis and is passed via lineages of transmission. In order to access this knowledge, the practitioner requires initiation from a skilled spiritual teacher or Guru.


When do I know if I am ready to take a Tantric initiation?*
You may know if you are ready if you agree to all of the following :

  1. You consider yourself a Buddhist practitioner.
  2. You are ready to commit yourself to a daily practice for the rest of your life.
  3. You accept His Holiness Dalai Lama as your root guru.
  4. You are ready to take the Bodhisattva and Tantric vows.

* Students are encouraged to watch a video of Geshe Phuntshok Gyeltsen of GSTDL explain the basics of the Tantric path. Go to http://www.gstdl.org/recent_teachings and look for the teachings given on February 6, 2011. The teachings begin after the prayers. Translations are available in English and Vietnamese.

What are the dangers involved in taking the Yamantaka Initiation and/or other Tantric Initiations, and then later getting bored with the commitments and stopping doing them?
The dangers associated with breaking Tantric Vows depend on many factors, but the consequences are very dire. We will refrain from describing them here. Suffice to say, Tantric Vows should be taken very seriously.

Questions about Logistics

What is the recommended time to arrive at the Convention Center?
Please do plan on arriving early enough to clear security to be seated and ready to start. This will require you to be at the door 1-2 hours prior to the program start time.

Who has to buy tickets for the Public Talk?
Only sponsors (who pay $1000 or more) and ordained monastics in the Buddhist tradition will get free tickets for the Public Talk. All others have to buy tickets to the Public Talk. See http://www.gstdl.org/HHDL2012 for details on when the tickets will go on sale.