Understanding Buddhist Tantra by contrast

Buddhist Tantra defines itself partly by comparison with “Sutrayana,” which means “all Buddhisms apart from Vajrayana.” This section presents a detailed comparison of these two.

That is somewhat unrealistic, since non-Tantric Buddhisms are extraordinarily diverse, and may differ from “Sutrayana” as Tantra defines it. So, in several posts, I’ll look at how various actual Buddhisms relate to Sutrayana and to Tantra.

The comparison has two goals: to better understand Tantra for its own sake, and to understand its complicated relationship with Consensus Buddhism—the current American mainstream.

Both these are subgoals of my overall project: I want to help bring into being new Buddhisms that address current and near-future social, cultural, technological, and psychological conditions. I believe that future Buddhisms must draw partly from Tantra—as the current Consensus has—but in new ways.

I expect future Buddhisms will be more successful if they understand Tantra accurately. It will help to understand how the Consensus has borrowed some aspects, distorted some, and rejected others that could have been useful.