Someone told me that I have joined the masses of names on Wikipaedia, the online encyclopaedia. Despite all the years of exploration and teaching of ‘non-self,’ I still find a certain interest in the name Christopher Titmuss. I looked at ‘my’ name on Wikipaedia. I smiled in its description of me as a Theravada tutor. I am not even a Buddhist let alone a Theravada teacher. I am a small servant of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. When I have nothing else to do, I will make one or two modest changes in the text – for the sake of accuracy. I look slightly mad in the photo taken while in full flow in giving a teaching at the Buddhafield Festival. Who am I to dispute appearances?
The great wealth of the Theravada traditions its quiet determination to ensure the Pali suttas containing the full body of the Buddha’s teachings, do not fade into obscurity. The tradition also supports disciplined meditation practices in silent environments to develop samatha (calm) and vipassana (insight) for liberating realisations. The tradition generates remarkable human beings – such Ajahn Buddhadasa, Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Dhammadaro, Ajahn Sumedho and Venerable Maha Ghosananda.
The Theravada tradition has its weak links – the size of the division between the ordained and householders, an excess of adherence to scriptural commentaries on the suttas, attachment to forms and a tendency to identification with rules and codes. Mind you, these weak links sum up religion in general.
I am taking more and more interest in Tantra, not the neo-Tantra as expounded by the crop of sex gurus who have hijacked the word “Tantra” nor Tibetan Tantra. I am deeply interested in the remarkable tradition of Hindu Tantra, a 2000 year old tradition embracing poetry, plays, stories, the arts, the erotic, transformation of energies and the power of creative and cosmic forces to open out consciousness. Outside of Tantra, including the Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu tradition, the world’s religion have tended to reject romantic love as a vehicle for awakening. It is the weak link in the Buddha’s teachings, as well.
Unique to India, this diverse and complex tradition bears no formal lineage of Tantric masters or adepts. It leaves us to dig our away into Tantra through experiences, reflection, texts from dusty Indian bookshops, knowing the application of the Gods and Goddesses into daily life, and various reminders and applications of the power and passion of life to reveal the depths of Tantra.
The Theravada world tends to be rather dry. We need a fusion of the best of Theravada disciplines and sutta resources along with the expansive and imaginative vision of Tantra. Dream on!