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The Lost Sadhanas Project
Some Modern Problems and Stripped Down Buddhism

Many forms of Tibetan Buddhism which have come to the West have been simplified, resembling Zen practice in the focus on emptiness and breathing, and the omission of the realm of intermediate deities, the sambhogakaya. We have the growth of secular Buddhism, with writers going beyond the "belief-based metaphysics" of traditional Buddhism towards a "modernist and scientific" form of Buddhism. This approach has grown popular in the West, with the rise of mindfulness as a form of relaxation rather than religious insight, reducing Buddhist experiences to psychological states. We see the decline of "enchanted" truth-claims, and a naturalistic Buddhism in which the earlier spiritual beliefs are considered to be archaic, and no longer relevant to human life. As one modern Buddhist website notes,

Within the framework of secular Buddhism, Buddhist doctrine may be stripped of any unspecified combination of various traditional beliefs that could be considered superstitious, or that cannot be tested through empirical research, namely: supernatural beings (such as devas, bodhisattvas, nagas, pretas, Buddhas, etc.), merit and its transference, rebirth, and karma, Buddhist cosmology (including the existence of pure lands and hells), etc. Online reference: Secular Buddhism (slife.org).

For many modern Buddhists, this loss is desirable. However, this project goes in a different direction, claiming a value for the older practices that have largely been lost in the modern attempts to justify Buddhism both philosophically and scientifically. We can call it mythopoetic thinking, or archaic and primitive cognition, but it is an approach which still has power if the modern assumptions of materialism are not allowed to negate all other forms of knowledge. It also has more sympathy with the idea of a soul in Buddhism, an idea that is often rejected (in the concept of anatman), but is actually debated among Buddhist scholars (see the March 2018 Journal of the American Academy of Religion, or (PDF) When Did Buddhism Become Anti-Brahmanical? The Case of the Missing Soul. | Joseph Walser - Academia.edu").

So this rather long introduction makes two points. One is that many texts and practices actually have been lost over the history of Buddhism's travels out of India. The other is that some of these lost practices may still be valuable for Buddhist practitioners.

We will now begin our discussion of the first lost sadhana which is titled the Bodhi Tree meditation.

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Introduction | Methodology - Participant/Observer | The Bodhi Tree Sadhanas | Vajra Dakini Discussion | Vajra Dakini Commentary | Vajra Dakini Sadhanas | Vajra Yogini Commentary | Maitreya Sadhanas | Vajradhara Speaks About Yidams | Lost Sadhanas Conclusion


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