If I could have only one book, one to carry with me and drink from while sojourning here, this is the book.
Tantra yoga is sometimes called "highest" tantra yoga, and this book makes clear just what's highest about it.
But I'm getting ahead. First, I'd like to applaud Keith Dowman, the translator, for his courage. Some of you may have read Mr. Dowman's translation of the bawdy life and enlightened adventures of Drukpa Kunley (*The Divine Madman*, apparently out-of-print, and sometimes hard to find), and know how Mr. Dowman has an ardent interest in examining just what sex and enlightenment might have to do with each other. And while examining this question, he keeps the language juicy. I can't understate how helpful that is to me (a straight male). Instead of serving up the usual feast of impossible and impenetrable buddhist terminology, he calls sexual parts by their western bedroom names, and introduces sexual situations with a sense of humor. In this modern era of famous celibate monks from the East--many of whom seem to get in trouble when they come West and encounter women living and behaving in nontraditional, nonpatriarchal ways--such writing is for me most refreshing.
The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying that in his opinion there may be no one alive on the earth presently, capable of successfully practicing highest Tantra yoga. The Dalai Lama delights me, and he may be right. But for those of us born and raised in the West, for whom negative attitudes toward sex do not seem a healthy spiritual possibility, what other choice do we have but to go INTO the matter rather than avoid it? This book goes into the matter.
Every bit of exotic sexual business that less-than-highest Buddhism tells me to avoid for fear of its karmic consequences, is here in Yeshe Tsogyel's story ecstatically embraced. A veritable bliss of boy parts and girl parts and bodily fluids, all transmuted through and into desireless wisdom.
But then, Tsogyel was a goddess come-to-earth, guided by a buddha come-to-earth. Do I have the strength and purity, the mastery, to engage these practices without engendering attachment and the other negative tendencies of my often-less-than-exalted mind? If so, my actions, according to these teachings, will produce no karmic traces. They'll be like finger-paintings on water. A bird flying through the sky, who leaves no trail.
If not, then there's the rub. Suffering and more suffering will be the likely result. So for some it may be best to stick with basic moral precepts. "Don't do this, don't do that." "These things are good, those things will get you in trouble." But if you're anything like me, you have no choice. Thou Shalt Not just doesn't work.
This book says, in effect, If you have a qualified teacher (which I don't), and you are really high-born (which I'm not), then initiation and empowerment (which I don't have) into these secret practices will take you to very quickly to the highest buddha sky. Otherwise, the practices may well destroy you.
Irresistible. Even if I have to steal the teachings--practice them without lineage permission--what choice do I have but to go for it?