Abusing our body.
To practice Secret Mantra we need a strong and healthy body because if our bodily strength decreases our drops will also decrease, and then it will be difficult for us to generate spontaneous great bliss. For this reason, if we deliberately cause the strength of our body to decrease motivated by the thought that the body is impure, we incur a root downfall. Instead of regarding our body as impure we should generate ourself as the Deity. We also, obviously, incur this downfall if we decide to commit suicide.
It is said that beings who have taken rebirth in certain pure lands actually pray to be born human so that they can practice Tantra. In order to practice Tantra, in particular completion stage of highest yoga tantra, we need a bodily basis that includes channels, drops and winds. A human body has such things, the wisdom bodies of light beings have in certain pure lands do not. There are, however, some pure lands such as Keajra, where we have the necessary bodily basis to practice highest yoga tantra. This is why it is such a good idea to strive to take rebirth there. Then we get all of the benefits of being born in a pure land and all of the benefits of being born human at the same time.
The reason why we want to generate bliss is not because it feels good (although that’s a nice side benefit), but rather because only the very subtle mind of great bliss can mix indistinguishably, like water mixing with water, with the very subtle object emptiness. To attain enlightenment, we need to purify our mind of the two obstructions – the delusion obstructions and the obstructions to omniscience. Delusion obstructions are, quite obviously, the delusions we generate such as attachment, aversion and ignorance. The obstructions to omniscience are the karmic imprints of our past delusions. Venerable Tharchin explains that karmic imprints are like tiny vibrations on the fabric of our very subtle mind. When karmic imprints ripen, the amplitude of these vibrations increases more and more, giving rise to mental winds, currents, thoughts and eventually appearances.
The way we purify the two obstructions is by realizing directly the emptiness of our very subtle mind of great bliss. When we do so, it functions to smooth out all of the contaminated karmic vibrations until our mind is completely pure and without obstruction and we attain full, irreversible enlightenment. To realize directly the emptiness of our very subtle mind of great bliss, we must first make it manifest. To make it manifest, we need to cause all of our inner energy winds to gather, absorb and dissolve into the indestructible drop at our heart. Right now, due to aeons worth of wrong actions, our subtle body through which our inner winds flow is a tangled mess. The purpose of most completion stage meditations and the body mandala meditations is to heal our subtle body, so that the winds may flow freely into the heart.
While we need a human bodily basis with channels, drops and winds to train in this way, we don’t actually train with the subtle body of our ordinary selves. Rather, we first generate ourselves as our Highest Yoga Tantra Yidam and then we imagine that the completely pure subtle body of the deity is the same nature as our ordinary subtle body. Or more specifically, we imagine that our ordinary subtle body transforms into the completely pure subtle body of the deity. Just as all Tantra is a process of bring the result into the path, so too our body mandala and completion stage meditations can be thought of as bringing the result of our completely pure subtle body into the path.
Understanding the relationship between our ordinary body and our practice of Tantra, we see how important it is to keep our ordinary body healthy and full of vitality. Eating well, exercising, getting adequate sleep, etc., are all aspects of our Tantric training. We should do what is required to maintain a strong and healthy body, especially as we grow older. But eventually, sickness and old age catch up to us. We shouldn’t view that as a problem, but simply the evolution of our karma. But we should take heart in how many active and healthy seniors there are, and we should strive to create the causes to have a similar future.