Destroying others’ faith.
If we cause someone’s faith in Secret Mantra to degenerate by telling them that the practice of Secret Mantra is dangerous and advising them to remain with Sutra practices we incur a root downfall.
Venerable Tharchin says that if we take full advantage of the spiritual opportunities that appear to us we create the causes to have even better spiritual opportunities in the future, but if we do not take full advantage of these opportunities we will burn up the karma that gave rise to them and we will have even fewer spiritual opportunities in the future.
It is said in the Lamrim that the odds of us finding the Dharma are equivalent to the odds of a blind turtle putting its head through a golden yoke floating on top of the ocean when that turtle surfaces only once every 100 years. If you assume that the surface area of the yoke is one square meter (a yoke for an elephant), the surface of the earth is 510 million square kilometers, and the average life span of a person is 100 years, then it means we only find the Dharma once every 510 trillion lifetimes! To find the teachings on Tantra is rarer still. It is said of the 1,000 Buddhas of this fortunate aeon, only the 4th, 11th and last will teach Tantra. So at a minimum, this means the odds of finding Tantra is equivalent to the blind turtle only surfacing once every 33,333 years (1000 Buddhas divided by only 3 teaching Tantra times the 100 years of finding Sutra), or once every 170 quadrillion lifetimes (170,000 trillion lifetimes). Such numbers are so large we lose all grasp of their meaning, but try let that sink in – once every 17 million trillion years. The odds of this are so infinitesimally small as to mean once in forever.
If somebody has the karma to encounter and begin their tantric path, and we unskillfully encourage them to not enter that path because it is dangerous to do so, we are effectively condemning them to spend another 170,000 trillion lifetimes in samsara. There is no enlightenment outside of the Tantric path. Sutra practitioners can practice for many aeons just to create the causes to find the Tantric path, and only once they do is it possible to attain enlightenment. But we have found a fully qualified tantric path in this very life. We have won the spiritual lottery of lotteries. The odds of winning the MegaMillions lottery (the biggest lottery) is one in 260 million. The odds of finding the Tantric path are equivalent to winning the MegaMillions lottery, then waiting until there are 260 million more such winners of the MegaMillions lottery, then winning another such lottery from among those winners. Then waiting until a second person does the exact same thing, then holding a coin-toss to see who wins between the two of you. That’s us in this life. We just won that.
To throw away this opportunity and not engage in the Tantric path when we have found it is equivalent to winning the above lottery of lottery winners and then not bothering to go cash in your winning ticket, but to instead throw it away. Only the greatest fool would ever do such a thing.
To destroy somebody’s faith and encourage them to abandon such a Tantric path creates the karma for us to be such a fool. It creates the causes for once we are such a winner for somebody to come along and convince us to throw away our winning ticket. Imagine somebody posts on-line some words which serve to destroy the faith of the readers in a certain tantric spiritual guide. Imagine one thousand people read such words and only 10 become convinced by them and they abandon the path. This person’s words just created the karmic causes to be such a fool 10 times in succession. If our heart does not melt with compassion for such a person, we are not paying attention. If our heart does not crack open in fear of becoming such a person with our own unskillful actions, we are definitely not paying attention.
Why would engaging in the Tantric path possibly be considered dangerous? The reason is simple enough to understand: it’s just so powerful. Playing irresponsibly with matches is dangerous, playing irresponsibly with nuclear power much more so. In the same way, playing irresponsibly with the Dharma is dangerous, playing irresponsibly with the Tantric teachings much more so. When you think of all the people teaching “Tantra” classes where the only requirement is loose-fitting shorts, you can see how common of a problem this is.
What protects us from these dangers? Quite simply, a pure motivation, enough humility to learn from our mistakes, and a sincere mind of faith. A pure motivation means we are practicing out of concern for our future lives, not just this life alone. Humility means we don’t kid ourselves into thinking we are doing it right, but instead we are constantly striving to do things in a more qualified way. Sincere faith means we are constantly requesting blessings from the holy beings that they internally and externally guide us along the tantric path. If we have these three things, we do not need to worry.
When we first start the tantric path, we are mere beginners and are not doing it in a very qualified way. As long as our motivation, humility and faith are more developed than our tantric practice, we are safe. If our tantric practice starts to outstrip our motivation, humility and faith, then we can quickly get ourselves into trouble. This is why it is said we need to practice Tantra on the foundation of Lamrim.
The good news is just as destroying people’s faith in a Tantric spiritual guide or path is unparalleled in negative karma, so too cultivating people’s faith in a Tantric spiritual guide is unparalleled in creating virtuous karma. If we seize the opportunity we currently have to train in the tantric path, we create the causes to continue to do so in our next life. If we encourage others to do the same, we create the causes to quickly refind the tantric path if we lose it somewhere along the way. Encouraging faith in the Tantric path is like buying insurance for maintaining the continuum of your Tantric path without interruption until you attain enlightenment.