Essence of Tantra
Tasting the Essence of Tantra
An eight module archive retreat series
from recordings created by
Beginning September 2023
In 2015 I began teaching a series of retreats which were intended to be an in-depth exploration of the essential principles of tantric practice. These began at Vajrapani Institute in California and were then followed by similar series in Prague, Copenhagen, Wageningen (Holland) and the UK. Since these series ended many people around the world have expressed interest in being able to follow a similar program. Regrettably I do not think I will repeat this retreat program although the Essence of Tantra book series has grown out of them.
There are, however, many recordings from these retreats and I have, with the generous assistance of Eric Brus in the US, been able to create an archive series that can offer something of the flavour of the modules. It should be noted that these recordings are not prefect but will I hope be adequate for this purpose.
Rob Preece March 2023
Tantra or Vajrayana is one of the most extraordinary aspects of Buddhism that emerged in India and became shaped and developed in its transmission through Nepal and into Tibet. Today this tradition is accessible to Westerners as Tibetan masters come to the West to teach. Many people are attracted to tantric practice but are not always able to make a deep connection partly because of its complexity and also because of the business of Western life. We may gain lots of intellectual knowledge about tantra but not know how to enable this to really touch and transform us. We need to practice in a way that addresses our particular psychological nature and difficulties. If we do not we may create a veneer of spiritual practice over hidden unresolved psychological problems. When practiced as a way of embodied meditation this need not happen, but that requires skilful guidance. Tantra is a rich and creative process that can touch us very deeply but to do so in must genuinely become our experience. We need to taste the essence of how tantra transforms us.
This series of modules is intended to be a training in a way of tantric practice that emphasises an embodied meditation process that can deeply transform and awaken our nature. It will provide a practical ground of understanding and experience of the way tantra works. Rob brings together a unique blend of traditional understanding, meditation experience and Western psychology. This will be invaluable to both new and experienced practitioners to enable a deepening of the effectiveness of the tantric path.
During the series there will be a gradual introduction to the primary deity practices of Kriya tantra and to some of the foundations for the practice of Higher tantra. Each module builds upon the experience of the module before to gradually enable a taste of how tantra works. Participants are encouraged to establish an on-going meditation practice, to integrate the module content in between modules.
Who is this for?:
This module series is for those who have an existing relationship to meditation practice within the Tibetan tradition. It will be particularly beneficial for those who have been involved in the tantric tradition who feel the need to deepen their relationship to practice but also discover a way of meditation that brings practice alive in an embodied way. This is not for beginners who have little background of buddhist teachings.
If you would like to participate it will be helpful to have a clear idea of your experience and background particularly in relation to the Tibetan tradition, as well as your meditation and retreat experience. If you have not worked with Rob in the past it may be necessary to have some dialogue to clarify that this is an appropriate training to follow.
Participants will be asked to commit to the entire series.
The course will consist of the following Modules:
Becoming a stable vessel: In this module we begin to work with the awareness of sensation, feeling and emotion within the body. This helps create a sound psychological ground for tantric of practice and a resource to help stabilise our relationship to our emotional life and the body. We explore the cultivation of "definite emergence" (renunciation) and a deepening of the meaning of refuge. This retreat is supported by the practice of Shakyamuni Buddha. (Via Zoom) Participants will go through a process of taking refuge which may be new for some and a re-affirmation for others.
Awakening right intention: During this retreat we begin to explore healing some of our wounding to our sense of self through developing compassionate presence. On the basis of self-compassion we will develop the practices of Tong Len and the meditations for awakening Bodhicitta, the aspiration to awaken for the welfare of others. (Via Zoom) Participants will be able to take the Bodhisattva vow or re-affirm this vow for those that have already done so. Rob will also introduce the practice of Chenrezig, the buddha of Compassion.
Discovering the nature of mind: In this module we will bring together the insight of emptiness from Madyamika philosophy with meditation on the nature of mind in Mahamudra. We will look at the stages for developing the practice of tranquil abiding and the cultivation of insight meditation in relation to Mahamudra. We will deepen our understanding of buddha-nature, particularly our innate dharmakaya, the primordially pure nature of mind, and its importance in tantric practice. This retreat will be supported by introducing the deity Manjushri.
The nature of Deity practice: In this module we will look more deeply at the psychology of deity practice and the sadhana developing our relationship to the sacred through prayers, offerings, prostrations and creating sacred space. We will look at the deity as gateway to our innate buddha-nature and how visualisation and mantra bring a taste of a deities quality. We will also explore the meaning and significance devotion and the role of the deity in guru yoga. This retreat will be oriented around the practice of Green Tara.
Awakening the energy-body: In this retreat we will shift attention to developing awareness of the energy-body, and its particular relationship to our emotional life. We explore the processes of healing, purification and transformation and the way in which working with the body is so important to tantric practice. We will explore the nature of the chakras and their function and their relationship to our emotional life. There will be an introduction to the practice of tummo and its place within the evolution of tantra. We will look at the kind of energy problems that can arise in the body through meditation, as well as the roots of emotional problems and trauma and how this can be healed. We will explore the roll of an alchemical vessel in the process of transformation and healing. The practice of Heruka Vajrasattva will be introduced as a basis for healing.
Working with the shadow: Having become familiar with the nature of the energy-body, during this retreat we will begin to look at the transformation and purification of the shadow. We will go deeper into ways of working with the energy of our emotions and psychological patterns looking at their purification and transformation through symbolic ritual. We will explore the relationship between peaceful and wrathful deities, introducing the principle of transformation used in higher tantra practice. This retreat will introduce the deity Vajrapani.
Module 7: The Masculine and Feminine: In this module we will begin to look at the outer inner and secret relationships between the masculine and feminine expressed in the nature of tantric daka/dakini and Jung’s anima/animus. We will begin to explore the significance of our search for union on a psychological and energetic level. We will look at the meaning behind the divisions of mother and father tantra and their psychological implications This process will be supported by deepening the practice of Heruka Vajrasattva looking towards the practices of Higher tantra.
Module 8: The Mandala and Visions of wholeness: In this final retreat we will begin to draw together elements of practice that have gone before into a more cohesive whole. We will explore the nature of the mandala as an important expression of the vision of wholeness and as a symbol of the homeostatic nature of the psyche. We will look at the 5 Buddha families and 5 elements and their contribution to our personal psychological experience of health and wholeness.
Rob’s inspiration for this training comes from his years of study and practice guided by Lama Yeshe before his passing. Lama was an extraordinary teacher who had a natural intuitive way of communicating and always encouraged the integration of Buddhist and Western psychology to create a bridge for our Western experience. Rob's intention is to keep the flame of Lama's inspiration, vision and unique approach to practice alive through this training. His style of teaching is oriented to opening a dialogue around the material that is being explored. This is to maintain Lama Yeshe's spirit of exploration and creativity in the way tantra is integrated into Western experience rather than holding to rigid prescriptions of practice.
What the program will entail:
Those who join this archive module series will be asked to see the recordings as the basis for a retreat. Recordings are in an order that combines meditations and talks.
The intention is to send the modules with a gap of approximately 3 months in between them. This is to give time to practice and integrate the material of each module.
During the 3 month gap Rob will include at least one on-line Zoom session during which he will give a Jenang or simple initiation into the deity related to each module. This will also include a period of question and answers to support the process of practice.
If you wish to participate contact Rob by email and give some sense of your background of experience and why you would like to take part. If you have already worked with Rob before this background will not be so necessary.
The cost for each Module will be £150
The Wisdom of Imperfection, The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra, The Courage to Feel, Preparing for Tantra, Feeling Wisdom and Tasting the Essence of Tantra, by Rob;
Introduction to Tantra, The Tantric Path of Purification and The Bliss of Inner Fire by Lama Yeshe;
The Three Principle Aspects of the Path, by Geshe Sonam Rinchen;
An Ocean of Ultimate Meaning, by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.
The Gelug/Kargyu tradition of Mahamudra, by H.H.Dalia Lama.
For further information or to apply please contact: email@example.com