Journey Without Goal
Journey Without Goal

Journey Without Goal

The Tantric Wisdom of the Buddha

By Chögyam Trungpa

“The student of Tantra should be in a constant state of panic. That panic is electric and should be regarded as worthwhile.... Panic is the source of open heart and open ground. Sudden panic creates an enormous sense of fresh air, and that quality of openness is exactly what Tantra should create. If we are good Tantra students, we open ourselves each moment. We panic a thousand times a day, 108 times an hour.”

Journey Without Goal was the first of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s publicly available books to speak explicitly on the subject of Buddhist Tantra from beginning to end. It was based on lectures given to a general audience at Naropa Institute in 1974; thus it includes no specifics about Tantric practices and presumes no familiarity with them. Instead the book gives what might seem to be an impressionistic overview of the Tantric approach – what Trungpa Rinpoche himself calls ‘finger-painting’. Only toward the end does he reveal that the entire presentation has been from the perspective of ‘Maha Ati’, or what students of Aro recognize as Dzogchen: “openness and spaciousness and inevitability.”

Topics covered include the experience of emptiness or non-existence as the prerequisite for entering the Tantric world, the crucial role of the vajra master, visualisation practice, abhisheka, the three kayas, the five Buddha Families, and the four yogas of Mahamudra (slipped in ‘in disguise’ as the “four levels of magic”). Trungpa Rinpoche gives thumbnail descriptions of three of the Tantric yanas (according to the Kagyüd system): kriyatantra, yogatantra, anuttaratantra; and then ati yoga.

The book is, however, more useful as a source of sanity than as a source of information. The final chapter on maha ati includes Trungpa Rinpoche’s famous image of the sky turning into a blue pancake and falling on one’s head – the futility of attempting to escape from the vastness of what is. Characteristically, the author closes with an urgent recommendation for meditation practice as the crucial ground: “sit and do nothing.”

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