In Tibet, the circumstances under which initiations could be given were clear.
Apart from simple ceremonies performed as a blessing or for longevity, each initiation required several specific forms of preparation or commitment on the part of the person wishing to receive it.
First, in all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, initiations that involved the four abhisekas (consecrations) were open only to applicants who had completed well-defined preliminary practices. In the Nyingma school, these preliminary practices would have included completion of the ‘bum-inga, the five `hundred thousand’ practices that begin with a hundred thousand prostrations.
Second, before receiving empowerment, the initiate would have to agree to do the practices associated with the initiation every day for the rest of his or her life. This requirement invoked the power of the initiation as an aid in the growth of samatha (calm) and vipasyana (clear insight).
In particular, the core practices of mantra and visualization were considered the gateway to higher samadhis that could accelerate progress on the path toward realization.
Finally, the initiate took certain vows specific to the Mantrayana.
Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche
Mind over Matter
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