The Vajra Path: Evolution of Tantric Buddhism

Join Dr. Ian Baker for this six-module course exploring comparative & cross-cultural perspectives on the contemporary evolution of Tantric Buddhism.

About This Course

Each Module is a stand-alone seminar though the sequence of six seminars is constructed by Dr Baker as an integrated one-year course.

This pre-recorded course, which took place over the period of a year in 2023, presents contemporary perspectives on esoteric Buddhist practices that developed at the crossroads of multiple religious and yogic traditions.

Using the template of ‘Six Yogas in Nine Months,’ we unpack the history and evolution of the so-called tantric ‘completion stage’ (nispannakrama), in the context of a tradition arguably in radical transformation.

After examining the roots of Vajrayāna Buddhism, we explore alternative perspectives on human embodiment and their expression within yogic practices of ‘ascetic heat’ (Wtapas) and somatic incandescence (tummo).

How are these qualities cultivated and what are the results? What light can contemporary science shed on historical conceptions of the ‘vajra body’ as a locus of transformative experience?

From Noetic Fire, the course progresses through additional tantric completion stage yogas – nonlocal embodiment (Illusory Body), partnered union (Karmamudrā), clear light, dreamwork, and lucid death (Powa and Bardo Yoga) – drawing on contemporary developments in quantum science, aesthetic theory, and related disciplines, towards a renewed understanding of one of the most comprehensive systems of human transformation.

Each module of this one-year course consists of 90-minute presentations followed by 60 minutes of question and answer.

To access the course it must be done each module individually by using the ‘Watch Recording’ buttons below.

Course Format

Module 1: From Yoga Sutras to Yoga Tantras
An exploration of the history and early development of Vajrayāna Buddhism, and the emergence of the Six Yoga doctrine. Where did the practices come from and where are they going now?

Module 2: Noetic Heat
A cross-cultural and interdisciplinary exploration of practices of ‘inner fire’ and their interface with polyvagal theory and psychoneuroendocrinology.

Module 3: Skillful Union
Drawing, in part, on contemporary advances in psychology and neuroscience, an exploration of the transformative power of intimate, partnered yoga, in the context of tantric Buddhist texts and teachings on co-emergent fire and nectar.

Module 4: Nonlocal Embodiment & Entangled Light
An examination of the tantric doctrines of Illusory Body (māyākāyā) and Clear Light (prabhasvara) in light of neuroscience, quantum mechanics, and contemporary practice.

Module 5: Dreamwork
Historical and contemporary perspectives on the practice of Dream Yoga (svapnadarśana ), or ‘is anything real?’

Module 6: Death, Dying, and Liminality
An exploration and revaluation of traditional Buddhist teachings on transitional states and the death process, or ‘why does love feel like dying?

What's Included

The Teacher

Dr. Ian Baker is a distinguished anthropologist and cultural historian with advanced degrees from the University of Oxford and the University of Strathclyde. Recognized by National Geographic as one of seven ‘Explorers for the Millennium,’ he has conducted extensive field research in Tibet’s Tsangpo Gorge region, specifically in Beyul Pemakö, the ‘hidden land arrayed like lotuses.’

Baker has authored seven critically acclaimed books on Himalayan and Tibetan cultural history, environment, art, and medicine, and contributed to various academic publications on subjects like yoga, sacred geography, and entheogenic substance use in Buddhism. Having studied under prominent Tibetan Buddhist luminaries, such as Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche, Dudjom Jigdral Dorje Rinpoche, and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, he also co-founded The Vajra Path with Dr. Nida Chenagtsang. This platform is dedicated to presenting Vajrayāna Buddhism in the contemporary world, merging ancient wisdom with modern perspectives.

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150 GBP
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