Mandalas of Fire and Light

An Illustrated Talk on The Six Yoga Tradition of Tantric Buddhism

Thursday 20th September 2018


The transmission of Tibet’s Tantric form of Buddhism has been embedded for more than a millennium in structures of secrecy, hierarchy, and power that obscure its relevance in our current postmodern age. In this illustrated talk, Ian Baker reveals how the methods outlined in the Buddhist Tantras were originally intended for non-monastic, lay practitioners fully engaged in the responsibilities and possibilities of wordily life. Over a period of centuries, the Tantric Buddhist teachings were gradually assimilated within monastic communities through an adaptive strategy that often altered fundamental meanings and propagated the admixture of inspiration and confusion that many would-be practitioners experience today. As an acclaimed author and initiate of multiple Tantric Buddhist lineages, Ian Baker will speak in particular on the genesis, evolution, and contemporary significance of six fundamental yogic practices that ‘take the body as the path’, and which all lineages of Tibetan Buddhism uphold as the innermost essence of the culminating stages of Vajrayāna, or Tantric Buddhism.

Ian Baker is a cultural historian, anthropologist, art curator, and the author of seven books and numerous academic articles on Himalayan and Tibetan art history, traditional medicine, and Buddhist philosophy. He is also an initiate of several Tantric Buddhist lineages. Ian lived and practiced for over twenty years in the Himalayan region, as chronicled in his book The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, and was co-curator for the 2015-2016 ‘Tibet’s Secret Temple’ exhibition at London’s Wellcome Trust. His forthcoming books include Tibetan Yoga: Principles and Practices and Secret Vajrayāna: A Modern Guide to the Six Yogas.