]] Vajrayana (Skt. vajrayāna; Tib. dorje tekpa; Wyl. rdo rje theg pa) or 'Vajra Vehicle'. The teaching, and practice, of the Vajrayana or ‘Secret Mantra Vehicle’ lies at the heart of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition of Tibet. Based on the motivation of bodhichitta—the wish to attain, for the sake of others, the state of complete enlightenment—the Vajrayana is a path centred on cultivating pure perception. It contains many powerful methods for accumulating merit and wisdom, in order to arrive swiftly at a direct realization of buddha nature and the nature of reality itself. Through the practices of visualization, mantra recitation and meditation, ordinary perception is transformed into a ‘sacred outlook,’ where everything is seen and experienced purely in its true nature.
It is important to remember that all these methods are merely skilful means, not the goal itself. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “Buddhism is not about rituals, mantras, visualizations, or ceremonies. They may be part of it, but the fundamental point of Buddhism is to transform the mind.” He also explains that the word ‘mantra’ in Secret Mantrayana means ‘that which protects the mind.’ Here, mantra protects the mind against ordinary perception. This is also the real meaning of ‘vajra’ in the word ‘Vajrayana.’
The Vajrayana is not a separate vehicle from Mahayana, but actually belongs within Mahayana as a distinctive vehicle of skilful means.
Although the Sutrayana and Mantrayana both have as their ultimate goal the attainment of perfect buddhahood, the Mantrayana differs from the Sutrayana in the way that goal is attained. There are four distinguishing features<ref>Jamgön Kongtrul & Jokyab Rinpoche also mention six, seven, or twelve ways in which the Mantrayana is superior to the Sutrayana. See The Light of Wisdom Vol. One, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1999), pages 154 & 280. </ref> that make it superior:
As it says in The Torch of the Three Methods:
It has the same goal but is free from all confusion,<br /> It is rich in methods and without difficulties.<br /> It is for those with sharp faculties.<br /> The mantra vehicle is especially sublime.<br />
Vajrayàna is a form of Buddhism that evolved out of Mahayana during the 7th or 8th centuries in India. The name means ‘the Diamond Way' and refers to the supposedly unbreakable logic Vajrayànists use to support their interpretation of the Dhamma.
Vajrayàna is also sometimes called Tantrayàna, tantras being esoteric religious texts. Today Vajrayàna Buddhism is practiced in Mongolia, Tibet, Bhutan and in some areas in the Indian Himalayas. Of late Vajrayàna has become very popular in the West, due to the influence of the Dalai Lama and many Tibetan monks teaching there.