According to Sutrayana Buddhism, a Bodhisattva must practise for three big eons before attaining the state of Buddhahood. However, there are special methods in Vajrayana Buddhism such as empowerment, mantra and the blessing of an enlightened root guru that can help to expedite the entire process of enlightenment of a student very swiftly. However, there is no such practice in Sutrayana Buddhism. Avalokitesvara immediately advanced to the Eighth Level from the First Level the moment He chanted the Great Compassion Mantra; Heinstantaneously accomplished all the merits belonging to the Bodhisattvas ranging from the First to the Eighth Levels. Vajrayana Buddhism has such special power of blessing indeed. Therefore, the Tantra can help one attain Buddhahood in a single lifetime. As long as one practices under the guidance of his root guru with vigour, it is possible to attain the state Buddhahood in a single lifetime. There were numerous cases of Tibetan masters successfully attaining Buddhahood in a very short period when they practiced under the guidance of their root gurus with vigour.
In theory, one must take it one step at a time. However, the Tantra can actually help us expedite the process and accomplish the practice sooner. Although it will still not be an easy process, it is indeed possible. In the past, one must go through the study of Sutrayana teachings for more than 10 to 20 years before learning the Tantra. So, we are considered in the express lane now because some of us either had only spent a very short period of time on the Sutrayana path or did not even go through it before jumping onto the bandwagon of Vajrayana. So, all the more we must cherish the precious Tantra.
Precepts are critical. Guru Padmasambhava said that the practice of Tantra is likened to one walking on the sharp edge of a knife, where one can easily slipped and hurt himself. So, the practice of Tantra is of high risk. Sutrayana is a safer but slower path, likened to riding a bicycle or taking a bus. The practice of Tantra is likened to taking a flight, fast but risky. If the airplane plunges midway in the sky, you will be finished in no time! The practice of Tantra is an express path of a higher risk. So, everyone must practice with great precaution – do not go astray.
You will face many obstacles during the course of practice and fall on the sharp edge of a knife, and hurt yourself. So, we must abide by the precepts strictly. Mind training is very crucial – do not let your mind run amok. Guard your mind every day, every hour, every second and every moment – do not let your mind run wild. Do not be controlled by your mind or negative emotions. If you are controlled by your negative emotions, you will fall. So, the Trantra can help you attain Buddhahood swiftly but it can also let you fall swiftly. I hope you will take it seriously and practise with great precaution – do not let your mind run wild.
A discourse given by Acho Rinpoche on 2011.07.15 & 16