The spiritual path of Vajrayana, the Adamantine (or Tantric) Vehicle of Buddhism transmits the Buddha's profoundest teachings, able to bring the adept to full Enlightenment in a very short time ('within one life').
The Vajrayana is also called 'Vehicle of the Fruit' because it takes Enlightenment itself as the path. The practitioner, having incorporated the basic qualities of the two former vehicles – that is to say, the morality of the Small Vehicle and the non-egotistic, full of love and compassion attitude of the Great Vehicle – is ready to transcend the very idea of Enlightenment or non-Enlightenment. The main quality that he cultivates is the pure vision, of himself and of all the phenomena.
Greatest importance is given to the teacher, the Guru, and the reception of his blessing. The Vajrayana Master, holder of knowledge, is in fact the one who, with his pointing out instructions, introduces the disciple to the true nature of his mind. He actually transmits him the knowledge and the living experience that all phenomena (even the adept himself) are from the very beginning expression of the absolute. In other words, all phenomena are the very face of the absolute: the Great Perfection, primordially pure and spontaneous. Recognizing, in this way, that all the phenomena carry the Great Seal of the absolute and are in fact self-liberated, the practitioner, full of bliss and compassion, is liberated in one instant from every hope and fear and enters directly the dimension of freedom.
This direct introduction to the enlightened condition can take place in an immediate way, mind to mind, or through symbols that awaken him instantly. Nevertheless, it usually takes the form of a twofold process of ripening and liberation. ‘Ripening’ refers to a process of maturing one’s being through the empowerment, or initiation, which prepares the actual process of liberation. The empowerment, in the Buddhist tantric tradition, consists of four major steps, each of which is a specific type of empowerment itself. The end result of being taken through the four steps of the empowerment is that one is shown all aspects of his being in their enlightened form. This demonstration through empowerment of the enlightened side of the various aspects of our being plants a seed in our experience which can then be nurtured into its full-blown form, the full enlightenment of a truly complete Buddha. ‘Liberation’ is the application of the specific techniques – the techniques of the development and achievement phases, the so-called Skilful Means – that liberate us from our samsaric style of being into an enlightened style of being.