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rlp7786
30 Nov 11, 22:06
In Vajrayana, (an to a lesser extant, Mahayana) there is the practice of deity yoga. One takes a particular Buddha or Bodhisattva and through concentration aligns oneself with the qualities of this deity he has picked in order to take on its qualities. My question, to the Tibetan Buddhist is this. Are the deities used in Vajrayana to be taken as literal beings or as the external representation of the meditators own Buddha nature? Or both?

rlp7786
30 Nov 11, 22:13
One other question I have is this. In western magick traditions such as Hermeticism, Theurgy, and orders like Thelema, the Golden dawn, and the great rite of wicca, we have this concept of the "assumption" of a "god form". You take a particular god from a mythology, and you mentally merge yourself with this deities image and qualities. You then mentally act AS that deity throughout the practice. I only bring this up because I am curious if this is similar in any way to what a Vajrayana practitioner does with his/her deities.

Karma Yeshe
01 Dec 11, 04:06
In Vajrayana, (an to a lesser extant, Mahayana) there is the practice of deity yoga. One takes a particular Buddha or Bodhisattva and through concentration aligns oneself with the qualities of this deity he has picked in order to take on its qualities. My question, to the Tibetan Buddhist is this. Are the deities used in Vajrayana to be taken as literal beings or as the external representation of the meditators own Buddha nature? Or both?

This is one of those very complex questions that seems simple at first but tends to get caught up in alot of dualistic thinking.

In short it is both. The deities are Enlightened Beings that work for the benifit of all Sentient Beings. At the same time, we all posess Buddha Nature and thus in a very real sense are part of us as well.

There is a very good explaination of this in a book by Kalu Rinpoche "Gently Whispered". In this book Rinpoche goes thru the Chenrezig Sadhana in a step by step way that can give you a much better overview than I could.

All the Best

andyrobyn
01 Dec 11, 04:42
Hi rrlp7786,
Practices such as the Chenrezig and Tara sadhanas are best understood as skillful method for changing one's attachment to physical existence - working on our mental attitude. As Karma Yeshe explains above there are books which give explanations - offline centres and teachers who are experienced practitioners are my preferred teachers.

Aloka
01 Dec 11, 05:36
In Vajrayana, (an to a lesser extant, Mahayana) there is the practice of deity yoga. One takes a particular Buddha or Bodhisattva and through concentration aligns oneself with the qualities of this deity he has picked in order to take on its qualities. My question, to the Tibetan Buddhist is this. Are the deities used in Vajrayana to be taken as literal beings or as the external representation of the meditators own Buddha nature? Or both?


Hi Ron,

Usually one's teacher advises on which deity practice it's best to do, and preliminary practices may have to be completed first before one reaches that stage

This information about deity practice in the Kagyu tradition might be helpful:





Deity Practices

Having completed the preliminary practices there are two main ways to go, which are often combined these days. The first way is described as a path of skilful means and it involves doing practices that use mantra and visualisation, generally known as 'deity practices'. The second way relates directly to the nature of mind and is a graduated system of practices, involving calm abiding and insight meditation, leading to Mahamudra realisation of the true nature of mind. In general deity practices are developed to their fullest in the long term retreats (such as four year retreats), while the second way is found in Mahamudra courses offered by high lineage teachers in the Karma Kagyu tradition.


With regard to deity practices, it is important to explain that the concept of 'deity' in Buddhism is different to its traditional usage in the West. It does not refer to a separate, external, supernaturally powerful being that we pray to in order to receive grace and favour.

Instead 'deity' in this context refers to different facets of the enlightened mind that are within us - for example, limitless compassion. Deity practices normally involve meditating on a particular form, which is an expression of a quality of enlightened awareness.

To use an analogy, if our Buddha Nature is likened to a translucent diamond composed of light, then the different deities, like Tara and Chenrezig, are like different facets of this diamond, expressing different qualities of the enlightened mind. When we meditate on a deity, it is like establishing a mind link (yidam) with these qualities; and through meditating on the deity, these qualities gradually manifest in us. For example, Chenrezig is regarded as the embodiment of limitless love and compassion, and through meditating on his form and reciting his mantra, limitless love and compassion gradually arise in us.

http://www.samyeling.org/index/vajrayana#deity




:hands:

daverupa
01 Dec 11, 11:54
It seems to be the difference between invocation and evocation.

ratikala
01 Dec 11, 21:49
In short it is both. The deities are Enlightened Beings that work for the benifit of all Sentient Beings. At the same time, we all posess Buddha Nature and thus in a very real sense are part of us as well.

dear rlp ,

karma yeshe puts it nicely , " IN SHORT BOTH "

these deity's or yidam represent or as I would prefer to say are the embodiment of particular aspects of the buddha mind ,

the deity for example manjushri (jampal), is the wisdom aspect . avalokiteshvara (chenreizig), the aspect of compassion ,........... of the buddha mind (the mind of all enlightened beings)
this buddha mind is pure in realiseation , allready fully realised , fully complete .
the buddha nature which resides within , is in it self is pure , but in us not fully complete , it is likened to a seed which bears the potential to ripen , to grow and bear fruit , the fruit being the enlightened mind .

so yes ," both ", but in different proportion ,

In the buddha mind , in its fullness ,

In our buddha nature , in its potential ,

namaskars :hands: ratikala

Aloka
01 Dec 11, 22:05
Are the deities used in Vajrayana to be taken as literal beings


Hi rlp7786

To think that the visualised Tibetan Buddhist yidam deities exist independently from one's own mind is incorrect.

(I've done a number of peaceful and wrathful deity practices myself in the past)

. ... see also underlined portion in #5 - which is quoted from the website of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.

ratikala
01 Dec 11, 23:16
To think that the visualised Tibetan Buddhist yidam deities exist independently from one's own mind is incorrect

... see also underlined portion in #5 - which is quoted from the website of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.

dear aloka ,

please study carefully what I have just said ,

I did not say anything about it existing , not existing ,

or where exactly it did or did not exist .

I simply aggreed with karma yeshe 's sentiments that in some respects the yidam is symultaniously both a " literal being" in its own right and allso an" external representation of the meditators own buddha nature"

please do not jump to conclusions , If you do not understand what I am trying to say , then please ask me to explain further .

the point I was trying to make , is that the deity in its deity form is fully perfected

and that buddha nature that resides within is as of yet dormant or in stages of ripening , thus my using the analogy of a seed ,

namaskars :hands: ratikala

Aloka
01 Dec 11, 23:27
dear aloka ,

please study carefully what I have just said ,

I did not say anything about it existing , not existing ,

or where exactly it did or did not exist .

I simply aggreed with karma yeshe 's sentiments that in some respects the yidam is symultaniously both a " literal being" in its own right and allso an" external representation of the meditators own buddha nature"

please do not jump to conclusions , If you do not understand what I am trying to say , then please ask me to explain further .

the point I was trying to make , is that the deity in its deity form is fully perfected

and that buddha nature that resides within is as of yet dormant or in stages of ripening , thus my using the analogy of a seed ,

namaskars :hands: ratikala


Dear ratikala,

Please study my own post carefully, did I actually mention your name ?

Unfortunately you are jumping to conclusions yourself, because I was addressing rlp7786 #1, and not you.

I'm sorry if I didn't make that clearer and have now added his name to my post.


regards

Aloka ;D

ratikala
01 Dec 11, 23:50
p.s

this was added whilst I was writing my reply ?




(I've done a number of peaceful and wrathful deity practices myself in the past)
.

? what makes you feel the need to say this ?

do we need to list practices like a C.V. ?

it is not about what one has done , but what one is trying to do , and the sincerity/humility with which one approaches that practice .

namaskars :hands: ratikala

Aloka
01 Dec 11, 23:55
this was added whilst I was writing my reply ?

? what makes you feel the need to say this ?

do we need to list practices like a C.V. ?

it is not about what one has done , but what one is trying to do , and the sincerity/humility with which one approaches that practice .


What's wrong with me sharing with others the fact that I've done some of these practices myself, ratikala? I'm not quite sure why its a big problem for you if I decide to add it to my post, nor how I'm supposed to know you're writing a reply while I'm doing it

What also gives you the right to pronounce judgement on me and tell me how I should approach my practice ?

Aloka
02 Dec 11, 00:04
That's quite enough now, thanks ratikala.

I have deleted your last post because it is certainly not my intention to continue with this pointless public squabbling . (See also the Code of Conduct)

Thread closed.

Peace.

:peace: