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Visualize self as the deity

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Tashi Delek dear Rinpoche,

 

in the topic "pacifying thoughts and kleshas" http://www.dharmaling.org/Forums/viewtopic/t=406.html You say:"Note that to visualize yourself as the deity, you do need to have received an Initiation of the fourth Tantric class."

 

In the Kathleen McDonald book "How to meditate" (Kako meditirati) in the meditation practice about Budha, the practice says to visualize self as Shakyamuni Budha. Is it okay to do this practice without having received an Initiation of the fourth Tantric class?

 

Kindest Regards,

Klemen

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What about the Short Four-handed Chenrezig practice published by Dharmaling? At the end of the practice when Budha dissolves into meditator's body and his/hers body, speach and mind becomes inseparable from Budha Chenrezig body speach and mind ... one becomes Budha Chenrezig in his/hers visualisation. Do I understand this correctly?

 

Regards,

Klemen

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Tashi delek,

 

As far as I know, one shall not visualize him/herself has a Buddha before to have taken an Initiation of the fourth Tantric class, hupholding the usual commitments of this class, with the Bodhisattva and tantric vows.

 

Exception are with Shakyamuni Buddha and Buddha Chenrezi.

 

All the best, Gelong T. Shenphen

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Tashi delek :hello:

 

"Note that to visualize yourself as the deity, you do need to have received an Initiation of the fourth Tantric class."

 

Is it okay to do this practice without having received an Initiation of the fourth Tantric class?

 

To this topic I found something, a teaching of Lama Zopa Rinpoche:

 

Nick: Rinpoche, my question is, because you are not supposed to visualize yourself as a deity if you haven’t had the initiation, do you then just visualize yourself in your ordinary form?

 

Rinpoche: You can generate yourself as an American guy or an Australian guy! I think Lama’s explanation might be based on people who have received a Highest Tantra initiation such as Heruka.

If you haven’t received a great initiation, you can think that the refuge merit field, whether you have visualized Heruka or Vajradhara, melts into light and is absorbed at the point between your eyebrows.

This is what is normally explained in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand and in other commentaries. The texts explain that even if you cannot visualize the merit field melting into light and absorbing into you through your crown, you can think that it absorbs into you at the point between your eyebrows and then blesses your body, speech and mind. The blessing can be received in this way.

In the case of the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha meditation, when I checked with Denma Lochö Rinpoche, Rinpoche said that even if you haven’t received a great initiation, which means from one of the lower tantras or from Highest Yoga Tantra, you can still visualize yourself as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.

This is an exceptional case because Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is the founder of the present Buddhadharma. This was Rinpoche’s answer, though I’m not sure whether every lama would say the same thing. I asked the question because in the early Kopan courses we started this tradition of becoming Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.

You become Guru Shakyamuni Buddha for a little while, and then become a sentient being again. For a little while you are high, and then you have to come down....

This was Denma Lochö Rinpoche’s answer. When I then asked about visualizing yourself as Medicine Buddha, Rinpoche said that in the case of Medicine Buddha, you might first need to receive a great initiation. I think that Lama’s advice was for people who had already received a great initiation of Highest Yoga Tantra, such as Heruka.

 

Student:If we were at the empowerment last night, are we empowered to visualize ourselves as Vajrasattva if we haven’t received a Highest Yoga Tantra initiation?

 

Rinpoche: No, you are only permitted to visualize your nose as Vajrasattva!

The blessing of the holy body, holy speech and holy mind, which is called a je-nang, or permission to practice, is actually supposed to come after a great initiation, according to Lama Tsong Khapa’s Great Graduated Path of Tantraand the main tantric scriptures. This short initiation, the permission to practice, is based on having first received a great initiation. This is why the meditation during the initiation involves generating yourself as a deity.

Of course, this is not strictly true because during the preparation for a great initiation, there is the inner initiation. After the bodhisattva and tantric vows are granted, in the case of Highest Yoga Tantra, or just the bodhisattva vows in the case of the lower tantras, an inner initiation is given to generate the disciple as the son of the vajra master.

The term “son” is not used in dependence upon the characteristics of the body but of the mind. This term is used because it is normally the son who becomes the king.

The daughter becomes the queen, but does not become the king. Because this example is applied here, the disciple is called “the son of the vajra master,” but it has nothing to do with the body.

The ordinary form of the disciple melts into light and goes through the mother’s body into the womb, where the disciple then generates into the deity. Before this, however, the disciple has not necessarily received a great initiation.

 

Initiations like the Vajrasattva je-nang should be based on generating oneself as the deity. The foundation should be the disciple generating as the deity after having taken the vows. On that basis, the blessings of the deity’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind are then granted.

This is why, generally speaking, you should have previously taken a great initiation, which permits you to generate yourself as a deity and to practice tantra, either the yoga with signs or the yoga without signs of the lower tantras or the generation and completion stages of Highest Yoga Tantra.

Therefore, if you have previously taken a great initiation, either of one of the lower tantras or of Highest Yoga Tantra, you are qualified to receive the complete blessing, the complete je-nang, when you take any of the blessings of the deity’s holy body, holy speech or holy mind because you are allowed to do all the meditations of generating yourself as the deity and so forth.

 

Otherwise, without a great initiation, you receive some blessing rather than the actual je-nang, and the blessing that you receive depends on the qualities of the lama and on the devotion of you, the disciple. In dependence upon the disciple’s devotion and the lama’s qualities, the disciple receives at least some blessing, some protection. The lama visualizing the disciple as the deity can give some protection to the disciple.

Through the disciple’s devotion and the lama’s qualities, the disciple receives some blessing of the deity, but not the complete je-nang.

 

If you can take a great initiation, it means that when you take all these short initiations, or blessings of the deity, you then receive the complete jenang, or permission to practice.

Of course, after you have taken a great initiation, either of the lower tantras or Highest Yoga Tantra, you have to attempt as much as possible to keep the samaya vows.

To be able to keep everything purely, first of all you need stable realization of the three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment.

With stable concentration, you then practice the yoga of the generation stage, in which you look at everything as pure. You look at your own body as the deity’s holy body, the place as the deity’s mandala and so forth. On the basis of the lam-rim, you are able to keep vows, including tantric vows, more purely.

 

With stable realization of the generation stage, everything appears to us as pure—our own body and those of others appear as the deity’s holy body, and the place appears as the mandala of the deity.

By looking at everything as pure, as manifestations of the deity, you then see everything as pure. Without this realization, we constantly collect negativities because in every second we see so many objects as ordinary.

 

After discussing this point, two geshes reached the conclusion that it is better not to practice tantra because otherwise you collect so many negativities in each second through seeing objects as ordinary. Since it is impossible to keep difficult vows such as seeing everything as pure, they thought it better not to take a great initiation of tantra. Their conclusion is that taking a tantric initiation creates more obstacles to achieving enlightenment.

 

Lama Atisha responded that the view of the two geshes was like a blind yak eating grass. When a blind yak eats grass, because it cannot see all the grass that is available, it eats just a small part of what is there.

 

Lama Atisha said that the two geshes made their comment because of their lack of knowledge that there is a powerful practice of purification called Vajrasattva with which you can purify these negativities.

Lama Atisha explained, “Practicing Vajrasattva is like throwing one stone and chasing away a hundred birds.” Vajrasattva, a powerful purification practice, can be used to purify at one time all the negativities collected from breaking the subtle tantric vows, which are very difficult to keep. Even though you have collected negativities like a car collects dust when left out in the open, Lama Atisha advises that you can wipe them all out at once by doing Vajrasattva practice.

 

Therefore, the conclusion is that even though we are unable to keep all the tantric vows, especially the subtle ones, after we have taken a great initiation, if we do the powerful practice of Vajrasattva we can still achieve enlightenment.

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Tashi delek dear Lama Shenphen Rinpoche :hello:

 

As far as I know, one shall not visualize him/herself has a Buddha before to have taken an Initiation of the fourth Tantric class, hupholding the usual commitments of this class, with the Bodhisattva and tantric vows.

 

According to the explanations of Zopa Rinpoche some questions are left open for me:

 

Lama Zopa Rinpoche sayes:

 

Therefore, if you have previously taken a great initiation, either of one of the lower tantras or of Highest Yoga Tantra, you are qualified to receive the complete blessing, the complete je-nang, when you take any of the blessings of the deity’s holy body, holy speech or holy mind because you are allowed to do all the meditations of generating yourself as the deity and so forth.

 

If you can take a great initiation, it means that when you take all these short initiations, or blessings of the deity, you then receive the complete jenang, or permission to practice.

Of course, after you have taken a great initiation, either of the lower tantras or Highest Yoga Tantra, you have to attempt as much as possible to keep the samaya vows.

 

My first question would be what is the difference between an great and short initiation?

 

Then second question: Lama Zopa Rinpoche seems to say that a great initiation from the lower tantras qualifies as well for to visualize oneself as deity.Did I understand this right ?

For me this is an important point, because I received some initiations which were not from 4th tantric class but with the permission visualizing oneself as a deity. Before I thought this is just because I am practicing within the kagyu lineage, and that there are some differences ( I even had not to take tantric vows ). So I feel now little bit unclear on this topic.....Could you please clarify this ?

 

With all my best wishes

Csillag

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Tashi delek :hello:

 

I found more and more information on "visualizing oneself as a deity" from Lama Zopa Rinpoche.For me personally things are getting more clear now.

Here the talk is specifically about Vajrasattva and I hope that the case of Vajrasattva applies as well to other deities which can be visualized even alone or in the form with a consort.

 

I hope this text will be as well benefical for you.

 

With all my best wishes

Csillag

 

Student:Could you give some instructions as to how you should practice if you have not had an initiation and cannot visualize yourself as a deity?

 

Rinpoche: You can visualize Vajrasattva on your crown or in front of you and do the meditation. Not being able to visualize yourself as the deity doesn’t mean that you do not have an object of concentration. Your meditation object is Vajrasattva. When you do the practice, Vajrasattva is the main object of meditation.

 

Christina Lundberg: If you took the Vajrasattva initiation as a great initiation, during the mantra recitation and the sadhana, do you see yourself as your own special deity saying the Vajrasattva mantra?

 

Rinpoche: If you have taken a great initiation, you can see yourself as Vajrasattva.

If the Vajrasattva is from Highest Yoga Tantra, which means embracing the wisdom mother, you need to have had a great initiation of Highest Yoga Tantra. A lower tantra initiation is not enough.

The single aspect of Vajrasattva, which means the father alone, is a lower tantra aspect, but I’m not sure whether it belongs to Charya Tantra or Kriya Tantra. It needs to be checked. Kriya Tantra has three divisions: lotus race, tathagata race and vajra race; I think lotus race is the lowest division.

 

To visualize yourself as a Kriya Tantra deity, I’m not sure whether, strictly speaking, you need to have received the initiation of that deity or of one from a higher race. It is something that also needs to be checked.

 

If the single aspect of Vajrasattva belongs to Kriya Tantra, I think it would be okay to visualize yourself as Vajrasattva if you had received a great Chenrezig initiation.

If it is Charya Tantra, however, I don’t think that a great Chenrezig initiation qualifies you to do that. It needs to be checked.

 

If you have received a Yamantaka or Kalachakra initiation, for example, you can visualize yourself as Vajrasattva father-mother. In a great initiation of Highest Yoga Tantra, you visualize Vajrasattva during the vajra master initiation. Therefore, if you have received a Highest Yoga Tantra initiation, you can definitely visualize yourself as Vajrasattva fathermother and recite the mantra at your heart.

 

As I explained before, having received a great initiation in the past means that you are fully qualified, so you actually receive the complete je-nang, the permission to practice a deity. Otherwise, in dependence upon the lama’s qualities and your devotion, you receive some blessing of the deity; but you do not receive the complete permission to practice, the complete blessing of the deity. This is always specified by the lama during the initiation.

 

Actually, the strict way of giving je-nangs is by restricting them to people who have received a great initiation. People who haven’t received a great initiation are not meant to hear the meditations of generating themselves as a deity. There is a tradition of certain je-nangs—the initiations of long-life deities, for example—being given publicly by great lamas, such as the tutors of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

During the jenang, however, the lamas specify the meditations that the disciples are and are not allowed to do if they have not received a great initiation. There is a tradition of giving je-nangs in this way, but to be really strict, only people who have received a great initiation should be there. It seems to mainly depend on the lama. I think from the initiations I’ve given, I’ll be making many visits to the hell realms.

 

The permission to practice given last night does not qualify you to visualize yourself as Vajrasattva; it was not a great initiation.

To visualize yourself as Vajrasattva father-mother you need to have received a great initiation, which involves the vase, secret, wisdom and word initiations. These four initiations definitely plant the seeds of the four kayas, which we need to achieve in order to do perfect work for all sentient beings.

 

At the very least you need to receive the first one, the vase initiation, which gives you permission to visualize yourself as a deity. Unless you receive that, whether from the lower tantras or from Highest Yoga Tantra, you cannot visualize yourself as a deity.

 

For example, His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche used to advise that it would be better for people to take the great Chenrezig initiation before they do nyung-näs, because they are then more qualified to do nyung-nä practice. Their nyung-nä practice then becomes perfect. Rinpoche emphasized that I should give the great Chenrezig initiation before nyung-näs. In one way giving the initiation also helps the lama to keep the vow not to reveal the secrets of tantra. There is no question of this with the great lamas, who are enlightened beings, but it helps Mickey Mouse lamas like me.

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Tashi delek,

 

If Lama Zopa Rinpoche isn't sure, and "need to check", I find myself even less sure... Going to Gyume in December, I will inquire more in detail.

 

Yet, to my understanding, and untill further investigation would change it:

 

To visualize oneself as a Buddha, you need an Initiation of the Highest Tantra (exception of Buddha Shakyamuni for sure, and I think Chenrezig).

Unless such Initiation (Yamantaka, Heruka, Kalachakra, Guyasamaja, Hevajra), a Jenang gives the permission to perform the practice and recite the mantra, visualizing the Buddha in front or above, dissolving into light, etc... but not generating oneself as the Buddha.

 

Most Initiations exist as a Jenang or as a great Initiation.

In the case given of Vajrasattva, if you have an Initiation of the Highest Tantra, and a simple jenang, you can visualize yourself as Vajrasattva (single). And if you have an Initiation of the Highest Tantras and the great Initiation of Vajrasattva, you can visualize yourself as yab-yum.

 

All the best, Gelong T. Shenphen

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Tashi delek dear Lama Shenphen Rinpoche :hello:

 

I would have some questions to the following:

 

To visualize yourself as Vajrasattva father-mother you need to have received a great initiation, which involves the vase, secret, wisdom and word initiations. These four initiations definitely plant the seeds of the four kayas, which we need to achieve in order to do perfect work for all sentient beings.

At the very least you need to receive the first one, the vase initiation, which gives you permission to visualize yourself as a deity.

Unless you receive that, whether from the lower tantras or from Highest Yoga Tantra, you cannot visualize yourself as a deity.

 

Is a great initiation the one which involves the 4 initiations ( vase, secret, wisdom and word )and a small initiation is one which involves for example just the vase initiation ?

 

How are the intitation called where the 4 initiations each have 4 undergroups/initiations ?

( at the end 16 initiations )

 

With all my best wishes

Csillag

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