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  1. PDF A Guide to the Deities of the Tantra Meeting the Buddhas EBook
  2. The Breath (Paperback)
  3. Meeting the Buddhas: A Guide to Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Tantric Deities
  4. Meeting the Buddhas – Vessantara

PDF A Guide to the Deities of the Tantra Meeting the Buddhas EBook

Mahakala the Great Black one is the wrathful manifestation of Avalokiteshvara , the bodhisattva of compassion. He is depicted in over seventy forms of varying colors and with various implements. His most common form is a blue-black with four faces and four arms. Each arm performs one of the following actions : limiting sickness and troubles, increasing life and wisdom , attracting people to the Dharma , and destroying ignorance.

He carries a skull cup , a hooked knife, a sword and a trident.


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  • Meeting the Buddhas: A Guide to Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Tantric Deities by Vessantara.

Rites connected to Mahakala and Hevajra see below became regular elements in the enthronement of Yuan emperors and Mahakala was the national protector of the Mongols until very recently. Key military conquests and the occasional by-passing of armed violence were attributed to the aid Mahakala provided the Mongol forces. Yamantaka Slayer of Death is the wrathful form of Manjushri , the bodhisattva of wisdom.

One of his most common forms is Vajrabhairava Adamantine Terrifier , who played an especially important role in legitimizing rulers of the Yuan. This deity is usually blue-black in color , surrounded by flames, with nine heads. His main head is always that of a buffalo , and he usually has thirty-four arms, all holding different weapons and ritually potent implements. He has sixteen legs , which trample an array of animals that represent enemies of the Dharma.

He is especially important to the Gelukpa sect. Initiation into Yamantaka practices were highly sought after in the Yuan , as demonstrated by the mention of the practice in the biography of Shalopa , who was trained in the practices and therefore highly esteemed among prominent Mongols. Hayagriva is another wrathful manifestation of Avalokiteshvara. He is typically red , with a horse-head emerging from the crown of his head.

He usually has six arms, which hold various weapons and implements useful for overcoming afflictions and cutting through ignorance. Hevajra is especially important to the Sakya sect although he appears in the practices of other sects as well. Closely associated with Mahakala , Hevajra is the wrathful emanation of Akshobya. As with the dharmapalas described above, he has several common forms , with varying numbers of limbs, heads, attendants, and implements. His role as a yidam deity is traditionally traced back to the Buddhist king of Uddiyana , Indrabhuti. This might help explain why he was appropriate as the yidam deity of Mongol emperors , starting with Kubilai , who is recorded to have undergone the consecration associated with Hevajra in From tribal chieftain to universal emperor and god : the legitimation of the Yuan dynasty.

The Breath (Paperback)

Munchen : Verlag der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Herbert Franke. Glasgow : Windhorse Publications. Chakrasamvara and Vajravarahi Shamvara has four faces and twelve arms. His first two arms are wrapped in passionate embrace around his consort , Vajravarahi. The first two hands, holding a vajra scepter and a bell , make the diamond HUM-sound gesture. Several forms of Samvara are known. The Sadhanamala , a 12th-century manual of iconography , identifies this form as Chakrasamvara. In Tibet , Chakrasamvara is a deity particularly associated with the Kagyu Order , although he is important to the Geluk and Sakya as well.

The name Shamvara , or Shambara , itself means Supreme Bliss , the bliss that is the fruit of tantric meditation. Similarly, Chakrasamvara , literally, "]]joined to the Wheel]]," may be interpreted as "[[joined to the whee] of wisdom and bliss]].

Meeting the Buddhas: A Guide to Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Tantric Deities

To signal this, his right foot presses down on the goddess called Night of Time , Kalaratri , who represents nirvana. His left foot rests on Bhairava , The Terrifier , who represents samsara. Shamvara's hair is arranged in the coif of a yogi and is decorated with a lunar crescent, a reminder that he was first worshipped by the wandering ascetics of medieval India , and that although he is a thoroughly Buddhist deity , he shares some attributes with Shiva , the Hindu god of yogis. His name , for example, is related to Shamba Fortunate , an epithet of Shiva.

Shamvara is a deity of the yidam class, which are personal deities of Buddhist meditation. A yidam is at once the embodiment of a philosophical view and a role model, for the meditator , of the Buddha he aspires to become. A yidam is a " pure appearance ," a vision of purity.

Tibetans say that rather than having an ordinary physical form , such a deity is a congerie of pure symbolic elements. For all my lifetimes along the path I vow to be born as a woman, and in my final lifetime when I attain Buddhahood, then, too, I will be a woman. According to Miranda Shaw, " Motherhood is central to the conception of Tara". She is known as the Mother of Mercy and Compassion.

She is the source, the female aspect of the universe, which gives birth to warmth, compassion and relief from bad karma as experienced by ordinary beings in cyclic existence. She engenders, nourishes, smiles at the vitality of creation, and has sympathy for all beings as a mother does for her children. Within Tibetan Buddhism , she has 21 major forms in all, each tied to a certain color and energy. And each offers some feminine attribute, of ultimate benefit to the spiritual aspirant who asks for her assistance.

Another quality of feminine principle which she shares with the dakinis is playfulness.

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She often manifests in the lives of dharma practitioners when they take themselves, or the spiritual path too seriously. There are Tibetan tales in which she laughs at self-righteousness, or plays pranks on those who lack reverence for the feminine. She takes delight in an open mind and a receptive heart then.

For in this openness and receptivity her blessings can naturally unfold and her energies can quicken the aspirants spiritual development.


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These came out of a felt devotional need, and from her inspiration causing spiritual masters to compose and set down sadhanas , or tantric meditation practices. Two ways of approach to her began to emerge. In one common folk and lay practitioners would simply directly appeal to her to ease some of the travails of worldly life. In the second, she became a Tantric deity whose practice would be used by monks or tantric yogis in order to develop her qualities in themselves, ultimately leading through her to the source of her qualities, which are Enlightenment , Enlightened Compassion, and Enlightened Mind.

He asked that she hide it as a treasure.


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It was not until the 20th century, that a great Nyingma lama, Apong Terton rediscovered it. It is said that this lama was reborn as Sakya Trizin , present head of the Sakyapa sect. A monk who had known Apong Terton succeeded in retransmitting it to Sakya Trizin, and the same monk also gave it to Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche , who released it to his western students. The function of the Yidam is one of the profound mysteries of the Vajrayana Especially during the first years of practice the Yidam is of immense importance.

Meeting the Buddhas – Vessantara

Or are they? To some extent they seem to belong to that order of phenomena which in Jungian terms are called archetypes and are therefore the common property of the entire human race. Even among Tantric Buddhists, there may be a division of opinion as to how far the Yidams are the creations of individual minds.

What is quite certain is that they are not independently existing gods and goddesses; and yet, paradoxically, there are many occasions when they must be so regarded. Dharmachari Purna writes on the various forms of Tara:. She appears in all the five colours of the Jinas. There are at least ten green forms, seven white, five yellow, two blue and one red. She has both peaceful and wrathful forms. Her figure is shown in virtually all postures from standing to sitting, full lotus, half lotus, one leg down, and both legs down.

Most all of them include some introductory praises or homages to invoke her presence and prayers of taking refuge. Then her mantra is recited, followed by a visualization of her, perhaps more mantra, then the visualization is dissolved, followed by a dedication of the merit from doing the practice.

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Additionally there may be extra prayers of aspirations, and a long life prayer for the Lama who originated the practice. By reciting her mantra and visualizing her form in front, or on the head of the adept, one is opening to her energies of compassion and wisdom. After a period of time the practitioner shares in some of these qualities, becomes imbued with her being and all it represents. At the same time all of this is seen as coming out of Emptiness and having a translucent quality like a rainbow.

One simultaneously becomes inseparable from all her good qualities while at the same time realizing the emptiness of the visualization of oneself as the yidam and also the emptiness of one's ordinary self. This occurs in the completion stage of the practice. One dissolves the created deity form and at the same time also realizes how much of what we call the "self" is a creation of the mind, and has no long term substantial inherent existence.

This part of the practice then is preparing the practitioner to be able to confront the dissolution of one's self at death and ultimately be able to approach through various stages of meditation upon emptiness, the realization of Ultimate Truth as a vast display of Emptiness and Luminosity. This also untangles knots of psychic energy which have hindered the practitioner from developing a Vajra body, which is necessary to be able to progress to more advanced practices and deeper stages of realization.

For one thing it reduces the forces of delusion in the forms of negative karma, sickness, afflictions of kleshas , and other obstacles and obscurations. The mantra helps generate Bodhicitta within the heart of the practitioner and purifies the psychic channels nadis within the body allowing a more natural expression of generosity and compassion to flow from the heart center. The practice then weans one away from a coarse understanding of Reality, allowing one to get in touch with inner qualities similar to those of a bodhisattva, and prepares one's inner self to embrace finer spiritual energies, which can lead to more subtle and profound realizations of the Emptiness of phenomena and self.

There are several preparations to be done before practising the Sadhana. To perform a correct execution the practitioner must be prepared and take on the proper disposition. The preparations may be grouped as "internal" and "external". Both are necessary to achieve the required concentration. The preparations are of two types: external and internal. The external preparations consist of cleaning the meditation room, setting up a shrine with images of Buddha Shakyamuni and Green Tara, and setting out a beautiful arrangement of offerings. We can use water to represent nectar for drinking, water for bathing the feet, and perfume.

For the remaining offerings—flowers, incense, light, and pure food—if possible we should set out the actual substances. As for internal preparations, we should try to improve our compassion, bodhichitta, and correct view of emptiness through the practice of the stages of the path, and to receive a Tantric empowerment of Green Tara. It is possible to participate in group pujas if we have not yet received an empowerment, but to gain deep experience of this practice we need to receive an empowerment.

The main internal preparation is to generate and strengthen our faith in Arya Tara, regarding her as the synthesis of all Gurus, Yidams, and Buddhas. Tara statue near Kullu , Himachal Pradesh , India. Terma teachings are "hidden teachings" said to have been left by Padmasambhava 8th century and others for the benefit of future generations.

It is not clear from the source whether the terma teaching and the nyingthig teachings refer to the same text or two different texts.