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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:55 pm 
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I wasn't sure if this should be here in the Mahayana section or in the Exploring Buddhism section. I wouldn't be offended if it were moved elsewhere.

When I do japa I chant om namo Nārāyaṇāya. This is the mantra that goes along with the Mahasudarshana yantra I have, and recommended by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya (aka Dr. Frank Morales). Someone (a Zen Buddhist) said this to me when I initially inquired about deity yoga:

"I think that, if I understood everything I've read about Vajrayana correctly, the goal is not necessarily to identify with the deity, but to realize that you are not different or separate from the deity; that the deity is not an external form, but something inside yourself, that the qualities of said deity (compassion with Avalokitesvara, or wisdom with Manjusri, etc.) are qualities you possess, but just need to have a way to bring out."

I am finding that I am not identifying with, or able to identify with the form of Vishnu as an ishta-devata. Rather, I am not able to identify with the qualities he possesses nor do I know what qualities in me to bring out. It seems like biting off more than I can chew. This would seem odd, being Vaishnava. However, I am able to identify with Avalokiteshvara as the bodhisattva of compassion. Compassion is something that is surfacing, that I want to develop and bring out fully. I am feeling that Avalokiteshvara is the vehicle or path to developing and exposing the compassion. I am feeling drawn to him as my yidam. I don't think there is a conflict, being Vaishnava, because I believe that all buddhas and bodhisattvas are but aspects of Vishnu, who as the name suggests, is "all-pervading". That goes back to my unabashed theism and monism. This is my belief which probably goes against the grain 90%, but it works for me. I was startled to be drawn to a yidam I would least expect, being primarily Vaishnava. I thought my attraction to the buddhas and bodhisattvas would simply be to add them to the pantheon of deities I pray to and honor for their qualities. On the other hand, I probably shouldn't find it odd, but rather an evolution. After all, I've been drawn to Mahayana for a reason. While this is primarily an observation and experience I wanted to share, I welcome any comments, critiques, experience, advice, and so forth.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:10 pm 
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"Possessing" qualities sounds as if we, as separate entities, can "have" something. But maybe you are encountering something so broad and all-encompassing that it is more like we are the conduit through which the "quality" flows?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:13 pm 
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It is generally taught that empowerment is required to practice deity in the Vajrayana tradition. To take empowerment one needs to take refuge (become a Buddhist). That being said, if you have the motivation of cultivating compassion, it can only be positive to practice Chenresi and his mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:14 pm 
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If you feel yourself drawn to something, I'd recommend following it. We each have an internal wisdom that guides us where we need to go - it's easy to over think it. Follow what feels natural to you.

:anjali:


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:19 pm 
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futerko wrote:
"Possessing" qualities sounds as if we, as separate entities, can "have" something. But maybe you are encountering something so broad and all-encompassing that it is more like we are the conduit through which the "quality" flows?


You are correct, 'possessing' is not the right word. It's not something I own, rather, letting the quality pass through me; Avalokiteshvara being the source.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:32 pm 
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Yudron wrote:
It is generally taught that empowerment is required to practice deity in the Vajrayana tradition. To take empowerment one needs to take refuge (become a Buddhist). That being said, if you have the motivation of cultivating compassion, it can only be positive to practice Chenresi and his mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG.


I've been given to believe that practice of Chenrezig, Manjushri and Green Tara don't require empowerment. I may be wrong about Manjushri and Green Tara, though I say prayers to them and the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras, as well as to Medicine Buddha, but no visualizations or sadhana. I have a mālā (mala is 'dirt', 'refuse', or 'waste' in Sanskrit) reserved only for Chenrezig's mantra oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ, but I'm going to get a nicer one. I also recite the Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāranī . Someone told me that by embarking on this journey and accepting the Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the Six Perfections and Five Precepts (none of which conflict with my basic beliefs), I automatically take refuge.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:33 pm 
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uan wrote:
If you feel yourself drawn to something, I'd recommend following it. We each have an internal wisdom that guides us where we need to go - it's easy to over think it. Follow what feels natural to you.

:anjali:


Thanks, that's encouraging. It's like following your "gut feeling".

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:40 pm 
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Jainarayan wrote:
I've been given to believe that practice of Chenrezig, Manjushri and Green Tara don't require empowerment. I may be wrong about Manjushri and Green Tara, though I say prayers to them and the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras, as well as to Medicine Buddha, but no visualizations or sadhana. I have a mālā (mala is 'dirt', 'refuse', or 'waste' in Sanskrit) reserved only for Chenrezig's mantra oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ, but I'm going to get a nicer one. I also recite the Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāranī . Someone told me that by embarking on this journey and accepting the Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the Six Perfections and Five Precepts (none of which conflict with my basic beliefs), I automatically take refuge.
Self visualisation as any deity requires empowerment. Sadhanas, unless they are Sutra, require a ritual reading.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:41 pm 
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Jainarayan wrote:
futerko wrote:
"Possessing" qualities sounds as if we, as separate entities, can "have" something. But maybe you are encountering something so broad and all-encompassing that it is more like we are the conduit through which the "quality" flows?


You are correct, 'possessing' is not the right word. It's not something I own, rather, letting the quality pass through me; Avalokiteshvara being the source.
Sorry, I knew my explanation had a flaw. What I meant was, Avalokiteshvara isn't really the source, because that would mean he was somehow separate from us and had something we lacked. Avalokiteshvara is just the way of representing to ourselves something which is already flowing through everything in a non-dual way, but as we are starting from dualistic vision, it helps to represent in that way in order to manifest what is already present.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:58 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
Self visualisation as any deity requires empowerment.


:oops:

Quote:
Sadhanas, unless they are Sutra, require a ritual reading.


I don't think I understand that. As a matter of fact, I know I don't. :cry:

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:59 pm 
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Jainarayan wrote:
...the form of Vishnu as an ishta-devata. Rather, I am not able to identify with the qualities he possesses nor do I know what qualities in me to bring out. It seems like biting off more than I can chew.
Let me start again, lol. In the case of ishta-devata, there is nothing that could be said to be a "possessable quality", it's more like you are the "possessable quailty" in relation to something far broader and wider. So, you feel like you are biting off more than you can chew, because you aren't chewing it, you are the one "being chewed"!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:01 pm 
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futerko wrote:
... What I meant was, Avalokiteshvara isn't really the source, because that would mean he was somehow separate from us and had something we lacked. Avalokiteshvara is just the way of representing to ourselves something which is already flowing through everything in a non-dual way, but as we are starting from dualistic vision, it helps to represent in that way in order to manifest what is already present.


Yes, I think we knew what each other meant. Words fail us. But I like this further explanation. :smile:

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:06 pm 
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futerko wrote:
Jainarayan wrote:
...the form of Vishnu as an ishta-devata. Rather, I am not able to identify with the qualities he possesses nor do I know what qualities in me to bring out. It seems like biting off more than I can chew.
Let me start again, lol. In the case of ishta-devata, there is nothing that could be said to be a "possessable quality", it's more like you are the "possessable quailty" in relation to something far broader and wider. So, you feel like you are biting off more than you can chew, because you aren't chewing it, you are the one "being chewed"!


I have to chew on that one. :rolling: :mrgreen: Nah, I think I get it. I'm coming to see this is all really hard to put into words. I wish humans were telepathic, then we could transmit our thoughts ala

Image

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:12 pm 
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You should just go find a center and do a Chenrezing group puja...then you will get abit of the flavor. Some lineages and teachers say it's unrestricted and ok to do without empowerment too, this is stated in a few books as well. There are lots of good books on it, some with the sadhanas and whatnot, and if you went to a center you could get a feel for the practice AND experience it with a qualified person, and they can either tell you you need the empowerment, or assuage any fears you have that you might be transgressing by doing it without empowerment.

I doubt they'd accost at the door and ask you about your theism either;)

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:16 pm 
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Jainarayan wrote:
I don't think I understand that. As a matter of fact, I know I don't. :cry:
To "completely" receive a practice one needs the empowerment, the explanation of the text and the ritual reading of he text. Practice texts were (traditionally) transmitted orally from teacher to student. The ritual reading replicates this tradition with the teacher reading (out aloud) the entire practice to their student(s). Just reading it aloud, not doing all the singing and melodies etc... that you would do during the normal practice session. The melody, etc... may be given during the explanation, or is learnt by practicing along with others.

As for the empowerment, I have been taught that receiving empowerment for any one yidam is the same as receiving for all yidam since the essence of all yidams is identical. Essentially that means that after (truly) receiving empowerment for any one yidam, you have received it for all. This basically makes further empowerment a process of blessing and rejuvenation of the link rather than an empowerment per se.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:18 pm 
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Johnny Dangerous wrote:
I doubt they'd accost at the door and ask you about your theism either;)
If he asks for the puja text or mantra transmission they will probably ask him if he has taken refuge. I dunno if that counts as accosting or not though...

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:21 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
I doubt they'd accost at the door and ask you about your theism either;)
If he asks for the puja text or mantra transmission they will probably ask him if he has taken refuge. I dunno if that counts as accosting or not though...


I dunno, the place I go, and some other places i've seen do completely public Chenrezing puja, up to an including putting recordings of the services online.

I don't want to guess at their specifics rules but it seems pretty clear they don't see a whole lot of restriction on the practice, I know some lineages require formal refuge and/or empowerment, but it appears to me that plenty do not as well for Chenrezig. The Lama at my own center specifically told me it was fine to do without empowerment being a requirement, this of course pertaining only to Chenrezig. Again it's also stated in some books that Chenrezig practice is not restricted.

Not saying it's "correct", just saying there definitely seems to be a difference of opinion out there.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:25 pm 
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Johnny Dangerous wrote:
You should just go find a center and do a Chenrezing group puja...then you will get abit of the flavor. Some lineages and teachers say it's unrestricted and ok to do without empowerment too, this is stated in a few books as well. There are lots of good books on it, some with the sadhanas and whatnot, and if you went to a center you could get a feel for the practice AND experience it with a qualified person, and they can either tell you you need the empowerment, or assuage any fears you have that you might be transgressing by doing it without empowerment.

I doubt they'd accost at the door and ask you about your theism either;)


I believe there is one not far from me. I think I have the name somewhere, maybe the website bookmarked. I really should look at going.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:31 pm 
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Jainarayan wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
You should just go find a center and do a Chenrezing group puja...then you will get abit of the flavor. Some lineages and teachers say it's unrestricted and ok to do without empowerment too, this is stated in a few books as well. There are lots of good books on it, some with the sadhanas and whatnot, and if you went to a center you could get a feel for the practice AND experience it with a qualified person, and they can either tell you you need the empowerment, or assuage any fears you have that you might be transgressing by doing it without empowerment.

I doubt they'd accost at the door and ask you about your theism either;)


I believe there is one not far from me. I think I have the name somewhere, maybe the website bookmarked. I really should look at going.


One reason I mention it is, alot of the questions you are asking here will be answered somewhat by the practice, it answers questions about the nature of the deity etc. in the practice itself. So while as I said some people don't think it needs empowerment, I do imagine something like self-generation is probably not worth doing without having a qualified person there to at least explain it to you in terms of context etc...coming from the unusual place you're coming from, it's probably good to get the clarification on this kind of stuff in person.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:32 pm 
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gregkavarnos wrote:
Jainarayan wrote:
I don't think I understand that. As a matter of fact, I know I don't. :cry:
To "completely" receive a practice one needs the empowerment, the explanation of the text and the ritual reading of he text. Practice texts were (traditionally) transmitted orally from teacher to student. The ritual reading replicates this tradition with the teacher reading (out aloud) the entire practice to their student(s). Just reading it aloud, not doing all the singing and melodies etc... that you would do during the normal practice session. The melody, etc... may be given during the explanation, or is learnt by practicing along with others.

As for the empowerment, I have been taught that receiving empowerment for any one yidam is the same as receiving for all yidam since the essence of all yidams is identical. Essentially that means that after (truly) receiving empowerment for any one yidam, you have received it for all. This basically makes further empowerment a process of blessing and rejuvenation of the link rather than an empowerment per se.


Ohhhh-K, I think I understand. If so, at this point I'd simply be praying to Chenrezig and reciting the mantra, asking for help in cultivating compassion. After empowerment I'd be able to practice full sadhana.

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