dharmagoat wrote:Blue Garuda wrote:I don't ascribe to the 'pretend' approach.
There is a big difference between imagining something to exist, and pretending something exists. Imagination is a creative act. It can be claimed that by imagining something you bring it into existence.
It really doesn't matter how deities exist, the fact that they occupy our thoughts means that they do. The stronger the belief, the better the practice.
You used the word 'imaginary' early on in a post. It means 'existing only in the imagination or fancy; not real'.
How can anyone have that strong belief in beings they regard as imaginary?
'Pretending' is to indulge in make-believe, which is also a mental creative act, deluding self or others that something is real when it is not.
Everything is either real or not according to the mind. If you regard any being as 'imaginary' (i.e. a product of your imagination) then surely you must be consistent and regard all beings as imaginary. Why differentiate? If you book to go to a restaurant you go there in the belief that it is real and the staff are also going to be real. Why would you regard other beings you cannot see and have never met as 'imaginary' and still make offerings to them?
The point of Vajrayana is not to propitiate or self-generate as something you regard as imaginary, but to engage with alternative realities.
Sorry to be picky, but we must surely start with a conviction that beings are real for offerings to them to be useful to them and useful to us - there is no merit in making offerings to a being which is imaginary. They cannot benefit and neither can your mind benefit from an act which is imaginary in its execution and therefore also imaginary in its effect.