Yiddams

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Re: Yiddams

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:22 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Dharmabrother wrote:But i would like to learn more about yiddam and what rinpoche or lama teaches it? I've googled but cant find any.


Karma Kagyu Lamas teach Chenrezig/Avalokiteshvara, four armed form, with the sadhana known as "Droden Khakhyabma," or "Liberating Beings Vast as Space." This is quite popular, and a great introduction to "Yidam practice." Kagyu Lamas also teach Green Tara, along with the sadhana known as the Four Mandala offering, called Zabtik Drolma, or "The Profound Vital Drop of Tara."

Both of those yidam practices are appropriate for relatively new practitioners, and are widely taught. The more "advanced" yidams from Highest Yoga Tantra class (Vajravarahi, Chakrasamvara, Avalokiteshvara Jinasagara, and others) are taught mainly in strict three year retreat, though there are exceptions. Drikung Kagyus teach a form of Chakrasamvara as part of their "Five-Fold Mahamudra" practice.

Sakya Lamas also teach Chenrezig and Tara, and also others--including Vajrayogini of the Naropa lineage, and Hevajra from the LamDre Lineage and Virupa. In Sakya, it is possible to practice these in "daily life," but you will likely need to commit to a closed, strict retreat of some length as well.

Nyingmapas teach many forms and practices of the Mahaguru, Guru Rinpoche, as Yidam, as well as Chenrezig, Tara, and others. In addition, I'd venture a guess that the most widely-practiced yidam amongst Nyingmapas is Vajrakilaya, who has many forms, and many sadhanas.

Gelukpas interested in advanced yidam methods practice Chakrasamvara, and Vajrabhairava. Also, some practice Guhyasamaja. Some Gelukpas carry these practices forward in daily life, though retreat circumstances are often required as well, depending on the teacher.

Kalachakra is practiced by some.......it exists in all four of the Tibetan Buddhist lineages in various forms.

Other yidams that may be practiced by relative beginners, or without strict retreat, may be: Medicine Buddha, Manjusri, Vajrasattva (also many different forms)...I'm sure I'm forgetting others.

Yidams that are generally more rare, and often restricted to retreat are Yamantaka/Vajrabhairava, Mahamaya, Yangdak Heruka, Hayagriva (though somethimes this is less restricted), the Nyingma practices of KaGye and Lama Gongdu, Sarma practices of Shri Catupitha, Buddhakapala, Shangpa's Gyu De Lha Nga, and various Mahakalas, as well as Troma, Singhamukha....

The lists could go on......but these, I think, are the Heavy Hitters.

:good:
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Re: Yiddams

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:23 pm

Dharmabrother wrote:when you visualize these deities, do you visualize how they look, and are they moving, or are they just an image you are looking at..?

I've been taught to visualize them as a still image, but that could be different in different traditions or at different levels of practice. You visualize how they look on the whole, and also focus on individual parts of the body to build up a clearer whole picture.
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Re: Yiddams

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:08 pm

Dharmabrother wrote: but Kagyu might have to be a start, and, of course, i can join the schools of bon and sakya later..


It's of course fine to learn from all the Buddhist or Bon lineages, but honestly it's not the main point because any one of them is operating on the exact same fundamental principles... If you wanna build yourself a house, you don't have to use every kind of brick you can find. I mean, there would be nothing wrong with doing that, but it doesn't make your house any better or stronger. Same thing with Vajrayana traditions. All you need to do is find the one who's slightly unique approach best suites you and then get to practicing.

Also, there's not necessarily anything particularly special about training in Tibet or Nepal or whatever. What is more essential is that you find the right teacher (wherever he/she is), you form a relationship with that teacher and receive transmission and teachings, and that you then take those teachings to heart and practice them diligently wherever you happen to be. Retreat is a very special opportunity, and if you can do it eventually then you should, but it's not the only opportunity for diligent practice, and it doesn't have to be done in some exotic location to be powerful. Your own mind and the whole universe and beyond is a pureland.
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Re: Yiddams

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:25 pm

Someone should tell Dharmabrother the truth.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Yiddams

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:07 am

Andrew108 wrote:Someone should tell Dharmabrother the truth.
Which is?
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Yiddams

Postby catmoon » Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:31 am

Uh Tom? Medicine Buddha?
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Re: Yiddams

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:59 am

lThe importance of the steps to embarking on a yidam practice cannot be underestimated.
First one should form a relationship with a teacher and study the common path. In Gelug the tradition of studying the three aspects of the path- renunciation, bodhicitta and emptiness, is stressed as the preparation for tantra.
The majority of traditional Kagyu and Nyingma teachers may well want you to complete the ngondro -uncommon preliminaries- 100,000 each of prostrations, Vajrasattva, mandala offerings and guru yoga. Some teachers allow students to take initiations into yidam practices of the highest tantra class with a commitment to finish the preliminaries later on. And some are not so strict about completing the ngondro.
Regardless of the tradition, once one is ready to embark on a Yidam practice it is essential to receive the initiation into that particular practice. This ripens one's mental continuum for the practice, and gives one permission to self-generate as the deity. One must also have received the bodhisattva and tantric vows.
After receiving the initiation one would study and receive commentaries of the particular deity in order to understand the visualizations and rituals connected with it. Ideally, one also completes an approximation retreat of a fixed number of mantras (often 100,000) of the said deity in order to be qualified to perform all the activities connected with the practice, such as self initiation- essentially for purifying transgressions of our commitments.
These are the real requirements, statues and the like aid the visualization but are far from mandatory. Very poor practitioners like Milarepa did not have these supports but through their sincerity attained many accomplishments in the yidam practices.

Also, yidam practice in Gelug in the early days centered around the three emphasized by Tsongkhapa- Guyasamaja, Chakrasamvara and Vajrabhairava/Yamantaka. But Tsongkhapa also practiced a Anuttarayoga form of Vajrapani. There is also Vajrayogini practiced (though HH Dalai Lama says this is not to be so much emphasized) and at Sera Jey, for example, Yangsang Hayagriva is an essential practice, coming through a Nyingma lineage.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Yiddams

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:08 am

Konchog1 wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:Someone should tell Dharmabrother the truth.
Which is?

That Vajrayana isn't powerful by itself. I doesn't drive itself. That you have to know how to drive Vajrayana in order to make it work for you is the key point . That knowing how to get Vajrayana working for you means, at the least, absolutely having confidence and realization of non-self.
To approach Vajrayana from the point of view of wanting to achieve something, leads to the vehicle of Vajrayana crashing for you and at best (if you are basically sane) the vehicle just won't start. You will wonder why it is that you haven't gotten anywhere and you should know the reason to be that you haven't gotten anywhere because really you wanted to get somewhere.
Basic sanity in Buddhism doesn't start with transforming appearances. It starts by understanding what appearances and experiences are. So that is the start point and actually the end point as well.
There are plenty of western practitioners who wonder why Vajrayana hasn't really done it's job of making them bigger, and wiser, and more powerful. The graveyard of broken practitioners is full of those types who misunderstood the basic premise of Vajrayana and who started their journey with the thought 'I want'.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Yiddams

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:41 am

Agreed, Andrew. Without a correct motivation at the beginning it becomes not so useful to engage in yidam practice.
That is why I think a study of the Sutra path is essential. After all, how are we going to "transform" the afflictions if we don't know what they are? How are we going to have diving pride of being a deity if we don't know what the qualities of a fully enlightened being are?

At the same time, people who show interest in tantra need to be encouraged, and told of the benefits as well as the dangers. I know some over zealous Western practitioners who have scared a lot of people off tantra, making them feel they are not qualitied (of course usually they themselves feel as if they are qualitied).

To even have interest in tantra comes from positive imprints from previous lives. In terms of when to enter the path of Highest Yoga Tantra and engage in the practices, a realized teacher will best know how to direct a student. Of course, these days it is difficult to have this kind of relationship, so we do our best to educate ourselves and get advice from senior practitioners.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Yiddams

Postby heart » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:33 am

Andrew108 wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:Someone should tell Dharmabrother the truth.
Which is?

That Vajrayana isn't powerful by itself. I doesn't drive itself. That you have to know how to drive Vajrayana in order to make it work for you is the key point . That knowing how to get Vajrayana working for you means, at the least, absolutely having confidence and realization of non-self.
To approach Vajrayana from the point of view of wanting to achieve something, leads to the vehicle of Vajrayana crashing for you and at best (if you are basically sane) the vehicle just won't start. You will wonder why it is that you haven't gotten anywhere and you should know the reason to be that you haven't gotten anywhere because really you wanted to get somewhere.
Basic sanity in Buddhism doesn't start with transforming appearances. It starts by understanding what appearances and experiences are. So that is the start point and actually the end point as well.
There are plenty of western practitioners who wonder why Vajrayana hasn't really done it's job of making them bigger, and wiser, and more powerful. The graveyard of broken practitioners is full of those types who misunderstood the basic premise of Vajrayana and who started their journey with the thought 'I want'.


I don't agree. Vajrayana is powerful in itself if you understand that there is no Vajrayana without an active Guru that "meddle" with you. Vajrayana is not a comfortable path, there is a lot to study, contemplate and meditate on that might feel a bit unnecessary and damn tedious for us "clever" Westerners. Some expectations are unavoidable but they don't need to be a problem if you are willing to find a qualified Guru and get involved with him/her. Why do you think Guru Yoga is so important in Dzogchen Andrew108?

/magnus
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Re: Yiddams

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:11 am

Yes you make a very good point. Looks like I made a mistake. Thanks.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Yiddams

Postby Nemo » Sat Aug 04, 2012 12:41 pm

Actually you are both right. The Lama's job is make you realize what Andrew stated. And maybe to toruture you out of your bad habits occasionally or all the time.
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Re: Yiddams

Postby conebeckham » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:22 pm

All good points, actually, even those that seem to contradict each other! :smile:

This is skillful means....the "truth" can't be told, anyway.....and however anyone makes a connection, even if it's via some sort of "mystical" path, or via theosophical connections, or whatnot....it's a good thing. Carrying it forward into one's stream of being is something no one can teach.

I will say one thing...the "yidam" isn't some visualized form of light. Neither is it NOT some visualized form of light.
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Re: Yiddams

Postby tomamundsen » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:26 pm

catmoon wrote:Uh Tom? Medicine Buddha?

Well, I've never studied Medicine Buddha. Like I said "that could be different in different traditions or at different levels of practice." I didn't mean a static image in the sense that nothing moves. Some involve rays of light or streams of nectar. But do you mean Medicine Buddha actually moves his limbs?
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Re: Yiddams

Postby ngodrup » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:36 pm

There's no reason to think that the Gelugpa approach is normative.

Of course, being prepared to practice the Yidam well, is a very good idea.
What that looks like is very dependent on the qualities of the student, or lack thereof.
At the very least the student must have the empowerment, or in some cases lung --
from a qualified Lama--will suffice. Whether there are any specific practice requirements
given, again, is entirely dependent on the Lama. His or her view of teaching and of the student
in particular.

I know of several Lamas who almost *never* teach the truth of suffering, simply because it doesn't
function as a motivator for Westerners. They prefer to start with Buddha Nature and inspire students
to practice based on the qualities of the various paths. This is clearly a kind of reverse Lam-Rim! ;)
Renunciation, in that case, is an outcome of choosing to focus on intangible wisdom phenomena
instead of gross, heavy material/worldly phenomena. And Bodhichitta can arise, as can realization of
emptiness, also from practice of the paths. So there may be no prerequisites whatsoever for Yidam.
It is not unheard of for the Three Roots and/or protectors to be practiced concurrently with Ngondro.

Also, what are called preliminaries (ngondro) in the Nyingma and Kagyu are also often understood to
actually be the main practice in those schools.

The main point is, in my estimate, the seriousness with which one practices. Commitment can have
either internal or external locus. But the texts are clear that 2 factors are absolutely necessary:
devotion and samaya.
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Re: Yiddams

Postby catmoon » Sun Aug 05, 2012 4:24 am

tomamundsen wrote:
catmoon wrote:Uh Tom? Medicine Buddha?

Well, I've never studied Medicine Buddha. Like I said "that could be different in different traditions or at different levels of practice." I didn't mean a static image in the sense that nothing moves. Some involve rays of light or streams of nectar. But do you mean Medicine Buddha actually moves his limbs?


No, I just mentioned medicine buddha because he seems to have been left out of your list a while back.
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Re: Yiddams

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:08 am

ngodrup wrote:There's no reason to think that the Gelugpa approach is normative.

Of course, being prepared to practice the Yidam well, is a very good idea.
What that looks like is very dependent on the qualities of the student, or lack thereof.
At the very least the student must have the empowerment, or in some cases lung --
from a qualified Lama--will suffice. Whether there are any specific practice requirements
given, again, is entirely dependent on the Lama. His or her view of teaching and of the student
in particular.

I know of several Lamas who almost *never* teach the truth of suffering, simply because it doesn't
function as a motivator for Westerners. They prefer to start with Buddha Nature and inspire students
to practice based on the qualities of the various paths. This is clearly a kind of reverse Lam-Rim! ;)
Renunciation, in that case, is an outcome of choosing to focus on intangible wisdom phenomena
instead of gross, heavy material/worldly phenomena. And Bodhichitta can arise, as can realization of
emptiness, also from practice of the paths. So there may be no prerequisites whatsoever for Yidam.
It is not unheard of for the Three Roots and/or protectors to be practiced concurrently with Ngondro.

Also, what are called preliminaries (ngondro) in the Nyingma and Kagyu are also often understood to
actually be the main practice in those schools.

The main point is, in my estimate, the seriousness with which one practices. Commitment can have
either internal or external locus. But the texts are clear that 2 factors are absolutely necessary:
devotion and samaya.


I don't think the Gelug practice is necessarily normative, but it is not totally off the mark either.
The Sutra path is studied extensively in the Shedra of the big Nyingma monasteries like Namdroling.

And I remember, HH Karmapa (OTD) at the Kagyu Monlam I attended mentioned some of the best
preliminaries for long retreat are two study to key treastises: The Ornament Of Clear Realization
and Sublime Continuum (Uttaratantra).

It is true that the Gelug Lam Rim does not emphasize the Buddha Nature so much, which is a bit unfortunate
as the Lam Rim is most often what is taught at centres in the West. Gampopa on the other hand starts his text
Jewel Ornament with information about the Buddha Nature.

However, you will find that at centres where other texts are taught, the Buddha nature often comes up.
The Gelug corpus of literature has extensive commentaries on the Sublime Continuum about the thatagata
essence, and some are available in English. If you look at the quote that appears at the bottm of all my comments,
it is from such a text by Gyaltsabje, one of Tsongkhapa's main disciples.

And lets not forget that Nyingma texts like Patrul Rinpoche's Lamai Zhalung emphasize many of the topics of the Lam Rim,
and in the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions they also talk about the four "common" preliminaries- Precious Human Rebirth etc.
These are to direct the mind to the dharma before the recitations, prostrations etc. They are in most of the Kagyu and Nyingma
Ngondro commentaries and manuals I have seen. Certainly they figure prominently in the Karma Kagyu Ngondro,
which I practice.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Yiddams

Postby Jangchup Donden » Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:33 am

Dharmabrother wrote:Lama Kathy.. ok. did she go east to do her three year retreat?


AFAIK, Lama Kathy did her three year retreat at Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's retreat center in the catskills. Which IMO is just as real as anything you'd get in the east.
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