MalaBeads wrote:Seems like the western equivalent of art therapy to me. Vivid, profound and not trivial. However, I do not understand any of it at all. Nor do I feel a need to.
Many thanks for the tour through "torma 101".
I think you mean an eastern equivalent of art therapy. I've never done art therapy.
There seem to be three aspects of dough tormas, in addition to the traditional explanations.
The first is as a lived-through experience of making them before a practice; most commonly a group practice or retreat. That experience involves replicating a specific art object. It involves taking a shapeless, colorless, mass and turning it into something symetical, smooth, often colorful, mysterious, and symbolically linked to the practice you will be doing. It is a mindfulness practice,a transitional step between worldy activities and tantric practice, so it is like a little ngondro to settle the mind so you can be present for the main practice to follow.
The second is the experience of the people who do not make the tormas, but see them set up on a shrine. For them, there is a sense that someone prepared the space for the practice, made it more beautiful, and that the engine of the bus of group tantric practice has warmed up and that the loppon and the umze' are about to drive everyone forward together.
The third is that, in general, the dough tormas are perishable. A reminder of the significance that this
is the time to practice seriously--like a timer. It says "everything has come together for a profound spiritual experience. Wake up! Wake up!"
Is that art therapy?
Yes, the eastern (thanks!) equivalent. And as you describe it above, maybe group therapy too. You could also say, not the same, not different.
Look, what did the Buddha say he was doing? He basically said (taking into consideration translation problems and time): I teach one thing and one thing only: the end of suffering.
I like that Tibetans, before they became "Buddhists" referred to themselves as "inner people". Because that's what I see as everyone's work, the inner work of ending suffering. Isn't that what you're doing? That's what I'm doing.
And there are a zillion (slight exaggeration!) methods for doing this work. Vajrayana Buddhism has some extremely profound, not to mention deep, methods for getting at the roots of our suffering.
I have always been somewhat mystified by most of these methods, however, because frankly, they seem foreign
to me. And they are. No problem with that. I did not grow up in a Tibetan culture. Most Tibetans did not grow up in a western culture.
We are all not the same and not different. But if you are practicing, you are doing the work of ending suffering. And by ending suffering in yourself, somehow, by the very nature of our innate goodness, we express it by helping others end their suffering.
My interest has never been "getting enlightened". I really have no idea what "enlightened" is. Vajrayana has this "promise" of enlightenment in one lifetime. Nonetheless, thanks for your admonishment to "wake up now".
Frankly, I'm as awake as I can stand to be.