Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

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Red Faced Buddha
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Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:12 am

I was wondering if I could choose a Buddha or Bodhisattva as an enlightened protector and focus of meditation.I wanted to make Manjushri or Vajrapani a focus of meditation.However,I do not know whether one needs a guru or teacher to choose a personal meditational deity.Some traditions do not need a teacher to meditate on a Buddhist deity(such as Nio Zen which meditate on warrior deities.)however,I was unsure whether or not it is okay to have a meditational deity without a guru.
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:16 am

I think the main issue would be that without the guru, you can't make the connection with the deity via empowerment. But it's not like it's "against the rules" as far as I know.

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:25 am

tomamundsen wrote:I think the main issue would be that without the guru, you can't make the connection with the deity via empowerment. But it's not like it's "against the rules" as far as I know.


Thanks,just wondering.
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"

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Sherab Dorje
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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:50 am

Definitely need a teacher/lama for the oral transmission of the mantra and sadhana and instructions/explanations of the visualisation, mantra and practice. Of course one does not necessarily need a sadhana to do a practice, you can just receive the short praise and the mantra. But, officially, all of this has to come from a lama or somebody that has completed the preliminiaries for the deity.

Empowerment 100% needs the presence of a qualified teacher. Having said that, empowerment is not 100% necessary in order for you to do a practice. It does take one's practice to another level though.

So yes, you can choose an enlightened deity as a protector. Many protectors (dharmapala) are enlightened beings too. Most protectors are aspects of an enlightened beings activity anyway.

Keep in mind that you may be asked to officially take refuge before a practice is given to you (especially a sadhana). You may also be asked to complete some type of preliminaries (ngondro) too.
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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Sherlock » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:03 pm

Well, you might not be able to work with a deity using tantric methods without the transmission, but just by taking refuge, you also come under the protection of many deities.

There are certain deities for whom you don't need the empowerment to meditate on/chant their dharanis, although you still should not visualize yourself as the deity without the empowerment. Amitabha is one example, Medicine Buddha, Green Tara as well. They aren't usually regarded as "protectors" though. Most protectors are wrathful and most teachers will advise you to get an empowerment before chanting their mantras or you can cause problems for yourself.

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:10 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Definitely need a teacher/lama for the oral transmission of the mantra and sadhana and instructions/explanations of the visualisation, mantra and practice. Of course one does not necessarily need a sadhana to do a practice, you can just receive the short praise and the mantra. But, officially, all of this has to come from a lama or somebody that has completed the preliminiaries for the deity.

Empowerment 100% needs the presence of a qualified teacher. Having said that, empowerment is not 100% necessary in order for you to do a practice. It does take one's practice to another level though.

So yes, you can choose an enlightened deity as a protector. Many protectors (dharmapala) are enlightened beings too. Most protectors are aspects of an enlightened beings activity anyway.

Keep in mind that you may be asked to officially take refuge before a practice is given to you (especially a sadhana). You may also be asked to complete some type of preliminaries (ngondro) too.
:namaste:


So if I want to meditate on Manjushri,I must receive an empowerment?I was thinking more of Nio Zen then Tantra but that's beside the point.What exactly are empowerments?
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:28 pm

Red Faced Buddha wrote:So if I want to meditate on Manjushri,I must receive an empowerment?
No. You need the oral transmission of the mantra and prayers.
I was thinking more of Nio Zen then Tantra but that's beside the point.
I know nothing about Nio Zen. Try posting your question in the relevant subforum.
What exactly are empowerments?
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... rment.html
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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby plwk » Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:58 pm

I know nothing about Nio Zen.
Here's some ideas on it... 1 2 3

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:12 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Red Faced Buddha wrote:So if I want to meditate on Manjushri,I must receive an empowerment?
No. You need the oral transmission of the mantra and prayers.

While definitely technically true, it's not like anyone's going to start a witch hunt if you make up your own meditation based on Manjushri. Of course, it would be much more effective to go the traditional route and get a transmission, empowerment, and teachings from a lama.

I am a beginner myself, so don't take my explanation as something even close to definitive. My understanding of empowerment is like this. Some Vajrayana master accomplishes a deity practice and makes a direct connection with the deity. This is like the first link in the chain of empowerments and it is what make all the following ones valid. After accomplishing a practice, the master can then give empowerments to connect their students with the deity. Then students can pass this same empowerment down to their students. If you do ever receive an empowerment, you'll see that the lama first has to do his own ritual to receive the empowerment from the deity. Then he can give the empowerment to students. So, if you do your own practice without an empowerment, you don't have this direct connection to the deity and you're just kinda poking around in the dark.

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:19 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
Red Faced Buddha wrote:So if I want to meditate on Manjushri,I must receive an empowerment?
No. You need the oral transmission of the mantra and prayers.

While definitely technically true, it's not like anyone's going to start a witch hunt if you make up your own meditation based on Manjushri. Of course, it would be much more effective to go the traditional route and get a transmission, empowerment, and teachings from a lama.
It is true that nobody will start a witch hunt but:
1. Why reinvent the wheel?
2. Wouldn't it be better to rely on a practice conceived of by a realised teacher rather than one based on a mistaken understanding?
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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby dakini_boi » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:28 pm

Yes, you can take any enlightened being as your protector. All Buddhas embody all the qualities of Buddhahood, and that would include protection from fear.

I believe you can recite Manjushri's mantra without empowerment or lung. Vajrapani, I am not sure. Both are featured in Mahayana sutras, which you can always recite on your own. Why not read some sutras, and find one that you like? At the end of a sutra is usually a mantra, which you can then recite as a prayer.

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby tomamundsen » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:30 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:1. Why reinvent the wheel?
2. Wouldn't it be better to rely on a practice conceived of by a realised teacher rather than one based on a mistaken understanding?
:namaste:

Yes, of course it's better.

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:29 pm

dakini_boi wrote:Yes, you can take any enlightened being as your protector. All Buddhas embody all the qualities of Buddhahood, and that would include protection from fear.

I believe you can recite Manjushri's mantra without empowerment or lung. Vajrapani, I am not sure. Both are featured in Mahayana sutras, which you can always recite on your own. Why not read some sutras, and find one that you like? At the end of a sutra is usually a mantra, which you can then recite as a prayer.


Thank you.
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby CrawfordHollow » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:53 pm

You could always pray to and recite the Vajra Guru Mantra and Seven-Line Prayer. Years ago I started chanting the Vajra Guru as much as I could; at work, doing the dishes, walking the dog. Within a couple months I met my root lama and my practice really took off. I still chant the mantra constantly. Guru Rinpoche is a figure that I have always felt drawn to, there are many other Buddhas you can pray to, it doesn't have to be a formal practice.

If you want to practice a Vajrayana sadhana you definately need to make the connection with a teacher. Gitting the empowerment and lung is like plugging yourself into the circuit of blessings of the lineage. Thats obviously important, but there are many things that you can do now to incorporate these enlightened beings into your practice, you could pray to them, make prostrations, read their sutras or life stories, ect. You could make aspiration prayers that you will meet a teacher who will give you the empowermet that you are looking for. I think aspiration prayers are really important and useful. Its like casting out our good intentions like a fishing lure. Keep at it and you are bound to make a "catch".

If you feel drawn to Manjushri or another deity chances are you already have a karmic connection to that deity or practice. Like somebody pointed out in a past thread, even realized beings who take a rebirth have to go through the process of recieving all of their empowerments again. Don't get discouraged if you can't find a teacher right away. Have faith and good intentions and the rest will fall into place with time.

Best wishes,
Troy

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:06 am

CrawfordHollow wrote:You could always pray to and recite the Vajra Guru Mantra and Seven-Line Prayer. Years ago I started chanting the Vajra Guru as much as I could; at work, doing the dishes, walking the dog. Within a couple months I met my root lama and my practice really took off. I still chant the mantra constantly. Guru Rinpoche is a figure that I have always felt drawn to, there are many other Buddhas you can pray to, it doesn't have to be a formal practice.

If you want to practice a Vajrayana sadhana you definately need to make the connection with a teacher. Gitting the empowerment and lung is like plugging yourself into the circuit of blessings of the lineage. Thats obviously important, but there are many things that you can do now to incorporate these enlightened beings into your practice, you could pray to them, make prostrations, read their sutras or life stories, ect. You could make aspiration prayers that you will meet a teacher who will give you the empowermet that you are looking for. I think aspiration prayers are really important and useful. Its like casting out our good intentions like a fishing lure. Keep at it and you are bound to make a "catch".

If you feel drawn to Manjushri or another deity chances are you already have a karmic connection to that deity or practice. Like somebody pointed out in a past thread, even realized beings who take a rebirth have to go through the process of recieving all of their empowerments again. Don't get discouraged if you can't find a teacher right away. Have faith and good intentions and the rest will fall into place with time.

Best wishes,
Troy


Thank you for your post.
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby lobster » Sat Nov 17, 2012 3:58 am

No one, not even the Buddha, can stop the protection and worship of deities . . . :twothumbsup:

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Ray Rudha » Thu Dec 31, 2015 3:59 pm

You do not need anything to practice the mantras of the Great Bodhisattvas, as well as countless Buddha mantras which are available. It is always strange to hear people talking about needing empowerment for mantras found in sutras. If the mantra is in the sutra, that is your empowerment. The sutra itself is the matrix of all Buddhas. What other empowerment?

Just get samadhi with the mantra, that is the ultimate empowerment.

Need extra empowerment? Read a long dharani every day. [Edit]

https://medium.com/@johnutah/vajrapani- ... .qvxyir414

https://medium.com/@johnutah/ksitigarbh ... 024e217e97

Also, Avalokiteshvara, Cundi, the various mantras from the Golden Light sutra, and so on and so forth.
Last edited by Ayu on Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed put-down.

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Dec 31, 2015 5:59 pm

Ray Rudha wrote:You do not need anything to practice the mantras of the Great Bodhisattvas, as well as countless Buddha mantras which are available. It is always strange to hear people talking about needing empowerment for mantras found in sutras. If the mantra is in the sutra, that is your empowerment. The sutra itself is the matrix of all Buddhas. What other empowerment?

Just get samadhi with the mantra, that is the ultimate empowerment.

Need extra empowerment? Read a long dharani every day. [Edit]

https://medium.com/@johnutah/vajrapani- ... .qvxyir414

https://medium.com/@johnutah/ksitigarbh ... 024e217e97

Also, Avalokiteshvara, Cundi, the various mantras from the Golden Light sutra, and so on and so forth.



It's really irresponsible to hand out advice like this, you are (ironically) putting yourself in the place of a teacher.

In Vajrayana, many things require empowerment, and your own little theories on the matter are of little import, you're not in any position to be disputing what some people are taught by their teachers, while of course you're welcome to your own practice.

Some traditions of course have practices that require no empowerment, however, I wonder how many would say "sure just get it off the internet and start with no instruction". I'm sure there are a few (maybe pureland works like that?), but i'd imagine that it'd still be recommended to make some kind of connection, and get a walkthrough.
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and the ocean of wisdom fully attained. -The Aspiration of Samantabhadra

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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby conebeckham » Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:07 am

fckw wrote:Can anyone knowledgeable explain me what the difference is between a dharmapala and a (don't know how to call it correctly: "full blown") yidam like, let's say, dorje drollo or hevajra? What's the qualitative difference, in other words why is it generally hold that one should not start a practice with the former if not already very advanced with the latter? I know that some dharmapalas are said to be not completely enlightened. With these, I understand that this could be potentially misleading at very subtle levels of mind. And there seem to be very worldly protectors or even demons. Yet other protectors are said to be completely enlightened. So, what would be the qualitative difference then to a yidam?

Yidam is the root of accomplishment. Dharmapalas are the activity root. Mahakalas, for example, can be either, though normally one takes another "yidam" deity first, and accomplishes that--taking a wisdom protector as Lama, or Yidam, comes later in most cases. This is because the dharmapalas are primarily associated with performing activity, and such focus is not engaged in prior to "accomplishment."
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Re: Can I choose an enlightentened deity as a protector?

Postby skittles » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:11 am

You should get valid empowerments and instructions when possible. The risk of assuming a yidam before you have the empowerment and teachings is that you will form polluted views and karmas with the practice which will serve as a hinderance should you become a part of the lineage that practices that deity later.

It's not as if the core of these practices isn't accessible without empowerment, it is just unlikely for you to generate them. Strong compassion and emptiness vision naturally take useful forms and without them the forms are useless.

Don't fall into the trap of these evil people that are emphasizing protector deities. Only the scummiest fake for-profit lamas do that to play to the fears and desires of people that are not intellectually mature enough to see the value of the Buddha's teachings. The reality is enlightened protectors aren't something petty people can ask for favors from. Enlightened protectors are the limbs of a practitioner's compassion and wisdom, for a petty person they don't exist in the world. Instead, the protectors of petty people embody the selfish and ultimately self destructive qualities of the people that pray to them and lead to the madness, paranoia, and desperation you see in these protector deity cults.
"My main teacher Serkong Rinpoche, who was one of the teachers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, explained that having a protector is like having a very strong and vicious dog. If you are a strong person, you could go sit and guard your own gate every night to make sure that thieves don’t attack, but usually people wouldn’t do that. It’s not that we don’t have the ability, it’s just: why bother? You could post a dog there instead." - Alex Berzin http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... rs_ab.html


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