Does Vajrasattva exist?

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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:15 pm

tomamundsen wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:Yes, that is standard, but this "belief" could itself be a technique, no?

Perhaps. But you can't ever get around the fact that if you think it's only a technique, then the technique doesn't work.

Yes, but part of the technique is not thinking it's only a technique.
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
- Conze
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:31 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:Well, I haven't come to any conclusions yet, but a certain real live teacher said, while discussing the kunjed gyalpo, that Sattvavajra does not exist and was basically just a literary device.


Perhaps she or he meant that in the context of what the Kunjed Gyalpo Tantra is trying to convey Sattvavajra is basically just a literary device....
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Dronma » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:35 pm

It does not really help to know in advance intellectually with what looks like the end of the road.
We have to walk all the way towards enlightenment, and find out all the answers through experience. :namaste:
"My view is as vast as the sky, but my actions are finer than flour"
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby smcj » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:43 am

Well, I haven't come to any conclusions yet, but a certain real live teacher said, while discussing the kunjed gyalpo, that Sattvavajra does not exist and was basically just a literary device.

He wasn't by any chance a Westerner, was he?
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby porpoise » Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:27 am

tomamundsen wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:I have been taught that Vajrasattva purification won't work unless you really believe that he exists and is purifying your karma when you do the practice. And well.... of course the effects are real when you have such a conviction. Vajrayana is in no way Buddhism-lite or simple insight meditation...

Yes, that is standard, but this "belief" could itself be a technique, no?

Perhaps. But you can't ever get around the fact that if you think it's only a technique, then the technique doesn't work.


I tend to agree - the emotions need to be involved, and just using intellectual gymnastics doesn't really cut it.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:18 pm

smcj wrote:
Well, I haven't come to any conclusions yet, but a certain real live teacher said, while discussing the kunjed gyalpo, that Sattvavajra does not exist and was basically just a literary device.

He wasn't by any chance a Westerner, was he?

Yes, he was. A rather well known translator and teacher.
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
- Conze
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:12 pm

On the other hand, we do have this passage from "The Crystal and the Way Of Light":
There are eight principal classes of Guardians each with many subdivisions. Some are highly realized beings, others not realized at all. Every place - every continent, country, city, mountain, river, lake or forest - has its particular dominant energy, or Guardian, as have every year, hour and even minute: these are not highly evolved energies. The various teachings all have energies which have special relationships with them: these are more realized Guardians. These energies are iconographically portrayed as they were perceived when they manifested to masters who had contact with them, and their awesome power is represented by their terrifyingly ferocious forms, their many arms and heads, and their ornaments of the charnel ground. As with all the figures in tantric iconography, it is not correct to interpret the figures of the guardians as merely symbolic, as some Western writers have been tempted to do. Though the iconographic forms have been shaped by the perceptions and culture of those who saw the original manifestation and by the development of tradition, actual beings are represented.

Personally, I have no problem accepting the existence of the Guardians as actual beings. The phrase "As with all the figures in tantric iconography" above seems to imply that Rinpoche views all Yidams, and in particular Vajrasattva, as actual beings too, although I'm not quite sure if an "energy" is the same as a being.
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
- Conze
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby anjali » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:23 pm

Here is a quote by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche that is relevant,
In the case of deity meditation, it is the mind consciousness that creates the body of the deity. It is thus a mentally created body, and thus, so to speak, unreal. When, however, the karmic imprints of this visualization get stored in the all-base and become more clear and more stable, it is actually possible to meet the deity one day, or Guru Rinpoche, for example, face to face! This is the result of deity meditation with in-front visualization. [From Everyday Consciousness and Primordial Awareness, p. 39]

Here is an interesting comment, also by Thrangu Rinpoche, on the notion of "external" objects and the all-base/ground consciousness,
There are two kinds of objects: objects that appear clearly and vividly to the six consciousnesses and objects that reside in the ground consciousness as latencies. When we perceive things in a room, there are also many other things outside the room that we cannot perceive. Where are they? They are in the ground consciousness, not as objects but as latencies. When we leave the room, then the room and the things inside it remain in our ground consciousness, since they are no longer appearing to any of the six consciousnesses.

The ground consciousness is vast in terms o the objects contained within it. The whole world is contained in the ground consciousness in the form of latencies. We can go anywhere in this world, and that place will appear, will become a vivid appearance, because everywhere we can go is already present as a latency in the ground consciousness. [From Ocean of Ultimate Meaning, footnote 3, page 182]

From this perspective, it's all imprints, even actually appearing deities.
  • The object of the game is to go on playing it. --John Von Neumann
  • All activities are like the games children play. If started, they can never be finished. They are only completed once you let them be, like castles made of sand. --Khenpo Nyoshul Rinpoche
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby tomamundsen » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:30 pm

anjali wrote:Here is an interesting comment, also by Thrangu Rinpoche, on the notion of "external" objects and the all-base/ground consciousness,
There are two kinds of objects: objects that appear clearly and vividly to the six consciousnesses and objects that reside in the ground consciousness as latencies. When we perceive things in a room, there are also many other things outside the room that we cannot perceive. Where are they? They are in the ground consciousness, not as objects but as latencies. When we leave the room, then the room and the things inside it remain in our ground consciousness, since they are no longer appearing to any of the six consciousnesses.

The ground consciousness is vast in terms o the objects contained within it. The whole world is contained in the ground consciousness in the form of latencies. We can go anywhere in this world, and that place will appear, will become a vivid appearance, because everywhere we can go is already present as a latency in the ground consciousness. [From Ocean of Ultimate Meaning, footnote 3, page 182]

From this perspective, it's all imprints, even actually appearing deities.

Thanks, that was awesome.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby yegyal » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:14 am

anjali wrote:Here is a quote by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche that is relevant,
In the case of deity meditation, it is the mind consciousness that creates the body of the deity. It is thus a mentally created body, and thus, so to speak, unreal. When, however, the karmic imprints of this visualization get stored in the all-base and become more clear and more stable, it is actually possible to meet the deity one day, or Guru Rinpoche, for example, face to face! This is the result of deity meditation with in-front visualization. [From Everyday Consciousness and Primordial Awareness, p. 39]

Here is an interesting comment, also by Thrangu Rinpoche, on the notion of "external" objects and the all-base/ground consciousness,
There are two kinds of objects: objects that appear clearly and vividly to the six consciousnesses and objects that reside in the ground consciousness as latencies. When we perceive things in a room, there are also many other things outside the room that we cannot perceive. Where are they? They are in the ground consciousness, not as objects but as latencies. When we leave the room, then the room and the things inside it remain in our ground consciousness, since they are no longer appearing to any of the six consciousnesses.

The ground consciousness is vast in terms o the objects contained within it. The whole world is contained in the ground consciousness in the form of latencies. We can go anywhere in this world, and that place will appear, will become a vivid appearance, because everywhere we can go is already present as a latency in the ground consciousness. [From Ocean of Ultimate Meaning, footnote 3, page 182]

From this perspective, it's all imprints, even actually appearing deities.


Though these are both interesting quotes, I think they're actually addressing different issues. The first alludes to the difference between the samayasattva and the jnanasattva, while the other has to do with how appearances manifest from the alaya. As for your conclusion, it's not that the deity is an imprint, but only how it appears to you that could be characterized as such.

As for the OP, it certainly is the POV of Vajrayana that Vajrasattva is an actual enlightened being that made aspirations that his mantra would purify the obscurations of sentient beings, hence its effectiveness. As Tsoknyi said, "he is not nonexistent," like the horns of a rabbit, which other than on jackalopes, do not exist at all. However, that does not mean that he exists in the way theists, Hindu or otherwise, ascribe existence to their deity. More importantly it is the POV of the Vajrayana that to truly understand the nature of Vajrasattva one needs to purify obscurations. And the quickest way to do that is said to be through the recitation and meditation of Vajrasattva.

On the other hand, I think this question is indicative of the tendency of modern westerners to find the more profound persecpectives more palatable. In other words, we'd rather view the deity as symbolic of our own mind than as an external entity. Unfortunately this is more of a sign of our lack of trust in the teachings, than it is of our superior understanding. It is far better to work with our dualistic experience in a constructive way, than to pretend we experience nonduality and thus grasp the more profound and subtle perspectives, when in fact we don't.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:42 am

yegyal wrote:On the other hand, I think this question is indicative of the tendency of modern westerners to find the more profound persecpectives more palatable. In other words, we'd rather view the deity as symbolic of our own mind than as an external entity.

I'm quite happy to view the deity as an external entity, and in fact that is generally what I do. My question is more about trying to understand if the deity is an external entity, at least according to the tradition. Based on what I've read, and what some have said here, it seems to be unclear. E.g. here is what Cortalnd Dahl says in his introduction to "Entrance to the Great Perfection":
Each development stage practice is centered on a particular yidam deity
or group of yidam deities. Yidams are not gods, but rather archetypal projec-
tions that enable the practitioner to connect with certain aspects of his or her
own buddha nature. Manjushri, for example, is the embodiment of wisdom.
Thus, imagining oneself to be Manjushri is a skillful way to actualize one’s
indwelling wisdom. Likewise, one may focus on Avalokiteshvara to develop
compassion, Vajrakilaya to overcome obstacles, or Vajrasattva to purify nega-
tivity. By repeatedly envisioning oneself as an enlightened being, any lack
of confidence in one’s own enlightened potential is gradually worn away.

Of course, he is a westerner, so presumably his opinions are suspect, but I believe he has a fairly good background in this area.
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
- Conze
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby yegyal » Fri Aug 02, 2013 3:27 am

So Cort's explanation is exactly what I'm talking about. The way he is explaining is one way of looking at it, but it's not the only one. For example, we're all familiar with statements like Manjushri is the embodiment of wisdom, but that's not how early texts would describe him. Originally, he was one of the Buddha's bodhisattva disciples. So in the Mahayana Sutras he was an actual person hanging around the Buddha that would often talk at length, very eloquently, and afterward the Buddha would praise what he said. Later on the understanding of Manjushri was expanded, as were the other 8 close sons, to the notion that he was in fact a Buddha manifesting as a Bodhisattva on the pure bhumis and so forth. Early sadhanas of Manjushri, like several of those found in the Sadhanamala, describe him as a Buddhist version of the god Kamadeva and his practice was used to seduce and bring others under one's control or influence. So this idea that Manjushri is merely symbolic of our innate wisdom is an oversimplification of a much more complex issue. And if that were an accurate description of sadhana practice, then there would be no need for empowerment before one is capable of self-generation as the deity. However, I'm not saying that Cort's description is wrong, but it's just one side of the equation and it doesn't take into account that it takes two to tango, so to speak. We would never even have heard there was such a thing as buddhanature, let alone that we possess it, if it weren't for an external Buddha.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Aug 02, 2013 3:49 am

yegyal wrote:So this idea that Manjushri is merely symbolic of our innate wisdom is an oversimplification of a much more complex issue. And if that were an accurate description of sadhana practice, then there would be no need for empowerment before one is capable of self-generation as the deity.

I don't see how that description of sadhana practice implies that empowerment is unnecessary.
yegyal wrote:However, I'm not saying that Cort's description is wrong, but it's just one side of the equation and it doesn't take into account that it takes two to tango, so to speak. We would never even have heard there was such a thing as buddhanature, let alone that we possess it, if it weren't for an external Buddha.

Nobody is denying that there are, or at least have been, external Buddhas.
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
- Conze
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Malcolm » Fri Aug 02, 2013 5:41 am

yegyal wrote:So Cort's explanation is exactly what I'm talking about. The way he is explaining is one way of looking at it, but it's not the only one.



It's actually total nonsense. The idea of "archetypes" comes from Jung, and is completely foreign to Buddhadharma.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Aug 02, 2013 6:18 am

Malcolm wrote:
yegyal wrote:So Cort's explanation is exactly what I'm talking about. The way he is explaining is one way of looking at it, but it's not the only one.



It's actually total nonsense. The idea of "archetypes" comes from Jung, and is completely foreign to Buddhadharma.
The idea or concept of archetypes (αρχέτυπα) predates Jung by a few thousand years. Jung was the first modern theorist to use the term systematically. The term actually originates from Plato's Theory of Forms. So the concept wouldn't have been alien to ancient Buddhist philosophers. I don't know if they would have agreed with it too much though.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Malcolm » Fri Aug 02, 2013 6:49 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
yegyal wrote:So Cort's explanation is exactly what I'm talking about. The way he is explaining is one way of looking at it, but it's not the only one.



It's actually total nonsense. The idea of "archetypes" comes from Jung, and is completely foreign to Buddhadharma.
The idea or concept of archetypes (αρχέτυπα) predates Jung by a few thousand years. Jung was the first modern theorist to use the term systematically. The term actually originates from Plato's Theory of Forms. So the concept wouldn't have been alien to ancient Buddhist philosophers. I don't know if they would have agreed with it too much though.


As I said, archetypes as used by Dahl is a Jungian term, not really to be conflated with with Platonic usages of the term at all. Buddhism is all its forms is strictly nominalist, and rejects all universals (samanya-artha) as being unreal abstractions.

Yidams are sambhogakāya emanations, not archetypes.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

" The one who teaches the benefits of peace,
he is said to be a ṛṣī; the others are the opposite of him."

-- Uttaratantra
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Aug 02, 2013 6:54 am

Malcolm wrote:As I said, archetypes as used by Dahl is a Jungian term, not really to be conflated with with Platonic usages of the term at all. Buddhism is all its forms is strictly nominalist, and rejects all universals (samanya-artha) as being unreal abstractions.

Yidams are sambhogakāya emanations, not archetypes.
Fair enough. Leads me to ask the question as to what is better: to alow a practitioner to consider Yidams as archtypes and to practice according to that interpretation or is it better to remain locked into a formal (correct) interpretation which may cause the prctitioner (due to their karmic preponderances) to abandon practices and lose faith in the teachings?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:15 pm

Malcolm wrote:Yidams are sambhogakāya emanations, not archetypes.

I think my confusion may stem from being unclear about what "sambhogakāya" means.
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
- Conze
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:15 pm

Cortland may be a bit too Jungian, but apparently he's getting married tomorrow
so maybe we should give him a break!

http://www.theknot.com/wedding/Cortland-and-Kasumi
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
- Conze
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:20 pm

*bump*
gregkavarnos wrote:
Malcolm wrote:As I said, archetypes as used by Dahl is a Jungian term, not really to be conflated with with Platonic usages of the term at all. Buddhism is all its forms is strictly nominalist, and rejects all universals (samanya-artha) as being unreal abstractions.

Yidams are sambhogakāya emanations, not archetypes.
Fair enough. Leads me to ask the question as to what is better: to alow a practitioner to consider Yidams as archtypes and to practice according to that interpretation or is it better to remain locked into a formal (correct) interpretation which may cause the prctitioner (due to their karmic preponderances) to abandon practices and lose faith in the teachings?
Actually, Malcolm, I am interested in your answer because I also wish to know if, in your experience, the qualitative outcomes of Yidam practice will be different based on the (specific) conceptual paradigm that the practitioner may be holding during the practice?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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