Does Vajrasattva exist?

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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby smcj » Fri Aug 02, 2013 7:56 pm

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?

If I may, I'd like to re-phrase and offer an opinion.

In cruder terms: Is stuffing orthodoxy down someone's throat and turning them off entirely to practice better that letting them do what they find comfortable?

Short answer:Of course not!

Longer answer: We all start where we start. I advocate keeping an open mind about the things that are uncomfortable for us. Having a closed mind by defensively rejecting them is an impediment. The unacceptable threshold comes when, in order to make ourselves comfortable, we change the teachings to suit ourselves as opposed to just putting it on the back burner.

In terms of Vajrasattva and NgonDro, faith is a result of practice. If there is some faith at the start of practice, then that is like priming the pump. If there is no faith but just an open mind it takes longer to show results (i.e. the pump has to prime itself). Having a closed/dismissive mind makes things even harder to show results, if not impossible.

But of course these broad generalizations are not absolute rules. Individual karma trumps generalizations...and just my opinion anyway.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Malcolm » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:26 pm

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?



Considering yidams as "archetypes" will not lead to a correct result. Why? At one level yidams are paths that represent the mandala of the basis, the mandala of the path, and the mandala of the result. At another level, yidams are sambhogakāya forms i.e. the form in which a sambhogakāya appeared in order to transmit the method of the path of transformation.

M
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby heart » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:36 pm

Malcolm wrote:
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?



Considering yidams as "archetypes" will not lead to a correct result. Why? At one level yidams are paths that represent the mandala of the basis, the mandala of the path, and the mandala of the result. At another level, yidams are sambhogakāya forms i.e. the form in which a sambhogakāya appeared in order to transmit the method of the path of transformation.

M


But Vajrasattva appeared to Garab Dorje teaching Dzogchen?

/magnus
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby smcj » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:10 pm

I believe there's a teaching that says the 3 kayas are contained in the 3 Jewels. If so the Sambogakaya is the esoteric interpretation of the Dharma Jewel--the means of communication. It is the way the formless, inconceivable Dharmakaya manifests into a form so as to make Itself more accessible to us. In this context that means the visualized deities in the Buddhist pantheon.

I've heard it said that one must be a 10th level bodhisattva in order to have a direct experience of a Sambogakaya deity. But that does not mean that we lesser beings cannot avail ourselves of their ability to communicate enlightened awareness. But it has to be done according to the instructions of someone that has had a direct experience/tantric unity with the deity, and can then be said to actually be that deity.

So it is not improper to say that Garab Dorje actually was Vajrasattva, etc. But it is also proper to say that he got his realization from Vajrasattva.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:52 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
smcj wrote:How about Padmasambhava? Is he real? Didn't be say that if people called on him that he'd be there?
(Sorry, no exact reference.)

And if so, what's the difference? This thread is in the Nyingma forum after all!

Speaking of Padmasambhava, here are some passages from Tulku Thondup's "Enlightened Journey",
from the section entitled "A Brief Meditation On Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava":
Relying on Guru Rinpoche is nothing but a skillful means for realizing and empowering ourselves with the phenomena of our own pure, joyful, and powerful perceptions and experiences, which arise from our own peaceful and open Buddha nature that we all have inherited.

If we believe, then Guru Rinpoche will always be with us. He is not an individual person of a particular time or place. He is (or represents) the Buddha, the Buddha nature and its expression. In other words, he is the true nature of the universe and the pure character or expression of that universe. Whenever we allow our mind to connect with our inner truth, that truth will always be there to be reached, and then the manifestations or expressions arisen from that truth will always arise as pure and divine manifestations or appearances. If we let ourselves be inspired and see that very ultimate peace and truth, which we all have, through the support of and/or as Guru Rinpoche, we will realize and become Guru Rinpoche and his qualities and expressions.


And when you yourself attain buddhahood, all the above will be true of you as well.

It's not really so cut and dry as a dichotomy of existing on one hand or being a made-up but skillful idea/method on the other. Or being merely an anthropomorphized, abstract natural principle. Vajrasattva's enlightened nature has a function, just like you as a buddha will have a function. But one has to also consider the prasangika teaching on all phenomena being beyond existing, not existing, both, or neither.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Martin007 » Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:05 am

smcj wrote:In terms of Vajrasattva and NgonDro, faith is a result of practice. .....If there is no faith but just an open mind it takes longer to show results (i.e. the pump has to prime itself).


I didn't find my "pump was primed" by NgonDro, but perhaps I was approaching it in the wrong way.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby smcj » Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:15 pm

porpoise wrote:
smcj wrote:In terms of Vajrasattva and NgonDro, faith is a result of practice. .....If there is no faith but just an open mind it takes longer to show results (i.e. the pump has to prime itself).


I didn't find my "pump was primed" by NgonDro, but perhaps I was approaching it in the wrong way.

Sorry, that was badly written.

Earlier in the thread it was said that faith was needed in order for the practice to work. Then I said (based on Kalu's book on NgonDro) that faith was a result of practice. That creates a chicken and the egg paradox. I neglected to state the problem.

So I was trying to explain my understanding of how that paradox is most easily and commonly handled. But I also tried to make it clear that those were broad generalizations and not absolute rules, so ymmv.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:56 am

Well, I've been listening to the recordings from the recent empowerments and teachings with Dzongsar Khyentse in L.A., and all I can say is that he didn't say anything that would lead me to believe that I should view the Yidam, in this case White Tara, as some kind of external entity.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby yegyal » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:20 am

Maybe you've heard this story before, but it seems fitting

viewtopic.php?f=66&t=12851&start=0&hilit=tara
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby yegyal » Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:52 am

Oops!
Just realized, Dzogchungpa, that you were the one that posted the account of the story I was referring to above.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby smcj » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:19 am

dzogchungpa wrote:Well, I've been listening to the recordings from the recent empowerments and teachings with Dzongsar Khyentse in L.A., and all I can say is that he didn't say anything that would lead me to believe that I should view the Yidam, in this case White Tara, as some kind of external entity.

If a qualified teacher that you look to for instruction leaves you with that understanding, then that is your karmic path.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:36 am

dzogchungpa wrote:Well, I've been listening to the recordings from the recent empowerments and teachings with Dzongsar Khyentse in L.A., and all I can say is that he didn't say anything that would lead me to believe that I should view the Yidam, in this case White Tara, as some kind of external entity.


Well, the real buddha--and the real you--is the dharmakaya. So if, say, Tara appears to you, I think you can say there is a dependent arising between that Tara's sambhogakaya (and her aspiration prayers as an aspiring bodhisattva) and your own karma and wishes. So in that sense the yidam is not, strictly speaking, external. And also, considering emptiness, and your own true nature, the yidam is not external to you and you're not external to the yidam because ideas such as inside and outside and so forth are ultimately erroneou and meaningless from the standpoint of emptiness. But in a superficial way of speaking, yidams DO represent former sentient beings who traveled the path like you and I and achieved total realization and "became" buddhas. And one day each of us will do the same.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Aug 07, 2013 4:47 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:But in a superficial way of speaking, yidams DO represent former sentient beings who traveled the path like you and I and achieved total realization and "became" buddhas.

What do you mean by "represent"? I have no problem accepting the "backstories" of the Yidams for the purposes of cultivation, but am I supposed to take the story of Tara being Avalokiteshvara's tear as some kind of conventional truth? It's a lovely image, and has it's own kind of value, but I don't think we need to pay Tara any metaphysical compliments in order to practice correctly.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby heart » Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:31 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
Pema Rigdzin wrote:But in a superficial way of speaking, yidams DO represent former sentient beings who traveled the path like you and I and achieved total realization and "became" buddhas.

What do you mean by "represent"? I have no problem accepting the "backstories" of the Yidams for the purposes of cultivation, but am I supposed to take the story of Tara being Avalokiteshvara's tear as some kind of conventional truth? It's a lovely image, and has it's own kind of value, but I don't think we need to pay Tara any metaphysical compliments in order to practice correctly.


According to the first Khyentse when Chogyur Lingpa died he manifested a pure realm and he himself manifested there in the form of Padmasattva. The first Khyentse saw this in a vision and later wrote down a sadhana on the practice of Padmasattva. This is how it happens, same with any other form of deity. The deity forms are means of communication on how to practice communicated to masters with high realization from Buddhas and indirectly to us ordinary folks on the path. This is probably what Pema means with "represent" that it communicates various means of liberation.

/magnus
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:54 pm

heart wrote:According to the first Khyentse when Chogyur Lingpa died he manifested a pure realm and he himself manifested there in the form of Padmasattva. The first Khyentse saw this in a vision and later wrote down a sadhana on the practice of Padmasattva.

I actually find it quite easy to accept this as conventionally true. Is the case of Vajrasattva or White Tara really similar though? I don't know enough to say. In the case you mention we have the testimony of JKW, but is there something like that for VS or WT?
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby heart » Wed Aug 07, 2013 9:11 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
heart wrote:According to the first Khyentse when Chogyur Lingpa died he manifested a pure realm and he himself manifested there in the form of Padmasattva. The first Khyentse saw this in a vision and later wrote down a sadhana on the practice of Padmasattva.

I actually find it quite easy to accept this as conventionally true. Is the case of Vajrasattva or White Tara really similar though? I don't know enough to say. In the case you mention we have the testimony of JKW, but is there something like that for VS or WT?


I am sure there is but it is hidden in ancient history.

/magnus
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:15 am

dzogchungpa wrote:
Pema Rigdzin wrote:But in a superficial way of speaking, yidams DO represent former sentient beings who traveled the path like you and I and achieved total realization and "became" buddhas.

What do you mean by "represent"? I have no problem accepting the "backstories" of the Yidams for the purposes of cultivation, but am I supposed to take the story of Tara being Avalokiteshvara's tear as some kind of conventional truth? It's a lovely image, and has it's own kind of value, but I don't think we need to pay Tara any metaphysical compliments in order to practice correctly.


By "represent" I meant when it comes to yidams, they are the manifestations of sentient beings like you and I who brought the path to its ultimate fruition. In that sense, they are as real as you or I. This is true for Vajrasattva as well as Tara as well as any yidam. On a deeper level, Vajrasattva or any buddha can also be used symbolically as a didactic to explain the ultimate. The two situation are not mutually exclusive. Also, there is another authenticor orthodox explanation about how Tara became a buddha where she's an ordinary female practitioner with great faith and diligence named Yeshe Dawa; in the story, she aspired always to appear in female form and to manifest as a female buddha in rebellion against the religious establishment of her time that tried to convince her that she needed to pray to be reborn as a man so she could bring her Dharma practice to its culmination.

It's easy to get stuck in this black or white, this or that, mode of thinking when Dharma seems to be pointing out that in reality phenomena often are free of such limitations.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby smcj » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:24 am

One basic idea in Dharma is that nothing exists in the way we normally assume things to exist--including ourselves! My teacher used to emphasize that when I listened to teachings on emptiness I should remember that they were a description of how I actually abide.

Is there anyone here that thinks a description of how yidam abide wouldn't include some abstractions?
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:34 am

smcj wrote:One basic idea in Dharma is that nothing exists in the way we normally assume things to exist--including ourselves! My teacher used to emphasize that when I listened to teachings on emptiness I should remember that they were a description of how I actually abide.

Is there anyone here that thinks a description of how yidam abide wouldn't include some abstractions?



The personages whom yidams portray conventionally exist as sambhogakāya manifestations. Otherwise, there could be no method connected with them. Why? Because in the path of transformation the result is practiced as the path.
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Re: Does Vajrasattva exist?

Postby MaitriYNOD » Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:50 am

dzogchungpa wrote:OK, so the Dzogchen POV is that the Vajrasattva of Ngondro is a real Buddha, not just a method?


Whichever position you end up taking, please don't consider yidams to be "just" methods. They are methods. Existent or not, there is nothing meager or diminutive about the methods of the Vajrayana. To say something is provisional does not detract from its profundity. Confused beings must depend on provisional methods, they are what lead us to awakening.
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