Reading Jamgon Kongtrul's "Systems of Buddhist Tantra"
has been an eye opener. This is Book 6, Part Four (there are ten books each with four divisions [referred to as a chapter but actually these chapters and esp. this one are nearly separate books with their own multiple chapters]). In this division Kongtrul goes into Buddhist tantra in detail from the view of basis, path, result, pledges, entrance to tantra - basically everything but specific Vajra Master material (like how to give empowerments, etc.). From the POV of an ordinary practitioner this is quite extensive.
So a section discussing Kriya (Action) tantra was quite illuminating. The kriya tantra view is that the deity and the practitoner are separate and that the practitioner views him/herself as a servant of the deity. While all my lamas who have given kriya tantra empowerments have said actually study the pledges they haven't actually gone into them in detail and the pledges have usually been glossed as not abandoning Bodhicitta and working for the welfare of other beings.
However in the beginning of a kriya yoga empowerment one makes an offering of oneself to the Buddhas. In Kongtrul's text he says:
(this is in the Action Tantra chapter - I'm reading this is Kindle software on a PC and the page numbers don't show up)
One makes an offering of oneself to assume the pledges. The reason for doing this is explained in this way: A person is considered to exist on two levels, subtle and coarse. By offering body, speech and mind - the coarse person - these three become owned by the buddhas and bodhisattvas. At that point one is possessed of the disposition of all buddhas and bodhisattvas, a disposition that is of one shunning the ten unwholesome deeds and practicing the ten wholesome ones. Thus one comes to assume [the ethics of the buddhas] as the very essence of the commitment of relative awakening mind. By offering the subtle person which, as the essence of emptiness, is inseparable from the reality dimension*, one comes to assume the ultimate awakening mind.
(The bolding and italics in this case are mine.
*the Dharmakaya ?
WOW! I'll have to go back to my notes on kriya tantra and see if I have just missed or ignored the depth, profundity and import of the offering of the self. This is exactly like the great Buddhdasa who referred to himself as a slave of the Buddha. I have somehow missed this training aspect of the teaching (usually this servant aspect is described in terms of receiving siddhi in a Lord - servant relationship and the aspect of the same relationship in terms of ethics has not seemed to be emphasized).
_________________Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes
"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
HH Chetsang Rinpoche