In the practice of Vajrayana, there are two main points, which are the two stages of meditation: Development stage and Accomplishment stage. In Tibetan, it is called kyerim (skyed rim) and dzogrim (rdzogs rim). If one lacks such knowledge and enters into the Vajrayana, one is only participating in an empowerment and some pujas, the benefit that one receives is very little, because of the lack of these two stages of practice. So these two stages are very important. Every Vajrayana practitioner, if departing from these two stages, even if one were to practice the Dharma very diligently, the development of one’s practice will be very slow, with little benefit.
The purpose of practising the deity is not just to have the image, thangka and statue of the deity. Just the form of these deities alone is not effective. You need to understand what these forms represent, their symbolic meaning. By bringing these into your meditation, you gain realization of the truth. Until now, our mind has always been unable to see the true nature because of delusion. All the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and masters use this skilful method to point us to the path that will lead us to the ultimate truth. So when you are meditating on the deity, think and visualise the deity’s colour, expression and characteristics. Understand that the deity is not substantially existing. Through the practice of the deity, we realise the ultimate true nature.
Of course, we cannot deny that at the moment we are unable to see the truth. So we need the three roots––guru, deity and protector. If you say that everything is emptiness, so there are no three roots, then who would the guru, deity and protector be existing for? Of course the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and enlightened beings do not need these. But to us, beginning Vajrayana practitioners, this is a profound path that is easy to do. It is depending on this skilful means that we have the opportunity to gain enlightenment in one lifetime. If without this skilful means, if we are only looking at the many thangkas and statues with peaceful and wrathful deities, it would just be like going to the museum. It is only the form. So for practitioners who are seriously practising Vajrayana, the key to your practice is the development stage and accomplishment stage.
In order to transform negative thoughts to positive thoughts, to transform the impure to pure, during the development stage, we visualise the deities in their peaceful or wrathful forms to transform negative thoughts. Ultimately, these do not truly exist. During the accomplishment stage, we realise that one’s mind is inseparable from the Dharmadhatu and Dharmakaya. In this way, the practitioner is able to actualise the practice without contradiction. This is very important in the practice of Tibetan Buddhism.
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