No Sound in Visualisations ?

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No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:00 pm

Obviously a 'visualisation' is 'visual' but I wondered why so few sounds are ever described.

Do deities make no sound, is there no smell of incense, perfume, charnel grounds etc.?

In some mandalas things are described, for example, as swirling - but not as making a 'whooshing' sound.

When we dream, we visualise, but also we have sounds. Some may also experience smell, taste and touch.

I don't want to get into descriptions of Tantric practices in any detail, but I wonder if there is a particular reason why we are asked to visualise and make no use of the other key senses. There is plenty of sensory content in the practices with drums, bells, mantra recitation, incense, tsog - yet almost none in the descriptive parts of the practices.

My own 'pet theory' is that in India there is a tradition of 'darshan' (or 'darsan') whereby engaging with the mind of a deity is achieved through gazing at an image of them, making eye to eye contact if possible.

Is there a reason why so few sounds are described?
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby tatpurusa » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:48 pm

There are sounds.
Bijas are all about that.
The visualisation of their letter forms is a secondary aspect.
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:56 am

*edit: sorry, but I felt the need to delete this because I spoke too openly on this subject.
Last edited by Pema Rigdzin on Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby catmoon » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:15 am

When they talk about associated syllables in the visualizations, maybe that is intended as sound. Maybe yer supposed to hear the "OM".
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:00 pm

catmoon wrote:When they talk about associated syllables in the visualizations, maybe that is intended as sound. Maybe yer supposed to hear the "OM".


If one has any question about what to do in a given sadhana, one should speak with either one's lama or another lama knowledgeable of it.

For those who practice HYT generation stage according to Nyingma, I highly recommend the books "Deity, Mantra, and Wisdom," which includes texts by Jigme Lingpa, Getse Mahapandita, and Patrul Rinpoche, "Generating the Deity" by Gyatrul Rinpoche, "Establishing Appearances As Divine" by Rongzompa, and "Creation and Completion" by Jamgon Kongtrul, which also explains generaton stage according to Kagyu. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the Sakya or Gelug approaches.
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Laurazen » Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:56 pm

Deleted at poster's request (the poster I quoted). Edited by Laura.
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Laurazen » Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:57 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:If one has any question about what to do in a given sadhana, one should speak with either one's lama or another lama knowledgeable of it.

For those who practice HYT generation stage according to Nyingma, I highly recommend the books "Deity, Mantra, and Wisdom," which includes texts by Jigme Lingpa, Getse Mahapandita, and Patrul Rinpoche, "Generating the Deity" by Gyatrul Rinpoche, "Establishing Appearances As Divine" by Rongzompa, and "Creation and Completion" by Jamgon Kongtrul, which also explains generaton stage according to Kagyu. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the Sakya or Gelug approaches.


From what I've seen you write over a period of time at other sites, I don't think that your understandings contradict the Sakya approach very much.
And of course it's always best to ask the person who gave a practice about the specific practice. We can only talk in generalities :)

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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:21 pm

Thank you all.

I am familiar with the sounds described,in terms of mantras, seed syllables etc., but that's not really what I meant.

As an example, I was wondering why, for example, the charnel grounds are not described in terms of sound. It would normally be rare in a description to give only a visual description of such a rich sensory subject.

I have, of course, received the empowerments and commentaries, and read other texts widely , but none explains what appears to be a convention of providing no (or very little) information on sound, smell, etc. - which in the example I gave of the charnel grounds are very powerful aspects of the impression created on the mind. Any visitor to an Indian charnel ground would attest to the power of smell and sound if describing the nature of these places.
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby BFS » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:49 pm

Visualization meditation has nothing to do with vision, as in eye consciousness. It is the mental consciousness that is used. Because we use mental consciousness, and not eye consciousness, depending on the practice, one is not limited to just imagined images, as I have been taught it, there is sound, there is even smell and feeling involved. It really comes to life!
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby BFS » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:55 pm

A link to a site endorsed by the Dalai Lama, with some further information on visualization meditation, that you may find helpful.


As the twenty first century progresses, the Internet is becoming an increasingly more widespread and important medium for the global sharing of information. This is true as well for information concerning the Buddhist teachings, its history, and various other topics related to Tibetan culture. Especially in places where books and qualified teachers are rare, the Internet has become the main source of information for countless people.

In a world in which misunderstanding and sectarianism are commonplace, education is the most powerful means to eliminate the ignorance that fuels discord. I therefore welcome Dr. Alexander Berzin's multi-language website, http://www.berzinarchives.com, as a valuable educational tool for making globally available online a vast array of articles spanning the various schools and aspects of Buddhism and Tibetan culture.



http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/advanced/tantra/level1_getting_started/visualization.html
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:58 pm

BFS wrote:Visualization meditation has nothing to do with vision, as in eye consciousness. It is the mental consciousness that is used. Because we use mental consciousness, and not eye consciousness, depending on the practice, one is not limited to just imagined images, there is sound, there is even smell and feeling involved.



Understood. But these visualisations are heavily weighted in favour of the visual, which I find very limited.
It's all imputed anyway, but I have seen no texts or sadhanas which describe the other senses as extensively.
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby BFS » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:04 pm

Even a regular Green Tara sadhana, for example, will describe "her hands as soft as young ivy leaves" - right there you have much more, you have feeling, texture, you have smell, and so on.
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby BFS » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:08 pm

"charnel grounds"

two words

What comes to mind?
The site of chopped up bodies, bones, vultures...sounds of vultures working at bones, feelings of sticky body bits, heat, the smell of the rotting flesh.... and more...much more.

It is all there, in those two words. We just have to really dig into it. In my view of course.
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:15 pm

BFS wrote:A link to a site endorsed by the Dalai Lama, with some further information on visualization meditation, that you may find helpful.


As the twenty first century progresses, the Internet is becoming an increasingly more widespread and important medium for the global sharing of information. This is true as well for information concerning the Buddhist teachings, its history, and various other topics related to Tibetan culture. Especially in places where books and qualified teachers are rare, the Internet has become the main source of information for countless people.

In a world in which misunderstanding and sectarianism are commonplace, education is the most powerful means to eliminate the ignorance that fuels discord. I therefore welcome Dr. Alexander Berzin's multi-language website, http://www.berzinarchives.com, as a valuable educational tool for making globally available online a vast array of articles spanning the various schools and aspects of Buddhism and Tibetan culture.



http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/advanced/tantra/level1_getting_started/visualization.html



Yes, I know Berzin's site well.

And yet sadhanas describe for us in great detail the visual aspects we are to imagine, but not the smells etc. which we also imagine.
I understand that 'visualisation' is a poor term for it, and that it incorporates all those other senses, but in reality, the 'visual' is sometimes all that is described.

''At this point we are to imagine ourselves entering the mandala (of deity X) and we see the deity on a throne supported by 4 garudas with etc etc.'' But not that ''we experience the scent of sandalwood incense .............and feel a strong sensation of warmth radiating from the Hum at the deity's heart''. I made that up, but I hope it conveys what I mean, the paucity of other sensory advice.

For such it is: we are guided in what we are to 'see' but rarely what we are to smell, taste, touch etc.

The Green Tara example is a rarity, but I'm pleased there are some. If only all sadhanas led self-generation as a full sensory experience, replete with guidance on what all the senses should be feeling, and not just what we see.

I wondered if there was a reason for this, aside from the Hindu legacy of 'darshan' and its emphasis on 'seeing' the deity eye to eye. So far, whilst I understand that there are mantras, seed syllables etc, there is no overt guidance on other sensory aspects as there is with the visual aspects of the 'visualisations'.
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby BFS » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:38 pm

So far, whilst I understand that there are mantras, seed syllables etc, there is no overt guidance on other sensory aspects as there is with the visual aspects of the 'visualisations'.


I respect your view, even though I have to say that I have not shared your experience. The Green Tara sadhana was not unique - right at the start of the Chenresig Sadhana - there is the sound of a rain falling, there is the sweet taste of the nectar, there is the sound of hungry ghosts, and so on....

The third hand is in the gesture of giving realizations and from it a rain of nectar falls, curing the hunger and thirst of the hungry ghosts


I seem to be fortunate enough to be able to find plenty to work with. If not in the sadhana itself, then in the commentaries and guidance given by my teachers, most precious of all.
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Blue Garuda » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:53 pm

BFS wrote:
So far, whilst I understand that there are mantras, seed syllables etc, there is no overt guidance on other sensory aspects as there is with the visual aspects of the 'visualisations'.


I respect your view, even though I have to say that I have not shared your experience. The Green Tara sadhana was not unique - right at the start of the Chenresig Sadhana - there is the sound of a rain falling, there is the sweet taste of the nectar, there is the sound of hungry ghosts, and so on....

The third hand is in the gesture of giving realizations and from it a rain of nectar falls, curing the hunger and thirst of the hungry ghosts


I seem to be fortunate enough to be able to find plenty to work with. If not in the sadhana itself, then in the commentaries and guidance given by my teachers, most precious of all.


I'm delighted that you have found some examples, and I really do wish there were more. I haven't encountered Green Tara or Chenrezig empowerments on my path, so I'm grateful for that insight. :)
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:16 am

Yeshe wrote:Thank you all.

I am familiar with the sounds described,in terms of mantras, seed syllables etc., but that's not really what I meant.

As an example, I was wondering why, for example, the charnel grounds are not described in terms of sound. It would normally be rare in a description to give only a visual description of such a rich sensory subject.

I have, of course, received the empowerments and commentaries, and read other texts widely , but none explains what appears to be a convention of providing no (or very little) information on sound, smell, etc. - which in the example I gave of the charnel grounds are very powerful aspects of the impression created on the mind. Any visitor to an Indian charnel ground would attest to the power of smell and sound if describing the nature of these places.


*
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Laurazen » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:32 am

Lovely, Pema :twothumbsup:
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Blue Garuda » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:20 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
Yeshe wrote:Thank you all.

I am familiar with the sounds described,in terms of mantras, seed syllables etc., but that's not really what I meant.

As an example, I was wondering why, for example, the charnel grounds are not described in terms of sound. It would normally be rare in a description to give only a visual description of such a rich sensory subject.

I have, of course, received the empowerments and commentaries, and read other texts widely , but none explains what appears to be a convention of providing no (or very little) information on sound, smell, etc. - which in the example I gave of the charnel grounds are very powerful aspects of the impression created on the mind. Any visitor to an Indian charnel ground would attest to the power of smell and sound if describing the nature of these places.



Quote deleted at author's request--edited by Laura


I agree with what you say, as this chimes with what I have been taught and experienced. In the case of the charnel grounds, I was mulling over how they are descibed as part of description of the HYT mandala of Vajrayogini, but trying to clumsily avoid going into detail.

I think there may be a need for a different vocabulary here. Even at the end of your post you use the words 'looking at them' and place the eye sense at the top of the heap again. It is difficult to avoid the terminology of the eye sense.

I would prefer, instead of 'visualisation' a word which would work for a 'mental observation or exercise', but not obviously 'imagination' as we are back to image again.

And where you use the words 'looking at' I would opt for 'examining' or 'exploring' or even, as you say, 'experiencing'.

In a a sense the sadhana is a 'revelation' which we receive and absorb, and react towards.

I'm no Sanskrit scholar, but I am assuming the word 'visualisation' was arrived at through a close translation. Perhaps there is an alternative translation of the Sanskrit original.

I see two possibilities:

If the vast majority of what is described is visual, then 'visualisation' is a fair way to describe it, and again I am still wondering how this became so, with other senses very much in the background.

If, however, there are many examples of sadhanas describing what we are to smell, touch and taste etc. then I welcome that, and would look to understand it as something quite different from a 'visual-isation'. In this case, I think your word 'experience' fits the bill very well, as it encompasses both observation and reaction to what is described.


If it is 'in front' generation, then we still observe and react, so it is still something for us to 'experience'; in self-generation it is more overtly so, as we are active within it. 'Experience' it is, then, in my current thinking. ;)
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Re: No Sound in Visualisations ?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Dec 17, 2009 6:54 am

Yeshe,

The word visualize refers exclusively to a function of the mental consciousness, which is the only consciousness that can conceptualize. The eye consciousness is utterly non-conceptual and can only inform the mental consciousness with raw visual data by way of the eyes. Only the mental consciousness has the ability to mentally elaborate on this visual data. So, whether we're talking about visual, olfactory, taste, auditory, or tactile experiences in sadhanas, were using the word "visualize" to mean "bring to mind."

Also, when I spoke of "looking nakedly at thoughts," since thoughts don't have any color, size, shape, etc, they can't be seen by the visual consciousness, so to say "looking at them" only means "directing one's attention to them," which can be done because the mental consciousness can observe it's own mental events.

In the end, I think this issue of misunderstanding what is meant by visualizing in the context of a sadhana is a perfect example of the necessity of a relationship with a qualified vajra master. This topic can be a very subtle one and requires the expert input of such a master. Whenever possible, I especially feel that often just being present in the same space, in a one on one interview type situation with the lama when receiving such an explanation can cause a much more nuanced understanding to come about. I don't think it's necessarily due to something mystical because there's something about face to face, one on one communication between humans in general that text or audio recordings often can't convey. There's something about seeing the facial expressions, hand gestures, and just being tuned into the same channel so to speak, that facilitates much more.
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