Can we ever really understand consciousness?

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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby adinatha » Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:47 pm

padma norbu wrote:Well, that's weird because then you would be saying the experience with the lights in thogyal are not really true experiences, wouldn't you?


They are not conditioned by externals. They are self-arising appearances. But they are indeed not true experiences. If you have this mind of a true appearance, then you are grasping at appearances as real and you cannot attain liberation. These, appearances would be the cause of a samsaric birth. Just like the three fundamentals of rigpa are emptiness, clarity and bliss; but if you grasp these appearances as real, you will have formed the cause for a samsaric birth.

padma norbu wrote:After all, aren't the essences of the elements the lights which we can experience and know firsthand in order to get a grasp on this kind of thing and validate it through our own experiential awareness? Or does this experience not exactly clarify the elemental nature of material reality... in which case I am wondering what knowledge one would gain from such an experience.


At some level, these "lights" are not light. They are appearances with a basis in the physical body. Like when you press on your eyes, you see lights. You have to recognize these "lights" are not external to you. And, you have to remain in the rigpa basis that is empty, nonarising, mere appearance.

These lights are useful to a practitioner of dharma for the following reason. Though they are not truly real, they are unconditioned. Meaning, they are pure. Working with pure appearances, according to Mahayana is only possible for an 8th Bhumi bodhisattva or higher. So a method of working with pure appearances is like entering a time warp and crossing eons of time to arrive at a very high level of practice. Hence the translation of Thogal as "directly crossing," or "crossing over."
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby adinatha » Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:13 pm

padma norbu wrote:First all, your explanation sounds more Kabballist and Aleister Crowley-ish than any Buddhist or Dzogchen text I've ever read. Crowley said the same thing about consciousness; giving the example of the attraction and repulsion in molecular structures being very primitive aspects of awareness and evolving to great complexity. In fact, I can't see any difference in what you're saying because the Kabballist/Crowleyan perspective is that all wisdom exists in potential form only until it is manifested through the elements and made real at the earth/physical level of Malkuth through which we accumulate Knowledge which is eventually surpassed when we gain Wisdom and Understanding which essentially occurs simultaneously with the recognition of The Source, which is simultaneously our real nature and beyond egoist concerns or duality misperception. Prior to manifestation, however, it all exists as possibilities and potential only; there is no manifestation, no knowledge, no wisdom and no understanding... and so, The Source, never knows itself.


That's very interesting, except there's no "Source," aside from dependency. Vidya is liberation. Vidya is recognizing the fundamental nature of awareness, not developing it. For me and most buddhists, the greater complexity of matter and consciousness is akin to a cancer cell. When we have yet to know this fundamental awareness, then there is all kinds of consciousnesses. When we know this fundamental awareness, then all that is left behind, and we enter the vast hall of mirror-like awareness where omniscience is.

But, I am not putting words in your mouth. I realize that you didn't say all of that. What you did say is that consciousness evolves from physical interactions: "The awareness-like attractions and repulsions are co-emergent with each other and so physical energy co-emerges. You string trillions of these functions together and you get a conscious being. A buddha is not a conscious."

Secondly, if a buddha is not conscious, not sentient, then how can Amithaba or Tara help us? How can Manjushri impart any wisdom to us when we do Mo divination, for example? What does Namkhai Norbu mean when he says that being in our real nature does not mean we will not have any thoughts?


Think what do they "do" to "help," all your obscurations are in your own mind. They are not out there. It's like standing before the Great Pyramid at Giza and having an epiphany, "wow, humans are amazing." The pyramid didn't tell you that. How do you contact Tara? By visualizing. Tara just symbolizes mindfulness. Manjushri also means "youthful" and is a symbol for the momentary awareness that's self-pure. When you "pray to Manjushri" you are only trying to see your own nature. When we see our own nature of course everything is happening including thoughts and appearances are natural to the natural state. It's free like a flowing river. But at some point, there are no thoughts. Buddha is not thinking about you.

You see? If consciousness evolves from complex "trillions" of tiny awareness-like attractions and repulsions, as you are saying, than how does any of this make sense? We are not shooting for the consciousness of a rock. We are not losing our ability to think. Namkhai Norbu has made this point many times as have other teachers. So then, am I to believe based on what you've said that Buddhas are not conscious, not sentient, but based on what these teachers have said that I will eventually obtain Buddhahood while remaining conscious and sentient? Because we still have thoughts; the point is not to lose thoughts, we always have thoughts.


A buddha doesn't grasp at cognition. That's why a buddha is free. There's no thinking in a buddha; there are only the five wisdoms.

That is what this thread is about, actually. That is the entire point of this thread is examining this teaching that I have heard several times: we will always have thoughts, we are not trying to stop thoughts. The mind has rest and movement and both are natural. We do not want to become like the frozen monks with their rock consciousness that the Chinese slashed up while they sat there frozen in meditation.


You should not stop thoughts or appearances on the path. Stopping thoughts is the poison of aversion, and is a samsaric mode. But when you attain enlightenment you will not have thoughts. Thoughts will naturally not happen. A buddha has no skandhas. That he has only the very primitive awarenesses is why buddha is omniscient. This level is not attached to any limitation. But there are they reflections in the mirror. The mirror is not someone. Thieves can't take anything from an empty house.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby padma norbu » Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:41 pm

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche explained the yiddam as a "carbon copy" of the deity in your own make-up. Several other teachers have explained that the deity exists in the same way we do, as empty appearances, and that under no circumstances should we think of the deity as just a symbol or not really existing. The buddhas are not figments of our imagination. When we contact them, we make contact in the same way we make contact with all other empty appearances: by creating the causes and conditions for that perceptual experience to occur. Cessation means the end of samsara, but not the end of thoughts or appearances; it means the end to clinging to the appearances.

In light of all of this, I'm not sure what the point of your last few posts were or how close we are to answering the initial question, but it has been an interesting conversation nevertheless.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby adinatha » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:05 pm

padma norbu wrote:Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche explained the yiddam as a "carbon copy" of the deity in your own make-up. Several other teachers have explained that the deity exists in the same way we do, as empty appearances, and that under no circumstances should we think of the deity as just a symbol or not really existing.


The image is just a symbol. Your body, speech and mind is the deity.

The buddhas are not figments of our imagination. When we contact them, we make contact in the same way we make contact with all other empty appearances: by creating the causes and conditions for that perceptual experience to occur. Cessation means the end of samsara, but not the end of thoughts or appearances; it means the end to clinging to the appearances.


Buddhas are not figmants of our imagination, true. Your mind is the buddha. That's the point. Buddhas don't have thoughts. Thoughts and appearances are in time, and buddha is not. The appearance of a form of a buddha in a sentient being's mind is a deluded perception. Buddha is not form.

In light of all of this, I'm not sure what the point of your last few posts were or how close we are to answering the initial question, but it has been an interesting conversation nevertheless.


I'm responding to what you are saying. It seems you are conflating fundamental awareness and the skandha of consciousness. The skandha of consciousness is very easy to understand how it arises. Fundamental awareness has no origin. Buddha does not have skandhas. Skandhas are samsaric. A buddha has five wisdoms.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby adinatha » Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:16 pm

It seems the question you are really pondering is where does the fundamental base awareness come from? Easy. Nowhere. It is totally beyond elaboration. It is space-like in nature. Totally ineffible. Then, when three poisons are present, we can "say" this is where everything comes from. But how it goes is kind of beyond the reach of buddhist thought so far. The dharmadhatu is the base. Is it space or mind? Is it both or neither? Now we are in the realm of the fundamental nature of nirvana. If you have an answer, "the dharmadhatu is this...," then you have planted a center point from which all directions emerge. If you have directions, you have going. If you have going, you have wind and consciousness. If you have wind, you have heat, then liquidity and solidity, skandhas, dhatus and ayatanas and 12 nidanas. This is how samsaric consciousness arises in the buddhist context. If your mind has no center or boundary, you are in nirvana's pure land, and all these developed things undevelop.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby username » Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:16 am

Ancient quest in India and then Greece for the smallest indivisible particle coined the term atom. Over a century ago scientists thought the current atomic level was 'it'. Of course the scientists who claimed to have discovered all were idiots as usual and soon sub-atomic particles, electrons neutrons protons, were discovered now more levels, quarks etc. When ancient texts, Indian Chinese Greek Arabic Renaissance, say 'atom' it does not mean current atomic definition defined in the 19th century but the smallest indivisible particle. Abhidharma should not be taken %100 literally but it is largely correct.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby padma norbu » Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:30 am

adinatha wrote:It seems the question you are really pondering is where does the fundamental base awareness come from? Easy. Nowhere. It is totally beyond elaboration. It is space-like in nature. Totally ineffible. Then, when three poisons are present, we can "say" this is where everything comes from. But how it goes is kind of beyond the reach of buddhist thought so far. The dharmadhatu is the base. Is it space or mind? Is it both or neither? Now we are in the realm of the fundamental nature of nirvana. If you have an answer, "the dharmadhatu is this...," then you have planted a center point from which all directions emerge. If you have directions, you have going. If you have going, you have wind and consciousness. If you have wind, you have heat, then liquidity and solidity, skandhas, dhatus and ayatanas and 12 nidanas. This is how samsaric consciousness arises in the buddhist context. If your mind has no center or boundary, you are in nirvana's pure land, and all these developed things undevelop.


Well, that would probably be a better question to ponder, but the actual question I was pondering was the one which I said I'd given up thinking about before. It seems I was right in my initial post and since then we have had a lot of talk about confusing ourselves about what we mean.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby padma norbu » Mon Jun 13, 2011 1:30 am

adinatha wrote:The image is just a symbol. Your body, speech and mind is the deity.

...Buddhas are not figmants of our imagination, true. Your mind is the buddha. That's the point. Buddhas don't have thoughts. Thoughts and appearances are in time, and buddha is not. The appearance of a form of a buddha in a sentient being's mind is a deluded perception. Buddha is not form.


Either the lamas and the texts are wrong or you are wrong. My mind is not the Buddha because I am suffering in samsara. Buddha is not suffering in samsara. Buddha means "awake" and I am not awake.

My karmic vision is created by my mind. Under layers of obscuration, I have Buddha Nature. Not understanding Buddha Nature creates this karmic vision.

On top of this, my teachers have also said that the Buddhas are real beings in the same way that we are real beings and we should not just consider them aspects of ourselves like Jungian archetypes or something. There is not one particle of solidity and they are ultimately empty, but they are real, enlightened beings. We are not. Arya Tara is real, she will really come to help us if we call upon her. It is not just that we are playing a game with ourselves and creating a symbol, giving it our attention and imbuing it with the power to help us like some sort of servitor. If you believe that is what's going on here, you might be interested to know that is also Kabballist thought and the basic idea behind magick in the Western Mystery Tradition. It is not, however, anything I have ever heard from my teachers.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby adinatha » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:00 am

padma norbu wrote:
adinatha wrote:The image is just a symbol. Your body, speech and mind is the deity.

...Buddhas are not figmants of our imagination, true. Your mind is the buddha. That's the point. Buddhas don't have thoughts. Thoughts and appearances are in time, and buddha is not. The appearance of a form of a buddha in a sentient being's mind is a deluded perception. Buddha is not form.


Either the lamas and the texts are wrong or you are wrong. My mind is not the Buddha because I am suffering in samsara. Buddha is not suffering in samsara. Buddha means "awake" and I am not awake.


You are wrong. The skandhas, dhatus and ayatanas are the deity. That's what the tantras say, and what the gurus teach.

On top of this, my teachers have also said that the Buddhas are real beings in the same way that we are real beings and we should not just consider them aspects of ourselves like Jungian archetypes or something. There is not one particle of solidity and they are ultimately empty, but they are real, enlightened beings. We are not. Arya Tara is real, she will really come to help us if we call upon her. It is not just that we are playing a game with ourselves and creating a symbol, giving it our attention and imbuing it with the power to help us like some sort of servitor. If you believe that is what's going on here, you might be interested to know that is also Kabballist thought and the basic idea behind magick in the Western Mystery Tradition. It is not, however, anything I have ever heard from my teachers.


My lama says what I said. The Buddha is your mind. Perhaps on a relative deluded level there is appearance of requesting and coming to help. But it is really just your mental projection. I know NNR says to consider buddhas as beings out there. That's not correct. I would have to agree to disagree on that point. A buddha is not a being.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby Vajrahridaya » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:18 am

adinatha wrote:
At some level, these "lights" are not light. They are appearances with a basis in the physical body.


They are the radiance's of elements, they are the elements on formless levels. They arise at the same time as the formless levels of consciousness. They are not the same things you see when you push your eyes, that's physical stuff. The pure lights are on a less gross dimension of awareness.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby padma norbu » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:30 am

adinatha wrote:
padma norbu wrote:
adinatha wrote:The image is just a symbol. Your body, speech and mind is the deity.

...Buddhas are not figmants of our imagination, true. Your mind is the buddha. That's the point. Buddhas don't have thoughts. Thoughts and appearances are in time, and buddha is not. The appearance of a form of a buddha in a sentient being's mind is a deluded perception. Buddha is not form.


Either the lamas and the texts are wrong or you are wrong. My mind is not the Buddha because I am suffering in samsara. Buddha is not suffering in samsara. Buddha means "awake" and I am not awake.


You are wrong. The skandhas, dhatus and ayatanas are the deity. That's what the tantras say, and what the gurus teach.


LOL, I know you are but what am I?
They are part of the Buddha Nature; Buddha means "awakened one" as in a realized being. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche explains it all in-depth here: http://www.gomde.dk/pages/interviews/tu ... -lamas.htm

Many, including Zen teachers, say "YOU are the BUDDHA!" but that is a really incomplete thought sure to confuse. It makes a point, but the point is incomplete.

adinatha wrote:I know NNR says to consider buddhas as beings out there. That's not correct. I would have to agree to disagree on that point. A buddha is not a being.


That's also what Lama Tsering Everest and Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche taught, what Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and many others have taught. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche said "The difference between buddhas and sentient beings is the difference between knowing or not knowing our innate nature." This goes back to my first point about Buddha meaning "awakened."
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:43 am

My limited understanding is that although we talk about 'consciousness' as being one single thing, it is actually not a thing, but a lot of events going on at the same time, very very quickly. So, you have to have causes and conditions for these events to occur, or else they won't.

The brain is made up of chemicals...salts and acids and water and so forth. From what I have heard, minerals cannot spontaneously begin thinking. So, while there is nothing in the physical makeup of the brain that can cause a thought, the brain provides a very suitable environment for the causes of thought to be 'reflected' so that they appear as something we call consciousness, or, as I prefer 'cognitive awareness' meaning that there is some action of witnessing what goes on in the physical brain...the light that comes into the eyes, the air molecules that beat against the ear drum, and of course, dreams.

As an analogy, suppose there is a full moon at night, set against a perfectly black night sky. We know that the moon is reflecting photons, or light particles, which radiate from the Sun. usually, people say that the moon reflects light from the Sun, but this is not really the case, because what we rarely consider is that, streaming all around the moon in that pitch black sky are just as many, and more, electrons. They don't actually appear as 'light' until they bounce off the moon. We don't see them because they are not being reflected by anything (well, technically they are, but we can't see that, and this is just an analogy). Futher, they don't appear as light to us until they go into our eyeballs, and are interpreted as 'light' by our cognitive awareness.

What I understand is, that the causes of cognitive awareness, the activity which becomes thoughts in our minds, includes everything, and I think this can be called dharmata and it some situations, as dharmakaya when it is clearly reflected without any distortion as Buddha. I am really bad with terms, so I do not mind being corrected on this.

What I understand is that through interdependent arising and karma, different types of beings arise, such as animals and humans, and hungry ghosts, etc. and that they all experience the same basic dharmata, but what they experience differs due to the fact that the 'environment' meaning the mind of each type of being has different sorts of obscurations and what they experience is merely a projection of their own minds, and if you want to get down to it, what they are as 'physical' beings is also a projection of the mind.

So, for example, while a dog and a human might each experience an encounter with freshly tilled soil, the experience will be totally different because the dog smells a million more things in the soil than the human does. The various conditions which have come together to produce a dog also provide the ideal environment for hearing like a dog, and being able to smell things the way a dog does.

So, while all of my understanding may in fact be a lot of misunderstanding, the point is that what we call "consciousness" arises from the interaction of continuously changing conditions, and that the various causes of consciousness do not appear as consciousness, or thought, or perception, or as dreams, until all the right conditions come together.

Now, as far as "what actually witnesses this coming together of events?" I think I used to know, but I forgot.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby adinatha » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:46 am

Vajrahridaya wrote:
adinatha wrote:
At some level, these "lights" are not light. They are appearances with a basis in the physical body.


They are the radiance's of elements, they are the elements on formless levels. They arise at the same time as the formless levels of consciousness. They are not the same things you see when you push your eyes, that's physical stuff. The pure lights are on a less gross dimension of awareness.


I realize that is the explanation. I was just using a convenient example
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby padma norbu » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:46 am

"Now I will give a name to our buddha nature. It is called empty and cognizant self-existing wakefulness. The empty aspect, the essence, is like space that pervades everywhere. But inseparable from this empty quality is a natural capacity to cognize and perceive, which is basic wakefulness. Buddha nature is called self-existing because it is not made out of anything or created by anyone. Self-existing means not created by causes in the beginning and not destroyed by circumstances in the end. This self-existing wakefulness is present in all beings without a single exception. Our thinking and self-existing wakefulness are never apart. The thinking mind is called expression, while the basic wakefulness is called essence. Thus there are actually two names for the mind. In the case of an ignorant sentient being the mind is called empty cognizance suffused with ignorance (marigpa). The mind of all the buddhas is called empty cognizance suffused with awareness (rigpa).
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:50 am

padma norbu wrote:"Now I will give a name to our buddha nature.
It is called empty and cognizant self-existing wakefulness....... "

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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby adinatha » Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:56 am

padma norbu wrote:
adinatha wrote:
padma norbu wrote:Either the lamas and the texts are wrong or you are wrong. My mind is not the Buddha because I am suffering in samsara. Buddha is not suffering in samsara. Buddha means "awake" and I am not awake.


You are wrong. The skandhas, dhatus and ayatanas are the deity. That's what the tantras say, and what the gurus teach.


LOL, I know you are but what am I?
They are part of the Buddha Nature; Buddha means "awakened one" as in a realized being. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche explains it all in-depth here: http://www.gomde.dk/pages/interviews/tu ... -lamas.htm

Many, including Zen teachers, say "YOU are the BUDDHA!" but that is a really incomplete thought sure to confuse. It makes a point, but the point is incomplete.

adinatha wrote:I know NNR says to consider buddhas as beings out there. That's not correct. I would have to agree to disagree on that point. A buddha is not a being.


That's also what Lama Tsering Everest and Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche taught, what Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and many others have taught. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche said "The difference between buddhas and sentient beings is the difference between knowing or not knowing our innate nature." This goes back to my first point about Buddha meaning "awakened."


People say a lot of things. Check out a tantras: skandhas, dhatus and ayatanas is the deity. It is a very common intro line in every deity yoga sadhana.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby adinatha » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:06 am

I skimmed that Tulku Urgyen passage:
Development stage means to mentally create or imagine the form of the buddhas. Even though visualization is at this point an artificial construct, a mentally fabricated act, still it is an imitation that resembles what is already present in ourselves. Until we are able to practice the ultimate development stage, we need to visualize or mentally create pure images in order to approach that absolute state.


We are not saying different things. Somehow you are understanding it to mean the buddhas travel from their pure lands to inhabit your body. I dunno :shrug:
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby padma norbu » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:08 am

adinatha wrote:People say a lot of things. Check out a tantras: skandhas, dhatus and ayatanas is the deity. It is a very common intro line in every deity yoga sadhana.


They sure do. And some of the things I hear most often are:
• the two words "enlightened beings" to describe the Buddhas
• the description "empty cognizance suffused with awareness" to describe rigpa
• that Buddha Nature is self-existing and that Buddhas are deathless
• that Buddhas are real beings, enlightened beings, whose compassionate commitment is reliable without fail, not servitors or archetypes of one's own mind.

Check that out. You can find it in pretty much any Mahayana, Vajrayana or Dzogchen book ever written.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby padma norbu » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:12 am

adinatha wrote:I skimmed that Tulku Urgyen passage:
Development stage means to mentally create or imagine the form of the buddhas. Even though visualization is at this point an artificial construct, a mentally fabricated act, still it is an imitation that resembles what is already present in ourselves. Until we are able to practice the ultimate development stage, we need to visualize or mentally create pure images in order to approach that absolute state.


We are not saying different things. Somehow you are understanding it to mean the buddhas travel from their pure lands to inhabit your body. I dunno :shrug:


Again: nope. Remember what I said about Urgyen's use of the term "carbon copies?" Well, yeah, you might want to re-read that. He also said the Buddhas are enlightened beings, empty cognizance infused with awareness, compassionate beings committed to helping deluded beings and that the difference between a Buddha and a deluded being is knowing his real nature. So, plenty of things that are different from what you've said and somehow you are not understanding that.
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Re: Can we ever really understand consciousness?

Postby adinatha » Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:37 am

padma norbu wrote:
adinatha wrote:People say a lot of things. Check out a tantras: skandhas, dhatus and ayatanas is the deity. It is a very common intro line in every deity yoga sadhana.


They sure do. And some of the things I hear most often are:
• the two words "enlightened beings" to describe the Buddhas
• the description "empty cognizance suffused with awareness" to describe rigpa
• that Buddha Nature is self-existing and that Buddhas are deathless
• that Buddhas are real beings, enlightened beings, whose compassionate commitment is reliable without fail, not servitors or archetypes of one's own mind.

Check that out. You can find it in pretty much any Mahayana, Vajrayana or Dzogchen book ever written.


That's all fine and dandy. I never said buddhas were servitors or archetypes of one's own mind. I said the deity yoga is an image; ultimately it is one's own skandhas, etc..., and then you realize all that is emptiness. When one is in a lineage, the dharmaphalas help out, for example. This arises by interdependent connection. Ultimate interdependence is one's own realization of emptiness. The helping and the realization are the same direction, one's own mind. When you are in the realization of Mahamudra or rigpa, that creates the interdependence of all success. You can't read that in a book.
CAW!
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