Deities

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Deities

Postby beautiful breath » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:06 am

Hi, can someone tell me how Deities exist? A blunt question but after man y years studying in the Tibetan Tradition I still struggle with how some can speak of Deities as if they have an independent existence - then in the next breath explain how they're as empty as anything else.

My experience of phenomena is that conventional truths appear to my mind and are valid appearances. I have no such experience of Deities other than a Generic image that I liken to the ones I have of Tolkien characters. PLEASE don't be offended by that statement its meant literal not glib.

BB...
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Re: Deities

Postby Steveyboy » Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:27 pm

beautiful breath wrote:Hi, can someone tell me how Deities exist? A blunt question but after man y years studying in the Tibetan Tradition I still struggle with how some can speak of Deities as if they have an independent existence - then in the next breath explain how they're as empty as anything else.

My experience of phenomena is that conventional truths appear to my mind and are valid appearances. I have no such experience of Deities other than a Generic image that I liken to the ones I have of Tolkien characters. PLEASE don't be offended by that statement its meant literal not glib.

BB...


The pantheon of deities exists because they represent the practitioners of the distant past have realized Buddhahood and manifests in these forms to benefit sentient beings. According to the King of Prayers, one of the abilities of the Buddha is the 'Power of Magical Emanation' and that means the Buddhas can manifest in countless forms simultaneously to benefit us. Many of the pantheon of Buddhas like Manjushri, Chenrezig, Tara and so forth have appeared to yogis and great masters of the past and they have recorded it down as sadhanas so we can propitiate them for a particular result or blessing. Their appearance is not arbitrary and when visualized correctly, it will have a certain blessing/effect upon our mind. I hope this little explanation answered your question.
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Re: Deities

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:35 pm

They are as real as we are.

They are as unreal as we are.

Decide for yourself if they would exist if you were not able to think about them, because nobody here can tell you.. LOL :)
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Re: Deities

Postby heart » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:21 pm

beautiful breath wrote:Hi, can someone tell me how Deities exist? A blunt question but after man y years studying in the Tibetan Tradition I still struggle with how some can speak of Deities as if they have an independent existence - then in the next breath explain how they're as empty as anything else.

My experience of phenomena is that conventional truths appear to my mind and are valid appearances. I have no such experience of Deities other than a Generic image that I liken to the ones I have of Tolkien characters. PLEASE don't be offended by that statement its meant literal not glib.

BB...


The deities are the Buddhas communicating with us. The exist or not exist question is a bit misplaced unless it is put like this: Do you believe there are Buddhas BB?

/magnus
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Re: Deities

Postby TaTa » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:27 pm

What do you think of shinzen young view of "deity yoga"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WtPrOE1JSk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_VizlDWcTA
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Re: Deities

Postby futerko » Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:41 am

TaTa wrote:What do you think of shinzen young view of "deity yoga"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WtPrOE1JSk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_VizlDWcTA


Seems quite self-centred...

beautiful breath wrote:My experience of phenomena is that conventional truths appear to my mind and are valid appearances.


I'm not sure what you mean by valid here. At some point there's a kind of Copernican turn where the Earth still appears central because that's the place from where we are looking, even though we know we are actually orbiting the Sun. Similarly with phenomena, when we start to see them as a part of the wider whole, and our selves as a part of that too, its aspect changes despite still appearing the same.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Deities

Postby TaTa » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:24 am

By the way sory to the creator of this thread for posting my own doubts in your thread.

I liked shinzen views, but it seems "incomplete". Though i dont practice deity yoga and im just talking out of curiosity.
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Re: Deities

Postby lobster » Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:25 am

There are levels of experience and understanding. :yinyang:
During the practice with a yidam or deity one visualises to the extent of
ones ability.
Father Christmas may seem very real if no one ever allows
you to grow up. In some cultures the deities become more real
because of this enhanced into adult hood faith.
For those taking up the practice as adults, we have to become
more child like . . . :jumping:

So the deity can also be seen as an externalistion or projection of
ideals we wish to accentuate (it is difficult for the mind to understand
abstactions - far easier to personify them) :twothumbsup:

Do the forces we evoke and entangle with have
a component of external to us existence in a
mind stream, archetype or some such? :popcorn:

Most involved in practice would from experience
say yes. How is this possible? :reading:
That is something that we do not yet
have a plausible scientific or pschological answer for . . . :shrug:

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Re: Deities

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:58 am

The complication arises because you see yourself as somehow existing (we all do) and the "reality" of a deity or yidam is being made in comparison to that.

So, that is how the question arises, like, "are they just metaphors or are they real the way you and I are real?"
The best answer i think, or at least maybe and perhaps the most accurate is that they are no more real than you are.

In may limited experience, the more you do visualization practice, the less you tend solidify your own existence.
You break out of that habitual tendency.
At some point, I think, you realize that you are just as much a figment of your imagination as are your visualizations.
At that point you can say, "yes, they are just as real as I am".

Does this make sense?
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Re: Deities

Postby tomamundsen » Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:11 am

My understanding is that they are just as real as you and I are. These deities are samboghakaya phenomena and as such are imperceptible to those below a certain bhumi (I forget which, but I believe its somewhere from 5-8). I have been taught that the practices don't work unless you have strong faith in their existence. It might be hard for westerners to accept, but it does seem to be much more effective when, for example, you really believe that Vajrasattva is above your head purifying your negative karma. However, I am not conditioned by Gelug views, but Nyingma.
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Re: Deities

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:17 am

The example of Father Christmas (Santa) was mentioned.
this non-existent person causes millions of kids great difficulty in falling asleep on Christmas eve.
How can something which does not exist produce an effect?

after nearly 30 years in vajrayana, I don't know what I really think about them,
but I know that I have had many... what you would call experiences or situations as a result of relating to yidams as real externally cognizant beings, experiences that any skeptic might write off, but were still, to my thinking, rather unusual (and i myself am very skeptical).

To Quote Prof. Dumbledore:
"Just because it's in your head, doesn't mean it isn't real."
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: Deities

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:19 am

tomamundsen wrote:My understanding is that they are just as real as you and I are. I have been taught that the practices don't work unless you have strong faith in their existence. It might be hard for westerners to accept, but it does seem to be much more effective when, for example, you really believe that Vajrasattva is above your head purifying your negative karma.However, I am not conditioned by Gelug views, but Nyingma.


Doesn't "just as real" suggest some reality of a self?
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: Deities

Postby tomamundsen » Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:26 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:My understanding is that they are just as real as you and I are. I have been taught that the practices don't work unless you have strong faith in their existence. It might be hard for westerners to accept, but it does seem to be much more effective when, for example, you really believe that Vajrasattva is above your head purifying your negative karma.However, I am not conditioned by Gelug views, but Nyingma.


Doesn't "just as real" suggest some reality of a self?

Only if you read it that way. I'm speaking from the perspective of relative truth.
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Re: Deities

Postby Nighthawk » Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:30 am

tomamundsen wrote:My understanding is that they are just as real as you and I are. These deities are samboghakaya phenomena and as such are imperceptible to those below a certain bhumi (I forget which, but I believe its somewhere from 5-8). I have been taught that the practices don't work unless you have strong faith in their existence. It might be hard for westerners to accept, but it does seem to be much more effective when, for example, you really believe that Vajrasattva is above your head purifying your negative karma. However, I am not conditioned by Gelug views, but Nyingma.

How is it that these dieties are perceivable to someone on high bhumi stages but also for the average joe who only has faith in them?
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Re: Deities

Postby tomamundsen » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:29 am

Nighthawk wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:My understanding is that they are just as real as you and I are. These deities are samboghakaya phenomena and as such are imperceptible to those below a certain bhumi (I forget which, but I believe its somewhere from 5-8). I have been taught that the practices don't work unless you have strong faith in their existence. It might be hard for westerners to accept, but it does seem to be much more effective when, for example, you really believe that Vajrasattva is above your head purifying your negative karma. However, I am not conditioned by Gelug views, but Nyingma.

How is it that these dieties are perceivable to someone on high bhumi stages but also for the average joe who only has faith in them?

They aren't perceptible to those under bhumi X, but the practices can be effective if you have faith. I am new to tantra, also not sure about which teachings I know are technically derived from restricted texts. But my intuition is that because the Sambhogakaya manifests at the energy level, it can be interacted with through the energetic feeling of devotion and mantra recitation. This kind of stuff only makes sense through an experiential POV.
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Re: Deities

Postby heart » Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:10 am

TaTa wrote:What do you think of shinzen young view of "deity yoga"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WtPrOE1JSk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_VizlDWcTA


Well, it isn't all wrong but it is a bit shallow and certainly you can't just pick any archetype you want make in to a Yidam. The Yidam have to be intimately connected with the lineage of transmission of realization of the natural state (Buddha nature) to have any effect.

As the "rdo rje sems dpa'i zhus lan" (Questions and answers on Vajrasattva) a very early Mahayoga text found in Dunhuang says:

"Due to a desire for logical understanding of Mahayoga, the supreme system,
The student asked the spiritual guide
About doubts appearing in his/her mind.
Following an understanding of reality,
Without contradicting the definitive scriptures,
With intrinsic awareness, [these] verses were composed
To teach according to the way things are.

[Q1] Who is Vajrasattva?

Unproduced, the spontaneously [arising] expanse of primordial wisdom,
Unchanging, indestructible—that is the definition of ‘vajra’.
The Vajrasattva is defined as having acted for the benefit of beings
With a mind of adamantine primordial wisdom."

The reason we don't understand deities is mainly IMO a clinging to our christian upbringing were deities were considered very childish and where the ultimate deity, god, is quite abstract and very formless, this was certainly the trend in Sweden in sixties and seventies when I grow up. So we think formless practice is more sophisticated simply because that is the way we were brought up.

/magnus
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Re: Deities

Postby catmoon » Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:56 pm

Nighthawk wrote:How is it that these dieties are perceivable to someone on high bhumi stages but also for the average joe who only has faith in them?


This phenomenon occurs in all religions. The Catholics see Jesus and saints and angels, the Muslims see Mohammed, the Hindus see Shiva, the Mormons talk to Joseph Smith and he talks to angels who deliver golden plates written with divine messages, and those without belief see UFOs and get abducted.
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Re: Deities

Postby SunRay » Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:59 pm

catmoon wrote:
Nighthawk wrote:How is it that these dieties are perceivable to someone on high bhumi stages but also for the average joe who only has faith in them?


This phenomenon occurs in all religions. The Catholics see Jesus and saints and angels, the Muslims see Mohammed, the Hindus see Shiva, the Mormons talk to Joseph Smith and he talks to angels who deliver golden plates written with divine messages, and those without belief see UFOs and get abducted.


Yes, I believe this is one of so-called esoteric aspects of Buddhism and other religions, as well as spirituality at large. While, from an alternative view point one could assert that one sees what one wishes to see (seek and thou shall find). Or, one could say that this proves that external is reflection of the internal. One Lama for instance taught that Buddhas see Buddhas, Boddhisattvas see Boddhisattvas, Devas see Devas, Hungry Ghosts see Hungry Ghosts, and Demons see Demons... :alien:
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Re: Deities

Postby Steveyboy » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:01 pm

I saw this really neat picture on Tsem Rinpoche's blog and I thought that it is relevant to this thread. It is a picture of a yogi in meditation of his yidam (his personal Buddha). A yidam or deity does not necessarily mean an external physical entity that we are praying too. In the practice of Tantra, we have to internalize this physical form into our mindstream and make our yidam one with it. So that means the physical deity becomes a part of us. That's the main point of Tantra and it is described as taking the fruit as the path. Hence, the results of such meditations and how 'real' these deities are depends upon our meditations and practice. And the success of the meditations depends on how clean our Guru samaya is and how well we uphold our vows and commitments. Tantric initiates are required to uphold refuge, Bodhisattva vows and also Tantric vows if we are a higher Tantric initiate. Anyway, here's the picture that inspired me to answer in this manner:-

(This picture of a yogi meditating on Vajrayogini and the caption below is taken from the Photos-on-the-go section of Tsem Rinpoche's blog - http://blog.tsemtulku.com )

Image

Wouldn't it be wonderful for a yogi (me or anyone) to abide in nature and do meditation and full time on our practice and gain ONE-NESS with Vajra Yogini? That is my wish. To reach full attainments of inner, outer and secret Yogini. To be in the forest away from people, centres, and fundraising to concentrate on my practice. For being enlightened, I can do so much more than my limited capacity now. Tsem Rinpoche
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Re: Deities

Postby Jikan » Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:59 pm

TaTa wrote:What do you think of shinzen young view of "deity yoga"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WtPrOE1JSk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_VizlDWcTA


Oh, I didn't know he had trained in Shingon-shu. At first glance, it seems there's more Jung in his thinking (in those videos) than Buddha-Dharma.
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