smcj wrote: ↑
Fri Feb 16, 2018 6:57 am
Let me answer that by saying that the very traditional monastery I live in spends a good portion of its time doing ceremonies and practices that entail asking the deities for help of one kind or another.
Here's a story along those lines:
Some years ago (before I got here) they were building the monastery. The contractor, who wasn't even remotely a Buddhist, had been on site for some time and had gotten the idea that the resident Rinpoche wasn't just an ordinary guy. So one day he looked at the weather report and saw that there was a snowstorm coming on a day that they had scheduled cement to be poured*. If he canceled the scheduled cement trucks he'd have to pay a cancelation fee and it would put the project t behind schedule. So he goes up to the Rinpoche and says, "We can't have it snow tomorrow. See what you can do about it." The next day the storm was approaching, but about 5 miles before it got to the monastery it split into two. One side went east and the other side went west, bypassing the monastery. Later that day when one of the nuns went to the supermarket the snow line was so well defined that half the parking lot had snow it it, and the half that was towards the monastery was clear.
So yeah, deities are "archetypes". By meditating on them you can cultivate within yourself the enlightened awareness that they represent. But don't think that those archetypes are limited into being only imaginary. I never asked the Rinpoche about it, but my assumption is that his "faith" in the deities was necessary for his prayer to work.
Is that kind of faith totally a non-starter for us? All we really want is to become enlightened after all. Snowstorms aren't what it is all about. But what if dismissing yidams as "archetypes" closes the door of faith that is necessary for the "archetype" to work on us? I'm not in a position to say one way or another about that, but what a shame for us if it is!
Having an open mind doesn't cost any money, and nobody needs to know. You can be completely private about it and not get embarrassed that somebody might call you a sucker.
*I don't know it it was pouring cement or something else. Whatever the activity was the contractor asked that it not snow that day.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.