Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

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KiwiNFLFan
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Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by KiwiNFLFan » Wed May 15, 2019 2:45 pm

This is kind of a sister post to the one in the Mahayana forum about Buddhas and Bodhisattvas being real, because I figured the Tibetan/Vajrayana approach was different enough to maybe give a different answer.

Are Buddhas like Tara or Vairocana, bodhisattvas like Manjushri or Chenrezig, Dharma protectors like Hayagriva or Mahakala etc, actually considered "real"? Is there really a being called Tara who "lives" in a Buddha-land, hears the prayers of the Tibetan Buddhist faithful and answers them, while helping them on the road to enlightenment? Or are they archetypes or symbols, visualised by the practitioner as a way to bring forth his/her own Buddha nature, and not actual beings who hear and answer prayers? If you do, say, a Black Manjushri practice to dispel a serious disease and it works, did Manjushri Bodhisattva actually use his "power" to help you, or did you tap into your own Buddha nature and somehow draw forth the necessary power to bring about the result?

jbaumannmontilla
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by jbaumannmontilla » Wed May 15, 2019 2:54 pm

I think a better question is whether we are real.

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Astus
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by Astus » Wed May 15, 2019 3:51 pm

'The dharma protectors serve entirely to increase all favorable conditions for our dharma practice and to help us remove the various obstacles which can arise in our dharma practice. It is very important that we really believe that they are really there and that we have confidence in their power to help. If we do not have this complete confidence, we will receive little benefit from them.'
(Thrangu Rinpoche, in The Three Vehicles of Buddhist Practice)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by £$&^@ » Wed May 15, 2019 4:00 pm

jbaumannmontilla wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 2:54 pm
I think a better question is whether we are real.

:good: see my reply to your other question in the same vein.
My name is Simon John Ellis. Husband of a Buddhist wife. Father of a Buddhist son. And I will have Enlightenment in this life or the next.

( Or the next..or the next....)

PeterC
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by PeterC » Wed May 15, 2019 5:38 pm

Isn’t there some text that talks about form being the same as emptiness and emptiness being like form? Think I read that somewhere...

smcj
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by smcj » Wed May 15, 2019 6:14 pm

PeterC wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 5:38 pm
Isn’t there some text that talks about form being the same as emptiness and emptiness being like form? Think I read that somewhere...
Okay. So then your answer to the question is.....what?
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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kalden yungdrung
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by kalden yungdrung » Wed May 15, 2019 6:59 pm

KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 2:45 pm
This is kind of a sister post to the one in the Mahayana forum about Buddhas and Bodhisattvas being real, because I figured the Tibetan/Vajrayana approach was different enough to maybe give a different answer.

Are Buddhas like Tara or Vairocana, bodhisattvas like Manjushri or Chenrezig, Dharma protectors like Hayagriva or Mahakala etc, actually considered "real"? Is there really a being called Tara who "lives" in a Buddha-land, hears the prayers of the Tibetan Buddhist faithful and answers them, while helping them on the road to enlightenment? Or are they archetypes or symbols, visualised by the practitioner as a way to bring forth his/her own Buddha nature, and not actual beings who hear and answer prayers? If you do, say, a Black Manjushri practice to dispel a serious disease and it works, did Manjushri Bodhisattva actually use his "power" to help you, or did you tap into your own Buddha nature and somehow draw forth the necessary power to bring about the result?

Tashi delek,

Sure they are real , because they are emanations and are there to help us in our Dharma tasks.

If your devotion is strong enough,
He (Buddha) is certainly there.

All the Buddhas promised this: I will be in front of everybody whose devotion is deep enough.
This promise was made by the Buddhas, not made up by human beings like me ( Me = Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche)

==========

Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche:

Buddha emanated peaceful, wrathful and subduing emanations, all according to whoever has devotion and needs something and prays to him. According to this, he shows different forms, different yidams and so on. But don't think these are all separate - I have already mentioned this before. Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya - these all have the same source but show different features for different purposes.

You always have to remember this and keep it.


All in all these entities / emanations sure are there if we need them, then we call them by their Mantra, they know it when someone is calling them by their Mantra, then they come to help etc.
If you / we become one time Buddha we also must help. One leg of the Buddha is Compassion, the other Wisdom.
No Buddha possible without Compassion :namaste:


Hope this helps.
The best meditation is no meditation

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Astus
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by Astus » Wed May 15, 2019 7:07 pm

'The question of the degree of existence of the yidams is often asked. Yidams really exist, but in a way different from ours, because they are not conditioned by karma.
Avalokita, for example, is an emanation of the compassion of all the Buddhas, appearing with the intention of helping all beings. It is a totally pure manifestation from its origin, and is in no way the result of karmic causes supplying the white color of its body, the lotus in the left hand, the rosary in the right hand, and the other characteristics. The different traits and attributes of Avalokita are only the formal expression of compassion.
Likewise, its two eyes mean that it possesses perfect knowledge and compassion. With the first eye, it completely knows the totality of phenomena of the cycle of existence and liberation. Having the eye (Tibetan, chen) of compassion, unceasingly (Tibetan, re) it watches (Tibetan, zig) beings with love. Consequently, its name in Tibetan is Chenrezig. The silks and jewels are worn to indicate that it is endowed with all the qualities of Awakening.'

(Kalu Rinpoche: Secret Buddhism, p 22-23)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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KathyLauren
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by KathyLauren » Wed May 15, 2019 8:19 pm

Define "real". It is harder than you think. (And that is a rhetorical question: I don't need an answer to it.)

Anyway, in my younger days, I wondered about this too. Then in the course of reading a puja text, I came across this line: "You [the deity] are the manifestation of the emptiness and awareness of my own mind." That made it clear to me.

Real or not? That is an "angels on the head of a pin" argument that could go on for months with no resolution. There is ample evidence of that on these pages. But what that line from the text makes clear is that the reality of the deity is the same as the reality (or lack thereof) of my mind.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by £$&^@ » Wed May 15, 2019 8:44 pm

:good:
My name is Simon John Ellis. Husband of a Buddhist wife. Father of a Buddhist son. And I will have Enlightenment in this life or the next.

( Or the next..or the next....)

smcj
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by smcj » Wed May 15, 2019 10:09 pm

I like Bokar R’s answer to this. In his book on Green Tara he said that since we see things dualistically Tara appears to us as an external deity. However since she sees things from a non-dual perspective she sees herself as not different than our minds.

I can buy that.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Sherab
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by Sherab » Wed May 15, 2019 11:04 pm

KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 2:45 pm
This is kind of a sister post to the one in the Mahayana forum about Buddhas and Bodhisattvas being real, because I figured the Tibetan/Vajrayana approach was different enough to maybe give a different answer.

Are Buddhas like Tara or Vairocana, bodhisattvas like Manjushri or Chenrezig, Dharma protectors like Hayagriva or Mahakala etc, actually considered "real"? Is there really a being called Tara who "lives" in a Buddha-land, hears the prayers of the Tibetan Buddhist faithful and answers them, while helping them on the road to enlightenment? Or are they archetypes or symbols, visualised by the practitioner as a way to bring forth his/her own Buddha nature, and not actual beings who hear and answer prayers? If you do, say, a Black Manjushri practice to dispel a serious disease and it works, did Manjushri Bodhisattva actually use his "power" to help you, or did you tap into your own Buddha nature and somehow draw forth the necessary power to bring about the result?
This is how I see it:

There are two types of consciousness: the dependently arisen consciousness (a consciousness of the twelve link of dependent origination) and a non-dependently arisen consciousness. All sentient beings have both.

When you access the world through the dependently arisen consciousness, all appearances in the world will be perceived as real, as being out there. There is a subject and there are all these objects out there. There is space. There is time. There is the operation of the law of causality.

When you "are experiencing" through the non-dependently arisen consciousness, there is no subject and object distinction. All concepts of self and other, inside and outside, cause and effect, all these concepts lose their meaning.

When your dependently arisen consciousness analyses the world as to the reality of all the appearances in the world including the deities, cause and effect and temporal dependent origination, they are all understood as illusions, i.e., unreal.

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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by Mönlam Tharchin » Wed May 15, 2019 11:48 pm

For me, answering that question has been a lot more like building a relationship, rather than finding a piece of information, or even having one specific experience.

Over time, I think a network begins to form, of memories, experiences, teachings you've learned, images, places, ideas associated with a specific buddha-personality or guru... you see positive qualities emerge under its influence, it continually piques your interest... It's definitely not a specific, physical body but it's not nothing, either.

In a very broad way too, if form/emptiness isn't a helpful angle, then you can learn some of the meanings behind buddha-forms, like Chenrezig's four arms for the Four Immeasurables, or Namgyalma's many Dharma implements to remove obstacles, or Amitabha's golden light that comforts beings who look upon it in accordance with his 33rd Vow.

Buddha-forms and mandalas are packed with references to teachings, almost like a visual catalogue.
I think if you stick close to them, in whatever capacity, it'll help.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-amida-butsu. -- Ippen

If in your heart you hold the thought, "I shall continue to utter the nembutsu," the Buddha will turn his attention to you, and thus you are one among those who are thought about and cherished. -- Master Hōnen

The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have unobstructed vision in all directions. Everything is in their presence; and I stand in front of them. -- Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life

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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by smcj » Thu May 16, 2019 12:14 am

Monlam Tharchin wrote:I think if you stick close to them, in whatever capacity, it'll help.
I love the way you put that. With your permission I’d like to use it in the future.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Wayfarer
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by Wayfarer » Thu May 16, 2019 12:37 am

the problem with modern people, or the modern world, is that it has a one-dimensional view of reality. What is real is said to be what is 'out there'. We nowadays think that the physical universe, the universe you can see with telescopes, is the only reality, and that there's no heaven 'out there'; it's only vast expanses of space littered with stars and planets and gas. But it's a very impoverished understanding - one dimensional, as I said.

The imaginative vistas of Buddhism, are just that: imaginative. But the imagination likewise is not just 'in here', in the private world, subjective or social. We have ways of empathetically realising other domains or realms of existence, and these are depicted in imaginative forms, and as celestial beings, and the like. But they're not simply imaginary, like modern fiction or movie-characters; they are symbolic forms of archetypal realities.

Someone used to ask one of the Indian gurus I first encountered if the Gods were real. 'Sure', he would say. 'As real as the people who believe in them'.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by tobes » Thu May 16, 2019 1:17 am

For many years, like others here I would take this kind of question as an invitation to a metaphysics party.

Now I think the best answer is simply: yes.

smcj
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by smcj » Thu May 16, 2019 1:19 am

I’m liking DW more and more these days.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Thu May 16, 2019 2:05 am

"Real" usually means, "real... you know... like you and I are real".
Since the dharma logic proves that you and I have no inherent existence,
how real do they need to be in order to be "real"?
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smcj
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by smcj » Thu May 16, 2019 2:37 am

The previous Kalu R was asked about this. Ken McLeod translated. I think the exact quote was, “They are the nature of emptiness and Pure Appearance. However you (the questioner), on the other hand, are emptiness and impure appearance.”

The choice of capitalization is obviously mine since is was spoken.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post/by ?)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that,
Through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

PeterC
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Re: Are yidams and Tibetan Buddhist "deities" actually real?

Post by PeterC » Thu May 16, 2019 2:41 am

smcj wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 6:14 pm
PeterC wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 5:38 pm
Isn’t there some text that talks about form being the same as emptiness and emptiness being like form? Think I read that somewhere...
Okay. So then your answer to the question is.....what?
Understanding the nature of Buddha-figures is not different from other fundamental aspects of the Mahayana. The ultimate nature of one Buddha figure is not different from the nature of all others. That nature is empty but manifests in effortless action, and they appear in innumerable forms for the benefit of sentient beings. To consider them as concrete and living beings would be a mistake. To consider them as something like Jungian archetypes would also be a mistake.

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