Yidams

Forum for discussion of Tibetan Buddhism. Questions specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Post Reply
Tirisilex
Posts: 142
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:14 am

Yidams

Post by Tirisilex » Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:14 pm

I have been reading about yidams and I came across this statement:
"It would be a grave illusion to think that the Yidam one produces during meditation practice is an external entity that truly exists and is other than oneself."

I dont understand this. I don't see how a Yidam can have any power if it doesnt exist. If it's just a fabrication of my mind then how does it have any power to fix my mind? I mean how can a delusion fix a delusion? Also in the Movie Kundun the young Dalai Lama asks if a certain Deity is real and they assure him that she is.

Tiago Simões
Posts: 971
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 8:41 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: Yidams

Post by Tiago Simões » Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:57 am

Tirisilex wrote:I have been reading about yidams and I came across this statement:
"It would be a grave illusion to think that the Yidam one produces during meditation practice is an external entity that truly exists and is other than oneself."

I dont understand this. I don't see how a Yidam can have any power if it doesnt exist. If it's just a fabrication of my mind then how does it have any power to fix my mind? I mean how can a delusion fix a delusion? Also in the Movie Kundun the young Dalai Lama asks if a certain Deity is real and they assure him that she is.
All things are empty of inherent existence, or something like that, The Yidam exists but is not separate from yourself, the qualities you project onto a buddha are in truth, Your own inner qualities, but you need this Yidam outside to help you uncover them.

If he existed independently from you, liberation would be impossible.
If he didn't exist, he wouldn't be much help would he?

:anjali: somebody correct me if i'm wrong.
Then, the Licchavi Vimalakīrti spoke to the elder Śāriputra and the great disciples: “Reverends, eat of the food of the Tathāgata! It is ambrosia perfumed by the great compassion. But do not fix your minds in narrow-minded attitudes, lest you be unable to receive its gift.”

- Chapter 9, The Feast Brought by the Emanated Incarnation
The Noble Mahāyāna Sūtra “The Teaching of Vimalakīrti”

smcj
Posts: 5858
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Yidams

Post by smcj » Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:09 am

Tirisilex wrote:I have been reading about yidams and I came across this statement:
"It would be a grave illusion to think that the Yidam one produces during meditation practice is an external entity that truly exists and is other than oneself."
Where did you read that?
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

Norwegian
Posts: 1470
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Yidams

Post by Norwegian » Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:18 am

smcj wrote:
Tirisilex wrote:I have been reading about yidams and I came across this statement:
"It would be a grave illusion to think that the Yidam one produces during meditation practice is an external entity that truly exists and is other than oneself."
Where did you read that?
Found by Googling above quote:
http://www.dharmadownload.net/pages/eng ... s_0012.htm

smcj
Posts: 5858
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Yidams

Post by smcj » Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:32 am

Norwegian wrote:
smcj wrote: Where did you read that?
Found by Googling above quote:
http://www.dharmadownload.net/pages/eng ... s_0012.htm
A few months ago I came across my own handwritten notes from a talk by Deshung R. (Sakya/Seattle area). My notes had him saying that the reason we are repeatedly told that the Yidams are not different than the true nature of our own mind is that if we thought that they were something "other" then we might interpret the experience as an attack by a demon.

So make of that whatever you like.

**********************************

I'm staying at a Kagyu monastery that is basically a 3 year retreat factory. People here have done at least one 3 year retreat, if not more. Or else they are in the process of preparing for their first. Anyway, when the subject of the nature of the deities came up, I was told by one of the residents (a retreat graduate they are called, not "lama") that the rinpoche retreat master told them that they are real.

So make of that whatever you like.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

User avatar
conebeckham
Posts: 4943
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Yidams

Post by conebeckham » Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:43 am

Yidams are not external or truly existent.....but then again, neither are you.

You must understand the Yidam to be the primordial wisdom of your own sentience, untouched by your own self-cherishing. In that sense, it is not external or "truly existent" as a thing, because your primordial wisdom is not a "thing." By the same token, the yidam is not completely equivalent with your own ignorant, self-cherishing, personality-laden, "self identity."

Furthermore, Yidams often focus on specific "qualities" of wisdom. Chenrezig, for example, is the compassionate quality of primordial wisdom, and appearance/emptiness. Some of the Highest Yoga Tantra yidams are said to be the quality of Overwhelming Bliss of Primordial wisdom, conjoined wiht appearance/emptiness.

Its' also helpful, at times, to think of the Yidam as a sambhoghakaya "appearance" or emanation of the Dharmakaya, the truth body which is beyond conceptualization.

Then again, given all the above, I see no contradiction in claiming the "yidams are real" in the same sense YOU think you are real...maybe, perhaps even more real.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

smcj
Posts: 5858
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Yidams

Post by smcj » Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:57 am

When asked, the previous Kalu R. said, "The Yidams are pure appearance and emptiness. However you (the questioner) are impure appearance and emptiness."

I like that answer. But you can make of it whatever you like.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

Tirisilex
Posts: 142
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:14 am

Re: Yidams

Post by Tirisilex » Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:18 am

Thank you guys this helps.

smcj
Posts: 5858
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Yidams

Post by smcj » Tue Aug 02, 2016 2:43 am

An answer by some lama (I'm sure somebody here will be able to attribute the quote for me) when asked about Tara; "She knows she's not real".
****************
I was talking to Shenpen Hookam last spring. She liked the word "valid" instead of "real". "Real" suggests an object.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

fckw
Posts: 420
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:10 am

Re: Yidams

Post by fckw » Tue Aug 02, 2016 11:54 am

Tirisilex wrote:I have been reading about yidams and I came across this statement:
"It would be a grave illusion to think that the Yidam one produces during meditation practice is an external entity that truly exists and is other than oneself."

I dont understand this. I don't see how a Yidam can have any power if it doesnt exist. If it's just a fabrication of my mind then how does it have any power to fix my mind? I mean how can a delusion fix a delusion? Also in the Movie Kundun the young Dalai Lama asks if a certain Deity is real and they assure him that she is.
Why do you believe you can solve this problem by applying logic produced by your mind?

There's only one difference between a Yidam produced by your mind and logic produced by your mind: The former is an enlightened aspect of reality, whereas the latter is only ordinary mind stuff.

smcj
Posts: 5858
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Yidams

Post by smcj » Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:57 pm

Tirisilex wrote:I don't see how a Yidam can have any power if it doesnt exist. If it's just a fabrication of my mind then how does it have any power to fix my mind? I mean how can a delusion fix a delusion?
When you actually do a Yidam meditation the first step is to create a contrived mental image of the deity. That is nothing more than your own mental fabrication, called the Samayasattva. If that were all that there is to it, it could not help you. Your question shows you understand that much.

It is the next step that makes the meditation efficacious. Typically you imagine lights streaming out from you fabricated mental image which invite the "real" Yidam, called the Jhanasattva, to come from wherever they are in the universe and merge with your Samayasattva. The Jhanasattva is NOT a fabrication. Whether you consider it a being, or a radiant expression of enlightenment, or whatever, it is exactly the thing that can fix your mind. And the more faith you have the better it works.

My shorthand is that they are real, with the proviso that their true mode of being is beyond our imagination. It is our limited idea about what "real" means that is being denied, not the validity of the deity.

I hope that helps.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

smcj
Posts: 5858
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Yidams

Post by smcj » Tue Aug 02, 2016 7:29 pm

In terms of the deity not being different than your own mind, I like what one of my teachers said about it. He said, "The deity is the light switch. You, however, are the lightbulb."
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

User avatar
Nyedrag Yeshe
Posts: 473
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 3:06 am
Location: Brazil

Re: Yidams

Post by Nyedrag Yeshe » Tue Aug 02, 2016 7:40 pm

I think the main point, is not to fall in extreme views with regard to Yidams. Not to think they are truly existent, and not non-existent. That's my teacher's advice. They do exist, but their existence is not with intrinsic nature, beyond inter-dependence.
“Whatever has to happen, let it happen!”
“Whatever the situation is, it’s fine!”
“I really don’t need anything!
~Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje (1161-1211)
ओं पद्मोष्णीष विमले हूँ फट । ओं हनुफशभरहृदय स्वाहा॥
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔ ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།

User avatar
Thomas Amundsen
Posts: 1906
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:50 am
Location: Helena, MT
Contact:

Re: Yidams

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:35 pm

smcj wrote:
Tirisilex wrote:I don't see how a Yidam can have any power if it doesnt exist. If it's just a fabrication of my mind then how does it have any power to fix my mind? I mean how can a delusion fix a delusion?
When you actually do a Yidam meditation the first step is to create a contrived mental image of the deity. That is nothing more than your own mental fabrication, called the Samayasattva. If that were all that there is to it, it could not help you. Your question shows you understand that much.

It is the next step that makes the meditation efficacious. Typically you imagine lights streaming out from you fabricated mental image which invite the "real" Yidam, called the Jhanasattva, to come from wherever they are in the universe and merge with your Samayasattva. The Jhanasattva is NOT a fabrication. Whether you consider it a being, or a radiant expression of enlightenment, or whatever, it is exactly the thing that can fix your mind. And the more faith you have the better it works.

My shorthand is that they are real, with the proviso that their true mode of being is beyond our imagination. It is our limited idea about what "real" means that is being denied, not the validity of the deity.

I hope that helps.
:good: with one minor correction: "jñānasattva" not "jhanasattva" :)

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 28714
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Yidams

Post by Malcolm » Tue Aug 02, 2016 8:41 pm

Both the samayasattva and the jñānasattva are fabrications. If it is visualized, it is fabricated. Period. This is fine, but just be clear what you are doing (and what you are talking about).


smcj wrote:
Tirisilex wrote:I don't see how a Yidam can have any power if it doesnt exist. If it's just a fabrication of my mind then how does it have any power to fix my mind? I mean how can a delusion fix a delusion?
When you actually do a Yidam meditation the first step is to create a contrived mental image of the deity. That is nothing more than your own mental fabrication, called the Samayasattva. If that were all that there is to it, it could not help you. Your question shows you understand that much.

It is the next step that makes the meditation efficacious. Typically you imagine lights streaming out from you fabricated mental image which invite the "real" Yidam, called the Jhanasattva, to come from wherever they are in the universe and merge with your Samayasattva. The Jhanasattva is NOT a fabrication. Whether you consider it a being, or a radiant expression of enlightenment, or whatever, it is exactly the thing that can fix your mind. And the more faith you have the better it works.

My shorthand is that they are real, with the proviso that their true mode of being is beyond our imagination. It is our limited idea about what "real" means that is being denied, not the validity of the deity.

I hope that helps.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

smcj
Posts: 5858
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Yidams

Post by smcj » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:18 pm

Malcolm wrote:Both the samayasattva and the jñānasattva are fabrications. If it is visualized, it is fabricated. Period. This is fine, but just be clear what you are doing (and what you are talking about).
The Sambogakaya is the enlightenment of the Dharmakaya expressing itself in a communicative form. There is nothing about it that is anything other than Dharmakaya spontaneously manifesting. And in fact the aforementioned Jhanasattva is formless. It is our fabricated visualization that gives it form. So no, I don't agree with you on this.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

Norwegian
Posts: 1470
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Yidams

Post by Norwegian » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:21 pm

"You must understand that the invocation, and so on, enable you to recall the primordial indivisibility of the samaya and wisdom beings; it is not as though you are placing one into the other." -- Jigme Lingpa

and

"When making the invocation, it is not as though something "other" is invoked and then arrives from some other place. To purify impure deluded perception, we do indeed recite words that invoke particular deities by name, mention the places where they reside, and do other such things. Nevetherless, in fact there is nowhere in the world of appearance and existence that is not pervaded by the magical display of self-aware awakened mind. Since this is the case, the innate awareness that is the samaya being is indivisible from the wisdom being; these are not two different things. Thus the wisdom being is invoked as being indivisible from the samaya being" -- Tsele Natsok Rangdrol

etc.

PS: Jñanasattva with an ñ, not Jhanasattva with an h.

User avatar
Thomas Amundsen
Posts: 1906
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:50 am
Location: Helena, MT
Contact:

Re: Yidams

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:32 pm

Norwegian wrote:"You must understand that the invocation, and so on, enable you to recall the primordial indivisibility of the samaya and wisdom beings; it is not as though you are placing one into the other." -- Jigme Lingpa
Even if it's ultimately a misconception, the Mahayaogatantra technique involves a union. Not sure what the Sarma equivalent name for that is. But basically, this is applying a Dzogchen view to the technique, which may not be accepted by all tantric practitioners.

smcj
Posts: 5858
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Yidams

Post by smcj » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:35 pm

Norwegian wrote:"You must understand that the invocation, and so on, enable you to recall the primordial indivisibility of the samaya and wisdom beings; it is not as though you are placing one into the other." -- Jigme Lingpa
Right. As the previous Kalu R. said, if you have complete faith in the fact the the deity is truly above your head you don't need to go through the motions of combining the two.

When doing the practice it is painfully obvious that the visualization is a product of your own efforts. If you can have complete faith inspite of that fact, then fine, you don't need to go through the motions of combining the two. Otherwise in order to help with your faith it is the norm to go through the motions. It is simply a technique to make faith easier.
"When making the invocation, ]it is not as though something "other" is invoked and then arrives from some other place. To purify impure deluded perception, we do indeed recite words that invoke particular deities by name, mention the places where they reside, and do other such things.
Right, which is the practice.
Nevetherless, in fact there is nowhere in the world of appearance and existence that is not pervaded by the magical display of self-aware awakened mind[.
Ok, so that's a good place to start. Everything that is, is "pervaded by self-aware awakened mind." That's the premise, everything is pervaded by awakened mind. Don't let go of that thought.

continuing...
Since this is the case, the innate awareness that is the samaya being is indivisible from the wisdom being...
Ok, so this is interesting. The "innate awareness that is the samaya being"--that is one's fabricated visualization--also has innate awareness! Of course it also has unawareness, otherwise we wouldn't have to do all this stuff. And of course the innate awareness of the wisdom being was a given. But in any case the point being made here is that the fabricated visualization is mental, therefore it has innate awareness as its premise.
continuing...
these are not two different things. Thus the wisdom being is invoked as being indivisible[/u] from the samaya being" -- Tsele Natsok Rangdrol
Right. Thus the Jnanasattva is not fabricated, and you can have complete faith in the efficacy of your visualization even though that you did fabricate your visualization.

Thanks for helping me prove my point! :twothumbsup:

PS: Jñanasattva with an ñ, not Jhanasattva with an h.
D'oh!
Last edited by smcj on Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:30 pm, edited 4 times in total.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

User avatar
Fa Dao
Posts: 857
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:42 pm

Re: Yidams

Post by Fa Dao » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:45 pm

ok then..so how does this process work (samayasattva and jnanasattva) when you are doing it Anuyoga?
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

Post Reply

Return to “Tibetan Buddhism”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: javier.espinoza.t, PeterC and 75 guests