What are Buddhist Deities?

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Tirisilex
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What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Tirisilex » Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:36 am

It is my understanding that Buddhist Deities are not Gods but some form of supernatural entities. What would be the most accurate way to call / describe them?

Sunrise
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Sunrise » Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:51 am

I like to think of them as aspects of the enlightened mind that we are, in our heart of hearts, always connected to.

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javier.espinoza.t
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:11 am

mere appeareances haha

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:13 am

Pure appearance.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Mantrik
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Mantrik » Fri Feb 28, 2020 9:24 am

Here is a brief explanation of the Six Realms of Existence.

'Deities' can refer to enlightened Buddhas, and also to the Gods in the Six Realms of Samsara.

Yes, it is fair to say that Gods are 'appearance' but all that means is that they are as real or unreal as everything else, including ourselves.

https://www.lionsroar.com/what-are-the-six-realms/
http://www.khyung.com ཁྲོཾ

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

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PeterC
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by PeterC » Fri Feb 28, 2020 9:36 am

"It is shaped, sir, like itself; and it is as broad as it hath breadth: it is just so high as it is, and moves with its own organs: it lives by that which nourisheth it; and the elements once out of it, it transmigrates."

Knotty Veneer
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Knotty Veneer » Fri Feb 28, 2020 9:53 am

As Mantrik points out their are 2 types of deities found in many Buddhist traditions.

Some are worldly deities and are generally hangovers from pre-Buddhist religions. They are often unenlightened local deities who may or may not have a role in protecting the Dharma but are NOT a source of refuge.

Then there is the Arya Sangha. These are the great enlightened Bodhisattvas like Tara, Avalokiteshvara, Vajrayogini etc. These represent aspects of the enlightened mind and their forms are often used in Sadhana practice by meditators who want to actualize those enlightened aspects in their own mind stream. These are a source of refuge as they are Buddhas.

The above is a gross oversimplification but hopefully will give you a rough idea.
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heart
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by heart » Fri Feb 28, 2020 11:05 am

Tirisilex wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:36 am
It is my understanding that Buddhist Deities are not Gods but some form of supernatural entities. What would be the most accurate way to call / describe them?
How about "expressions of wisdom".

/magnus
"We are all here to help each other go through this thing, whatever it is."
~Kurt Vonnegut

"The principal practice is Guruyoga. But we need to understand that any secondary practice combined with Guruyoga becomes a principal practice." ChNNR (Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja)

smcj
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by smcj » Fri Feb 28, 2020 1:59 pm

When asked, the previous Kalu R said of them,
Kalu R wrote:They are emptiness and pure appearance. However you yourself are emptiness and impure appearance.
He might have said “awareness” instead of “appearance”. It was a long time ago. I forget.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
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 Fortyeightvows)

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KathyLauren
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by KathyLauren » Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:50 pm

I puzzled over this for a long time, and it was keeping me from wholeheartedly engaging in my practice. Until one line from a sadhana jumped out at me: it said that the deity was "the manifestation of the emptiness and awareness of my own mind." That completely clarified the issue for me, and I had no further doubts about my practice.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

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Seeker12
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Seeker12 » Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:51 pm

smcj wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 1:59 pm
When asked, the previous Kalu R said of them,
Kalu R wrote:They are emptiness and pure appearance. However you yourself are emptiness and impure appearance.
He might have said “awareness” instead of “appearance”. It was a long time ago. I forget.
I like this explanation.
Better than if there were thousands of meaningless words is one meaningful word that on hearing brings peace.

Better than if there were thousands of meaningless verses is one meaningful verse that on hearing brings peace.

And better than chanting hundreds of meaningless verses is one Dhamma-saying that on hearing brings peace.

Simon E.
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Simon E. » Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:59 pm

KathyLauren wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:50 pm
I puzzled over this for a long time, and it was keeping me from wholeheartedly engaging in my practice. Until one line from a sadhana jumped out at me: it said that the deity was "the manifestation of the emptiness and awareness of my own mind." That completely clarified the issue for me, and I had no further doubts about my practice.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

I know more than one Tibetan teacher who would say that this is too glib. It implies that there is a “you” that somehow has a mind which somehow hosts a manifestation.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

Simon E.
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Simon E. » Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:21 pm

Me all young and eager, to Lama Chime Rinpoche, while sitting in a room with thangkas of Tara on every wall.

“So is she an aspect of my mind?” Chime R with a laugh “ Hah! You are not that important! Perhaps you are an aspect of HER mind!”.

See my sig...
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

smcj
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by smcj » Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:37 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:21 pm
Me all young and eager, to Lama Chime Rinpoche, while sitting in a room with thangkas of Tara on every wall.

“So is she an aspect of my mind?” Chime R with a laugh “ Hah! You are not that important! Perhaps you are an aspect of HER mind!”.

See my sig...
Along the same lines Bokar R addresses Tara’s mode of being in his book “Tara the Feminine Divine”. He said something like,
Bokar R wrote:Since we see things dualistically she looks like a deity. But since she she sees things in a non-dual way she knows she’s not different than our own mind.
Again, using faulty memory for quote.
*****
Based on that, I’ve personally come up with the idea that it’s like asking if a photon is a particle or a wave. The answer to both is “yes”. It just depends on how you’re looking at the question.

Shröedonger’s cat and such.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
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 Fortyeightvows)

Simon E.
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Simon E. » Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:57 pm

I think that’s right...I think. :smile:
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

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KathyLauren
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by KathyLauren » Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:45 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:59 pm
KathyLauren wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:50 pm
I puzzled over this for a long time, and it was keeping me from wholeheartedly engaging in my practice. Until one line from a sadhana jumped out at me: it said that the deity was "the manifestation of the emptiness and awareness of my own mind." That completely clarified the issue for me, and I had no further doubts about my practice.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

I know more than one Tibetan teacher who would say that this is too glib. It implies that there is a “you” that somehow has a mind which somehow hosts a manifestation.
I can't imagine how "the emptiness of one's mind" could be interpreted as implying that. Essentially implying its opposite? That doesn't make sense.

Given that I was giving you an example from personal experience, all I can say is that I certainly didn't interpret it as implying anything of the sort. A student who did interpret it that way should probably go back to basics.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

Simon E.
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Simon E. » Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:54 pm

Ones mind?
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

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Vasana
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Vasana » Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:59 pm

Are the many yidams we see in pictures and visualize real? No, they are symbols of the ultimate yidam. The various forms and attributes of the deities point to manifold habits of clinging, grasping, and holding impure appearances in one’s mind. There are so many impure ideas and things one thinks are real. Each yidam symbolizes one of the many aspects of clinging and clutching. One needs to know this. [...] The deity’s body represents the indivisibility of emptiness and appearance; the mantra of each deity is the indivisibility of emptiness and sound; the deity’s mind is the indivisibility of emptiness and awareness.
~3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche

http://justdharmaquotes.wordpress.com/2 ... 10/yidams/
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

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Vasana
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Vasana » Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:01 pm

With that said, Buddha's and bodhisattvas also have their own mind streams and so although they are aspects of our mind when practiced as yidam, they are also autonomous and individual manifestations from the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and dakinis' minds from which they have emanated.

They know they are illusions, but since we are beings with certain mental and emotional inclinations, they appear in certain ways for our benefit...But their "true' face can't really be captured by any one image or symbol and only appears as such according to the secondary conditions present in the minds and bodies of sentient beings.
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
Om Mani Peme Hum ། 'A Ah Ha Sha Sa Ma
'When alone, watch your mind,When with others, watch your speech' - Old Kadampa saying

Malcolm
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Re: What are Buddhist Deities?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:21 pm

KathyLauren wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:50 pm
I puzzled over this for a long time, and it was keeping me from wholeheartedly engaging in my practice. Until one line from a sadhana jumped out at me: it said that the deity was "the manifestation of the emptiness and awareness of my own mind." That completely clarified the issue for me, and I had no further doubts about my practice.
Yes, this is what the deity is. It is that simple.

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