Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

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Yeshe Dorje
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Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by Yeshe Dorje » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:36 am

Dr Alex Berzin says "Gelug and Kagyu do not practice Vajrasattva as a yidam. Thus, there is no Vajrasattva empowerment, no visualization of ourselves as Vajrasattva, and no visualization of lights coming from ourselves and purifying all beings around us." I have read teachings from Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe that both talk about visualising oneself as Vajrasattva. Does anyone have any thoughts on this topic? An upcoming event with the 104th Ganden Tripa in Austria describes Vajrasattva as a 'yidam diety' https://www.tibetcenter.at/en/yamantaka-initiation/ What exactly does Dr. Berzin mean by yidam in this context?

kausalya
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Re: Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by kausalya » Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:09 pm

Your guess is as good as mine, ultimately.

I received Vajrasattva Yab Yum multiple times, although it sounds like it could have been classified as a jenang (subsequent permission) rather than a wang. I'm not entirely sure.

I can confirm that the practice involves visualizing him above one's crown—I haven't seen or heard any reference to self-generation as VS for us (Gelugs), but then again, you have...

Perhaps Heruka Vajrasattva, the form Lama Yeshe writes about, does allow for it. As near as I can tell, it's a special form practiced in relation to Heruka Chakrasamvara. I don't have that initiation, so I can't say. The mantra is slightly different, and it seems to be especially good for mental purification.

My lama made the comment once that VS could be a yidam for someone who had "really hard life"; I believe this could be referring to someone's "chosen deity" or primary practice for this lifetime. I believe that the Yab Yum form might be suited to this role, whereas other forms may not be.
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Re: Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by Ayu » Fri Sep 20, 2019 5:44 pm

Yeshe Dorje wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:36 am
Dr Alex Berzin says "Gelug and Kagyu do not practice Vajrasattva as a yidam. Thus, there is no Vajrasattva empowerment, no visualization of ourselves as Vajrasattva, and no visualization of lights coming from ourselves and purifying all beings around us." I have read teachings from Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe that both talk about visualising oneself as Vajrasattva. Does anyone have any thoughts on this topic? An upcoming event with the 104th Ganden Tripa in Austria describes Vajrasattva as a 'yidam diety' https://www.tibetcenter.at/en/yamantaka-initiation/ What exactly does Dr. Berzin mean by yidam in this context?
Where does Alex Berzin say this? Quote? For me that is puzzling.
I practice Gelug tradition and participated in many Vajrasattva empowerments. We were told it is necessary before practicing.

There was a Vajrasattva group meditation in our city as well in a Gelug/Kagyu based center. This was without empowerment for interested newbies. But people were not allowed to take the texts home and practice at home. The Rinpoche gave the extra permission only for group meditation. Some monks argued the text and meditation was tantra and should be performed only with empowerment. That's why te group needed permission from the Rinpoche.
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Re: Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by Ayu » Fri Sep 20, 2019 5:59 pm

I looked it up myself. He says here: https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-s ... -practices
If we practice Vajrasattva without any tantric empowerment, or if in conjunction with practice of any Buddha-figure from the first three classes of tantra, Vajrasattva is a single figure. The single form is white, with one face and two arms.

If we practice Vajrasattva in conjunction with practice of any anuttarayoga tantra figure, Vajrasattva is a couple. Both members of the couple may be white, with one face and two arms, and with the male having either a peaceful expression of the mouth, as in Guhyasamaja and Yamantaka, or with a semi-forceful semi-peaceful mouth expression with fangs, as in Heruka Vajrasattva practiced in Chakrasamvara, Vajrayogini, and Hevajra. In Kalachakra, Vajrasattva is blue, the female partner green, and both have three faces and six arms.

If we are practicing Vajrasattva without an empowerment for a Buddha-figure, we visualize ourselves in our ordinary form during the practice. We visualize all beings around us, each with a Vajrasattva on his or her head, and each also being purified. If we are practicing with having an empowerment for a Buddha-figure, we visualize ourselves as the Buddha-figure during the practice, but maintain very weak “pride of the deity” (lha’i nga-rgyal). We visualize on a moon disc at our hearts ourselves in ordinary form, surrounded by all beings, with everyone being purified. “Pride of the deity” is a feeling of actually being the Buddha-figure.
So, he doesn't say Vajrasattva needs no empowerment ever. He is talking of a special reduced form that can be practiced additionally within another practice or as a preliminary practice in ngöndro. In short: Vajrasattva exists as tantra and as yidam practice as well.
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Re: Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by Fortyeightvows » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:18 pm

Gelug and Kagyu do not practice Vajrasattva as a yidam. Thus, there is no Vajrasattva empowerment, no visualization of ourselves as Vajrasattva, and no visualization of lights coming from ourselves and purifying all beings around us.
Gelug do both of those last two things.

For "visualization of ourselves as Vajrasattva" Geluks definitely do that- just look at the long six session.

For the "lights coming from ourselves and purifying all beings around us" I'm not sure I've seen it in vajrasattva practice, but definitely other practices.

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Re: Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by kausalya » Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:55 pm

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:18 pm
For "visualization of ourselves as Vajrasattva" Geluks definitely do that- just look at the long six session.
As an aside:

Gehlek Rimpoche's six-session yoga commentary specifies that, even though it says "Vajrasattva," the actual visualization here is supposed to be of ourselves as a white-coloured Vajradhara. I've considered asking my own lama for clarification on this, but I don't know how much of a difference it makes.
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Re: Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by Virgo » Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:29 am

kausalya wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:55 pm
Fortyeightvows wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:18 pm
For "visualization of ourselves as Vajrasattva" Geluks definitely do that- just look at the long six session.
As an aside:

Gehlek Rimpoche's six-session yoga commentary specifies that, even though it says "Vajrasattva," the actual visualization here is supposed to be of ourselves as a white-coloured Vajradhara. I've considered asking my own lama for clarification on this, but I don't know how much of a difference it makes.
If in doubt it is better to seek clarification. :namaste:

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jmlee369
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Re: Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by jmlee369 » Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:48 am

Yeshe Dorje wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:36 am
Dr Alex Berzin says "Gelug and Kagyu do not practice Vajrasattva as a yidam. Thus, there is no Vajrasattva empowerment, no visualization of ourselves as Vajrasattva, and no visualization of lights coming from ourselves and purifying all beings around us." I have read teachings from Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe that both talk about visualising oneself as Vajrasattva. Does anyone have any thoughts on this topic? An upcoming event with the 104th Ganden Tripa in Austria describes Vajrasattva as a 'yidam diety' https://www.tibetcenter.at/en/yamantaka-initiation/ What exactly does Dr. Berzin mean by yidam in this context?
I think by empowerment, he means wangchen, because there are definitely jenang (subsequent permissions) related to both solitary and yab-yum Vajrasattva. This is in contrast to Nyingma practices like the Mindrolling Vajrasattva terma cycle (Minling Dorsem) where Vajrasattva is a full yidam practice with instructions for generation and completion stage, etc.

In Gelug, Varjasattva practice functions as a preliminary to your main yidam practice (whether it's Vajrabhairava, Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara, Vajrayogini, etc) in the sadhana, where Vajrasattva is on your crown, and the blessings descend from the mantra at his heart, etc. The mantra changes according to the main yidam you are practising.

The highest yoga tantra jenang of Vajrasattva yab-yum is said to be unique to the Gelug tradition (perhaps this was prior to the revelation of Minling Dorsem), and drawn from the Guhyasamaja Tantra. In the sadhana for this practice (composed by Ngulchu Dharmabhadra), there is only the self-generation as Vajrasattva yab-yum, and the mantra and activities occur within your heart. However, the oral instructions I received also mention a different visualisation for this practice, where the deity is on the crown but different from other front generation visualisations. It is also worth noting that there are differences in the visualisation of the mother across practices.
kausalya wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:55 pm
Fortyeightvows wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:18 pm
For "visualization of ourselves as Vajrasattva" Geluks definitely do that- just look at the long six session.
As an aside:

Gehlek Rimpoche's six-session yoga commentary specifies that, even though it says "Vajrasattva," the actual visualization here is supposed to be of ourselves as a white-coloured Vajradhara. I've considered asking my own lama for clarification on this, but I don't know how much of a difference it makes.
I think this arises from the interchangeability of Vajrasattva with Vajradhara in the Guhyasamaja system.

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Re: Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by smcj » Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:50 am

.....or as a preliminary practice in ngöndro. In short: Vajrasattva exists as tantra and as yidam practice as well.
In the Karma Kagyu ngondro the single figure Vajrasattva is a Yoga Tantra level practice. There is an empowerment for it.

However it is acceptable to do the practice for the accumulations without empowerment if one has taken Refuge and had at least on Vajrayana empowerment.

I can’t remember where I got that and give a citation. Sorry.
I think this arises from the interchangeability of Vajrasattva with Vajradhara in the Guhyasamaja system.
I find that interesting. Thanks.
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.
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Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
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Re: Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by zerwe » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:34 am

I have not received it, but I am pretty certain that LZR gave some form of a full HYT Vajrasattva (lineage uncertain) here during LOP retreat
several years ago. I think it was during the second retreat. Whichever year that was I have lost track now.
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Yeshe Dorje
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Re: Vajrasattva in the Gelug tradition

Post by Yeshe Dorje » Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:59 am

Thank you everyone for your replies. Perhaps, as Kausalya suggests the Gelug references I have seen to generating oneself as Vajrasattva are specifically in relation to Heruka Vajrassatva. This does seem to be the form that Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche refer to most often. :thanks:

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