Ok, finally back to explain why I've decided to go it alone for the time being. I couldn't explain very well before and still can't do it perfectly now, but things have started making sense so will try. This post is quite long, so sorry in advance, and I'll fix any typo's, etc as I read through it a few more times.
I've been going through a pretty rough few years and things have just started to get a bit better, but I still don't feel ready to join a Tibetan school yet as I'm not totally sure it's what I want to do. Maybe in the future, but I'm going to give it at least a year for now.
As for Vajrayogini, well I'm working with some aspect now that I think is becoming more aligned with who she is, and as this is happening it's becoming clearer why it's often not safe for the uninitiated to be trying to work with her! I know you have your own versions of Vajrayogini, and she's probably a lot different than the one I'm currently trying to work with, (or maybe she'll eventually become the same thing.) but the main thing is that my whole way of meditating seems to have been transformed over the last month or so into something a lot better than it ever has been, so the way I see it : if it's working and doesn't seem broken, don't try to fix it.
Basically I'm working with her occasionaly, and most of the other time I'm using the Anapanasati meditations from Theravada, or just using meditating in a manner that's probably closer to Shikantaza than anything else. This is also to get a solid grounding in basic meditation so that it's easier to work with her when I do. When it comes to the whole system though it's not easy to explain, and will clearly seem overcomplicated, but the way it works is anything but that. It's basically memorizing sets and methods, then when I practise most of that sinks back into the unconscious and over time the sets I've been working with seem to help, in the type of way that a martial artist would seemingly apply their skill without "thinking" about it when they do. You just use the skills you've learnt and don't have them cramming up your head as you're constantly thinking about them, etc.
So to help explain (I'm doing this mainly for anyone interested in how I'm going to manage to work with Vajrayogini basically.) I have these sets that cover just about everything I need when I'm not working with her :
3 marks of existence, 3 svabhavas, 3 poisons,
4 noble truths,
5 hindrances, 5 aggregates, 5 dharmas (from Lankavatara.),
7 factors for awakening, (Theravada.)
8 paths, 8 consciousnesses (Yogacara.),
12 Nidanas, 6 senses + 6 sense objects.
I don't sit there trying to learn these or think about them all the time. The opposite basically. I try to meditate on how things actually are, but if I feel I need to learn some more or something seems off, I refer back to them and meditate on whichever one seems best at the time.
As for sutras, again I don't use them that much, but if I feel I need to go over them again, I'm using the Lankavatara, Diamond Cutter, Anapanasati, Frames of Reference and Great Frames of Reference, and even though it's not a sutra I find the Xinxin Ming a great help too. Two sutras I'm hoping to look at in the near future are the Sandhinirmocana and Mulamadhyamakakarika, but again, sutras aren't usually the main focus and it's the sets that I listed that are used for meditating, if I'm not meditating in a fashion similar to Shikantaza.
Then there's the aspect where I work with Vajrayogini. (So I have a Zen/Theravada/Vajrayogini synergy.) It's basically like the methods already listed are all helping to ground me and prepare to work with the more primordial aspect of my "self" that's one with her, but clearly that's something very powerful to just be accessing so I'm taking my time. For now I'm sticking to this :
- I do sitting meditation with her once a week and simply visualize her,
- Use a BAM seed syllable pendant I recently got that I take out with me every so often, and when I do I try to keep a female aspect of her in my mind, but that part isn't something that I can easily explain. It's like a visualisation meditation, but it's something else related to my own "personality" merging with part of hers on a subtle level and it helps bring confidence and concentration in whatever I'm doing if it's done properly.
- Visualisations of the BAM syllable on various parts of my body, spontaneously.
- Using her mantras, but only once a month and only a short amount of them. Mantras are what I work with the least. The way I see it, they're powerful, short, and don't need to be done often.
But mostly it's spontaneous. I can just be doing something and I'll decide to visualize her as myself in a type of human form, and a lot of confidence and concentration is present, and a way of looking at things, or perceiving things, that I can't really explain. This is clearly not the way you work with her, I know that! But with the research and meditation I've done over the years, and some research and practise that used to be occult related, along with various visualisations and some ritual, I feel like I can develop my own way of working with her, with her help.
There's also a dakini-type aspect or two that seem to either be inspired by her or are just unrelated, but I do feel like there's some input from Vajrayogini with them. The only trouble is they're not easy to explain. They vary from calm and focused to being wild and chaotic, but it's too personal to go into really so will leave that part...
I wouldn't have posted here today either, but earlier it was like she spoke to me, or communicated with me. Or it was that the aspect of myself that relates to her, my inner Vajrayogini, or primordial aspect of her, decided to say a few things. She basically sent the perceptions and/or spoke, telling and showing me that I can work with her, but I'm still not ready to work with her all the time. That she can help me, but if I screw it up she's going to put me through hell basically, not in the literal sense I don't think, but basically that if I think I can work with her in a half arsed way or just slog along being lazy, she's going to make me pay for it. That's totally cool because I need that discipline, the thought of her really helps me focus and often inspires me in other ways. You could say I'd be better off with my own teacher, but to me, the meditation I'm doing and the way I work with her are my teachers. I learn things every day if I do it properly.
The way I work with her doesn't involve much speaking at all though. She's more of a state of mind that helps me meditate in a much better way, and rarely does anything in my mind (or from what I think of as her.) speak like she did earlier. There's also the fact that I'm trying to do this alone and that's why I'm have to meditate several times a day now. Be it walking, sitting, doing whatever I'm doing, but the days of sitting for 10 minutes then leaving the meditation mindset behind and going straight back to being the usual jerk I've often been have gone. I can't afford to do that anymore and have to put a lot of effort in, and she's basically helped me realise that over the last few weeks. I can still have fun, but the discipline has been upped a lot.
Anyway, sorry if this doesn't make much sense, but there's so many aspects of the way the different meditations and the visualisations click with eachother and the bits of intuition they give that I could probably write for several more hours, but I'll leave it here! Basically it might all seem chaotic and over the top, something that can be simplified drastically, but when I work with parts of it that's what actually happens : it becomes simplified if it works well because my mind seems to spontaneously point to which part(s) need to be focused on if they're out of balance. So when it works properly I just bring what's wrong to mind, find the various meditation that helps correct the balance, then go back to the awareness. Or you could say the awareness stays constant and perceptions of something slightly off flash into the mind, then they kind of correct themselves as the awareness realises it.
Will let you know how things have gone with this if my work with her has any hugely great things happening, but to be honest I just think it's going to be something that'll take some time and requires patience. Some days will suck, some won't, but the important thing is to keep meditating! Then hope that overall it continues to get better like it has done over the recent weeks.
"A 'position', Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with." - MN 72