He is a valid cognition to all the masters that have perceived him, and to those of us that infer his validity through relying on our faith in those masters, valid scripture, and eventually our own experience.Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:If a unicorn is not a valid cognition then how can tantra work? Is Chenrezig a valid or invalid cognition?Pema Rigdzin wrote:In order for something to be a valid cognition, it has to either be perceived or one must be able to validly infer its existence, such as when seeing smoke on a distant mountain top and inferring there must be fire there.Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote: What make4s a cup a valid cognition that can be non-affirmatively negated and a unicorn an invalid cognition that cannot be non-affirmatively negated?
I dunno about you, but I've never seen a unicorn, nor has anyone I know, and I've found nothing on which to infer their existence, so unicorns are not validly cognized. On the other hand, there's a cup right in front of me.
Also, ascribing reality to a unicorn is merely imagination and isn't rooted in anything deeper one can also discover within oneself, unlike Tantra, which is not just fantasy. Everything about the practice, particularly in HYT, is analogous to aspects of our true nature. The way Chenrezig (or any yidam) appears, such as how many faces & hands, his color, the garments and ornaments he wears, the implements he holds, etc is not some real, solid identity; it's skillful means. It's not at all like if you look for me and every time you find me, I look the same, I have the same haircut and facial hair, I'm dressed the same way, etc. In reality, the real Chenrezig is the Dharmakaya, which is identical to the Dharmakaya of one's own mind. From Chenrezig's Dharmakaya, which is beyond meeting and parting from our own, the myriad of appearances of the Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya appear unceasingly, unfolding according to beings' capacities and what will resonate with them. We simply focus on one of those Sambhogakaya appearances in our sadhana, because each one communicates the true nature equally thoroughly, so only one need to be chosen to focus on.
Back to the meaning and purpose of the aspects of the Sambhogakaya appearances we meditate on in sadhanas, there are many HYT commentaries where the author explains what each garment, ornament, implement, face, limb, etc represents. To give a merely general gloss of it, I'll say that the aspects of Chenrezig's appearance that I mentioned represent realization of certain enlightened qualities, strengths, and abilities, and the elimination of the afflictive emotions and veils of ignorance. Through practice, we can discover all this within our own minds.