A short introduction to Tibetan Buddhism
cause of samsara
Buddha, the Enlightened One, taught that all beings suffer as a result of
their not recognizing the inherent Emptiness of nature.
v From their Non-recognition of Emptiness or Ignorance
arises a sense of SELF.
v From this sense of SELF arises a Self-cherishing
Attitude which places oneself above all others.
v From this Self-cherishing Attitude arises
all the other Defilements: Anger, Attachment and Ignorance.
v As a result of creation of Actions, Motivated by these
Defilements, beings suffer from “Karma” or the Resultant
Effects of their Actions.
v From their endless creation of “Karma”, beings are
forced to take birth, experienced inevitable death, take birth again, experience death again and so on, again and again in
an unending cycle of suffering.
way to end samsara
To realize Emptiness so that they can be free from
samsara, beings will need to practise the Noble Eight-fold Path
When beings realize Emptiness, they are then liberated
do not only want to liberate themselves from samsara but in addition,
wanting to attain Buddhahood, as this is the best manner that they can
liberate all other countless beings from samsara, are known as “Bodhisattvas”.
The wish to want to attain Buddhahood regardless of how long it will take
or how difficult it will be solely for the liberation from samsara of all
other beings is known as the “Common Bodhicitta”.
of practice of the Bodhisattvas: Sutra Tradition
Bodhisattvas practise the Six Perfections for countless aeons so that
they can attain the state of Buddhahood. The Six Perfections are
Generosity / Morality / Patience /Perseverance / Meditation / Wisdom.
This group of Bodhisattvas is practicing according to the Sutra Mahayana
Another group of Bodhisattvas practices according to the Tantra Mahayana
Tradition. This latter group of Bodhisattvas are motivated by the
“Uncommon Bodhicitta” which is the wish to attain Buddhahood for the
liberation from samsara of all other beings through any means whatsoever
because they cannot stand, due to their great compassion, the suffering
of any beings whilst they are progressing towards Buddhahood.
of practice of the Bodhisattvas: Tantra Tradition
This group of Bodhisattvas practices Deity Yoga and other tantric
practices which will yield the state of Buddhahood in the shortest time
possible including even this very life. In general, these Bodhisattvas
practise viewing the inherent ultimate potential or purity of all beings.
They do this through viewing their Spiritual Teachers as Buddhas,
themselves and all other beings as Buddhas.
The article attempts
to present an accurate, faithful reproduction of Deity Yoga teachings
culled from precious, holy Teachers of the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition. It
is not some shallow, wasteful attempts to prove the superiority of any
one of Lord Buddha's teachings as being superior to any other. It is, as
stated earlier, a simple, clumsy though scrupulous duplication of our
holy Teachers' instructions, listened to at their holy feet, scribbled
and recorded feverishly with hurried trembling fingers into old yellow
exercise books, akin to enthusiastic ramblings of talkative, pretty
parrots, only for accurate depiction of Deity Yoga as it is, as
positioned in the traditional context.
Are we revealing
His Holiness the present Dalai Lama has commented on numerous occasions
that the partial lifting of secrets for purpose of clarification and
understanding is of infinitely greater value and sense than wholesale
ignorance due to antiquated code on seals of guarded confidentiality. Let
His Holiness, then, be the article's justification and shield
How will the
article help ?
The article attempts to reveal an accurate peek into the enchanting
practice of Deity Yoga for the uninitiated lay person.
In addition, it hopes to throw greater light for and offer further
guidance to those students already embarked upon this precious path.
How the article
All deity yoga practices follow the basic structure or outline as given.
Therefore, through understanding the skeletal framework given below for
the representative deity, one will be able to gain valuable insight into
the functioning and practice of Deity Yoga.
According to Je Tzongkhapa [ who is the first Ganden Tripa and Root
Teacher of the first Dalai Lama ], it is of paramount importance that all
Deity Yoga practices be unshakably rooted in the following 3 principles:
Enfolded within this point are the 4 Noble Truths, the 12 Links of
Interdependent Origination and other tenets of fundamental Buddhist
teachings which can be further detailed into simplified points as
Understanding of the precious human rebirth
2) Understanding of the complex workings of karma
3) Understanding of impermanence
4) Understanding the viciousness of samsara
"Thought wishing to gain Buddhahood for the good and liberation of
all sentient beings"
Seeing that all beings are embroiled in endless torture in samsara, one
must find a best way to liberate them all. The best way is, from the
point of view of the Mahayana tradition, the attainment of Buddhahood.
Bodhicitta is itself divided into further sub-divisions of relative and
ultimate bodhicittas, aspiring and application bodhicittas, common and
uncommon bodhicittas amongst others.
At least an intellectual, proper
understanding of the concept of Emptiness
There are 16 main methods of establishing and explaining this concept
according to the traditional scholastic conventions.
The idea of Emptiness is defined by Shariputra to Assaji through
inspiration of Lord Buddha in the following way: all phenomena lack
inherent, independent and permanent existence because it arises and
dissolves not through any intrinsic existence in itself but simply
through the incredible churn and flux of causes and conditions that
permeates and influences it. In other words, phenomena are merely the
frivolous pageantry of causes and conditions. Phenomena do not possess
any "real", inherent existence of its own.
Detailed information on these essential foundations
for Deity Yoga can be accessed from the "Worth a Read" section
of our website.
After listening carefully to, seriously contemplating upon and then
integrating practices of the above 3 principles into one's life, thereby
deeply internalizing them, before one then plunges into any Deity Yoga,
one should now definitely seek "Initiation" into a particular
Deity whom one has strong karmic affinity from an authentic Master
representing a valid, lineal tradition. For example, one may seek
initiation into the Deity Yoga practices of the famous deity, Kalachakra,
if one has the karmic link to it, say from the Dalai Lama, or any other
great Teachers, who are legitimate representatives of a pure lineage.
After taking the initiation, one should view the Master whom one receives
the initiation as a Buddha. According to the traditional teachings, there
are many points as to why we should and how we can view this or these
Master/s as an enlightened Buddha/s. As the topic is massive, the article
will not enter into elaboration of it.
There are many traditional sources given to show
that Deity Yoga is an uniquely great practice.
The article will provide only one of the main points: how Deity Yoga
allows for the SIMULTANEOUS accumulation of Wisdom and Method, climaxing
in the attainment of Buddhahood, in the swiftest possible time, for the
good and liberation of all sentient beings.
The rigorous, common path
When absorbed in contemplation of Method, the first and second principles
A and B, one generates what the third Gyalwa Karmapa terms in His
Mahamudra Aspiration, an "unbearable compassion" of wanting to
attain Buddhahood so that we are then able to competently liberate all
father and mother sentient beings from their sufferings.
When absorbed in meditation on Emptiness, the third principle C, as given
above, one gains realization and insights into how all phenomena
including sentient beings are non-existent. At this moment, we will not
even have a concept of sentient beings to liberate from suffering !
At this juncture, we run into some contradiction. When we are absorbed in
meditation on Emptiness, we do not perceive sentient beings for us to
help and liberate. When we are meditating on the Method aspect, we
perceive that there are sentient beings for us to help and liberate.
It is said that students not using Deity Yoga practices will have to
continue to practise Emptiness and Method SEPARATELY, painstakingly
accumulating these two aspects for an incalculably length of time, before
culminating in the union of these two, that of perfect Buddhahood, or
that of the Truth Body and Form Body of Buddhahood respectively.
Students at this level give rise to the common Bodhicitta: "May I,
even if for an infinitely long time, practise the 6 Perfections, be it
through losing my lives again and again and again, persevere hard always,
until I attain Buddhahood for the good and liberation of all !"
Deity Yoga path
Seeing that one needs to use an infinite amount of time before one can
attain Buddhahood for all, one feels very sad
that one is unable to help all anytime sooner.
The student then seeks for an alternative method and gives rise to the
uncommon Bodhicitta: "May I, IMMEDIATELY, through any paths
whatsoever, gain Buddhahood, so that I can right away, help and liberate
all beings from their suffering !!"
Students of Deity Yoga, right at the very beginning, arises in the form
of a Buddha-Deity, out of the purest Bodhicitta motivation, so that he or
she can immediately enact the activities of Buddhahood for the sake of
all beings, while AT THE VERY SAME TIME, absorbed in the illusory,
emptiness nature of beings and phenomena. In other words, the
practitioner is powerfully engaged in holy activities of liberating all
beings, while at the same time, abiding in the awareness that there is no
being to liberate, no action of liberating and no liberator
In this way, Deity Yoga allows for a most rapid SIMULTANEOUS accumulation
of Wisdom and Method. If practiced properly and with the sincerest
wishes, one is supposed to attain Buddhahood in this very life.
Sample structure of a Deity Yoga practice text
of the Method Aspect
1.1) Refuge - the basis of all and
1.2) Generation of Bodhicitta or the wish to attain Buddhahood so that we
will then have the ability to liberate all beings
Buddha, Dharma and Sangha,
I take refuge until Enlightenment is reached,
Through Deeds of Giving and other Perfections,
May I attain Buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings
The first 2 lines
refer to taking of refuge in the
i) Three Jewels ( Buddha, Dharma, Sangha ) and the
ii) Three Roots: ( Guru - representing all sources of refuge, the
Deity or Yidam - representing qualities of Buddhahood, Dakinis or
Protectors - representing activities of Buddhahood ).
At this point, there are 3 main ways of visualizing,
in each case, the Deity representing all the sources of Refuge:
i) one line of the same Deities, each representing a particular
lineage Teacher that the particular Deity's practice has passed through,
above the student's head - this gives rise to auspiciousness to the
teachings staying long in the world;
ii) one Deity above the student's head [ the Deity's Body, Speech
and Mind representing all the Sangha, Dharma and Buddhas respectively ] -
this gives rise to auspiciousness to accessible understanding to the
iii) a whole assembly of the same Deities or a whole assembly of
Three Jewels and /or Three Roots surrounding the Deity above the
student's head - this gives rise to auspiciousness to flourishing of all
good qualities and flourishing of the teachings
The last 2 lines are for generating Bodhicitta - the
wish to attain Buddhahood so that we may then have the ability to
liberate all father and mother sentient beings from the turmoil and
disasters of samsara
Two of the main ways
to generate common Bodhicitta:
i) Think of the kindness of our mother in this present life. She
has sacrificed much for us. In fact, according to the Teachings, each and
every single being has also been our mothers in all past lives. They have
all died and sacrificed much for us countless times throughout all past
lives. Generate a sense of infinite gratitude and love towards all mother
beings. I myself will take responsibility of relieving all mothers from
all their sufferings. They will not be free from sufferings permanently
until they are liberated from samsara. To gain liberation from samsara,
they will need the dharma. Now, I have no ability to help them in a
maximal capacity through teaching the dharma. I will only have the
highest ability to help them if I attain Buddhahood. Therefore, to attain
Buddhahood, I will now practise this Deity Yoga.
ii) Recognizing the absolute sameness of oneself and others. We
all wish only to have happiness and not to have suffering. In addition,
we all actually have the same right to be happy and the same right not to
have suffering. In terms of number, all beings are infinite and so have infinitely
more "right" to be happy whereas I am only one and so only have
one "right". Therefore, it is perfectly appropriate that I give
up my right to fulfill all their "rights" to be happy. I can
only do that in a maximal level if I attain Buddhahood. Therefore, to
attain Buddhahood, I will now practise this Deity Yoga.
To generate uncommon
i) Moreover, I can try to attain Buddhahood through accumulating
the Six Perfections for infinite eons. However, while I am doing so, all
beings will continue to suffer in samsara.
ii) I cannot bear the thought of them suffering in the meantime. I
must practise this Deity Yoga so that, immediately or at the earliest
possible time, I can attain Buddhahood for their sake.
1.3) Arising as the Deity
Keeping in mind that one must immediately attain the state of Buddhahood
for the good and liberation of all mother beings, one instantaneously
visualize oneself arising in the form of a Deity.
To arise in the form of a deity, one must first be ready to give up one's
own self-cherishing, self-grasping ego, to assume that of a visualized
Deity, representative of Buddhahood, resplendent with all unbelievable qualities !!
At this point, one's arising as a Deity, creates cause for one to
accumulate the relevant karmic propensity to truly take birth in the Form
Body of a Buddha.
The Deity, whether peaceful or wrathful, is usually adorned with 6 types
of ornaments, representing the complete actualization of the 6 Perfections:
4) Joyful Energy
The Deity is usually
seated upon a sun and / or moon disc atop a lotus. The sun and moon
respectively symbolizing that the Deity is upheld through ultimate and
relative bodhicitta, or compassion and wisdom. The lotus means that the
Deity forever abides within the turmoil of samsara for the good of all
beings while being totally undefiled by the smudges of it just as the
lotus grows out of and blossoms brilliantly from muddy water but is
however unblemished by any blotches of impurity.
Every single detail of the Deity - the number of hands, legs heads; their
respective colours; their varied hand implements; their different
postures - in effect, every single, specific detail will correspond
significantly to precise aspects of Buddhahood.
Wrathful deities are sometimes depicted trampling upon
"demons". The "demons" are representations of one's
very own defilements that one should triumph over and vanquished before
one can attain Buddhahood rather than any externally lurking evil
spirits. These "demons" usually represent "fundamental
ignorance" or mistaken grasping at true existence of phenomena from
which arises all the myriad hordes of defilements on the ultimate level
or the selfish, self-grasping, self-gratifying or self-grasping attitude,
at the relative level.
One good example is that of the main implement, the Phurba, held by the
famous deity, Vajrakilaya. The Phurba is a sharp, dagger-like object with
3 blades, each blade corresponding to destruction of our three main demonic
defilements of greed, anger and ignorance. The 3 blades taper down and
end in a singular point. This point corresponds, as the above example, to
the destruction of "fundamental ignorance" on the ultimate
level and / or the destruction of self-cherishing attitude on the
Another example will be that of say the 9 fiery heads of another popular
deity symbolizing the 9 categories of the dharma, its 34 arms plus its
body, speech and mind, making up 37, corresponding to the 37 facets of
Enlightenment, its 16 legs representing the 16 types of Emptiness and so
on and so forth, its embraced consort-partner, representing the absolute
inseparability of Wisdom and Method on a general level, the dissolving of
distracted, discursive "winds" or consciousness, on another
level. In effect, the entire deity awesomely sublimated into Buddhahood
One crucial point here is that whilst oneself
appears in the form of the deity, one remains absolutely aware of its
illusory-like, "empty" quality.
1.4) The 7-Limbs and/or others
At this point, one
usually generates the Teacher and the Three Jewels in the form of one's
Deity in the sky above oneself.
Oneself, also, in the form of the deity,
performs the 7-Limbs towards "real" Deity, in front of oneself.
The 7-Limb Prayer is extracted from Samantabhadra's Aspiration Prayers of
the Avatamsaka Sutra. Practising this 7-Limb is said to be the supreme
way of accumulating merit.
Prostrating, taking heart-felt Refuge in the Enlightened Beings
The reasons for taking refuge:
i) Out of fear ( most basic level ) -
Seek protection for oneself from the treacheries of samsara
ii) Out of divinely great Compassion ( the Mahayana level ) -
Seek protection from the Three Jewels not for oneself but for others in
the sense that one can then, with refuge, be of competence to help all
Making total and complete offerings to the Enlightened Objects
One needs to
absolutely offer everything, at least with the sincerest wishes, as it is
usually not possible to offer in actual, real life, one's body, one's
life, one's heart, all the gold and silver in one's banks, one's beauty,
strength and all, so that we can swiftly accumulate merit for the
attainment of Buddhahood for the good and liberation of all. If one holds
anything back, this is a sign of not possessing total renunciation of
one's self-grasping at one's samsaric objects of attachments. This will
lead to further wandering in samsara. If one offers with absolute
sincerity, one paves the way to letting go of self-grasping and the way
to liberation so that we can be a Buddha for all.
Committing defilements cause sufferings for oneself
and others while
not committing defilements and cultivation of positive activities results
in happiness for oneself and others.
This is in-line with the Mind-Training teachings that cherishing others
is the door to all happiness while selfishly cherishing oneself only is
the door to all sufferings.
the 4 powers of confession:
i) Regret committing defilements as it is negative and produces
only suffering for oneself and others
ii) Sincere commitment never to engage in defilements again - this
is the clever way not have suffering again in the future
iii) Do the "opposite" - in place of anger, we'll have
love; in place
of lies, we'll have honesty and truth; in place of killing, we'll
iv) Doing purification practices through Vajrasattva, the 35
Confession Buddhas and / or other practices.
Feel the greatest happiness in all deeds and activities done for good
and liberation of all, be it from your own organization, other
organizations, Buddhist or otherwise. Always pledge and dedicate all your
support with the purest and best of all best wishes for the unbridled
success of these activities.
Think also that rejoicing reaps great merit while feeling jealous reaps
great problems !!
Stay on Forever
Making the sincerest wishes that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Teachers
upholding the Teachings, whether you know them or not, and not just your
own Teacher, to please stay on forever in this world for the good of all.
If one Buddha decides to pass away, we lost one illuminating lamp. If one
Buddha decides to live on, the lamp persists in its brilliance for the
joy of the world.
Teach us please
Making the sincerest of all wishes to the Teachers to please always
"Turn the Wheel of Dharma" so that we may all learn about the
teachings and so gain liberation from suffering.
If the Buddhas and Teachers don't teach, we will not be able to attain
happiness. If they teach and we learn, transcendence from suffering and
actualization of all happiness is at hand.
Full-hearted Dedication and Sharing
Dedicate the incredible merit you have thus far accumulated, especially
merit accumulated through this 7-Limb, to all unenlightened mother
Think of their respective sufferings in samsara.
Remember always and empathise deeply with their problems, difficulties
Generate the greatest wish of wanting to help all beings with your total
love and compassion, dedicating and sharing your merits with all these
beings, all of whom having been our very parents, loved ones throughout
all infinite lifetimes, again and again, having died for us, wept for us
and sacrificed for us.
We completely offer and share entirely our hearts and love with the world
with all its creatures in it always.
the 7-Limbs, ourselves visualized already as the
deity, will emanate goddesses to perform all the works.
For example, we may visualize infinite goddesses emanated from our hearts
making full-hearted prostrations to the 3 Jewels in all universes while
full-heartedly taking refuge in them for the first limb. For the second
limb, we may visualize unbelievably number of goddesses offering
unbelievably holy and great offerings to the 3 Jewels.
Further notes on
texts, one offers the following to the Teacher and 3 Jewels manifesting
in the form of the deity:
i) people or things whom one feels strong attachment to - friends,
parents, lovers, our new sports car,
[ this is the reflection of one of our main defilements - attachment ]
ii) people or things whom one feels indifferent towards - the
starving baby dying of Aids in far-flung Africa, our neighbourhood's
stray cockroaches ingesting poisoned pills planted for them
[ this is the reflection of the second of our monstrous defilements -
iii) people or things whom one hates and dislikes - back-stabbers at
work, the malicious liar
[ this is the reflection of the third main monstrous defilement - anger ]
Offering these three gory reflections of our defilements and
understanding in depth the functionings of their manifestation loosens
and finally squashes them through completely offering and surrendering
them to the Teacher and 3 Jewels.
wrathful deities sometimes mentioned of offerings of turbulent oceans of
boiling blood, stinking, putrid human flesh, towering mountains of bones
and the utter destruction of the universe and all "enemies" in
it to the Teacher and 3 Jewels manifesting in the form of the wrathful
The idea behind:
Offering of blood enacts surrendering of desires and
attachments of oneself and all beings
Offering of fleshes enacts sublimation of ignorance
Offering of bones enacts renunciation of anger
With these offerings, one surrenders and
conquers our 3 main most wicked defilements.
Offering of the destruction of the entire universe with all "enemies"
in it symbolizes the vanquishing of samsara for all beings and the
"enemies", of course, with our own miserable defilements.
1.5) Teaching and
liberating all beings
At this point in the sadhana, one, as always, out of infinite love and
compassion for all precious father and mother beings, prays with endless
devotion to the deity, manifestation of the 3 Jewels and in essence,
one's holy, precious Teacher, to integrate and merge as one so that one
may then bring goodness and joy to all.
One's Teacher, in the form of the deity, then
dissolves into oneself and merges inseparably, becoming one.
Sometimes, in certain sadhanas, one also visualizes all Buddhas now
coming to give one initiation from holy vases and then all the Buddhas
dissolving into oneself.
Next, one recites the mantra of the deity. The mantra appears in the
center of one's heart and shoots off blazing lights to all beings in the
world. The light touches all beings and transforms them all into the
deity, bringing them joy and everything good, liberating them from
samsara and transforming them all into Buddhas who in turn, blazes forth
the mantras and sharing you in your holy activity of liberating all
In some sadhanas, you as the deity, emanate countless Buddhas, with
infinite compassion, filling up the entire universe, "just as pods
are completely filled with sesame seeds", teaching tirelessly and
working endlessly for all, liberating all beings.
Further notes on
While reciting the mantra, oneself may also visualize goddesses or
different coloured lights issuing forth from one's heart to
i) enact the 7-limb as given above;
ii) perform the 4 Activities of:
[ White light - healing, blessinng ];
- Increase [ Golden-yellow light - enricching, prosperity of inner
and outer wealth ];
- Attractive or Power [ Red light - channging the minds of beings
to only do good deeds, attracting beings to dharma practices ] and
- Wrathful or Protective [ Blue-black liight - protecting beings
and smashing, squashing obstacles ]
iii) all individual beings of the 6 realms, completely relieving
them of their sufferings;
iv) One continuously remain and abide in the awareness of the
ultimate nature of the absence of liberator, the act of liberating and
the liberated throughout
of the Wisdom Aspect
This is the most crucial part in the sadhanas as
this is the actual place where death, intermediate-state or
"bardo" and re-birth is purified, where one finally obtains
liberation from samsara for the good of all
i) Light shines from you as the
deity to all the universe and dissolves all into light and then
re-dissolving all these masses of light back into you
ii) Oneself as the deity further dissolves into light
iii) One now "rehearses" death through visualizing the
different scenarios one will experience when death comes. One gets
extremely familiar with all these signs and recognizes the significance
of each scenario. These detailed, specific signs must be rehearsed until
one is absolutely familiar with them. They are extremely clearly
elucidated in Yangchen Gayi Lodro's text.
It culminates in the manifestation of the most subtle innate
Clear Light Mind where one then either abides in deep
awareness of or then using this most subtle mind in
contemplation of Emptiness.
iv) One, in the form of absolute "Emptiness", now
identifies this state as the Truth Body of Buddhahood. One now thinks: I
cannot stay in this state of Dharmakaya because I cannot help sentient
beings if I am here. Only other Buddhas can see me. Out of compassion, I
must come out of this state.
[ this stage corresponds to purification of the
actual Death State ]
v) Instantly, you are turned into a sphere of light, arm span in
length. Think: I am now in Enjoyment Body or Sambogakaya of Buddhahood.
Only 10-Stage Bodhisattvas can see me. All other beings cannot even see
me. How can I help them ??!! I must immediately
take birth so I can help all my beloved mother beings.
[ this stage corresponds to purification of
Intermediate-State or Bardo ]
vi) Instantly, "like a fish leaping out of water", one
transforms into one's personal deity in all its glory possessed of
infinite mercy and love for the world. Think: I have now taken birth. I
am now in Nirmanakaya of Buddhahood.
[ this stage corresponds to purification of Birth ]
familiarizing and then finally harnessing of the death, bardo and birth
processes, one is able to achieve liberation from the pitiful, endless
cycle of samsara.
Every sadhana goes through
i) Birth of the Buddha - this corresponds to the point in the
sadhana where one arises in the form of the deity
ii) Attaining of Enlightenment of the Buddha - this corresponds to
the rigorous 7-Limb practices climaxing in the Buddhas giving one
initiation and dissolving into oneself
iii) Turning of the Wheel of Dharma of the Buddha - this
corresponds to the part where one recites the mantras and liberates all
iv) Showing of Nirvana of the Buddha has a last lesson to the
students - this refers to the part where one dissolves all phenomena into
light and into oneself and oneself in turn dissolving into Emptiness
v) Oneself again arises in the form of the deity showing that
Buddhas are never truly in nirvana but are forever manifesting in the
world in whatever form is appropriate and helpful for all beings.
In retreats, one
practices a sadhana of a deity at least 4 times a day in four separate
sessions. Through utter mastery of the sadhana through the deity yoga
practices, one gains Buddhahood that one may then liberate all from
Deity Yoga too
includes Completion Stage practices of the Wind, Channels and Drops. The
topic is gigantic and will not be covered in this article.
The sadhana has at this point concluded. We now dedicate fully all merits
to all sentient beings everywhere and pray that this merit may stay on
forever in this world so long as there are sentient beings whom the merit can be of help.
"Due to this Merit,
May I soon attain the Enlighten-State of Guru-Buddha,
So that I may be able to bring all beings without exception
To that very Enlighten-State"
"May the precious Bodhi mind,
not yet born arise and grow;
May that born have no decline,
but increase forever more"
One tries to
maintain awareness of the ultimate nature of all phenomena being
possessed of the Buddha nature or as in the form of the deity and works
hard for the good of all.
A J R A Y A N A
¨ The Diamond Way ¨
For all the hype and spectacle of its exposed and exhilarating drama of
countless buffalo-masked lama dances, shrieking, prophetic oracles,
initiations and what have you, the Vajrayana or the
Diamond Way actually delineates a highly
compact and structured Buddhist programme, a pedagogy
Around 2,500 years ago, the historical Buddha Shakyamuni gave an
impressive spectrum of Teachings so that each and every being can find
the method most suited to him or her in his or her search towards lasting
happiness otherwise known as Enlightenment.
The basis of it all
First, there is the basic and essential aspect of the Teachings shared by
all forms of Buddhism in the world: the 4 Noble Truths.
v The first
"There is suffering" - we do
not need the Buddha to convince us that there are both happy and unhappy
days and that our lucky moments in life do not last forever.
v The second Noble Truth: "These are the causes of suffering" - primarily, our
totally mistaken grasping at a permanent sense of self.
From this deluded concept of an
existent self arises the
"self-cherishing" attitude. We cherish ourselves over
and above all others. We must have a glossier car and mightier mansion
than our neighbours. We must employ all resources within grasp to triumphed
over and destroy, if possible, all our rivals.
"They are a threat to my country, my company, my school, my family
and me! They have violated me! We cannot rest until we show them
Anger, greed, jealousy and such formidably wicked throng completely
Unfortunately, these wicked motivations rebound equally unhappy results
for ourselves - the Law of Karma.
So long as we remain dominated by unwholesome attitudes arising from a
"self-cherishing" false sense of a permanently existing
"self", suffering entails.
v The third Noble Truth: "There is an end to all these suffering" - the
Buddha gives us His assurance having personally experienced the end of
v The fourth Noble Truth: "These are the ways to end suffering"
1) Recognize and gain realization that there is no
inherent existence of the "self". The "self" is illusory and possesses the
nature of "emptiness". From here, we begin to ask
ourselves, who are we selfishly cherishing? What is there for us to
selfishly cling on to? It is ridiculous to generate anger or for that
matter any other forms of mental defilement for or in the name of a
2) As we can only expect more suffering to arise from the wicked
hordes of anger, greed [ remember the Law of
Karma? ], we should be most cautious not to create them if we do not want
suffering. On top of this, if we desire happiness, we should have love
instead of anger, generosity instead of greed and so on. In short,
instead of acting on our "self-cherishing" attitudes, we "cherish others" through proper actions,
proper speech and proper attitudes embodied in the Noble Eight-fold Path.
The NEXT STEP to
with, understanding and finally realising the truths of
the above, we clearly recognize that although there is no inherent basis
of a "self" for us to "self-cherish", we can
obviously see that all others continue to grasp at a mistaken
They all desire happiness for the "self" and strive to avoid
even the slightest suffering for the "self". While pushing to
gratify the "self", they create endless unwholesome actions
that ripen into yet more sufferings for themselves. In other words, in
spite of themselves, due to their entrenchment with the multitude of
defilement over countless time, all unenlightened beings are all crazily
creating the causes for suffering in a futile bid to achieve happiness.
The only way then to help them is to teach them about the 4 Noble Truths
or whatever will help them towards full Enlightenment. But wait, they are
not going to listen to me if I am as flawed as they are. Also, how can I
ever know which teaching is best suited to them?
The only way to be of optimum benefit to all of them is when I become a
fully Enlightened Buddha myself!
I then give rise to the common Enlightened Mind or Bodhicitta:
"May I endlessly engage in the Bodhisattva practices be it for incalculable aeons so that I can become a
fully Enlightened Buddha for the sake of all beings!"
A person who gives rise to the above Enlightened Mind or Bodhicitta is
known as a Bodhisattva.
These Bodhisattvas, just like the historical Buddha Shakyamuni in the
Jataka Tales, then embark endlessly for countless aeons, overcoming
unspeakable trials and tribulations, training in the 6 Perfections of
Generosity, Patience, Ethical Conduct, Joyful Perseverance, Meditation
and Wisdom. When they become perfected in the 6 Perfections, they will
have attained to the state of Buddhahood whereby they can then be of the
highest benefit to all beings.
This step is where the Mahayana Tradition addresses.
The FINAL STEP
A group of these
Bodhisattvas starts to question if there is any other method where they
can most quickly attain the state of Buddhahood for the sake of all
This group of Bodhisattvas gives rise to the Uncommon Enlightened Mind or
"I cannot bear the idea of training for countless aeons in the 6
Perfections not because I cannot bear the austerities it entails but
because I cannot bear the sufferings of all beings in the meantime. May I
quickly, most quickly attain the state of Buddhahood through whatever
means as is necessary!"
To these talented and extraordinarily compassionate people, the
Buddha taught the Vajrayana or the Diamond Way.
It offers an amazing array of profound methods for attaining Buddhahood:
the famed though frequently misunderstood and sometimes abused Guru Yoga
practices, Deity Yoga practices, the actually rather technically-proned
Completion Stage practices of the Winds, Drops, Channels, the
"Pointing-Out" instructions of the Dzogchen Maha Ati, the Songs
of Mahamudra, the "Giving and Taking" practices of unspeakable
compassion and so on.
These practices, if carried out in the right way with the unspeakably
compassionate uncommon Bodhicitta as the motivation, leads to the full
attainment of Buddhahood in one lifetime.
All these practices do not subvert or even subsume any of the basic
tenets of the 4 Noble Truths or the common Mahayana's 6 Perfections but
is unquestionably rooted in them and necessarily has to fully integrate
The article above is
hardly sufficient material for serious engagement with the Vajrayana.
Practitioners who aspire to achieve Buddhahood in the shortest time so that
they can kick off their mission of emancipation for all beings must
cautiously search for and connect with an experienced, compassionate
Teacher belonging to a valid lineal tradition.
All the BEST !!!
composer of the above article is the President of the Charitable
Assistance Society, a Singapore-based Buddhist welfare society. He is
currently teaching and also pursuing his post-graduate degree in
Educational Management. He is also the lowest of students of great
masters from all 4 sects of Tibetan Buddhism. All enquiries, suggestions
or comments are joyfully welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
article places the Vajrayana or the Diamond Way in its
appropriate and proper context as it should rightly be. Understanding of
the Vajrayana in its proper Buddhist context will contribute to its
recognition as an authentic and valuable Buddhist tradition.
The article also presents, from the viewpoint of the Vajrayana Tradition
itself, a comprehensive and extremely succinct overview of its precious
Humbly from the Charitable Assistance Society
The Deity Yoga article arises out of notes taken, teachings
heard from our precious Teachers.
It is faithfully recorded and duplicated by Kunga Nyima and Rigzin
Dorje. Kunga Nyima is the
President of the Charitable Assistance Society. He is currently teaching
and is pursuing his post-graduate degree in Educational Management. Rigzin
Dorje is the administrative officer of the society. He is a computer
engineer and is working full-time as a dedicated voluntary worker.