By Andrew Peers
I received some irritated feedback after writing an article.
It was a piece from few years ago in which I used the traditional division of Buddhist yanas (Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana). The reader claimed that no one talked in these terms anymore and that I should update myself.
Yet if I may tentatively use the term Vajrayana again, I will. After all, it’s the way I learned it. Vajrayana is the Buddhist yana (meaning approach, or literally, Vehicle) based on the experience of the non-duality of form and emptiness. The Order of the Longing Look teaches pure non-dualism as an extension of this teaching.
So, let’s say the practice of meditation (shi-ne) brings us to the experience of the empty state and develops in us a capacity to be able to abide there. That’s all well and good. However, a mouse on solitary retreat can still reappear… just as a mouse; practice doesn’t automatically bring insight. To stop at the “experience of emptiness” could also merely mean that we’re hiding from life, or just indulging in—doubtlessly beneficial—relaxation techniques.
What we are really concerned with here is accessing the enlightened mind and bringing about a change in the way of seeing—and therefore thinking about—the world. It has everything to do with the mind, not the brain.
According to Vajrayana, the real fruit of emptiness is the filling of this emptiness (absence of thought) with presence-awareness. From this state of referencelessness, it’s possible to re-enter the world as the yidam, a meditational deity. With the help of a guide, the most uniquely suitable yidam can be found for you personally. In Celtic Buddhism, it could be a Celtic yidam.
In envisioning and joining with the yidam, Vajrayana is uniquely adding a proactive and accelerating ingredient to Buddhist practice.
Through assuming this form, we learn to experience ourselves as having limitless capability. We can discover the power of the mind beyond the ego-thinking system. It can act like a window through which we can discover the essential nature of our being. The feeling necessary to maintaining the emotional vibration of being the yidam is known as vajra pride.
Vajra pride can be interpreted by outsiders as arrogance, but it is essential for moving beyond the limited version of what we may think we are. It will inevitably reveal precious subconscious resistance that can be used for further refinement in practice (wood for the fire).
Rather, isn’t arrogance claiming that you can ever truly be anything unaligned with, or apart from, your inner being? This is where the rubber hits the road, where we bring the experience of emptiness back to interaction with the world of form.
There is a touch of magic in all of this because the mind is being re-wired at a subconscious level. Only here can real and lasting change take place.
Editor: John Lee Pendall
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