Comments on “Yidams: a godless approach, naturally!”

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rafaelroldan 2017-02-10

Great understanding! When you say that Yeshe Tsogyal is enlightened and you’re not, that’s a very Mahayoga approach or below (in the 9-yana system). What do you mean with this affirmation? What does she has that you don’t and why do you BELIEVE that?

I guess that better than already existing mythos, one could use comic characters such as Superman. This would avoid eternalism to a great extent, but would have the pitfall of not being an enlightened character.

So, the difference and the key still remains in what we consider enlightenment to be.

One could practice Thröma Nagmo as an yidam or be terrified by it if one doesn’t understand why she and her bone ornaments represents enlightenment. That’s why the myth around “bounding demons to oath and becoming Dharmapalas” is all about being or not being enlightened.

But the pages you intended to summarize are just a description, not a real briefing of their intended contents. Please, develop these summaries a little more. For example, you could briefly point to the cortical homunculus and stuff like that. Please, check this book: https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Boundaries-Neuroscience-Connecting-Machines–/dp/1250002613/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Yidam practice and its relation with the body is of extreme importance to acquaint people with new technologies unfolding from this brain-machine symbiosis. Our dependance on smartphones and similar devices is a hint at that.

I’ve the same guess that you’ve that somethings in Vajrayana and Yungdrung Bön (not the purely shamanic Bön) are derived from Middle Eastern sources. Not only they mention some geographical locations like that, but you can see pictorial references such as Sidpa’i Gyalmo riding a mule (a sign of connection with the sufis), but Simhamukha is pretty obviously connected to Sekhmet.

But Cthulhu would never work as an yidam, because it’s not enlightened…

Steve Alexander 2017-02-11

I’m counting 10 arms in the picture — 6 brown, 2 blue, 2 light pink

David Chapman 2017-02-11

Ah… yes… the pink ones aren’t exactly arms. He’s wearing a complete flayed human skin as a shawl around his back, and its arms and legs are dangling down behind him.

Near the top, there’s also two dark-blue arms, which belong to the garuda.

Duckland 2017-02-12

Of course you probably know that there’s already an analogous practice (invocation) in Western mystical traditions. A classic relevant quote by a practitioner, “In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth and the Paths; of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres, Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist. It is immaterial whether these exist or not. By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.”

You didn’t address the cultural background concerning objects that the yidams hold. It’s obviously more than just odd appendage numbers. What’s a vajra? Dunno if an average Tibetan would know this either but it’s an argument.

Have you seen Shinzen’s video about deity practice? Can’t link here but you can Google fast if not.

David Chapman 2017-02-12
You didn’t address the cultural background concerning objects that the yidams hold.

When you are given the practice, you get a text, which usually explains those. There’s nothing terribly interesting going on there. Something like: “It’s a noose. For strangling people. Metaphorically, she uses it to choke to death belief in the inherent effectiveness of tantric methods.”

I made that one unusually interesting via self-reference! Some yidams do wield a series of weapons, one per yana, each of which destroys belief in the magical efficacy of that yana. Cool!

More usually it’s: “She uses the sword to destroy the illusion of a separate self. She uses the butcher’s knife to destroy the illusion of a separate self. She uses the poleaxe to destroy the illusion of a separate self. She uses the iron club to destroy the illusion of a separate self. She uses the chainsaw to destroy the illusion of a separate self. She uses…”

Re the vajra, there’s some history and symbolism that’s interesting to geeks, but basically it’s just a little metal knick-knack.

Have you seen Shinzen’s video about deity practice?

Yes, thanks, it’s here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WtPrOE1JSk

FWIW, although I like Shinzen and I like this talk, I don’t think what he explains is more than vaguely similar to Tibetan yidam practice. (His background is more in Shingon; maybe it’s closer to that, I don’t know.)

I think he would agree that this is new practice that is “inspired by” or “draws on” Buddhist deity yoga, but that is not the same in either method or goal.

I’m afraid I also don’t think invocation in Western ceremonial magic is interestingly similar either. Depending on what you find aspects you find interesting, of course! There’s a superficial similarity in technique, but as my previous post pointed out, the techniques of Buddhist tantra are basically irrelevant. What matters is the attitude, which is quite different.

Duckland 2017-02-13

I went back and read the Techniques post. I wonder how you define “stance” and “attitude” without reference to technique. Also I wonder how you distinguish an attitude from a mindstate induced from meditation. Also I wonder how you distinguish a temporary mindstate induced by meditation and a quasipermanent mindstate induced by meditation.

For example, I can follow a technique for a time, then drop it when I’m in an “altered state”. From there I can “feel around” to a new “state”. Thereafter that new “state” might be accessible almost any time. Is that an “attitude”?

Is the point of Tantra having the attitude you describe? If so then isn’t the primary technique “getting” that attitude?

Where’s the evidence that the attitude you describe is central?

I must admit the Western invocation and the Tibetan yidams seem pretty much the same to me. Even if you argue the underlying belief system or “attitude” is different I have to say the technical similarities don’t seem superficial to me. In Crowley’s system you’re instructed to spend many hours honing powerful visualization skills. From that point you visualize specific deities with specific qualities for the purpose of accessing desirable qualities (among other things). That no one ever does the concentration work prior is another point.

I don’t know where you get your Devil worshipping instructions from by I assure you my Angel will beat up your yidams.

Btw, have you gone down the tulpa rabbithole? Millennials may have reinvented a “superficially” similar practice.

It’s possible Shinzen is is shoehorning the practice onto his system. It’s possible he’s consciously leaving out some detail to do so. I would imagine he knows if the Shingon and Tibetan forms of yidams practice are radically different, but I can’t be sure

David Chapman 2017-02-13

Duckland — Hmm. I’ve struggled with how to reply in a way that could be helpful, and eventually gave up. An attempt to reply point-by-point would wind up being enormously long, and probably wouldn’t really help. Sorry!

If, for some reason, you wanted to understand yidam practice in its own terms, you would… unfortunately… be at a disadvantage relative to someone who knew nothing. I would guess it would take dozens of hours of discussion with a teacher, over a period of a couple years, to unlearn the habit of imposing misleading concepts from other systems on it.

But, so long as you are happy with the system you practice, there’s no reason to learn yidam! In particular, the fantasy some Westerners have that yidam practice is “like Western magick, but more powerful” is completely wrong. So you aren’t missing out on anything by not knowing about it.

Duckland 2017-02-14

Sorry for the barrage of questions. I’m curious.

To be clear, I’m not a Western magick practitioner. I know of invocation and yidam practice only from reading.

Still, I don’t understand how the two are significantly different. I googled around and found a comment made on another page of yours “Reinventing Buddhist Tantra” made by a “Zac”. He seems to draw a connection, mentioning Sam Webster. I remember reading a comment by Israel Regardie (main publisher of Golden Dawn material) that the Tibetan system and Golden Dawn system are essentially similar.

In that other thread you commented that “This is partly because the Western stuff was influenced by mainly-Hindu tantra that came back from India with British colonial officers in the 1800s and early 1900s.” I wonder if you have a source for that, regarding the Golden Dawn specifically.

If the above is a waste of time I still wonder how you distinguish stances, attitudes, beliefs, mindstates, etc.

Thanks for any responses

David Vitello 2017-02-15

Thank you for another great piece David! I really enjoyed it. I would really like to read/hear your thoughts on Body maps and tsa lung as well. I hope writing about those topics tickles your fancy at some point.

Question: You’ve provided a very clear view of yidam practice. I wonder about your thoughts on the Four Nails that are supposed to summarize the four key points of yidam practice in the Nyingma system. Not to throw some obscure Tibet Buddhist stuff at you, but I think the combination of the view you have provided here in addition to clarity on the Four Nails would help a lot of practitioners.

Oh, and were can I find more info on yidam and tsa lung and neuroscience? That’s sounds killer. Please write more!

Thanks as always for spreading your wisdom!
Dave Vitello

David Chapman 2017-02-15

Duckland — Yes, people have been pointing out the similarities for more than a century.

Sam Webster’s book is Tantric Thelema. I’ve read it; it’s good. I recommend it if you want to learn more from a source that emphasizes the similarities (where I would emphasize the differences).

Israel Regardie was commenting from a Western magick point of view, and he was significantly influenced by Perennialism (the idea that all religions are essentially the same in their mystical core). He also was writing at a time when very little was known about Tibetan Buddhism in the West, and what little was known had been heavily distorted by mis-applying Hindu and German Romantic-Idealist concepts.

I don’t have a particular source for the Hinduism/Golden Dawn connection in mind. However, simply googling for the phrase turns up what appear to be many discussions.

David Chapman 2017-02-15

David Vitello — Glad you liked this!

Off-hand, I don’t think I have anything to say about the Four Nails. (I haven’t received any detailed teaching on them; I know them only from brief textual discussions.) I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about them! Or, if you are interested in how they’d relate to something in particular I said, it’s possible that would prompt me to have a thought myself.

There’s been a bit of neuroscience research done on tantric practices. I wrote a little about that here; but I was just summarizing the results of a casual google search three years ago, so I have no significant knowledge. There’s probably more recent work, and probably I missed some that had already been done.

In the body maps post, I had in mind to speculate wildly, based on a combination of personal subjective experience and my knowledge of some neuroscience that seems like it might be relevant—rather than reviewing experimental evidence on tantra specifically. However, before writing that, it would certainly be worth doing a more serious look at whatever empirical research may have been done on tantric practice.

The body maps post would start with fact that the brain keeps track of a model of the physical configuration and state of the body. Lots of different sorts of evidence show that this map is highly malleable. It’s somewhat innacurate by default; there are things you can do to make it more accurate (which can help with athletic performance and maybe health). But also you can quite easily fool it into being wildly inaccurate. A famous experiment involves literally adding a third arm, which seems subjectively real. So adding four arms and two heads is not a huge stretch! How and why this would be useful is another story, which gets even more speculative…

Kris 2017-02-25

This practise seems very widespread, but only extensively systemised and recorded in Vajrayana and western occultism. I’ve had a maori social worker tell me of her visual process of identifying as the Incredible Hulk giving her incredible self-confidence, for example. She was Maori, I suspect there is equivalent practise in Maori culture but that’s pure speculation on my part.

Method acting also seems similar to yidam practise, which leads me to think that there are better ways and worse ways to do yidam practise. Heath Ledger’s mental health greatly suffered due to extensive identification as the joker, and if someone were to look into picking up atoms of yidam practise, understanding how not to do it would be helpful.

Tabletop Roleplaying(D&D et al) can also resemble yidam practise. I’ve recently had experience around a game table as identifying as a character with different gender, along with significantly different internal emotional dynamics. Looking back on it, that process has had me incorporate aspects of that character’s behavior into my own over time, some of them undesirable.

An instruction manual or at least resources on “How to Yidam real good” would be really helpful for anyone looking to do any of the above in effective ways, and avoid potentially catastrophic mistakes.

Duckland 2017-02-27

“The body maps post would start with fact that the brain keeps track of a model of the physical configuration and state of the body. Lots of different sorts of evidence show that this map is highly malleable. It’s somewhat innacurate by default; there are things you can do to make it more accurate (which can help with athletic performance and maybe health). But also you can quite easily fool it into being wildly inaccurate. A famous experiment involves literally adding a third arm, which seems subjectively real. So adding four arms and two heads is not a huge stretch! How and why this would be useful is another story, which gets even more speculative…”

David, I wonder what you think about VR in relation to this. I read and heard Jaron Lanier talking about this. Very interesting. Probably can’t post the links but there are a couple papers I found. The titles are: “Transcending The Self in Immersive Virtual Reality” and “Homuncular Flexibility in Virtual Reality”. The latter is from 2015, very new.

David Chapman 2017-02-28

Thanks! Those are very interesting!

Links:

https://vhil.stanford.edu/mm/2014/won-jcmc-homuncular.pdf
http://publicationslist.org/data/melslater/ref-262/paper4.pdf

Sorry about the stupid spam filter.

brainonholiday 2017-02-28

Two scientific articles I recently encountered might be of interest to you. There haven’t been many neuroscience studies of the advanced practices of Vajrayana, but a researcher at the Nalanda institute in New York, Joseph Loizzo, argues that the third wave of the scientific study of meditation will focus on Vajrayana practice. Last year he published a model connecting the Western neuroscience model with the Kalachakra model from the Nalanda tradition. He doesn’t have a lot of experimental evidence on which to base his model but from what I can tell what he proposes about the “subtle body” is plausible and interesting. Basically, he argues that mindfulness approaches target high level, evolutionarily modern brain areas (prefrontal and parietal areas), whereas advanced Vajrayana practices target deeper, evolutionarily older areas (midbrain, brainstem). I don’t see anything about visualization practices per se in his model. He seems to be more focused on subtle regulation of the autonomic nervous system through breath retention and advanced tantric practice. I do think as the field matures in the next decade we’ll see more studies of this kind coming out.

I’m not sure if I can post the links to the article here but if you do a pubmed search you’ll find it. Here are the titles.

1) The subtle body: an interoceptive map of central nervous system function and meditative mind-brain-body integration. Loizzo JJ. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016 Jun;1373(1):78-95. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13065.

2)Meditation research, past, present, and future: perspectives from the Nalanda contemplative science tradition. Loizzo J. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 Jan;1307:43-54. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12273. Review.
PMID: 24673149.

The other researcher whose work is worth looking at is Zoran Josipovic from NYU. He’s a Dzogchen practitioner and has at least one preliminary study of long-term Vajrayana buddhists.

David Chapman 2017-03-01

Thank you very much—most interesting!

rafaelroldan 2017-03-10

The following research was not exactly on Yidam as a whole, but it helps understand at least the mantra aspect of it:

Tibetan sound meditation for cognitive dysfunction: results of a randomized controlled pilot trial.
Milbury K, Chaoul A, Biegler K, Wangyal T, Spelman A, Meyers CA, Arun B, Palmer JL, Taylor J, Cohen L.
Psychooncology. 2013 Oct;22(10):2354-63. doi: 10.1002/pon.3296.
PMID: 23657969

@Kris

This practise seems very widespread, but only extensively systemised and recorded in Vajrayana and western occultism. I’ve had a maori social worker tell me of her visual process of identifying as the Incredible Hulk giving her incredible self-confidence, for example. She was Maori, I suspect there is equivalent practise in Maori culture but that’s pure speculation on my part. (...) Tabletop Roleplaying(D&D et al) can also resemble yidam practise. (...)

That’s what I think David was stressing not to confuse yidam practice with invokation.

In both terms, a child impersonating a superhero or any other fictional character has much the same tool at hand. This is the starting point for both Yidam and Invocation.

However, Yidam is ultimately concerned with complete liberation (ugh!), recognizing non-duality, while invocations are almost always concerned with secondary benefits.

Well, there’s a kind of supreme invocation in the Western Occult lore, such as the Akephalos prayer, the Unborn practice. If you practice Western occult at large, even those kind of higher summonings, those of becoming God Himself (theourgia) are very much polluted by eternalism and monism.

So, Yidam is NOT equal to Invocation nor even to Nyása (as found in the Guhyakali section of Mahakalasamhita), which is similar to any animistic, polytheistic or monotheistic invocation.

Role-Playing Games and even Acting are very good tools to enhance your Yidam practice, but are not imbued – as said above – with the view that is far from the edges of eternalism and nihilism.

I prefer some Live-Action rather than TableTop playing. It’s more intense, especially when using fake blood inside a building under construction.

;D

Bidisha Banerjee 2017-03-12

The body-map section sounds really intriguing. You should write it! Thanks for a great post.

weitsichtsutras 2017-05-06

David, I like how you apply “false” in quotation mark. It leaves a much more relativistic impression on the reader. Speaking of myself, since I abandon the urge to create opinions, to classify into right or wrong, life got so much easier.

Thanks for pointing out Yahwe’s story. A troublesome adolescent, besieging the ruling god and turning into the new one and only god. The story reminded me a bit of Milarepa who also did wrong but inverted this into something new and remarkable later (and through this previous experience, some Katharsis).

Shinzen notes in the video that the purpose of the deity yoga is “to gain insight into the arbitrary nature of self-identification”. I think he is right about that. Do you object? If you want to practice loving kindness, where is the difference between choosing Avalokiteshvara or Virgin Mary as yidam? I believe that (a) it is essential to commit your actions to the well-being of others (bodhicitta vow), (b) engage as many sensory fields and visualize the yidam as detailed as possible, and (c) always end the yidam visualization in the void (anatman). As long as you can do this with The Hulk, why not? There was a day on which the Green Tara was promoted a yidam. Maybe it’s about time to promote The Hulk!

There is a philosophical book written by a German guy “Who am I and if yes: how many?” There is also this practice of the Inner Team by a guy called Schulz von Thun, it is applied in NLP for inner conflicts: name different objectives you have, give them a personification including a name and convene a meeting. You remain the boss and determine that the work has to be consensual and that the meeting won’t be finished until the conflict is solved. We have so many personalities and objectives in ourselves. The deity yoga is a practice, in my eyes, just to add another team member to the table. That can help to widen what you call self-identity. And also learn about concealed parts of the self. You can extend your own potential towards your objective to incorporate into the Dhamma. I thought this is why the Tantra is called the “elevator” as opposed to the stepwise path(?) Is the choice of yidam rather a question of preference and liking (rigpawiki mentions you have to have a strong karmic relation to it), of bravery (to look at concealed parts) or of coincidence (whom you meet to get acquainted / good description of the practice / empowerment)? And would it be recommendable to visualize more than one yidam in one period? (Yes I know, refer to the teacher, you are no teacher. But still. There aren’t many good teachers around. And they have their own biases -hence my asking).

You said “unquestionably existent (albeit dead) humans are also available”. I think the notion in brackets that they should be dead is very important for the psychic health of the practicioner. No living person is free from mistakes, so also the guru.

David you write “The Protestant, Romantic-Idealist, and Jungian idea that Truth is found “deeply within” is antithetical to Vajrayana, which is about patterns of interaction, not psychology.” I read and re-read this sentence and really would like to understand what you mean David. My first ventures into wanting to understand what life is about I spent with videologs of a therevada monk Yuttadhammo. He was told that his name meant ” one who is composed of Dhamma.” or as he interprets it “Truth Is Within.”. This is why I stumbled over this sentence. Does the understanding Theravada vs. Vajrayana differ? I thought that Dhamma is the Truth and I myself made experience of insight. This information lies within each of us and avails itself for revelation, if wanted.

Maybe it’s due to not having read all of your posts yet, David. But the term “enlightenment” -with and without quotation marks is being used quite inflationary (namely 24 times). It may have been worth so summarize in one sentence. Or maybe a short extra blog? I wonder whether the state of “enlightenment” is irrevocably attained until end of life? My guts tell me that the enlightened state can refer to no more than an instant, what is your understanding? Do you really think that “developing capacities, adopting stances, and engaging in activities” can have some ultimate level equal to the label “enlightenment”? And no, I haven’t passed the test to see the three kayas in there =)

@Duckland Your notion ” I can “feel around” to a new “state” ” reminded me of an interview with G.J. Perelman who solved the Poincaré conjecture. I don’t find the quotation but I heard that he described his approach to the solution just as ‘you are in a room that has no light. And you spend time getting acquainted to this room. After some time, you find a door, you open it. Just to enter another black room that you then again start to get acquainted with until you find a door -and so on. I try hard to stay in meditation in the nonverbal realm. As soon as I attribute words to it, remembrances follow. But I think it takes courage to just stay there.

Arran 2017-06-01

Late to the party again. I wanted to reiterate confusion on the claim re: Jung, archetypes and psychology. I am not a Jungian but I have a passing interest in Jung and post-Jungian analytic psychology. Best I can says it, something in it just ticks an aesthetic box for me. My understanding of archetypes is that (if) they exist in the unconscious as unclear abstract patterns that require individual human beings and cultures to provide them with explicit manifestations in images, myths and so forth. Given this basic distinction between the undifferentiated unconscious form and the specified, specialised differentiation of the activated archetype in a given iconic representation (ie. a yidam) I see no contradiction. In simpler terms there is a distinction between the archetype and the archetypal image. The archetype is said to seek a representation to be expressed in (?anticipating meme theory). That the archetype is expressed in historico-cultural forms suggests that the truth is not to be found inside but in the participatory to-and-fro across the membrane of the psyche.

There are other reasons to critique Jung. We can critique him for being a mysterian and for failing to produce theories that are amenable to falsification. There again I think a Jungian could reply that depth psychology is not scientific but aesthetic, it is an aesthetic of relations. This might require that we judge Jung on other grounds. If we pursue him for his subjectivism (meaning is neither subjective nor objective but participatory) then we are limited to critiquing Jung. The quick extension of the criticism to “psychology” seems rushed. In fairness I may be placing too much weight on a word chosen more casually than I am reading it. Nonetheless there are plenty of modes of psychology- and psychotherapy- that are about “patterns of interaction.” Indeed, psychoanalysis and psychodynamics begin from the assumption that the psyche is not unitary such that it’s analysis can be demarcated between internal (object relations) and external (interpersonal/group/transferential) patterns. If we go even further afield into the fringes of Deleuze and Guattari’s insistence on the machinic unconscious then we dive headlong into what is arguably among the most complex process-relational ontologies that exists.

I guess I stumble on the distinction “psychology”/”patterns of interaction.” There are a host of questions lurking behind that distinction.

James Hitchens 2017-08-31

David,

Would you be so kind to talk a little bit more about the difference between Shinzen Young’s formulation of deity yoga, versus your own understanding. Perhaps you can mention the ways in which you see why it works, in contrast to the way Shinzen’s interpretation of why it works.

Any further comments would be appreciated.

Thanks.

David Chapman 2017-09-01

Hi James,

That’s an excellent question; but not one I can answer, I’m afraid. I know almost nothing about the practice Shinzen teaches beyond what’s in that video.

James Hitchens 2017-09-04

Hi David,

Thanks for the reply.

I was about to follow up with another question - ‘If you can’t say anything more in relation to Shinzen’s formulation, could you say something more about the way you personally understand deity yoga to work?’ - but then I remembered that the answer to that question would have come under the ‘how it works’ two hypothetical blog post titles you give at the end.

FWIW, Ken McLeod has an interesting way of discussing/formulating how it works. I think he has several recordings and blog posts about it, particularly on guru yoga. From what I can remember, he focuses a lot of the discussion on the affective-somasthetic component of devotion, and talks about how various yanas use emotional energies to raise the level of attention. It’s a somewhat shaky way of categorising, but he says that as loving-kindness is used in Hinayana, and compassion is used in Mahayana, devotion is used in Vajrayana (and non/post-tantric Mahamudra/Dzogchen) to raise the level of energy in attention, letting the warmth of awareness transform stale and dualistic fixity, into a more alive and fluid state, where one becomes identified with the immanence of process-relational intimacy.....so to speak. Excuse my own nonsense babble, but it gives a very rough idea of the direction in which Ken takes the discussion of ‘how’.

Anyway. I, look forward to reading more of your work in the future. And thanks for the DeconstructingYou podcast with Michael Taft - great stuff!

Pobop 2017-09-20

Mostly referring to this: “FWIW, although I like Shinzen and I like this talk, I don’t think what he explains is more than vaguely similar to Tibetan yidam practice. (His background is more in Shingon; maybe it’s closer to that, I don’t know.)”, for people who stumble here and scroll to the bottom of the comments later.

I once chatted briefly with Shinzen about the deity work during one of his “phone retreats”. At least at that level of practice it was greatly abstracted. Maybe he gives more specific advice to advanced students. But he’s done to deity yoga what he does to everything: Incorporated it into his system. He’s great at it.
I have great respect for that system. It’s a beautiful and useful and it has helped me many times. But it isn’t the same as the source material.
In the latest version of Five Ways to Know Yourself deity yoga is listed under the heading of “Nurture Positive Ideal”. Like the picture above (and ceremonial magic of Crowley, as well as in chaos magic etc.) suggests you can use anything. Grandma or Cthulhu. Shinzen uses examples that are more towards “grandma” though.
There are other videos where Shinzen talks about his experiences in Shingon deity yoga. He won’t go into the full details because of the vows of secrecy, but he speaks more and more clearly than most teachers. What’s clear from these accounts is that the full ordeal entailed prolonged solitude and exposure to cold (with dumping buckets of ice-cold water on ones self daily) with rituals and meditation taking up rest of the time. So besides the technicalities of the practice there’s that. Page 5 in the outline above mentions tsa lung, so that’s an interesting similarity.

So yes. The deity stuff Shinzen currently teaches, at least to beginners, is “not more than vaguely similar” to anything else probably, since it’s a novel formulation. Not really Vajrayana or Shingon, but I’m glad it’s there.

Adam 2018-02-13

“It is essential to remember that the protectors, as well as deities altogether, are nothing else than projections of the richness of our own minds. Representing our own potentialities, they have no independent existence. By supplicating them, we are in fact rousing confidence in our own Buddha nature.”

https://www.nalandatranslation.org/offerings/notes-on-the-daily-chants/commentaries/protector-chants/

“The ignorant think that gods dwell in celestial worlds and have power to control human destiny. Such gods are merely projections of one’s internal organization; the creation of gods in the external world is a projection of the unconscious. The belief in gods was created to help those who are not aware of their internal resources and are in need of an objectification of supernatural powers. They need to believe in gods that will help them fulfill desires that they feel inadequate to fulfill through their own means. It is said that those who have seen gods are fools, for they have seen something of their own self and mistakenly believe that they have seen gods. Externalists have created gods for their own convenience, but in actuality those gods are symbols of unknown phenomena that occur within.”

http://www.swamij.com/deities.htm

God are man-made tools called yantras that are designed to bring out certain gunas (qualities) like love, intelligence, wisdom, compassion, will power etc.... As Sadhguru once said on youtube, god is OUR making not the other way around.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHgVgEI9oMU&t=

big boy 2018-12-28

Hello David,

I couldn’t find a better place to send you this. You seem quite aware of certain facts that Nietzsche and others have laid out elsewhere, and yet (with respect!) you seem to chicken out wherever these facts would become genuinely unpalatable for most people. For instance, you point directly at the idea that monstrosity is a prerequisite for nobility and then hedge it with a “perhaps” - you make the usual overtures acceptable to any (with respect) dumbly smiling, cow-sagely Jungian or Petersonian about embracing your shadow, but stripped of all genuine transgressiveness (or immoralism - or amoralism, for that matter!) . Your eyes are too kind, but you don’t know what kindness is. Please send me an email if you’d like to talk about this (owensworth@gmail.com). Otherwise, thank you for your time.

God bless you

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