using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
fall 2007| 36 |buddhadharma whatever you choose, and you experience everything in terms of the union of awake mind and that personality, so that there is no separation between you and what you experience. You leave no part of your ordinary self in the picture. In fact, you let go of any notion of a centralized, solid self altogether. That release is the very point of deity, or yidam, practice. The Tibetan term yidam is often explained as being composed of two words, yid and dam. Yid means mind, the emotional mind, the mind associated with personality. Dam means to join to or to commit to – you commit to being awake in this personality. Empowerment A key step in deity practice is empow- erment. In empowerment, the energy, experience, and understanding of the teacher join with the confidence, trust, and ability of the student. This joining creates the conditions for the student to experience vividly, if momentarily, what it is like to be the deity – for example, what it is to be awake compassion, awake pride, an awake loser, or, to name some traditional yidams, The Great Sorcerer (Skt., Mahamaya), The Lord of Mystery (Guhyasamaya), or The Savior (Tara). The personality or deity we work with is decided in consultation with our teacher, who knows us and knows both our poten- tial abilities and our internal patterns. If we are embodying compassion, for example, the experience of empower- ment puts us in touch with the empti- ness, clarity, and fearlessness of awake compassion. We come to know the dif- ference between awake compassion and conventional forms of compassion such as sympathy, pity, or doing good, which are often tainted with subtle expressions of identity, pride, and control. For pride, the empowerment plants the seed of all- embracing equanimity, free from any sense of complacency, and the seed of delight- ing in the richness of all experience, pleas- ant, unpleasant, or neutral. If we practice without these seeds of experience, we may flail around in a fog, grasp at phantoms, and be led astray by the ghosts of our ordinary, self-obsessed personalities. Some personalities will have more energy for us, some will bring more chal- lenges, but each of them can transform our understanding of what we are and how we experience the world. The key is commitment, and the personality we commit to is called the commitment being (Skt., samayasattva). In the Tibetan tradition, deities fall into three categories: peaceful, semi- wrathful, and wrathful. The personalities of the semi-wrathful and wrathful deities often embody the energy of strong reac- tive emotions, such as anger or sexual desire. While they may resonate more closely with a particular set of emotional knots, they are a little more dangerous to practice. If the energy in our attention drops, we will fall right into a full-blown emotional reaction. The peaceful deities, which typically embody the energies of compassion, compassionate activity, intelligence, and so forth, are powerful in a more subtle way, as their energy seeps deep into our reactive patterns and dis- solves the corresponding identifications. Practicing as the Commitment Being In formal meditation sessions, we let the mind settle, resting in the experience of breathing, perhaps, or resting in natural awareness. Then we imagine being the embodiment of awake compassion, awake pride, or whatever we are using, drawing on the seed of direct experience planted through empowerment. We let the sensa- tions connected with being awake com- passion or awake pride soak into us. As Suzuki Roshi once said, practice is like going for a walk on a misty day – we don’t notice it at first, but we end up completely soaked, wet right through. This kind of practice requires an effort that is simultaneously gentle without being soft and unyielding without being hard. Resistance may arise. Reactive patterns associated with the ordinary sense of self push us to ignore, shut out, manipulate, or control what arises in experience. The commitment is to meet that resis- tance as the embodiment of whatever per- sonality we are using. If we are embodying awake compassion, for instance, we don’t harden against the resistance but rather are completely present with the resistance and the pain it protects. If we are iden- tifying with awake pride, we experience resistance with complete equanimity, not judging it as good or bad. If we are working with the awake loser, we have no expectations about the outcome of prac- tice; we just meet whatever is arising. To take the practice deeper, in our meditation sessions we can imagine tak- ing the sense of awake compassion or awake pride into specific scenarios and explore how we might meet them. Maybe I’m a schoolteacher with a difficult and demanding principal, and I have to meet with her to discuss my contract for the coming year. Or maybe I have a beautiful and valuable carpet in my home and a painter I’ve hired has just spilled a can of paint on it. Or perhaps a great job oppor- tunity has opened up and the choice is between my co-worker and me. My boss pulls me aside and asks for my opinion on my co-worker’s abilities. We don’t think about these situations or try to figure out what we might or might not do. Instead, we put ourselves right into the situation and meet what arises as the embodiment of the awake quality we have committed to. In other words, we don’t try to figure things out – we experience being the awake qual- ity and work from there. During the day, we live our lives as the commitment being – walking, talking, sitting, eating, working, working out, everything. As reminders, we constantly ask questions. How does awake compas- sion walk? How does awake pride eat? How does awake compassion talk? We drop into being awake compassion and see how the conversation goes. We drop (har#51)whitetara(detail),collectionofshelley&DonalDrubinwww.himalayanart.org