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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
FORUM | UNSEEN REALIZED BEINGS 65 years, one might experience a sense of vastness. That, to me, is similar to what we’re talking about—the experience of places, teachers, a field of some kind of radiance. This kind of experience can be found in early Buddhist lineages as well as the Mahayana tradition. The teacher is not just that human being who walked into the room; the teacher has a vaster dimension as well. So when you go into solitary retreat or go on pilgrimage, that’s all part of your devotional relationship—you’re growing closer to the real meaning of devotion, its formless aspect. In most of our cases a human being introduced us to this realm by her presence, which then continues beyond, even once you leave the room. ROB PREECE: I suppose in that sense, we could say that these nonmaterial realized beings are part of what comes through, or maybe they are the primary thing that comes through. Something about that relationship opens a teacher to a quality that manifests when they’re teaching. ACHARYA GAYLON FERGUSON: Yes, the ceremony of abhisheka, or empowerment, or in Tibetan, wang, is about exactly what you’re describing. ROB PREECE: For me the question is, how do I make that alignment or that opening? In the Tibetan tradition, there is something about the way in which those deities act as a kind of window or gateway. The metaphor that often comes to mind is that of a stained-glass window in a church. When there’s no sunlight coming through, it may appear two- dimensional and a bit drab, but as soon as the light comes through, it lights up. Part of the point of the deity is that it is a vehicle or channel for something to come through; it offers us a way to make that connection to the source, to dharmakaya. ACHARYA GAYLON FERGUSON: From that point of view, the only way to understand what we’re talking about is through practice. We’re not going to fig- ure this out intellectually. LAMA TSULTRIM ALLIONE: I really like that. Let’s say there’s the entity of Tara and that she’s kind of like a TV sta- tion that’s constantly beaming out into the universe. She’s always transmitting, always emanating, but if our own TV isn’t turned on and tuned to that channel, we don’t get the signal. Transmission is actually giving us the right channel, or a specific channel. BUDDHADHARMA: Once we tune in, what happens? This seems like a good time to unpack what we mean by “blessings” in Buddhism. It feels relevant to this discus- sion, but it’s also a word that could easily be construed in the Christian sense of a god bestowing blessings. LAMA TSULTRIM ALLIONE: That’s a word I’ve thought about a lot. In Tibetan, it’s jyin lab [pronounced “chinlab”], which literally means “gift wave.” Jyin is “giv- ing,” and lab is “wave.” I had a really interesting experience with a Tibetan lama who is a siddha, which means