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Buddhadharma : Spring 2014
The father tantras arising from skillful methods and the mother tantras arising from wisdom are one as the coemergence of the third empowerment. This is the bardo of the essential point. Father tantras arising from skillful methods encompass all the skillful means that are mani- festations of appearances and compassion, such as the first five paramitas, the first two of the three trainings, and the generation of oneself as the yidam deity with all the subsequent practices. Mother tantras arising from wisdom refers to development of the wisdom of emptiness, prac- tices such as the last of the six paramitas, the third of the three trainings, and the completion stage with signs. All the different methods of dis- solution into all-pervading emptiness are related to wisdom. When skillful means and the wisdom of emptiness are understood to be inseparably coemergent, the third empowerment is realized. Luminosity or appearances and emptiness are experienced concurrently. That is the realization of Mahamudra. The essential point here is the coming together of the various elements of tantric meditation techniques. For example, we often visualize white light coming from the forehead of the deity and flowing into us, transforming our body into the enlightened state. Then red light manifests from the throat and purifies our speech obscurations. Finally, blue light arises from the deity’s heart and purifies our mind, which is called the third empowerment. Based on this skillful method, we transform our ordinary form into the enlightened state. Without that, there is no basis from which to meditate on emptiness. The unchanging dharmakaya for one’s own benefit and the unceasing form kayas for the benefit of others are inseparable, being one in the intrinsic state. This is the bardo of the three kayas. A dharma practitioner who is fully convinced of the real nature of samsara will be inspired to study and practice the dharma. One starts through the stages of understanding, then practices step by step to purify the gross and subtle adventitious defilements. Finally, the practitioner actualizes emptiness and fully awakens the two wisdoms: knowing reality as it is, and understanding each and every object of knowledge. These two wis- doms are a single point without separation. One eventually achieves the dharmakaya, the dimen- sion of the Buddha’s perfect, excellent qualities. Upon the attainment of buddhahood, the dhar- makaya, one is completely free from suffering and its causes. That accomplishment is said to be for one’s own benefit because all the perfect, infinite qualities are fully realized. 36 Milarepa (detail) Courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art