Mahayoga emphasizes the creative phase of meditation; Anuyoga,
the perfection phase with characteristics; and Atiyoga, the perfection phase without
characteristics. The creative phase Mahayoga is based on the principle of purification.
Purification does not mean that the universe and all beings are impure and must
be purified. It means that the inherent purity of the universe and all beings
must be revealed or actualized. The Mahayoga way of accomplishing this is through
the four aspects of purification:
1) The basis of purification is the fundamental
ground of pure buddha essence.
2) The defilements to be purified are the temporary
3) The method that purifies is the creation and perfection
phases of meditation that transform impure perception into pure vision.
The result of purification is the attainment of the two kayas.
the method that purifies is easy, but it seem difficult at first because we are
so entrenched in the impure perception that we are not aware of how we create
it. If we can just realize that phenomena appear yet are not truly exist because
they are inseparable from great emptiness we will destroy our impure dualistic
perception. In Mahayoga we come to this important realization by creating the
appearance of a wisdom deity through visualization, mantra, and concentration.
When we "create" the deity in this way, we know that it is non-substantial
and non-existent, yet we cannot deny our experience of it. Then by extension,
we realize that this is also true of all phenomena. We see the " magic"
of form and emptiness and realize the truth of pure vision. This is a great relief
because it means that our defilements are not truly existent. For example, if
we have a million dollars that we believe to be real, then we have a million dollars
to take care of, so to speak. That is not easy. On the other hand, if we know
that the million dollars is really just a concept and that it is inseparable from
emptiness, our relationship with the million dollars will be free of attachment
and grasping. What I am trying to point out is that appearances and emptiness
are not separate realities, but a singe indivisible sphere of truth. Maybe it's
hard right now to believe that the Mahayoga method of purification through deity
practice actually works, or maybe it seems difficult to do because of there are
deities to be visualized and so forth. Or maybe you think that deity yoga increases
concepts instead of eliminating them.
The point to remember is that although
we are temporarily deluded, we are not fundamentally different from Kuntuzangpo,
the primordial buddha. Just to know this is inspiring and gives us confidence.
The only way in which we do differ is in relation to the realization of the true
nature of phenomena. Whereas Kuntuzangpo recognizes phenomena as the expression
of his own nature, we do not. In the absence of surecognition, we externalize
phenomena and experience the world and the beings that live in it as substantially
real. This is the result of ignorance and delusion. Nevertheless, the fundamental
nature is not contaminated or changed by our delusion because it is beyond cause
and result, and circumstances.
Under the heading of the method of purification,
I have just spoken about the pure perception of buddhas and the impure perception
of deluded beings. But there is also a third mode of perception - the meditator's
perception that is gradually shifting from impure to pure. In the beginning, the
meditator must make a conscious effort to generate an experience of purity. But
then as the meditator's skill improves and he or she relaxes, the experience of
purity occurs naturally and deepens effortlessly. When the meditator and the meditator's
experience are one and the same, then all appearances are realized to be pure.
we try to understand the external physical world, we probably would talk about
atoms and quantum particles. But the truth is that the origin of the universe
is not found in atoms and particles. To find the true answer, we must acquire
inner knowledge. The external world and the six realms of beings - "the problem"
-- are created each moment of our existence through ignorance and our dualistic
belief system. However, the solution (wisdom deity and pureland) arises in exactly
the same way that the problem (the universe all beings) arises. It's just that
the starting points are different - ignorance or recognition. So, what I am saying
is that we are already capable of realizing nonduality. What we must to do is
to find the right starting point.
This is a story I like to tell about the
power of creating realities. Once upon a time, when Buddha was teaching his disciples
that the outer world is all a matter of perception or in other words, that it's
all in our mind, one disciple said: "Are you kidding? You mean there's no
ocean and no world? Nothing exists except for conception?" In response, the
Buddha told the story of a woman who once lived in Varanasi, a famous Indian city.
At that time, thieves and bandits were in the habit of raiding the town and harming
the residents. Everyone was terrified and panicked. The king tried to protect
them but he was not successful. One lady took the matter into her own hands and
defended herself my meditating that she was a tiger. She meditated so strongly
that her neighbors began to see her as a tiger and so did the bandits. That took
care of her problem!
This story also reminds me of when I first learned how
to play cards. I was very excited about it and concentrated as hard as I could.
When I went to sleep that night, all I could see before my eyes were the numbers
on the cards flashing by. They wouldn't stop. Meditation is like that too. When
you focus on a wisdom deity, all phenomena are seen through the lens of pure vision.
Even if you dream of something scary, you immediately recognize it as natural
manifestation and you are not afraid. This just happens naturally because you
are grounded in pure vision. This also reminds me of what Dudjom Rinpoche once
said: "In the beginning, the meditator chases after meditation, but later,
meditation chases the meditator." I like that.