Friday, 4 October 2013

Gruesome Tantric Visualizations Transform and Purify Negativities

Vajrayogini with chopper and blood offering

Have you ever wondered what those skullcups, severed heads and other body parts that you see in tantric art represent? 

Tantric Arrangement of Body Parts

The Dorje Shugden admin team explain:

"...Therefore, corresponding to the amount of obstacles that need to be removed, the actual visualization becomes particularly graphic. However, one should dwell on its true and subtle meaning and not on its apparently aggressive language that appears vicious, until the meanings are revealed. It follows that if the negative karma that blocks one’s practice is forceful, then the puja to counter it has to be equally intense.

The practitioner approaches the recitation of the kawang by visualizing the Three Poisons – Ignorance, Hatred and Desire which altogether encompass a myriad of other poisons such as delusions, negative karma, habituations and so forth. These negative elements are visualized in the form of a very large man or a woman. Then as the visualization continues, a dakini who is an emanation of Vajrayogini appears and she wields a cemetery chopper to slay that being who is the personification of our negativities. Then, she takes her chopper and slices the body in such a way that uncovers the inner organs.

First, she drains the blood into an offering vessel. Then, she cuts out the organs of the five senses – the tongue, nose, ears, eyes and heart and arranges them neatly into a skullcup thus resembling a grisly floral arrangement. Then, she pulls the bones out, arranges them into a vessel and burns the bones like stacks of incense sticks. Next, she extracts the human fat from the corpse and pours it into bowl, inserts a wick made of the human hair and lights it. Then she collects the rest of the bodily fluids like the bile, urine and so forth into an offering vessel. Then, she chops the flesh and mixes it with barley flour and places it into another vessel as food. Finally, she pulls the thighbones, cleans it and fashions it into a trumpet before placing it into a vessel as well.

While appearing grotesque at first, this part of the visualization is indeed a beautiful and meaningful gesture of transforming what is foul and turning them into sublime offerings. The blood represents the Water offering, the arrangement of sense organs represent the Flower offering, the crushed bones represent the Incense offering, the human fat set alight represents the Light offering, the bile and urine are transformed to represent the Perfume offering, the human flesh becomes the Food offering and finally the thigh bone becomes a trumpet to represent the Music offering..."

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Thursday, 3 October 2013

Buddhism and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

In Aeon Magazine, Matt Bieber describes how he treated his OCD by using the calming and benevolent rituals of Buddhism to replace the painful compulsive rituals of OCD:

"My OCD had been creating vivid, painful rituals for years. So could Buddhist ritual give me a means to fight back?"

"Our society likes to portray obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as a cute quirk, a goofy, if irritating, eccentricity. It is not. For the person undergoing OCD experience, it is a form of mental terrorism.

This terrorism takes the form of what psychologists call ‘intrusive thoughts’ — unwanted, painful thoughts or images that invade one’s consciousness, triggering profound fear and anxiety...."

"...These rituals can take many forms. For some people, it’s the stuff you see on TV — repeatedly checking to see if the door’s locked, counting the letters in words until a particular total is reached, avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk. I’ve experienced some of this, but for me, invitations to ritualise tend to be more purely mental — to ruminate endlessly, to replay anxiety-producing scenarios until I find a way to view them that will dissipate my anxiety (which, of course, never happens). The common thread are the rituals, the promise that there’s something repetitive and formalised that I can do to make things feel better..."

"...Some rituals are designed to help us ‘keep ourselves together’. Others are designed to help us fall apart. OCD rituals are the former, and so are many religious rituals. But Buddhist meditation offers a radical alternative..."

"...Unlike OCD, or the rituals of my evangelical childhood, Buddhist rituals work not because they teach us how to stay together, but because they show us how to fall apart.

"...Because the solid ego is a fiction, it requires constant maintenance. We are constantly filtering our experience — excluding information, repressing our feelings, and ignoring our deep connections with other people — in order to defend and perpetuate a narrow understanding of ourselves. In other words, we’re constantly deceiving ourselves about who and what we are.

Why, you might ask, would anyone engage in this kind of self-deception? The contemporary Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said that we are afraid of what we know to be true: that when we look to the centre of our own being, we won’t find anything to hold on to. In his words, we’re afraid that we don’t exist..."

Related Article

Can You Trust Your Mind? Does Your Brain Deceive You?

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Process and Emptiness: Whitehead and Buddhism.

Process and Emptiness: A Comparison of Whitehead’s Process Philosophy and Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy  by Thomas J. McFarlane

"It is my hope that this paper will foster deeper understanding of both Whitehead’s process philosophy and Buddhist teachings, and help all sentient beings in their creative advance toward Buddhahood."

ABSTRACT: Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy is compared with Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. After briefly introducing the philosophies of Whitehead and Buddhism, some similarities between them are examined. The primary areas of convergence are

(1) Impermanence and process as fundamental aspects of reality

(2) The emptiness and lack of substance of things

(3) The relational and dependent nature of things

(4) The notion of ignorance and mistaken perception

(5) The possibility of freedom from ignorance and mistaken perception

(6) The emphasis on subjective and experiential aspects of reality

(7) The fundamental limitations of language and philosophical systems in characterizing reality. The paper concludes with a discussion of an important distinguishing feature of Buddhist philosophy, namely, its dialectical method of criticism.

Read it all here

For general background see Buddhist Philosophy