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Yidam

Yidam – Usually translated into English as “meditational deity”.

Regardless of the many unintentional dualistic misconceptions that at times may creep into tantric practice, the so-called ‘deities’ depicted in Tibetan thankas represent nothing other than various aspects of the practitioner’s own mind except in cases of historical characters.

Usually the teacher will identify a particular ‘deity’ for a practitioner to visualize in fine detail with all the accompanying subsidiary deities, ornaments, weapons or instruments with the goal in mind that the practitioner will ‘take on’ the attributes symbolized by the specific deity. This type of practice is usually considered fairly risky and advanced and is often shrouded in secrecy, precisely to prevent the practitioner falling pray to mistaken dualistic fixation which could lead to the student thinking that the ‘deity’ is an actual being to whom one must pay obeisance (a clearly mistaken theistic view) which is utterly at odds with the atheistic view of Buddhism.

According to the Buddha Brats, any person, movie star, film or book character and mythological archetype from any and all cultures can be used as ‘yidam’.  Through the process of realizing that ‘all is self’, these archetypes can be immediately accessed and downloaded without any laborious practices in order to fuel ones experience and expression.  

The key is to BE one ‘face’ in a moment when it is appropriate, and then let go of it and move onto the next ‘face’ as the situation requires, effortlessly adapting and playing out the entire range of human emotions to perfection without getting trapped.

Compare Aspects, Skillful Means and Six Realms. Also see Sadhana and Non-dual View.

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