The basics of Lam Rim explain the gradual development of Boddhichitta and are relatively easy for a student to understand. However, the difficulties usually arise in the consistent implementation of the instructions, namely when the theory should be put into practice. For example, if you are focused on being consciously open and friendly and all these efforts being exploited as weaknesses, the good motivation can quickly change into frustration.
The development of a deep intrinsic compassion is a lengthy process that requires a lot of time and mental work. Usually, the examination of the subject takes many years or, according to Buddhist beliefs, several lives. The reason for our slow development is seen in our conventional thinking and egocentric experience, which throws us out of balance again and again.
In order to meet these challenges, different practice methods or yoga have proven to be successful, which have been combined into practice sets called Tantras. A tantra describes the exercises contained in the exercises and complies them to a daily practice for the practitioner.
The core of many Tantras is the so-called Deity-Yoga, which is based on the visualization of an ideal parallel reality, which is free from all blemishes and concepts of conventional reality and is called a Mandala (Sanskrit: circle). In this meditation, one’s own mind is visualized as a clearly defined Buddha manifestation, which is endowed with various attributes and special qualities. All aspects of this meditation exercise have a symbolic meaning, which reminds the practitioner of the different basic thoughts to be realized during the exercise.
For example, the green goddess Tara stands for:
- The female principle, which is a symbol of wisdom in Buddhism
- All-encompassing love, because of its peaceful appearance
- Speed, symbolized by the colour green, which symbolises the air element
- Giving, through the posture of her right hand
- teachings, through the posture of the left hand
- Immaculate from conventional concepts, completely pure due to her seat on a lotus flower, which grows out of the swamp but still is never stained by the swamp when it blossoms.
The exercises have been designed to include all the human senses and thus facilitate immersion in this ideal parallel reality.
Such a meditation practice should be practised daily in order to achieve progress. It is similar to an instrument you want to master: it takes a lot of practice and perseverance in dealing with your own concepts, which have to be cognitively rearranged over long distances.
The introduction to tantric meditations must always be done by a competent and experienced meditation master, who has been entrusted with the mandala himself, who has studied it extensively and practiced it decisively. If one has participated in an initiation into a tantra, there is a permanent teacher-student relationship with the introductory meditation master, whereby the master will guide the practitioner in the meditation practice in the future. This could be compared to an experienced coach in sport, whereby this relationship and its importance as a direct access to the teachings of Buddha himself is seen as an important basis for meditation. For this reason, the teacher is given great respect.
It is therefore crucial from the point of view of an practitioner that the teacher is carefully examined before being asked for an initiation.
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