This small book is not a dry scholarly, academic treatment of the topic, but an easy to read exposition in understandable non-technical language of the actual practice of Sadhana, or the Tantric process of transformation. The text is taken from the transcripts of the author's various seminars and retreats in different European countries presented over the past ten years, especially those connected with the practice of the Buddhist meditation deity Vajrakilaya (Dorje Phurpa) in the Nyingmapa Terma tradition of the New Treasures of Dudjom Rinpoche, and his predecessor in the previous century, Dudjom Lingpa. Dudjom Rinpoche was one of the greatest masters of Tantra and Dzogchen in the Nyingmapa tradition of Tibet in recent times.
In the practice of Sadhana according to the highest class of Tantras, known as Mahayoga in the Nyingmapa tradition, the Sadhaka, or yoga practitioner, transforms oneself in visualization and meditation into the Yidam, or meditation deity, an archetypal form perceived with pure vision, which represents a manifestation of enlightened awareness. By thus mystically identifying oneself with this deity during the course of the meditation practice session, one may thereby come to access within oneself the powers, capacities, and wisdoms associated with that particular form of Buddha enlightenement in manifestation. By transforming oneself into the Yidam and meditating in this state, the potentialities associated with the Yidam that are latent in one's stream of consciousness may be awakened, whereas ordinarily they are dorment and latent. Awakening into the form of the Yidam, one discovers that the deity finds itself in the sacred symmetrical space of the Mandala, which, during the meditation session, represents a temporary virtual reality, or divine dimension, for the Yidam's enlightened activities.
Wrathful Yidams, such as Vajrakilaya, were manifested by Buddhas and other enlightened beings for the purpose of subduing and transforming negative energies. Hence their wrathful appearance, but the core of their being is compassion, their motivation is Bodhichitta or the enlighened mind, and thus their wrathful appearance is only an expression of skillful means. Much like the martial artist, their minds remain calm and clear, and their hearts totally compassionate toward the suffering of all living beings in Samsara.
At the beginning of the meditation session, the visualization of oneself as the Yidam inside the virtual reality of the Mandala arise, due to compassion, out of the primordial state of Shunyata, or "emptiness," which is, at the same time, the state of the pure potentiality for all possible manifestations. This state is like that of the clear, open, empty sky free of clouds. At the conclusion of the meditation session, the visualization of the Yidam and the Mandala are again dissolved into the pure potentiality of Shunyata, and having temporarily exhausted the mental energies of the discursive mind, one may rest for a time in the state of contemplation (samahita), or pure awareness devoid of thoughts and images. Then, once again, the sights and sounds of mundane reality return to consciousness. Although the practitioner returns to the ordinary reality of everyday life, nevertheless, some traces of the capacities and wisdoms actualized by the Yidam practice remain with the individual as one goes about one's activities in the world.
Table of Contents:
What is Buddhist Meditation?
Sutra, Tantra, and Upadesha
The Four Classes of Tantras
Subduing the Yakshas, or Hostile Nature Spirits
The Psychology of Wrathful Deity Practice
Tantra in Tibet: The Four Buddhist Schools
Mahayoga Tantra in the Nyingmapa Tradition
Sadhana: The Tantric Process of Transformation