E-letter No. 20: November 2004

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Cumbria, England 1977 (Archive #123)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our twentieth monthly e-letter. Thank you for reading it…please feel free to pass it on to anybody that you think might like it or post it to any Dharma lists you’re on.

\"We’re happy to tell you that our first two Lama Yeshe DVDs are finally available: Three Principal Aspects of the Path and Introduction to Tantra. These are the teachings that are in our free book, The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism. Now you can see and hear Lama Yeshe giving them, and if you don’t catch what he said, you can read the subtitles! Each program runs for about three hours; they cost $14 each plus shipping and handling.

Also new is audio on our website. We’ve started with Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings from the free book Virtue and Reality, so again, you can listen to the teachings in the book. We have also posted the contents of our popular audio CDs, which we've since run out of. Since we have now digitized most of the teachings in the Archive (more than 10,000 hours of them), we plan to make more and more audio available. You can listen online or burn CDs and listen in your car or wherever.

We have also put another edited teaching on the Web: Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey's commentaries on The Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion.

All this comes about thanks to your kind support. Remember, you can sponsor the printing of free books (we have some waiting for sponsorship, so please ask), make one-off donations, or now become a member of the Archive for only a dollar a day for 34 months; see our membership pages for more information.

We’ve just posted a year-end appeal to our United States supporters. If you’re one of them, keep an eye on your mail. Otherwise,click here to read the letter, or find out how to make a donation. Once again, thank you so much for your kind support.

And we’re happy to also send you this previously unpublished teaching by Lama Yeshe.

Much love

Nick Ribush

Visualization in Tantra

\"For your practice of tantric yoga to become a transcendent experience you need to recognize that phenomena are non-dual, non-self-existent and like magicians’ illusions. Even your visualization of yourself as a meditation deity is an interdependent, relative phenomenon, the cooperative cause being your consciousness manifesting in that way.

Similarly, the emanations that we call Lord Buddha, the deity you practice or any other aspect of the enlightened mind are interdependent phenomena. Their cooperative cause is the dharmakaya; they are transformations, or reflections, of divine wisdom, the everlasting blissful consciousness of all enlightened beings.

Why are there all these different manifestations? It’s because two cooperative causes—Buddha’s wisdom and compassion—see, understand and manifest according to sentient beings’ needs. The moment these things come together, the dharmakaya spontaneously manifests in the appropriate way; for example, as Manjushri, or any other deity you practice. It’s effortless; the Buddha doesn’t have to force himself in any way to manifest for the benefit of others.

Also, there’s no distinction that your transformation into Manjushri is not real, whereas Buddha’s manifestation as Manjushri is. One’s as real as the other. Both are non-dual in nature; they come from the space of non-duality and disappear back into the space of non-duality.

It is very important to understand that Manjushri is a transformation, an emanation. Don’t interpret Manjushri as a concrete self-entity. To help you avoid this, therefore, the entire evolutionary process of becoming Manjushri starts from the non-duality of shunyata. In due course, through the power of the experience of meditating on the rainbow body of Manjushri as an illusion, you’ll be able to see all the energy of the entire sense world in the same way. And, if you meditate strongly enough, you might eventually be able to see the actual divine wisdom manifestation of Manjushri.

But even if you can’t see it that way, you can still see it as an illusion. Actually, that’s enough. Even seeing it in its non-dual nature as an illusion is extremely worthwhile.

Our qualm, of course, is that we think these visualizations are not real. Then, I’ll ask you, what’s real? What is real? As long as something functions, has an effect, does that make it real? No, it does not. Everything you do in your daily life—waking up, eating, talking, listening, coming, going—is like a dream. In many ways, there’s no distinction between your experiences and feelings of doing these things while awake and doing them in a dream.

Every time you come and go, your experience is different. That shows that your physically walking here and there is an entirely dream consciousness experience rather than some kind of reality. In other words, what’s more important is: what is reality for you? The reality of the sky; the reality of matter—vague, abstract questions as to the nature of reality—those things are irrelevant. What is a human being? What are the limitations of your conscious experience? These are the things that are real for you.

Now, because of your negative mind, more questions can arise. You doubt what I’m saying because, “It’s not my experience.” Then I’m going to ask you, “Is your experience limited or not?” You have to agree that it is. Then I’m going to come back with, “Can you put limitations on reality?” Absolutely not—you can’t say that reality is limited. You can’t presume to know reality; you can’t say that your experience covers universal experience, that what’s not your experience can’t possibly exist.

I’m not criticizing your asking questions. What I’m criticizing is your rationalization, your rejection of reality for illogical reasons—your assumptions based on your own limited experience. It’s much better to question things than to accept them blindly.

So, transforming your consciousness into the radiant light body of the deity you are practicing is very important in order to have a transcendent experience. You do have a psychic body. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not. The reality is that it’s there. Whether you believe you have a nose or not, there it is, on your face. Similarly, your psychic body is always there. It is your psychic, or conscious, body that you transform into the radiant light body. It is important to practice this at this time. In order to help them with such visualizations, some lamas set up a reflection of Manjushri in a mirror and think that the reflection is somewhere between them and the mirror and contemplate on that point. Then, when their contemplation is good, that Manjushri form sinks into them, they transform themselves into Manjushri, and contemplate on that.

We have such concrete conceptions. One is always one; two are always two; three are always three. Our ideas are fixed in that way. We meditate that two Manjushris manifest from the one; four from the two; hundreds from the four; billions from those. This type of skillful training makes our minds flexible. Then those billions all absorb back into one. This is mind training. It helps eradicate narrow, fixed, limited ideas. You, too, can train in this way. You can use the same methods that Tibetan lamas use.

Lama Yeshe gave this teaching as part of a commentary on the yoga method of Divine Wisdom Manjushri at Manjushri Institute, England, 5 August, 1977. Obviously, what Lama says about Manjushri is applicable to any deity you practice. Edited from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive by Nicholas Ribush.