Buddhism discusses self-delusion as poisons of the mind (skt. kleshas). These include mind states such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire and depression. These mind states are very strong, destructive, hurtful and make us very confused and lost. Because of these poisons we feel lost and are ignorant about our reality.
In tantric practice we practice wrathful buddhas or deities to transform the mind poisons back into their natural liberated unconstricted condition. This is how tantrics transform selfing, one's self-based beliefs and views, so that natural condition can be realised and lived in the society.
|Wrathful deity: (skt) Mahakala or (tib.) Gonpo.|
Wrathful deities look angry, fierce, mad and crazy with desire. They look scary. They look like demons but are not demons. Perhaps in someones eyes wrathful buddhas look like orcs from the movie. However, it is the mind poisons that are evil, nasty, scary and orc- or demon-like, not the deities. Wrathful deities are liberated buddhas. They are archetypes of our mind and energy in their enlightened, not in their confused, form. This is crucial to understand because if you don't, you just think that this is medieval spirit worship or something silly like that. Wrathful deities are pure and liberated, like liberated anger, liberated jealousy or liberated confusion. We could say that they are dynamic expressions of the liberated mind. We could also say that they are liberated self, liberated me or suffering in its liberated form. This is the meaning of one taste* or sameness of samsara and nirvana.
*one of the main stages of mahamudra
Cultivating wrathful buddhas is not always easy because they stir our subconscious poisons and bring them to the surface. This is actually what they supposed to do and the gift of wrathful tantric practice. It is an immense gift to get to scoop from the bottom of the subconscious mind, to get one's hands to that foundational poison-mud. There is no better way to bring it to light, in the open, than wrathful practice. When poisons come up, they may confuse and make us nervous a bit. Those poisons come to the surface so at times we find ourselves in the middle of a puddle of deadly poison. A mature yogini or yogi can enjoy the ride and let it play out by itself. But someone who is still learning the dynamics of tantric practice, it can be a shock. We simply need to practice what we have learned. That's all and it will work out, like it has for thousand generations of yogis before us. Going through this process gives us freedom and maturation as human beings. People who never had difficulty in their life are naive, spoiled, immature and lack character. Doing wrathful practice is definitely also a way to grow up because it requires one to stop whining and bullshitting oneself and others. In these situations tantric lamas sometimes give you words of encouragement while other times you get scolded for not giving it your all. If you don't give it your all, if you're not serious about it, you're in wrong place. In this case, if you are not committing to the process 100%, you might only be making your life worse with wrathful practice.
We start all practices by first learning the practice. In the beginning, we get to know the deity or deities. We get a feel of their energy. As we keep cultivating the deity, we become familiar with it and begin to unite with it. Finally, as the deity drills its hole through the poisonous area in our mind, that it's meant for, we see that the deity is me. We also come to see that both me and the deity are empty, and that the deity is actually a marvellous celebration of life itself. This is the gift of tantric practice.
-Kim Katami, 28.6.2019
Open Heart Sangha,