The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

INTRINSIC RADIANCE 289

tice, so without the stability of Tögal hardly anyone can recognize

the bardo of dharmata. An accomplished Tögal practitioner

who has perfected and stabilized the luminosity of the

nature of mind has already come to a direct knowledge in his

or her life of the very same manifestations that will emerge in

the bardo of dharmata. This energy and light, then, lie within

us, although at the moment they are hidden. Yet when the

body and grosser levels of mind die, they are naturally freed,

and the sound, color, and light of our true nature blaze out.

However, it is not only through Tögal that this bardo can

be used as an opportunity for liberation. Practitioners of Tantra

in Buddhism will relate the appearances of the bardo of dharmata

to their own practice. In Tantra the principle of deities is

a way of communicating. It is difficult to relate to the presence

of enlightened energies if they have no form or ground

for personal communication. The deities are understood as

metaphors, which personalize and capture the infinite energies

and qualities of the wisdom mind of the buddhas. Personifying

them in the form of deities enables the practitioner to recognize

them and relate to them. Through training in creating

and reabsorbing the deities in the practice of visualization, he

or she realizes that the mind that perceives the deity and the

deity itself are not separate.

In Tibetan Buddhism practitioners will have a yidam, that is,

a practice of a particular buddha or deity with which they

have a strong karmic connection, which for them is an

embodiment of the truth, and which they invoke as the heart

of their practice. Instead of perceiving the appearances of the

dharmata as external phenomena, the Tantric practitioners will

relate them to their yidam practice, and unite and merge with

the appearances. Since in their practice they have recognized

the yidam as the natural radiance of the enlightened mind,

they are able to view the appearances with this recognition,

and let them arise as the deity. With this pure perception, a

practitioner recognizes whatever appears in the bardo as none

other than the display of the yidam. Then, through the power

of his practice and the blessing of the deity, he or she will gain

liberation in the bardo of dharmata.

This is why in the Tibetan tradition the advice given to

laypeople and ordinary practitioners unfamiliar with the

yidam practice is that whatever appearances arise, they

should consider them, and recognize them immediately and

essentially as Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, or

Padmasambhava, or Amitabha—whichever they have been

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