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

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

INTRINSIC RADIANCE 289tice, so without the stability of Tögal hardly anyone can recognizethe bardo of dharmata. An accomplished Tögal practitionerwho has perfected and stabilized the luminosity of thenature of mind has already come to a direct knowledge in hisor her life of the very same manifestations that will emerge inthe bardo of dharmata. This energy and light, then, lie withinus, although at the moment they are hidden. Yet when thebody 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 canbe used as an opportunity for liberation. Practitioners of Tantrain Buddhism will relate the appearances of the bardo of dharmatato their own practice. In Tantra the principle of deities isa way of communicating. It is difficult to relate to the presenceof enlightened energies if they have no form or groundfor personal communication. The deities are understood asmetaphors, which personalize and capture the infinite energiesand qualities of the wisdom mind of the buddhas. Personifyingthem in the form of deities enables the practitioner to recognizethem and relate to them. Through training in creatingand reabsorbing the deities in the practice of visualization, heor she realizes that the mind that perceives the deity and thedeity itself are not separate.In Tibetan Buddhism practitioners will have a yidam, that is,a practice of a particular buddha or deity with which theyhave a strong karmic connection, which for them is anembodiment of the truth, and which they invoke as the heartof their practice. Instead of perceiving the appearances of thedharmata as external phenomena, the Tantric practitioners willrelate them to their yidam practice, and unite and merge withthe appearances. Since in their practice they have recognizedthe 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, apractitioner recognizes whatever appears in the bardo as noneother than the display of the yidam. Then, through the powerof his practice and the blessing of the deity, he or she will gainliberation in the bardo of dharmata.This is why in the Tibetan tradition the advice given tolaypeople and ordinary practitioners unfamiliar with theyidam practice is that whatever appearances arise, theyshould consider them, and recognize them immediately andessentially as Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, orPadmasambhava, or Amitabha—whichever they have been

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