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Let us clarify some terms. The soul is the entirety of the self which reincarnates. It is what holds the skandhas together in life after life. The goal of sunyata is not only emptiness, but also fullness. The mirror of emptiness, used in yogic visualization as the moon disk, has another side which is the shining sun, which expands as the mirror of awareness contracts to a point. The visualizations which use it come from the emptiness school. But those who turn the moon disk, and see the shining sun of the clear light, can let compassion fill the universe.
In the mirror of the Emptiness School, the Buddha's reflection is shown in the Yidam, and the Yidam's reflection is shown in the initiate. The deity's form is empty reflection within empty reflection, and deity yoga is nothing but a hall of mirrors. All reality is reduced to reflection, and depth disappears. The initiate seeks nothing and attains nothing. He travels with a moral imperative of compassion, but nobody really suffers.
But as it should be practiced, the person does not relate to the deity only through empty reflection. The celestial Buddha's endlessly creative compassion flows out into the bodhisattva, who takes the role of Yidam. It continues to flow out thru the Yidam into the person. Both the Buddha and the bodhisattva rest in his heart and his form echoes theirs. Deity yoga is not an inward flow, but rather an outward one. The initiate starts the process with mantras and visualizations of mandalas, but when the gates of the mandala open, it is the Buddha who generates the forms, not the self.
Visualization brings transformation. In the emptiness form of deity yoga, it shows the inner emptiness of both self and deity. In the fullness form of deity yoga, the compassionate form of the Buddha and bodhisattva enter the self like wind and fire, dissolving attachments. The individual comes to resemble an emanation of the Yidam or bodhisattva.
In these realms, the physical body is left behind, and the initiate travels in a body composed of mantras. Mantras are navigational tools, giving directions through an inner space that is continually changing, and they create roads and bodies to orient and direct the initiate in these spaces. Some worlds have equivalents of rivers and mountains, some are like skies full of stars and galaxies. But the Vajra worlds are crystalline, composed of mandalas that open and change like kaleidoscopes. Indeed, following a single grain of colored sand through changing kaleidoscopic forms would be a fine introduction to deep Vajrayana meditation.
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Introduction | Methodology - Participant/Observer | The Bodhi Tree Sadhanas | Vajra Dakini Discussion | Vajra Dakini Commentary | Vajra Dakini Sadhanas | Vajra Yogini Commentary | Maitreya Sadhanas | Vajradhara Speaks About Yidams | Lost Sadhanas Conclusion
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