The following article is from the Winter, 1996 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

by Ven. Gyatrul Rinpoche

170 pp., 19 b&w photos
ISBN 1-55939-055-7 $14.95


Generating the Deity offers a detailed presentation of the generation stage practice of tantric deity yoga. It is an excellent resource for all tantric practitioners.

The following excerpt is from Chapter 4: Actual Practice.

Next is the appearance of the deity. This subject has two subdivisions: the first is how to generate the deity's form, and the second regards the characteristics of the deity. These subjects are quite difficult to understand, so special attention will be given to the details of the transformation of the seed syllable into the hand emblem. To receive the desired purifications and results, it is important to understand how this transformation occurs.

In extensive Vajrayana practices the transformation of the deity occurs in five stages, in medium-length sadhanas it occurs in four stages, and in short sadhanas in three. The Nyingmapa tradition, especially the tradition of terma, or treasures, often makes use of short sadhanas; though, of course, it makes use of extensive and medium-length sadhanas as well. In some sadhanas the deity appears instantly; there are no stages at all. This is known as perfection upon instantaneous recollection.

The object that is purified by visualizing the form of the deity is the stage when the bardo consciousness enters the fusion of blood and semen at the moment of conception. When you hear the words bardo consciousness, you may think they refer to someone else's bardo consciousness or that all the consciousnesses out there in the bardo are the objects to be purified. These words refer only to your own bardo consciousness. Your consciousness has gone through these various stages of rebirth innumerable times and will continue to do so. In fact, your consciousness is very, very familiar with these different stages. These teachings and practices are meant to purify your own mind as the object of purification.

A peaceful deity always sits or stands on a lunar mandala, which may or may not have a solar mandala beneath it; wrathful deities will always sit or stand on a solar mandala, not a lunar mandala. The solar mandala represents the blood of the mother, and the lunar mandala represents the seed of the father. Conception requires both, so your visualization must contain both. The solar and lunar seats resting on the lotus directly relate to the process of the mother's egg and the father's semen mixing together at the time of their sexual union. The bardo consciousness sees its future mother and father and, because of the karmic force generated by the sexual act, is attracted and enters the fusion of egg and seed. The object that is purified here is the moment when the bardo consciousness enters that fusion.

The seed syllable, the primary cause for meditative absorption, appears next. It descends and comes to rest at a point over the center of the solar and lunar discs. The moment the seed syllable appears it transforms into the hand emblem of the deity. You might wonder, since some deities have many hands and hold many different emblems, how is it determined which emblem to use? The emblem that appears is that which the deity holds in his or her main right hand.

The object that is purified during this visualization is the bardo consciousness mixed with very subtle vital air that has entered the fusion of seed and egg in the womb.

Light radiates from the hand emblem in the form of offerings and then reabsorbs. The number of times the light radiates and reabsorbs, and whether it radiates from the seed syllable or the hand emblem, depends on each particular sadhana.

The egg, seed, consciousness and vital air have mixed together, and the next stage is the gradual development of the four elements into flesh, bones, blood and air. As the foetus grows inside the womb, the sense organs gradually develop until they are complete. The radiation and reabsorption of light purifies the development of the four elements as the sense organs.

The hand emblem then transforms into the complete form of the deity. This visualization directly purifies the process of birththe baby coming out into the world and starting to cry. The habit of being born into the world is purified by this stage of the visualization.


Ven. Gyatrul Rinpoche

Beings are also born from eggs, through the fusion of heat and moisture, and by spontaneous, miraculous birth, as when taking rebirth in the god and hell realms. The visualization of the hand emblem transforming into the deity has the power to purify each type of birth.

Birth through an egg is purified in the following way: when the seed syllable transforms into the hand emblem, the bardo consciousness that has entered the union of seed and blood at the moment of conception is purified. The light then radiates and reabsorbs, and the hand emblem melts into light, corresponding to the development of the egg. The appearance of the deity corresponds to the moment the egg cracks open and the being is born.

Birth through heat and moisture is purified in a similar way. The sun disc represents heat, and the moon disc represents moisture. The seed syllable and hand emblem represent the bardo consciousness mixed with vital air. The radiation and reabsorption of the light and its transformation into the deity corresponds to the process of the consciousness entering the fusion of heat and moisture and being born.

Miraculous rebirth is purified in the following way: the seat of the deity is the birthplace of the bardo consciousness. The seed syllable and hand emblem represent the consciousness mixed with vital air. The light radiating and reabsorbing represents the consciousness' desire to take rebirth. It creates the power which nourishes the karmic potency to take rebirth in one instantthe way in which a miraculous rebirth occurs. The moment the deity appears is the moment of miraculous birth.

The process of the seed syllable's descent to the seat of the deity is called the sadhana of the syllables of speech. Every sadhana will have a hand emblem, a seed syllable or both. From either the hand emblem, the seed syllable or both, light radiates boundlessly into all directions in the form of offerings. The light invokes the pure intention awareness of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas and gathers blessings that then return and dissolve into the seed syllable. This is called the sadhana of the symbols of mind. Immediately thereafter, the hand emblem and/or seed syllable transforms into the complete form of the deity. Developing the complete form of the deity, with all the major and minor marks, is called the sadhana of the fully accomplished form.

This has been a general teaching on the sadhana of the fully accomplished form of the deity, as taught according to the generation stage. However, each sadhana is different. There are a great many distinctions regarding the characteristics of the deities, depending on whether they are peaceful or wrathful, Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya or Dharmakaya.

As the result of this practice, one gains the ability to take intentional rebirth in samsaric realms as a manifestation being of enlightened awareness to tame sentient beings. One gains the ability to determine where and from whom one will be born, so as to perform miraculous deeds for the welfare of others. Shakyamuni Buddha is a perfect example of one who achieved this result. He lived a life marked by the twelve miraculous deeds. This is the kind of result that comes by doing the practice and performing the stages of purification. ä_æ