Sunday, May 3, 2009

Three Essential Roots

It was Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche who said in his recent lecture at the Caring Complex that we must find our Root Guru, Root Yidam and Root Protector. That was the first time I have heard of a need to have a Personal protector. We have all heard of Root Guru but not everyone knows there is such thing as Root Yidam, i.e. the yidam that is most suitable for your practice. Even lesser people know about Root Protector, i.e. the protector that will smoothen the path of practice and protect you in your spiritual endeavour. In some tradition, the third root is "Dakini". Essentially, both Dakini and Dharma Protectors are root activites of the Buddhas but Dakinis are more hidden than dharma protectors. Without these three roots, our tantric practice will never be successful. With the recent encounter with my protector, and the blessings I obtained from his statue, my three roots are now complete. It's the same as the Root Guru, when our karma is ripe, our Root Yidam and Root Protector will come "knocking on our doors" (just as mine did when I dreamt of him).

So, here is an explanation of the three roots (sometimes referred to as "Inner Refuges") : -

The lama or guru: The root of energy
The guru is your actual human contact with awakened mind. The energy of the guru is inspiring, challenging, and sustaining. In his or her presence you feel directly the effect of awakened mind. That presence can and does awaken something in you, a sense of being that is different from the functioning of habituated personality. The explicit recognition of this possibility is the essence of empowerment. When it is clear in you, you have few choices but to travel the path.

Refuge in the guru means not only your own guru but the gurus of the transmission lineage since each of them plays a role in this awakening of our own potential. As your recognition of mind nature deepens, refuge in the guru also comes to mean taking refuge in mind nature, your own mind as your guru. See Kyergongpa's song on Recognizing Mind as the Guru.

The yidam:The root of attainment
The yidams, meditation deities, are expressions of awakened mind. In meditation practice, you identify with the particular expression, awake compassion (Avalokiteshavara), for instance, or awake purity (Vajrasattva). By reorganizing your experience of what you are and of the world around this expression of wakefulness, the knots of habituation and confusion loosen and fall apart. In effect, you cease to be you and you become the yidam, with all its understanding, capability, and qualities. Thus, the yidam is the root of attainment, the attainment of free knowing and the ability to live awake.

The protector: The root of activity
The protectors are further expressions of awakened mind, how your experience of wakefulness arises in the world around you. As you practice, wakefulness manifests as reminders to be awake. The constant play of wakefulness creates conditions that support your practice. At the same time, it averts conditions that disrupt your efforts to wake up. The activity can be very direct and dramatic or very subtle and seemingly inconsequential. However, the more messages you miss, the more forceful the reminders. Consequently, this manifestation of awakened mind is often depicted in wrathful forms that represent the terrific power and immediacy of awakened mind when it manifests directly in your world of experience.


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