Wrathful Vajrapani, the daring blue Buddha of vitality, helps Vajradevi to rework her demons.
A couple of years in the past I used to be sitting in a London workplace one winter day because the rain got here down in slick sheets. Lightning flashed throughout the low sky and, because the thunder abruptly crescendoed, a half-dozen automobile alarms shrieked out to the shock of pedestrians. No-one had touched the automobiles. The unseen energy of the thunder had set the alarms off. It appeared a mischievous reminder from nature of the ability at her disposal.
It additionally dropped at my thoughts Wrathful Vajrapani, the Bodhisattva of vitality or energy. That is the determine I took on as a spotlight of my visualization meditation apply once I was ordained into the Western Buddhist Order. Vajrapani means “bearer or holder of the vajra” and one translation of the phrase vajra is thunderbolt. In Indian mythology the thunderbolt was the weapon of Indra, the chief of the gods, who used it to destroy spells or charms. Vajra may also be outlined as: “denunciation in sturdy language – in comparison with thunder.”
It’s straightforward to see how associations with thunder and with nature basically come to be related to Vajrapani. When I attempt to sense the Transcendental that he embodies, all kinds of bodily comparisons come to thoughts. I consider wild cyclones sucking up the earth and throwing down the whole lot of their means: volcanoes vomiting boulders and liquid warmth and submerging complete islands of their fiery spew; roaring waterfalls which might be terrifying and exquisite in equal measure. These photos make me conscious of my smallness and insignificance, however one thing inside me can also be thrilled at the potential for assembly that energy and finally changing into it. In An Introduction to Tantra Lama Yeshe writes: “the West has found faucet many highly effective sources of vitality in nature, however nonetheless stays largely unaware of the large power, much more highly effective than nuclear vitality, contained inside every of us. So long as this highly effective inside vitality lies undiscovered, our life is doomed to stay fragmented and purposeless, and we are going to proceed to fall sufferer to the psychological and emotional pressures so attribute of our age.”
Vajrapani’s vitality is just not mere power, nor even energy in a impartial sense. It’s what the Buddhist custom calls virya: “vitality in pursuit of the great.” This implies vitality that’s directed in the direction of the aim of Enlightenment for all beings. It’s vitality that sees issues as they are surely reasonably than by means of the lens of the ego.
My reference to Wrathful Vajrapani began quickly after I had begun to meditate, on a week-long retreat devoted to him. I discovered Vajrapani visually intriguing. His physique is heavy-set and he’s deep blue. Along with his indignant bulging eyes, matted brown hair and aura of flames, he was hardly stunning however he was compelling. I keep in mind being notably fascinated by his big blue stomach.
Up thus far my information of Bodhisattvas was restricted to stunning and refined peaceable deities, reminiscent of Tara and Amitabha. Vajrapani appeared unconventional to say the least. He wore a tiger pores and skin (or generally an elephant disguise) round his physique. A stay snake coiled round his neck. He held a vajra excessive above his head prepared to make use of as a weapon. Vajrapani gave the impression to be “the Bodhisattva as Transcendental Thug” and I didn’t know what to make of him. His companions had been a bunch of unlikely-sounding goddesses — Vajra-Hook, Vajra-Chain, Sturdy-Armed and Vajra-Military. He appeared extra prone to have been at residence in a heavymetal band or using a 1,000 cc bike than residing within the sky, ready to be visualized!
However the tales about him from varied Buddhist scriptures caught my creativeness. By them come a way of Vajrapani’s private historical past. Not like most Bodhisattvas his beginnings are humble. In his first canonical look (within the Pali Sutta Nipata) he begins out as a lowly yaksa (a form of coarse sprite). In later texts he has been promoted to “the nice basic of the yaksas.” And later nonetheless he turns into one of many bodily types of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. Ultimately he emerges as a Bodhisattva in his personal proper and in some scriptures he’s additionally known as a completely Enlightened Buddha.
I just like the development of Vajrapani’s “life story.” In addition to his associations with energy, Vajrapani, like Vajrasattva, is related with purity However whereas Vajrasattva represents purity achieved, or the essence of purity, Vajrapani is “the method of changing into pure.” The fallibility and humility within the tales about Vajrapani attraction tremendously to me. He makes occasional errors, bears the implications, after which continues his quest in service of “the great.”
In keeping with one story, at one level Vajrapani was pure white. However whereas guarding the elixir of life for the peaceable Buddhas he grew to become unmindful for a second, and the demons stole it. He wrestled again the elixir however the demons had defiled it by urinating in it. As a punishment Vajrapani was made by the Buddhas to drink the now toxic liquid, and this turned him darkish blue. Therefore additionally his mudra (hand gesture) of “heading off demons.”
The primary story I ever heard about Vajrapani comes from The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava. Vajrapani’s function is relatively minor however he manages to make a robust impression.
Tarpa Nagpo (or Black Salvation) was a monk who was filled with delight and conceitedness. He used the Dharma to his personal benefit, intentionally miscommunicating the teachings to amass energy for himself. After he was came upon and stripped of his robes, he joined his associates (ogres, brigands and demons of the twilight) and travelled round Tibet inflicting wars, famines and different calamities.
By doing all this, he created horrible karmic penalties for himself, and suffered extremely unfavorable rebirths. These included 500 rebirth as, respectively, a nimble worm, a wandering mastiff, a sucker of toes and an eater of vomit! Lastly he was reborn “with neck and shoulders rotten” as a “pus ghost” named “Desirous to make inquiry.” He took rebirth once more as Rudra (or “He who devoured his mom”) and, not within the least deterred by his three-headed vile type, he continued spreading chaos and devastation all through the world
The peaceable deities had been at a loss to know what to do. Rudra was past their attain. They determined that Rudra wanted to be handled by “power and restrain” so Vajrapani and Hayagriva (often known as Horsehead and Swine-face) had been referred to as up. Vajrapani climbed up Rudra’s urethra and Hayagriva into his anus. They met someplace within the center, and Rudra, the power of negativity and destruction, was subjugated and introduced beneath the ability of the great.
In his lecture Breaking by means of to Buddhahood (MP3 or PDF), Sangharakshita feedback that the non secular life could contain interior forcefulness. This concept, he suggests, is just not a well-liked one. But when we’re to interrupt by means of to the Unconditioned, generally violence in the direction of recalcitrant elements of ourselves is critical. At these occasions, love is simply not sufficient. That is the place Vajrapani is available in. He’s not going to seduce us into the non secular life together with his magnificence. He’s there to assist us to power our means by means of intractable dangerous habits and psychological traps. No matter demons we now have inside us, Vajrapani is the same as all of them. He presents a fierce, uncooked face of actuality, and one thing deep inside me resonates with that. He usually shocks me — generally into laughter that opens me as much as seeing myself just a little extra clearly.
In one other textual content Vajrapani’s unconventional strategies are described in a instructing to Tsong Khapa and Karmavajra. He provides a protracted discourse on coping with hindrances to meditation, which ends with a vivid and sudden tip. “If you wish to keep away from the pitfalls (of distraction) whack the pig on the snout with a membership!”
Vajrapani’s mantra — om vajrapani ah hum — is deep, untuneful and resolute. It has a mysterious sound. Typically once I chant it, I think about that the mantra is hurtling alongside the corridors of the universe, revealing glimpses of his immeasurable energy. Maybe, I really feel, I can hear an echo of his heartbeat, or see a faint blue gentle that can move inside gentle years of his big, golden vajra. When meditating on his determine, I hear for the sound of the mud that’s moved by his magnificent footsteps.
Vajrapani is unpredictable. You by no means know what he would possibly do, as a result of he’s related to the knowledge that goes past the rational thoughts. He’s additionally related to the Tantra. Tantra means each the motion of vitality and direct expertise. The tantric custom of non secular apply is worried with trying past the realm of the conceptual to the non-rational. By the non-rational we are able to expertise ourselves instantly as pure vitality or pure consciousness that’s unmediated by ideas.
Most of our vitality is unconscious. We’re like icebergs — largely submerged, with only a seen tip. In opening as much as Vajrapani we glance to make the rest aware, awake, and dealing in help of our need to develop and alter.
Vajrapani is typically portrayed because the Buddha’s protector — or the protecting facet of the Buddha. Some sutras recount individuals arguing with the Buddha, or insulting him. Vajrapani could be discovered hovering within the air above the Buddha, his vajra raised threateningly, simply ready to separate open the individual’s head.
Even Vajrapani’s tenderness is regularly portrayed when it comes to his would possibly. When the Buddha died, it’s mentioned that: “letting fall his vajra in despair, Vajrapani rolled himself within the mud.” It’s as if the earth shuddered from the load of the fallen vajra — and from Vajrapani’s grief.
Typically I discover issues that assist me to deepen my reference to Vajrapani in sudden locations. Just lately I used to be in Barcelona and was launched to some buildings designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi. The spontaneity, creativity and freedom within the buildings introduced Vajrapani to my thoughts. The exultant playfulness in Gaudi’s putting of a bunch of grapes or an ice-cream cone in marble perched on high of a fish-scaled roof is paying homage to Vajrapani’s willingness to go anyplace or do something in pursuit of the great.
A good friend, who was previously a Quaker and is now a Buddhist, instructed me of a label that was given to her by Quaker associates: Holy Boldness. I instantly considered Vajrapani. It’s him to a tee. I really like the contradiction within the phrases and their suggestion of irreverence. Holy Boldness is vigorous, courageous and pure. I wish to develop Holy Boldness. I wish to be like Vajrapani.