Practicing as Deity/Buddha
Practicing deity gets us out of our narrow little minds and forever changes us. Viewing ourselves as a fully enlightened being from the start of our day to the very finish helps us skip steps on the path of awakening. It’s called “taking the result as the path.” We envision ourselves, not as a flesh and blood mortal with limitations, but as a transcendent being of made of light, in a web of connection with all the Buddhas of the past present and future.
It sounds trippy, and akin to New Age talk. But really it is a very grounded way to practice. You may actually find yourself as being characterized as less “spiritual” than many people around you. You’re not dependent on fantasizing about things like aliens and “the other side.” Your path has nothing to do with reifying supernatural experiences.
As a Buddhist practitioner of deity, engaging in the recitation of the sound of deity (mantra), the self-characterization of your body as light, your mind as vast and awakened, you become a big picture person. You naturally are more patient, and your vocabulary starts to reflect that as words like “aeons,” “universe,” “expanse,” “limitless” creep in, unbidden. As Lama Tharchin Rinpoche one said, “the deity never goes to the emergency room.” Your body goes to the emergency room, but your mind regards the doctors and nurses as the retinue of your deity, and the hospital as the deity’s palace.
The Role of the Wisdom Lama
It is the wisdom lama’s job to give you the empowerment, oral transmission, and instruction on the practice… and to convince you that this deity practice is the most important and special one in the whole world. (I mean the boundless universe.)
Then, you take the sacred text you are given home and merge with it. Let it help you recognize that you were born from stainless purity, envisioned as a lotus seat after having been conceived as a non-conceptual core sound such as TAM, HRIH, or HUNG. You are powered by the turning wheel of a mantra, not material food and cellular mitochondria.
A practical, stable, way of practice that is not dependent on your material body being perfect or the circumstances of life being calm, quiet or pleasant. Perfect for these times, where external appearances are speedy, constantly changing, frightening.
Engage with the wisdom lamas, don’t be a passive lout who just goes to ceremonies for the blessings. Take up a deity practice you are given with curiosity and fortitude and the payoff will be immense.