My preferred metaphor for Yidams is the Lord of the Rings. Really? How does that work, you ask? Having enjoyable with Tolkien’s verse, “one ring to rule them all…”:
One Yidam to focus them all, One Yidam to manifest all, One Yidam to bring them all and in Emptiness transform them.
Okay, no more on The Lord of the Rings up until later (and do not hesitate to avoid it that little area if you’re not a fan!)
Yidam is a contracted type of the Tibetan yid kyi dam tshig and is the package of practices (yogas) connected with our samaya (dedications). Yid actually implies “mind” Yid kyi dam tshig equates as: “samaya of mind.” Many of us, have actually utilized the word Yidam as associated with the Enlightened divine being connected with that valued practice– strictly, speaking an inaccurate morphing of the word. We definitely might state “Yidam deity” to imply the dedication divine being, however Yidam, as a single word, strictly refers to the practices connected with that divine being.
Yidam is our heart dedication
The specifying particular of Yidam isOneness We select one practice, a valued practice for life, as offered to us by our instructors, with a tested family tree.
We may, at different times, practice different yogas, however our main, life time dedication is to theYidam Once selected, it’s reasonable to state that your one Yidam then ends up being the agent of all kindsof Enlightenment When you practice your Yidam– regardless of which one– you are practicing all Enlightened kinds. This is why we have a little enjoyable with the Lord of the Rings and the One Ring listed below (non-fans, simply avoid it!)
The insufficient meaning of Yidams on Wikipedia and other non-practice oriented websites can lead to confusion. (Hint: Yidam is a lot more than the divine being!) Using the word Yidam as a “noun” to explain your valued, individual divine being is puzzling, particularly for brand-new Vajrayana Buddhists.
This ended up being clear to when we got this talk about the video “How to choose a Yidam” (ingrained listed below) “Can I make Shakyamuni Buddha my Yidam?” It’s a lovely belief, however it was clear Yidam was being analyzed as the real divine being, which is not rather the significance of “Yi, meaning “heart” and “dam” significance “commitment” and “means.”
Venerable Zasep Rinpoche– brief mentor on how to Chose and picture a Yidam:
It is clear the word Yidam is being presumed to mean “deity” by lots of of us– which leads to a lot of confusion. Yidam is much larger than divine being. Yidam is the heart practice that you dedicate your life to (Yi is “heart” and “dam is “commitment”).
You dedicate your life to practice with the objective of supreme knowledge. Deity is one element– one of a lots elements–of Yidam The dedication is to a whole system of meditational practice. In reality, in a Yidam practice, there can be (typically) several divine beings.
Vajrasattva as Yidam– practicing the excellence of filtration, video:
“Means of Accomplishment”
The quickest, significant meaning of Yidam would be “means of accomplishment”– because Yidams consist of a complete cycle of practices. What are we attempting to achieve?Transformation and Enlightenment We do not require several Yidams, since each Yidam is a total transformative methods of achieving the supreme objectiveof Enlightenment Mixing several approaches is normally dissuaded, not since you can’t have more than one Yidam, however since it’s complicated to do so.
Yidam, in the context as offered by a instructor, are a package of practices– utilized as our “methods of achievement– that we dedicate to, focusing on a personally-cherished divine being or mandala with a full-system of yogas. Why mandala? Because some Yidam practices include several divine beings. Nor are these divine beings restricted to one type.Why valued? Because we are devoting to practice the Yidam for life.
A normal series of “yogas” or practices discovered in a single Yidam practice may consist of:
- Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels
- Bodhichitta practice
- Guru Yoga
- Praising the family tree
- Self- generation of the divine being
- Offerings: mandala, Bodhichitta, sense offerings, inner, and others
- other special practices as directed by instructor and commentary from the family tree of achieving masters.
Contracting “Yidam deity” to “Yidam”– as done on different online encyclopedia websites– leads others to believe the word Yidam disappears than our personally valued type of the Enlightened Buddha (or divine being)– a devotional divine being in other words. Although we adhere to our Yidam divine being, this is not the total or proper meaning of Yidam (It’s the meaning of Yidam Deity, nevertheless– complicated, isn’t it?) The Yidam need to be connected with a total system as a “means of accomplishment.”
Ishta Yoga or Cherished Practices
Ishta Yoga implies Cherished Practices (basically)in Sanskrit Meanwhile, “Yidam deity” in Sanskrit is Ishta- deva or devata (Sanskrit: इष्टदेवता). However, notification Ishta-Deva is the comparable of Yidam Deity, notYidam Ishta actually implies “cherished.”
Yidam as a contracted type of the Tibetan yid kyi dam tshig is the package of practices connected with our samaya (dedication) divine being– unless you’re in the practice of contracting“Yidam deity” to Yidam Is this being choosy? Not at all, evaluating by discuss a current Youtube video on Youtube (see listed below.) Incomplete or contracted meanings puzzle brand-new trainees. They tend to believe “Yidam” is absolutely nothing more than the word “cherished deity” rather of a package of practices bound by dedications, normally associated witth several divine beings. It’s is exceptionally complicated if you state your Yidam is 62-Deity Chakrasamvara There are 62 divine beings in this practice. In other words, believe “mandala” instead of divine being– however even then, that’s not the meaning.
Incomplete meanings online: Yidam is a lot more!
This is not assisted by Wikipedia’s insufficient prominent meaning: “Yidam is a type of deity associated with tantric or Vajrayana Buddhism said to be manifestations of Buddhahood or enlightened mind,”– which is insufficient to the point of being deceptive.
The Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia has more proper meaning: “the focus of personal meditation or retreat for life.”
They even more conflate the meaning by offering the synonyms “meditational deity”– once again not inaccurate, simply misguiding in its incompleteness. Yes, the Yidam divine being is part of the Yidam, so it’s not totally inaccurate– however this insufficient meaning leads to lots of misconceptions.
In other words, practices. Of course the divine being is the subject of the practices, however the practices end up being forgotten in the mission for different empowerments. Empowerments just empower you to practice. Without practice, they are definitely notYidam Your main “practice”– is yourYidam Practice implies you practice it, adhere to it with all your heart, and devoted to it by samaya with your instructor. Normally the practice can consist of a number of yogas, up to 11– for instance in Vajrayogini practice.
Later, the meaning comes better, when they compose:
“Examples of yidams include the meditation deities Chakrasamvara, Kalachakra, Hevajra, Yamantaka, and Vajrayogini, all of whom have a distinctive iconography, mandala, mantra, rites of invocation and practice.” It would be more proper to state “Yidams are a practice with a specific meditational deity, iconography, mandala, mantra, practices.”
Unless you state “Yidam deity” the word Yidam by itself is indicated to explain the “teacher-guided practices of a personal meditational deity to which you commit for life.”
Although some of us are led to our Yidam through our karmas and choices, normally we then need to line up with a tested family tree and instructor. “Teacher guided and authorized” is an essential element of Yidam– because no Yidam (definitely none of the ones noted above) can be practiced as a Yidam without a instructor’s empowerment and mentors. (That does not imply you can’t hold Chakrasamvara or Vajrayogini or Tara as devotional divine beings. You definitely can! But you can’t practice them as Yidams a without instructor’s true blessing and training due to the intricacy of the in- depth life time practices. It is the mentor and training which sends the different yogas that make up the real significance of Yidam– Heart Bond Practice.
Yidam is a short-form of yid kyi dam tshig Yid actually implies “mind” Yid kyi dam tshig equates as: “Samaya of mind.” Because one of the approaches included into this mind Samaya practice consists of a single-focus Buddhist divine being– tailored normally to the specialist’s state of mind and the instructor’s assistance– it ended up being connected withYidam Deity This has actually led to mistranslations on encyclopediasand Wikipedia It likewise leads to misconceptions with more recent traineesto Vajrayana
For example, on a current You Tube video, one audience commented “Can I simply visualize Shakyamuni Buddha as my Yidam?” (paraphrased). Of course, you can dedicate your mind and practice to Shakyamuni Buddha– however that does not make this a Yidam practice. It simply explains our item of dedication. Certainly, Shakyamuni is and would be your valued divine being, however you could not believe of that as your Yidam unless it was a total system, with family tree to show its efficiency, offered to you by a certified instructor.
What is a Yidam, then?
Yidam goes far beyond divine being and is indicated to explain your heart practice as offered by your instructor, a complete package of practices concentrated on our heart divine being, consisting of picturing the self as the Enlightened Deity, sanctuary, making offerings, applauds, and typically a complete set of teacher-guided practices up to and consisting of body mandala practice. For example, Vajryogini, as Yidam suggests not simply Vajrayogini herself, however the 11 YogasHowever, the real essence of the Yidam is that it is our practice. As the excellent instructor Ringu Tulku Rinpoche discussed (video embedded):
“We have the three Refuges, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. At the Vajrayana level, sometimes we say Lama, Yidam, and Khandros. It’s more or less the same. The Buddha is the teacher; the Lama is the teacher. Dharma is the practice, Yidam is the practice. And Sangha is the community or the people who help us to learn the Dharma. Then Khandros — or Dakas, Dakinis and Dharmapalas — they are the community.”
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche presenting Yidams:
Lord of the Rings–One Ring, One Yidam?
This brings us to my metaphor of the One Ring– if you do not understand Lord of the Rings, avoid down a couple of paragraphs! (To “One Yidam to focus them all”).
Yidam actually implies “heart bound” practices (referring to our valued course offered to us by our instructors). Since it is a practice, it has the power to transform our mind– simply as the One Ring looks for to transform all the rings in the Lord of the Rings.
One ring, or one Yidam– focus for change
Like the One Ring in the Lord of the Rings, we can utilize our individual one Yidam to collect all ideas and kinds of Enlightenment into one foci– and to focus singularly on our Bodhisattva objective– to advantage all sentient beings. It is experienced to practice one Yidam to excellence, instead of attempting to do a “little of this, a little of that.” In other words, be the master of one domain.
In the dream legendary Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, a basic ring in the hands of a basic hobbit– from a obscure shire– threatens to fall the world. Variously called the Ruling Ring, Master Ring and Isildur’s Bane, the One Ring has the “magic” power to bind all the powers of the world–all the other rings. The engraving checks out:
“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” 
How did the wicked one, Sauron, achieve this? He invested all his power and focus into the development of One Ring to subsume all the others. (Of course, that’s a issue in his case, because he lost the “precious” ring.)
As a metaphor, this works to show the power of One Yidam:
One Yidam to focus them all
Our individual Yidam binds all ideas of Buddha and Enlightenment in one type that resonates completely for us. In the context of particular Yidam guideline, as notoriously taught by the excellent Lord Atisha, we might paraphrase as “One YIdam to rule them all.”
One Yidam to focus them all, One Yidam to manifest all, One Yidam to bring them all and in Emptiness transform them.
Single Yidam focuses us
Although we do not look for to “bind” anything in darkness, the single-focus Yidam, or meditational hear practice, has the power to supercharge our achievements. (Remember, the Yidam is our practice!) Yidam is not a divine being we praise– although we have dedication, of course– it’s a practice we carry out vigilantly to transform our minds.
From this point of view, it’s not totally precise to believe of your Yidam as Buddha– despite the fact that a Yidam is anEnlightened Buddha Yidam is really the heart practice from our instructor that communicates the practiceof Dharma It is what we practice for our life time to accomplish our own supreme Enlightenment for the advantage of all beings.
We do not have to havea Yidam Many Buddhists do not. Yet, as a technique, like the One Ring in the legendary dream, the one Yidam technique is extremely effective, empowering our meditations in a concrete, extensive and fast method. This is one factor Vajrayana is specified as the “Lightning” Path– “Vajra” actually equates lightning bolt, and “yana” implies course. Why Lightning course as a metaphor. Lightning is both awesomely effective and “speed of light” quickly!
In meditational practices, absolutely nothing is more efficient than a singlefocus There is nobody Yidam with the power to bind all the others– the bottom line is they are all, in essence, the very same. We select a Yidam that resonates with us.
Venerable Zasep Rinpoche explains our sensation for our Yidam as “enthusiasm, without accessory, despite the fact that the metaphor he utilized to discuss the level of enthusiasm was of a kid’s enthusiasm for a preferred toy. [See embedded video for more of this excellent 6-minute talk, ” How can we visualize Buddhas and Yidams — even if we have no imagination or skill at visualization?”
Rinpoche said, “So, when you have that, it’s like a child, a little child, fantasizing about toys. You go to the toy shop, and all you think about are toys. Like a little boy with his toy truck.
Automatically, boom, your mind is gone. Drawn in. Because you want this, you like this, you are so excited. Yogis, or Yoginis, should have this kind of excitement or passion.
That’s one of the purposes of Yidams. The Enlightened qualities of all the Buddhas are the same, but the visualized characteristics of one Yidam is different from another. We choose the one that “draws us us” like the child with his new toy.
As Zasep Rinpoche explains, that “with that inspiration that energy, then you can visualize — faster. That means your visualization skills will improve faster. Your concentration will improve.”
The great teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche mirrored this level of enthusiasm when speaking about Tara:
The devotees of Tara, especially the devotees from great universities like as Nalanda, they go bananas. They long for her, they praise to her, they really supplicate, they beseech her.”
Longing and love and passion and wonder are methods. We need to praise, adore, pray, prostrate — not just for merit and purification, but to come closer to that ultimate truth that: “The deity is none other than the union of clarity and emptiness, the union of emptiness and compassion. 
“All Buddhas are One”
In the Avatamsaka Sutra, it states “All Buddhas are One Buddha.” Many of us have fragmented practices. One day we’re doing our Medicine Buddha Practice, the next day Tara, the next day, Manjushri– and on it goes. Also, One Buddha can have lots of kinds, such as Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, who has wrathful, female, male and other kinds matched to the minds of his professionals:
Padmasambhava, the Lotus Born master, similarly discussed the principle that all Buddhas are of one essence, in a mentor to Lady Yeshe Tsogyal.
“The body, speech, and mind of all deities are manifested by the three kayas in accordance with the perception of those to be tamed. In fact, no matter how they appear, if you practice one you will be practicing them all. If you accomplish one you will have accomplished them all.”
He strengthened this additional in response to the Lady’s follow up concern:
“Although the Sugatas manifest as different kinds of households and kinds, out of experienced methods to tame beings, they are in truth inseparable, the state of equality.
If you were to practice all the Buddhas with this awareness of their inseparability, your benefit would be most distinguished. But if you were to do so while concerning the yidam divine beings as having various qualities which must be either accepted or declined, you would be immeasurably obscured.”
Why exist numerous kinds?
His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche the Third.
“Why are there so many? Yidams are visualized pure forms that manifest from dharmadhatu’s empty essence as the lucid self-display of our Lama’s compassion.” The objective of Yidam practice is vital to comprehending these kinds:” What is the function of Vajrayana practice? Purifying one’s impure understanding of all looks and experiences.”
Skillful practice– select one and just one!
Of course, most advanced meditators understand the Enlightened qualities of one meditational divine being are the very same as all the others. No Yidam is more effective than another. No Yidam is ideal for everybody. With experienced methods, the Enlightened Buddhas can take any type. It is a sign of our own fragmented mindstreams that we sweep back and forth in between one practice and another, even when our instructors inform us “one practice is all you need.” (One ring … alright, beating it to death …)
Somewhat less experienced is our practice. We are informed by our instructors to select one Yidam and focus for a life time on the practice– or up until we achieve awareness. That worked well in ancient India and Tibet, where excellent Maha-Siddhas select one practice and dedicated themselves with completefocus Today, our contemporary world, drives us by doing this and that method. One day we are breaking with interest to practiceVajrayogini The next week we are delighted to “try out” Yamantaka.
We must take to heart the suggestions the excellent Indian sage Atisha offered to the Tibetan master Rinchen Sangpo: “Some of you Tibetans have tried to accomplish a hundred deities but have failed to gain a single attainment, while some Indian Buddhists have gained the attainments of a hundred deities by accomplishing the practice of one.”
Zasep Rinpoche strengthened this concept in his brief mentor (video):
You do not require numerousYidams That’s why Atisha stated ‘It’ s much better to practice one Yidam.’ If you practice appropriately one Yidam and you accomplish that, then you accomplish all of them together.
Choosing your One Yidam
Guru Rinpoche recommended Lady Yeshe Tosgyal how to select a Yidam– and why there are numerous kinds:
“Since implies and understanding are practicing the spontaneously present body, speech, and mind through the technique of yoga sadhana, all the many sugatas, tranquil and wrathful, primary figures and retinues, manifest in accordance with those to be tamed in whichever method is needed– as tranquil and wrathful, primary figures and retinues.
But as they are all of one taste in the state of dharmakaya, everyone can practice whichever yidam he feels likely towards.” 
The trick: stayed concentrated on one Yidam
In other words, for each of us, separately, our “one ring” can be any Yidam– however the trick is to stay concentrated on one divine being with all your heart, mind and focus.
Once we select, and stay concentrated, as the late, excellent Gelek Rimpoche notoriously taught: “That is why you don’t have to think, ‘Yeah, I have Lama Vajrayogini here, but I have forgotten Shakyamuni, I forgot the Medicine Buddha, I forgot Tara there. What has happened to my refuge?”
What is the Yidam eventually?
Guru Rinpoche discussed the nature of the Yidam, eventually, to the Lady Yeshe Tsogyal:
“Realize that you and the yidam deity are not two and that there is no yidam deity apart from yourself. You approach the yidam deity when you realize that your nature is the state of nonarising dharmakaya.” 
 Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien
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