SO what is esoteric or secret religion some of you have asked? well, I will give you an example of a tantric visualization that many of the esoteric religions use, with variations, of course. But the main theme of the visualization is the same (and was also featured in the movie "I heart Huckabees."
The following visualization I modified from the Dzogchen Innermost Essence Preliminary Practice. This is an esoteric or secret practice that one does anytime. If you love Jesus, visualize Jesus as the Teacher. If you love Kannon or the Earth Mother or Mary or Lao Tsu, visualize them. If you do not have a teacher then visualize any being that symbolizes wisdom and compassion. You can visualize yourself as a fully actualized being. The form of the Teacher makes no difference. It is the qualities that they transfer that are of importance here. It is also important to be consistent with the being you choose, for it is crucial to form a habit of relating with this image as 1. A creation of your own mind, 2. A teacher, and 3. A reflection of your own enlightened awareness. This image will act as an archetype, and will return to you again and again in your dreams and probably also at the moment of your death (if you use it enough and really embed it into your mind). And if you are graced with a visit from your deity at death or in sleep, then you have an opportunity to become lucid.
So, to begin, I sit down and imagine the teacher sitting down in front of me. The teacher is made of light, shimmers, is radiant, luminous, and is smiling at me. I smile back and say hello.
Now, from the mid forehead of the teacher a ball of white light (making the sound “Ohm”), blazing white like the full moon, shimmering like crystal, radiates light rays which penetrate my head, purifying my body. The light fills me up like water. I breathe it in and out. This light is full of realization, awareness, and presence.
Then, from the throat of the teacher a red light (making the sound “Ah”), blazing red like a ruby, radiates light rays which penetrate my throat, purifying all my speech, and transferring mystical wisdom and alertness. I feel it warm my throat and the “Ah” fills my whole body.
Next, from the heart of the teacher a ball of blue light (making the sound “hoom”), blue like the sky, radiates light rays which penetrate my heart, purifying my thoughts. The Light empowers me to see the truth of emptiness and interconnectedness, the play of all forms, and compassion for all beings fills me up completely.
Next, again from the heart of the teacher, a second ball of light bursts forth like a meteor mixing indistinguishably with my mind, making me complete and whole and at peace, and I let my mind dissolve into all space, and the realization of Universal Essence dawns, and I feel spacious and open and clear.
Finally, from the heart of the teacher, rays of warm red light are emitted and just by touching my own heart I become a sphere of red light that dissolves into the heart of the teacher, mixing inseparably, meditation on becoming as “one taste.”
I am the mirror reflection of the teacher and I look around and see that I am surrounded by other perfect light beings.
After I remain in that state for a few minutes, I pray and then recite the dedication:
May any merit or benefit gained with this practice benefit others, and not just myself.
May all beings actualize perfect freedom. May all beings be free form suffering.
And for as long as space endures, and beings remain, may I too remain to dispel the misery in the world.
This is the esoteric practice of Communing with the Deity or divinity. Why does it work? True, it appears that this communion with the Deity is fantasy, imaginary, fake, and maybe to some, ridiculous. But what we must not forget is that the moment you imagine the enlightened master in front of you or within your heart, your own mind begins to take on the qualities of that visualization. Its like if you imagine the sky right now, the spacious, bright, clear sky, your mind begins to actually take on those qualities! When you imagine the limitless compassion that the Teacher’s mind possesses, you actually activate that compassion within your own mind. And thus, what begins as fantasy turns into a direct experience of the enlightened qualities issued forth by the Real Deity, your own innermost essence, the Godhead. Quieting the mind is aligning your own inner stillness with the Stillness that is the very heart of Reality. Imagining Light pouring out of heaven and swallowing you up will put you in a state of mind that is fresh, open, alert and compassionate.
These visualizations and prayers are done silently, throughout the day, on the bus, waiting in line at the donut shop, sitting in class, and they are done secretly. They are your own secret, esoteric medicine transforming you without anyone knowing. The only thing that people might begin to notice is that they simply love being in your presence. You seem to emit a warm, nonjudging kindness and acceptance. By transforming your own mind (by visualizing yourself mixing with the essence of a deity) and by imagining other beings as deities walking around everywhere, you begin to treat everything with a type of playfulness and openness. You begin to relax. Your entire universe can be recognized as the play of your own mind, empty, luminous, radiant, transparent, unobstructed, spontaneous, and all beings living with you are also manifestations this pure awareness, sparks or rays emanating from a single Light, the Light of the Self, the only Reality. And, as the Dalai Lama points out, if it is truth that we are all made of energy, then seeing others as beings made of light is actually more realistic than seeing them as made of flesh.
Saying those words will not do it. Words can only hit the level of the intellect. The actually images will reach farther down and transform you. And stabilizing the images in your imagination will take time and concentration. It is not easy. But with practice it becomes easy.
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