Vajrasattva, The Diamond or Adamant
He is mainly practiced for purification by practitioners of all levels of Vajrayana practice. Depending upon the types of practice, he is visualized either alone or in union with his consort. Vajrasattva is a manifestation of Vajradhara as well as of Samatabhadra according to the older school of Vajrayana Buddhism.
According to the Gaden Choling, the practice of Vajrasattva is the most powerful technique that heals and purifies the negative karma and removes the obstacles. It is one of the core foundation for Vajrayana practitioners.
The iconography of Vajrasattva:
- Vajrasattva is white in color which symbolizes his immaculate purity.
- He holds a vajra symbolizing method in his right hand and the bell of wisdom left. These attributes are similar to that of Vajradhara.
- Sometimes he is depicted as sitting with his leg partially outstretched. And most of the time, he seats on an unshakeable full vajra posture.
- He wears the beautiful silken garments representing the then Indian royal attire.
Vajrasattva Practice and Meditation
Vajrasattva meditation is the main method practiced in most of the traditions in Vajrayana Buddhism. This practice helps to cleanse and purify our negative actions. It is effective for rectifying transgressions of the sacred vows done by the disciple to the master.
The transformation is not effective as long as our present body, speech, and mind remain contaminated. These impurities are accumulated from our past actions (physical, verbal, and mental). Hence, we must prohibit ourselves from such unskillful and destructive activities. And also, cleanse ourselves of those negative impacts from the past deeds.
Tibetan masters recommend that a serious practitioner, in a prolonged meditation retreat can only cultivate a deep experience of these practices. Hence, disciples are not given the empowerment of the highest yoga tantra until they are capable of an extensive retreat.
Vajrasattva practice also includes taking refuge and developing Bodhicitta, making mandala offerings, cultivating guru-yoga, prostrations, and more.
In one such retreat, recitation of the hundred-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva is done one hundred thousand times. The highest yoga tantra teachings are not transmitted until the disciple completes these extensive practices.
These practices filter the serious practitioners, from those who pursue tantra superficially. The superficial practitioners are easily discouraged by hardship. They lack the perseverance and dedication to complete these preliminaries. These extensive practices are hence, the necessary foundation of spiritual growth.
It is also believed that the goal of enlightenment is possible even by these practices alone. After completing such purification, one experiences a profound change in their perception of the phenomenal world. The world itself has not transformed but that the practitioner's view has. It has been purified. Just like the doors of perception are now wide open.
Beings and phenomena take on a pure appearance which is a reflection of own healed purity. The gravitational field that keeps us anchored in the mundane reality is now relaxed. It provides a great incentive for pursuing higher practices. It convinces us that Enlightenment, though far away, is actually attainable through practices.
Purpose of Vajrasattva Statue
No work of art in Vajrayana Buddhism is made purely for aesthetic reasons. The main motivation of statues or thangka is beyond elegance and beauty. They serve the purpose of inspiring and instructing the practitioners. It embodies the concept of enlightened purity. The statues enhance the visualization process while meditating Vajrasattva.
Vajrasattva is understood in various forms. Like Adhi Buddha (primordial Buddha), Adhi Guru (primordial Master), or Vow Being (Samaya Sattva).
But the main motive of the practice is always that "Vajrasattva is the practitioner and the practitioner is Vajrasattva".
Images of Enlightenment, By Andy Weber and Jonathan Landaw
Circle of Bliss, by Dina Bangdel