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The Role of the Yidams or Guides in Meditation and Dream Yoga
Buddhists may have yidams or spiritual guides who are peaceful or wrathful, and ones who identify with either gender. Yidams themselves are beyond moods and gender, but may manifest in many ways. One common approach is to have a wrathful male bhairava and a peaceful female dakini. Some people whose attachments are more subtle or intellectual rather than instinctual may have two peaceful yidams. Wrathful forms deal best with instinct and desire, especially greed, lust, and power cravings. Peaceful forms are best for scattered attention, anxiety, and insecurity.
Some guides come during meditation, while others come during dreams. This depends on the person's conscious access to dreams. Some people move into and out of the dream state with relative ease, often because of skill in dream yoga meditation. The creation of pathways between ordinary awareness and dream awareness allows a space for the yidam to enter. When there is no well-trodden pathway for the yidam to follow, he or she must come during meditation, when a space in the mind or heart is opened, and the person calls down the yidam into that space.
Even in dream yoga, a special space or place must be reserved for the yidam. Often this is a lotus throne, visualized on a deep blue lake or in a palace throne room. The white lotus shines with light, and has emerald green leaves, and a golden base. Unless there is a visualized space for the yidam, he or she cannot appear - it would be an invasion of space [or privacy] more suitable to [the actions of] a ghost or demonic entity.
The person should be willing to reveal all levels of being to the yidam. If there are parts hidden, or secrets kept, then the yidam's work is hindered. Such barriers affect communication, so that it becomes limited and incomplete.
In dream yoga, the person should contemplate deeper and deeper layers of consciousness appearing on the lotus throne. The light becomes progressively more brilliant as the yidam appears.
The yidam may be called down by ordinary mantra or special initiation song. Ordinary mantras may be found in books, or they may be given as empowered initiation mantras by a teacher. Initiation songs are given by the yidam, and depend on the mood or bhava that he or she has chosen to take on. This cannot be predicted - yidams respond to human concerns but also follow their own creative paths.
[The creation of] sacred space within the heart or mind must precede [contemplation of] sound and light. When all of these come together, then the guide can descend and help the person to find the pathways of the spirit.
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