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Meditation on Yidams by Two Tibetan Monks
I was first exposed to the importance of Yidams and Deity Yoga for Tibetan monks when I attended a lecture at the Newark Museum in the late 1970's. There were two Tibetan abbots of monasteries who were visiting the US in an effort to raise money. The Tibetan community was at the time a desperate group of refugees seeking to raise their standard of living. This pair of high ranking lamas had asked their inner guides for help. They apparently believed that the Tibetan speaking sponsor of their visit to the US was the response to their petition.
The abbots spoke one after the other pausing briefly to allow the translator to translate the Tibetan into English. The unusual thing was that the monks did not look at the audience as they spoke. Their gazes were fixed on the ceiling to their right as if attending to some other invisible event.
Meditation by me and my companion revealed a glowing figure of white Tara with blue and green waves of light coming out in ripples from the central source. The image literally floated in space above them as a powerful presence. They appeared to be in meditation with their attention fixed on the divine figure as they spoke.
After the lecture was over, we approached the monks and asked through the translator if either of the monks had White Tara as their Yidam since we had both sensed her presence.
They both smiled and said that both of them had chosen White Tara as their tutelary deity and were devoted to her. It appeared their lives and spiritual practice was tightly bound up with White Tara. Yidams were a central aspect of and played a valuable role in their spiritual development in their branch of Tibetan Buddhism. These monks appeared to be living partially in the physical world while also sometimes inhabiting the transcendent world of White Tara.
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