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Grand Master's Books > Grand Master Lu's Book > 154_The Aura of Wisdom (Publisher: US Daden Culture)

Chapter 43: Choosing One`s Principal Deity (Yidam)

Chapter 43. Choosing One`s Principal Deity (Yidam)
Written by Sheng-yen Lu
Translated and edited by True Buddha Foundation Translation Team

My disciples often asked me this question, `Who among the buddhas and bodhisattvas is my principal deity?`

My reply is, `Yidam, or principal deity, means what is principally the most supreme. When the practitioner chooses one deity among the buddhas and bodhisattvas as his principal deity who is connected to the individual through many lifetimes, that would be one`s principal deity.`

I added, `A principal deity is determined when the individual feels there is a special affinity between them, where the connection, the affection and the respect for the deity is most pronounced.`

In Tantric Buddhism, the practice of selecting one`s principal deity involves a method in which the practitioner is first blindfolded. While holding a flower in his hand, he is led by his guru to the mandala where he casts the flower towards it. His principal deity is determined by the deity on which the flower lands. In the past, when Kobo Daishi (Kukai) cast his flower, it landed on Vairocana. His religious name was thus Henjo Kongo, meaning `Universally Illuminating Vajra`.

Nowadays, many disciples request help from their Root Guru to determine their principal deity. The Root Guru must ascertain the affinity between the disciple and the respective deity to determine their compatibility. If they are compatible, that would surely be the principal deity.

Some disciples who just took refuge and received the refuge empowerment saw the appearance of a buddha or bodhisattva touching their heads and blessing them either in their dreams or meditation. Hence, they would choose that one particular buddha or bodhisattva as their principal deity. This is reasonable.

A question was asked, `Can we have more than two or three principal deities?`

Answer: `In principle, there should be one principal deity. But under special circumstances, one may have two, even three principal deities.`

Question: `If we are uncomfortable with the principal deity, can we change to another?`

Answer: `Actually, it is not advisable to change your principal deity once you have made your decision. As long as you practice truthfully and reach for perfection, you shall achieve responses and results. The truth is, there are no barriers between buddhas and bodhisattvas. Therefore we must hold thoughts of non-differentiation and respect all as equal.`

Question: `There are eight major principal deities in the True Buddha School. Can we choose a deity outside these eight?`

Answer: `The group of eight major principal deities exists in principle. Other deities that exist in the Vajradhatu and Garbhadhatu Mandala can also be selected as one`s principal deity.`

When I select the principal deity for my disciple, the secret of selection lies in harmony with the very divine nature of my disciple.
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