During the deeksha event yesterday, we spent some time exploring inviting deities in – and seeing which ones come in for us.
The deities can be from any tradition, or even nameless, and each embody a particular way the self-realized divine mind can manifest. Emphasizing compassion, wisdom, selflessness, engagement in the world, art, music, bodywork, speech and so on. There is a wide spectrum, and each one is always evolving as well.
First and second person relationships
It brought up – for me and others – the 1st and 2nd person relationship dynamics with God and the various deities. In a 1st person relationship, we realize (a) that this is I or (b) that there is no I anywhere, everything just is – beyond and including one and many (this one is more of a zero person relationship).
In a second person relationship, it becomes an I-Other dynamic which can be very helpful in contacting and getting to know a particular realization or set of qualities.
And a fluidity between the two seem especially helpful.
Inviting in and familiarizing myself with
So with these deities, it can be very helpful to invite in and contact particular ones – especially the ones we have an affinity for. In my case, Christ, St. Francis and others. It allows me to contact those qualities, first as Other, and familiarize myself with them. Bringing them into my life and activities. And then, with the boundary of I and Other dissolving.
As so often, Tibetan Buddhism not only inlcudes this in their practices but have refined it to a high degree. In deity practices for instance, we invite a particular deity as Other and connect with, explore and familiarize ourself with it in that way. Then at the end, we visualize this deity dissolving into light and merging with our human form. There is no separation.
Coming from a habitual identification with form and something finite (our human self), it can be very helpful to contact these realizations and qualities as Other initially. It is closer to where we are at, and is a way to ease us into it. It is an application of skillful means.
Then, we realize there was never any separation from the beginning.
And we are free to continue exploring these realizations and qualities and how they manifest in our human life, in the fluidity of moving between first and second person relationships with them.
From a second person view, we can see how these deities and qualities evolve and mature with humanity. Our embodiment of them allow them to evolve further. And our embodiment of them allows us to evolve further.
And from a first – or rather zero – person view, we see there is not really any difference between those two.
Deities out there?
Another question that came up for people yesterday is if these deities are really out there? Or are they just aspects of our own minds, projections which help us to connect with them?
It is an interesting question, but for all practical purposes maybe not so relevant. The answer may be both, or neither, or both and neither, or that it doesn’t matter, or that whatever works for you is good, or that it is an topic for inquiry and exploration.