Yidams ~ 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche

Are the many yidams we see in pictures and visualize real? No, they are symbols of the ultimate yidam. The various forms and attributes of the deities point to manifold habits of clinging, grasping, and holding impure appearances in one’s mind. There are so many impure ideas and things one thinks are real. Each yidam symbolizes one of the many aspects of clinging and clutching. One needs to know this. […] The deity’s body represents the indivisibility of emptiness and appearance; the mantra of each deity is the indivisibility of emptiness and sound; the deity’s mind is the indivisibility of emptiness and awareness.

3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche

source: http://www.rinpoche.com/teachings/3roots.htm

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