Sunday, March 27, 2011
Dorje Drolo: A Wrathful Buddha
This painting of Dorje Drolo was created by the 17th Karmapa. His website where the image can be found is at: http://karmapaeurope.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/dorje-drolo-painting/
Recently, I have been thinking a bit and reviewing some of my choices. Many, many years ago I took refuge as a Buddhist with Tana Tulku who was an emanation of Dorje Drolo. My dharma name that was given to me was "Karma Yangchen". I took refuge as a Buddhist because a Buddhist lama and the nun who worked with him offered me totally non-judgmental emotional support at a very difficult time in my life. That support buoyed me through one of the darkest periods that I have experienced.
So now I am many years in the future and thinking about my choices and where I would like the next chapter of my life to go. I was re-arranging my room the other day to set up a silk screening station and I found an old journal. Out of it fell a couple old email printouts from October 1996. In the emails Sheila Richardson who worked with Lama Sonam Rinpoche wrote to me about taking refuge, what the refuge ceremony involved, about doubts and overcoming disbelief, miracles, and about having confidence in my innate ability to transform and transcend. She talked about healthy doubt and skeptical rigid doubt. She recommended that I meditate on Dorje Drolo and sent me a mantra, that I travel to gain experience, and that I foster a sense of calm because by transforming my inner state it would manifest outwardly as calm. She wrote that by focusing on negatives there is less time and energy to focus on positives, but the goal is not to focus on positives. They are just the flipside of negatives. The point is to go further. To find calm, the unborn void, totality consciousness, etc.
It seemed serendipitous that I found this mantra and image now while thinking about things. I looked up Dorje Drolo because I was intrigued that Sheila had written that he is a wrathful manifestation of Guru Rinpoche who I had been meditating on the time I took refuge. I never think of the Buddha as being a "wrathful" being.
One website that I found described Dorje Drolo as follows: "Guru Dorje Drolo is the crazy wrathful Buddha of the degenerate era. He has no regular pattern to his wrath. He is completely out of order!" He is a manifestation of crazy wisdom. He is an ecstatic manifestation of Padmasambhava, the deity Dorje Drolo embodies the forces of insight and compassion beyond logic and convention. Invoking in the practitioner the fearlessness and spontaneity of the awakened state, Dorje Drolo transforms hesitancy and clinging into enlightened activity. Dorje Drolo's energy overcomes distinctions of life and death, representing instead a continual process of giving birth to new circumstances and possibilities. Padmasambhava manifested as Dorje Drolo at numerous pilgrimage places in order to subvert indigenous Tibetan beliefs in demons and malevolent gods, redirecting their powerful energies toward the path of wisdom and compassion. Dorje Drolo, the subverter of demons, looks very wrathful. He has fangs, an overbite, and three eyes. He wears Tibetan boots, a chuba and monk's robes, two white conch shell earrings, and a garland of severed heads. His hair is bright red and curly, giving off sparks. To show how truly crazy he is, he dances on the back of a pregnant tigress, surrounded by flames which signifies the latent power of our intrinsic Buddha Nature. The tigress is often depicted as also dancing, so that everything is in motion. Dorje Drolo had 5 dakini consorts/acolytes who he worked with and engaged in tantric practice with.
This Buddha is not your typical serene, passive Buddha. He is dynamic and brings calm and enlightenment in unconventional ways.