First, an apology for the previous post. Making fun of things by quoting them out of context is unproductive. Another apology-warrantable offence is making fun of things one doesn't know very much about: sorry.
This post is about the so-called "peaceful and wrathful deities" referred to in The Tibetan Book of the Dead (deluxe edition, Penguin, 2005). Available at Amazon.
Here's a crude summary: when you're dead, initially you may encounter things that may seem to be deities but which are really just products of the mind/imagination.
According to the Book (p 387), the deities are symbols that emerge from:
the meditator's own awareness ... and sensory and mental processes.
The 42 symbols of peacefulness:
represent the quiescent natural purity of these fundamental components of our being.
In contrast the 58 symbols of wrathfulness are:
transformative aspects... which bring about the natural transformation of the most enduring and deep-seated expressions of our mundane perceptual states.The wrathful deities represent aspects of transformation, and in that sense are dynamic compared to the "quiescent" peaceful deities, which seem to me to be about abiding timelessly and statically in bliss. (I was going to put quotation marks around "abiding", "timelessly", "statically" and "bliss" but realised that you'd get the point without my having to do that).
The wrathful deity Mahottara Heruka, for example, symbolises the:
natural transformation of fundamental ignorance into pure awareness.Mahottara Heruka is the wrathful aspect of the peaceful Buddha, Samantabhadra.
But what is the appropriate label: "deities" or "aspects" or Jungian archetypes from the collective unconscious, something else entirely, or none of the above?
The question highlights the unreliability of language, which often conceals more than reveals. Whatever the label, the Book itself says that the "deities" are products of the mind. What's harder to accept is that those minds belong to people whose physical body has died, "people" whose consciousness continues to continue after death.
If there is an afterlife, does the experience vary according to the cultural context of the dead person? Are the names of the beings you might meet there expressed in your language, eg Tibetan? Do those beings keep the same name irrespective of the cultural/linguistic background of the dead person? Is there always the same number of beings of each type, "peaceful" and "wrathful", and do they always represent the same thing/aspect of being?
I do wonder, though, that if the deities are symbols emerging from a person's awareness, why call them deities? Why not call them symbols? Or is that just a second-order, translating/linguistic issue? And, why "wrathful" not, eg, "transformative" or even "catalytic"?
Isn't the artwork great though?
NIGHTMERRIES: THE LIGHTER SIDE OF DARKNESS This so-called "book" will chew you up, spit you out, and leave you twitching and frothing on the carpet. More than 60 dark and feculent fictions (read ‘em and weep) copiously illustrated by over 20 grotesque images you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.
AWAREWOLF & OTHER CRHYMES AGAINST HUMANITY (Vot could be Verse?) We all hate poetry, right? But we might make an exception for this sick and twisted stuff. This devil's banquet of adults-only offal features more than 50 satanic sonnets, vitriolic verses and odious odes.
MANIC MEMES & OTHER MINDSPACE INVADERS A disturbing repository of quotably quirky quotes, sayings, proverbs, maxims, ponderances, adages and aphorisms. This menagerie holds no fewer than 184 memes from eight meme-species perfectly adapted to their respective environments.
MASTRESS & OTHER TWISTED TAILS, ILLUSTRATED: an unholy corpus of oddities, strangelings, bizarritudes and peculiaritisms
FIENDS & FREAKS Adults-only Tales of Serpents, Dragons, Devils, Lobsters, Anguished Spirits, Gods, Anti-gods and Other Horse-thieves You Wouldn't Want to Meet in a Dark Kosmos: 4th EditionHAGS TO HAGGIS Whiskey-soaked Tails of War-nags, Witches, Manticores and Escapegoats, Debottlenecking and Desilofication, Illustrated