Sunday, 22 September 2013

Padmasambhava – Buddhist Deity

Padmasambhava. Source:
So lately I have been attending a meditation course in a centre which is of the Nyingmapa tradition (there are four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, Nyingmapa is the first and oldest of those schools) – a form of Vajrayana Buddhism said to have been introduced to Tibet by Padmasambhava and which includes teachings on Tantra and Dzogchen. Padmasambhava is a giant within this tradition. Adherents are encouraged to meditate on his image and to chant his mantra. To say he is revered is an understatement. Although his name is not new to me I have never really felt him coming into my life until now – so … who is he?

Who is Padmasambhava?
Padmasambhava is described as the “father of Tibetan Buddhism” (Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying at 43) for “Buddhism in its Tantric form was principally introduced by Padmasambhava” (Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State at 14), but he is regarded as being far more than just a historical figure. Essentially, he can be described as a principle deity of Vajrayana Buddhism who dwells in a “glorious pure realm, the palace of lotus light on the copper-coloured mountain” – many Vajrayana Buddhists pray to Padmasambhava to be reborn in this realm (Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying at 240-241). A Buddhist deity can be described as “a manifestation of enlightened wisdom” (Lama Lodo, Bardo Teachings: The Way of Death and Rebirth at 68). Sogyal Rinpoche underscores Padmasambhava’s role as a primary Buddhist deity when he writes:
“All the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and enlightened beings are present at all moments to help us … Those who know Padmasambhava know the living truth of the promise he made over a thousand years ago: ‘I am never far from those with faith, or even those without it, though they do not see me. My children will always, always be protected by my compassion’ [Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying at 147].”

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Juno - Queen of the Matriarchs

"Juno" (2010) by
Juno’s special concern is the protection of marriage, pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. Hence, she could be described as the spirit of fertility in women.* For most freeborn women in the ancient world marriage, pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood defined what it meant to be an adult and so we can say that Juno deifies the adulthood of girls,** which is perhaps why in the Religio Romana the spirit of a woman is called “juno”, whereas for a man it is called “genius”.

While Venus is the patroness of sexual yearning, pleasure and its climax, it is Juno who is the patroness for what comes next. Venus is mirthful, but Juno is solemn (Tibullus) and austere (Propertius); she is a matron (Horace) and this role is crucial. As Rüpke states, “it is clear that there are important deities who were worshipped across Latium, and who represented core values of the community, and Juno is one. The cult of Juno Sospita in particular seems to have been connected with the defence and reproduction of the citizen body" (Rüpke at 37). Likewise, Juno Regina was prayed to by the married women of Rome on “bended knee” for the safety, victory and health of the Roman people and for goodwill to Roman houses and households (Beard et al at 142).

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Prayer to Mercury

Earlier this year as I was writing a post entitled Roman Gods, Indian Gods I came across a beautiful hymn (which is included at the bottom of that post) to the Vedic God Pushan, who, as pyschopomp and the God of journeys, roads, prosperity, good luck and cattle (which were equated with wealth in Vedic times, as they were in the earliest Roman times) is either the Vedic manifestation of Mercury or a God very similar to Mercury.* Over time I have adapted it as a prayer to the God whom I honour most (Mercury). It is as follows:

Prayer I
Great Mercurius or whatever name it is that you prefer,
Lord of the path, guide us on our way; go close before us.
Drive away that which would do us harm.
Protect us from deceit, wherever it be.
Wise Mercurius, wonder-worker,
We desire the help that you gave our people in times past.
Lord of prosperity, make wealth easy to acquire.
Make our paths easy to travel, lead us to happy destinations.
May you provide for us and invigorate us.
We praise mighty Mercurius and we seek your goodwill,
May you know the sincerity of our prayer by this incense that is lit,
May it find favour with you.
[based on Rig Veda, Book 1, Hymn XLII]