“During your visualization and meditation, three things are necessary. In Tibetan, they are called: (1) salwa, (2) dagpa, and (3) tanpa. Salwa means “clarity,” dagpa means “purity,” and tanpa means “fearlessness.”
Clarity means to maintain your visualization clearly and meticulously. All the details should be there. In order to do this, you need to have good Shamatha and Vipashyana meditation, which is difficult. That’s why the teachings say that purity and fearlessness are more important than clarity. The visualization might be challenging, and it might not come clearly, but if you feel dedicated and committed to your practice, and strongly feel the presence of the buddhas, that’s enough.
There are one hundred buddhas in this Zhitro practice and it’s difficult to visualize all of them. Even when we try to visualize one buddha it’s hard to maintain perfect clarity. For this reason, if you want to, you can focus on the self-visualization of Vajrasattva, or on Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri in union in your heart center. As the teachings say, when you invite a king, their entire entourage naturally comes along as well. Similarly, if you attend well to a president, their secretaries and ministers will automatically be in the picture too. So when you meditate, if you visualize only the principal deity, such as Vajrasattva or Samantabhadra, everything will go well. And even if that visualization is not so clear, you will do well as long as you have purity and fearlessness.
Purity means that the buddhas you’re visualizing are not ordinary sentient beings. They’re the embodiments of true love, compassion, and wisdom.They are transcendental wisdom rainbow body beings. As we discussed, all of their costumes, ornaments, and gestures have great meaning. These are not mere decorations, but pure displays of bodhichitta. Every aspect and characteristic of a buddha benefits sentient beings. Keeping this understanding in mind during your visualization and recitation is purity.
Fearlessness, or stability, means having no doubt or hesitation. When you’re practicing, you shouldn’t be asking all kinds of questions like, “Why is this?” and “What is that?” That is timidity. It means you’re not fully embracing the teaching and practice, and the ground is shaking beneath your feet. When there’s no stability it’s very difficult to make progress. For these reasons, you must develop great fearlessness and confidence. During your practice don’t waste time analyzing or hovering around particular thoughts. This will spoil your practice. Have faith in the practice and have faith in yourself. Release all of your thoughts, follow the instructions exactly, and soar.
When you practice the Vajrayana teachings, clarity, purity, and fearlessness are all very important. Work joyfully to develop a clear visualization, a deep understanding of the perfection of the buddhas, and become free of all doubt and hesitation. If you have all three of these qualities it’s excellent. But again, even if the clarity of your visualization isn’t perfect, purity and fearlessness are more than enough.”
The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Vol. 1: Chapter Twenty-One: Main Practice (pgs 339-340)
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