Life-Giving Images in Vajrayana Buddhist Ritual

Rita M. Gross

in A Garland of Feminist Reflections

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780520255852
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943667 | DOI:
Life-Giving Images in Vajrayana Buddhist Ritual

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This chapter concerns the visual forms that are central to Vajrayana Buddhist sadhana meditation-rituals. Meditation per se is not exactly a ritual. Nevertheless, to the observer, and even to the practitioner, it has some kinship with ritual. One observes people in a very specific posture, often in very precise spatial arrangements vis-à-vis each other and a shrine. In Vajrayana Buddhism, there are two types of meditation, formless and with form. Formless meditation is the silent focus on the breath and is found in all forms of Buddhism. Meditation with form, which is much less well known to the general public, means that not just the mental stability of the meditator is emphasized. This meditation involves many forms, liturgies, visualizations, hand gestures etc, which means that meditations with form are much more akin to ritual, both to the observer and to the participant.

Keywords: Vajrayana Buddhist ritual; meditation; formless meditation; ritual; liturgies; visualizations; hand gestures

Chapter.  5675 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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