The Magic of the Spirit Realm

I periodically meditate on the issue of iconography (physical/visual form) and how this relates to the Buddhist notion that everything is MIND, everything is ONE (and so forth) according to deepest Buddhist teachings. Within these traditions, there is an understanding of the surface (apparent) truth and of deeper (hidden) esoteric truths. In the case of a figure such as Tara, she is seen as a female embodiment of the Buddha. Of course, ultimately, there is only one Buddha MIND such that everything is encompassed. To speak of Tara as a differentiated figure is thus somewhat misleading. Although she presents herself that way to the practitioner/meditator, deep down, it's all mind energy of the ONE (voidness)... Likewise, when the Buddhist teaching of death and rebirth are examined, the Bardo teachings, it is explicitly said that what you experience after death is based upon your expectations. The demons and protectors of the Bardo realm are a mental construct. Self projection of the mind's delusions.
So what am I getting at? Well, I guess it is the understanding that there are energies and forces both "within" us and "without" us which can take on archetypal forms (such as Tara or the healing spirit of Brown Bear). Sometimes it's natural and useful to see these as externalized forms/figures. Other times, it's important to recall that everything is filtered through one's own consciousness, brain chemistry and social/cultural "programming." And thus, "truth" is not so much relative as operational and contextual based upon chemistry, environment and intention. This is why altered states, trance drumming and medicine plants (etc.) serve such important functions in shamanic practice. Sometimes we need things to be external and "real", other times internal and "projections" of our (un)conscious thought/emotions/intuitions.

In any case, over time I have come to the conclusion that I want and like my life to have "the magical" in it, so I don't worry about the notion of "projecting" these forces (internal or otherwise) into form. I enjoy the spirit animals, the plants, the teachers and protectors. Most of the time I simply enjoy the unique energy that each brings (and the message / teachings shared). That does not mean that all spirit/spiritual work is fun and that there is never pain, fear or other negative energies. Sometimes, yes. But it's all part of the same fabric of reality and much can be learned by witnessing the beauty of the fabric's symbolic weave. 

Having the magical in one's life is often more fun, satisfying and even illuminating than doggedly stripping everything down to the core essence of illusion / "nothingness." But, being aware of this life choice is also important so as not to become delusional or confused. And you have to learn when these tradeoffs make sense or get in the way - when to cut thru illusion to get at pure Mind essence for centering and clarity or when simply to allow joyful play and limitless imagination.

That said, it's astonishing what information can be brought forward by a spirit guide (esp. in regards to someone else you may be journeying for or performing healing upon) - stuff you simply can't have "known" in any other way but thru the magic of the spirit realm. Ah, but with everything being ONE, the connection is always there, even if unperceived or unexpected.

The Dalai Lama, after all, makes use of talismans, fortune tellers, dream interpreters and direct meditation on the Devis of the sacred landscape surrounding him. Evidently, the Mind's clear light needs to be balanced by directed imagination to remain both human and fully conscious.

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