"Sacred art is not just a representation of symbols and ideas. It is a direct experience of inner peace, free from attachment to the illusory solidity of the ego and the phenomenal world" ~Matthieu Ricard
An art form is truly sacred when it awakens in the mind. A direct experience that is deeper than our ordinary selves and the material world.
"Wrathfulness is a way of depicting the formidable energy of compassion that cannot bear the sufferings of beings. There is no trace of hatred or anger in it".
Simply, it is a way in which the peaceful free nature of primordial wisdom manifests. A very dynamic way is required to beings from particular kinds of suffering.
The following symbolisms associated with the wrathful deities will make this view clearer.
The hair bristles upward in a blazing mane. Out of overwhelming compassion for the intense suffering of beings caught up in delusion.
If they have only 1 head, it symbolizes the absolute truth. If they have 3 heads, they represent the three dimensions of Buddhahood Trikaya. The transformation of the three main mental poisons-Desire, Anger, and Ignorance.
Their 2 arms represent the union of wisdom (the realization of emptiness) and skillful means (compassion). If they have six arms, these are to remind us of the six transcendent perfections (Paramita). Namely: Generosity, Discipline, Patience, Diligence, Concentration, and Wisdom.
Their two legs represent absolute space (dharmadhatu) and awareness (vidya), inseparable. If four, they symbolize the four boundless qualities-Love, Compassion, Joy, and Impartiality.
The 58 dry skulls that some wrathful deities wear symbolize the death of the 58 kinds of deluded thought.
- Their razor-sharp wings symbolize penetrating wisdom.
- Their 3 eyes symbolize perfect knowledge of the Past, Present, and Future.
These deities are not seen as having material, tangible bodies of flesh, blood, and bone. But the bodies are of light, vivid and translucent like a rainbow. Totally immaterial, like the reflection of the moon in the water.
Wrathful deities are full of wisdom and love and the power to reduce pain. There are many meditational deities that have both peaceful and wrathful forms.
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I always thought that they were like guardians guarding you on the path or warning you that you are about to go astray . Like in the bardo. but this teaches me a new way . Thank you!