Meditation instruction through imagery: 1

samantabhadraTibetan thangkas are one form of world mystical art that convey layers of teaching. The image before us is Samantabhadra. It represents two beings or two qualities that ultimately are inseparable. The image of Samantabhadra/dri is simple: a generic unadorned male buddha blue-black in color meditating with a sinewy white female buddha arising. Proportionally she is smaller. His gaze is fixed in meditation. Samantabhadri (the feminine component) displays activity of some kind – movement within or drawn to the outer world.

At essence, blue-black Samantabhadra represents meditative equipoise (peaceful or calm abiding). His image represents the beginning of meditation training with peaceful abiding (shamatha) unto the most profound realizations of Voidness-Infinity. White Samantabhadri represents arising, appearance, and dynamism unto the very nature of Awareness itself: radiant, Clear Light, blissful and dynamic.

In the beginning of meditation training, mental activity (she) is experienced as the temptations of arising thoughts, chasing after or repulsing them, wandering, and laziness. These arisings make meditation challenging for everyone. On this level, Samantabhadri represents that which takes us off track in training the mind in steadfastness. Samantabhadra represents the steadfastness necessary to tame quixotic internal emotional and mental movement.

Visual portrayal of the components of meditative training help the practitioner feel the energy and tendencies of his or her practice. Essentially the thangka is a mirror reflecting to the practitioner what is happening and what to do or how to Be with the current meditative experience. On a beginner level of meditation training, the image is a representation of (a) meditative steadfastness and (b) that which beckons one from that steadfastness. Samantabhadra/dri represents the energetics of meditative practice.

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