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  • Writer's pictureLama Jigme Gyatso

Who is Kuntuzangpo?

Kun-tu-zang-po is often

depicted in Tantric art

as a handsome, athletic male,

about sixteen years of age,

naked, and comprised

of non-graspable blue light,

the color of

the cloudless azure sky,

tantalizing, in its beauty.

His name translates into

“all good one”

or Sa-man-ta-bha-dra

in Sanskrit,

and this name infers

that our karmic purification,

no less our spiritual maturation

is as close as passively noticing

during our inhalation

and actively relaxing,

and thus mentally letting-go,

during each exhalation;

especially when this is so mastered

that we are able to practice it:

spontaneously, and habitually,

and easily, and effectively.

His partner is called Kun-tu-zang-mo,

which I’m told is merely

the female version of his name,

and is Sa-man-ta-bha-dri in Sanskrit.

Her body is comprised

of white, non-graspable light

the color of a brilliant, white,

fluffy cloud.

Kun-tu-zang-po and Kun-tu-zang-mo

sporting in tantric union

is known as Kun-tu-zang-po Yab Yum

or the all-good one, father and mother.

I often abbreviate Kun-tu-zang-po Yab Yum,

to merely Yab Yum

in the contemplative notation

found in my guided meditations;

and this Kun-tu-zang-po Yab Yum

is a Yi-dam.

Yi-dam is a Tibetan translation

of the two Sanskrit words

Devi, which is male,

and Deva, which is female.

The literal translation

is deity,

or “object of worship.”

This, could really open a can of worms.

Are we meant to use these terms literally

or figuratively?

About nine centuries ago,

the Tibetan teacher,

Geshe Chekhawa wrote

“Seven Point Mind Training,”

where he cautioned his readers

“…Do not bring a god

down to a demon.”

Remember in the Buddha’s first lesson

he taught that stress is exacerbated

by the tyranny of our physical craving

and our mental clinging.

If we beseech

real or imagined gods

to fulfill our wishes

all we will accomplish…

is to further entrench ourselves

in the harmful habit of indulging

those physical cravings

and mental clingings.

But what if we did NOT

treat real or imagined Yidams

that way?

What if we treated them as a rich source

of eight similes and metaphors,

with which we could blend…

the four bases of mindfulness

with the cultivation of love

and the wisdom of letting go?

From the tantric point of view

the four bases of mindfulness

could be our circumstance, and our body,

and our communication, and our mind.

If we pretend that Kun-tu-zang-po Yab Yum

live in a real or imagined paradise or pure land

which is Va Ti in Sanskrit

we could use it as a tool

to increase our compassion

by wishing that all circumstances

be as fortunate at their pure land.

By pretending

that Kun-tu-zang-po Yab Yum’s pure land

is comprised only of light

we could train in the wisdom of letting go

by contemplating

how each circumstance

could be as non-graspable

as their pure land of light.

Why go to all the bother

of messing around with metaphor

when they could often be

fertile ground for great confusion?

Because, from the point of view

of evolutionary biology,

that part of our brain

that perceives and emotes…

is much older

than the part of our brain

that reasons

and uses language.

And by using imagery

we are communicating

with that old part of our under-brain…

that evolved

to feel, and taste, and smell,

and hear and see, and emote.

By imaging that Kun-tu-zang-po’s

and Kun-tu-zang-mo’s bodies

are healthy and blissful…

we could cultivate compassion

merely by wishing that all bodies

be as blissful as Yab Yum.

By imagining that their bodies

are comprised merely of light

we could train in the wisdom of letting go

by skillfully contemplating

how each body

could be as non-graspable

as Yab Yum of light.

By pretending that mantra

could induce peace

we could train in compassion

by wishing

that all communication

could be as peaceful

as mantra.

By imagining that the mantra

was comprised of light

we could train

in the wisdom of letting go

by skillfully contemplating

how all communication

could be as non-graspable

as mantra of light.

Just as we imagined

that the environment

of Kun-tu-zang-po Yab Yum

was a paradise or pure land,

how their bodies were

blissful, healthy, and beautiful,

and their speech

was peaceful mantra

we could also imagine that their minds

were symbolized

by a sky-blue syllable Hung,

which is a seed recitation,

or Bi-ja Man-tra

if you prefer Sanskrit.

Thus we could train in compassion

by wishing that each mind

be as joyful

as seed Hung.

And we could train

in the wisdom of letting-go

by skillfully contemplating…

how each mind

could be as non-graspable

as seed Hung of light.

Thus from the highest

perspective of Tantra,

we do NOT view

real or imagined entities

as great, celestial,

Santa Clauses

come to fulfill our wishes,

but rather as a fount

of eight similes

that help us train

in love and letting-go.

Those are the eight similes

that are common

to all Yi-dams.

Let’s conclude

with the five similes


to Kun-tu-zang-po Yab Yum.

FIRST – their nudity reminds us

that mindfulness

must be vulnerable

if it is to be effective.

SECOND – their bodies

comprised of light remind us

both of the folly of grasping

and the wisdom of letting-go.

THIRD – their beauty reminds us

of the transformative effect

that comes from indulging

our loving tendencies.

FOURTH – the stability with which

blue Kun-tu-zang-po sits

reminds of the centering that comes…

from marrying awareness

with inhalation

and that serves as an antidote

to scatteredness.

And FIFTH – the abandon

with which white Kun-tu-zang-mo

sports with her tantric partner…

reminds us

of the centered spontaneity

with which we

could approach life…

and also serves as an antidote

to our tendencies

toward contrivance

and being controlling.

These eight general similes

and five specific similes

have the potential to transform

every facet of our existence.

All we have to do

is put them into action.

Let us conclude

with a simple

call to action

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