To understand the significance of the Buddhas, it may be worth reading the introduction to the mandala of the five Buddhas, which explains a little more about what they really are and how they evolved in the archetypal Vajrayana Buddhist imagination. Effectively how real they are, and in what way they are real, is left to you. They are not like Gods, they represent aspects of the enlightened mind, and as such, are both real and unreal, both archetype and other power.
Ratnasambhava is the gorgeous bright Buddha of the southern realm, made of golden light, made of the summer, of generosity and abundance, giving and equanimity. He is the sunshine at its bright zenith, the reworking of the mind and heart to include all life in one’s outlook rather than the limited one self.
We have a limited field of concern, narrowed to our group, our family, our country or however we divide life into that which we care about and that which we don’t. Worse, many even decide that some life is for us to use, to harm or slaughter as we will, in order that we can satiate some craving or other.
It is what we do nowadays, we look after our own, our home, our job, our family, our values. Everybody else’s are totally irrelevant unless they impede on our own, threatening or offering improved situations. Thus complete openness is rare, if not impossible, if we are steeped in self concern.
This is what this Buddha embodies then, the antidote, the cure for this systemic culture of self, and the widely adopted selfish materialistic values, Ratnasambhava is the opening out of our limited vision and the expansion of the scope of what we value and hold dear. He is the opening and the brightening of our heart.
You could say that generosity, one of his key qualities, is the antidote to clinging, and the self-centred way in which we are constantly drawn into pushing or pulling things away or toward us, as if we were all that matters.
Generosity, or dana, is of such importance in Buddhism, it appears in many lists and formulae for spiritual development. If we practise generosity, whether through giving money, time, attention, wisdom, love, and gifts, then we will find that our clinging, our attachments, are loosened. It is the essence of service, of renunciation, of loosening our concepts around the importance of me and mine.
Without generosity, progress will be limited, and the perfection of generosity is equal to the perfection of vision that sees self and other as one, that transcends duality.
When one gives, one might as well be giving to oneself, for in a sense the very giving is a gift, even if we might still fall short of the lofty vision that another’s happiness is our very own. It has been said that if you are able to do nothing else to evolve, if you aren’t sufficiently motivated to try meditation or read the books, then at least you can practise generosity, for this makes for a very good start.
Ratnasambhava’s realm is that of beauty, of creativity, of the arts, and the appreciation of beauty wherever you might find it in the world, and beyond it.
The bright and expansive beauty of deep meditation, the bubbling inspiration of certain dhyanic states. The beautiful displays of inner light, or infinite bright mind.
The moments after meditation, when the world is unaccountably brighter, all seems more beautiful because that which perceives has been cleaned, cleared, brightened.
States of openness and receptivity, in which the play of light on water finds the heart leaping. Here the dance of light in morning dewdrops, there the exquisite wonder of a cloud at sunset. The perfect beauty of the flow of a stream, sunshine dazzling on its surface as it weaves its beautiful music. The grace of the flight of a bird, the perfection of the wind in the trees, the body alive, fizzing with energy as its senses open and are all attuned to the beautiful.
HIs imagery also includes the wild horses in the desert, the bright sandy beaches, the summer sunshine and warmth. His southern realm is known as ‘The Glorious’ and it is approached via a path glittering with jewels in that sunshine.
His realm is flourishing with great energy, there are flowering plants, bounteous crops, musicians, artists, sculptors and poets working in the palace. There is no need for the creative to bend their souls into a suit, or scrape by on the dole, he provides, he appreciates, he loves. They create in praise and reverence to the Buddha Ratnasambhava, who is the guiding light, the sun, the source of light, love, nourishment and inspiration.
His name means born of jewels, and there is an association with wealth and abundance, creativity, generosity and spiritual richness. In fact his name could also be translated as the ‘jewel-producing one.’
He sits on a lotus throne born aloft by four golden horses, and he is infinitely generous, providing all that those in his realm could wish for. With infinite wealth both material and spiritual, his giving is free and spontaneous, with all-beings equally precious, equally meriting his supreme and transcendental generosity. Happiness is flowering and fecund, and visitors would notice their love and wisdom blossoming as well.
Painting by Aloka
His mudra, or hand gesture, is holding out an open hand, symbolising offering of it all, openness and generosity. It is the mudra of supreme giving, for what he has to offer is the rarest and most valuable jewel, the jewel of wisdom, of radiant equanimity, the jewel of enlightenment.
He holds this precious jewel, the cintamani, the wish-fulfilling jewel, which is the symbol of the bodhicitta. The bodhicitta is the highest value of Mahayana buddhism, and symbolises the aspiration to attain enlightenment not for one’s own benefit but for the sake of ending the suffering of all beings.
The Bodhicitta is a force that exists in and around you, or you exist in and around it. It is an energy, it cannot be made yours, of you cannot add or subtract from it, it is like a field, a higher power even. It is the very essence of enlightenment, it is the drive which is in all sentient life, in all matter, to transform, transcend, and evolve. It is the brightness and the brightening, it is the love, the wisdom that will charge and change you, forging you into a brighter being, a bodhisattva, someone who will serve life. It is faith, it is energy, it is the most beautiful.
It arises in you if you have purified your heart and mind, and are motivated by the ideal of the bodhisattva, the being who will strive for the weal of all beings, who vows to relieve the suffering of all beings. Surely this is the heroic ideal that this thirsty age of men is crying out for, the antidote to the suffering of the values espoused by capitalism, the never ending cycle of getting and spending. Life on earth is so very much in need of those who would respond to the cries of the world. True heroes and warriors, and they are here, working in their different ways to end the mass delusion woven through the world, to end the suffering.
So there are several ways to approach this state of non self-centredness; through generosity, through simple acts of giving, through kindness, through metta meditation, and through compassion. One starts to work with the imagined division between self and other, seeing the connectedness, seeing the shared experience, the shared sufferings. One starts to expand into a wider field of concern, where one is concerned for the suffering of others as if it were one’s own.
So there is expansion, brightness, like the last stage of metta bhavana meditation. The metta bhavana, and tonglen meditation, are excellent methods for dissolving self-centredness.
His wisdom is the wisdom of equality, the seeing of all things or beings as being essentially of the same nature. That nature is of course empty, void of any lasting substantial self or essence, so the final stage of the metta bhavana is an appropriate way to approach his qualities.
You could almost say he is the ideal leader, the icon of equality, appreciating all. LIke the element earth he represents, earth is stood upon by all. Under his gaze there is no differentiation, no division based on class or race or sex or social position. His gaze is like the sunshine, which shines on all, as bounteously on palace as well as hovel, on all life without exception. With his wisdom we experience solidarity with all, his beneficence is universal.
His consort is Mamaki, the mine-maker. She too holds the wish-fulfiling jewel, and her wisdom is one of expansion. It involves expanding the self or the ego to include and embrace everything. All beings, all things, conditioned or unconditioned, all part of self. So in meditation, all that is grasped or thought about, all you. All to be well and happy as a part of you.
This is hence a different way of working with grasping, with craving and clinging and greed. Instead of being separate and away, it is joined and close. Can you crave a part of yourself?
Representing the cure for ego, this is the energy that works with pride, levelling pride as we move towards equanimity. Pride in buddhism, is the pride of self-view, of self-obsession. It can be arrogance or interestingly self-view as being greater, or lesser, or even equal to others. It is the view of the self as separate, as an entity you would server and structure your life around. Instead of gathering or rejecting things to our self, it all falls open. We see the common features of experience, we see how all things, all beings, share the same nature.
Whatever the mind and senses take hold of, are made a part of the self. In this way everything you see or hear or think about is a part of the self to be cherished. The wisdom of sameness is the course between and beyond the worldy winds, the levelling of loss and gain, or praise and blame, or pleasure and pain, or infamy and fame. In fact, this sameness resolves all opposite, all duality, even the fundamental distinction between self and world, self and other. This wisdom is the perfect bright equanimity, with no self at its centre.
In enlightenment, one is said to totally dissolve the duality between subject and object, or self and other. So we loosen the ties of biondage to self with a two pronged assault. We see through the self by looking, by analysing and finding no such entity, as in vipassana meditation, but we can also expand the view of self to include more and more, and have it dissolve through expansion.
A word of warning, it is important that you are healthy and happy, an integrated and positive person if you are going to start cutting through your views and concepts. It is work that involves facing our limits, our mortality, and the very way in which we structure experience. Without a solid grounding, insight practices can lead to alienation, depression, and deep confusion.
So through expansion, there is less danger of losing your way, here is a way to work with the view of self through generosity and metta, by dissolving any differences in the way that you think about yourself and the “other,” as it’s all part of one continuum. One field, one plane, one.
Once again, we find ourselves left drenched in warm sunshine. Ratnasambahava and Mamaki are well suited for the way of sunshine, given that are made of golden light, and that they represent beauty, abundance, the summer, the grain ripening and the harvest. The golden Buddha of the southern quarter is the embodiment of generosity, of creativity, of ripening, of plenty, of love and abundance, and of beauty and the appreciation of beauty.
May you seek and see beauty, and may you too find the brightness within. May all his blessings be yours.
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