Empowerment (Tibetan Buddhism)

Empowerment (Tibetan Buddhism)

An empowerment is a ritual in Tibetan Buddhism which initiates a student into a particular tantric deity practice. The Tibetan word for this is "wang" which literally translates to "power". The sanskrit term for this is "abhiseka" which literally translates to sprinkling or bathing or anointing.Trungpa (1985) pp.92-93] A tantric practice is not considered effective or as effective until a qualified master has transmitted the corresponding power of the practice directly to the student. This may also refer to introducing the student to the mandala of the deity.

There are three requirements before a student may begin a practice: cite web |url=http://www.utbf.org/en/resources/glossary/|title=Glossary|accessdate=2007-12-09 |format= |work=United Trungram Buddhist Fellowship] cite web |url=http://www.diamondway.org/usa/3kar17_intrv.php|title=Interview with Trinley Thaye Dorje, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa|accessdate=2007-12-09 |format= |publisher=Diamond Way Buddhism, USA|year=2000|work=Buddhism Today, Vol.8] cite web |url=http://www.samyeling.org/index.php?module=Pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=30&pid=10 |title=Vajrayana |accessdate=2007-12-09 |format= |work=Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre] cite web |url=http://www.samyeling.org/index.php?module=Pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=11&pid=47 |title= Vajrayana and Empowerment|accessdate=2007-12-09 |author=Mingyur Dorje Rinpoche|work=Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre]
# the empowerment
# a reading of the text by an authorized holder of the practice (Tibetan: "lung")
# instruction on how to perform the practice or rituals (Tibetan: "tri").

An individual is not allowed to engage in a deity practice without the empowerment for that practice. The details of an empowerment ritual are often kept secret as are the specific rituals involved in the deity practice.cite web |url=http://buddhism.inbaltimore.org/empowerment.html |title=The Meaning of Empowerment|accessdate=2007-12-09 |format= |work=The Bodhicitta Foundation]


By receiving the empowerment, the student enters into a samaya vow with the teacher. The details of that vow are determined by the teacher and student. It may include completing a certain amount of practice or considering that teacher one's primary teacher.


The ritual for performing an empowerment can be divided into four parts:
* vase or water empowerment
* secret or crown empowerment
* knowledge-wisdom (prajna-jnana) or vajra empowerment
* word or bell empowermentcite web |url=http://www.khandro.net/TibBud_empowerment.htm |title=Empowerment |accessdate=2007-12-09 |format= |work=Khandro.Net]

The ritual is based on the coronation process of a king but in this case represents the student being empowered as the deity of the practice (ie. a Buddha). [Dhavamony (1973) p.187] The vase empowerment symbolizes purification or preparation and may include a vase filled with water or washing. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche compared that to baptism. The secret or crown empowerment involves receiving a coronation or identification as that deity. The knowledge-wisdom empowerment symbolizes receiving a scepter representing the skillful means of the deity. The word or bell empowerment is receiving the wisdom of the deity. [Beer (2004) p.219]

Dzogchen empowerment

The "Empowerment of Awareness" (Tib: "rig pa'i rtsal­ dbang") is a technical term employed within the Dzogchen lineages. This empowerment consists of the direct introduction of the sadhaka to the intrinsic nature of their own mind-essence, rigpa, by their empowering master.cite web |url=http://www.dharmafellowship.org/biographies/historicalsaints/pramodavajra.htm |title=Biographies: Pramodavajra, Regent of the Divine|accessdate=2007-11-15 |format= |work=Dharma Fellowship of His Holiness the Gwayala Karmapa|year=2005]

According to the Nyingmapa story of the advent of the Dzogchen teachings on this planet, it is held that Garab Dorje received this empowerment (abhiseka) directly from Vajrasattva. This employment of the 'creative energy' (Tibetan: " [http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/rtsal rTsal] ") is what is transferred in the empowerment from the heart of the heart of the master to the heart of the student.

ee also

*Dharma transmission
*Lineage (Buddhism)
*Lung (Tibetan Buddhism)


* Dhavamony, Mariasusai (1973) "Phenomenology of Religion" ISBN 8-87652-474-6 p.187
* Beer, Robert (2004) "The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs" ISBN 1-93247-610-5
* Trungpa, Chögyam (1985) "Journey without Goal" ISBN 0-39474-194-3

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