Last night I went to one of the sanghas (Buddhist communities) of Pittsburgh and received an empowerment. In Vajrayana Buddhism an empowerment is essentially a blessing which allows one to properly use the mantra, visualization, and meditation practice connected with a particular figure.
In this case, the figure was Vajrapani, who represents the spiritual power of the Buddhas, protection of the law, righteous anger, and so forth. (It’s important to note that “righteous anger” does not simply mean “anger roused for a good cause”, but “anger directed skillfully to actually produce enlightenment”. All too often I have anger in a good cause but use it very poorly.)
The empowerment process involves empowering the body (so that one can physically handle the power of the figure), speech (so that one can use the associated mantra and speech of the deity), and mind (so that one can properly meditate upon the deity).
The body empowerment is concluded by the touching of a consecrated vase of water to the recipient’s head, and then water is poured into the cupped hands of the recipient, who then drinks it. The speech empowerment is concluded by the teaching and recitation of the mantra. The mind empowerment, however, is concluded by the visualization of the deity and then silent meditation.
It’s hard to explain what happened next, but I’ll try. There are many practices called “meditation”, but traditional raja yoga prescribes the stilling of the mind so that clarity breaks through. In the perhaps five minutes of silent meditation during the mind empowerment last night, I achieved greater stillness and clarity than I’ve ever had during a meditation session before — often I’ve had sessions lasting twenty to forty minutes, and none of them ever produced what I experienced last night.
So yeah. That was totally worth it, to say the least. I have other new spiritual practices in the works, but more on that later.