Recognize this object?
It’s called a “vajra,” and it’s one of those ubiquitous symbols seen across the Indian subcontinent. In Tibetan Buddhism it points to the whole Vajrayana “Diamond” Path. Different people describe the vajra’s symbolism in different ways. One wildly ambitious way is as the sum total of reality itself, or at least, three fundamental ways of experiencing reality.
The first is the normal ordinary way – looking at the world via the senses, with all our unconscious biases and conditioning and so on all shaping our experience. This is represented by the ball on the left – a lotus bloom, actually – a thicket of subtly deluded perspectival petals or strands. The second way of experiencing reality is also via the senses, except stripped now of all that unconscious conditioning and delusion. This is represented by the ball on the right. Although we can’t literally see this in the vajra itself, the idea is the lotus flower with its petals has been “purified.” In this way, via practice, we slowly learn, in the Buddhist phrase, “to see things as they really are.”
The point in the very centre represents a third way of experiencing reality – a non-way, actually, for in this non-place there is no experiencer and no perspective. More accurate to say it’s a third aspect of reality that practitioners describe after-the-fact: Sunyata, the empty-but-pregnant primordial void out of which all perceptual stands, deluded and purified, are said to arise and return every moment of our lives. Some call it as the ground of consciousness.
Meditation is one way we can begin to explore this wildly ambitious vajra terrain. It begins simply – appreciating the richness of our bodies, our senses, our feelings, this moment. Slowly, we begin to experience insights about the various ways in which we prevent ourselves from showing up from one moment to the next. Older rough strands get reworked into newer smoother strands, and, over time, the whole lot of them get more porous and free-flowing. Openings happen. Sometimes chin drool. ‘Is this emptiness?’ we wonder. Nope: more like napping.
No problem – we wake up refreshed!