In the Buddhist-Tibetan tradition, the Form of Vajrayana, the concept of a protective spirit or Yidam is met; meditation on this spirit is an important form in the practice of those on this path, in order to realize the illusory nature of Yidam.
In translation Yidam (ishta devata in Sanskrit) means personal spirit
. They represent particular forms of the one Supreme Consciousness which are visualized in accordance with the individual beliefs and convictions of the disciple. Finally, it is an identification with its own essential nature, eliminating the distorted aspects of the mind, being a characteristic expression of the Buddha’s own nature, that is, of the fundamental master of the path.
In a certain phase of spiritual practice, the disciple is guided by his master to create a
Yidam or a protective spirit
. The process is not a handy one, it is a long and difficult process, because it requires skill and accuracy, and can sometimes take two years and even longer. The disciple begins by building a mandala of colored sand, after which a technique of mental visualization and concentration is required. These techniques must be supported by a very severe diet and a period of restraint, all of which unfold amid low temperatures in the mountains, which are often below zero degrees.
For the disciple, the creation of a yidam is a test of fire, because not all of them manage to obtain the spiritual merit of receiving this initiation from their master, and if they receive it, few are those who carry it out.
THE CREATION OF A YIDAM IS NOT A FORM OF MAGIC (BE IT BLACK OR WHITE) BUT IT IS A METHOD OF BOOSTING AND PROTECTING ONE’S OWN SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION AND, ALTHOUGH IT IS NOT OBVIOUS AT FIRST GLANCE, SOME COMMON ELEMENTS WITH IT WE WILL FIND EVEN IN WESTERN DEVOTIONAL METHODS.
If the yidam is created and becomes a palpable entity in the physical universal, the disciple is faced with the problem of realizing what is the nature of the yidam and what characteristics it has. In essence, the nature of a Yidam is a purely mental one, no matter how complex the stages of its creation are. It is up to the disciple alone to finally realize the lyusory nature of even his mental strength, remaining firm and unattached from the form created with the help of his capacity of mental concentration.
The powers that a Yidam possesses are – at first glance – much greater than those of the disciple who created itt; he is able to control certain specific energies in the universe, so that when the life of the one who created him is in danger, he can intervene instantly, acting according to the way in which it was originally programmed, namely to protect the physical and mental integrity of the disciple, and to provide him with the guidance towards final liberation, in conditions of perfect safety.
If we were to summarize the essence of such a concept, a yidam represents the quintessence of the mental energy of the one who evokes and creates it, with the help of the deep aspects of his personality and subconscious
. For this reason, the yidams cannot be identical, they can take various attitudes and behaviors: some belong to the category of peaceful and gentle entities, others belong to the category of terrible entities and others from that of spiritual teachers, or balanced entities.
Of those who finally manage to create a yidam, a part decide that the yidam will follow his whole life, guiding them in difficult situations and helping them to progress spiritually, and others much fewer in number, intuit the real nature of the yidam, which is still an illusory one, and manage to transcend it.
Finally, it is an identification with its own essential nature, eliminating the distorted aspects of the mind, being a characteristic expression of the Buddha’s own nature, that is, of the fundamental master of the path.