The transformative energy of the The Five Buddhas is unparalleled. Contemplating them brings us back to center, the loving center that exists in all humans. Monday, we looked at the wisdom of the imagery and meaning of AMOGHASIDDHI who’s wisdom transforms envy and jealousy and who’s fearless energy can accomplish anything and get through any obstacle. Today we will look at the calming energy of AKSHOBYA who manifests the wisdom of reflection and calms aggression. It is said that Askhobya was a monk vowed that he would not get angry until he reached enlightenment.
“I feel very inspired personally by the motivation that Akshobhya gave rise to, and the pledge he made not to engage in any anger toward any sentient beings from now until he attained full enlightenment.”
– the Gyalwang Karmapa
Let’s see the whole list of the Five Buddha Families:
• Buddha Family – VAIROCHANA - “Consciousness” - Center - White – All accommodating - Teaching the Dharma - Uses the means of Turning the Wheel of Dharma to remove the maladaptation to stress that manifests as ignorance – Wisdom of essence of the dharma.
• Karma Family – AMOGHASIDDH I - “Intention” - North – Green - Mental formation, concept - Fearlessness - Uses the means of protection and destruction to remove the maladaptation to stress that manifests as envy and jealousy - Wisdom of perfect practice.
• Vajra Family – AKSHOBYA - “Form” – East – Blue – Non-dualist, humility – Uses the means of Pacification to remove the maladaptation to stress that manifests as aggression – Wisdom of reflection.
• Ratna Family – RATNASAMBHAVA - “Feelings” – South - Gold/Yellow – Equanimous, giving – Uses the means of enrichment to remove the maladaptation to stress that manifests as increasing, pride, and greed – Wisdom of equanimity.
• Padma Family – AMITABHA - “Perceptions” - West – Red – Inquisitive, meditation – Uses the means of magnetizing to remove the maladaptation to stress that manifests as subjugation, selfishness – Wisdom of observation.
AKSHOBYA - Deep Blue in the Direction of the East.
The mind is very often described as like a mirror – clear as the sky, on it’s own empty although luminous. As a mirror appears to hold images AKSHOBYA holds all images of space and time but yet he is not affected by them. He exemplifies the eternal mind and the Vajra family of which he is a part is associated with reason and intellect. AKSHOBYA’s brilliancy shines to illuminate all darkness and ignorance, its sharpness cutting through all confusion.
Recently on the 10 Day meditation retreat I wrote about in this essay My First 10 Day Buddhist Samatha-Vipassana Meditation Retreat in NYC. The retreat was near the ocean in The Rockaways and we did many walking meditations to the ocean then meditated on the ocean itself. AKSHOBYA, belonging to the Vajra family, is associated with the water element which is why his colors are blue and white. Meditating on the ocean we experienced the ocean as mind. Brilliant as how sun reflects off water and blue like the deep sea. Waves arise and crash like thoughts in our minds can and all the while the depths of the mind remain undisturbed and completely still. I experienced this on the retreat after five days of meditation and contemplation and wrote about that experience in the aforementioned essay.
And water, seemingly weightless and insubstantial is actually very heavy. Water can flood to the deepest places and settle in. It can also chisel away at dense rock formations but can do so with the utmost calm and with non-violence. When it freezes it is solid, strong and cutting like a sharp intellect and this is what the Vajra family represents. However, in order to rise up in it’s full potentiality it must be fluid and be able to flow like a winding river. As Bruce Lee always says to be “like water.” Akshobhya essentially embodies all these qualities.
(I wrote about Bruce Lee, who was a Zen Buddhist, in this essay Zen Mind and the Mind of Bruce Lee
Delight in the Imagery of AKSHOBYA
The calming effect of AKSHOBYA is palpable. A deep blue light emanates from his body radiating a deep and imperturbable calm. Smiling, imperturbable compassion and wisdom radiate in the direction of his gaze. The earth-touching gesture of his right hand signifies the vow he made to never get angry until he reached enlightenment when he was a monk. When he made the vow he touched the Earth and the earth shook. On the eve of his enlightenment he was visited by Mara. Mara represents all confusion of the mind, the Buddha himself conquered Mara when he was the first to achieve enlightenment. When Mara descending upon Akshobya and being quelled by his unshakable confidence in his vow to remain unshaken until enlightenment is the symbolism of his gesture of touching the earth.
In his other hand, we see a Vajra that is a symbol of is pure space or emptiness. Five prongs are emerging from this space and they represent the five poisons on one side and the five wisdoms on the other. The five poisons are mental afflictions that obscure our innate unstained nature, and the five wisdoms are facets of the enlightened mind. The five buddhas mandala embodies these.
The five poisons and five wisdoms are:
• Desire / Discriminating wisdom (Amitabha)
• Hatred- anger / Mirror-like wisdom (Akshobya)
• Envy / All-accomplishing wisdom (Amoghasiddhi)
• Greed - Pride-wisdom of equanimity (Ratnasambhava)
• Delusion.foolishness / Wisdom of the dharmadatu or ultimate reality (Vairoacana)
Akshobya’s wisdom is the of reflection and calmly sees the world as it is hyperbole or exaggeration, without story-making or elaborations. So the mind imbued with this wisdom is completely still unspoiled by what it sees, and like a mirror simply reflects what is there. Like the body of beautiful still water it’s surface reflects the open sky and the passing clouds mirroring the passage of time. Although he is completely calm and cool he is far more than that. His luminosity is imbued with deep emotion and feeling. That feeling springs up from the well of compassion that Akshobya embodies and a dimension of love that includes care for life itself that exists afar from our ego centered worldly existence. The imperturbable depths of his compassion helps us purify our consciousness to achieve higher states and thus become more like the Buddha.
This mind knows reality from illusion, holds all space and time but is untouched by them. Diamond-like intellect, brilliant like the reflection of sun on water and still and calm like the depths of the ocean. So Akshobya represents mirror-like deep awareness, and the deep awareness of the sphere of reality. ~ http://www.wayofsunshine.com AKSHOBYA – THE DEEP BLUE BUDDHA OF THE EAST
As we see in the list above in quotation marks are what are known as up the skandhas.
The Sanskrit word skandha means "heap" or "aggregate" in its literal translation. (In the Pali language, the comparable term is khandha.) In Buddhist theory, a human being is a combination of five aggregates of existence, called the Five Skandhas. ~ Thoughtco
Akshobya is associated with consciousness. Meditating on him purifies our karma from all hated and anger and purifying karma is what the Five Buddha Families is all about. When you think about it, meditating on these Buddhas is a brilliant use of the potentiality of the mind. I am really in awe of it. Mediatiting in this way, all of the poisons such as anger, hatred, ill will, jealousy, fear, pride, craving, greed, foolishness, or and all the other associated poisons of the mind, are simply revoked and purified into the wisdom of the Five buddhas.
Anger, as it were, can destroy all merit in an instance since because of it’s destructiveness. As anger can be a message that we need to pay attention to while we are walking the path towards enlightenment. Purifying our consciousness involves the removal of wrong views. In our unenlightened state we perceive everything through the lens of our disturbed emotions and wrong views like the fixed self, which is the seemingly real but false self that has opinions on everything thus gets angry, and creates permanent situations when in reality everything is impermanent and imbued with emptiness. When we drop these false views and see correctly we realize emptiness other in Pali known as shunyata.
What do you think?
@soulsistashakti is a musical artist and writer based in NYC as well as a practitioner of Buddhist teachings. You can check out my music on my FB artist page at https://www.facebook.com/soulsistashakti
Check out my blog for other essays on Buddhism and meditation
THE FIVE BUDDHA FAMILIES PART 2 - Green Buddha of the North - AMOGHASIDDHI – Fearless Energy and Action
Buddhist Psychology: What Are the Five Buddha Families?
Awaken Your Creativity/Writing With Morning Pages and Buddhist Mindfulness Practices
My First 10 Day Buddhist Samatha-Vipassana Meditation Retreat in NYC