Monday, May 12, 2014



Akshobhya is one of the Five Family Buddhas.  

His pure land is Abhirati, Manifest Joy, representing the great joy and happiness experienced by the awakened ones.  His color is deep blue, like the depths of the ocean representing his activity of pacification.  His mudra is the earth-touching mudra symbolizing mother earth bearing witness to his victory over Mara.  His left hand rests in his lap in meditative equipoise holding a five pointed vajra.  The vajra represents the indestructible, immovable and impenetrable awakened mind which is the enlightenment of buddhahood.  

In regard to our own mind and self, Akshobhya represents the skandha of consciousness.  Consciousness serves as the basis for all of our experience, whether it is our experience of sense perceptions or our experience of mind and mental states.  Consciousness can be both non-conceptual knowing or experience or it can involve concepts and thought constructs.  It is important to recognize that the skandha of consciousness is not the forms that appears (the first skandha), it is not sensation (which is the second skandha), it is not perception (which is the third skandha) and it is not judgement or concepts themselves (which are the fourth skandha).  Consciousness as the basis of experience focuses on what is useful or what validates our sense of self and ignores whatever conflicts with what we perceive as our 'self'.  Our constant struggle to find 'who we are' involves this never ending play of the skandhas with consciousness serving as the stage in which these stories play themselves out. 

Akshobhya is the Buddha that represents completely purified aversion or aggression.  As our sense of self hardens we become more self-righteous, more opinionated and critical of others.  We become very authoritarian and assertive.  These mental states naturally encounter conflict and problems in our world and relationships which provoke anger and aggression.  This is much like being on the surface of a great ocean, the winds of change stir up great waves of emotion and we are constantly struggling to stay afloat.  Akshobhya represents the transformation of that aversion and aggression into mirror-like wisdom.  A mirror is crystal clear, empty and luminous.  It perfectly reflects whatever is placed in front of it without any distortion, manipulation or contrivance.  It holds everything but is not stained by the defects of whatever appears.  A mirror is like a completely placid ocean in which everything is perfectly reflected but you can also peer into the profound depths. 

Akshobhya rides an elephant possessed with all the major and minor marks.  A wild elephant represents the undisciplined mind and is very difficult to control and can easily cause a lot of damage.  A trained elephant is able to withstand much trauma and hardship, it can easily remove obstacles and can make its way through a thick jungle by clearing a path with its tusks of mindfulness and vigilance.  An elephant has great endurance and is unassailable by its enemies, yet it is also wise and dignified, moving with great majesty and beauty. 

When we deeply contemplate and integrate the wisdom and symbolism of Akshobhya, we can learn to transmute aversion into mirror-like wisdom.  Rather than getting caught up in situations and reacting to them, constantly fighting them like the waves of the ocean; we can relax into the depths of the ocean and experience the immovable and unshakeable depths of awakened mind.  Water seems fluid and ethereal, but it is extremely powerful and can carve out rock without requiring violence or aggression.  When we realize the indestructible nature of mind, like a mirror we can hold whatever hardship and adversity we experience, we can work with whatever problems and obstacles Mara conjures up and we can gain complete victory in the impenetrable fortress of the true nature of reality.  In this way all obstacles and negativity are naturally pacified and abiding in Abhirati, one experiences great joy and happiness at this triumph. 

It is easy for others to bear witness to this victory, because it is not stained by self-righteousness or egotism.  The holders of the indestructible awakened mind ride elephants, blazing paths where the way seemed too fraught with danger.  They move with majesty and poise and tirelessly carry others to the far shore. 

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