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The Buddha in embrace with his consort, Vajra Varahi. The father-mother union is a manifestation of the Buddha’s highest spiritual essence, of enlightenment as the union of wisdom and compassion. The female aspect represents transcendent wisdom, the male aspect, Shamvara, represents compassion for all beings, which is the natural expression of such wisdom.

Shamvara’s face is alive with the intensity of a delight so great that it borders on ferocity, totally unobstructed by any holding back, suffering, or lack of joy. At the same time as being fully absorbed with the beloved one, he is fully present to all that is happening around in the world, looking right and left and behind with 3 other faces. Wisdom is the bliss of seeing through the delusion of self-preoccupation. Compassion is the expression of such bliss to others, as compassion is sensitivity to others’ suffering. It sees them imprisoned in self-involvement and reaches out to show them the way to freedom. The use of a couple embracing in sexual union to express these ideals is a way to show that the everyday aspects of human drives and psychology are just as they are, as we are. Perhaps we can be inspired about the possibility of attaining enlightenment by identifying with the everyday humanity of this image.

The elephant hide symbolizes the conquest over our own “elephant of ignorance” – the heavy mind that insists on habitual perceptions and concepts of ordinary reality. It is also a symbol of utter fearlessness – the beast we have conquered is our ordinary, fearful self. The damaru drum’s hollow sound symbolizes impermanence, and celebrates the triumph over misery that is achieved by practice. The khatvanga staff symbolizes mastery of the subtle body and its energy, the battle-ax and blood filled skull bowl symbolize the conquest of demonic forces. The vajra chopper symbolizes the severing of ordinary, false, habitual imagination. The lasso symbolizes the enlightened ability to bind negativity and harness it to the positive. The trident symbolizes the powers derived from mastery of the three channels of the yogic subtle nervous system. The severed head of Brahma is our own head, and it represents the Buddha’s triumph overthe temptation to become a god. Its being held aloft symbolizes the power of the truly loving individual, who is beyond all danger of being overawed by oppressive authority or dominating power. The legs are in the pose of a warrior, standing on male and female images of ourselves, symbolizing transcendence over ordinary self-centered sexuality.

Vajravarahi is absolute peace. She embraces Wisdom as her true home, blissful in a sustained and sustaining way, radiating light streams of healing energy to all beings.

taken from the writings of Robert Thurman and Vessantera

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