“The idea of mandala seems extraordinarily abstract. We see it as a metaphysical or philosophical principle. We cannot learn anything about it unless we see how the mandala principle is connected with a learning process or a practicing process. The Sanksrit word mandala literally means “association” or “society.” The Tibetan word khilkhor means “center and fringe.” Mandala is a way of looking at situations in terms of relativity: if that exists, this exists. If this exists, that exists. Things exist interdependently, and that interdependent existence of things happens in the fashion of orderly chaos. We have domestic orderly chaos, and we have the emotional orderly chaos of a love affair. We have spiritual orderly chaos, and even the attainment of enlightenment has an orderly chaos of its own.”
“The Razor’s Edge,” in Orderly Chaos: The Mandala Principle, Chögyam Trungpa, page 15
“Student: You talked about staying with the irritation; in fact, savoring it. Is the idea that pain is associated with withdrawal and avoidance, so you move into the pain or closer to the pain, and it disappears? Is there some possibility of enlightenment coming out of that?
Trungpa Rinpoche: This is actually a very delicate point. We have the problem that a sort of sadistic attitude could occur, which we find in a lot of militant attitudes toward Zen practices as well. We also have the “inspirational” approach of getting into the teachings and ignoring the pain. These attitudes lead to blind confusion. And we find our bodies being abused, not taken care of properly.
In this case, relating with the pain is not quite the sadistic approach or that of militant practice on the one hand, nor is it based on the idea of ignoring the whole thing and spacing out into your mind trip on the other hand. It is something between these two. To begin with, pain is regarded as something quite real, something actually happening. It is not regarded as a doctrinal or philosophical matter. It is simple pain or simple psychological discomfort. You don’t move away from the pain, because if you do, you have no resources to work with. You don’t get into the pain or inflict pain on yourself, because then you are involved in a suicidal process; you are destroying yourself. So it is somewhere between the two.
Student: How does making a home in the irritations relate to the mandala principle?
Trungpa Rinpoche: That seems to be the mandala already, in itself. Relating with the irritations has the sense of there being all kinds of irritations and infinite further possibilities of them. That is a mandala. You are right there. Mandala is a sense of total existence with you in the center. So here you are in the center of irritation. It is very powerful.”
“In order to relate with the world, one has to develop confidence. In order to develop confidence, one has to have some level of identification with one’s basic being. As a result, at this stage, the five buddha principles become very prominent. One begins to develop an affinity with a particular buddha principle through receiving an abhisheka, or initiation, from a vajra master, that is, a vajrayana teacher. That vajra master, or teacher, teaches one how to conduct oneself as a real practitioner of the vajrayana. He is also the example one can follow. The key point is the meeting of his mind and your mind, together with the mutual discovery of a particular mandala. In this case, the mandala is a host of deities, which are associated with one’s basic being. That is to say, the deities represent your type of energy rather than being divine beings who are external separate entities or even internal separate entities. At the moment of the discovery of this mandala, your own basic beingness is discovered in an enlightened form—the Jack-ness or the John-ness of you. Your basic beingness is seen in an enlightened form, in a mahamudra form. You begin to see that. You develop, not fascination, but an identification with such principles, which have your own particular characteristics, which are those of a particular buddha family: vajra, ratna, padma, karma, buddha.”