‘From the forehead, ending at the vajra jewel,
completely filled up with joys.
The utterly fulfilled one who emerges,
to that goddess, I pay homage.’
—–In Harmonizing the Statements on Empowerment by the Accomplished Masters Nāropa and Maitripa ( “mkhas grub nA ro mai tri dbang gi bzhed pa mthun par grub pa.” In Collected Works of Chodrag Yeshe (gsung ‘bum/_chos grags ye shes. TBRC W1KG4876. 2: 824 – 874.)
In this text by the 4th Sharmapa, Chokyi Dragpa Yeshe, in which he compares and harmonises the views of Naropa and Maitripa on the four empowerments, four seals and four joys, he gives many interesting examples from tantric literature (such as Hevajra, Kālacakra and Mahāmudrā) as to what is meant by the term ‘spontaneously emergent’ (lhan skyes) as it relates to the four joys, the four empowerments and the ultimate bliss-emptiness nature.
Here, in his example above, he explains that the ‘ultimate goddess’ to be praised and supplicated is the ‘spontaneously emergent’ joy that arises on the tantric yoga path. That ‘goddess’ clearly ’emerges’ after having completed the ‘mundane’ ‘spontaneously emergent’ joy. Images of naked deity goddesses are not images of titillation or entertainment (comparable to sexually arousing photos of women) but hold deep symbolic meaning of our ultimate nature that has no inherent existence but is ‘completely filled with joy’ and bliss.
The 4th Sharmapa’s discussion on the connections between the four empowerments, joys and seals, is essential reading for anyone who wants to go beyond a superficial understanding of vajrayana practice and its goal and how that differs from the scope and methods of Mahayana practice.
For an excellent research article and analysis of this interesting text by 4th Sharmapa, see also ‘The Four Joys in the Teaching of Nāropa and Maitrīpa’ by Julia Stenzel, IIJBS, Vol. 16 (2015) Available for free download here:
May we all attain the state of the goddess!