This article, extracted from the DorjeShugden.com forum, was written in response to a question posted about how someone is chosen to become an oracle.
Question: How does a Lama pick a person to become an oracle? What are the criteria? Does anyone know and can a layperson also be chosen to be an oracle?
1. A Lama may pick a person and train them. Some people have a very strong aptitude towards this; some, the Lama might feel would benefit greatly by being an oracular link for beings to give directions.
2. A person may ask to become an oracle and the Lama may then accept or not accept for various reasons. It is possible for a person to request, but they must go all the way and must understand that it is a lifetime of work. The person’s moods and personal wishes must be set aside to serve others. S/he must keep up his retreats, practices and samayas with his/her Lama very strictly for his/her whole life. The more retreats one does, the more immaculate one’s body will be to perform the job as an oracle.
Retreats such as Tsongkapa/Migtsema are crucial and samaya with one’s lama is the one single point that is very important for the retreats to be successful. The practice of Yamantaka is very powerful for clearing the body of interferences and opening chakras, winds, drops for the deity to ‘easily’ enter one’s body with minimal pain after He leaves. And of course, retreats of the actual deity entering you, to get ‘close’ to them is very essential throughout the oracle’s life.
It is also important to remember that these retreats to Tsongkapa, Yamantaka and Shugden should not be done just so one can become a good oracle, but to reach the highest purpose of life, which is to be enlightened. Our goals for retreats should never be anything but enlightenment. Becoming a good oracle is just a ‘by-product’. Also in this case, by being an oracle, some can collect a lot of merit by helping others. By helping others, one collects tremendous merits to actualize the generation and completion stages of Tantra, such as Yamantaka.
For example, Lord Buddha and Tsongkhapa taught the Yamantaka Tantras for us to purify the powerful negative karmas from unlimited lifetimes that serve to obscure us from the truth and therefore keep us in samsara. Yamantaka is for us to gain wisdom into reality (emptiness) and to attain the everlasting great bliss (enlightenment). By relying on Yamantaka’s practice, countless individuals have attained great wisdom, understanding, power to take rebirth as they choose to benefit, Bodhicitta, emptiness and of course, full enlightenment. So something as great as Yamantaka’s practice or Tsongkapa’s retreat should never be done with just the motivation of being a good oracle.
3. The deity Himself may pick the person He will ‘inhabit’. This happens quite often. The person the deity inhabits can be for a short time or long-term. This means that the deity can select a person to become a full-fledged oracle or He only enters the person once or twice to give a message or sign.
Some people not chosen by Dorje Shugden or the Guru may still be an oracle, but that person must get their lama’s blessings, permission and training.
However, whether the Lama or deity picks you, in both cases you still have to do the retreats, hold samaya and be very determined against all odds to do this for the rest of your life. You have to do your part too, and not just relax and think that you have been picked so the Lamas / deity can now do all the work.
Being an oracle is like any other Dharma practice – you have to do your part too. Then, you will collect merits and wisdom will arise. Your wish to serve others must be steadfast. If you do not do your part, then whether the deity or Lama picks you, you will not be able to fulfill the duties of the oracle. Is the Lama or deity wrong? Of course not. Tsongkhapa taught the Lam Rim but if we do not practice what he taught us or give it up, it is not Tsongkapa’s fault if we do not gain the results. It is the same for being an oracle.
Being a good student who practices the Lam Rim, holds his commitments/samayas, and practices and follows the instructions of his lama is much easier than becoming / being an oracle. If you cannot be a reliable and honorable student, then you shouldn’t think about being an oracle yet, which is much harder. Some people would like the more ‘glamorous’ tasks, without realizing that there is much more than meets the eye. But if you do every assignment the lama gives you – no matter how small – and without being selective, it automatically leads to something bigger. Finishing an assignment successful is a good sign of Guru devotion and that you are ready for more and ‘bigger’ things.
If your lama gives you assignments, works or duties and you cannot perform them, then what makes you think you will follow the instructions for becoming an oracle, which could bring you a lot of physical pain during the training over a few years? The training is difficult and can take up to five years.
This opinion piece has been extracted from the DorjeShugden.com forum. Please add to the discussions on the forum if you have further perspectives, comments and thoughts. We always welcome debate and exchange. The original threads can be viewed at http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=1203.0 and http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=1063.0