The meditative approach of visualization is an especially appealing practice for westerners because of our visual tendencies. Visualization is an inherently human capacity, as it involves the imagination and mentally constructing an experience that is entirely in the mind. Because of this construction process the practice of visualization can be very revealing about the nature of mind and we can learn quite a bit about dependent origination in watching the mind during the visualization process.
Tibetan Buddhist practice takes advantage of this potential for visualization and develops the visualization faculty in sequential cumulative fashion, where the visualizations get increasingly complex and intricate. We can start with the simplest of the visualizations, which is the visualization of a setting sun. It is a simple vision of the sun setting on a horizontal horizon.
When we mentally imagine this there are certain mental moves that take place, and we can watch how intention is directly affecting what we “see” in the visual field, in real time. In the beginning stages of visualization, it may be very vague and obscured, but as we persist with an intention to visualize a particular thing, we can observe over days and weeks how our perception forms that image in the mind’s eye, and then we can begin to do some insight experiments with these mental representations, and later use them for advanced magick.
The key is to maintain a soft and playful attitude and simply hold an intention to see the visual representation that you intend to see. This may be enough even on the first sitting with a visualization, and we begin to “see” the object in the mind’s eye. We want to strike a balance between being too critical and overanalyzing whatever comes up as the mental representation of the visualization and learn to think outside the box and experience the visualization object using more than just the visual sense.
Initially the visualization will be visual, but the more we can incorporate a 6-sense door register of the visualization object in mind, then we can get an increasingly powerful visualization, and these abilities build on themselves as skill develops. The visualization will take a more multidimensional feel to it the more we engage with the visualization from all angles.
It can be very useful to keep a token or a picture of the visualization object to form these connections, and the related practice of deity yoga will elucidate these techniques in detail. For visualization in general and what will become advanced real-time visualization, we can develop the traditional Tibetan 16 stage visualization here.
Visualize and imagine a bright star. Make the luminosity of the star very bright, then imagine it changing color from white, to purple, to red, to green, and back to white again.
While observing the mind, imagine a beam of light in front of you, that moves and makes a trail behind it. Make the light move this way and that, and make it change colors while doing so.
While observing the mind, imagine a small ball of light, and imagine it multiplying into 2, 4, 8, 18, etc., and imagine the entire universe being filled with these balls of light. Then maintaining that perception, imagine thousands of different colors and a light show of colors and light
While observing the mind, imagine a revered spiritual archetype. Imagine them speaking to others, imagine them healing others and performing miracles. There is no requirement for actually seeing anything but try to make your mind as clear and detailed as possible when imagining.
While observing the mind, imagine a simple object like an apple, and gently take it in your mind’s eye and try to imagine the object in as much detail as possible. Notice the different mental movements between intentions and sensory phenomena.
While observing the mind, construct an image of a non-physical being and imagine their presence and energy. Imagine different colors and shapes that haven’t been seen before. Imagine any shape you want the energy to take and learn to manipulate the image with your intention.
We essentially can take the visualization faculty as far as we want to go, and once we see that visualization and intention are intimately linked, we can begin to learn some simple rules how we can manifest our intentions and how that has to do with the fabrication of time.