Thomas Joseph Brown
The Dorje (also spelled dorge), or
Diamond Sceptre, is a Tibetan spiritual-ritual implement of great beauty and
utility. The dorje
is an artistic-archetypal representation of the ultimate spiritual dynamic, functioning
as an active meditative component, a form-energy transceiver.
and its corresponding Sanskrit term vajra
generally translate as ‘thunderbolt’ or ‘diamond’. This symbolically
represents the irresistible force of the thunderbolt and the indestructible
qualities of diamond. The dorje has archaic roots in the thunderbolt of Indra, the Hindu Jupiter.
The form of the dorje as a sceptre or a weapon
appears to have its origin in the single or double trident, which arose as a
symbol of the thunderbolt in many ancient civilizations. Parallels have been
suggested with the Teutonic god Thor’s meteoric hammer, as well as the
thunderbolt sceptres of Zeus and Jupiter.
The ancient Rigveda, identifies Indra’s vajra as a
notched metal club with a thousand prongs. Further ancient sources identify
as having open prongs, unlike the Buddhist dorje, which has closed prongs.
According to legend, Buddha took the vajra weapon
from Indra and forced its wrathful open prongs
together, thus forming the peaceful Buddhist sceptre with closed ends,
absorbing and sealing within the unbreakable and indestructible power of the
The vajra is the quintessential symbol of Vajrayana Buddhism, which
derives its name from the vajra itself. This is the supreme path of Buddhism, the Thunderbolt
or Diamond Wisdom.
The true meaning of the vajra or dorje is far more comprehensive
than merely being a thunderbolt sceptre-weapon of some local god. The dorje
represents the highest spiritual power, that which is irresistible,
invincible, indestructible and inexhaustible -- free from conflicting
In Tibetan “do” means “stone” and “rge” means “master”, and the “master stone” is
considered to be the diamond: for its nobility, purity, clarity and ultimate
hardness. The Master Stone is of course the Philosopher’s Stone or prima materia of the Alchemists, and this symbolism is apropos for the dorje.
The secret of the Philosopher’s Stone is that
anyone who attains it cannot use it successfully for base purposes such as
riches and physical immortality, as such intent leaves one spiritually dead.
The true Philosopher’s Stone is not a physical
object, but rather an awareness of the transformative power of awakened
consciousness. The future is transmuted from the past by our current actions
in the ever-present Now. We hold the power of responsible freedom as both our
birthright and obligation on our path of spiritual
The two sides of the dorje
can be seen not only in the polarities of male and female, night and day, hot
and cold, and so on, but also as the most dynamic of our experiential
polarities: Matter and Spirit. And matter and spirit are reconciled in the
thunderbolt of awareness, where we become the undifferentiated singularity of
enlightenment and perceive all as One, subjective and objective united as a
fundamental awareness. This is the ultimate Tantric doctrine.
In its symbolic-artistic form the dorje is a sceptre, the emblem of supreme,
sovereign power, hence the “Diamond Sceptre”. It is the unmovable axis of the
world around which the mandala of psycho-cosmic experience revolves. The dorje’s form
corresponds directly to its function.
is an archetype of universal polarities, as two mirror-image mandala heads
emanate from the central point. The venoms of mortality are represented on
one side with the wisdoms of enlightenment on the other. Astute meditators gain
awareness of many correlations.
There are three stages of the dorje: bindu, lotus
and mandala -- representing spirit, mind and body, respectively. The central
sphere is the “bindu”
or seed of the mandala which creates the universe. As the universe emerges
from the unmanifest state, it forms into the miniscule
point of the bindu,
where undifferentiated unity splits into duality and our paths to awakening
in the mandala begin.
From the unity of the focal bindu-seed
spring two opposing eight-petal lotus blossoms, representing the dualistic
nature of manifest reality as perceived consciously. The symbolism of the
lotus is as the meditation seat of the enlightened.
From each lotus blossom emerge five ‘rays of
power’, which converge at a higher point on each side. Dynamic archetypal
polarities are represented by the two sides of the dorje.
On one side is this spatial realm we inhabit as physically incarnate humans,
the other the subjective counter-spatial realm of mind and spirit.
There are also dorjes with nine rays on each end,
the four primary and four intermediate cosmic directions around the world
axis. These nine can also represent the Buddha and his Eight-fold Path or the
nine vehicles or stages of the Nyingma, or Tibetan ‘old school’ Buddhist tradition.
The five rayed dorje contains the core
archetype of the Holy Mountain Meru surrounded by
the four quarters of the universe. From end on these five rays can be seen as
mandala of the Dhyani or meditation Buddhas. It consists of four stages around a central
stage; the central stage being the expression of the quintessence in its Dhyani-Buddha form.
The four surrounding stages, the remaining Dhyani-Buddhas, can be seen in many ways, the four phases
of the day; four directions; four seasons, four ancient elements, four states
of matter, four ethers. This fundamental quadrature structure pervades as a
Divine metric of our experiential earth existence, and the mandala is the
These Dhyanis are
not sentient beings who have attained Buddhahood. These Buddhas
are projections of the highest potentials of that which exists within each of
us; the Principle of Enlightenment spiritually differentiated into our total
being. This is not about attaining enlightenment, this is about maintaining
those moments of enlightenment we all have at times.
The Buddha nature lies within! We are
already awake, our natural state of being. The material plane distracts us from
our finest awareness through uncontrolled sensory input, emotive reactions
and false beliefs.
To dissolve the distractions one meditates
on the Dhyani Buddhas as
representatives of what are termed the “skandhas”,
our five “aggregates of consciousness” being:
Consciousness - in its totality of
physical and non-physical existence;
Form - our physical beings;
Feeling - both inner and outer
Cognition - the processing of experience;
Volition – intentional activity;
five together comprising an individual’s total life experience.
The central Dhyani Buddha is Vairocana, the skandha of
total consciousness, both encompassing and emanating the four Dhyani quadrants
of the outer circle. Here we find the Wisdom of the Universal Law. Vairocana’s
symbol is the wheel, the setting into motion the great Wheel of Life which
allows the transformation of ignorance into absolute awareness.
The Wheel of Life contains six realms, three
of the upper world representing illusions of happiness and three of the lower
world representing illusions of misery. These can be related to the six bardos or intermediate stages we pass through, three in
life and three in death.
quadrant is blue, as the sky at dawn. The Buddha is Akshobya, the unmovable, our
physical form in the objective world unfolding from total consciousness. Here
we find the Mirror-like Wisdom, teaching non-attached awareness of the
manifest world as a reflection of the interior, the gateway of the subjective
and objective. As a mirror reflects equally and dispassionately all before
it, so the Mirror-like Wisdom transforms anger into non-reactive observation
of all that is. The colour blue is mirror-like, as the surface of a calm lake
reflects sky and terrain. Akshobya’s symbol is the dorje -- with its two poles mirroring
each other, as the subjective and objective poles of reality non-reactively
mirror each other in the clear state of enlightenment.
quadrant is yellow, as the overhead sun at noon. The Buddha is Ratnasambava,
the gift giving jewel, the skandha of perception, representing the outer and inner sensations
felt by our being, the gift of experience. Ratnasambava lights all around
us evenly in the Wisdom of Equality, transforming pride into saneness. We
experience that all beings are equal before the pure light of spirit, just as
the sun shines equally on rich and poor, good and bad. Ratnasambhava’s symbol is the
jewel, whose radiance dissolves the boundaries of self.
The third quadrant
is red, as the warm setting sun after a fine day. The Buddha is Amitabha, the
compassionate one. The skandha
is Cognition, our processing of the perceptions gained through our physical
teaches us the wisdom of distinguishing inner vision. It is the realm of love
and compassion; the Western Paradise of Bliss of devotional Pure Land Buddhist
symbol is the lotus, the seat of meditation. Just as the sun sets, so do we
turn inwards in meditation, transforming attachment into unity.
quadrant is dark green, the night. The Buddha is Amoghasiddhi, wisdom of all-accomplishing
karma-free action. The skandha
is intention, representing our volitional responses after processing the
perceptions gained through our physical form. It is the spiritually awakened
free will, the realm of Wisdom, where jealousy is transformed into
The symbol of Amoghasiddhi is the double dorje or visvavajra; vishva is
Sanskrit for manifestation. It symbolises enlightenment in
action, the conclusion of the practical achievements of the previous Dhyanis… the
mandala perfected… the four heads representing the Dhyanis
of the four cosmic directions as a perfected spiritual organ.
Here one is in the Tao, going with the flow.
Before the beginning was Void. As the four
directions formed in the impulse of creation, from them subtle winds began to
flow filling the Void. After countless aeons of time, these magic winds
formed into an immutable substance that formed the double dorje - the foundation of the
In ritual use the dorje
is held in the right hand while a bell is held in the left. The dorje
represents the masculine principle, compassion expressed through skilful
means. The bell represents the female principle, wisdom; the hollow
representing wisdom as inseparable from emptiness and the clapper represents
the sound of emptiness. The
ritual bell commonly has the dorje symbolism in the handle. To
achieve enlightenment, these male and female principles must be conjoined to
become one; the bell symbolising the body, the dorje the mind.
The dorje can also be placed in front of the meditator so that
one may optically absorb its artistically-functional structure into their
being, whilst traveling a meditative path through its inherent
There is a higher form energy emanating from
due to its archetypal structure, as understood in the western esoteric
science of radionics. These exercises must be experienced directly; words
alone cannot express the awakening of archetypes, as any visual or musical
artist will testify.
Meditation upon the dorje
and constructing it in one’s inner realm will guide the body, mind and spirit
to the awakened state where all the psycho-cosmic elements of our incarnation
are integrated and raised to their highest level. The dorje is both Path and Symbol. It
is an exquisitely curious artistic design that may be appreciated even if one
is only at the preliminary stages requisite for the esoteric exploration of
To begin meditation upon the dorje one will attempt to grasp its symbolism and
structure and initiate the correlation of their worldly awareness-components
to the archetypal structure. This progressively becomes easier and more
intuitive. The dorje becomes an active inner
spiritual “map of the universe” with which one may attain the highest levels
of awareness whilst keeping grounded in their daily life.
Samsara becomes Nirvana, consciousness
transforms from mortal to immortal, and one perceives the infinite in the
finite. The Philospher’s Stone is attained. Heart
and Mind function harmoniously together as a singular, responsive,
An archetype which provides life and growth
engenders a fruitful philosophical pathway. Building a dorje
in the imagination as an organ of cognition is one of the greatest and simplest
of spiritual practices. Beyond intellect, it is the pure beauty of spiritual
freedom which can only be grasped through uplifting actions in art, music and
Om Mani Padme Hum
Hail the Jewel in the Lotus!