A. The practice of the Dharma is full of skilful means on offer from the various traditions and schools that help us to engage in practice, which can often be very difficult to put into effect. Calling on the assistance of a deity is one example. Several traditions use them, with the Tibetan tradition the most prolific. We all need help and support, usually quite a lot of the time, in practice, and this highlights the importance of a teacher. The deities can be taken as teachers and have other functions as well when engaged with skilfully. They also have many of the qualities that we need to aspire to in order to break the delusion of self. All skilful means are a means to an end, not the end itself, and the use of deities can be a very potent one.

In the context of Buddhism, to me ‘independence’ means not to attach to the world and the unwise, but provisionally attach to the skilful means (wisdom) of Buddhism. It would be impossible to go beyond suffering without doing this to some degree.