Campaign of the Month: June 2012
Vajras of Mental Focus
Holy Weapons with Spiritual Significance
These items come in a set of two, and both must be used for the primary ability to function.
Primary Ability: When the owner meditates for one hour on a particular task at hand, using the vajra as a focus item, they will gain a +2 competence bonus to all skill checks for the next hour, only where the checks pertain to the task. Generally, the task (and skill use) must require focus of some sort. The details are left to the DM.
Secondary Ability: When held by a monk, all unarmed damage rolls gain a +1 item bonus. This is not a magical bonus, but will apply any of the monk’s ki abilities or modifiers to the bonus damage. The monk must be of a culture and have the appropriate weapon proficiency (although these items are not counted as weapons). The Vajra is considered an exotic weapon.
Improvement: Smriti’s Vajras have now been imbued with the Cunning quality, allowing her unarmed strike to find chinks in a foe’s defenses, using Smriti’s knowledge of the target. Whenever her unarmed attack is a critical threat, Smriti gains a +2 bonus on the confirmation roll if she has 5 or more ranks in the Knowledge skill related to the target’s creature type (such as Knowledge [planes] for an outsider opponent).
Advancement: When the possessor, who must also be a monk, reaches 9th level, the Primary Ability can be used after a focus period of only ten minutes, and the bonus raises to +3. Also, the Secondary Ability is raised to +2 item bonus to damage.
Weight: 2 lbs each.
The vajra is a tool for training the mind for sudden awakening to Madhyamika.
The vajra is made up of several parts. In the center is a sphere which represents Sunyata, the primordial nature of the universe, the underlying unity of all things. Emerging from the sphere are two eight petaled lotus flowers. One represents the phenomenal world (or in Buddhist terms Samsara), the other represents the noumenal world (or Nirvana). This is one of the fundamental dichotomies which are perceived by the unenlightened.
Arranged equally around the mouth of the lotus are two, four, or eight mythical creatures which are called makaras. These are mythological half-fish, half-crocodile creatures made up of two or more animals, often representing the union of opposites, (or a harmonisation of qualities that transcend our usual experience). From the mouths of the makaras come tongues which come together in a point.
The five pronged vajra (with four makaras, plus a central prong) is the most commonly seen vajra. There is an elaborate system of correspondences between the five elements of the noumenal side of the vajra, and the phenomenal side. One important correspondence is between the five “poisons” with the five wisdoms. The five poisons are the mental states that obscure the original purity of a being’s mind, while the five wisdoms are the five most important aspects of the enlightened mind. Each of the five wisdoms is also associated with a Buddha figure.
The following are the five poisons and the analogous five wisdoms with their associated Buddha figures:
|desire||wisdom of individuality||Amitabha|
|anger, hatred||mirror-like wisdom||Akshobhya|
|greed, pride||wisdom of equanimity||Ratnasambhava|
The wisdom of individuality is also known as Discriminating Wisdom.
The Black Crown of the Karmapas is called Vajracrown.