Dakini Teachings

Today is the dakini's special day. In Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. Buddha's teaching is divided into the sutra and tantra. Both show the way to enlightenment, how to be free of samsara. The great masters say that both have to be practiced. Without sutra and tantra, one cannot be enlightened. The only difference is that tantras take a short time to become enlightened and the sutras a long time. The dakinis are part of the tantric path. There are many dakinis: enlightened dakinis, and those are on the first to tenth bhumis. Vajrayogini is the greatest dakini and she is completely enlightened. Tara is also completely enlightened, but she manifests in order to benefit beings. So it's important to know the different levels of dakinis.

Some dakinis are dharma protectors because of their samaya. There are both male and female dharma protectors. The dharma protectors have to have achieved the bhumis. Then there are dakinis who have not achieved the bhumis. These are local deities and one does not take refuge in them. The dakinis we practice have to have achieved the bhumis. These dakinis help the dharma, help us, and can help others. There's a little bit of question if we practice dakinis who have not achieved the bhumis.

Many practitioners like to practice different deities, but it's important to understand about them. Some dakinis manifest in wrathful or peaceful forms, depending on which activity is most beneficial. They will appear according to the individual practitioner's necessity. Their forms, colors, and objects they hold represent different things. Different practices are done for different purposes. Which practices one does depends on the connection made in one's heart. In the blessing lineage of the Kagyupa the dharma protector is Mahakala. And in the different lineages there are connections with other dharma protectors.

In the Drikung, the dharma protector is also Achi. So in Drikung Achi is the female protector and she is one of the most important dakinis. She was born as a human being, but with special qualities. Her mother did not have any pains during pregnancy, but instead felt happy and joyful. Even during delivery there was no pain. When she was small she would recite Tara's mantra and she was a very compassionate person. She showed signs of realization and was fond of animals. When she dies, her pet animals entered the rainbow body as well.

The purpose of sadhana practice is to realize we have the same qualities potentially as the enlightened beings. The only difference is that we have not recognized them through lack of practice. The highest level of beings are the yidams. "Yi" means mind and "dam" means samaya. That means our mind should never be separated from the deity. Our yidam could be Chenrezig or Vajrayogini or Tara. Yidams are fully enlightened beings. In the Kagyupa tradition we practice Vajrayogini and Chakrasamvara in union and also in single form. Those of you who are interested in practicing the dakinis should know their characteristic form and the meaning of that form so that the visualization can be done correctly.

I met an old woman, I think about sixty five. She shared her stories with me. When she was a teenager, she walked around the town and saw some lamas with some Western students. She felt an emotional connection and wanted to know more about them. So she attended a teaching on Chenrezig practice. She liked this practice but was careful not to talk about it with her family. But her mother said, no matter what you're doing, keep doing it. She had a tendency to get angry easily, which was pacified by the practice.

Q: In many of the stories of the mahasiddhas, it says how they met the dakinis and how this changed their lives. Were these people they met or inner realizations?

A: The dakinis are an aspect of wisdom. If there are some aspects of wisdom we don't have they can bring it to us. For example, Naropa was a great scholar and a good meditator. But the problem was his mental state was not stable. The dakini appeared to him as an old lady. She asked him a question, what do you know? He replied I know all the dharma. That was his pride. She did not accept this, and asked if you know the words or the meaning. He replied the word, and she was happy. Then he added and I also know the meaning. The she was sad and said you should see my brother, Tilopa. So Naropa left the school. He sought out Tilopa and received the mahamudra instructions from him. This is the Ganges mahamudra, which is the root of the Kagyu mahamudra. I received instruction on this from Tai Situ Rinpoche.

Q: Could you explain the significance of the implements Vajrayogini holds.

A: The Kapala symbolizes the transformation of blood into nectar and symbolizes the transformation of the inner energies. But we can't do these practices yet. It symbolizes the transformation of conceptual mind into wisdom. Some people drink alcohol, but I think one needs to be very careful. I don't agree with that. Whatever we drink during tsok we should bless and think of as nectar. The katvanaga. symbolizes the male deity, the heruka. And when Padmasambhava holds it, it symbolizes the female consort. There are two types of katvanga. At the top is a vajra. Under that is three heads, which represent the three kayas. Under that it a nectar vase, which is for long life. Then underneath that are crossed vajras, which symbolize the four immeasurables. There are five colored ribbons on the katvanga that symbolizes the five elements. The bells on it symbolize skillful means. The nature of Vajroyogini's fire and her sadhana is a preliminary to the heat practice. The drilbu (knife) symbolizes cutting through the four maras. It's cutting through the ego. Her color symbolizes that she is of the nature of great bliss.

Q: What practices should one do on dakini day?

A: Tsok offering is the most appropriate practice.

Q: Could you explain how all women embody the dakini?

A: In tantric practices all females are the dakini, no question about it. But it depends on the person how we practice with this. The reason is that it requires two wings to fly. Other tantric practices are done without consort. Even if one doesn't do these practices, it's useful to think of women as dakinis as a mind training. Pure vision is important in Tantra. It's not making things pure but seeing how things actually are in their nature. This is called vajra pride. The essence teaching is to see all things as pure. The most important samaya is to see all things as pure. Another tantric samaya is not discriminating. Tantra was not taught for just some people. It's for all equally. In this way it's unlike the Vinaya. Reciting the mantra hundreds of thousands of times is also a good samaya, but the pure vision is more important.

April 23 2006
David's House