The Womb Breath (the same for men and women)

This small poem is a Taoist instruction for the womb breath that is used by both women and men practioners. It is from the Immortal Sister (awakened female Taoist practitioner) Sun Bu-er. Like Tantric teachings, there are many layers of meaning here.

If you want the elixir to form quickly,
First get rid of illusory states.
Attentively guard the spiritual medicine;
With every breath return to the beginning of the creative.
The energy returns, coursing through the three islands;
The spirit, forgetting, unites with the ultimate.
Coming this way and going this way,
No place is not truly so.

This poem and a commentary on it are found in Immortal Sisters: Secrets of Taoist Women translated and edited by Thomas Cleary (Shambhala Publications, 1989, p37ff).

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The Womb Song

The Womb Parvathy Baul CrpdOh, my heart! Do you not remember
That tiny abode?
There, once you lived,
Your body upside-down.

With the seed of parents and desires,
You entered the Mother’s womb;
You took the shape of your body.

Five elements
Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether,
Major flow of Life,
Entered into your material body;
On the seventh month,
You could hear Mahaamantra.

No sun, no moon.
In the dark, you waited
Under water, ten months,
The Lotus of the Navel
Connected to the Mother’s cord,
Fed you.


(excerpt by Sarat, in Song of the Great Soul: An Introduction to the Baul Path by living female Baul mystic and musician Parvathy Baul [Ekathara Baul Sangeetha Kalari, Keralam, India, 2005, p. 47], woodcut also by Parvathy Baul).

This is how we come into being, how the miracle coalesces . . .

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Love, tasted by one with understanding

tantric_consort yab yumLove, enjoyed by the ignorant,
Becomes bondage.
That very same love, tasted by one with
Brings liberation.
. . . . . .
Enjoy all the pleasures of love fearlessly,
For the sake of liberation

~ from the Tantric manuscript Cittavishuddhiprakarana, verses 42 and 112

(in Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism by Miranda Shaw, 1994:140

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Lalla reminds us that appearances are deceiving

IMG_0319For a moment I saw a beautiful moving river.
Then a vast water with no means of crossing it.

For a moment, I saw a bush full of opening buds.
Then no roses, no thorns, nothing.

For a moment, I saw a busy cooking fire.
Then no hearth, no smoke, no flame.

I saw the great mother of kings, Kunti.
Then, the next moment, sitting here, is
the helpless old aunt of the potter’s wife.

(in Lalla: Naked Song, translations by Coleman Barks, 1992:48)

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Dakini Yid Thogma (Yithrogma) is Praised and Plants the Medicinal Seeds

Dakini Yid Thogma (aka Yid’phrogma, Yid-Hphrog-Ma, or Yithrogma) was a wandering yogini who played a crucial role in the development of Tibetan medicine. After many years of wandering and practicing, eventually she goes to many sacred places planting the seeds of the medicinal plants that are the basis for Tibetan medicine. Along with her knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants, and the brewing of beer, she abided in the inner yogas.

So potent was her awakening, that many male practitioners honored her and practiced with her. Like all women practitioners, that she was a blessing power to all who encountered her.

Here is how one Rishi praised Yid Thogma, as he was making offerings to her during a ritual:

Now I shall offer the woman who is free from attachment, with the marks of the Ye-shes Dakinis [wisdom dakinis], Kun-tu bZan-mo [Kuntuzangmo], the Excellent Mother of All the Buddhas . . .

The Rishi continued:

‘Kun-tu bZan-mo, Great Mother of the Buddhas,
Woman free from attachment, who has wisdom,
The goddess who is the origin of the indescribable Bliss of Emptiness,
Appearing as Yid-hphrog Lha-mo:
I bow before the bDud-rtsi-ma, the principal of the eight goddesses of medicine.

When they parted company, she put all of her belongings into a box that had been intended as her coffin (she escaped death several times) and using two sticks of sandalwood that the Rishi had offered her as oars, she rowed off to another island which was on the way to the Land of the Nagas and Naginis.

There, she met a brahmin who cut open her body when they first met. Here is a description of her inner landscape, her subtle body:

Inside her trunk [the trunk of her body] the palace of the Medicine Buddha became visible, and the lineage of the brahmins, the goddesses of medicine, and the lineage of teachings. There the Medicine Buddha was teaching the gods and goddesses and brahmins, the attendant disciples, Buddhist and non-Buddhist. Many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were offering to him [the Medicine Buddha], four great kings guarding the palace, Brahma, Indra and demons were offering and officiating.


Then the Brahmin praised Yid-hprong-ma:

Beautiful charming woman, free from attachment,
Excellent Mother who gave birth to the Buddha,
Reincarnation of the mind of the Medicine Buddha,
Woman, I bow before you, mDans-ldan-ma.

Then, Yid-hprog-ma offered him a skullful of rice beer with a hundred tastes and they made more offerings, exchanged gifts, practiced sadhana.

She eventually made her way to the Land of the Nagas and Naginis and planted the seeds of the medicinal plants that are the basis of Tibetan medicine, benefitting future generations, including us.

~ excerpted from Tibetan Medicine by Ven. Rechung Rinpoche (University of California Press, 1973, pages 156-160)

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The Rains


Season of rain

season when people make

love through the night.

But a woman betrayed by her lover

has only

death for a refuge.

 ~ Vidya (aka Vijaka, the earliest surviving and finest of Sanskrit women poets, around 600 CE)

 (in The Cane Groves of Narmada River, translated by Andrew Schelling, 1998, p. 33)


Perhaps, instead of leaving you with that taste in your mouth, we will end with this one:


ImageImpenetrable clouds in the night,

deep constant rains

of the monsoon.

Pumpkin vines twisting

over the little hut’s firmly thatched roof.

Who could be luckier?

Half asleep in the darkness

murmur of thunder and rain in his ears,

and a woman

tangled up in his arms

warm breasts against him.

            ~ Anonymous S.R. 230

(in The Cane Groves of Narmada River, translated by Andrew Schelling, 1998, p. 63)

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This is Why Yoginis Wander

This is why yoginis wander:

when the usually kind temple priests ask us to cover our hair in front of our dark naked Mother, blood dripping from Her mouth, they say our naturalness must be hidden in Her presence

when the monks in the gardens walking by won’t meet our gaze, we are their downfall, they blush and turn to hasten by, poison to their tightly defined liberation

when sitting with the influence of fine company, soft cushions, rich food after a long journey, evening prayers unsaid in the intoxication of gossip and social intrigue, emboldened lovers offering their attentions

Imagetime to wander on, better to leave the gilded temple behind, Mother firmly planted in us, knowing our nakedness is the way we wear our Union with Her, our hair as Her hair, Her love piercing us more deeply than any etiquette; Digambari Maa is our wild warrior love cry

time to wander on, better to be the whore dancing in the lush night garden, stripping the monastic of his robes, offering him venom in a wine cup, our joined breathing showing him that it is his shame that is the crime, entwined and waiting for the guards with their jangly rings of keys, they find us covered in jasmine and soft river greens; Raadheshyamraadheshyamraadheshyam is our love cry

time to wander on, better to thank our hosts before we enter their gilded doors, let us cook alone over a small dung fire, sleep outdoors another night on the hard stones, bruised hips, aching bones on an aging body, cold discomfort and bright Candikaa as the companion of our clarity; a soft tender Maa Maa Maa is our night long lullaby

no compromising, yogini, no compromising, time to wander on, Maa herself will wander on away from us when we bargain for a little too much softness and comfort, how long did it take to find Her, don’t forget who you are, don’t forget your own knowing, delve into your wisdom stream, wander on, yogini, follow Maa down the road, wander on towards your own freedom

(by aditi devi on the way back from fierce pilgrimage, december 2011)

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