More on Women in Contemporary Buddhism: “Feminism Awakens In Himalayan Buddhist Art and Meditation” (Huffington Post Article)

Here is a remarkable article on the feminine in contemporary Himalayan Buddhist Art from the Huffington Post. The art is remarkable as are the women practitioners that are mentioned.

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Full Ordination for Tibetan Nuns: Recognition of the Potential of Female Practitioners and Revision to the Patriarchal Systems

The 17th Karmapa has announced that he will bring forth full ordination for nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist lineages. This is quite amazing and huge news.

Please link to the following blog for a very good discussion of what is at stake and why this is so groundbreaking.

May all beings benefit! May we awaken in the female body in this lifetime.

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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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