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in the contemporary world


Students Interview Khandro-la

- behind-the-scenes content -

What is the Framework of Dakini Journey?


I’d like to thank all Dakinis starting with my teachers. All my teachers are part of my journey, which means they are part of this book.  Also, I’d like to thank each of you - Dakini’s Whisper members who somehow made a connection to me and Dakini’s Whisper. I just feel so grateful because, without each of you, nothing could have happened. 


As I said before, I didn’t intend to write a book, any book at all!  If you know me, I am very shy about expressing my own personal experiences.  This Dakini Journey became very personal to me. I really had to create. It was my own kind of invention so to speak. I am not academic at all.  This is not a scholarly endeavor, and it’s not a traditional practice. That is the Five Dakinis which will be included in Volume 3.  Volume 2 is really my way of presenting the path, Dakini as the path, the path of Dakini, you could say Dakini Lamrim, from the beginning to the end. I felt like this was the time to put everything I had taught so far together in a coherent manner, sequentially, so that the reader, could go from the beginning to the end. 


I used this scheme of View, Meditation, and Conduct. as in the Mahamudra tradition. 


First is Meeting: Who is Dakini?  That refers to the View.  After you read the Invitation, then dive into Meeting.  When we Dakini, we want to have a smell of or at least a picture of Dakini, no?  Otherwise, we miss her. Some people might get it right away, the essence of Dakini is ineffable, beyond word, beyond thought, beyond concept - but that is very rare. We wish we could be like that, but we are not.  So, we start with the Essence of Dakini, it’s ineffable, right?  It cannot be described, As soon as we say, “This is it!” that’s not it.  That’s a kind of paradox.  But there is such as thing called expression, expression of Dakini. It’s empty, yet it appears in various juicy expressions and forms. The meeting starts with those two things: pointing out the essence and pointing out the expressions.   


The second part, is Embodying: How do we experience Dakini?  The view is there, and we need it but then we bring it to our own experience, our own meditation.  I really want the reader to get a taste of what Dakini feels like, tastes like. I wanted to demystify the idea of Dakini.  We want to experience that, we want to taste the chocolate, not just the description of the chocolate. This involves the body.  How we can experience Dakini, in an experiential, felt-sense way, is through our body, sense doors and the bliss body, feeling body.  

Then the last one is called Living: How do we live the Dakini Journey? - conduct, action, the way of life.  Those are the 3 parts.  When you read, it may be a little bit confusing. This is not something we can finish reading in one week. There is lots of material to chew on.  But if we have a little framework as I gave you, those three things: Meeting, Embodying and Living, that might help a little bit.

How did the book come about? 

[Student:] Congratulations Khandro-la, your baby’s born! We don't serve donuts here, so we all came here fully to participate in celebrating the book launch and are curious to know about it. Here’s my question, what inspired you to write “Dakini Journey in the Contemporary World,” and how did it come about? What was in your mind when you said to yourself, “Hmmm, yeah right, I’m going to write a book!” How did it come about?


[Khandro-la:] “Hmm, right, I'm going to write a book. I'm going to write an Amazon best-seller book!” (chuckle) That was the intention? No, I had no intention. I never intended nor dared to write about this most challenging figure or entity called Dakini. I am not a scholar. I am not an expert by any means in this area. I just want to say a little bit about how this book came about. Maybe that helps or supports my statement that I never intended to write it. 

This book came about from a natural unfoldment of various factors that coincided between 2020 and 2021. I wrote a little bit about this in the Invitation (opening section of the book) if you have read that. I am going to repeat myself here. This included my own personal journey - treading this Dakini journey, so-called - and DW’s one-year immersion program of Dakini Journey, which many of you participated in during that time. It was a one-year journey in which we explored Dakinis with lots of inquiries during this challenging time. In the traditional lineage journey, Chö practice, and the Chö Mastery Journey, we were in the stage of the Five-Dakini Practice. That was also part of these coinciding causes or factors. And, there were the challenging circumstances of the pandemic, you remember? Did you already forget about this? When the pandemic came, we got together and asked, “How can we face these challenges?” It wasn’t only the pandemic, but there were lots of other challenges we faced. All of these things, various factors, came together. Then somehow this “pregnancy” I had. I don't know when I conceived, but somehow something bubbled in me. Maybe I was carrying this seed of Dakini Journey for a long time. My belly got bigger and bigger. Then in 2021, because all these different factors came together and because of this shock, the baby automatically came out. I feel it was something like that, unintentionally, that’s how it came about. 


The content of this book was initially for the introduction to the commentary on the lineage practice of Five-Dakinis. Dakini Journey in the Contemporary World, this Volume 2, was originally envisioned as one book together with the commentary on the Five-Dakini lineage practice. We just published Volume 2 and Volume 3 is coming up, these two volumes are meant to be together. However, because of a publication restriction, the page numbers got bigger and bigger, and we had to separate them. We had to present them as two volumes. Together they take the reader on this Dakini Journey. 


I really encourage all of you to read this Volume and prepare and internalize it. Prepare means making the Dakini Journey your own journey. Sometimes with traditional practice, the traditional path or journey, we cannot embody the journey. Because somebody else has tread that journey, “I'm just going to follow that.” We try to put one’s own journey into the framework of somebody else’s journey that somebody else treads. Of course, those frameworks are so important for a lineage practice. But our approach, the contemporary approach, should be to really internalize and embody, experiential. That’s kind of the intention of this Volume 2.

Dakini Moment, Right Here, Right Now! 

What was the Closest Moment to Dakini? 

[Khandro-la:] What do you make of all this Dakini business? A whole book came out, but that is just one of many Dakini journeys, just my version of Dakini Journey. Each of you have your own dakini journey, your own version of dakini journey. That’s the beauty of Dakini Journey. There’s no one dakini journey you need to follow. All have different flavours and tastes, and a little bit of “spiced-up” Dakini journeys. Some are very gentle, some are very wavy with ups and downs. You’re living your dakini journey - you got interested in dakini and you’re curious about it. To the best of your ability you integrate what dakini feels like and what dakini means to each of you in terms of this journey, dakini as a journey, dakini as the path, the path to, you can say, the fulfillment of human potential, also embracing the human journey and bringing that journey to the world to benefit all beings.

How are you making sense out of this? What does it mean to meet dakini face-to-face, to begin with. Of course there’s a chapter (in the book) somewhere when I talk about my interpretation of what it means to meet, meeting dakini face-to-face, which has different levels - a literal level, as well as symbolic and profound, the most profound, deepest levels of interpretation.

[Student:] You have been with dakini on this journey much, much longer than us within your life’s ups and downs. Can you share with us the moment that you thought, “Hey, this is the closest I have ever felt to dakini,” when you felt the dakini was closest to you, unexpectedly.

[Khandro-la:] Right now! I’m with dakinis, I have nine dakini’s here, right now, this moment. This book that I presented is all about this. It demystifies in a sense. This is a paradox, a koan of dakini. Dakini is everywhere, but nowhere, unless you have dakini eyes. I don’t say I have dakini eyes, but I’m developing, and I am so grateful that I have this Dakini’s Whisper community. Each of you showed up with an interest in dakins, and then we share this kind of experience. It’s so precious.

I can talk about this in a, you can say, safe environment with the same language, I can use this (Dakini) language. You know what I mean? If I was part of a big organization, the Geluk, monastic part of it, I would have never been able to do this kind of thing. I made a decision to be here, on my authentic journey, I listened to dakini, what dakini told me. She said just to be honest with yourself, to stand in your shoes so to speak. Therefore, I don’t have a big back-up organization or something like that, to authenticate, you can say, my position as a teacher or something. But what we’re doing in Dakini’s Whisper is, we demonstrate, through our own embodiment, what Buddha taught. We don’t care about titles or those things. You know what I mean, each of you understands I think. Yeah, each time I meet like this and share, I just feel the undeniable presence here, from you, each of you. 

[Student:] I want to take a moment to thank you for your answer, just now, to my question about  the closest moment you had with dakini. I was expecting you to say, “Oh, someone died,” or, “Oh, when I met my guru,” or “when I was traveling, seeing this,” or “in a dream,” something very spectacular. And you said, ‘Right now!’ That is the most inspiring thing that I can grab onto for the rest of my life. It’s just a brilliant answer and it’s very, very helpful, very wise.

[Khandro-la:] Because it’s true… this is the Dakini Journey.

What was your first experience of integrating Dakini into your personal life?


[Student:] What was your first experience of realizing that you were integrating Dakini into your personal life, that led you to this moment?


[Khandro-la:] I didn’t integrate! (laugh) I feel like Dakini is the one who has integrated me and my life into her. In that sense, there was no “I,” agent, of integration on my part. Then you asked me, what was it, what was my first experience of integration? Since I was a child, a little girl, I felt the presence of the Divine, some inner Divine energy that is hard to describe, actually indescribable. I am sure each of you has that too, but something very juicy and beyond intellect, concept, and fabrication. I already had that sort of feeling, so I felt everything came from that source. For example, my crazy fascination or attraction toward the beauty and exquisiteness of simplicity and nakedness, and at the same time, my deep longing for self-realization. So, both aspects. But everything - those kinds of things - came from a deep source that I carried. But I was not able to name her at that time. I had no language to name or call her, or context to place her in. So I didn’t know what to do with her, especially during my early Buddhist training, traditional training in Buddhist practice and studies. I just kept her close to my heart, on the back burner, so to speak. 


However, at  times of extreme situations or difficult circumstances, as well as my intense retreats - I've done quite a number of retreats, intense ones - those times she always showed up, vividly, intimately, and undeniably. I could not deny her. She showed up in my psyche, my heart, and my mind, and I often heard her whisper in my ears. At some point, I could not ignore her any longer. 


My son’s birth and death gave breath to her aliveness and permission for me to call her Dakini. Those are the pivotal moments. When I formed my community, Dakini’s Whisper, where you are right now, I was able to bring her forward and start to shed light on Dakini, no matter how ambiguous and how controversial she may be. After my long-term retreat, I felt I got permission. Dakini said, “Okay, you can say something about me.” Perhaps not just permission, I felt the responsibility to let her speak her profound and provocative teaching, words, authentically, to the best of my ability in public. 


Since you wrote this book, has your personal relationship with Dakini changed?


[Student:] Since you wrote this book with her permission, has your personal relationship with Dakini changed? Has it somehow brought you to a different understanding of Vajrayogini, or even how you practice? 


[Khandro-la:] You know I was talking about how at some point she stopped whispering, and Dakini started to speak louder and louder in my ears. Before embarking on this book project, I felt that she was always there but I didn't recognize her presence clearly with much confidence, nor listen to her voice precisely. I think this project allowed me to articulate to the best of my ability what she is saying to me. Our relationship kept getting deeper and deeper. But you know what, Dakini is not other than ourselves, so that’s what we are talking about here. Something each of us can discover, like a homecoming. This is a paradox, the paradox of Dakini, the KOAN of Dakini I call it - nowhere but everywhere - and each of us has to find her, who and what we truly are.


What was the most challenging part of it for you?


[Student:] When you were writing this book, what was the most challenging part of it for you?


[Khandro-la:] Everything, I mean, writing and putting down Dakini’s words, writing down on paper and trying to communicate with somebody else, whoever reads this, everything was challenging. But I took that challenge. I am kind of delighted with that challenge, I was always like that. I lived my life on the margin, not the mainstream, the margin always. One of the most challenging things was to put the random Dakini teachings which I gave into a cohesive sequence of a Dakini Journey. 

Dakini teachings here refer to many things - teachings by Dakini, teachings about Dakini, her teachings through the lens of my own interpretation and understanding, and my own personal experience of Dakinis. It is quite loaded, these Dakini teachings. To put it all together in a sequential or cohesive manner was quite challenging. We had so many different levels of materials to draw from. I'm sure for those of you who helped to put the puzzle together, it was quite challenging. 


I really wanted to create something for an individual to journey on this pilgrimage called Dakini Journey, from beginning to end. You know what I mean? When you are open the book, you read the Invitation - first invite and bring some kind of curiosity to enter. Then, the first chapter is a pointing-out instruction. 


There was no model for Dakini Journey. What I did was I used the Mahamudra teaching model, because the Dakini Journey is no different than the Mahamudra journey in that sense - View, Mediation, and Conduct. Those are the three perspectives, three approaches, Mahamudra presents. In other words - outlook or view, the meditation practice, then conduct or how to live a life based on this, the application part - those three. I applied these three perspectives or approaches as a sort of roadmap for the Journey. 


If you look at the book, there are three sections you will notice with those three headings. What is Dakini? is the view, start with that. The second section is meditation or practice. Then the third is how we apply it, that's conduct, embodiment, how we bring this to the world, how we live life - Dakini life - day by day. In other words, this is a Lam Rim, Dakini Lam Rim you can say, I made that up. Dakini Journey is a Dakini path, Dakini as a path. I wanted to just give the reader a map to traverse the path with Dakini and as Dakini, with confidence and joy. 


Can you tell us more about your three books?

What’s your idea of putting the three volumes together?

[Student:] You have written two books to guide us. Volume 2 and Volume 1 have a two or three-year time gap between them. Also, I know Volume 3 is in the oven, it’s baking and it’s coming. Can you tell us more about these three books? What’s your idea of putting them together?


[Khandro-la:] I already mentioned a little bit about the relationship between Volume 2 and Volume 3, they are meant to be together. Volume 2 is the Dakini Journey in the Contemporary World. That’s quite a loaded title, but I wanted to contrast it with Volume 3, which is the lineage, Dakini Journey with the lineage, and the Five-Dakinis journey with the lineage. Volume 2 is a Dakini Journey that anybody can tread, even with no lineage connection. Volume 1, which many of you might have read, is the foundation. We laid the foundation, the ground for treading this Dakini Journey, in the context, broader context, of the Chö Journey. 


They are a part of the series called The Heart of Chö. I wanted to present or introduce the unique main practices of the Ear-Whispered lineage of Chö, which is not well known at all, even among the Geluk practitioners. But somehow I had a connection to receive all the transmissions and completed the protocols of the lineage. So, I felt that I had a responsibility to share this to the best of my ability. So I embarked on my own journey with The Heart of Chö, Volume 1, in 2020, which is the preliminary you can say, Foundation. It is a whole journey, the so-called Lam Rim Journey. Volume 2, which was just published, is Dakini. We really need to connect to this energy of Dakini. Even before you embark on something higher, so-called advanced tantric practice, we need to have a connection to Dakinis. Dakini’s role is to assist us tantric practitioners. We are on a kind of right path, so to speak. In Volume 3, we enter into the actual Five-Dakini Retreat Manual, based on the lineage teaching and tradition.


What is one thing, in particular, you would like us as your students to integrate into our practice?

[Student:] Your entire book is a guideline and a way for you to say, “Walk this path with me.” I wanted to know if there was one thing, in particular, you would like us as your students to integrate into our practice.


[Khandro-la:] Dakini is a paradox, right? I talk about that in the book. Khandroma in Tibetan, “Kha” means sky or space-like emptiness, referring to this emptiness. “Dro” means moving, going, dancing. How can we dance? How can we move when actually actively embodied in this emptiness, this space of emptiness? This is the paradox. If I have to say one thing, let me think, Dakini is everywhere and nowhere. If you can develop the capacity to rest in this KOAN of Dakini directly and experientially, it will be awesome! You will meet Dakini! Dakini is everywhere. Everywhere is in ordinary places, in unexpected places with this insight into emptiness. Also, these Five-energies, as I said, everything, every situation, every event, who you are, can be explained from the perspective of these Five-energies, awakened energies. The more we tune into the subtlety of that energy, the more we discover the awakened quality of wisdom in everything, even the unpreferred situation. 


She has so many faces, I didn’t realize that!  So many flavors and so many faces. One of the things I wanted to do in this is to demystify the Dakini, the idea of Dakini. Of course, the mystery of Dakini, is the kind of juicy beauty of Dakini itself, this ambiguity of Dakini, so that’s there. But at the same time I want to makeDakini accessible to our own direct experience, otherwise, what’s the point? If only a special person can meet Dakinis, that’s not fair. Each of us, we have this special capacity. We have this buddha nature. In this lifetime we can get to see her, meet her, and get the benefit to learn from her, and then we become her. We unveil our deepest selves. On page 34, I quote, “So close you cannot see her.” She is so close, you cannot see here. “So deep you cannot fathom her. So simple you cannot believe her. So good you cannot accept her.” You know what I mean? That’s her.

Why Did You Choose To Teach Dakini?

[Student:] You've been on this journey since you were young. You left Japan and went to the Himalayas. With all these things that you have practiced - yidam, protectors, Mahamudra - why did you end up sticking with Dakini? With so many different practices, you chose the most difficult one to promote. Why?

[Khandro-la:] Because those others are available! Scholars or great teachers have taught them; I cannot teach like them. In a sense, there are so many books available. But books on Dakini are very limited because Dakini is about experience.  Scholarly work was done by Judith Simmer-Brown and we use that as a stepping stone. How can we bring that Dakini teaching into our own experience?  It’s challenging.  If I had wanted to do something easy, I wouldn’t have done this.  I may not have any particular authority or credibility, but this was the journey that I tread, one of many, many journeys each of you are actually treading.  

I say in the book,, “The Dakini Journey has been an invitation to live and dance our own Dakini dance with compassion and emptiness.  It’s an invitation to discover our own compassionate colorful dance as Dakini within the boundless expanse of sky.” This is an invitation!  This is just, maybe, a little bit of something to stimulate your curiosity and deepen your own Dakini journey.  

Dakini is always pointing us to emptiness, reality!  Making a relationship with Dakini, being on good terms with Dakini, is crucial on this tantric journey.  Without Dakini relationship, it’s very difficult. I really wanted to present this experiential approach to the traditional Five Dakinis Practice. There are lots of translations of traditional practices such as guru yoga and Mahamudra.. Really, in order to make the tradition come alive in each of us as practitioners, in my mind, we need to have this kind of teaching. Also, Dakini teaching is perfect for this time. 


In terms of background, this was done during the pandemic.  Around that time Dakini really came alive in each of our lives, a very crucial time.  We investigated, we explored, we asked for her help, and we learned a lot from her provocative teachings!   Although I didn’t bring up too much about this in the book, you might read in the “fine print” about social and cultural issues.  We want to take a pause and question our ordinary or normal way of thinking and going about such social and political issues. Especially at that time there was quite a bit happening, politically and environmentally. We have completely ignored the elements. We are kind of facing the aftermath of our own, you could say, misconduct!  We ignored our relationship to the earth, for example.  A very selfish approach we’ve been living.  We just needed Dakini tocut with a knife, chop our ordinary way of living. Dakini teachings are kind of wake up call. 

Why Five Elemental Dakini Practice?

[Student:] In the book, you emphasize embodying the Five Dakinis through an elemental lens. My question is, why do we need to embody Dakini to lead us to enlightenment or awakening? Why don’t we just go straight to the Five Elements without Dakini?

[Khandro-la:] Your question is very enticing. Why do we embody Five Dakinis to become enlightened? Dakini Journey IS the awakening journey to enlightenment – the complete embodiment of our full human potential and the limitless capacity of our human potential. Enlightenment is not something “out there somewhere.” Tantra starts with the fact that we have this potential or, you can say, we are already enlightened, but it’s covered up. Therefore, we have practice. We need to embody Dakini, the expression of buddha nature. 

Buddha nature is ineffable. When someone asks, “What is chocolate?” someone might list all the ingredients – cocoa, sugar, this and that – but that’s not chocolate! Chocolate itself is ineffable, it’s just a name. How can we experience chocolate? There are a lot of different ways to express it – it’s sweet, it melts in my mouth, and so forth. 

The Five Elements or five qualities of buddha nature in its personified form is called the Five Dakinis, elemental qualities. In order to unveil the buddha nature, who and what we are –what chocolate really is – we need to approach it from the Five Dakinis elemental practice.This is the uniqueness of this book.

This elemental approach is ancient. Indigenous traditions, Bon, or Shinto in Japan, maybe American Indian, are really connected to nature and these elements – internal and external. Buddhism does not own this elemental teaching. In Buddhism, Five Dakinis practices are traditionally taught in the context of the Five Buddha Families which are the psychological tendencies, traits or characteristics. For example, the transformation of anger transforms into mirror-like wisdom. There is a correlation there, which was well done by Lama Tsultrim Allione. She presented the Five Dakinis mandala. That is one aspect of this Five Dakinis practice. 

What I wanted to do in my book is really make it accessible and not involve the head with these correlations between this and that. I wanted to make it experiential, which means elemental. We are made of elements and the environment is made of elements. Everything can be explained through these elemental qualities - good or bad or deluded or awakened. That’s one thing I really wanted to do.

How Do I Find Balance in Dakini Energies in Me?

[Student:] When the qualities or the energies of the elemental Dakinis are out of balance in me, I can feel it in my body, in my mood, and in how I’m reacting and responding. Do you have any specific sort of tools in this book for working with Dakini energies that are out of balance?

[Khandro-la:] How is that “out of balance” expressed in you? Is it uncomfortable, or what is it? Are you able to rest in the feeling, the experience of that?

[Student:] Every time it’s different. I try to pay attention to what that is, but I probably don’t rest in it very well. I’m looking for something I can “do” about it. 

[Khandro-la:] This book is about that, rest in the energies. “Out of balance” is just a label, right? But do you remember? All the energies are on the spectrum of wisdom, wisdom energy. The “out of balance” experience may be coming to this more ego-driven side of trying to fix it. If you can rest in that more open side,  rest just as it is, then it goes to wisdom. I use the dimmer switch, it’s gone too dark and then it goes brighter and brighter, that’s what we want. There’s a way to bring this bar to the brighter side. Therefore, this book is available for such a thing called “practice” with obscurations. 

For example, Padma energies - do you feel Padma energy sometimes is less? Can you find it, not in an obvious place? Usually, we are looking for a certain energy in an obvious place. That’s another thing I wanted to express in this book - don’t look in an obvious place. Wherever you look, don’t look only in the obvious place. 

For example, where I find Padma energy is in this quiet tearoom. It’s nothing elaborate, - a tatami mat in a little alcove with maybe just one wildflower from the field, with a little bit of dew on the petals of that flower. That’s enough for me to find Padma energy in me. So, in that, sense, each of you can find Padma energy anywhere. 


Dakini is everywhere, and nowhere if you are only looking in the ordinary, normal, obvious places. Dakini lives in this thin plane, sometimes called the liminal place or the between place, somewhere we usually miss. We have to look at those places, and then you can find Dakini energy everywhere. Also, Dakini surprises us, right? That’s one of the Dakini qualities. 

[Student:] I was just thinking about how we can get stuck on solidifying these Dakini elemental energies. Really, it’s just moving between all those states all the time, I kind of really noticed when we went into caves on my trip. The caves are very spacious, I felt this spaciousness. The river had created the caves, so the river was dissolving the rock or the earth. I wanted to do an expressive work where I felt like I was the river, the water. Then when I was doing the activity of being the water, I found myself becoming the rocks in the river. There needed to be the interference of the rocks for the river to flow, because if that wasn’t there then there would be nothing happening. So, I had a very interesting experience where I thought I was being one thing, but then I became another thing, and then I was kind of all of those things all at once. 

[Khandro-la:] So, another exploration I was intending for everybody to do with this book was something like that. We use these five classifications, or these five ways to cut the pie. Of course, all are emptiness. We come to understand that each is interconnected, emptiness, empty of any inherent, solid, objective thing separate from others. At the same time, we use that conventional word to have some kind of reference framework or reference point, so that we can freely explore how those are interconnected. For example, earth and water, they are so closely connected, eventually they are not separate thing. That sort of realization is a Buddhist realization, right? Interconnectedness, interdependence, and emptiness. 

How Can I Recognize Dakini in My Life?

How do we know when we meet Dakini? I was also curious! Chapter 5, Great Masters Encountering Her,  is about how great masters encountered Dakinis. By exploring that, we have some kind of hint how to meet Dakini – that’s part of the Dakini Journey! All these stories illustrate that Dakini is not conventionally recognized. Even great masters failed to recognize her.” That’s kind of comforting, no? So, how can we recognize Dakini? 

Naropa advised, “Look into the mirror of the mind – the mysterious home of the Dakini.” We know that Dakini doesn’t live in the usual or obvious places. She’s hidden, ambiguous, elusive, and ethereal, in nature, living in a subtle plane where we often miss the opportunity to meet her. It’s the charnel ground part of ourselves that we don’t want to see. We have this blind spot, this fear invoking vulnerability, shadow. Remember? The charnel ground is the symbol of everything we reject and the opposite of what we are looking for. In this scary and desperate place, Dakini emerges – dancing and laughing as she points out who and what we truly are.

Dakini is so intimate with our subjectivities that, if we are genuinely curious about meeting her, we have no choice but to turn our attention to our own meditative practice. Dakini speaks, “I am the symbol of your innermost spiritual development, particularly your direct realization of emptiness and luminosity.” Judith Simmer-Brown beautifully describes how a practitioner encounters Dakini in the context of the primacy of subjectivities and the transformation of the practitioner’s mind. “She shows her body to be empty and as vast as limitless space. In her heart is revealed the ultimate nature of reality and within its vastness, are all phenomena. Looking into her heart center, the practitioner is looking into a mirror seeing the mind and the entire world in a dramatically different perspective. One cannot see such a sight without being transformed.”

Dakini’s appearance and identity are purposely self-secret and non-self-existing. So, when we say, “To see or to meet Dakini,” it’s really about the purification of our awareness. When we peel off our perceptions and conceptualizations that get in the way, we can see her. If our mind is pure, we can see everything as pure. We recall the story of Kyungpo Nenjora, a 10th-11th century master, who traveled through India to find an awakened Dakini as his teacher. As he searched, Dakini instructed him, ‘If your vision is pure, you can see her face anywhere. If your vision is impure, you will never find her no matter where you look.”

This is one of the many things I wanted to convey in my book. We have a tendency to solidify Dakini. People search for Dakini here and there, going to this place and that place, wandering. But in our practice level, we really have to look into the subjectivity of our own mind and practice. It’s about practice.

What is your approach to this challenging subject, DAKINI?

[Student:] You were saying when you wrote this book that there are a lot of places to talk about Dakini, and this is a very challenging subject. This time you make it accessible to us with a more modern approach. What is a modern approach?

[Khandro-la:] Volume 2 deals with “Dakini.” The meaning of Dakini will unfold as you read the book. It has many different levels of understanding and meanings. There are many approaches to presenting Dakini. The subject of Dakini is ambiguous, difficult, and challenging, yet she is a most significant figure in Tibetan Buddhism. What I did was I looked at Dakini from the lens of the so-called Five-Energies, Five-Elements, five elemental expressions of inner wakefulness or innate goodness, buddha nature, who are what you truly are, which is ineffable. It manifests in these five, which I call, flavors or qualities. We looked at Dakini through the lens of those five qualities, especially, instead of looking at the classical theme, the traditional theme of the psychological understanding of the Five Buddha Families. Those are very popular - the Five Wisdoms that correlate with the five kleshas and the transformation between those two. I tried to make it experiential because these five elemental energies can explain everything. Who and what we are also consists of these five energies, externally, internally, and whatever we do. This became very experiential, I think. But it’s up to you how to use this approach in your daily life.

How Can I Really Connect with Dakini Energies?

[STUDENT:] When I looked out through my glasses, sometimes I don’t see what’s there, it’s kind of skewed. I had to really sit and look at Earth Dakini for a long time before she came into focus and into my being, so to speak.

[KHANDRO-LA:] I’m looking at my book and at Shona’s contributions, these beautiful images piece. That’s another way to explore and approach this book. This section called, “Living the Five Dakinis,” Chapter 13, has very specific ways to connect to each Dakini energy. It has lots of inquiries; that’s one of the unique qualities of this book. Again, this book is not about theory. There are more questions than answers in here. Those questions are the right questions and they give us a really juicy experience within ourselves. That’s very important.

It has the Five Dakinis, and each section is very short, only a few pages. So maybe if you like, each day focus on each Dakini. Look at the pictures, my invitation, and read about the qualities, then, do the meditation. Each section has a short meditation. For example, Earth Dakini’s is called, “Abiding Like Majestic Mountain.” How do you feel when you abide like a majestic mountain? Even the words and phrases themselves give you the sense of earth energies, like stability and this sense of security. 

You can connect that way. Each day might be different. Maybe sometimes you might feel like, “Oh, I feel Padma energies. I want to connect to Padma energies.” Then, do the Padma Dakini, Fire Dakini section of this book. That way, you can get more used to it so eventually you won’t even need the book. You are the expression of this book, or an expression of these descriptions that this Journey invites us to!

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