The Wisdom of the Feminine

The Wisdom of the Feminine2016-10-25T17:41:50+00:00
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Yeshe Tsogyal was perhaps the first Tibetan to achieve enlightenment. She lived during the crucial time when teachings from India were becoming established in Tibet under royal patronage in the eighth century. She was a chief disciple, consort, and assistant to Padmakara, Guru Rinpoche. As a guru herself, she instructed the king and many others, guiding the development of the dharma throughout the country. One of her greatest legacies was encoding, writing down, and concealing a vast number of termas, or “treasure teachings,” given by her master for the benefit of future generations to this very day.

Sakyong Wangmo, Druk Sakyong Wangmo, and NTC. Photo by Marvin Moore.

Sakyong Wangmo, Druk Sakyong Wangmo, and NTC. Photo by Marvin Moore.

The feminine principle in the vajrayana tradition signifies knowledge or wisdom, as well as the experience of emptiness. As the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche explained:

Shunyata, which is emptiness or openness, is also described in terms of the feminine principle—as the consort of all the buddhas. Prajna, or discriminating awareness, is described in terms of the feminine principle too—as the mother of all the buddhas, she who gives birth to the very idea of enlightenment. This very notion of enlightenment was started by her, by prajna. But she who made the buddhas speak, communicate, is shunyata. This is because with shunyata there is a lot of room, openness, groundlessness. Therefore there is no fear of communicating with students, just as Buddha communicated with his disciples. In the situation of groundlessness, no one is standing on any ground, so communication can take place quite freely.

 

With the recent investiture of Khandro Tseyang as Sakyong Wangmo and Lady Diana Mukpo as Druk Sakyong Wangmo of the Kingdom of Shambhala, we join in celebrating the feminine aspect of wakefulness. As translators, we were likened by the Vidyadhara to “ladies to the court” in a Shambhalian context, connecting him to his mother tongue, even though our committee was largely made up of men in those days. We are delighted to note that our youngest members—not apprentices anymore—are both women. And so we offer the following song to Yeshe Tsogyal (refered to with the epithet Ama, or mother), composed by the Vidyadhara during his escape from Tibet. We are presently setting this to music, based on the melody sung by Karma Senge Rinpoche and his nuns.

Listen to Rinpoche singing the first few lines from the poem:

Sunshine for a Pauper
A Spontaneous Song of Supplication
To the Mother-Lineage Guru of the Great Secret

Yeshe Tsogyal Banner. By Cynthia Moku.

Yeshe Tsogyal Banner. By Cynthia Moku.

A heavenly rain that clears pain falls gently, and a thick, heavy fog rolls in.
When moved by these companions in my loneliness,
One and only mother, Ama Tsogyal, protector of us Tibetans,
With none kind as you, there is definitely no other hope but you.

Refrain:
Mother of all the victorious ones, so very kind Ama Tsogyal,
Refuge for this life and on, very kind mother, I miss you.
This little child, thinking of Ama, simply can’t bear it at all—
Ama, a la la, please truly show me a clear sign of your blessings.

Your form is empty, a goddess beyond language to describe you.
Seeing your innate face of coemergence, inexpressible in words,
Effortless great bliss blazes, and the great joy of the four joys,
On the path of freedom, awakens out from the core of my heart.
Refrain

Seeing everyone in the six realms as your parents, you care for us with such great love,
And with the beckoning glance of your compassionate, loving eyes,
You summon the many beings of the three worlds as honored guests to the great yana.
When I think of your life, Mother Tsogyal, I aspire to be like you!
Refrain

Outwardly, this current age of darkness is more and more running rampant,
Everyone delights in wrongdoing, engaging in evil.
All religious and secular order has broken down from within,
So here we are forced to cry out to you now, guardian of Tibetans!
Refrain

Inwardly, driven by the busyness of our circle of family and friends,
After all of that practice, we end up in the lower realms by siding with evil.
When I see this tight lasso of hope and fear, of passion and aggression,
Sharp sword of prajna, my kind Ama, I think of you.
Refrain

Secretly, tricked by confused appearances due to habit and grasping,
Lost in false appearances, thinking there are gods and demons,
When we end up feeling let down by the deity of self-arising wisdom,
I think of you, all-pervasive awareness, mother of the victorious ones.
Refrain

The innate mind of coemergence, inherently without confusion or liberation,
Is beautiful Samantabhadri, beyond having face and arms.
Through merely hearing of you, let alone seeing you directly in person,
Thoughts, the duality of mind and body, naturally subside and dissolve.
Refrain

In the luminous realm of Dhumathala, the source of all dharmas,
Is the ravishing woman free from habitual craving and grasping.
In a gathering of fair, fair ladies, at the undefiled ganachakra,
I’d take even the lowest seat there to enjoy the equality of the fourth moment.
Refrain

The slip knot of craving and grasping, on the black lasso of mundane existence,
Drags us down further and further into the muck of samsara.
Seeing this makes me imagine limitless, undefiled pleasures,
And then I get to see my mother’s true face of formless awareness.
Refrain

The kindest thing that I can do for myself is to practice the genuine dharma.
Being mindful of myself, I meet my own face.
This brings confidence in my own mind—these are my mother’s final instructions.
Except for just that, there is nothing at all for us to rely on.
Refrain

Inwardly, this little bird in the trees keeps getting fooled by his friends,
Outwardly, keeps being fooled by foes, like having only brittle leather for clothing.
In between, the dark age keeps fooling us—what mental and physical pain!
In any case, now we have nothing at all for us to rely on.
Refrain

The vow of the Mahaguru was to bring the sun of the vajrayana
To Tibet, a land of darkness, as is well known.
Mother Tsogyal, I feel it was through the chariot of your kindness
That the lotus garden of the supreme yana has bloomed—I admire you!
Refrain

In the east, from behind high mountain peaks, the master of the seven horses,
Coming with its hundred warm rays that shine and dispel pain,
Opens a hundred-petaled lotus of faith in our hearts.
Grant your blessings that will make the buzzing, soaring bees happy.
Refrain

In the south, amidst the groves of bamboo where live the Mönpas who color their    mouths,
Wandering aimlessly in the great wide open free space,
With a walking stick in my hand, I sing out clearly this song,
This spontaneous sweet song that can be heard from miles and miles away:

Mother of all the victorious ones, so very kind Ama Tsogyal,
Refuge for this life and on, very kind mother, I miss you.
This little child, thinking of Ama, simply can’t bear it at all,
Ama, a la la! Bestow the blessings that I may be an unnoticed, poor wanderer.

Among those who hold the secret and please the Uddiyana lord, knower of the    three times,
You are the chief of the celestial-realm dakinis, in the form of the sow-faced one.
Our beloved, swiftly bringing all the siddhis, the only refuge for Tibetans,
Joyful lady, source of bliss, let your compassion be quick:

Mother of all the victorious ones, so very kind Ama Tsogyal,
Refuge for this life and on, very kind mother, I miss you.
This little child, thinking of Ama, simply can’t bear it at all—
Ama, a la la, please truly show me a clear sign of your blessings.

Thus, this ornament for the ears of fortunate ones,
Adorned with garlands of beautiful and wonderous words,
Was spontaneously spoken by Jigdral She-me Dorje [Fearless Foolish Vajra]—
This lineage child of the omniscient ones, youthful and resting carefree,
Sustained by the blessings of the guru of the mother lineage of the three roots.
Overtaken by the rampant changing of the times, I nearly lost my life. But finally, after narrowly escaping this horrific duhkha, I stepped into the hidden land of Pema Kö. In a natural rock cave near the sacred place of Pema Shelri, this wanderer from the upper north, Chökyi Gyatso, sang this.

© 2008 by Diana J. Mukpo and the Nālandā Translation Committee