starting the morning off with a little reading on Dakinis

I’m reading a book about the feminine principle in Tibetan Buddhism called Dakini’s Warm Breath by Judith Simmer-Brown, who is a professor at Naropa – and I’m using my favorite approach when it comes to dense and complex but well written tomes: opening at random and reading a few pages.
Here’s from last night’s exercise, p.90.

“In Vajrayana meditation, the practitioner becomes accustomed to the vast openness of this experience of the ultimate nature.
This is the true meaning of “kha” in “khandro”. The wisdom dakini is of the essence of emptiness, understood in Vajrayana language to be pure space. The images used to express this ungraspable experience are, in the inner tantras, those of sky (namkha) or space (kha). This is not ordinary space; it is Ying (dhatu), which is the unconditioned, ineffable ground of all experience. Ying does not refer to a philosophically derived conclusion concerning the lack of inherent existence of all phenomena, as one might find in the Madhyamaka schools of Mahayana. Instead, it refers to a direct experience of primordial vastness out of which all other experiences arise. While this vastness is in the realm of experience, it is not accessed by any method or experience of anything other than itself, for it is inherent in the nature of mind.

One can understand Ying through the analogy of a cloudless sky, but one realizes Ying through the practice of actually contemplating the cloudless sky. Such a sky is ideal for practice because it has not support and contains nothing upon which to fixate. When one gazes deeply into a cloudless sky there is tremendous capacity to experience the nature of mind, the inner Ying. Perceiving the simultaneity of the cloudless sky and the nature of mind is the real discovery of space. There is no arising, dwelling, or ceasing in what one observes; neither can these be found in the mind that observes. When the practitioner receives transmission from the guru, the inseparability of Ying and Yeshe is recognized experientially as nondual awareness.

From this point of view, the quintessential dakini is not merely space itself, but simultaneously wakefulness that realizes space. Calling this the mind is too narrow, for its nature transcends the mind, yet because it is an experience we speak of space and wakefulness as the ultimate nature of the mind. Because there is space, an all-pervading vastness; it is possible for nondual, self-existing wakefulness to arise, which is Yeshe. If knowing were separate from what it knows, we could not know. The moment space is known in our experience, Yeshe is there. They cannot be separate. Space is likened to water, wakefulness to wetness; space is the flame, wakefulness is the heat of the flame. There is no space without wakefulness, no wakefulness without space.

Wakefulness radiates uninterruptedly and illuminates all experience. For this reason, a favorite image of Yeshe is the dawn, the rising sun that illumines ignorance and confusion. The ultimate feminine principle is this inseparable space-wakefulness, ying-yeshe.”

Yin is a principle which I’ve only ever half-understood, for all that I tattooed a ying/yang infinity on my skin when I was 19. (I guess I’ve only ever half-understood yang as well, and since they are each a part of the balance, perhaps I do get it afterall…) This concept of yin-yeshe is interesting to me because I’ve had a hard time getting past the notion of yin as a vacuum, a magnetic void – and this way of understanding the sentient aspects of yin helps me place awareness again smack dab in the midst of all that is arising. As it should be…

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