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The Horrific Appearance of the Dakini

“Not all dakinis appear in young and beautiful form; in horrific form they have the power to open the practitioner’s mind in a direct way. This is how the karma dakini appears in ‘destroying’ mode, removing particularly intractable obstacles to practice. The great master Tilopa was constantly under the tutelage of an ugly old dakini-woman, Vajrayogini in disguise, who saw his spiritual potential and guided his development. Of particular significance is the ‘laughing and crying’ dakini who appears in horrifying form. Naropa saw the ugly hag who pointed out his intellectual blindness to the true meaning of the teachings he studies. This is the karma dakini in her destroying mode, removing obstacles for the obstinate tantric practitioner for whom a gentler approach would not be effective. Her horrific appearance has the effect of stopping conceptuality in its tracks and terrifying arrogance into submission.”

~Judith Simmer-Brown, “Dakini’s Warm Breath”

Painting of Palden Lhamo by Tiffani Gyatso