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On Female Deities

Vajrayogini-7

“The Great Mother of Wisdom, Prajnaparamita, as well as Yeshe Tsogyal, Vajrayogini, and all possible female deities are each symbolic forms of the ultimate deity.

They originate from, and are manifested by, the ultimate deity. The conditional, symbolized deity refers to two categories of deities, the sambhogakaya deities and the nirmanakaya deities.  These two are known as the rupakaya or ‘body of enlightened form’ of the Buddha.  The rupakaya refers to both the sambhogakaya rainbow bodies of the buddhas and deities, as well as the nirmanakaya forms that manifest within the three realms of samsara.

Among the various female deities of the sambhogakaya, there are Vajrayogini and the five female buddhas of the five families such as Pandaravasini and Buddha Lochana, as well as all of the female buddhas and deities beyond number.  Among the female nirmanakaya deities, there are Guru Padmasambhava’s consorts Yeshe Tsogyal and Mandarava, along with all of the place-born dakinis of the twenty-four sacred lands, and all possible female forms.  All of them are the forms of the conditional, symbolized deity, symbolizing the female aspect of buddhahood.  As the tantras say, ‘Upon a single dust mote, there are innumerable buddhas.’

The emanations of Buddha Samanatabhadra’s consort Samantabhadri are the female deities Vajravarahi, Vajrayogini, Yeshe Tsogyal, and all the other female meditation deities.  Each of us has within our nature Samantabhadri, Vajrayogini, and all the female deities and enlightened ones. They are aspects of our buddha nature, our enlightened essence.  In order to realize emptiness, shunyata, it is said to be particularly effective to depend on the female aspect of enlightenment symbolized by the mother deities.

This is why completion stage practice is especially important in Anuyoga and in the mother tantras, since completion stage is a special means to help one to experience and realize emptiness.  According to the teachings of the anuttaratantras, practicing female deities together with the completion stage practices are key supports for realizing emptinss.  Ultimately, when we realize the inseparability of space and awareness, then we attain the same level as, and become equal in fortune to, these female deities.”

~ Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche