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Recognizing the Wisdom Dakini

“As we have seen, it is often difficult to recognize the wisdom dakini. She may appear in the form of a human woman or take the visionary form of a worldly demoness dakini. Because of the ambiguity of her appearance, which is a central part of her lore, tantrikas study her identifiable marks, which differ from one lineage to another. Seeing her depends upon the depth of the practitioner’s realization and upon the particular circumstances of her appearance. Her characteristics closely resemble her worldly sister’s, but she has distinguishing marks that are hers alone.

The wisdom dakini has three eyes, the third of which is placed vertically in her forehead. With her threefold gaze, she sees pure unimpeded space, unbounded emptiness.

When seen clearly, she is described by those who witness her as beautiful, but this beauty does not necessarily follow established norms. She may be tall and comely, short and broad, fair or dark. She may be gentle and melodious in her communications, or sharp and harsh. She may be sixteen years old, in the full bloom of youth, or she may be gruesome and wrathful, initially inspiring terror. When she is seen clearly, her power is very definite, penetrating, and even threatening in its directness. This power comes not from conventional magic but from wisdom, and her fierceness is not emotional but is the sharp energy of wakefulness. The tantrika is said to be entranced by her in whatever form she takes.”

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