Her Eminence Jetsün Chimey Luding Rinpoche
H.E. Sakya Jetsün Chimey Luding Rinpoche was born into the Drolma Podrang, or Tara Palace of the Sakya Khon family in 1938, the year of the earth tiger. She began her dharma studies at the age of five. His Holiness Sakya Trizin was born when she was six years old. According to the tradition in her family, she took novice ordination when she was “old enough to scare crows away” at the age of seven. When she was ten years old, she made her first retreat. She meditated on the form of Vajrapani known as Bhutadamara, and in one month completed one million recitations of the short mantra, HUM VAJRA PHAT, and one hundred thousand recitations of the long mantra. In her eleventh year, her father, Kunga Rinchen, sent her on her first teaching assignment. She spent the fourth through the tenth Tibetan months among the nomads on the northern plains of Tibet , giving transmissions and teachings on Phowa, or transference of consciousness, as well as conducting torma offerings, performing lhasang, or incense offerings, and giving other teachings and empowerments. The third woman in the history of Tibet to have transmitted the Lam Dre (the Path and Fruit) teachings, a fully accomplished guru and lineage holder, she is known for her teachings on Vajrayogini and is considered an emanation of that yidam of enlightened feminine energy.
This was 1951, and it was here that she made one of the first of her well-known mos or divinations. There was a large monastery in the area where she was giving the teachings, and this was the time of political troubles surrounding the Radring regent. The abbot of the local monastery, Kardor Rinpoche, had sided with the Radring regent and for this he had been imprisoned by the Tibetan government. An earnest and worried delegation from this monastery requested an audience with the Sakya Jetsunma and asked her to do a mo to determine when their abbot would be released from prison. She made a divination with dice and recommended that the members of the monastery perform the four mandala puja of Green Tara, and recite the Twenty-One praises to Tara one hundred thousand times.
In 1952, during a visit to Lhasa when the Dalai Lama recognized and confirmed her brother as the Sakya Trizin, a group of monks requested an audience with her. They thanked her sincerely and profusely, and when she inquired the reason for this thanks, having forgotten about the incident and the mo, they told her that they had followed her instructions, and that their abbot had been released the day after they had completed the one hundred thousandth recitation of the Twenty-One Praises.
Her younger brother had died when she was four years old. Her mother died in 1948 when Jetsun was nine and His Holiness two. Their younger sister died in 1951 at age eight and their father died less than a month later, during an epidemic in Sakya. This meant that the teachings that would normally be conferred by their father would have to be offered by another guru. Their aunt took them to Ngor, where they received the Lamdre from the great Kangsar abbot, Ngawang Lodro Shenpen Nyingpo, Dampa Rinpoche.
In 1952, following the Dalai Lama’s recognition of her brother as the Sakya Trizin, their original plan to take teaching from the great Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro in Kham had to be altered since His Holiness could not venture too far away from Sakya and his duties. Instead, they went again to the great abbot of Ngor, Dampa Rinpoche, who lived closer by, for the Lamdre Lobshe (the intimate transmission of the Path and its Fruition), teachings central to the Sakya lineage. Unfortunately, he died before he could complete this transmission, and that task was taken over by the Kangsar Shabdrung, Ngawang Lodro Tenzin Ngingpo. Jetsun relates that from the time the Dalai Lama conferred recognition on her brother, ” His Holiness and I were constantly in each other’s company, and wherever he went, I went and I was always with him.”
From this time on until they fled to India they received the same teachings and made the same retreats. At the same time that she and His Holiness received the Lamdre Lobshe transmissions from the Kangsar abbots, they also received lung or scriptural transmissions for the biography of Ngorchen Kunchok Lhundrup from the Ngor abbot of the Phende house, Phende Khenpo, Ngawang Khedrup Gyatso. This was 1953.
In 1954 they received the transmission of the Druptap Kuntu from the Khangsar Shabdrung, Ngawang Lodro Tenzin Nyingpo. (the Druptap Kuntu is a large collection of empowerments and sadhanas from all four classes of tantra, compiled in the 19th century by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and his principle student, Jamyang Loter Wangpo).
When Jetsunma was sixteen, she and His Holiness undertook the full retreat of Hevajra. Their teacher also went into retreat with them. Although they did the retreat in separate rooms, they kept contact through notes passed back and forth, and began on the same day and ended on the same day. They performed all the requisite recitations of the different Hevajra mantras, as well as the mantras of Nairatmya. They remained in this retreat for seven and a half months, and followed it with a one month retreat on Vajra Garuda, during which she recited the mantra one million, five hundred thousand times. When they had finished this retreat, Jetsun Kushok’s aunt requested her to do a seven-day retreat on Ling Gesar in order to develop her powers of divination by foreseeing the future in a mirror, and she completed this also.
Soon after she left this retreat, in 1955, a crowd of monks from Kham arrived in Sakya, and requested the Lamdre teachings from His Holiness, who because of his own schedule was unable to accommodate them. Their aunt then urged Jetsun Kushok, who was then sixteen, to give the teaching herself. The Lamdre is a complete cycle which encompasses the full range of Buddhist teachings, from Hinayana through Mahayana and up to and including Vajrayana. It revolves around the central mandala or the Virupa transmission of Hevajra. Jetsun Kushok bestowed the short version of the Lamdre by Ngawang Chodruk, as well as the lung for all the various practices and ceremonies connected with the Sakya lineage. The whole teaching lasted around three months. Thus she became the third woman in Sakya history to have transmitted the Lamdre, and in 1956 when she and His Holiness went to Lhasa to receive the middle-length teaching on the Lam Rim from the Dalai Lama, she headed the procession, crowned with the Sakya hat worn by high Sakya lineage holders and proceeded by a golden umbrella.
It was also in 1956 that she and His Holiness received the full Nyingma transmissions of Long Chen Nying Tik from Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, who was in Lhasa at that time. Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro came to Sakya later that year to give them the Chak Mey Nam Zhi, or the Four Uninterrupted Practices, which those who have received the full Lamdre teachings are supposed to practice on a daily basis. They are: 1)The Lam Dus Hevajra sadhana, 2) the Vajrayogini sadhana, 3) the Bir Sung or Virupa Protection meditation, and 4) the Lam Zap or Profound Path Guruyoga meditation.
In early 1957, Jetsun Kushok, her brother, and entourage went to India on a pilgrimage at the same time as the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama went to India . It was here that she fist conceived the idea of learning English in a Western-style school, but her teacher was scandalized and wouldn’t hear of it. In 1958, her brother was enthroned at Sakya as His Holiness the Sakya Trizin. Several months after that, after the obvious loss of Tibet to the Communist Chinese, Jetsun Kushok, His Holiness, their aunt, and a handful of attendants fled to India .
In India, Jetsun Kushok describes herself as being quite a tomboy. She studied the Nang Sum (the three visions) and the Dom Sum Rabye (the vows of Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana) by Sakya Pandita. However, it became increasingly difficult for her live with the outer discipline of a nun in India without the support of monastic life. She found herself the object of ridicule and scorn because of her shaved head and robes, and after consulting the Dalai Lama and her brother, decided to give back her robes, although she continued in the inner deportment of a nun.
She began taking English lessons from a Christian missionary, and there met Luding Sey Kusho, who was the brother of Ngor Luding Khen. Since the Luding succession is a blood lineage, and the Luding family was an offshoot of the Sakya Khon family, her aunt and several older family attendants conceived of the plan that she should marry Sey Kushok. While she refused at first, she was convinced at last, since a male child of their union was needed to become the Luding Shabdrung. She was married to Rinchen Luding in 1964.
Their third child, a son born in 1967, was different from the others. Jetsün Kushok reports that he didn’t cry like the other children and that he would wake up and amuse himself by making mudras with his hands and mumbling to himself as though he were reciting texts. When he was three or four, he showed real interest in becoming a monk and took delight in being around ordained people. When there were religious ceremonies he would far prefer attending them than playing with other children. This was the child that became the Luding Shabdrung.
Leaving the four-year-old Shabdrung Rinpoche behind in the care of his uncles, H.E. Sakya Jetsun Rinpoche went with her husband and three young sons to Canada and settled on a farm as laborers in Taber, Alberta in 1971. In 1973 they came to Vancouver, British Columbia. They now live in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver.
At first she did not teach at all, needing to care for her young family and earn a living. However, when His Holiness and Dezhung Rinpoche began teaching in New York, they were repeatedly asked about authentic, living, women lineage holders. They both requested her to begin teaching again. Since then she has founded a dharma center in Vancouver, Sakya Thubten Tsechen Ling, and another in Oakland, California, Sakya Dechen Ling. She visits the other member centers of Palden Sakya (the association of Sakya Dharma Centers in the United States ) in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Washington DC . She has also taught in Singapore and Hawaii . It has long been H.E. Sakya Jetsun Rinpoche’s intent to spend the rest of her life in retreat practicing the Vajrayogini meditations. It is also her wish to build a retreat center at the site of her retreat. Between her own practice sessions she will give guidance and instruction to the individuals in residence there. The retreat will be known as Kacho Ling, the name of Vajrayogini’s pure field of activity. Practitioners will be able to stay at the facility from one month to a full lifetime of retreat and seclusion.
Today, she has a special mandate to teach and provide a role model to all practitioners, but especially to women on the path.
Her Eminence Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche
The Yogini Project’s Interview Series with Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche
The Yogini Project Interview: Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche 2013
The Yogini Project Interview: Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche 2012
H.E. Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche’s Support for The Yogini Project
“Genuine compassion is egoless. It is the inherent essence expressed, inseparable from awareness. This natural essence, which is genuine compassion, does not need to be formulated or even expressed as something like “compassion.” We see this exemplified in our great teachers. Their genuine compassion does not require phrases and expressions or even actions. Just their presence, who they are, is nothing other than the quintessence of compassion. We, in contrast, have to invent and demonstrate compassion. Our contaminated compassion still requires effort and deliberation. That is conventional or general compassion. The good thing about the use of deliberate or conventional compassion is that it matures the mind so that ego- grasping diminishes. It definitely has that effect and is therefore a skillful method for developing awareness compassion.”
~ Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
“Most people feel cozy enough in samsara. They do not really have the genuine aspiration to go beyond samsara; they just want samsara to be a little bit better. It is quite interesting that “samsara” became the name of a perfume. And it is like that. It seduces us into thinking that it is okay: samsara is not so bad; it smells nice! The underlying motivation to go beyond samsara is very rare, even for people who go to Dharma centers. There are many people who learn to meditate and so forth, but with the underlying motive that they hope to make themselves feel better. And if it ends up making them feel worse, instead of realizing that this may be a good sign, they think there is something wrong with Dharma. We are always looking to make ourselves comfortable in the prison house. We might think that if we get the cell wall painted a pretty shade of pale green, and put in a few pictures, it won’t be a prison any more.”
~ Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Ani Pema Chödrön
“Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck.
This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
~ Pema Chödrön
Sakya Dagmola Rinpoche
Dagmola Sakya was the first Tibetan woman ever to immigrate to America. Her full title reads Her Eminence Dag-Yum Kusho Sakya, which denotes her high-ranking status as the wife of one of the most eminent masters in the Sakya tradition, Dagchen Rinpoche. However, in the face of her disarming cheerfulness, friends and students quickly do away with the formality and lovingly call her Dagmola. She is one of the very few senior Tibetan ladies who were born in pre-Communist Tibet, but are now recognized as outstanding teachers and live in America. A combination of the most unlikely circumstances enabled Dagmola to become one of the first Tibetan women to teach in the West. Born 1936 in a tiny village in East Tibet, she was the only girl allowed to go to school. Instead of complying with the established system of arranged marriages, Dagchen Rinpoche fought for her hand. After barely escaping the Communist prosecution in Tibet with her family, she made a new home in Seattle with her five boys, while holding down a nine-to-five job at a blood bank. Her experience as a working mother of five resonates with many students. When students ask her for advice on how to combine a spiritual path with the stress of modern life, she does not need to put herself in their shoes – she knows the challenges only too well. “Practice is in every day life, not just sitting on the cushion,” Dagmola says. “Every move, every breath, every thought is practice.”
Source: Dakini Power website
Photo by Amy Gaskin.
Sangyum Kamala Rinpoche
The Yogini Project Interview with Sangyum Kamala Rinpoche (Selected Excerpts)
Sangyum~la Encourages Women To Reach Their Fullest Potential
On Marrying His Holiness Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche
Advice for Retreat Time Periods
Sangyum Kamala was born in the village of Pangi, near to Manali, in the northern Indian State of Himachal Pradesh into an extraordinary Dharma lineage. Her father, Tulshuk Lingpa, (pictured above) was renowned as a Terton in the Nyingma Lineage. He journeyed in Sikkim and propagated the Buddhist teachings throughout Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim and India in both conventional and charismatic styles. Her mother, Phunsok Choedon was a great practitioner and dakini who devoted her entire life to Dharma practice. When she passed away at age 83, her body remained in meditation for 7 days, and a circular rainbow appeared in the sky over her room.
Sangyum was raised in an environment infused with Dharma practice, the blessings of faith and the power of Secret Mantra. She met her root Guru HH Dudjom Rinpoche together with Chatral Rinpoche in Simla at age 13. Her father was also a student of HH Dudjom Rinpoche, and her grandfather was Gyachok Lingpa, a famous Terton and doctor from Golok, Serta, and was a student of Dudjom Lingpa. At the age of 20, she married Chatral Sangye Dorje, the greatest living Dzogchen master today. They have now been married for 50 years.
During her entire life, especially the half century spent with Rinpoche, she has received an uninterrupted stream of Dharma teaching and transmission, and has practiced mainly in the Dudjom Tersar and also in the Longchen Nyingtik traditions. Sangyum Rinpoche has constantly supported the retreat practice of countless sublime yogis and yoginis throughout Nepal and India under the guidance of Chatral Rinpoche, and especially she has demonstrated her deep compassion by caring for the humblest of the humble in both material and spiritual ways. She carries on Chatral Rinpoche’s example of freeing lives every year in Calcutta by releasing millions of fish into the Ganges and has constructed numerous stupas, prayer wheels, and other holy supports in both India and Nepal.
Sangyum has 3 daughters. The oldest and youngest are both married to tulkus, and the middle is unmarried. She has two granddaughters.
Photo by Yvon Chausseblanche at the time of The Yogini Project Interview with Sangyum Kamala, September 2012.
The Yogini Project Interview with Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel (Selected Excerpts)
Prajnaparamita: Mother Of All Buddhas
Motherhood and Dharma Practice
Spiritual Life As A Child
Benefits Of Silence
Fear and Fearlessness
“Elizabeth and I met in Nepal. We were very young, deeply in love, and learning about life, as well as learning how to integrate the Buddhadharma into our lives. I was in the privileged position of knowing more about the Buddhist teachings, having had exposure to the study and practice of the Dharma with many great masters of our time. I was able to share that with Elizabeth, and she became my first Dharma student.
Over the many years of our life together, which included coming to the West, raising our son, and starting Mangala Shri Bhuti, our Dharma community, we made an effort to be true to ourselves in the vision of the Dharma, amid a worldly life. In keeping with these principles, Elizabeth was able to do an immense amount of study of the classical texts of Indian and Tibetan philosophy. While in school, she would rise at four o’clock every morning in order to have a full session of practice before the family awoke. Later, when we moved to Crestone, Colorado, she began seven years of intensive practice, at her retreat cabin in the mountains near the family home. Throughout this time, she continued to contribute to our community by serving as an example and guiding students in retreat. Her dedication to study and practice has paved the way for many others to move forward on their paths.
In recent years I’ve encouraged Elizabeth to step up and become a teacher of our lineage, and for whomever seeks her guidance. I suggested that it would be wonderful if she were to write a book, because Buddhism in the West needs to be established by Western teachers who are able to fully embody the wisdom of the lineage and the teachings. Elizabeth has put her heart and soul into bringing the teachings to life in her own experience, and I feel now is the right and auspicious time for Elizabeth to step forward as a teacher. I’m so glad she is traveling around to teach and this book has come to be.
Her book captures all that she has learned about the Buddhadharma, without watering down the meaning. She makes clear how relevant the teachings are to one’s own transformation, and I’m confident that others will be easily able to relate this to their own experience. I’ve read ‘The Power of an Open Question’ thoroughly, and I highly value its essence and the meaningful effect I can foresee it having on others.”
~ Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, from his Foreward to “The Power of an Open Question”
Lama Tsultrim Allione
‘I saw that faith is a powerful form of relaxation, and this turned out to be one of the most powerful realizations of the pilgrimage for me. Faith is taking things one step at a time, relaxing, trusting. It is moment-to-moment opening to the wisdom beings.’
~ Lama Tsultrim Allione, Women of Wisdom
Venerable Robina Courtin
“Radically working with your own mind”
An Interview with Venerable Robina Courtin about her life and work by Michaela Haas
Venerable Robina Courtin is a dynamic and candid Dharma teacher. Ordained since the late 1970s, the former Australian singer has worked full time since then for Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s FPMT. She has served as editorial director of Wisdom Publications, editor of Mandala Magazine, and the executive director of Liberation Prison Project. She does not really have a home, but travels tirelessly to teach around the world. Her life and work with prisoners have been featured in the documentary films Chasing Buddha and Key to Freedom. In her book Why Buddhism? Vicki Mackenzie describes her as “funny, dynamic, affectionate, kind, outrageous, her speech frequently dotted with expletives. All this plus her ability to move across the ground at a million miles per minute proved conclusively that you do not necessarily have to be quiet, serene and passive to be Buddhist.”
In this interview with Dakini Power author Michaela Haas, Ven. Robina says: “I’m radically working on my own mind. Not believing in the way things appear to us: you can’t get more radical than that.”
Michaela Haas: How did you transition from being a Kung Fu fighter to a Buddhist nun?
Robina Courtin: Well, the longest distance was from Catholic to Buddhist nun. Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, I went to Church every day. I loved God. I thought a lot about the nature of God, the universe and what makes it tick. From the moment I first went to Mass I knew I wanted to be a priest. Everybody laughed at me and said I had to become a nun instead. I was so little I couldn’t understand the reason. When I was twelve, I begged my mother to let me be a nun like my hero St. Thérèseof Lisieux, who became a nun when she was 14. I obviously had a strong connection with the religious way of seeing things and, I suppose, with Tibetan Buddhism: I didn’t think of God as my creator, which is interesting. And at the convent I went to throughout all my school years, for our uniform we had a saffron yellow blouse and a maroon twinset. Very familiar!
MH: How did your parents react when you first wanted to be a Buddhist nun?
RC: My mother had to go through quite a bit before then. When I gave up God for boys, she cried. When I went to London in the late 60s and gave up my classical singing studies for involvement in the radical left, she cried. Then I got into black politics, and she cried. Then I became a radical lesbian separatist feminist, and she really, really cried. So by the time I told her I wanted to become a Buddhist nun when I was 31, she didn’t have any tears left. But she always came around: so kind.
MH: I am intrigued how you could go from being such a political and radical person to not being interested in these topics anymore at all.
RC: I’m just the same radical person. I’m radically working on my own mind. Not believing in the way things appear to us: you can’t get more radical than that. How women are treated in Buddhism, full ordination for nuns, whatever – all of these issues are important. But I want to look at the internal component, not the external. I want to uproot the causes of all suffering, which are mental. In that, I am more radical than ever.
Excerpt from interview with Robina Courtin. For full interview, see the Dakini Power website.
See the trailer for “Chasing Buddha” – A film on Venerable Robina Courtin here.
Chagdud Khadro met His Eminence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche in March 1978, married him in November 1979, and remained his devoted student for twenty-three years. At the time of her ordination as a lama in 1997, Rinpoche invested her as the future Spiritual Director of Chagdud Gonpa Brasil. Since Rinpoche’s Parinirvana in 2002, she has focused on maintaining the high caliber of Vajrayana training he had established.
During her time with Rinpoche, Khadro received constant training from him both in organizing dharma activities and in the teachings and practice of Vajrayana. She was among the collaborators for his autobiography Lord of the Dance and with his guidance, she compiled commentaries of his teachings on the Dudjom Tersar Ngondro, the Longsal Nyingpo Phowa, and the concise version of Apong Terton’s Red Tara. Formerly the managing editor of Padma Publishing in the United States, Khadro has edited many translations of Tibetan works.
Chagdud Khadro has been tireless in upholding his legacy. She has guided the construction of a Zangdog Palri (Guru Rinpoche Pureland), works with translation and publishing of texts in Portuguese and Spanish, helped establish Sítio Esperança, a school and educational project in the state of Minas Gerais, and continued to support spiritual care for the dying and there caregivers. Khadro supervises the activities and teaches in all the Chagdud Gonpa Brasil centers and Chagdud Gonpa Hispanoamérica. She also teaches in Europe, United States and Australia.
Chagdud Khadro’s Schedule: Chagdud Gonpa Brasil Website
“We must practice the teachings to attain the result. It isn’t sufficient to just hear the Dharma. We have to actively apply it in our daily lives and in our relationships with others. This means we try to be mindful and notice when disturbing attitudes arise. Then, we apply the remedies enabling us to perceive the situation clearly. If sick people have medicine but don’t take it, they aren’t cured. Similarly, we may have an elaborate shrine at home and a huge library of Dharma books, but if we don’t apply patience when we meet a person who annoys us, we’ve missed the opportunity to practice.”
~ Venerable Thubten Chodron
Thubten Chodron is founder of Sravasti Abbey, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the U.S. where nuns, monks, and lay students can practice the Buddha’s teachings.
Traleg Khandro Felicity Lodro
The Yogini Project Interview with Traleg Khandro (Selected Excerpts)
Traleg Khandro on Spiritual Proclivities
Traleg Khandro on Meeting Traleg Rinpoche
Life Lessons from Traleg Rinpoche
Traleg Khandro Felicity Lodro, long-time student and wife to the late Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche IX, is the Director of E-Vam Institute New York and Yeshe Nyima Centre in Sydney Australia. Khandro studied Buddhism under Traleg Rinpoche’s guidance for 30 years and has undertaken numerous long meditation retreats during that time. At Rinpoche’s request Khandro received traditional LuJong (Tibetan Yoga) training and is also a qualified Hatha Yoga instructor. Khandro has been teaching Buddhism and LuJong for several years throughout Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
A letter from Traleg Khandro: ‘Life and Practice after the Passing of Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche‘