Why The Yogini Project Is Important: A Father’s Tale
Over the years so many people have asked, ‘Why was the Yogini Project started by a man?” While there are multiple layers to the story of how the project came to be, influence of sublime teachers, etc., the simple answer is… “I have a daughter.”
Kisa was a great influence on me when she was a child. There is in the nature of love a brilliant intelligence and I found myself throughout her youth sharing with her knowledge and wisdom that I didn’t know I myself possessed. Somehow I had access to a source of clarity when I shared with her, instructed her, supported her, protected her, that I had yet to access for myself – certainly than I had access to in my normal thoughts! (‘South Kona Blues‘ | ‘Father’s Day‘). It was a deeply profound relationship throughout her youth, and remains so today.
Then there was the influence of Tsoknyi Rinpoche, my heart teacher. He of course, of all the many sublime Tibetan masters, has a completely unique history of supporting female practitioners through all his incarnations. Something in the karma of that connection, that influence, aspirations that it generates, combined with the wisdom and great love inherent in my relationship with my daughter, and The Yogini Project slowly was incubated in my heart, informing and refining itself in my mind over some years, and then with the blessings of Rinpoche, took root and blossomed and kept on blossoming into what it is today. The reach is so vast. And the clarity of a pure love continues to inform it.
At the heart of it is this simple wish that my daughter shall discover the root, the source of her inherent qualities within herself, that she may become all she can be. This natural parental love became somehow infused with the view of the dharma, the awareness of buddha nature, its wholeness, its purity, its all-pervasiveness. If indeed, as I could directly see without a doubt, my daughter had what is the essence of Yeshe Tsogyal – of immaculate wisdom and compassion – within herself, I for sure absolutely wanted her to realize it. This is completely outside of an outer level, entering the dharma or becoming a Buddhist at all. Way beyond that. I wanted her to be able to be who she was, irrespective of whatever form that took.
And with deep bows to the bodhichitta teachings and all the sublime beings who genuinely embody them… Why would I not want that for all daughter beings??
Indeed. It became clear that the same love, the same aspirations that I had for my daughter, there was not a single reason why not to have the same for all beings, without bias. Without exclusion, even a single one.
Embodying that is another story, and the path that creating and guiding The Yogini Project began. It’s been an extraordinary journey. One to which I have only my teachers and my daughter to thank for it all.
Truly, that sense of all daughter beings has only grown. It is the essence, the reason, the energy behind every action. Indeed, I would love for everyone to realize.
To have Yeshe Tsogyal’s all pervasive love shine through them.
And so then… getting down to causes and conditions…
Like every parent does. There are diapers to change, a mouth to be fed, schools to get to. But in this case it was something different… What was needed?
Quickly it started to inform, especially with the influence of the ever kind Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche. For a woman, a girl, a human, to realize their innate potential, the core need was confidence. A direct sense that ‘who they are, as they are’ is perfectly fine. Just the configuration, just the context to begin in. To apply wisdom and compassion to. And from there outwards.
And so phase by phase, the project was built and grown, with a mandala of wonderful, good-hearted people contributing to it’s media, it’s growth, it’s evolution.
The initial phases, the years to now, have been focused on two elements at the core of the project – a) Inspiration and b) Encouragement.
The Inspiration was seeding the collective consciousness, continuing to pulse through media, images of genuinely accomplished women and awakened female archetypes: The awakened feminine is real. And it’s here. There are women with capacities beyond our capacity to imagine here, very human and kind, among us. In brief, it is possible. Most absolutely.
But one has to by one’s own merit – and most essential here as well, with conducive outer conditions, the capacity of a collective to recognize, acknowledge, and respect accomplished women far beyond the current samsaric based images of empowered women out there – to reach a level of accomplishment. To become a source of benefit for others. And hence, the path. And Encouragement for it!
Supportive messages and images became our focus for the development of stable confidence, that as a woman, whether as an individual or general as one in today’s contemporary world, in whatever one’s context, to follow and actualize the path. To that essence of Yeshe Tsogyal within. To ‘disperse some clouds‘ as it were. So the inherent sun of so many daughters might radiantly shine through.
What a fantastic thing that would be!
Of all the elements that could engender change and well being in these chaotic times, more awakened women in the world speaks clearly as that which would have the farthest impact. For all the children to come. For the earth. You see, Yogini Project is not just about women. There is a great interdependence. It ‘focuses’ on women, women genuinely embarking on the path, precisely because of the benefit that has for all. Without exception.
As the Dharma spread around the world in recent decades, the question was asked again and again, ‘Well, where are the women?’ Exquisite, authentic dharma was being taught, but the transmission was primarily from traditional societies to modern, gender equality based ones. And the images and role models of women were scarce, though the feminine was woven through the dharma. At the time that the Yogini Project came to fruition however, women actually were and ARE the majority of practitioners in the world. The answer was actually… “Everywhere!” Women are actually blossoming in practice all around the world, in numbers and contexts like never before. But how to provide the visibility, the needed images and praise? We have often felt that The Yogini Project is here to announce a global movement that is actually hidden to its own members!
It is the film tentatively titled “Women On The Path” to which our trajectory has been moving towards. While we began the first phase of filming accomplished women in Nepal and India in 2015, the larger film project has awaited a wider foundation for the project. The view of the film to evocatively reveal women in practice around the globe in a range of contexts, at all stages of the path – from translators in New York, to hospice workers in Berlin, single mothers in Argentina, nuns in New Zealand, for example – to viscerally display Pema Chödrön’s message (and reflected in Khandro Rinpoche’s remarks above) to Start Where You Are.
THAT ANYONE IN ANY CONTEXT CAN HAVE THE CONFIDENCE TO APPLY, PRACTICE, EMBODY THE DHARMA FOR THEMSELVES AND OTHERS RIGHT THERE is a golden opportunity open to anyone of us. And most tangibly to women whose realization can have such a wide impact in ways today’s world needs.
We want it tangible, visceral in a way that film uniquely can deliver: Go for it. Your time is now.
And The Time Comes Now
For years we have been building towards this vision. And this film. As we began to approach laying the foundation for this two year film project and the establishment of our Yogini Fund, to tangibly support women in dedicated retreat, there were several very important things that become clearly apparent for us to move forward with these.
There was a restructuring of the organization and the extension of our team, so that beyond the contributions of 50+ volunteers over the years, to have a highly talented, steadily supported salaried team to cover all the outer media we have developed to date – our vastly comprehensive multimedia website, our extensive video interview series to be extended (with over 20 interviews intended over the next two years), and our video and social media channels steadily progressing to reveal and express the wisdom that has come down the ages from accomplished women and the great teachers and compassionately wise women embodying it through their engagment in the dharma today. These must continue and be healthily supported.
We have our current Summer Fundraiser and upcoming Yogini Membership drive in the autumn dedicated to this end. Further, there are our in-house art galleries dedicated to the dakini, Dakini As Art, featuring the works of practitioning artists around the globe whose sales go in part to support the activities of the project. Community support in integral manners, dedicated to good.
From the fulfillment of these, we have teams that shall be moving forward this autumn with a series of grant proposals for the significant film project and the development of the support fund, under guidance of our teachers.
This is the road map, the path that lies before us. For all the kind beings that devote themselves as the core team at the heart of the project.
For those who are inspired by our work, by this vision…
Those lives have been touched by what we do…
Or through the numerous ways to support the project outlined in Yogini Project Now.
May we all realize the innate potential within ourselves and all those around us.
And shine from that space.
The Yogini Project