I like to go daily to the HuffPost Religion blog to read their wide ranging articles from various authors about religions from around the world. Today i found this interesting post by Michaela Haas entitled 10 Tibetan Buddhist Women You Need to Know , some of which i am familiar with from reading their books int he past, but many of which i have never heard of, though their contributions are apparent. Many were born in Tibet and escaped to the west, while some are western women who were married to famous Tibetan Buddhist Lamas then took up the practices and teachings. Just a reminder that these are women in the Tibetan branch of Buddhism and not from others from around the world. To quote from the author of the article:
“Many of us dream of exchanging our day-to-day responsibilities for a heartfelt life full of purpose, but few of us ever get around to doing something about it. The women featured here are the exception. They followed their intuition against all odds, made dramatic and unusual decisions and sometimes had to fight for their survival in order to lead the lives they envisioned. While iconic archetypes of feminine enlightenment (dakinis in the ancient language of Sanskrit) were erected on shrines, few women in Asia were actually emboldened to follow in their footsteps. That women participate equally is probably the single biggest change with Buddhism being established in the West. Here are ten extraordinary female teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, who have transformed the way Buddhism is viewed in America.”
Yeshe Tsogyel – tantric consort of Padmasambhava
The Buddha eventually was talked into letting women into the Sangha, but i think in most of the male dominated societies their role was relegated to that similar to nuns in the past in the Catholic church, and they were rarely taught and empowered like the male Lamas were. But there is a rich tradition in the Tantric branches of Vajrayana where the Real teacher was a female Dakini / Yogini who actually taught and empowered the men by a variety of unconventional means, which did work. But in Tibet what is in the literature and what was the reality were far apart when Lamaism was at its height before the Communists crushed Tibet and its monasteries. Slowly the “nunneries” are coming back there and in other parts of the Himalayas. But the Real equality of female teachers in Tibetan and other forms of Buddhism flowered here in the West for sure. Enjoy exploring the links in this article to these Women of Wisdom.
Please note that i downloaded these Dakini images years ago and have no idea oft their sources.
Machig Labdron – founder of the Chod lineage