Women have a lot to be angry about. A history of inequality and violence in the Buddhist world and beyond persists to this day, and in some cases, hard-fought victories are under threat of being rolled back. The question remains: what can we do with that anger?
Lama Tsultrim Allione says that we have the ability to transform it into a source of strength and clarity—and that goes for all of us, not just women. Known in good part for her work exploring feminine power in Tibetan Buddhism, Lama Tsultrim examines the figure of the dakinis, fierce feminine embodiments of wisdom in the Tibetan tradition, and how they challenge dominant role models for femininity. Unlike the saintly mother figures in Western culture, dakinis—portrayed surrounded by flames, naked, and dancing—are wild, mystical beings fully in tune with their sexuality. By meditating on the dakini, Lama Tsultrim teaches, we can channel our so-called negative emotions into a powerful force for good.
Lama Tsultrim, who was once Allen Ginsberg’s meditation teacher, has written a new book called Wisdom Rising: Journey into the Mandala of the Empowered Feminine, where she discusses the significance of the mandala of the five dakinis, which correspond to the five buddha families (vajra [indestructible], buddha [spacious], ratna [enriching], padma [magnetizing], and karma [accomplishing]).
Here, Lama Tsultrim talks to Executive Editor Emma Varvaloucas about mandala meditation as well as her personal struggle to rediscover Buddhism’s fierce female role models and advocate for equality in a male-dominated culture.
Tricycle Talks is a podcast series featuring leading voices in the contemporary Buddhist world.
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