How dakinis transform experience

Full transcript

Now let’s talk a little bit about dakinis. Dakinis, the origin of dakinis, these were the aspects of experience ascribed to supernatural entities, that were called dakinis.

Mingyur Dorje, one of the karmapas, wrote a very nice composition about dakinis, in which he describes the origins of a group of four dakinis, which corresponded to the first four of the elements; earth, water, fire, and air. The water element, for instance, corresponds to the dakini whose name is Changeling. And Changeling was this spirit or demon that would appear to you in different forms and seduce you into doing things that were really bad for you.

And another one was called the Murderess. These were regarded as female entities. There were in Indian lore also male entities. They were called dakas, and dakini was the female form. And they were originally supernatural spirits. What happens in Vajrayana is that these elements of folklore—the way that experience is interpreted—then became symbols for the way mind works. Does anyone here have a copy of my book, who can loan it to me? Thanks very much. Oh actually, it’s in here.

And I included this song by Khyungpo Naljor, who’s probably known here as Tsultrim. He describes what the crucial element is. The ordinary dakini represents these unruly aspects of our mind, the wild, untamed, reactive mind which just take over. So he says:
When wanting and grasping hold sway, the dakini has you in her power. Wanting nothing from outside, taking things as they come. Know the dakini to be your own mind
What’s being expressed here is, whatever arises in experience, when we regard it as something other, then attraction, aversion, all of the reactive emotions operate. And we are in the thrall of dualistic fixation and dualistic interpretation. And alienated from our own nature, our own knowing. And just react to things. That’s what it means when he says that the dakini has us in her power.
Then he says:
Wanting nothing from outside, taking things as they come.
Those meditation instructions—wanting nothing from outside—now how much of our lives do we go around trying to get something from the world to make us feel better? Relationships, money, possessions. You know, the list just goes on and on. Trying to get these things from outside to make us feel good in some way. It doesn’t work. Well, no it doesn’t work. It never works. It’s temporary at best. Does that stop us from doing it? No, you keep doing it.
Taking things as they come.
This again is a meditation instruction. All too often, most of the time, we don’t take things as they come. Something arises and we want it to be a little bit different. [Chuckles] It’s not quite right. Many years ago I had a girlfriend who was just exactly right. I was never quite right. [Laughter] Never quite fit. Life was tortuous. It was very difficult.
Know the dakini to be your own mind.
That is, know that what arises in experience is not something other. Now, when we know that, and this is not an intellectual knowing, this is an experiential knowing, then everything changes. The way that we experience the world changes. And so rather than being fixed in this dualistic I/other framework; when we know what arises in experience to be your own mind. You know there is no difference—there is just experience. And you’re awake in that experience. So he goes on to say:
Know that the crystal is the non-thought of mind itself.
Crystal dakini guards against interruptions.
This is a very deep instruction. The crystal—this is the water dakini.
Crystal is the non-thought of mind itself.
So when you have a level of attention in which you can rest. And there is no conceptual process taking place in the mind. There’s no thought. Then things can arise. And it doesn’t matter what arises. It doesn’t disturb. You follow? And thus nothing can interrupt the quality of your attention and the quality of your presence.
Know that the source of wealth is contentment and the jewel dakini fills all wants and needs.
There’s a story from the life of Buddha in which a poor person, a very poor person comes across this wish-fulfilling jewel and he recognizes what he’s found. And he says, “Wow, this is so important and valuable. I don’t know what to do with this. The Buddha will know what to do with it.” So he went to Buddha and said, “I found this wish-fulfilling jewel. I don’t know what to do with it but you’ll know the person who needs this the most so I’m going to give it to you. The Buddha said, ”Thank you.“

Later that day there was a big festival and sponsored by the local ruler, the king. And in middle of this festival, Buddha called the king and said, ”Here’s this wish-fulfilling jewel. I was told to give it to the person who needs it most and I’m giving it to you.“ The king said, ”Why?“ ”Because you have more want than anybody else in this community.“ [Chuckles]

So, no contentment. When there’s no contentment it does not matter how wealthy we are—and we can think of wealth in terms of financial wealth or possessions. But it doesn’t really matter. It applies to other kinds of wealth, some people are greedy for knowledge, some people are greedy for connections, some people are greedy for power. It doesn’t make any difference.

When there’s no contentment, then the jewel dakini has us in her power. When we know contentment, then we are the richest person in the world. Because we don’t need anything. So, this is how the dakinis transform experience. 

Guided meditations on the five dakinis
Dakini song
Spanish translation of the dakini song