Lady Yeshe Tsogyel was a prominent lady yogi in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Her biography the Sky Dancer depicted her mythological history and enlightenment experience. There are two areas of interests: firstly, her instruction on karmamudra (Dual sexual practice) and secondly, her route to enlightenment. Both areas are however inter-related, I shall discuss them in this and following posts, and try to discuss its contemporary relevancy or irrelevancy. The following is Tsogyel's song on Karmanudra when ased by her maid-student, the Napalis girl Kalasiddhi (the italics are my explanations of terms):
"O listen Dakini, well-born lady,
Mantra-born maiden with siddhi ("perfection", "accomplishment", "attainment", or "success"),
You who show the path of virtue
With a well-endowed body's selfless aspiration.
This community and future travelers on the zap-lam (profound) path,
Must first find a teacher especially qualified,
And from that teacher possessing every spiritual sign,
You must request initiation and pledge fulfillment of your vows.
Then train your energy flows until you gain self-control,
And after receiving the three superior initiations, cultivate ensuing desire,
To perfect the nature of the four levels of joy,
For six months or until signs of achievement appear in the body.
Unite male (solar) and female (lunar) energies,
Developing the method of mixing higher and lower energies,
Female assisting male and male assisting female,
The principles of each being separately practiced.
Intensify and elevate your practice, broadening the horizons of your pleasure;
But if pleasure and Emptiness are not identified,
Profitlessly you stray from the path of Tantra:
Apprehend the intrinsic unity of pleasure and Emptiness.
Guard the samaya (In Tantric Buddhism, union with the Three Vajras, the body, speech and mind of the Buddha) of Guru and Dakini (Chinese: 空行母 is a tantric deity described as a female embodiment of enlightened energy. In the Tibetan language, dakini is rendered khandroma which means 'she who traverses the sky' or 'she who moves in space'. Sometimes the term is translated poetically as 'sky dancer' or 'sky walker'. )like your eyes;
In various skillful ways enjoy the five sacred substances;
Practice to perfection the skill of retaining your seed-essence (yang life-force);
Be attentive to obstacles and hostile powers;
If the samaya is impaired strive to restore it.
About the body: do not let it slip into old habits
Or you will become like ordinary men and women;
With the confidence of the deity, meditate charged with power
And inform your focal points of energy as a principal and his circle of deities.
About speech: concentrate upon mantra and energy flows -
Without energy control your sexual activity is fornication;
Properly execute the exercises of 'drawing up' and 'saturating'
And with the nails of your imagination apply an hermetic seal.
About mind: identify the conditioned mind with seed-essence itself;
If seed-essence is lost in actuality
The karma of slaying a Buddha is incurred;
At all costs gain self-control.
Absorb yourself intently in the experience of desire,
For without it the mysteries have no meaning;
Desire as pure pleasure is the goal fulfilled.
Preserve constant cognition of the primal purity of experience;
Protect the samaya like your body and life,
For if it is broken there is no authority to restore it.
The foregoing is advice upon meditation practice.
All you initiates into the tantric mysteries
Should bury your ambition and conceit in a pit,
Pour your sanctimony and pride into a river,
Bum your obsessive lust and infatuation in fire,
Cast your selfish aggression and perverse behavior on the wind,
And dissolve your shamelessness and deceitful lies in space.
Protect your secret sexual practices from prying eyes;
Do not be loose with your sexual organs, bind them fast;
Do not flaunt your signs of success;
Rely upon the Yidam (Chinese:本尊, Yidam in Tibetan is a fully enlightened being who is the focus of personal meditation) deity as the indivisible three roots;
Maintain regular torma (figures made mostly of flour and butter used in tantric rituals or as offerings in Tibetan Buddhism) offerings and ganachakra (a generic term for various tantric assemblies or feasts, in which practitioners meet to chant mantra, enact mudra, make votive offerings and practice various tantric rituals as part of a sadhana, or spiritual practice) feast rites;
Preserve the seed of kindness for the sake of other beings;
Do not break the flow of formless benediction.
The foregoing is general instruction upon Action.
With that understanding fixed in your heart, O Siddhi,
You and I are essentially one,
And through emanation we will give purpose to beings of the future."
I shall compare the above practice with Taoist male/female dual cultivation in the next post.