Sky Dancer / Edition 1

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Yeshe Tsogyel, consort of Guru Padmasambhava, is the most famous of the enlightened women of Tibet. Women have a special place in tantra, but except for Sky Dancer there are few writings that present the spiritual practices and evolution of female aspirants. Here women are in an eminent position, and a path of practice is given for present-day initiates to emulate. Keith Dowman has added a commentary on the path of inner tantra, woman and the dakini, and the Nyingma lineages.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559390651
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 379
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Dowman is the author and translator of several books on Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. He lives in Kathmandu, Nepal.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


The Mother of the Conquering Buddhas past, present and future, theapparitional being Yeshe Tsogyel, whose name is known to all, havingaccumulated vast resources of virtue and awareness in previous aeons,finite and infinite, the veil of ignorance torn away she made this greatwave of compassion for the sake of all sentient beings.

During the life-time of the great saint Takngu, when I was thedaughter of a merchant, together with five hundred other girlsI went for the saint's audience. Introduced to the Buddha'steaching I expressed the supreme, irreversible wish-fulfillingprayer of commitment to Buddhahood. After the transition atthe end of that lifetime, I travelled through many Buddhafieldsof visionary pleasure, and then I took apparitional form asthe Goddess Ganga Devi, and at the feet of the Lord BuddhaSakyamuni I absorbed and compiled his sacred word. Returningto the fields of visionary pleasure I was known as the GoddessSarasvati, serving all manner of beings.

    At that time the Emperor of Tibet was Trisong Detsen, whowas in truth an emanation of the Bodhisattva Mañjusri. TrisongDetsen invited the Great Master Pema Jungne to come to Tibetto establish the tradition of the Buddha's teaching. This GreatMaster's being was unborn and undying, because in reality hewas the Buddha Amitabha, Boundless Light, come to this worldof men. Pema Jungne came to Tibet, and after the Emperor hadfulfilled his commitment to build the great monastery of SamyeLing and innumerable other major and minor temples in theprovinces and border areas, the light ofthe Buddha's teachingshone forth like the rising sun.

    Then Pema Jungne thought to himself, `The time has comefor the Goddess Sarasvati to project an emanation so that I canspread the teaching of the Tantra.' Instantaneously, like theplanet Mercury falling into the immensity of the sun, PemaJungne returned to Orgyen, the seat of all his emanation. Whenit was discovered that the Master had disappeared, the ministersof Tibet whispered abroad that he had been punished,banished to a savage land, Turkhara; the King said that theMaster had gone to Senge Dzong Sum in Bhutan, where hewas sitting in meditation; and the common people said that hehad reconciled the King and Queen and had returned to India.

    Meanwhile, in reality, the Guru was coursing through hundredsof Buddhafields of the sphere of apparitional being, andhe continued his travelling for the duration of seven humanyears. Finally, he gathered together Vajra Dakini, the GoddessSarasvati, Tara Bhrkuti, the Dakinis of the Four Families, theDakinis of the Power Places and many other Dakinis, and revellingwith us all in pleasure, he exhorted us to ultimate pleasurewith this song of pleasure:

HRI! Through the light-rays of the supreme outflow that is no outflow,From the Guru's vajra, the pleasure of desireless desire,Into the secret sky of the Dakini, the supreme desire of no desire,Now is the time to enjoy the profound secret of pure pleasure.

Then from the very centre of the assembled goddesses, I, theGoddess Sarasvati, arose and answered the Guru:

HO! Buddha Hero, Heruka, Pleasure God!When you, great dancer, dance the nine dances of life,The pure pleasure of the sacred lotus is everywhere discovered,And in the vastness of the bhaga there is no anxiety;It is time to project an emanation into the savage world.

'SAMAYA HO!' exclaimed the Guru. `The bond is formed.''SAMAYASTVAM!' I replied. `You are the bond!''SAMAYA HRI!' exclaimed the Guru. `The bond is all!''SAMAYA TISHTHA!' I replied. `The bond is strong!''RAMO HAM!' exclaimed the Guru. `Let the fire burn!''RAGAYAMI!' I concluded. `We are burning together!'

Thus the Guru's vajra and the Dakini's lotus were joined, andwe entered a trance of union. The Five Goddesses of the FiveBuddha Families, Locana and her sisters, gave us worship andadoration; their Heruka Consorts expelled malevolent spirits;the Bodhisattvas gave their benediction; the great Takritasdefended us from all intruding obstructive influences; the FourDoor Keepers kept the mystic circle intact; the Four VajraGoddesses danced; and the Guardians of the Teaching, theFierce Lords of the Ten Directions, and the Mamo Dakinis,vowed to defend the teaching. At the same time the greatpleasure of we mystic partners caused the elements of themundane worlds of the ten directions to tremble and quakerepeatedly. It was then that from the junction of Guru andDakini beams of light in the form of a red syllable A surroundedby a circle of white vowels, and the white syllable BAMsurrounded by a circle of red consonants, shot like the flight ofa shooting star towards Tibet, to Seulung in Drak.

Thus ends the first chapter which describes how Tsogyel, having recognisedthe propitious time for the conversion of all beings, projected anapparitional form.


Excerpted from SKY DANCER by KEITH DOWMAN. Copyright © 1996 by Keith Dowman. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Trinley Norbu Rimpoche ix
Translator's Introduction xii
Homage 3
Protection 3
Gyelwa Jangchub's Introduction 4
1 Tsogyel's Conception 6
2 Auspicious Omens and Birth 10
3 Disillusionment and Meeting the Master 15
4 Initiation and Instruction 25
5 Meditation, Austerity and Spiritual Accomplishment 65
6 Signs of Success and Proofs of Power 94
7 Establishing, Spreading and Perpetuating the Teaching 97
8 Fruition and Buddhahood 142
Notes to the Text 188
1 The Path of the Inner Tantra 217
2 Woman and the Dakini 253
3 The Nyingma Lineages 274
4 The Historical Background 305
Notes to the Commentary 345
Indexes 354
Index of Tibetan Words 354
Index of SanskritWords 359
Index of Texts 361
Index to Place-Names 362
Index of Men, Buddhas, Gods and Demons 369
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