Posted in Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism

Spirit Rock Retreat 2008, Day 7

11:00 AM
Notes from Lama Tsultrim’s talk

Prayer for the Post Meditation
May my visions become like the deities’, may my sounds become like mantras, and may my awareness be like the state of dharmakaya. – 1st line. This prayer is said to be the last words of a lama.

Tsultrim’s long life prayer was written by her teacher at the request of one of her students. Tibetan tradition is that as Buddha was dying, he said, “If you’d asked me, Ananda [one of his main students], I would have stayed longer.” So long life prayers for teachers are common.

[After her talk,] we did Prajna Paramita practice with her guiding it. Very nice.

Closing Schedule


2:30 Sitting

3:00 Closing announcements

4:00 Open

5:15 Dinner

6:00 Working Meditation

6:45 Sitting/Sky gazing

7:20 Stretch Break

7:30 Tara Mandala slide slow – upper walking hall


6:30 Sitting/Sky gazing

7:15 Breakfast

9:00 Pack/Clean room

9:30-11:00 Closing Session

11:35 AM
Notes from Debra’s talk

When we’re not resting in absolute truth, we have the tools to deal with relative truth. Meaning we can take the practice off the mat and into the world. What is the part of my identity that is keeping me from my true self? Who am I?

Repeating Question meditation: “Who are you?” asked by a partner. Don’t try to get somewhere. Just attempt to describe the indescribable. Giving it words can allow it to become embodied. It doesn’t have to make sense; it’s an exploration.

I had my same partner. While listening, I had no trouble staying grounded for a change. I saw myself as Prajna Paramita, yellow, luminous & radiant. My lower two arms were in my lap, keeping me grounded. My upper two arms were made of golden light, reaching around to encircle the young woman in font of me. I was fully grounded & holding her at the same time. Then I realized, as I listened to who she is, that she is Green Tara. 🙂

Afterwards, we had Q&A with the teachers.

Tsultrim: in tantric Buddhism, a woman is in her power during menstruation. The blood was sacred & placed on the altar. The sun is a feminine symbol & the moon a male symbol.

Anna: menopause was estrogen withdrawal, like withdrawing from a drug. It’s a teaching on the power of this body. Then there’s a sense of “that’s not who I am, either.”

Tsultrim: “Machig is depicted as luminous. Dancing. And naked!” She practiced in cemeteries, carrying menstrual blood in a skull cup.

4:58 PM
Wild turkeys make a very cute, high-pitched little sound when they’re pecking the ground for food. It sounds nothing like “gobble.”

I’ve written several times that I “miss” Michael. Yet I don’t feel sad or lonely. I simply look forward to seeing him again. Coming here has been very good for me. It’s kept me sane (sane-ish) while he’s been in Japan.

10:00 PM
Another amazing day comes to a close. I’m happy to be returning home. I have savored my time on retreat, and now it’s time for the next course.

Tsultrim is a manifestation of Machig. I’ve known this on a subtle level for several days, and then it burst upon my consciousness this morning. Tonight, in the optional session when she showed slides of Tara Mandala, she told us how two different Lamas (one in Tibet, one in Nepal) had officially recognized her as an emanation of Machig.

Tsultrim did book signings tonight, & I actually stood in line for this! (Very unlike me.) Of course, I didn’t stand in line long, since I was fourth in line. When my turn came, I asked Tsultrim if I could give her a bow from my tradition. She smiled and said yes. So I bowed like I do for the Zen Master: standing bow, full prostration, standing bow. She smiled her radiant smile and said, “Thank you.” And then she suggested I teach Prajna Paramita at the Zen Center! I told her I’d love to, and I meant it. Should be an interesting talk with my teacher.

It didn’t occur to me until I started to write this down that something fairly significant has happened: a Tibetan lama has given a Zen Buddhist permission to teach a Tibetan practice in a Zen Center. Whoa. [It is unusual for traditions to “cross-pollinate” like this, and also unusual for a teacher to permit someone who has not studied with them for a long time to pass on their teachings.]

One of the things I love about Tsultrim is her total lack of exclusivity in her teachings and approach. She reminds me of all that attracted me to Tibetan Buddhism 10 years ago. It might even have been enough to lure me back if it weren’t for my ever-deepening connection with my Zen Master.


Ven. Dr. Myodo Jabo (Sandy Gougis) is a Zen Master and Priest in the Five Mountain Zen Order. She began studying Theravâdin Buddhism in 1998, adding Zen in 2003, and Vajrayana Buddhism in 2008. She currently practices in both the Zen and Tibetan traditions. Her Zen teacher is Most Ven. Wonji Dharma of the Five Mountain Zen Order, and her Tibetan guru is Lama Tsultrim Allione of Tara Mandala. In her free time, Myodo enjoys painting, jewelry making, and other creative endeavors.

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