Posted in Tibetan Buddhism

Tara Mandala Retreat 2009, Day 2

7-1-09 10:00 AM

Training w/ Lama Tsultrim

Prajna Paramita practice & demon feeding.  Prajna Paramita is the gateway to the non-dual.

Kapala is based on teachings of Machig Ladron.  Machig did Prajna Paramita training from childhood through her teens.

Interface of Buddhism & psychology: Kapala training.  Chod is demon feeding, but too “foreign” for most Americans.

Tsultrim’s teacher of 18 yrs. Sent her a letter stating that psychology had no place in Buddhism, & feminism was non-dualistic.  She took 4 yrs – 1 in solitary retreat – deciding to go her own way.

“Buddhism has to find its way in the West.  It has to fit and it has to work for us.”

“Kapala” means skull cup – the container for feeding your demons.

Machig was born in 1055.  Buddhism was reviving [in Tibet] at that time.

Release the ego, which is between us & that “vast presence.”

Our true nature is empty, luminous, cognizance.

4:00 PM


Prajna Paramita – hands in the dharmashakra mudra.

Right – upper, outward, absolute truth

Left – lower, inward, relative truth

Bell: emptiness, feminine, sound doesn’t exist but it’s there

Vajra: masculine, transformation of the 5 skandas into 5 wisdoms, thru emptiness in the middle.

5 skandas become the 5 male Buddhas

  1. form
  2. feeling
  3. perception
  4. volitional action
  5. consciousness

Ratna Family

  • Yellow – like Prajna Paramita’s skin
  • Earth
  • Transforms pride into equanimity

Lion throne symbolizes the fearlessness of truth.  Prajna Paramita sits on one, as doe the Buddha, & some Neolithic goddesses.

9 Breaths

Purification of stale prana

Refuge was the first ceremony the Buddha did after his enlightenment.  The 3 refuges of Buddha, dharma & sangha are subsumed in Prajna Paramita.  Buddha as example, as human who woke up.

Namo – homage in Sanskrit

3 adjectives


indescribable: beyond words

unfabricated: not made or developed, a state which is already present waiting for me to stop looking the wrong way.  Discovery, not creation.  Uncorrected.

Great Mother: all pervasive matrix.  Great in the sense of profound.  Mother: what we all come from.  All Buddhas came from her.

Neither manifest nor empty: beyond establishing (it is) or negating (it’s not).  Allowing paradox.  Allowing a place for paradox.  A state of non-judgment.  She’s not something you can get a hold of with language.  She must be experience.  Non-verbal awareness.

Genetrix of the awakened state: she wakes us up.

Womb of totality: analogy to describe the primordial state.  She exists outside conditioned existence.  She permeates everything.

Tsultrim wrote the refuge prayer [from which the above phrase come], based on traditional sources.  Also she wrote the bodhichitta & dedication [sections of the Prajna Paramita practice].  Prajna Paramita is nature of mind [practice] wearing pink.  (Or yellow, in this case.)  She has a quality of warmth.  Feminine & nurturing.  Mahayana.


All sentient beings have Buddha nature.  Our fundamental condition is awake.  Humans are unique in that we know that we know; we are aware that we are aware.

“Single-handedly” – the courage of the bodhisattva, who commits to saving all sentient beings by herself.  “Sentient beings are numberless; we vow to save them all.”  A goalless goal.

“My parents” – all beings have been our parents at one time.

Dharmakaya – the pure potential that has no form.  It is the nature of the Great Mother.

Prajna Paramita practice is the absolute level, not the relative.

Prajna Paramita has 2 main seed syllables: Ah & Mum.  Seed syllable: vibrational field.  All deities have a vibrational field from which they arise.

9:21 PM

Misc. notes on the day.


  • Oatmeal w/ raisins (2Tbs) & granola (1Tbs)
  • Rice cake & peanut butter


  • Tempeh tacos w/ black beans, cheese, & guacamole
  • Salad


  • Mushroom soup
  • A grain that’s supposedly high in protein – quinoa
  • Salad
  • Small whole wheat toast with gee butter & jam

Woke up on my own at 6:00, made it out by 6:15.  The hike to Prayer Flag Ridge was brutal.  20 min. at a quick pace set by our guide.  I was out of breath, had both ears aching, & my teeth hurt.  But sunrise Prajna Paramita practice was worth it!

Prayer Flag Ridge
Prayer Flag Ridge

Karma yoga involved sweeping for 45 min. The other people in my group, Chelsea & Steve, did mopping, too.

I couldn’t stay awake for Tsultrim’s talk, & my notes from that period make no sense.  Luckily, she was going over material I had heard before, for the most part.

I had lunch with Paula from Santa Monica, whom I’d met on the shuttle, & some others.  I feel like Paula & I are becoming friends.

After lunch, I made some purchases at the bookstore: some aromatherapy products I was running out of, a wrist mala, a silver chain since I’d been looking for one & this was a good price, bug repellant, and an alarm clock.

Then I broke in my new clock with a one-hour nap.

Lama Tsultrim’s afternoon talk was amazing.  I’m so grateful to be here.

Dinner was with Paula & yet more ladies.  After dinner, Paula & I sat on a log, talked, & enjoyed the view.  Then back up to the temple for sunset Prajna Paramita practice on the west porch.

I’ve drunk more than 100 oz of water today.  I’m still feeling the altitude, but I have no back pain from sitting.  My right IT band has flared up, & I’m stretching it.

I’ve managed to squeeze a shower in tonight, & now it’s off to sleep!


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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