What is a dakini? In the context of the visionary tradition of Dzogchen meditation that flourished in Tibet, a dakini (khandro) is a being that travels (dro) through space (kha), a space traveler or more poetically a sky dancer perhaps. (Skywalker references, resist we will…….) Now, in the context of Dzogchen meditation teachings, dakinis generally refer to enlightened beings or their emanations, most often females. However, in many ways we are all dakinis, space travelers, skydancers.
Physically, we might feel that we are not constantly moving. However, when we take a step back we find we are spinning with the earth’s rotation at over 1000 miles per hour. We are also circling around the sun at over 66,000 miles per hour. Our solar system is traveling over 514,000 miles per hour around the center of the galaxy, and our galaxy is traveling over a million miles per hour. This does not even begin to account for the expansion of our physical universe. Are we not all space travelers upon spaceship earth, sky dancers spinning about the cosmos?
On an inner level, there is another space, a deeper space, the deepest space, our minds. While we have trouble reaching the moon and planets with even the most modern spaceships, we can travel anywhere in the spaceship of our minds in a single instant. There is no experience in the outer or inner universe that we do not have the ultimate capacity to dream. Our minds, our dreams through life, death, and beyond, are the ultimate frontier of all reality. They are likewise the source of all the dimensions of our experience. Without an awareness to experience reality, there is nothing. This is the secret key to understanding the universe.
On this inner level too, then, we are all dakinis, we are all dreamers, traveling through the spaces of our experiences within the nature of our minds. The ultimate dakini in the context of Dzogchen practice is one that is fully aware that they are dancing in the sky of their minds. They see the selfless dream nature of all reality as being none other than the infinite dance of raw creative energy of the luminous all-pervasive ground of the mind rising up as the entire universe and all its inhabitants, together with all possible dimensions of such experience. Such legendary enlightened beings are also called vidyadharas (awareness holders) and herukas (drinkers of the blood of reality).
Whether or not we recognize it, there is a secret hidden dakini, vidyadhara, or heruka hidden in each one of us, deep inside our minds. This brings us to Longchenpa’s secret dakini treasures. Without going into exhaustive detail that you can easily find elsewhere, Longchenpa (1308-1364) was hands down one of the greatest if not the greatest writer on Dzogchen ever to grace our human world. While his scholarly works on Dzogchen are no doubt extremely profound and amazing, there is something very special about his own mind treasures. A mind treasure is a teaching cycle, meditation practice, story, song, art, and so forth that arises from the Buddhas within your own mind. Certain individuals, like Longchenpa were said to have a predisposition to be able to reveal such treasure, because of the activities of their previous incarnations. The treasure cycle that Longchenpa became the most intimately connected to in his life was the Heart Bindu (Essence) of the Dakinis (Khandro Nyingthig). The Heart Bindu of the Dakinis was revealed a generation earlier by Padma Ledrel Tsal. Longchenpa considered Padma Ledrel Tsal to be his previous incarnation.
In such a way, Longchenpa merged his mind so thoroughly into the Heart Bindu of the Dakinis, that he not only realized the profound meaning contained within, but his mind went deep into the source of the treasure, where his mind met the minds of Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal directly. Like Padmasambhava before him, his mind became one with the primordial Buddha father and mother Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri, primordial luminosity and the expanse. From the infinite treasure trove of his enlightened mind, he brought us back many amazing gifts.
Outwardly, the Heart Bindu of the Dakinis is called such, because it was taught by Padmasambhava to the female dakinis Yeshe Tsogyal and Princess Pema Sal. Inwardly, it is called such because the treasure cycle is said to be derived from the Heart Blood of All the Dakinis: The Secret Tantra of the Blazing Sun of the Luminous Expanse. This was taught by the primordial Buddha mother Samantabhadri to a retinue of five dakinis headed by Vajravarahi. Secretly, it is a treasure map of methods and guidance that can help us find the true Heart Bindu of the Dakinis that is hidden deep inside every one of us beings in the universe. While these instructions appear as if they are outside of us, secretly, they rise from the springs of primordial wisdom awareness surging up from deep within.
This auspicious dakini day of the first month of the lunar year marks the date of the publication of two new books of Longchenpa’s commentaries on the Heart Bindu of the Dakinis. These translations all come from Longchenpa’s own mind treasure, the Innermost Bindu of the Dakinis (Khandro Yangtig). The first of these books, the Secret Treasury of the Dakinis from the Khandro Yangtig, is a collection of three translations. This includes Longchenpa’s Instructions on Divining Precious Luminosity, Teaching on the Four Lamps (of Direct Transcendence), and the Precious Treasury of Meaningful Words.
The second book is a translation of Longchenpa’s Precious Golden Garland of Instructions on the Khandro Nyingthig.
Longchenpa wrote three main commentaries that cover the key points of the entire Heart Bindu of the Dakinis (Khandro Nyingthig) treasure cycle. The most concise of the three, the Precious Treasury of Meaningful Words, is unique in that it distills the key points of practice and supporting instruction into their very essence, weaving in verses of the seventeen pith instruction Dzogchen tantras and the Secret Tantra of the Blazing Sun of the Luminous Expanse to accent his understanding with “meaningful words”. The Precious Golden Garland of Instructions is quite special in that it predominantly contains pure original prose by Longchenpa himself. Through the treasure of Longchenpa’s own realization, the key points of Dzogchen pith instructions are revealed in all their majestic glory. Last, there is the vast and extensive Cloud Oceans of the Profound Meaning of the Pith Instructions of the Heart Bindu of the Dakinis (forthcoming). In this source of infinite wisdom and guidance, also the longest text in the Four Volumes of the Heart Essence (Nyingthig Yabshi), Longchenpa expands on the themes of the Heart Bindu of the Dakinis, revealing them through the penetrating insights of the Dzogchen tantras and especially the Heart Blood of All the Dakinis: The Secret Tantra of the Blazing Sun of the Luminous Expanse.
Making translations of these texts available in English (already widely accessible in the original Tibetan) is not an attempt to carelessly spill the secrets of the dakinis throughout the world. It also does not take away from the original seals of secrecy that fully remain intact with these texts even as they transform into another language. These teachings were traditionally intended to be studied and practiced under the careful guidance of a qualified teacher, who not only held the lineage for such teachings, but also had full experiential realization of their inner meanings. Again and again, Longchenpa states that he revealed his mind treasures specifically for those of future generations. These are his gift and legacy. As such, these translations are an offering to the hidden dakini in each one of us. They are presented to be a transparent source of inspiration to sincerely pursue the utmost reaches of our infinite potential to realize the true nature of the innermost depths of reality for the benefit of all, to unlock the hidden dakini treasures buried deep within us. There was a prophecy that the Heart Bindu of the Dakinis would be practiced far and wide for five hundred years, starting at Longchenpa’s own time. With the transformation of these instructions into another language, may the dakinis of the universe show their merciful blessings to help these teachings be fully realized, grow, and flourish for another five hundred years and more!
As a sample translation offering to make an auspicious connection, I’d like to present Longchenpa’s Teaching on the Four Lamps (of Direct Transcendence). The four lamps are the far reaching water-lasso of the eyes, the lamp of the completely pure expanse, the lamp of the empty bindu, and the lamp of self-arisen wisdom. This teaching includes a presentation of the four lamps that includes a direct introduction to them, how they work on the path, and how the fruition of enlightenment is attained through them. Essentially, the nature of enlightenment is hidden deep inside our minds, yet can be accessed through the skillful methods of Dzogchen. When we recognize the appearances that arise through the four lamps as non-dual manifestations of the luminosity of our own minds, we begin a process that allows us to shed our impure perception of reality to the point that the entire scope of our being dissolves into the true nature of primordially pure and spontaneously present enlightenment that has always been hidden inside us. May we all thus swiftly realize the rainbow body of the great transfer and manifest our infinite potential to care for all beings throughout the universe!