Sera Khandro

Sera Khandro

Sera Khandro (1892–1940) was one of the most prolific Tibetan female authors of the past several centuries. At the age of fifteen, she left her home in Lhasa for eastern Tibet, embarking on a lifetime devoted to her spiritual path—she became a spiritual master, a revealer of ancient hidden teachings, a mystic, a visionary, a writer, a mother, and a vagabond. Her written works and spiritual lineage have been preserved and are now cherished worldwide.

Sera Khandro

Sera Khandro (1892–1940) was one of the most prolific Tibetan female authors of the past several centuries. At the age of fifteen, she left her home in Lhasa for eastern Tibet, embarking on a lifetime devoted to her spiritual path—she became a spiritual master, a revealer of ancient hidden teachings, a mystic, a visionary, a writer, a mother, and a vagabond. Her written works and spiritual lineage have been preserved and are now cherished worldwide.

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The Passing of Christina Monson

The Passing of Christina Monson

Christina Monson

Christina's Masterpiece

Available May, 2024

A Dakinis Counsel
Paperback | Ebook 

$26.95 - Paperback

We are deeply saddened  to share the news that Christina Monson—teacher, translator, and disciple of Chatral Rinpoche among others—passed away November 19, 2023.

Christina's book,  A Dakini's Counsel: Sera Khandro's Spiritual Advice and Dzogchen Instructions will be released May 21, 2024.  We knew she had little time left after her cancer diagnosis earlier this year.  We had hoped she could hold the book in her hand, but she knew it was in a good place.

All of us at Shambhala Publications have our palms together to Christina for her ceaseless contributions to the Dharma generally, the Nyingma tradition, the Dudjom and Sera Khandro lineages specifically.

Dzongsar Jamyang KhyentseIn the foreword to the A Dakini's Counsel, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche wrote,

In addition to receiving teachings, abhishekas, and guidance from many great Mahasandhi masters—for example, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche—Christina Monson also received decades of teachings from Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche. Therefore, I do not think of her as yet another mildly curious Dharma student but as a seeker after the truth who has been blessed and strongly influenced by many great masters, Chatral Rinpoche in particular. As such, I have no doubt that Christina made many good aspirations as she translated Sera Khandro’s words, and, as a result, now that this great lady’s words are being made available in English, there is far less chance of the meaning getting lost in translation. For this reason, my aspiration for this translation is that it will be widely read. May those who read this book not only come to know Sera Khandro and her teachings but may the reach of her buddha activities extend to infinity.

There have been an outpouring of appreciation for Christina as she was a mentor, friend, and dharma sister to so many.

Sogan Rinpoche (Sogan Tulku Pema Lodoe) composed "A Panacea for the Heart: An Incitement to Virtue Through Reflection on Impermanence" upon learning of Christina's passing.   It includes the following verse:

And when my Dharma siblings who I wished to remain here with me inseparably
Are led away without hope of intervening, by the Lord of Death himself, I feel sad
But sadness and grief don’t help; let us rouse strength of heart
And spurn ourselves to practice virtue and dedicate it with aspirations.

You can download the full prayer here.


chhojeChhoje Rinpoche in Denver wrote,

"She was a great practitioner during her lifetime and she was an example of how to be a Vajrayana student. She kept her samaya and bodhicitta mind throughout her life excellently. She was so kind and her teachings were immensely beneficial to the members of the Padmasambhava Meditation Center and many other sanghas. I am very grateful for everything she has done.

I have no doubt that Christina is in a very good place and I personally witnessed a rainbow around the sun on the day that she passed. I am personally sponsoring many practices for her.

I would request that everyone do prayers for her. Please recite Vajrasattava, Chenrezig, Guru Yoga and whatever practice you do and dedicate it to Christina's full enlightenment."


Lama Tsultrim Allione wrote,

"It’s hard to write this but important.  As we were receiving the Kudong of Wangdu Rinpoche at Tara Mandala November 19, 2023,  the great Yogini and Translator Sangye Gyalmo, Christina Monson integrated her consciousness into the Dharmakaya and passed from this world. I last met her in July and we spent ten days together.   I really wanted her to live, she had so much more to give and to translate. I wanted her to come out from the role of translator and teach and she would have, but sadly for us this was not to be in this life… but let us pray for her rapid rebirth. A great Yogini has departed from this world and she should be honored as such. One of the last things she said to me as she was dying was

'Your personal practice is all that matters in the end.'

She remained in tugdam 3 days in Oakland and left a trail of rainbows.

Her book “A Dakini’s Counsel” will come out next spring and she sent me the manuscript to write an endorsement, which I happily did. Here is a fragment from it, it is a poem from her consort Drimé Ozer about Sera Khandro. I pulled it spontaneously from the manuscript and I think it applies to Christina as well.

From "An Offering from the Vulture to the Cuckoo" by Drime Ozer:

Reflecting on all your noble qualities deepens my faith.

Seemingly I’m lost, an ordinary person
controlled by the five poisons.7
But the manifestative potency of your great bliss wisdom
automatically connects my body, speech, and mind to their vajra essences
and introduces me to undistracted luminosity,
my true dharmakaya nature.
Extraordinary is your great kindness,
Noble Lady, my Wish-Fulfilling Jewel.

The ultimate expanse
is definitely devoid of characteristics to fixate upon.
Yet, from the perspective of disciples who are training,
teacher and retinue seemingly appear.

The fundamental nature of reality
is but a single indivisible sphere.
Yet, those with impure perception
see it as distinct from confusion.

In essence, awareness transcends fears
about birth and death,
but for those who cleave to permanence,
dying and becoming seemingly appear.

Most certainly you have mastery
over the phenomena of samsara and nirvana,
yet you continuously practice
the two stages of development and completion.


Related Books

By Christina's sister Elizabeth:

Tales of a Mad Yogi

$19.95 - Paperback

By: Elizabeth L. Monson

Books Related to Sera Khandro

Refining Our Perception of Reality

$34.95 - Hardcover

By: Sera Khandro

Inseparable across Lifetimes

$24.95 - Paperback

By: Holly Gayley

Books Related to Chatral Rinpoche

Compassionate Action

$21.95 - Paperback

By: Chatral Rinpoche & Zach Larson

Christina Monson on the Naturalness of Illness, Dakini Guidance, and Chatral Rinpoche


lotswa houseChristina also translated many privately published translations, as well as contributed to Lotsawa House. which includes ten of her translations of Sera Khandro and Chatral Rinpoche.

Continue Reading >>

The Role of the Teacher in Tibetan Buddhism: A Reader's Guide to the Teacher-Student Relationship

To truly understand Tibetan Buddhism, one must come to grips with the unique role of the teacher, the dynamics of the teacher-student relationship, and the possibilities that having a teacher can open up.

Tibetan Buddhism is composed of the Vajrayana or Tantric teachings on top of a foundation of the Sutrayana (vehicle of the Sutras), the core teachings of what are sometimes called the Sravakayana and the Mahayana. In the context of the Sutrayana, a relationship with a teacher roughly maps to the categories of a pratimoksha master and a master of the bodhisattva vows, but there is a wide scope of possibilities and overlap within these roles. The teacher imparts, for example, important points on shamatha or vipashyana meditation, philosophy, or techniques like mind training (lojong), and these are akin to the role of teachers in other Buddhist traditions.

But in the relationship with a male or female vajra master in the context of tantric teachings, including Mahamudra and Dzogchen, the teacher and student have very specific commitments to each other, which is a very different situation. While this relationship may very well incorporate the elements of the relationship with a Sutrayana teacher, it is important for people to understand that a Vajrayana teacher is not really akin to the role of the Zen priest or the spiritual friend (kalyāṇamitta) of the Pali tradition of Buddhism, let alone the Hindu Guru, therapist, or a modern-day life coach. The practice of Guru Yoga (see sidebar below), whereby the student visualizes their teacher in the form of an enlightened being is one example of how different things are in this context.  The relationship is much more central and is an essential mechanism for making great strides on the path.

That is why traditional texts encourage people to spend up to 12 years carefully considering whether a teacher of Vajrayana is suitable for them. They are not encouraging people to be wishy-washy and put off making a commitment; rather, this number underlines the importance of choosing a teacher very carefully.

Dudjom RInpoche on the Teacher-Student Relationship

The benefits are immeasurable and are not accessible without a teacher. The great 20th-century master Dudjom Rinpoche gives some traditional examples to demonstrate the importance:

Ordinary, childlike beings are incapable of proceeding even vaguely in the same direction as the perfect path by the strength of their own minds, so they need first to examine and then to follow a qualified diamond master. Diamond masters are the root that causes us to correctly engage in the whole Buddhadharma in general and especially to follow the path properly. They are knowledgeable and experienced guides for inexperienced travellers setting out on a journey, powerful escorts for those who are travelling to dangerous places, ferrymen steering the boat for people crossing a river. Without them, nothing is possible. This is reiterated in countless scriptures.

Recently, there has been a lot of news and discussion in the media, Buddhist and otherwise, around the role of the teacher in Buddhism—in particular, Tibetan Buddhism. This mostly relates to a small handful of teachers (including the leader of Shambhala International, an organization totally unaffiliated with Shambhala Publications) against whom there have been serious allegations of abuse of power, some of it sexual. Many of these articles have been read by a younger generation of Westerners curious about Buddhism and other spiritual traditions but suspicious of hierarchy, organized religion, and spiritual leaders with perceived authority. This media attention seems to validate their suspicions.

But however bad some of these cases are—and it should go without saying that someone who is causing harm is acting in complete opposition to the Buddhadharma—a teacher harming or taking advantage of a student is an unacceptable exception to the norm; it is a rare aberration in an incredible system that has benefited millions of people East and West in the most profound and transformative ways.

These aberrations are not new. People are human, and throughout Buddhist history (or any tradition) there has been the occasional charlatan or flawed leader—as the discussion of how to avoid a bad teacher in many of the texts below make plain. But the fact is that there are so many highly educated, spiritually accomplished (typically following many years in retreat), caring, selfless teachers in this tradition, and it is a shame that people who do not know better are being exposed, online and in print, only to the exceptions rather than the norm and the potential.

Specifically, much of the recent coverage and discussion online and in print around the role of the guru or lama has reflected a deep misunderstandings of the role of the teacher in Tibetan Buddhism and has therefore created a lot of confusion. The best way for a student to find the right teacher who can lead them far along the path to enlightenment is to have a solid ground in understanding what the roles are, to be aware of the cultural dynamics at play, and to know which qualities to seek and which to avoid.

So, we are pleased to share this Reader’s Guide to help those interested in understanding the role, importance, and centrality of the guru or lama and the transformative power of the student-teacher relationship. We hope this will better prepare those pursuing this path to understand the choices they are making and set them up for spiritual success and accomplishment.

His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya
His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya {photo by Wonderlane on Flickr}
It probably should not look like this.
Lotus Padma

Dzongsar Khyentse on the Teacher-Student Relationship

Perhaps the book that addresses head-on the contemporary concerns and confusion about the role of the teacher—from gender inequality to power dynamics and bad apples—is Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s The Guru Drinks Bourbon. This is a thrilling modern guide to help students understand what they are in for and what is expected of them. It is, after all, a two-way street. He covers many areas and, while acknowledging a checklist is too simple of a model, he does present some helpful guidelines.

“The good guru

  • has realized the ultimate view
  • is open-minded
  • is reluctant to teach
  • is tolerant
  • is learned
  • is disciplined
  • is kind and never denigrates others
  • has a lineage
  • is progressive
  • is humble
  • is not interested in your wallet, thighs, or toes
  • has a living guru and a living tradition
  • is devoted to the three jewels
  • trusts in the laws of karma
  • is generous
  • brings you to virtuous surroundings
  • has tamed the body, speech, and mind
  • is gentle and soothing
  • has pure perception
  • is nonjudgmental
  • abides by the Buddha’s rules of Vinaya, Bodhisattvayana, and, of course, Vajrayana
  • fears wrongdoing
  • is forgiving
  • is skillful"
Dalai Lama and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
The Dalai Lama is a great example of a teacher continuing to receive initiations and teachings
Lotus Padma

Another book exploring the student-teacher relationship is Alex Berzin’s Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy RelationshipThe work covers many of the traditional topics but also gives a lot of thought to contemporary issues, cultural differences, and Westerner-specific issues like paranoia and vulnerability. He brings in some models from psychology (transference and regression) to explain many of the dynamics Westerners may present and how students can overcome them.

Wise Teacher, Wise Student

$18.95 - Paperback

By: Alexander Berzin

Lotus Padma

Sera KhandroThe great early 20th century master Sera Khandro relates over several pages in her Refining Our Perception of Reality the qualities of a guru without whom progress on the path of Vajrayana is not possible:

In general, although it is taught that there are six kinds of masters from whom you receive instruction, the masters who give the pith instructions are your root spiritual masters imbued with threefold kindness. Thus, no discourse or tantra relates a story of the attainment of enlightenment without that individual having relied upon a spiritual master. Each and every one of the highly accomplished masters who appeared in the past relied on material or nonmaterial spiritual masters, and developed all the qualities gained along the paths and stages of awakening; this is a matter of record. Therefore, your lamas have exhausted any flaws and have perfected all qualities: your lamas are the Buddha incarnate. Yet the mind-streams of us ordinary individuals are easily influenced by such things as conditions in our country, our historical period, or our companions. We must thus begin by examining spiritual masters from vantage points both close by and distant, then rely on them having set aside our negative thoughts or attitudes. In the end, having offered service by pleasing the lamas in three ways, and having kept tantric bonds without allowing them to be violated, we train so that our lamas’ wisdom mind and conduct are impressed upon us: our mind and conduct become like a clay image [satsa] emerging from a mold. This is very important.

Refining Our Perception of Reality

$34.95 - Hardcover

By: Sera Khandro

Lotus Padma

Dudjom Rinpoche, mentioned above and one of the greatest masters of the 20th century, starts off his magisterial explanation of the foundational practices—A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom: Complete Instructions on the Preliminary Practices, for those embarking on the path of Vajrayana Buddhism—with a long chapter titled “The Qualifications of Masters.”

He concludes it with:

Sublime teachers who are rid of all the faults just described and who possess all the right qualities are, because of the times, very hard to find—like the udumbara, the king of flowers. Even if they should happen to come across such teachers for just a little while, sentient beings with impure perception see faults in them—as has happened many times, starting with Devadatta who saw faults in the Bhagavan. Moreover, most people nowadays have the same store of negative deeds and misfortune, and so they perceive faults as good qualities and good qualities as faults. They see even those who have not a single ability that accords with the Dharma, whether manifest or hidden, as sublime beings, and so on. Those who know how to check are rare indeed. In particular, with regard to giving the profound teachings on the actual condition of things, teachers who have no realization cannot make the ultimate experience and realization develop in their disciples’ mindstreams. We should therefore take this point as a basis and regard a teacher who has most of the right qualities as the equal of the Buddha. The reason for considering even those in whom six of the above sets of qualities are complete and who have most of the right qualities as sublime beings and for following them is described in the Approach to the Absolute Truth:

Because of the age of strife, teachers have a mixture of faults and virtues:
There are none with no negative aspects at all.
Having carefully checked those who have more qualities,
Disciples should put their trust in them.

On Guru Yoga

Mala for Guru YogaAs mentioned above, Guru Yoga is an essential practice in all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism.  Dudjom Rinpoche gives an overview of it in Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom that gives a sense of how central the teacher is:

Whether our teachers present in person are ordinary beings or emanations of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, if we are able to pray to them considering them as the Buddha, there is absolutely no difference between them and the Buddha or Bodhisattva or yidam deity in person, because the source of blessings is devotion. So whichever profound practice we are undertaking, whether the generation phase or the perfection phase, we should begin by making the teacher’s blessings the path. There is no more to it than that. But as long as we have not received the blessings, we will not be genuinely on the path. It is said that if disciples who keep the commitments give themselves wholeheartedly, with devotion, to an authentic diamond master, they will obtain the supreme and common accomplishments even if they have no other methods. But without devotion to the teacher, even if we complete the approach and accomplishment practices of the yidams of the six tantra sections, we will never obtain the supreme accomplishment. And we will be unlikely to accomplish many of the ordinary accomplishments either, such as those of long life, wealth, or bringing beings under one’s power. Even if we do manage to achieve a little, it will have necessitated a lot of hardship and will have nothing to do with the profound path. When unmistaken devotion takes birth in us, obstacles on the path will be dispelled and we will make progress, obtaining all the supreme and ordinary accomplishments without depending on anything else. This is what we mean by the profound path of Guru Yoga.

Lotus Padma

Khenpo Ngawang PelzangKhenpo Ngawang Pelzang in his famous Guide to the classic Words of My Perfect Teacher, wrote,

“There is one single criterion you should particularly check when examining a teacher: it is whether he has bodhichitta. If he has the bodhichitta, whatever sort of connection one makes with him will be meaningful. A good connection will bring buddhahood in one lifetime, and even a negative connection will eventually bring samsaric existence to an end.”

While one may not be so confident in their bodhicitta detection skills, the point is, after studying and analyzing the teacher, to use your own judgement.

If you wanted more detail, the author presents a more descriptive list of what characteristics to look for.

There are many other traditional overviews that include key instructions for evaluating, committing to, and following a teacher. From the tradition His Holiness the Dalai Lama was first educated in, Tsongkahpa’s The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment covers the subject over several pages. The great 18th-century adept Jigme Lingpa’s Treasury of Precious Qualities beautifully covers this as well.

Lotus Padma

One of the most classic treatises on the guru-disciple dynamic is by the great 19th-century scholar and master Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, who wrote The Teacher-Student Relationship. In this work he covers the following facets of the relationship:

  • How to Seek the Wisdom Teacher
  • The Justification for Following the Wisdom Teacher
  • Categories and Characteristics of the Master Who Should Be Followed
  • The Way in Which One Enters into and Goes Astray—Which Follows from the Characteristics of the Master
  • The Characteristics of the Student Who Follows
  • How to Follow
  • The Necessity of Following the Wisdom Teacher in That Way
  • Avoiding Contrary, Harmful Companions
  • Creating Faith as a Favorable Condition
  • The Way That the Wisdom Teacher Should Explain and the Student Should Listen to the Holy Dharma

Kongtrul relies on sutra and tantra sources to explain each of these. The reader will put it down having a much better appreciation for the scope of the Vajra master and student’s responsibilities, neither of which can be taken lightly.

Lotus Padma

Dangerous Friend: The Teacher-Student Relationship in Vajrayana Buddhism by Rig’dzin Dorje focuses exclusively on the Vajrayana aspects of the teacher-student relationship.

Dangerous Friend

$24.95 - Paperback

By: Rig'dzin Dorje

Lotus Padma

In Secret of the Vajra World, scholar and teacher Reggie Ray includes a chapter on the Vajra Master. His conclusion, which encapsulates much of the above, is as follows:

Many people are suspicious of Buddhism in general and particularly of the Vajrayana because of the intensity of the guru-disciple relationship. They are made uncomfortable by the level of projections that occur in the interaction of teacher and student. They do not like the lack of explicit restrictions, rules, and limitations on the relationship. They would prefer clear expectations and boundaries, without the uncertainty and intimacy that Vajrayana Buddhism implies.

Without denying the dangers in this as in all other intimate human relationships, and acknowledging that there can be no complete guaran­tee against mistakes and abuses, still there would appear something shortsighted in this point of view. As long as human beings live in the realm of samsaric duality, there is the inevitability of projection—in this case the positive projections of seeing something ‘‘out there’’ to which we are attracted and that we feel we need. What is sometimes not sufficiently realized is that no human beings are outside of this cycle.

Moreover, projection of this nature is not an inherently bad or unde­sirable thing. In fact, it is only because we are willing to project, willing to seek our dreams, that we can come up short and begin to integrate the part of ourselves that we had at first seen as outside. People do get ‘‘stuck,’’ but usually not forever. This process always involves vulnera­bility and suffering, but only in a culture that abhors pain and equates it with evil can one fail to see the transformative element.

The Vajrayana operates by eliciting and provoking the projections of our own deepest nature, then forcing us back on ourselves so that we have to integrate and take possession of those projections. This process is seen no more clearly than in the relation of teacher and student that forms the backbone of the path. Trungpa Rinpoche comments that at the beginning of the path, the teacher is seen virtually as a demigod. In the middle, he is experienced as a friend and companion. And at the end, when we have attained the state of realization that we once saw uniquely in him, he becomes inseparable from the inborn, living wis­dom within.

What is sad is not to see this process of projection in Buddhism, where it can lead to something dignified and noble, but to see the way that it operates in the contemporary ‘‘modern’’ world, where it so often leads to an utter dead end. Here, people project their deepest yearnings onto things that have little to do with the human spirit and its matura­tion—new cars, upscale houses, clothes, vacations, credentials, fame, wealth, and power. It is not surprising, for example, that it is often among those who have succeeded most fully in realizing the materialism of the American Dream that one can find the most emptiness, fear, and unacknowledged despair.

Secret of the Vajra World

$39.95 - Paperback

By: Reginald A. Ray

Additional Resources

Another way to approach this is simply to read the stories of great masters and be inspired by their example. Here are a few places to get started:

Khandro Rinpoche

Khandro Rinpoche

Khandro Rinpoche discusses her teachers in her expansive Refuge chapter in This Precious Life: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on the Path to Enlightenment

The incomparable lamas of the Longchen Nyintig tradition are presented in Tulku Thondup’s Masters of Meditation and Miracles.

The inspiring stories of Patrul Rinpoche are the subject of Matthieu Ricard’s collection of the oral history of this essential figure, Enlightened Vagabond.

The archetype of students, Milarepa, can be read about in many of the books included in our Reader’s Guide on him.

A subsequent article will address the related topic of Guru Yoga, which lies at the heart of the Vajrayana.

Continue Reading >>

Sera Khandro: A Reader's Guide

About Sera Khandro

Sera Khandro (1892 - 1940), also known as Kunzang Dekyong Wagmo,  was one of the great masters of the early 20th century and the English speaking world is fortunate now that both her story and her writings have been emerging more and more over the past few years.

Her story is at once fascinating, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting.

incarnationTulku Thondup Rinpoche, in his remarkable Incarnation: The History and Mysticism of the Tulku Tradition of Tibet gives a superb overview:

"This great yogini was known as a tulku of Yeshe Tsogyal, the consort of Guru Rinpoche and many others. She is an exemplar, similar to many tulkus who pursued the missions of their incarnation from childhood, even when it seemed almost impossible to succeed. Throughout her childhood and teenage years, and even into adulthood, she received transmissions and prophesies in many pure visions of wisdom dakinis and adepts. Sera Khandro Dewe Dorje was born as a beautiful princess in a rich and influential noble family in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. While she was still in her early teens, her father arranged her future marriage. The princess strongly wished to dedicate her life fully to Dharma, and she vehemently opposed the marriage arrangement. Finally, after attempting to commit suicide, she successfully undid the arranged engagement. One day, a group of rugged nomad pilgrims from Golok province arrived in Lhasa, after many months on the harsh trail. By chance, they camped on the compound of Sera Khandro Dewe Dorje’s family palace. Through a window, the young princess looked down on the compound and glimpsed Tulku Drime Ozer (1881–1924), the leader of the pilgrims. She instantly felt an immense devotion to the tulku, and from that point forward, he became the innate symbol of her spiritual direction.

"Before long, the time came for the pilgrims to return to their home. The fourteen year old princess renounced her possessions and made a dangerous escape in order follow the pilgrims. From that day forth, Sera Khandro Dewe Dorje’s life changed drastically. She had to learn how to beg for food to survive. Her fancy clothes gave her little protection when crossing the harsh terrain of the high northern plateaus of Tibet. And her fancy, flimsy shoes gave up on her. The young princess had to keep up with the caravan by walking and running barefoot month after month with little or sometimes no food. Because of their ignorance and prejudice, no pilgrim would extend any support or protection to the princess. She hardly had any opportunity to exchange words with the tulku, as he was always strictly guarded. But she used all of these difficult circumstances to invigorate her spiritual dedication.

"The party finally reached their home in Golok, and even there Sera Khandro Dewe Dorje endured harsh treatment from wild and jealous nomads. For over a decade she survived by taking on the lowly job of caring for the animals of nomad families. Despite these hardships, she didn’t once consider returning to the luxuries of her home in Lhasa. And during this time, she continuously received transmissions and prophesies in pure visions, enjoying the highest spiritual ecstasies with total dedication to serving the dharma and the lineage of Guru Rinpoche — the sole mission of her reincarnation.

"At the age of thirty, Sera Khandro Dewe Dorje became the consort of Tulku Drime Ozer. For the last few years of Tulku Drime’s life, the two of them discovered many ters (the mystical revelations of esoteric teachings) together. Sera Khandro Dewe Dorje also wrote a number of scholarly texts and became a highly respected teacher of esoteric Dharma, with many mystic followers."

Tulku Drime Ozer was the son of Dudjom Lingpa (and brother of the third Dodrubchen Rinpoche) and his tulku was Thinley Norbu Rinpoche.

Tulku Thondup also discusses Sera Khandro in several places in his classic Masters of Meditation and Miracles.

The most comprehensive scholarly treatment of Sera Khandro to date is Sarah Jacoby's Love and Liberation: Autobiographical Writings of the Tibetan Buddhist Visionary Sera Khandro.  This is an academic work, though of great value for anyone interested in this amazing master's life and work.

An excerpt from Love and Liberation can be found on the Yogini Project website.  

For a concise biography see the entry at the Treasury of Lives.

She is also discussed in Wisdom Nectar: Dudjom Rinpoche's Heart Advice  and The Light of Fearless Indestructible Wisdom: The Life and Legacy of HH Dudjom Rinpoche.

Sera Khandro's Works

A Dakinis CounselThe late Christina Monson's A Dakini's Counsel: Sera Khandro's Spiritual Advice and Dzogchen Instructions(May 21, 2024) is a collection of heartfelt and intimate advice for Buddhist practice from, revealing Sera Khandro's firsthand experiences as a mother, wife, consort, and spiritual teacher of the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Another significant full work of Sera Khandro's in English is Refining Our Perception of Reality: Sera Khandro's Commentary on Dudjom Lingpa's Account of His Visionary Journey.

This book contains four Tibetan texts in translation. First, The Excellent Path to Liberation explains how to give our attention to the teachings, and how to ground our spiritual practice in harmonious relationships with others and the world at large.

Second, Dudjom Lingpa’s account of his visionary journey, Nangjang, Enlightenment without Meditation, translated elsewhere as Buddhahood without Meditation, teaches by example that as practitioners we should ask ourselves sincere questions concerning our perception of reality, and that we should not be content with superficial answers.

In the third text, Sera Khandro presents Dudjom Lingpa’s work within two frameworks. She first clarifies the view on which the spiritual path is founded, the path of meditation; the ensuing conduct that reflects and enriches meditative experience; and the path’s result—awakening and enlightenment. Next she illuminates the subtleties of the great perfection view, the four tantric bonds: nonexistence, a single nature, pervasive insubstantial evenness, and spontaneous presence.

This volume also includes a significant fourth text: a short autobiography of Sera Khandro, translated by Chatral Rinpoché’s disciple-translator Christina Monson.

Please note that Chatral Rinpoche requested that people only read this book if they have completed ngondro, the preliminary practices, of any Vajrayana tradition.  To try to maintain visibility of this requirement, this volume is only available from


Sera Khandro's termas are included in four volumes, only a portion of which have been translated into English.

One of the termas she discovered was The Immaculate White Lotus: The Life of the Master from Oddiyana by Dorjé Tso, one of Guru Rinpoche's consorts who Sera Khandro is considered an incarnation of This come from the treasure cycle called The Dakini’s Secret Treasury of the Nature of Reality that was concealed by Guru Rinpoche.  It is ten short chapters that fill 17 pages in English.

This appears in Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, a collection of biographies of Padmasambhava.

Note that the translator of this book referred to  her birth year was 1899 and the discovery of this text as 1927 (she wrote she discovered it when she was 27), but the consensus now puts her birth year at 1892.  So this was likely discovered around 1920.

This treasure is still popular in eastern Tibet, where she spent most of her life.

Additional Resources

For additional works available in English, see her page on Lotsawa House.

Christina Monson translated some additional material including The Excellent Path of Devotion: An Abridged Story of a Mendicant's Experiences in Response to Questions by Vajra Kin that was privately published and may prove tricky to find.

For her works in Tibetan, see the TBRC site, currently listing 19 works.

A Dakini's Counsel

$26.95 - Paperback

By: Sera Khandro & Christina Monson

Refining Our Perception of Reality

$34.95 - Hardcover

By: Sera Khandro

Guru Rinpoche

$28.95 - Hardcover

By: Ngawang Zangpo

Sera Khandro's Legacy

Sera Khandro's legacy remains firm today.  There are several teachers who hold the lineage.

Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche was the main conduit to our generation. He received the lineage directly from her.  He passed it on, to among others, to his daughter, Saraswati (pictures, far right), who is considered to be the incarnation of Sera Khandro.  Saraswati has undergone extensive training under her late father’s guidance.

Chatral Rinpoche also passed on  pith instructions from Sera Khandro's guru sadhanas, Dzogchen practices, and Chenrezig sadhanas she revealed to Dudjom Rinpoche as is recounted in The Light of Fearless Indestructible Wisdom: The Life and Legacy of HH Dudjom Rinpoche.

Sera Khandro Lineage

From Chatral Rinpoche's Compassionate Action. Note, the dates are no longer considered correct.

Sera Khandro comes up repeatedly in Holly Gayley's account of the 20th century terton couple in Inseparable Across Lifetimes: The Lives and Love Letters of the Tibetan Visionaries Namtrul Rinpocheand Khandro Tare Lhamo.  Khandro Tare Lhamo is considered an emanation of Sera Khandro (recognized as such by Dudjom Rinpoche, among others) and there are aspects of her life that mirror Sera Khandro's.  For those interested in Sera Khandro, this account is essential as it demonstrates her legacy in eastern Tibet, as well as show all the connections to the present day, in particular through the Dudjom lineage.

Namtrul and Khandro Tare Lhamo

Namtrul Rinpoche and Khandro Tare Lhamo, an incarnation of Sera Khandro

Compassionate Action

$21.95 - Paperback

By: Chatral Rinpoche & Zach Larson

Inseparable across Lifetimes

$24.95 - Paperback

By: Holly Gayley

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