Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was raised in London and became a Buddhist while still in her teens. At the age of twenty she traveled to India, becoming one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a Buddhist nun. The international bestseller Cave in the Snow chronicles her twelve years of seclusion in a remote cave. Deeply concerned with the plight of Buddhist nuns, she established Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in India. In 2008 His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa, head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, gave her the rare title of Jetsunma (Venerable Master).

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was raised in London and became a Buddhist while still in her teens. At the age of twenty she traveled to India, becoming one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a Buddhist nun. The international bestseller Cave in the Snow chronicles her twelve years of seclusion in a remote cave. Deeply concerned with the plight of Buddhist nuns, she established Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in India. In 2008 His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa, head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, gave her the rare title of Jetsunma (Venerable Master).

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GUIDES

Women in Buddhism

Women in Buddhism

Throughout history women have played a vital role in the preservation and presentation of Buddhism. The Buddha himself expressed deep respect for his mother and as several contemporary Buddhist scholars have pointed out, women have played a significant role in helping to shape and preserve Buddhism. That is certainly true for Buddhism in today's world.

Today, contemporary Buddhism is largely shaped by a number of women who play vital roles from translation to teaching to holding highly influential seats in Buddhist sanghas around the world. We are happy to publish a wide range of Buddhist authors many of which come from diverse Buddhist traditions that span a wide range of ideas. This guide is certainly not complete in the sense of presenting each and every example of women in Buddhism today, but hopefully it will give readers a place to begin learning from and celebrating the many women who make Buddhism possible today.

Recent and Upcoming Releases

$24.95 - Paperback

Lifting as They Climb
Black Women Buddhists and Collective Liberation

By Toni Pressley-Sanon

The lives and writings of six leading Black Buddhist women—Jan Willis, bell hooks, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, angel Kyodo williams, Spring Washam, and Faith Adiele—reveal new expressions of Buddhism rooted in ancestry, love, and collective liberation.

Lifting as They Climb is a love letter of freedom and self-expression from six Black women Buddhist teachers, conveyed through the voice of author Toni Pressley-Sanon, one of the innumerable people who have benefitted from their wisdom. She explores their remarkable lives and undertakes deep readings of their work, weaving them into the broader tapestry of the African diaspora and the historical struggle for Black liberation.

Dr. Toni Pressley-Sanon is an associate professor in the Department of Africology & African American Studies at Eastern Michigan University, having previously held positions at the University of Buffalo and Pennsylvania State University. Her work dwells on the intersections of memory, history, and culture in both Africa and the African diaspora. She is the author of four books and numerous journal articles and book chapters on these subjects. Toni has practiced Buddhist meditation and mindfulness for the past ten years.

Available 05/21/2024

$26.95 - Paperback

A Dakini's Counsel
Sera Khandro's Spiritual Advice and Dzogchen Instructions

By Sera Khandro
Translated by Christina Monson

Sera Khandro Dewai Dorje was a modern Tibetan Buddhist teacher who single-pointedly pursued a life of Dharma while balancing family life and public teaching. This collection of her advice, prayers, dreams, prophecies, and treasures (terma) is both biographical and instructional. It comes from within the tradition of Dzogchen, replete with practices for resting in the nature of mind. This lineage forms the bedrock of Christina Monson’s own spiritual path, lending a deep intimacy to the translations, which serve as a window into Sera Khandro’s life, teachings, and rich inner experience.

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.

Christina Monson (1969–2023) was a Buddhist practitioner and teacher and Tibetan language translator and interpreter. She had over thirty years of study, translation, and practice experience in Buddhism beginning with an interest in Asian philosophy as an undergraduate student at Brown University.

embodying tara

$22.95 - Paperback

Embodying Tara
Twenty-One Manifestations to Awaken Your Innate Wisdom

By Chandra Easton

Tara, the Buddhist goddess of compassion, can manifest within all of us. In this illustrated introduction to Tara's twenty-one forms, respected female Buddhist teacher and practitioner Dorje Lopön Chandra Easton shows you how to invite Tara’s awakened energy to come alive in yourself through:

  • insight into core Buddhist concepts and teachings;
  • meditations;
  • mantra recitations; and
  • journal exercises.

The relatable stories from Buddhist history and the author’s personal reflections will give you the tools to live a more compassionate life, befriend your fears, and overcome everyday challenges.

Chandra Easton is a Dharma teacher, author, and translator of Tibetan Buddhist texts. She has taught Buddhism and Hatha Yoga since 2001. In 2015, she was given the title of Vajra Teacher, Dorje Lopön, for Tara Mandala Retreat Center by Lama Tsultrim Allione and H. E. Gochen Sang Ngag Rinpoche. Lopön Chandra studied Buddhism and Tibetan language in Dharamsala, India, and at UCSB’s religious studies department. During her studies, she cotranslated with her mentor, B. Alan Wallace, Sublime Dharma: A Compilation of Two Texts on the Great Perfection (Vimala Publishing, 2012).

$21.95 - Paperback

The Buddhist and the Ethicist
Conversations on Effective Altruism, Engaged Buddhism, and How to Build a Better World

By Peter Singer
By Shih Chao-Hwei

An unlikely duo—Professor Peter Singer, a preeminent philosopher and professor of bioethics, and Venerable Shih Chao-Hwei, a Taiwanese Buddhist monastic and social activist—join forces to talk ethics in lively conversations that cross oceans, overcome language barriers, and bridge philosophies. The eye-opening dialogues collected here share unique perspectives on contemporary issues like animal welfare, gender equality, the death penalty, and more. Together, these two deep thinkers explore the foundation of ethics and key Buddhist concepts, and ultimately reveal how we can all move toward making the world a better place.

Shih Chao-Hwei is a Buddhist monastic, social activist, scholar, and recent winner of the Niwano Peace Prize. A leading advocate for animal rights, a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage, and a key figure in the Buddhist gender equality movement, she is also a professor at Hsuan Chuang University and the founder of Hong Shih Buddhist College.
Peter Singer, the “father of the modern animal welfare movement,” was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine. An Australian philosopher and professor of bioethics, he has contributed to more than 50 books in over 30 languages. Singer is founder of The Life You Can Save nonprofit and a professor of bioethics at Princeton University.
ShangpaV2

$49.95 - Hardcover

Shangpa Kagyu: The Tradition of Khyungpo Naljor, Part Two
Essential Teachings of the Eight Practice Lineages of Tibet, Volume 12 (The Treasury of Precious Instructions)

By Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye
Translated by Sarah Harding

This is the second of two volumes that present teachings and practices from the Shangpa Kagyu practice lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. This tradition derives from two Indian yoginīs, the dākinīs Niguma and Sukhasiddhi, and their disciple, the eleventh-century Tibetan yogi Khyungpo Naljor Tsultrim Gönpo of the Shang region of Tibet. There are forty texts in this volume, beginning with Jonang Tāranātha’s classic commentary and its supplement expounding the Six Dharmas of Niguma. It includes the definitive collection of the tantric bases of the Shangpa Kagyu—the five principal deities of the new translation (sarma) traditions and the Five-Deity Cakrasamvara practice. The source scriptures, liturgies, supplications, empowerment texts, instructions, and practice manuals were composed by Tangtong Gyalpo, Tāranātha, Jamgön Kongtrul, and others.

The first part of this series is also available now.

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye (1813–1900) was a versatile and prolific scholar and one of the most outstanding writers and teachers of his time in Tibet. He was a pivotal figure in eastern Tibet’s nonsectarian movement and made major contributions to education, politics, and medicine.
Sarah Harding has been a Buddhist practitioner since 1974 and has been teaching and translating since completing a three year retreat in 1980 under the guidance of Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche. Her publications include Zhije and Chöd, respectively the thirteenth and fourteenth volumes of The Treasury of Precious Instructions series. She was an associate professor at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, starting in 1992, and has been a fellow of the Tsadra Foundation since 2000.

Women in Buddhist Research & Academia

The Woman Who Raised the Buddha
The Extraordinary Life of Mahaprajapati

By Wendy Garling

Mahaprajapati was the only mother the Buddha ever knew. His birth mother, Maya, died shortly after childbirth, and her sister Mahaprajapati took the infant to her breast, nurturing and raising him into adulthood. In this first full biography of Mahaprajapati, Wendy Garling presents her life story, with attention to her early years as sister, queen, matriarch, and mother, as well as her later years as a nun. Garling reveals just how exceptional Mahaprajapati’s role was as leader of the first generation of Buddhist women, helping the Buddha establish an equal community of lay and monastic women and men. Mother to the Buddha, mother to early Buddhist women, mother to the Buddhist faith, Mahaprajapati’s journey is finally presented as one interwoven with the founding of Buddhism.

$18.95 - Paperback

Wendy Garling is a writer, mother, gardener, independent scholar, and authorized dharma teacher with a BA from Wellesley College and MA in Sanskrit language and literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha’s Life (2016, Shambhala Publications), a groundbreaking new biography of the Buddha that relates his journey to awakening through the stories of Buddhism’s first women.

Illumination
A Guide to the Buddhist Method of No-Method

By Rebecca Li

A modern guide to the transformative practice of silent illumination from Chan Buddhist teacher Rebecca Li.

Silent illumination, a way of penetrating the mind through curious inquiry, is an especially potent, accessible, and portable meditation practice perfectly suited for a time when there is so much fear, upheaval, and sorrow in our world. It is a method of reconnecting with our true nature, which encompasses all that exists and where suffering cannot touch us.

$21.95 - Paperback

Rebecca Li, PhD, is a meditation and Dharma teacher in the lineage of Chan Master Sheng Yen and founder and guiding teacher of Chan Dharma Community. She gives Dharma talks and leads Chan retreats in North America and Europe. She is also a sociology professor and lives with her husband in New Jersey. Her talks, writings, and schedule can be found at rebeccali.org.

Tales of a Mad Yogi
The Life and Wild Wisdom of Dukpa Kunley

By Elizabeth L Monson

The fifteenth-century Himalayan saint Drukpa Kunley is a beloved figure throughout Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal, known both for his profound mastery of Buddhist practice as well as his highly unconventional and often humorous behavior. Ever the proverbial trickster and “crazy wisdom” yogi, his outward appearance and conduct of carousing, philandering, and breaking social norms is understood to be a means to rouse ordinary people out of habitual ways of thinking that leads them toward spiritual awakening.

Elizabeth Monson has spent decades traveling throughout the Himalayas, retracing Drukpa Kunley’s steps and translating his works. In this creative telling, she has reimagined his life based on historical accounts, autobiographical sketches, folktales, and first-hand ethnographic research. The result, with flourishes of magical encounters and references to his superhuman capacities, is a poignant narrative of Kunley’s life, revealing to the reader the quintessential example of the capacity of Buddhism to skillfully bring people to liberation.

$19.95 - Paperback

Elizabeth Monson, PhD, is the spiritual codirector of Natural Dharma Fellowship and the managing teacher at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge. She is a Dharma teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, has lectured at the Harvard Divinity School, and teaches meditation throughout New England.

living theravadaLiving Theravada
Demystifying the People, Places, and Practices of a Buddhist Tradition

By Brooke Schedneck

An illuminating introduction to the contemporary world of Theravada Buddhism and its rich culture and practices in modern mainland Southeast Asia.

Theravada translates as “the way of the Elders,” indicating that this Buddhist tradition considers itself to be the most authoritative and pure. Tracing all the way back to the time of the Buddha, Theravada Buddhism is distinguished by canonical literature preserved in the Pali language, beliefs, and practices—and this literature is often specialized and academic in tone. By contrast, this book will serve as a foundational and accessible resource on Theravada Buddhism and the contemporary, lived world of its enduring tradition.

$24.95 - Paperback

Brooke Schedneck, PhD, is an assistant professor in the department of religious studies at Rhodes College. Her work focuses on contemporary Buddhism in Thailand, and she spent years teaching and conducting research in Chiang Mai. She has presented her research internationally, and her work has been featured in academic journals and publications such as TricycleAeon, and The Conversation.

Inseparable Across Lifetimes

Translated by Holly Gayley

An inspiring and intimate tale set against the turmoil of recent Tibetan history, Inseparable across Lifetimes offers for the first time the translations of love letters between two modern Buddhist visionaries. The letters are poetic, affectionate, and prophetic, articulating a hopeful vision of renewal that drew on their past lives together and led to their twenty-year partnership. This couple played a significant role in restoring Buddhism in the region of Golok once China’s revolutionary fervor gave way to reform. Holly Gayley, who was given their correspondence by Namtrul Rinpoche himself, has translated their lives and letters in order to share their remarkable story with the world.

$24.95 - Paperback

Holly Gayley, Associate Professor of Buddhist Studies, is a scholar and translator of contemporary Buddhist literature in Tibet. She is author of Love Letters from Golok: A Tantric Couple in Modern Tibet, co-editor of A Gathering of Brilliant Moons: Practice Advice from the Rime Masters of Tibet, and translator of Inseparable Across Lifetimes: The Lives and Love Letters of Namtrul Rinpoche and Khandro Tāre Lhamo.

Black and Buddhist
What Buddhism Can Teach Us about Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom

Edited by Cheryl A. Giles and Pamela Ayo Yetunde

Leading African American Buddhist teachers offer lessons on racism, resilience, spiritual freedom, and the possibility of a truly representative American Buddhism.

What does it mean to be Black and Buddhist? In this powerful collection of writings, African American teachers from all the major Buddhist traditions tell their stories of how race and Buddhist practice have intersected in their lives. The resulting explorations display not only the promise of Buddhist teachings to empower those facing racial discrimination but also the way that Black Buddhist voices are enriching the Dharma for all practitioners. As the first anthology comprised solely of writings by African-descended Buddhist practitioners, this book is an important contribution to the development of the Dharma in the West.

With contributions by Acharya Gaylon Ferguson, Cheryl A. Giles, Gyōzan Royce Andrew Johnson, Ruth King, Kamilah Majied, Lama Rod Owens, Lama Dawa Tarchin Phillips, Sebene Selassie, and Pamela Ayo Yetunde.

$19.95 - Paperback

Cheryl A. Giles, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Francis Greenwood Peabody Senior Lecturer on Pastoral Care and Counseling at the Harvard Divinity School. Giles is the author of several articles and co-editor of The Arts of Contemplative Care (Wisdom, 2012).
Pamela Ayo Yetunde, J.D., Th.D. is a Community Dharma Leader in the Insight Meditation tradition. She teaches pastoral care and counseling and has taught at University of the West, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, and Upaya Institute and Zen Center. Ayo has written for BuddhadharmaLion’s RoarReligions, and Buddhist-Christian Studies. She is the author of Object Relations, Buddhism and Relationality in Womanist Practical Theology and Buddhist-Christian Dialogue, U.S. Law, and Womanist Theology for Transgender Spiritual Care.

Red Tara
The Female Buddha of Power and Magnetism

By Rachael Stevens

Tara is one of the most celebrated goddesses in the Buddhist world, representing enlightened activity in the form of the divine feminine. She protects, nurtures, and helps practitioners on the path to enlightenment. Manifesting in many forms and in many colors to help beings, Tara’s red form represents her powers of magnetization, subjugation, and the transformation of desire into enlightened activity. She is considered to be particularly powerful in times of plague and disharmony.

This comprehensive overview focuses on the origins, forms, and practices of Tara, providing the reader with insightful information and inspirations relating to the goddess. Its second part focuses on Red Tara, a powerful and liberating form of Tara that is particularly important to connect with in a time of crisis. These chapters cover various forms of Red Tara found throughout the Tibetan Buddhist world, the particular qualities she represents, and how through prayers and meditation we can embody her principles and truly benefit beings.

$29.95 - Paperback

Rachael Stevens holds a doctorate from Oxford University, is an early education teacher, and is a long-term Buddhist practitioner. Rachael’s research focuses on Red Tara, and she has studied and practiced with Buddhist communities in Europe, Asia, North America, and Brazil.

Dakini's Warm Breath
The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism

by Judith Simmer-Brown

The primary emblem of the feminine in Tibetan Buddhism is the dakini, or "sky-dancer," a semi-wrathful spirit-woman who manifests in visions, dreams, and meditation experiences. Western scholars and interpreters of the dakini, influenced by Jungian psychology and feminist goddess theology, have shaped a contemporary critique of Tibetan Buddhism in which the dakini is seen as a psychological "shadow," a feminine savior, or an objectified product of patriarchal fantasy. According to Judith Simmer-Brown—who writes from the point of view of an experienced practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism—such interpretations are inadequate.

$39.95 - Paperback

Judith Simmer-Brown, Ph.D., is professor and chair of the religious studies department at Naropa University (formerly the Naropa Institute), where she has taught since 1978. She has authored numerous articles on Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, and Buddhism in America. She is an Acharya (senior teacher) in the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa. A practicing Buddhist since 1971, she lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Art of ListeningThe Art of Listening
A Guide to the Early Teachings of Buddhism

by Sarah Shaw

The Dīghanikāya or Long Discourses of the Buddha is one of the four major collections of teachings from the early period of Buddhism. Its thirty-four suttas (in Sanskrit, sutras) demonstrate remarkable breadth in both content and style, forming a comprehensive collection. The Art of Listening gives an introduction to the Dīghanikāya and demonstrates the historical, cultural, and spiritual insights that emerge when we view the Buddhist suttas as oral literature.

Each sutta of the Dīghanikāya is a paced, rhythmic composition that evolved and passed intergenerationally through chanting. For hundreds of years, these timeless teachings were never written down. Examining twelve suttas of the Dīghanikāya, scholar Sarah Shaw combines a literary approach and a personal one, based on her experiences carefully studying, hearing, and chanting the texts. At once sophisticated and companionable, The Art of Listening will introduce you to the diversity and beauty of the early Buddhist suttas.

$18.95 - Paperback

Sarah Shaw is a faculty member and lecturer at the University of Oxford. She has published numerous works on the history and practices of Buddhism, including Mindfulness and The Art of Listening.

Women in Tibetan Buddhism

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was raised in London and became a Buddhist while still in her teens. At the age of twenty she traveled to India, becoming one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a Buddhist nun. The international bestseller Cave in the Snow chronicles her twelve years of seclusion in a remote cave. Deeply concerned with the plight of Buddhist nuns, she established Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in India. In 2008 His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa, head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, gave her the rare title of Jetsunma (Venerable Master).
reflections mt lake cover

$21.95 - Paperback

Khandro RinpocheKhandro Rinpoche - Born in India in 1967, Khandro Rinpoche is the daughter of Tibetan meditation master His Holiness Mindrolling Trichen and is herself a renowned teacher in the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. She is the head of a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in India and divides her time between teaching in the West, running the nunnery, and supporting charity projects for Tibetan refugees in India.

$22.95 - Paperback

Ani Pema Chodron served as the director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado, until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to be the director of Gampo Abbey. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave her explicit instructions on establishing this monastery for Western monks and nuns. She currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She is interested in helping to establish Tibetan Buddhist monasticism in the West, as well as continuing her work with Western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings.

$24.95 - Hardcover

Thubten Chodron - Ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun in 1977, Venerable Thubten Chodron is an author, teacher, and the founder and abbess of Sravasti Abbey. Sravasti Abbey is the only Tibetan Buddhist training monastery for Westerners in the US and holds gender equality, social engagement, and care for the environment amongst its core values. Ven. Chodron teaches worldwide and is known for her practical (and humorous!) explanations of how to apply Buddhist teachings in daily life.

$19.95 - Paperback

Lama Tsultrim Allione is an author, internationally known Buddhist teacher, and the founder and resident lama of Tara Mandala Retreat Center. She is the author of Women of Wisdom, the national best-seller Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict, which has been translated into seventeen languages, and Wisdom Rising: Journey into the Mandala of the Empowered Feminine.

$29.95 - Paperback

Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel has studied and practiced Mahayana Buddhism, as well as the Vajrayana tradition of the Longchen Nyingthik, for over 30 years under the guidance of her teacher and husband, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She has been intimately involved with Rinpoche’s work in bringing Buddhist wisdom to the West, in particular the development of Mangala Shri Bhuti, an organization dedicated to the study and practice of the Longchen Nyingthik lineage.
The Logic of Faith

$16.95 - Paperback

Anne Carolyn Klein is Professor and a former Chair of the Department of Religion at Rice University. She is also a cofounding director of the Dawn Mountain Tibetan Temple, Community Center, and Research Institute. Her publications include Path to the Middle (SUNY Press), Unbounded Wholeness, coauthored with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (Oxford University Press), and Knowledge and Liberation (Snow Lion Publications).

$29.95 - Paperback

Sangye Khandro is an American woman who studied Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan language with Tibetan masters in India and Nepal. She has studied and translated many important Tibetan Buddhist texts. She is a cofounder of Light of Berotsana, a nonprofit organization for translators of Tibetan texts.
Essence of Clear Light

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Carolyn Rose Gimian is a teacher of meditation, mindfulness, and Buddhism, as well as a writer, book editor, and archivist. She edited Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior in close cooperation with Chögyam Trungpa. After his death, she compiled and edited two additional books of his Shambhala teachings: Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala and Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery. She is also the editor of the ten-volume Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, Mindfulness in Action, and many other volumes of his work.
Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Women in the Zen Tradition

"By being keen observers of our planet, we are more connected to the world around us and in a better position to prevent harm and improve the health of the earth."
—Stephanie Kaza, Mindfully Green

Joanna Macy, PhD, teacher and author, is a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking, and deep ecology. As the root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, Macy has created a groundbreaking framework for personal and social change that brings a new way of seeing the world as our larger body. Her many books include World as Lover, World as SelfWidening Circles, A MemoirActive Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy; and Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects.

$27.95 - Paperback

Stephanie Kaza is Professor Emerita of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont. A leading voice in Buddhism and ecology, her most recent book is Green Buddhism: Practice and Compassionate Action in Uncertain Times.

$18.95 - Paperback

Joan Halifax, PhD, is a Zen priest and anthropologist who has served on the faculty of Columbia University and the University of Miami School of Medicine. For the past thirty years she has worked with dying people and has lectured on the subject of death and dying at Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Medical School, Georgetown Medical School, and many other academic institutions. In 1990, she founded Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist study and social action center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1994, she founded the Project on Being with Dying, which has trained hundreds of healthcare professionals in the contemplative care of dying people.

$27.95 - MixedMedia

Natalie Goldbergis the author of fifteen books. Writing Down the Bones, her first, has been translated into nineteen languages. Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku is her latest book. For the last forty years she has practiced Zen and taught seminars in writing as a spiritual practice. She lives in northern New Mexico.
Writing Down the Bones

$16.95 - Paperback

Paula Arai was raised in Detroit by a Japanese mother and did Zen training in Japan. She obtained her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University in 1993 and is now the Eshinni & Kakushinni Professor of Women and Buddhist Studies at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California. She is the author of Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s RitualsWomen Living Zen: Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns, and Painting Enlightenment: Healing Visions of the Heart Sutra.
little book of zen cover

$19.95 - Hardcover

Jan Chozen Bays, MD, is an ordained Zen teacher and a pediatrician who specializes in the evaluation of children for abuse and neglect. She has trained in Zen for forty-five years with Roshis Taizan Maezumi and Shodo Harada. With her husband she serves as co-abbot of Great Vow Zen Monastery, a residential center for intensive Zen training in Oregon.
Mindful Eating Left

$16.95 - Paperback

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel is an author, poet, and ordained Zen Buddhist priest. She is the author of Deepest PeaceSanctuaryThe Way of TendernessTell Me Something About Buddhism, and Black Angel Cards: 36 Oracles and Messages for Divining Your Life. She compiled and edited Seeds for a Boundless Life: Zen Teachings from the Heart by Zenkei Blanche Hartmann and is a contributing author in Dharma, Color, Culture and The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women.

$18.95 - Paperback

Laura Burges (Ryuko Eitai) is a lay entrusted Buddhist teacher in the Soto Zen tradition. She lectures, offers classes, and leads retreats at the San Francisco Zen Center and at other practice places in Northern California. She is the abiding teacher at Lenox House Meditation Group in Oakland. Laura taught children for 35 years and now mentors other teachers.
Zen Way of Recovery

$21.95 - Paperback

Susan Moon is a writer, editor, and Buddhist teacher in the Soto Zen tradition. For many years she has taught and led Zen retreats nationally and internationally. Her books include This Is Getting Old: Zen Thoughts on Aging with Humor and Dignity; the groundbreaking collection, The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women, with Florence Caplow; and What Is Zen? with Norman Fischer.
alive dead

$17.95 - Paperback

Women in the Insight and Theravada Tradition

Ven. Ayya Khema was born into a Jewish family in Berlin in 1923 and escaped the Nazi regime in 1938. She was ordained a Theravadin Buddhist nun in 1979 and established a forest monastery near Sidney, Australia; a training center for nuns in Colombo, Sri Lanka; and, later, Buddha-Haus, a meditation center in the Allgäu, Germany. Among her books are When the Iron Eagle FliesBeing Nobody, Going NowhereWho Is My Self?; and an autobiography, I Give You My Life. She passed away in 1997.
Path to Peace

$18.95 - Paperback

Sharon Salzberg is one of America's leading spiritual teachers and authors. A practitioner of Buddhist meditation for over thirty years, she is a co-founder of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and the Insight Meditation Society, and she directs meditation retreats throughout the United States and abroad.

Lovingkindness

$16.95 - Paperback

Christina Feldman - In the early 1970s, Christina Feldman spent several years in Asia, studying and training in the Buddhist meditation tradition. She has led insight meditation retreats in the West since 1974. A cofounder of Gaia House, in Devon, England, she is a regular teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts and at Spirit Rock in Woodacre, California. In addition, she leads retreats in Europe.
Boundless Heart The Buddha’s Path of Kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity By Christina Feldman

$16.95 - Paperback

Additional Resources on Women in Buddhism

Sera Khandro: A Reader’s Guide

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

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Mandarava Reader’s Guide

This series of blog posts are meant to be resources guides to complement the biographies of the great masters and scholars on the Treasury of Lives site. Mandarava Mandarava Mandarava was one of the great 8th century adepts and was one of the main consorts of Guru Rinpoche. As such a central figure at the time of Guru Rinpoche, she is a focus of many works. A wonderful complete biography was published by our friends at Wisdom Publications as The...

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On Translation: Sarah Harding and Larry Mermelstein

In our second On Translation video series cosponsored with the Tsadra Foundation, we are pleased to share this recording of Sarah Harding (Naropa University and the Tsadra Foundation) & Larry Mermelstein (Nalanda Translation Committee).   This session is for any student, practitioner, or translator of Tibetan Buddhism and is an opportunity to enter the world of translators of the Buddhadharma with two of the most experienced Tibetan translators. Most people encounter the Buddhist teachings through translations of texts, so like...

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Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo's Pilgrimage to China

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, author of Into the Heart of Life , Reflections of a Mountain Lake, and Cave in the Snow, and who is profiled in the recently released Dakini Power, just returned from a pilgrimage in China, following the footsteps of Xuanzang and visiting the Four Sacred Mountains and four Buddhist rock grottoes.   Here she shares some of her experiences of the pilgrimage and observations about Buddhism in China and of nuns in particular.

Jetsunma and Xuanzang

Jetsunma and Xuanzang

Shambhala Publications: What made you decide to go to China on this pilgrimage?

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo: My seventieth birthday was in June this year, so my friend May Ling from Singapore suggested we could celebrate by undertaking a pilgrimage in China to the Four Sacred Mountains. She knew I had wanted to visit Wu Tai Shan, the mountain dedicated to Mañjushri, since reading many years ago John Blofeld's moving account of his stay there during the 1940s in his autobiography The Wheel of Life.

SP: Can you say a few things about Xuanzang for our readers who may not be so familiar with him and tell  a little about how Xuanzang inspired you?

JTP: Long ago I had read Xuanzang's meticulous account of his travels to India, and I also read the novel Monkey, which is a famous Chinese fantasy based on his life.   Xuanzang [Hsuan Tsang] was born in 600 CE and became a monk at the age of thirteen following the death of his parents.   He was obviously dedicated and highly intelligent, so he studied under many masters. However he felt that the sutra translations of his time were somewhat inaccurate, and he knew that there were many more sutras still to be found in India. Despite the emperor's prohibition, Xuanzang escaped from China, following the Silk Road, and traveled across the Gobi Desert coming finally to Afghanistan and into India. The journey took several years with many adventures along the way.   In India he at last found his master in the monk scholar Silabhadra at the Nalanda Monastic University where Xuanzang then studied for five years.   He later traveled around India making accurate and precise calculations, and he left descriptions of the Buddhist sites that he found, which were mostly in decline, even during his time.

After fourteen years away, Xuanzang finally returned to China laden with many sutras and relics.   He spent the rest of his life organizing a translation school and teaching the Dharma while trying to distance himself from court politics.   Buddhism in China was greatly influenced and enhanced by his translations, especially those of important sutras in the Chittamatra (or Yogachara) tradition.

Xingjiao Temple

In the nineteenth century, the great archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham used the travel chronicles of Xuanzang to rediscover the sacred sites of Buddhism in India such as the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Sanchi, which had been forgotten and neglected for almost a thousand years.

Anyway, we started at Xuanzang's birthplace near Xian and tracked his progress along the Silk Road to Dunhuang and then to Chengdu, where he received his bhikshu ordination. All along the way we found pagodas and monasteries dedicated to his memory. In the evenings, we also watched a long Chinese documentary on his life, which was fascinating as it mentioned many of the places we had just visited.

SP: Which mountains did you go to?

JTP: We started with Wu Tai Shan, which is sacred to Manjushri and traditionally has a strong Mongolian and Tibetan influence.   Then we visited Emei Shan, which is dedicated to the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, Jiu Hua Shan dedicated to Ksitigarbha, and Putuo Shan near Shanghai, which is sacred to Avalokiteshvara or Guan Yin.

Wutaishan Village

All these mountains are carefully maintained with spectacular landscapes and very few buildings apart from temples and small shops selling Buddhist artifacts.   The scenery was far more beautiful, vast, and spacious than we could have imagined, and very inspiring. Of course almost all the original temples had been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, but now they have been rebuilt in the traditional manner with great aesthetic sensibility. Often it was hard to believe that these temples were only restored recently.   The monks and nuns we met along the way were usually very friendly and welcoming.

Yungang Caves

SP: Which cave sites did you visit?

JTP: The first were the Yungong Grottoes not far from Datong which date back to the fifth century.   They have spectacular Buddhist statues and murals. Some years ago the caves were black with the dust from nearby coal mines but now everything has been cleaned and skilfully renovated with long approach avenues of trees and bushes.

Throughout the centuries the fortunes of Buddhism in China have waxed and waned-one dynasty being the patrons of the Dharma and the next dynasty becoming the persecutors-so it is amazing how much Buddhist art still remains untouched and whole.

Near Luoyang we visited the Longmen Caves, which again date from the Han dynasty when the capital was moved from Datong to Luoyang. There were some lovely rock carvings, although many have been defaced or beheaded through the centuries due to purges, eager collectors, and the Cultural Revolution.   The centerpiece is a large Buddha statue (Vairochana?) flanked by bodhisattvas and protectors.   At night this central tableau has special lighting effects so that the stone figures become colored and the broken parts such as hands are magically restored!

At Longmen caves with May Ling

At Longmen caves with May Ling

We were to visit the Maiji Grottoes but a sudden rainstorm caused huge landslides and the approach was cut off.

The Yulin Caves are near Dunhuang and date from the Tang and Song up to the Qing dynasties.   They are similar to the more famous Mogao Caves but the style is even more refined and the color pigments better preserved.   One cave had a mural of Green Tara.

The Mogao Caves at Dunhuang are of course world renowned, especially as a hidden room full of ancient and rare Buddhist texts and scrolls had been discovered and cartloads of manuscripts were sent to the British Museum by Sir Aurel Stein in 1900.   The statues and murals dating from the Tang dynasty onward are of course exquisite, and we were fortunate to have the English-speaking guide to ourselves and so could spend several hours wandering through the various caves.

On the way to Chongqing we also visited the carved rock caves of Baoting and Beishan, the former especially impressive with beautiful and well-preserved statues from the Tang dynasty. We especially appreciated the realistic depictions of the hell realms!

SP: What were your impressions about the state of Buddhism in China?

JTP: Judging by the numbers of pilgrim groups in all these sacred sites, it would seem that Buddhism is becoming very popular.   The temples were filled with people bowing, offering incense, and praying (we were often the only ones taking photos like proper tourists!) and we saw rituals in progress with many lay people participating alongside the monks.   Some temples also organize weekly or monthly Dharma talks and meditation courses for the laity. At each monastery we asked how many monks or nuns were staying there, and often we were told there were sixty or 100 monastics.   In Wu Tai Shan we visited a nunnery with eight hundred nuns studying Vinaya and the sutras.   In Jiu Hua Shan we were told that there are still many hermits in the hills who never come down and have been practicing there for many years.

Several abbots informed us that nowadays the government is kindly disposed toward the Dharma and very helpful in renovating the Buddhist sites. In addition nowadays many people from Mainland China are visiting India on pilgrimage and to receive teachings from various Lamas.

SP: How did people react to you, a Western nun?

JTP: We noticed that in all these sacred mountains we never saw another Westerner, and so people were very surprized-but delighted-to see a Western nun.   In fact they sometimes thought I must be some strange sort of Chinese since Westerners would never be Buddhist!   All along our route we met with amazing generosity and kindness from complete strangers who were so happy to see a foreign nun. Of course sometimes we met people who had read The Cave in the Snow in Chinese translation so they were even more overjoyed to see us.

SP: What were your observations about the state of Buddhist women in the parts of China you visited, both laywomen and nuns?

JTP: We were able to visit several nunneries, and they seemed to be flourishing with many dedicated young and older nuns.   Some of the older nuns we met had survived through the difficult years by growing their hair and outwardly reentering society while secretly maintaining as much of their Dharma practice as they could.   When the political situation opened up again they simply shaved their heads, put on their robes, and slowly began to gather students and funding to rebuild their nunneries.   One abbess with eight hundred nuns and a large magnificent nunnery said that she started out with blazing aspirations and $36!

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The laywomen we met seemed very devout and most generous (an Asian characteristic).   They were cheerful and friendly while sometimes serving in the temples as caretakers or cooks. The more educated middle-class followers often had master's degrees, including some Tibetan lamas who visit China.   In fact several nunneries said that they followed the Mahayana system and also practiced Vajrayana.

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SP: Any other experiences from the trip you can share?

JTP: All along we were impressed by the genuinely holy ambiance of these mountain temples despite the commercial aspect. It reminded me of Assisi, Italy, which still has an indefinable atmosphere amidst all the shops and tourist junk.

A vignette that stands out in my mind is that of a mountain nunnery that we visited where the rotund abbess is also a Vice President of the Chinese Buddhist Association. She was sitting in the front entrance of their magnificent shrine room chopping cabbage for pickles which she gave us for our journey. Meanwhile in the background the nuns were reciting texts while their abbess chopped and chanted along with them.

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We visited the site where Sakya Pandita died in 1251.   There is a large white pagoda and 108 stupas, which are all modern. But behind is the original large brick stupa, in disrepair, where Sakya Pandita's relics still remain.   The caretaker staff said that in ten years they had never had a Westerner visit there-what to say a nun! They were so impressed that they escorted us back into the town of Wuwei to a very nice hotel where they booked us a suite and insisted on paying for it.   The kindness of strangers was amazing!

Since Buddhism does seem to be on the rise again in China and there are so many inspiring sacred places to be visited there, more Western Buddhists could also think of making pilgrimages to these sites.   Perhaps group tours could be arranged, since a Chinese-speaking guide is important (almost nobody speaks English). It would be an unforgettable experience. For the Chinese Buddhists likewise it would be a great joy for them to see Westerners who are also devoted to the Dharma.   Perhaps it is time that mainland China joined the international Buddhist network, and this could be facilitated by an interest in that country from the side of Western Buddhists.

 You can read further details of Jetsunma's travels on her Facebook page.

Into the Heart of Life

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SNOW LION NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo on Genuine Bodhichitta

The following excerpt is adapted from

Reflections on a Mountain Lake

Reflections on a Mountain Lake

By Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Book coverWhat is the meaning of bodhichitta? What is the significance of the Bodhisattva Vow? If we limit ourselves to saying, “I vow to save all sentient beings,” that’s very nice, but when and where and how? The point is that we have to ask ourselves, “Why are we practicing?” Are we practicing so that we can be happy, or free, or are we practicing so that we can benefit others? This is not just an academic debate, because it is our true motivation for being on the spiritual path, rather than what we chant, that will color everything that happens to us. It’s like adding different colored dyes to water. It’s going to become red or blue or green, depending on the color of the dye we add. In the same way, our true reasons for practicing will color the results of our practice.

It’s not much use for us just to say, “Well, of course, I’m on the Mahayana path, so I’m a bodhisattva, and therefore I’m aiming to save all beings.” We must examine our motivation for everything we do. Are we doing it for ourselves, or are we doing it for others? This is an essential point, because when we vow to save countless sentient beings, we must understand what this means. When the heart really comprehends this, something in the mind turns around and our attitude is completely transformed. And to the small extent that we worldlings are capable of, there is a deep inner change of direction. It’s not something we can speak about, but we definitely know when it’s there.

I don’t think this true motivation is always there. In the beginning, as incipient bodhisattvas, we are not always truly altruistic. If we claimed to be, it would just be self-deception. But sometimes, even if only for a very short time, we understand what we’re talking about. That is why bodhichitta is so infinitely great and so highly praised in the Mahayana sutras. It transforms even the smallest virtuous action into something of vast proportions, because we are not doing it any more for ourselves or just for the object, but for the whole world. Then even the most minute thing has infinite ramifications, not just in this lifetime, but throughout the vast stretch of future lifetimes. This is the birth of genuine spiritual altruism.

It is very easy to talk about benefiting all sentient beings throughout time and space. In most religious traditions, even the most altruistic attitudes are cultivated in order to gain some kind of a reward later on, be it a place in heaven, paradise, nirvana, or a better rebirth. Even the greatest saints of certain religions are still aiming for heaven. They may live the most difficult and self-abnegating lives, but it’s all because they live in anticipation of eternity in heaven, in glory. Now we’re turning that concept right around and saying, “Forget the glory, forget heaven, forget paradise, forget nirvana, we don’t have time for that. There are too many beings out there suffering endlessly in samsara. There is no end to their suffering.” We can see just by looking around us that there is no end to the sufferings of samsara.

—adapted from Reflections on a Mountain Lake: Teachings on Practical Buddhism by Ven. Tenzin Palmo

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was raised in London and became a Buddhist while still in her teens. At the age of twenty she traveled to India, becoming one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a Buddhist nun. The international bestseller Cave in the Snow chronicles her twelve years of seclusion in a remote cave. Deeply concerned with the plight of Buddhist nuns, she established Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in India. In 2008 His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa, head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, gave her the rare title of Jetsunma (Venerable Master).

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Tenzin Palmo Discusses the Three Kinds of Laziness

Jetsunma Tenzin PalmoThe Buddha described three kinds of laziness. First, there is the kind of laziness we all know: we don’t want to do anything, and we’d rather stay in bed half an hour later than get up and meditate. Second, there is the laziness of feeling ourselves unworthy, the laziness of thinking, “I can’t do this. Other people can meditate, other people can be mindful, other people can be kind and generous in difficult situations, but I can’t, because I’m too stupid.” Or, alternatively, “I’m always an angry person;” “I’ve never been able to do anything in my life;” “I’ve always failed, and I’m bound to fail.” This is laziness.

The third kind of laziness is being busy with worldly things. We can always fill up the vacuum of our time by keeping ever so busy. Being occupied may even make us feel virtuous. But usually it’s just a way of escape. When I came out of the cave, some people said, “Don’t you think that solitude was an escape?” and I said, “An escape from what?” There I was—no radio, no newspapers, no one to talk to. Where was I going to escape to? When things came up, I couldn’t even telephone a friend. I was face-to-face with who I was and with who I was not. There was no escape.

Our ordinary lives are so busy, our days are so full, but we never have any space even to sit for a minute and just be. That’s escape. One of my aunts always kept the radio on, or the television. She didn’t like silence. Silence worried her. Background noise rang out at all times. And we’re all like that. We are afraid of silence—outer silence, inner silence. When there’s no noise going on outside we talk to ourselves—opinions and ideas and judgments and rehashes of what happened yesterday or during our childhood; what he said to me; what I said to him. Our fantasies, our daydreams, our hopes, our worries, our fears. There is no silence. Our noisy outer world is but a reflection of the noise inside: our incessant need to be occupied, to be doing something.

Recently I was talking with a very nice Australian monk who was once occupied with doing so many wonderful Dharma activities that he became a workaholic. He would be up until two or three in the morning. Eventually he collapsed totally. His whole system fell apart and now he can’t do anything. His mind is also slightly impaired in that he doesn’t have very good concentration.

His problem was that his identity was connected with doing. As his work was for the Dharma it looked very virtuous. It looked like he was doing really good things. He was benefiting many people and carrying out the instructions of his teacher, but now that he can’t do anything, who is he? And so he is going through a tremendous crisis because he always identified himself with what he did and with being able to succeed. Now he is not able to do anything and is dependent on others. So I said to him, “But this is a wonderful opportunity. Now, you don’t have to do anything, you can just be.” He said he was trying to come to that, but he found it very threatening not to do anything, to just sit there and be with who he is, not with what he does.

This is the point—we fill our lives with activities. Many of them are really very good activities but if we are not careful, they can just be an escape. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do good and necessary things, but there has to be breathing in as well as a breathing out. We need to have both the active and the contemplative. We need time to just be with ourselves, and to become genuinely centered, when the mind can just be quiet.

From Into the Heart of Life by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Into the Heart of Life

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By: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

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Tenzin Palmo: Practice Compassion Globally, Act Locally

Buddhists spend a lot of time sitting and meditating on loving-kindness and compassion and sending out loving-kindness and compassion to all beings. But if we do not have compassion towards ourselves, how can we expect to send it out to others?

It’s relatively easy to sit on our cushion and think, “May all sentient beings be well and happy,” and send out thoughts of loving-kindness to all those little sentient beings out there on the horizon somewhere! Then somebody comes in and tells us there is a telephone call and we answer crossly, “Go away. I’m doing my loving-kindness meditation.” The best place for us to begin our dharma practice is with our family. We have the strongest karmic connections with family members; therefore, we have a great responsibility for developing our relationships with them. If we cannot develop loving-kindness towards our family, why even talk about other beings? If we really want to open up our heart, it has to be to those directly connected to us, such as our partners, children, parents, and siblings. This is always a difficult task, because we need to overcome deeply entrenched behavioral patterns.

Reflections on a Mountain Lake
I think this can be especially challenging with couples. Sometimes I think it would be a good idea to have a video camera to record how couples relate to each other, so they could see and hear themselves interacting later on. He says this, she says that, every time, and each time the responses are so unskillful. They get locked into a pattern. They cause pain to themselves and to those around them, including their children, and they can’t get out. Putting loving-kindness into practice really helps loosen the tight patterns we have developed over many years. It’s sometimes a very good idea just to close our eyes, then open them and look at the person in front of us—especially if it’s someone we know very well, like our partner, our child or our parents—and really try to see them as if for the first time. This may help us to appreciate their good qualities, which will then aid us in developing loving-kindness for them.

Adapted from Reflections on a Mountain Lake: Teachings on Practical Buddhism by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

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Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo on Relax and Realize

The following article is from the Autumn, 2011 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

THEY SAY THAT THE INITIAL realization of the nature of the mind is the first breakthrough. It's a very important point in all Buddhist schools. At that moment, you cease to be an ordinary person. You become in Buddhist parlance an arya, a noble one. It doesn't mean you are finished. It doesn't mean you are a high level bodhisattva. We can fall back from this. But still, this is a big breakthrough. We now understand what is true and what is not true. We don't have to take it all on faith any more. It is a direct non-dual experience. The point is that it is very easy. It's not difficult, and it's not something that can only be attained after years and years of practice.

Our main obstacle is the fact that we don't know how to relax our minds enough to be open to this experience. In the back of our minds we keep thinking this is something so difficult and so advanced. For this reason we don't recognize what is in front of our face. This is why a teacher can be extraordinarily helpful. A teacher living within that realization is ableif the mind of the disciple is completely opento transmit his or her experience. The problem here is that we have too many hopes and fears; it creates a barrier. It is very hard to be open. You can't just will it.

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From Reflections on a Mountain Lake: Teachings on Practical Buddhism, by Ani Tenzin Palmo

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