Female in Buddhism | Drukmo Gyal Dakini | TEDxTartu

Translator: Rhonda Jacobs
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven (Tibetan) Greetings. (Estonian) Good morning. So, what do you know about Tibet? Oh, this is the other side of the- Now you see the whole- (Laughs) Oh… Yeah, okay, here we go… So, what do you know about Tibet? What imaginations do you have
when you hear ‘Tibet’? Snow mountains? Or Potala Palace? Or monks in monasteries? The funny thing is,
when I Google about Tibet, this came to me. And I understand that Estonians
have a big passion and love towards Tibetan dogs. But in Tibet, we have yaks too. (Laughs) And yaks are more highly
respected than the dogs because they’re called the ‘boat of life.’ We survive on the plateau
offered everything by the yaks. But of course, we have
many other important things. So this is a thanka painting of the most famous female Buddha
in Tibetan Buddhism. She’s Tara, in Sanskrit, and we call her Drolma, in Tibetan. ‘Drol’ means to liberate; ‘ma’ – female. So ‘Drolma’ means female liberator. With such understanding
towards women, female, then we’re taught since we are young not to create any negative views
or impure visions towards our mothers. Plus, in Tibet, it’s very common
for mothers to breastfeed their children up to two, three,
even sometimes four years. This deep physical connection helps children to build up
a divine relation with their mothers. So all mothers are considered as Tara. But I never imagined
that hatred and inharmony can exist between a child and a mother until I came to the West
about three years ago. The thing is, in the West, the modern education
is kind of over-commercialized. It has so many standards or rules for children to standardize
their behaviors. Plus, parents follow all these so-called
‘science-proved’ education methods of ‘do’s and don’ts’ for their children, and children feel suppressed
and disconnected. And many times when they grow up, they feel difficulties
of loving their parents in return because they are traumatized. On the other side, parents believe they have done
everything they could for their children. But, that’s also
the beginning of the problem: How can parents decide
how much love their children need? Of course, parents can decide how much chocolate
their children need to eat, but the individual needs
of love is so different, we can only find out the extent
by loving our children unconditionally. So during the eighth century, our Tibetan king invited
a powerful Buddhist master from India – Guru Rinpoche. He’s also known as The Lotus-Born, and he came to Tibet
and established two main traditions in order to offer
the people the opportunity of practicing compassion and wisdom – very essential teachings of Buddhism and very key point of bringing harmony
into the family and society. So what exactly is compassion? It’s such a popular word nowadays. From the Buddhist view
there are two meanings and two aspects of compassion. Understanding them in detail helps us
on how to deliver them in daily life. So meaning number one
is compassion itself. It represents a limited
capacity of lovingkindness that everyone has. And meaning number two: enlightenment. Enlightenment is based on
the limited capacity of lovingkindness that all of us have, and through Buddhist trainings,
we’re able to extend that limited capacity up to an unlimited level,
just like the infinite universe. Aspect number one
is to keep positive thinking no matter what happens to our lives. Especially when we are the victims
of certain situations, our best self-protection would be keeping
positive thinking towards ourselves, and then others. Aspect number two is positive action. So, imagine if we can train
our mind to keep positive even in tough situations, then it will be very natural for us
to act and react positively. Then again, we believe
that compassion is not perfect without developing wisdom. But, what is wisdom? Is it the information
that we’re receiving in everyday life? Wisdom means knowing what to do, in what situation, with who, at what time. Ooh la la. (Laughs) How omnicient that can be. But how is it even
possible to achieve this? Of course, no wisdom can be developed
without mistakes and learning. So, there’s a famous Buddhist teaching
practiced in all schools in Tibet called the Six Paramitas,
or we call them Six Perfections. So there’s perfect generosity,
mindfulness, patience and effort. So now, if we experience these four steps with a purpose of bringing
positive change into our lives, for example, decreasing our anger, whenever anger arises,
we make friends with it generously, rather than pushing it away
and making it an enemy. And then be mindful whenever anger comes, and then keep
a positive reaction towards it. And be patient whenever we fail
to recognize the arrival of anger that mostly happens to all of us. And then, continue with effort
to recognize it, make friends with it, and analyze the reason behind it. Then, we will reach the fifth step,
which is the perfect meditation. Meditation in Tibetan is called sgom, and ‘gom’ comes from a root Tibetan verb
called ‘kom,’ which means ‘habit.’ So, when we habituate ourselves
with these five steps above, including the perfect meditation,
the perfect habituation, then, we will be realized
with the perfect wisdom. The perfect wisdom
that enables us or empowers us to bring on any positive changes
we need for our situations. Let’s come back to the two traditions
that Guru Rinpoche established in Tibet in order to practice
compassion and wisdom. So at first, he established
the monastic system. Monasteries were considered
educational institutes at that time. So one can have access
to Buddhist teaching only when they renounce
themselves from mundane life. So every seven lay families
sponsored a monk or a nun as an act of good karma
for their entire life. Secondly, he established
the yogi tradition. Yogi tradition enabled lay people
to have access to Buddhist teachings. Yogis and yoginis, including Guru Rinpoche
and his consort Yeshe Tsogyal, became the first so-called
yogi and yogini in Tibetan history. So they work most of the time,
just like us, for making a living, but they gather together every month
for rituals, ceremonies and practice on auspicious days according
to the Tibetan lunar calendar. And when time allows, they also
undertake long or short retreats with body, mind and speech trainings. So, here it goes… You might be wondering, like,
what would a yogi or yogini need, like, what one needs
to become a yogi or yogini. There are 14 different vows,
of the Vajrayana Path that yogis and yoginis have to follow, and one of them says: you cannot do, you cannot talk,
you cannot even think negatively towards a female. So, if this ideal situation happens,
especially to your mothers, then all the women in this room
will be feeling like her, (Laughs) I hope. So, the interesting thing
about female value in Tibetan Buddhism is that in different schools
they hold opposite views. For example, in the monastic system,
older monks will tell younger monks that all the women are ugly, dirty and dangerous, but these views
are mind trainings for monks to destroy their desire
upon female beauty, or their biological needs of physical sex. So for us laypeople, we have to understand
that this definition of female is not the main point. The main point in this context
is to help monks destroy their desire. On the other hand, yogis or yoginis
in the yogi tradition, both genders share equally in learning, practicing
and teaching Buddhism. So, I understand it
as Buddhism – Feminism, because female practitioners
in yogic tradition can have far more opportunities
than any other women in Tibetan society. I received a letter
about two years ago from a lady, and she claimed
she’s a feminist in the letter, and she said she experienced
learning smoking and drinking alcohol because she wanted to prove
that she can do anything that a man can. But of course, this is not
what ‘we can do it’ means. When one doesn’t practice
compassion and wisdom, any external appearances
and material values can easily carry away the mind, and it’s very difficult
to focus on the topic. I’m not against feminists, I’m not against feminism when they promote equality
due to female potential. But when anger and hatred are involved, then it’s going very far
from the initial goal. I come from the Northeastern
part of Tibet, Amdo, and the biggest yogi community
in this area is called Regkong County, and one person out of nine people
are yogis and yoginis. That’s why we’re called
the Land of Yogis and Yoginis. My grandparents are from this area, and they had 12 children together –
four died, eight survived, two boys and six girls. And my grandfather was not very happy
when he found out none of his two sons wanted to continue
the yogi family lineage. Plus, Tibetan society
is a patriarchal society, and the monastic system
and the males, most of the males, have a predominant belief that only males
can continue as the lineage holder- continue the lineage. This made my grandfather
even more panicked. And then my grandmother
skillfully brought up Yeshe Tsogyal, the first yogini ever in Tibetan history,
and her importance as a female master of Buddhism. She also mentioned Machig Labdrön, who was a single mother
with three children but even founded her own
Buddhist school called Chöd, which means ‘to cut.’ One practices Chöd in order
to cut fear and excessive ego. This was the only teaching
that became so powerful that it went back to India. You know, Buddhism
came from India to Tibet, but this was so powerful
a teaching it went back. She also mentioned Sera Khandro, who was a very precious princess of a noble family in the center of Tibet. And then she ran away at the age of 14
from an arranged marriage to the northeastern part of Tibet, and she worked as a servant girl
for years, and practicing Buddhism, and finally Buddhist teachers
spotted her out from the crowd, and she became
an influential female master. So after hearing all these stories, my grandfather completely changed his view
about his six daughters and their potential
in the family and spirituality. So he started training
all of them equally, so now my mother, my aunts,
all are continuing the family lineage. My family has been practicing
the yogi tradition for six generations, and I’m grateful that in a speedy,
modern world like today, young yogis and yoginis like myself can still get in touch
with the ancient wisdom and balance ourselves. So, I really believe that harmony between a child and a mother can come back with practicing
compassion and wisdom. The talk is about giving you
a general idea of the whole picture. But as individuals, we’re so different, and our lives lead us
to different possibilities of infinity. Then you have the freedom
and the potential to search for your happiness, harmony and compassion, and wisdom. Thank you.

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