Every Tibetan Buddhist knows the life story and the songs of realization of the great Tibetan yogī Milarepa. The many songs of awakening by his Indian predecessors, the most famous among them the eighty-four mahāsiddhas, are much less known but equally profound, beautiful, and inspiring.
Even less known are the songs and life-stories of their numerous female counterparts.
Most of these songs were uttered spontaneously on the spot, and many betray quite unconventional if not outrageous thinking and conduct. They often use a rich symbolism with profound metaphors, and their style sometimes sounds more like modern poetry or song lyrics than traditional Buddhist texts, creating a certain atmosphere or being evocative rather than systematically didactive. Many of them use a rhetoric of paradox, attempting to beat the dualistic mind with its own weapons and point to something beyond our usual black-and-white thinking. It is a scent of boundless freedom, openness, and bliss, paired with a deep caring for suffering beings, that wafts through these songs as expressions of supreme awakening.
During this weekend, we will explore the life stories of a number of female mahāsiddhas and yoginīs (such as Niguma, Sukhasiddhi, the crazy princess Lakṣmī, and Ḍombiyoginī), as well as their relationships to their male counterparts, and sing a selection of their songs.