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.
In the spiritual journey of the meditator, Simmer-Brown demonstrates, the dakini symbolizes levels of personal realization: the sacredness of the body, both female and male; the profound meeting point of body and mind in meditation; the visionary realm of ritual practice; and the empty, spacious qualities of mind itself. When the meditator encounters the dakini, living spiritual experience is activated in a nonconceptual manner by her direct gaze, her radiant body, and her compassionate revelation of reality. Grounded in the author's personal encounter with the dakini, this unique study will appeal to both male and female spiritual seekers interested in goddess worship, women's spirituality, and the tantric tradition.
The Historical Dictionary of Tibet is the most comprehensive dictionary published to date on Tibetan history. It covers the history of Tibet from 27,000 BCE to the present through a chronology, an introductory essay, an extensive bibliography, and over 1,000 cross-referenced dictionary entries on important personalities, politics, economy, foreign relations, religion, culture, anthropology, and sociology. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Tibet.
The Western image of Tibet as a sacred land is in many ways a mythical construction. But the Tibetans themselves have traditionally mapped out their land in terms of areas of sacred space, and pilgrimage, ensuring a high degree of mobility within all classes of Tibetan society. Pilgrims travelled to local, regional, and national centres throughout recorded Tibetan history. In recent years, pilgrimage has resumed in areas where it had been forbidden by the Chinese authorities, and has now become one of the most prominent religious expressions of Tibetan national identity.
In this major new work, leading scholars of Asian pilgrimage traditions discuss historical and contemporary aspects of pilgrimage within the Tibetan cultural world. Myths and legends, material conditions, textual sources, a modern pilgrim's impressions, political and economic influences, biographies and contemporary developments - all these and many other issues are examined here. The result is an informative and often entertaining work which contributes greatly to our knowledge of the history and culture of Tibet as well as the wider issues of religious power and practice.