She Was A Natural Yogini

Upcoming Events

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

February 27, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Abiding in Unceasing Clarity; The Kunzang Monlam

With Pema Khandro

March 10, 2019
San Diego, Ca ~ Learn the prayer that guides all who hear it to liberation [...]
Register Now

Carrying Joy & Sorrow Onto the Path

With Pema Khandro

March 12, 2019
Study and recite the inspiring Tibetan prayer Carrying Joy and Sorrow onto the Path, an anthem for courage, stability, knowing your purpose and finding inner peace. [...]
Register Now

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

March 13, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Natural Nirvana

With Pema Khandro

March 15, 2019
Nevada City, Ca ~ Join us for this free public lecture on Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis, their lifestyle, their philosophy, their history and practice. Led by Pema Khandro Rinpoche. The evening will include meditation and Q&A [...]
Register Now

Resting in Natural Freedom

With Pema Khandro

March 16, 2019
Nevada City, Ca ~ This one day meditation retreat explores the heart of the Great Perfection, (Dzogchen) Tibetan Buddhist meditation.
Register Now

Vajra Sangha Retreat

With Pema Khandro

March 17, 2019
Nevada City, Ca ~ Closed Retreat. Vajra Sangha Participants must be able to attend from beginning to end. Vajra Sangha are the long-term personal students of Pema Khandro who are eligible for private teachings and advanced training. The Vajra Sangha functions in a warm, closely connected community, based on long-term friendships, mutual respect, and appreciation. It is an association of serious practitioners who do in-depth study and service, who are also able to be light-hearted and celebrate life. It is a community of leaders rather than a community of followers since advanced Buddhist study requires a willingness to take responsibility for one’s life…
Register Now

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

March 27, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Skillful Means

With Pema Khandro

April 8 - May 6, 2019
Closed Retreat, for Vajra Sangha Members. Free for Sustainer Members and Above, or $90 Love offering [...]
Register Now

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

April 10, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Buddhist Practice on Western Ground: Reconciling Eastern Ideals and Western Psychology

With Pema Khandro

April 17, 2019
Open Teaching, Pema Khandro interviews Dr. Harvey B. Aaronson Isn’t Anger sometimes appropriate? What is the difference between attachment and non-attachment in Psychology and Buddhism?  Is there self-esteem in a system that teaches no-self? What is Ego afterall? How do we find our voices in the context of the Eastern paradigms of the student-teacher relationship? These questions and more will be discussed with Dr. Harvey B. Aaronson, Lama, co-founder of Dawn Mountain, psychotherapist and author of Buddhist Practice on Western Ground: Reconciling Eastern Ideals and Western Psychology.
Register Now

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

April 24, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

May 8, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

May 22, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Invoking the 100,000 Dakinis

With Pema Khandro

June 7 - 9, 2019
Dakini Mountain ~ This meditation retreat will offer the extraordinary opportunity to chant and study Invoking the 100,000 Dakinis, an inspiring Tibetan Buddhist prayer from the Dakini’s Heart Essence.
Register Now

Dakini Mountain, Grand Opening Celebration

With Pema Khandro

June 9, 2019
Join Pema Khandro and the Community of Buddhist Yogis at Dakini Mountain for this auspicious occasion! Sunday June 9th, Grand Opening Celebration    
Register Now

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

June 12, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

June 26, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

July 10, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

July 24, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

The Radiance Retreat – Detox and Rejuvenate

With Aruna Rig'dzin and Satya Shiva

July 25 - 28, 2019
Free your body of deep-seated toxins and undigested material. Far deeper than fasting can go, this weekend retreat will guide you in how to safely uproot the toxins that are buried in your system. You will be guided through a traditional cleanse based on the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese and Himalayan Medicine. The retreat also includes bliss yoga, meditation, organic vegetarian meals, and communion with nature for a holistic mind-body renewal. The retreat will be led by Aruna Rigdzin and Satya Shiva, directors of the Yogic Medicine Institute. They have offered private treatments, group cleanses and panchakarma retreats each…
Register Now

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

August 14, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

The Innermost Heart of Freedom: Dzogchen Meditation Retreat

With Pema Khandro

August 21 - 25, 2019
Dakini Mountain ~ This is a meditation retreat for the wired and weary to settle into focused calm, to rest into the nature of mind and tap into profound depths. This is the fourth Annual Dzogchen Retreat, five days of Buddhist meditation practices that will surprise you with the wonderful power and expansiveness of mind [...]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

August 28, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

September 11, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Meditation Instructor Training

With Pema Khandro, Aruna Rig'dzin and Satya Shiva

September 14 - October 4, 2019
The Meditation Instructor Training supplies the fundamental knowledge and experience necessary to lead meditation classes and one-day meditation intensives [...]
Register Now

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

September 25, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Laughter of the Dakinis – Chod Retreat

With Chodpa Kunzang Dorje and Pema Khandro

October 4 - 6, 2019
This meditation retreat focuses on Buddhism’s esoteric practice for transforming the most difficult experiences into opportunities for awakening. It is a method which harnesses the heroic energy of enlightened intent to change neurotic mind patterns and heal from traumas.….[…]
Register Now

Chod & Chod Dances

With Chodpa Kunzang Dorje

October 7 - 10, 2019
Vajra Sangha Only ~ Closed Retreat. This meditation intensive focuses on Buddhism’s esoteric practice for transforming the most difficult experiences into opportunities for awakening. It is a method which harnesses the heroic energy of enlightened intent to change neurotic mind patterns and heal from traumas. It is a practice for opening to intrinsic wholeness, loving compassion, and natural resilience [...]
Register Now

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

October 9, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Vajra Sangha Retreat

With Pema Khandro

October 10 - 13, 2019
Closed Retreat ~ The annual Vajra Sangha retreat is a private weekend retreat full of deep practice of meditation and study of Dzogchen, Buddhism’s esoteric philosophy. It is a celebratory reunion of the Vajra Sangha from all over the world. The retreat is led by Pema Khandro Rinpoche at her headquarters in Virginia, Khandro Ling.
Register Now

Group Leader Training

With Pema Khandro

October 15 - 17, 2019
The Group Leader Training Program serves the need for training leaders who will serve their local communities, to connect them with the tools for meditation practices and for studying fundamental Buddhist views. Click Here For More Details and Pre-Requisites [...]
Contact Register@BuddhistYogis.org for More Information

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

October 23, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

November 13, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Public Program

With Pema Khandro

November 21, 2019
San Diego, Ca ~ Public Program
Register Now

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

November 27, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

December 11, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

New Years Retreat ~ Vajrasattva

January 20, 2020
Begin the New Year with a Day-long meditation retreat. You will practice Vajrasattva meditation, the practice cherished by Tibetan Buddhists for clearing past karma and restoring confidence and awakening compassion wisdom of your innermost mind. This retreat will be held in Los Angeles, Seattle, Santa Cruz, Grass Valley and Berkeley led by the Buddhist Yogi’s Sangha’s Meditation Instructors and Group Leaders [...]
Register Now

Zurmo Gendun bum – A Post on Buddhist Women in Tibetan History

There was a fourteenth century (1) female master of the Nyingma lineage who came from the Zur family. Her name was Zurmo Gendun bum. (Tib. zur mo dge ’dun ’bum). Nyingma yogini, member of the powerful Zur family, endowed with natural dignity, female exemplar and vajra master, Zurmo Gendun bum was said to be a multifaceted practitioner. She mastered the intellectual, contemplative and ritual practices.

Sources about women in Tibetan Buddhism and women in Buddhism in general are sparse. So her brief biography provides an interesting glimpse at a woman in Buddhist history.  I am in the midst of researching her for an article I am writing, but the details that have emerged already have surprising elements. (2)

Zurmo Gendun bum was a master of the oral-lineage transmissions. Buddhist teachings of Tibet’s Nyingma lineage have been passed through various over-lapping systems. These include family lineages, tulku traditions, ordination lineage and institutional traditions associated with particular monasteries. But the two major overarching categories for how lineage is passage are known as the ‘short lineage’ of the treasure revelations and the ‘long lineage.’ (Aka – gterma and bka’ ma). This yogini held and transmitted the long lineage.

The long lineage refers to the oral transmission of Buddhist teachings and practices that were given from teacher to student since the time of the Buddha. Within the early era of the long lineage in Tibet, four families played a major role and one of these was the Zur clan. (3) Among the Zur lineage lists is a female Buddhist teacher and yogini known as Zurmo Gendun bum.

Zurmo Gendun bum was a lineage holder of the “Sutra which Gathers All Intentions,” which is an important practice text of the Buddhist inner tantras. A famed Tibetan Yogi (ngakpa) Nupchen Sangye Yeshe, is remembered for having brought the Anu Yoga teachings to Tibet and this text is a principle Anu Yoga text. Anu Yoga are a class of Nyingma inner tantra concerned with the subtle body meditation practice. One of the principle texts of these practices is known as “The Sutra which Gathers All Intentions,” (Tib. mdo dgongs pa ‘dus pa) – which the lady Zurmo Gendun bum was a teacher of.

Although the empowerment for these teachings was given to both Zurmo Gendun bum and her brother (4) according to Dudjom Rinpoche’s history, and she became the holder of that lineage.

In a rare portrayal of an early female Buddhist lineage holder, her brief biography describes her as a ‘natural yogini.’

In reality, she was a natural yogini, who from her youth onwards was dignified, even in appearance and free from the defects of samsara. Training herself in the three aspects of creation and perfection, she attained their limits, realized the abiding nature of reality, and mastered many approaches to contemplation. Thus, she became a great learned and accomplished woman.” (5)

Another notable aspect of this description was that she was endowed with dignity. To say that she was free from the ‘defects of samsara’ is to refer to being free of the mental angst and neurosis which comes from living without awareness of one’s true nature.

The biography describes her practice – it is the practice of creation and perfection stage – the primary Vajrayana practices. These practices center around visualization and identity transformation through meditating on and then merging with a buddha, or another wisdom being. It is the ultimate psychological transformation, the practitioner transitions from an ordinary view of oneself as separate and mundane to an expanded vision of oneself as radiant, wakeful, deeply connected to the lineage and with a life purpose to help others. Not only was this eleventh century woman trained in such practices, she is also said to have mastered them and many other methods.

Moreover, another point of interest is that she was portrayed as a Vajra master (Tib. rdo rje slob dpon) who was authorized to give such transmissions to students. This is a high ranking Buddhist teacher. Historically, these roles have usually been occupied by male teachers.

In another noteworthy element of her biography, we are told that she was a teacher of male students. Therefore she played a role in the continued transmission of this text, not just to other women but to the successors of the lineage and to male students. It was she who gave the empowerment of this text to Zurton Sakya Shenyen and due to this the lineage continued. (6)

A fascinating aspect of this biography is that she is portrayed not only as a contemplative master, but also as someone who is ‘learned,’ suggesting a well rounded and accomplished practitioner of meditation, ritual and intellectual learning.

Where are other sources for Zurmo Gendun bum’s life?

In the eighteenth century she appears in Jigme Lingpa’s records. Sam van Schaik’s research includes her listed in the translation of the lineage record (thob yigs) of Jigme Lingpa in the text entitled The Sun and Moon Earrings (Tib. Nyi zla’i rna cha). It has a list of names of lineage holders. It begins with the famous Ngakpa Nubchen Sangye Yeshe and goes on to the famous eighteenth century yogi, Jigme Lingpa. But somewhere in the middle is a female Vajra master and lineage holder, Zurmo Gendun bum.

“…from gNubs-chen, So Ye-shes dBang-phyug, by him to Rab-thung, Ra-thung and Kong-btsun, and heard from those three by Nyang Sher-mchog, from him to Nyang Ye-shes ‘Byung-gnas, Zur-po-che Shākya ‘Byung-gnas, Zur-chung Shes-rab Grags, the four heart-sons and eight descendents, sGro-phug-pa Shākya Seng-ge, rTsags-ston Shākya rDo-rje, rTsags-ston Shākya ‘Byung-gnas, Glan rDo-rje ‘Od, Glan bSod-nams rGyal-mtshan, Chos-kyi Seng-ge, Glan Buddhashrī, Glan bSod-rnams mGon-po, sGrol-ma-ba bSam-‘grub rDo-rje, Zur-mo dGe-bdun ‘Bum, Zur Shākyamitra, Dharmalakṣa, dKon-mchog bZang-po, rDo-rje bZang-po, Badzra Bidzrayamitashrī, Karmā Guru, Kun-bzang dPal-‘byor, Phrin-las Lhun-grub, Chos-rgyal bsTan-‘dzin, gTer-gling-pa, mKhan-chen Lotsā, Khri-rin-rnam, bsTan-‘dzin rDo-rje, Khri-‘gyur-rnam, sGom-ri Orgyan Klong-yangs…” and then ‘Jigs-med Gling-pa.”

Here is a link to that article of van Schaik’s which argues for the benefit of these lineage records – thob yigs – as historical records. Case in point, our subject Zurmo Gendun bum appears there. Thus it reveals evidence of continuous memory of her as a significant link in the chain of lineage transmission. Such a record helps to fill in gaps in the history of Buddhist women by recording a female teacher’s existence within a wider literary context where many women were left unnamed.

This important Buddhist woman also appears in a seventeenth century record. She is described in the collected works of the fifth Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (Tib. ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho), in the liberation story of all the great Zur, Khyenpa Cho ying Rangdrol. (7)

གཅུང་ལྷ་ཆོས་མི་ཆོས་ལ་མཁྱེན་པ་ཆེ་བ་དེ་ཕོ་བྲང་ཏའི་ཧུར་དགུང་ལོ་ཉེར་ལྔ་པ་ལ་གཤེགས་ལྕམ་སྲིང་མ་མི་ཆོས་མཛད་པའི་མཚན་ཟུར་མོ་དགེ་འདུན་འབུམ་ཞེས་རྡོ་རྗེ་མཁའ་འགྲོའི་སྤྲུལ་པར་བྱེད།

The biography states – “As for the zur sister, her worldly name was Zurmo Gendun bum (Tib. Zurmo dGe ‘dun ‘Bum), she was an emanation of Vajra Dakini (rdo rje mkh’ ‘gro).

In other words, this record states that she was no ordinary person, but was regarded as embodying a high level of realization. For Buddhist women to be regarded as emanations of dakinis, buddhas, previous masters or other divine figures is a manner of acknowledging and endowing these women with authority. It is a way of expressing respect.

This early female Buddhist master also appears in a fourteenth century record. She is mentioned in the Blue Annals (8). This text is major source for early Tibetan Buddhist history. It was written by a fourteenth century historian Gö Lotsawa (Tib. gos lo tsā ba gzhon nu dpal). There are no biographical details there, however her name appears in a record of who held and passed on the lineage.

The record of Zurmo Gendun Bum raises the question of women’s roles as religious leaders in the fourteenth century and in the Zur lineage. How many other women ascended to the rank of Vajra Master during this time? What other biographical sources might exist filling in more details about her life?

Footnotes

(1) Here I follow the TBRC library dates for her life which identifies her as a 14th century figure.
(2)There is a brief english version of her life in the passage on the Zur lineage in the Nyingma Fundamentals. See – Rinpoche, Dudjom. The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: Its Fundamentals and History (Somerville, MA, Wisdom Publications 1991). Kindle Edition. 15507-15508
(3) See a pithy discussion of this by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:
Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse. Zurchungpa’s Testament. (Snow Lion Publications, 2007).
(4) Dudjom Rinpoche
(5) Dudjom Rinpoche
(6) There seems to be some variations in the sources listed about who followed her in the lineage here, so further research will be necessary to sort out the succession.
(7) ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho. gsung ‘bum (krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 2009)

For more of Pema Khandro’s articles on Buddhist Women, check out these links:

Buddhist Women – Remembering the Yoginis

Buddhist Women – Tibet’s First Female Tulku (reincarnate lama)

 

 

Buddhist Women – The Story of A Survivor

Also
https://www.pemakhandro.org/buddhist-women-one-nuns-hardship-beauty/

 

 

Pema Khandro
Pema Khandro is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, humanitarian, and teacher in the rare lineage of Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis. Raised in the west, ordained in the Nyingma lineage, enthroned as a tulku and trained as an academic, Pema Khandro presents both a traditional perspective and a modern voice. Read more at: https://www.pemakhandro.org/pema-khandro-extended-biography/