Comparing the Modern Yogini with Tibetan Female Mystics.

Via Lisa Tully
on Mar 19, 2013
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Photo by Alice Popkorn
Photo by Alice Popkorn

Introducing the “lone female ranger.”

Are you a spiritually minded woman who finds she is walking the path alone?

And by that I don’t mean the universal law that ultimately we are all alone. I mean that perhaps you live alone, go food shopping alone and have to put up your own shelves or pay someone to do it kind of alone.

Yet as lonely as that may sound, in this moment, would you have it any other way?

Or are you a man who knows a woman like this and is feeling a bit baffled as to how a great catch like her is still single? This is a phenomenon I am going to nickname the ‘lone female ranger’ and explore it with the help of one of my favorite authors to see if this is a modern happening or has occurred in the past, albeit under the historical patriarchal radar.

I came across a wonderful book called ‘Women Of Wisdom,’ by Tsultrim Allione. The author of this book was the first Westerner to be ordained a Buddhist nun. This was auspiciously granted by the 16th Karmapa himself, who can be likened to the Dalai Lama in terms of the Tibetan Buddhist pecking order.

She did, however, eventually leave monastic life to get married and have a family. The beauty of that is we now have a woman who is still committed to her path of spiritual growth and self-discovery with hands-on experience of the daily challenges a family life brings to living out those deep yearnings.

It was this journey that inspired her to write this book for all the women in the West facing similar difficulties and triumphs. It contains stories of Tibetan female mystics who all achieved enlightenment and became great leaders despite cultural prejudices and other problems that male practitioners simply didn’t and don’t have to contend with. This book makes a fascinating read for any women out there struggling with guttural instincts that go against societal expectancies.

The author draws many similarities between our lives today and these ancient mystics. For example, the Even though its clarity and presence has been uninterrupted, you have not yet encountered its facemajority of these women were single. Those who were forced to get married either died at the hands of their husbands who didn’t like their wives changing as they grew into themselves or they found a way to get out of the marriage.

The next trend was they found it difficult to practice freely and to their full abilities within the constraints of a patriarchal monastic environment…so they tended to be nomadic practitioners traveling over great distances using their feminine intuition to guide them. Opting to leave their families and friends behind, they would spend decades of their lives in isolated retreats in mountainous caves.

If we swing those trends back around to the ‘lone female ranger’ we can perhaps spot some similarities, according to Tsultrim. She mentions modern women who have just come out of a crisis in their lives that choose to live alone as though entering into a similar type of retreat.

Incidentally, when I was at a teaching by the Dalai Lama last year, one of the first things he mentioned was for effective spiritual growth we must leave the distractions of our family behind by moving elsewhere. Tsultrim also made an interesting case when she likened modern women seeking the guidance of a psychotherapist to help them ease their troubles with the teachers of these Tibetan women helping them reach a state of full illumination through mastering the mind. To be clear these women were not nuns—in fact most of them had consorts who they practiced with to deepen their spirituality through sacred sexual union.

So has the time of the lone female ranger naturally evolved once again for some women to free up a bit of space for the ripening of their feminine selves? And this time it is out in the open for all to see?

My intention for sharing these findings is to bring solace to the solo ladies and insight to the gentlemen out there during these times of great global change. Where a balancing of the matriarchal with the patriarchal seems to be afoot and my guttural feelings are it is indeed for the sake of all sentient beings.

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Ed: Kate Bartolotta


About Lisa Tully

Lisa Tully ditched the corporate world a few years back and headed to India on her last few sheckles. She had a burning desire to see the Dalai Lama in person and learn from him. Blown away by the Tibetan culture she was simultaneously overwhelmed by profound inspiration for what she should do for her next job incarnation! Fast-forward past some serious doubts, the odd flood of tears, and nothing short of a few miracles—she now runs successful spiritual group tours to Dharamsala & Ladakh in Northern India plus the magical kingdom of Bhutan. Lisa loves nothing more than to take folks to experience the exact same life-changing trips she did. Visit her site & join the adventures!


19 Responses to “Comparing the Modern Yogini with Tibetan Female Mystics.”

  1. Padma Kadag says:

    My understanding of the manner in which the terma teachings or treasure teachings which were placed by Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal in minds and earth are in the form of Mother and Father Tantra comprising one particular Ter or Cycle. The Mother and Father Tantra are not seperate from one another…one cannot exist without the other. There are many "modern" Tibetan khandros and naljormas in Tibet and India who practice this as a matter of fact. But there are many western "yoginis" who practice only the Mother tantra from a given cycle…ignoring the Father Tantra. They call this divine feminine. There are no beings without a mother and a father. There is no wisdom without method. The mother and father tantras of any given cycle will not be accomplished without the other.

  2. LisaTully says:

    Absolutely Padma we need balance. There has been too much imbalance and repression of the feminine side. There are many western "yoginis" who do understand and practice this need for balance. I am one of them.

  3. Genna says:

    Oh my gosh, Lisa, I love your article! I totally agree and have been coming to similar understandings myself. Too personal to go into detail, but thank you for putting these concepts forward. Your ideas tie together both the "lack" in my life and the affirming and positive feedback I receive about myself, too. Posting on the main FB page tonight at 8pm.

  4. Artemis says:

    Dear Kate

    I suggest you enroll for an activity at Tara Mandala centre, founded by tsultrim Allione. I guess you will certainly have a clearer view of her and I’m not sure you will still consider her as an example. Best wishes

  5. Artemis says:

    Dear Lisa! (Not Kate)

  6. LisaTully says:

    Dear Genna so glad my article has helped you. I personally breathed a big sigh of relief when I discovered this book. It made total sense. Keep trucking on girl. X

  7. LisaTully says:

    Dear Artemis, one day I would love to attend her Tara Mandala center. It's on my bucket list. Will have to let you know what I personally got from it when the time comes. Wishing you all the best. Lisa

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  9. LisaTully says:

    Hi Filagra sorry I am not understanding you question / comment. Please could you expand a bit more on it? Many thanks Lisa

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    Hi Antonetta glad you enjoyed the post. To be honest the best part of my writings I post up here on elephant journal. I am not a big fan of social media as I find blogging helps me connect with people much more effectively. So keep an eye out on this page As for the comments I think a lot of them may be spam on this particular page. Wishing you all the best. Lisa

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