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The Hawk-Headed Form of the Vajra Dakini -
Notes on the Dakini Image

The Lost Sadhanas Project
Introduction to the Sadhanas of the Bird-Headed
Forms of the Vajra Dakini

Editor's Note: This is a revealed teaching from an older Tibetan tradition where yogis and seekers interacted with dakinis as Yidams or spiritual guides who appeared in various bird-headed forms.

The Vajra Dakini says,

Different sadhanas are revealed at different times. All factors must be right. New teachings are needed for this historical period. I will tell you why.

The older teachings have been secret so long that people have forgotten how to use them. The newer or contemporary Buddhist teachings have been so simplified that they accomplish little.

Buddhist leaders have chosen to go with the most elementary teachings as a way to spread the message to the largest audience possible. So we have more people who claim to be Buddhists but fewer than ever that know the Buddhist inner realms. Nor do they know the Buddhas themselves, as they have dismissed them as only symbolic. Thus Buddhist paradises disappear as well.

As modern Buddhism has become both more psychological and more intellectual (though it denies the importance of the intellect), it is time for lost teachings to emerge.

Denial of the intermediate or spiritual worlds is not more enlightened. It shows only blindness to the worlds of experience. Dakinis are usually visualized according to set ritual patterns. Once an image has worked in the past, it is kept forever. Dakinis are invoked in the same ritual forms over and over again.

While this may work, devotees forget that dakinis are living beings and quite capable of boredom. Simply because we are willing to help devotees in their meditation does not mean that we are figures of the imagination. There is a strand of ethnocentrism in Buddhist philosophy that basically says that human beings are real, but spiritual beings are not real. They may be categorized as illusions or fantasies, but their reality is inferior to that of human beings. This is quite insulting. It is part of the reason dakinis, yoginis, bhairavas, and other conscious spiritual beings have become less interested in helping human meditators.

If we view all forms are empty, then humans have equal reality to dakinis and bodhisattvas. If all form is not empty, then human beings can be real but so can Buddhas.

Instead, we have human beings claiming superior reality to dakinis and even bodhisattvas, though bodhisattvas may be accepted as having superior morality.

We are real in a different way than human bodies are said to be real. We are conscious and living but we are not limited to finite bodies. As humans are bound to single bodies, we are often assumed to be bound to a single form. This is why you see so many pictures of, for example, Avalokiteshvara sitting in the exact same position.

We are not bound to single bodies in single positions. Indeed we are often tired of them. The great virtue of being made of consciousness rather than matter is that we can change forms with ease. Indeed, creating multiple forms is a dance of beauty and creativity.

However, we will accept different symbols from different times and places, and use them to help spiritual aspirants. Thus for human devotees, we often take human form. However, I would note that those are emanations, our true natures are formless.

We are not limited to human forms. We may take animal or plant forms, or create mixtures. This is the origin for the following set of visualizations or sadhanas. The Vajra Dakini appears in human form but with a bird's head.

Birds have many associations in different cultures, but there are some ideas that repeat. That is the basis for these bird-headed forms. Both human bodies and bird heads are symbolic, one for the targeted species and one for the type of spiritual travel to be learned and explored.

This is a hidden spiritual practice, for students must be mature before they explore the inner worlds. But we can help and teach those who are appropriate.

We next go on to describe the importance of having a Yidam or inner Buddhist spiritual guide when doing this practice.

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Introduction | Methodology - Participant/Observer | The Bodhi Tree Sadhanas | Vajra Dakini Discussion | Vajra Dakini Commentary | Vajra Dakini Sadhanas | Vajra Yogini Commentary | Maitreya Sadhanas | Vajradhara Speaks About Yidams | Lost Sadhanas Conclusion


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