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Hawk-headed Dakini Image
Notes on the Dakini Image

The Lost Sadhanas Project
The Bird Forms of the Vajra Dakini and their Functions

The next set of meditations deal with a circle of seven dakinis, like the 108 yoginis. These are skydancers and messengers who teach souls to fly. They have bird heads to symbolize their abilities at flight.

Sometimes groups of dakinis are arrayed in circles around a Buddha or deity, and sometimes they are arranged in circles around the Void. One such emanation is the chakra of bird dakinis, who guide meditators inwards by traveling the winds. Bird dakinis have both visual and mantric forms, but for this set of meditations, we focus on their visual forms.

The Vajra Dakini says,

We appear as lights in the sky, wreaths of fruits and flowers. We move through the skies in circle dances and we guide yogis through many worlds.

We also work with individuals and those whose inner explorations are blocked or attacked. And we visit those who please us.

Each dakini has the form of a bird, or a bird's head and a human body. We have the power of flight shown in avian form. We have forms of the eagle, the hawk, the vulture, the raven, the goose, the owl, and the sparrow. These are associated with different realms: the high sky of awareness for the eagle, the messenger role for the hawk, knowledge of death realms for the vulture, learning of supernatural powers and flight from the raven, religious knowledge for the owl, social interactions for the goose, and hiding one's powers to live in the material world for the sparrow.

How do people call on the dakinis acting as guides? One way is to contemplate their planes of action. The avian dakini form is seen in strong birds with a personality and a realm of knowledge.

Travel to the Void with the eagle dakini, meditate at a cemetery for the vulture dakini, and reflect on sacred texts and scrolls for the owl dakini. Or wear a Vajra crown that has carvings or images of the dakinis upon the crown.

For landscape meditation, visualize the skies full of dakini emanations. 100,000 dakinis may encircle the meditative space, which is like a shrine. Recognizing the presence of the dakinis reveals the deeper levels of the shrine, which is the body of the meditator. As layers of the sky are filled with dakinis, the deeper levels of the soul become visible.

The body becomes like Mt. Sumeru, the Buddhist mountain at the center of the universe, and the soul is at its peak. It looks upwards towards the inner skies, and a dakini in bird form will descend. A weaker soul may use a saddle to ride on the bird form, while a stronger soul will fly together with the dakini having a human body. The wind will whistle with the mantras of flight as both fly through the levels of the sky and the inner worlds.

The specialization of the dakini will determine the spiritual regions to be explored. The dakini is a guide and protector, and the lights and sounds associated with flight will fill the soul with joy. Souls have many tasks and liberation is only one of them. The dakinis of the Mahayana tradition help those who will be explorers and messengers.

The next step is to define the role of each of the bird forms of the dakini and their spheres of knowledge. We will begin with the eagle-headed dakini.

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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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