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The Lost Sadhanas Project
Dakini Forms - The Vulture Dakini

The Vajra Dakini says,

The hawk form is also useful for dream meditation. It carries information from one realm to another, and can carry the soul through the world of dreams and half-dreams. If a person becomes awake in a dream, the person can call on the dakini's hawk form.

Another of the dakini's bird forms is the vulture. In the West, the vulture is seen in a negative fashion, as ugly and impure. People would avoid vultures as they avoid thoughts of death.

But in Tibet, where the dead are exposed to the elements instead of buried, vultures serve an important function. They take on the dead flesh so the earth will not be made impure. They sacrifice their own purity so that others may live in a healthy and spiritually clean way. They are sacrificial animals, as Hindus have the goat and Mithraism had the bull. All take on the sin and impurity of the world, and may thus be known as sin-eaters.

Sacrifice is not pretty, it is ugly. Those who have chosen to live among the poor and diseased cannot ignore this. They may claim that their gods are to be found among the poor and diseased, but that does not change the ugliness. It just means that they learn to look past it.

The dakini's vulture form is ugly, and so is her crone form. Age destroys beauty as death does, for the life energy is leaving the body and flowing slowly into the soul.

But the crone form is useful for spiritual travel, for it negates attachment to the body and can thus serve as a role model for one who seeks such detachment. It can also test the inner sight of the novice. It tests whether the novice can ignore the obvious in favor of the hidden.

The vulture is a bird of transition, both of the body and the soul. It takes the body from something to nothing. It also takes the soul from attachment to non-attachment, from embodiment to dissolution in the Void.

The chod rite of giving away the body and the skandhas imitates this function, making the human being similar to a vulture, and gaining the merit of self-sacrifice for others. However, while this may appear to be a positive ritual (and is easier than compassionate action in the world where one may confront actual physical danger and hostility), I do not recommend performing this ritual. It destabilizes the skandhas and can easily bring inner chaos.

It is particularly bad for reincarnation, when the soul is like a bag of blocks that no longer fit together. Conflict within the soul at the moment of death can bring unhappy future lives, with less harmony and sanity. Even people who congratulate themselves on their abilities at sacrifice may gain attachment to the ego, choosing the ritual instead of true detachment.

Invoking the vulture form of the dakini can be an addition to the Tibetan chod rite. In this ritual, the individual sacrifices attachment to body, mind, and speech. Then the vulture form may come to reveal the origins, physical and spiritual, of what has been sacrificed.

Or a person may go out to a deserted place where no one will disturb the meditation. He or she should think, I no longer reject all the imperfection and impurity of my past lives. I will take responsibility for the evil deeds that I have committed. I will not claim the perfection of body, speech, and mind. Instead I will swallow my imperfections and become a sin-eater.

He or she absorbs the darkness that has been projected onto others. He sacrifices attachment to the ego, for the sake of all living beings. He accepts the light and darkness of the universe.

The acceptance creates a whirlpool in the heart. Here is where the vulture-headed dakini descends, as goddess of sacrifice. The heart becomes the yogi's fire, and as the flames rise, the smoke forms a path to the ancestor world.

In my vulture form, I fly the soul to the land of the ancestors. I oversee their interactions. If either party becomes violent, I move the soul to the next ancestor group. People, especially yogis, have lived many lives with many religious and cultural groups. When the blessings and sins of each life have been absorbed, the soul can continue its travels.

Not only the past lives themselves but also their social and cultural contexts must be learned and integrated.

This is the vulture meditation.

The vulture form is skilled at visiting ancestors. This will be discussed in greater detail next.

The Vulture Dakini and the Ancestors

The wheel of transformation is also a spiral staircase whose stages spiral out into infinity. Vajra Dakini can take on a vast number of forms. Today the form will again be the vulture.

Vajra Dakini says,

Today's vulture form has wide, strong wings. We fly into the lands of the past.

There are two forms of ancestor that the soul should know. One is the biological ancestor, the origin of the body. The other is the spiritual ancestor, the origin of the soul. The first deals with others who have placed their imprint on the body at birth. The second deals with previous forms of the self, the past lives that have cursed or blessed the soul.

To examine physical ancestors, we look at the elements of the body. These can hold memories, especially dark ones that are strong enough to become embodied. They are the stresses of race and history, which stunt or mangle the body's cells, which stretch or distort it, which strengthen or weaken it.

Sometimes the ancestors are powerful and demanding. Suffering can increase their desire and can cause a soul to be born into a network of passion and revenge. There is suffering and starvation in many lands, with traumas that have been carried down through the generations. Many people choose to forget, but traumas cannot be completely forgotten. They stay dormant until a member of the line chooses to know his or her past. Then the trauma can emerge in full force and be strong enough to dominate the personality of the individual.

These are examples of things that can occur with physical ancestors, but there are also the soul's ancestors who create the memories from past lives. While the physical ancestors affect the body's weakness and strengths, the soul's ancestors are the layers of the self which remember ancient joys and sorrows. They also contain curses and blessings.

To progress beyond the ancestor worlds, all responsibilities and obligations must be fulfilled.

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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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