Lady of the Lotus Born
The Life and Enlightenment of Yeshe Tsogyal
By the same author
The biography of the "first lady" of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava's leading disciple and a great teacher in her own right. Written and concealed as a terma by two leading disciples, with passages of profound doctrine offset by episodes of adventure, spiritual endeavour and court intrigue, the book gives a colourful and fascinating picture of 8th century Tibet at the very start of the Buddhist era - a world now vanished. Following the archetypical student-teacher relationship, she completed the Buddhist path, including the Dzogchen teachings, under Padmasambhava's guidance.
"Yeshe Tsogyal consciously decided to tell her story as a help to us in our lives. She simply shares, without asking for pity or admiration, presenting her experience not as mystical or superhuman, but as something profoundly natural and human. Her youthful disillusionment with the ways of the world, her introduction to the teachings, and her training in them, step by step, are all told simply and starightforwardly. In fact, it is her ability to make positive and creative use of whatever came her way that is the greatest of all messages that come to us in her wonderful biography." Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche.
Read an extract of this title
The story of the life of Yeshe Tsogyal is not merely an absorbing historical document. It is, above all, one of the most inspiring examples of how the Buddha's teachings may be put into practice.
In the early days of Buddhism in Tibet, many of the sacred texts were translated several times from Sanskrit, each version complementing the others and contributing to a complete understanding of the original. In the same spirit, although this extraordinarily important text has already been made available to English readers by the skilled efforts both of Tarthang Rinpoche and his students and of our friend Keith Dowman, we feel that in these early days of Buddhism in the West, to produce another translation, as a way of further acquainting ourselves with the life of Yeshe Tsogyal, may be of some benefit. Throughout this undertaking, we have felt an immense gratitude to all the great masters of our tradition, whose compassionate activities have kept Yeshe Tsogyal's teachings a living source of inspiration even today.
The question is sometimes asked whether Buddhism is a system of belief and practice applicable only in a particular social context. This text, however, describes for us a struggle for spiritual freedom in a whole range of existential predicaments: those of princess, renunciate, ascetic, or teacher, to name but a few -a whole spectrum of circumstances on which the teachings shed their light and open up new and fresh opportunities. Again, it might be suggested that the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, in the development of which Yeshe Tsogyal played such a crucial role, is something suitable only for Tibetans. But here again, we find that for Yeshe Tsogyal herself, the Buddhadharma was far from being a foreign, exotic practice imported from India; it was the means to reach the very essence of human experience. Neither is it possible to dismiss this text as the glorification of arduous trials. For on the contrary, it is clear that Yeshe Tsogyal consciously decided to tell her story as a help to us in our own lives. She simply shares, without asking for pity or admiration,- presenting her experience not as "mystical" or superhuman, but as something profoundly natural and human. Her youthful disillusionment with the ways of the world, her introduction to the teachings, and her training in them, step by step, are all told simply and straightforwardly. Not once do we see her reacting to the desperate situations she finds herself in with self-pity or a tortured sense of martyrdom. In fact, it is her ability to make positive and creative use of whatever came her way that is the greatest of all the messages that come to us in her wonderful biography. It is this that makes her life so extraordinary. May all who read it find encouragement and inspiration!
JIGME KHYENTSE RINPOCHE
Namkhai Nyingpo and translated by Tarthang Tulku
Yeshe Tsogyal and translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays
Bardor Tulku Rinpoche