What are the Five Wisdom Dakinis? Why are they central to Tibetan Buddhist practice? Why are they associated with activity practices— peaceful, increasing, magnetizing, subjugating and supreme activities — such as Chod?
In this presentation, we try to answer these questions. We present the mantras of the Five Wisdom Dakinis, sung by the amazing Yoko Dharma at the end of this introduction.
The great Padmasambhava, quoted from the book Dakini Activity, defines the vital role of the wisdom Dakini best (from Dakini Activity (book) by Padmasambhava.
“The source of activity is the dakini and there are five kinds of activities, peaceful, increasing, magnetizing, subjugating, and the supreme activity. The primary way to perfect these is through dakini practices, and among dakinis, there are the wisdom dakinis, in space and worldly.
These vast collections of practices can be condensed into those of the three roots, lama, yidam, and dakini. “The source of blessings is the lama, the source of accomplishment is the yidam, and the source of activities is the dakinis. The one who carries out the activities for the lama and the yidam is the dakini, in other words, the virtue of blessings and accomplishment is the activity, which is the dakini.”
To help clarify how the great Padmasambhava’s words reflect the five Wisdom Dakinis, it can be helpful to clarify both the meaning of Dakini and the symbolism of color and image in Tibetan Buddhism. Summarizing the Five Great Wisdom Dakinis The five wisdom Dakinis are the “wisdom” counterparts of the Five Dhyani Buddhas. Dakinis symbolize wisdom activities and Dhyani Buddhas symbolize compassion and method. As the Enlightened Path includes both wisdom and compassion, these are inseparable — which is why the metaphor used is “consort.” Whether wisdom is the consort of compassion or the reverse, is not important. They are co-equal partners. Generally, Wisdom activities are carried out by the Wisdom Dakinis. And, this is where the five activities represented by five dakinis become important.
Each of these is represented by a color. Four Activities and the Supreme In general, there are four activities — plus, the supreme activity. The four activities are peaceful, increasing, magnetizing, and subjugating, and the fifth is the supreme — which is the ultimate combination of all of these.
These are represented by the five colors: white for peaceful activities, yellow for increasing activities, red for magnetizing activities, blue for subjugating. The fifth is green, which is considered to be the combination of all the other four — the supreme. This is why Green Tara and Vajra Dakini are considered to be the “ultimate action heroes” — since they combine all the types of activities in one magnificent Dakini aspect.
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Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.