Lama Tsultrim Allione (Joan Rousmanière Ewing)
The Enlightened Feminist
A mother of three and bestselling author follows in the footsteps of an eleventh-century Tibetan saint
Lama Tsultrim Allione, charismatic Western teacher and bestselling author of Women of Wisdom and Feeding Your Demons, has been recognized and enthroned as an emanation of one of the most beloved female Tibetan saints, the 11th century dakini Machik Labdrön. She balances the commitments for her family and three kids with the passion to bring century old healing practices to the West. Once among the first American women ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1970, she has since given back her vows to raise a family and integrate her spiritual values into a lay practitioner’s life. The radical life change led Lama Tsultrim to question: How exactly does motherhood fit in with Buddhism? When she looked at the life stories of the great saints of her lineage, almost all of them were male, and the few women had either abandoned their children or were celibate nuns. “I had no role models for women in my position, no stories to follow,” she says. Her newly built temple, Tara Mandala in Colorado, is dedicated to the “enlightened feminine.” “This tradition is still so massively patriarchal that we need quite a substantial change,” she states forthrightly.
"Women need to become aware of what practices actually work for us, what practices are adapted to our energies and our life situations," she writes in Women of Wisdom. "We cannot be satisfied with just doing something because it is supposed to lead to enlightenment or blindly obeying the edicts of teachers and administrators. We need to observe what actually works."
Starting in spring 2014, Lama Tsultrim Allione has launched "Wisdom Rising," a multi-lineage collaboration seeking to enhance the understanding of the sacred feminine as expressed through Buddhism's female heritage, wisdom practices and female deities. "More than just a conference, we want to ignite a movement! Wisdom workshops will be held all over the country, during the next two years, culminating in the Wisdom Rising Conference in July 2016."
Lama Tsultrim about Dakini Power
"The dakini is not far away. We all have that potential. When you want to accomplish something, you always invoke the presence of the dakinis. With this book, Michaela has invoked this presence. Making this book and calling it Dakini Power is really invoking that enlightened activity in all of us. Having this book out there with this name has a power. I feel like this book is a really important book.
It is so inspiring to hear the stories of these women, how each one of them has met the challenge and gone beyond of what she thought she could do. They all embody and express this courage, in a very unassuming way.
The main message or point of the book is, yes, there are these women, and they have these qualities, but so do you. We all have the dakini within us. Find her and play with her, and feel all the levels of her in us and in the world. We need her. We need the dakini energy, for us to survive, for the earth to survive. Why do we need it? Because we have become so materialistic, so caught in speed. Faster, faster, faster.
The dakini is all about the play. It’s not ordinary play. It’s the play that pulls the rug out from under you. That moment when you’re there with no ground is such an opportunity, and that’s the dakini." Lama Tsultrim Allione
Listen to Lama Tsultrim Allione's speech at the Dakini Power book launch in Malibu in this video by the wonderful documentary filmmaker Sue May from Simplexity Mediaworks
Listen to an in-depth interview with Lama Tsultrim by Tami Simon/Sounds True
Must-watch: the trailer for a new documentary about Lama Tsultrim
A beautiful video portrait of Lama Tsultrim and Tara Mandala