What is Dakini’s Bliss?

I was first introduced to the concept of Dakini’s Bliss in an article I read about Pema Chodron. There was an excerpt from Pema’s book “Taking the Leap” where she described a feeling of fear, terror even, and the resulting physical symptoms that accompanied it. She described anxiety, rawness, and a sense of not knowing what comes next, what my teacher Paula likes to call “free fall.” Pema went to her teacher, Dzigar Kongtrül, to share these feelings and seek some understanding as to what was going on in her life. After listening to her, he brightened up and said “Ani Pema, that’s the Dakini’s Bliss. That’s a high-level of spiritual bliss.”

After my teacher training ended, I felt anxiety bubbling just below the surface. I was “fine” and managing in life, but I could not deny a feeling that seemed ready to burst forth at any time. At just that moment in time, I found the article about Dakini’s Bliss and I could not contain my excitement and happiness: it all began to crystallize into the understanding I needed to make sense of what was happening at that present moment.

We are conditioned to fear our fear. The moment we begin to experience sensations of anxiety, discomfort, fear, uncertainty, or disconnection, we are conditioned to push these feelings down and deny their existence, or at the least pretend we are not being acted upon by these forces. But if we open to these sensations and let them teach us, we can experience life in a holistic way, where the periods of not knowing what comes next are a moment of total possibility instead of abject dread.

The reason I chose this name for my blog and my growing practice is because I know that in the darker episodes of the soul, there is so much healing and love to be gleaned. None of us get a free pass from experiencing the dark night of the soul; this is an archetypal human experience. The shadow is simply the other side. All experience contains within it the seed of its opposite. The manifest contains the seed of the un-manifest; the night contains the seed of the day. Instead of turning away from or fearing the shadow, why not meet it with love, acceptance, and a willingness to learn?

In yoga, our shadow can appear in any number of ways, from anger or frustration to not being able to achieve an asana the way we think we should, to a gripping quality of practice where “doing” the pose becomes a fixation, obsession even, and we move further and further away from the breath as we literally force ourselves into a shape which we are truly not ready to express. In meditation, the shadow can appear to us as an inner battle when the thoughts inevitably come, or in our practice of the yamas and niyamas, as self-doubt or resistance.

I have experienced the most profound self-growth when I have given up fighting the fear and gone directly into it. There is much to be learned here, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. The dakini is a tantric deity said to be enlightened energy in female form. When confronted with the immense power of the shadow, we can find bliss if we simply continue forward, experiencing the sensations and softening to the lessons contained therein. In Dakini’s Bliss, we find peace in the midst of turmoil, and experience ourselves and existence in a holistic, full-spectrum way.

Here is an excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s poem “On Joy and Sorrow” which reflects this same idea of Dakini’s Bliss:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

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21 Comments

Filed under tantra

21 responses to “What is Dakini’s Bliss?

  1. Bob

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