5 episodes

Interview and talks channel hosted by Adele Tomlin, writer and Tibetan Buddhist scholar-translator-practitioner and founder of Dakini Translations.

Dakini Conversations Dakini Conversations

    • Religion & Spirituality

Interview and talks channel hosted by Adele Tomlin, writer and Tibetan Buddhist scholar-translator-practitioner and founder of Dakini Translations.

    Life and 'Soul' of Yeshe Tsogyel: Woman, Disciple, Consort and Dakini. Interview with Dr. Jue Liang.

    Life and 'Soul' of Yeshe Tsogyel: Woman, Disciple, Consort and Dakini. Interview with Dr. Jue Liang.

    In Episode 5 of Dakini Conversations, Adele Tomlin interviews Dr. Jue Liang, a female scholar and translator originally from China, whose PhD in 2020, from the University of Virginia, was on the life of highly-realised Tibetan yogini, female lineage holder and famous consort of Guru Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyel.

    Dr. Liang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Case Western Reserve University and is currently completing her first book, entitled Conceiving the Mother of Tibet: The Early Literary Lives of the Buddhist Saint Yeshé Tsogyel based on her PhD. Although there are now a few English-language publications about Yeshe Tsogyel, Liang is one of the very few PhDs that considers Tsogyel’s life and legacy to the standards of academic research. In that respect one could say that Dr. Liang is one of the foremost scholar-translators in the world today on Yeshe Tsogyel. She is also working on a second project, tentatively titled Thus Has She Heard: Theorizing Gender in Contemporary Tibetan Buddhism. In particular, Liang has written about the Tibetan nuns based at Larung Gar, in Tibet and the institution of the Khenmo programme there and their views of gender and biology, as Buddhist practitioners. She is also interested in the theory and practice of translation in general, and translating Tibetan literature in particular.

    00:00:00 Introduction to Jue Liang
    0:01:57 Life and studies in China
    0:03:49 Buddhist Influence
    0:05:44 Challenges of living in the USA and doing a PhD
    0:07:25 Inspiring meeting with the nuns at Larung Gar in Tibet, 2014
    0:09:35 New collection on Women's biographies and unpublished life-stories of Tsogyel
    0:12:52 The soul of Yeshe Tsogyel at sacred places in Tibet
    0:18:12 The crucial experience of embodied presence in places/geography
    0:21:13 The aspect of Tsogyel as woman/female and three-fold category of gender/biology
    0:26:10 The Tibetan textual sources on Yeshe Tsogyel
    0:29:40 Hidden Treasure revealed texts as a source on Tsogyel
    0:32:22 The names of Yeshe Tsogyel
    0:35:02 Yeshe Tsogyel as disciple and the zhu-len (Q&A) textual tradition
    0:41:11 A sympathetic reading of the 'inferiority' of women's bodies
    0:43:30 Yeshe Tsogyel as teacher and 'mother' (as senior 'caretaker')
    0:44:54 Tsogyel as consort (1): Deal with your Ex before you become a consort
    0:49:43 Captured and sexually assaulted by a suitor, and calling out to the Guru and exchanging of rings
    0:51:10 Tsogyel as a consort (2) celibate/nun/renunciant and sexual assaults
    0:55:19 Goals of consort practice: liberation, revelation and healing
    0:56:57 Yeshe Tsogyel as Dakini: the meaning of the term dakini/khandroma
    0:59:43 Tibetan mythology of dakinis: wrathful ogress and the demoness land Tibet that needed to be tamed
    1:01:39 Fuzzy Femininities and Muddled Myth
    1:03:48 Larung Gar monastery, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog and female practitioners
    1:06:59 The institution of the female Khenmo programme at Larung Gar
    1:10:43 The Aryatare publishing initiative and the Great Treasury of Dakini Teachings collection of women's biographies1:14:33 Khenmo Yonten and her commentary on the five great texts1:17:43 Tibetan nuns' views of gender, biology and the 'inferior' female body1:21:51 The concept and idea of 'mother' as inseparable from women/female and as 'superior'1:24:05 The reason behind the success of the nuns at Larung Gar1:26:25 Future book on Tsogyel
    1:27:58 Personal view of Tsogyel's relevance and inspiration

    For more on Dr. Jue Liang's work and publications, see here: https://jueliang.work/
    For more on Adele Tomlin's writing about female lineages and Yeshe Tsogyel, see: https://dakinitranslations.com/buddhist-female-teachers-lineages/

    • 1 hr 30 min
    'Food of Sinful Demons': Vegetarianism and eating animals in Tibetan Buddhism and Tibet: Interview with Dr. Geoffrey Barstow (Dakini Conversations: Ep.4)

    'Food of Sinful Demons': Vegetarianism and eating animals in Tibetan Buddhism and Tibet: Interview with Dr. Geoffrey Barstow (Dakini Conversations: Ep.4)

    In Episode 4 of the Dakini Conversations podcast, Adele Tomlin speaks with Dr. Geoffrey Barstow, one of the leading scholars and writers in the world today on the topic of vegetarianism and eating animals in Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. 

    Dr. Barstow spent significant time studying Tibetan language and Buddhist Philosophy in Nepal and his PhD from the University of Virginia (2013) entitled 'Food of Sinful Demons: Meat, Vegetarianism, and the Limits of Buddhism in Tibet' was later published as a book. He is currently an Associate Professor at Oregon State University.

    Barstow's work looks to the lives and examples of great Tibetan Buddhist masters, such as 8th Karmapa, Kunkhyen Dolpopa, Jigme Lingpa. Zhabkar, and more recent masters such as Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro Rinpoche and their writings and example of vegetarianism prior to the Chinese invasion of 1959. His most recent book, 'The Faults of Meat: Tibetan Buddhist Writings on Vegetarianism' (2019) is an edited compilation of new and original translations by such Tibetan Buddhist masters on eating slaughtered animals. Dr. Barstow also considers how gender ideas of masculinity have informed meat-eating in Tibet and the recent surge in vegetarianism in Tibet not only due to Buddhist ethics and philosophy on eating slaughtered animals, but also as identity resistance to Chinese domination and cultural hegemony and the mass breeding and slaughter of yaks.

    In this podcast discussion, Dr. Barstow talks about how he became interested in Buddhism and vegetarianism and some of the great Tibetan Buddhist masters who were strict vegetarians in Tibet as well as the 'three-fold' purity rule said to have been created by Buddha for monastics who had to beg for alms/food. As well as discuss the all too common human 'disconnect' of people who say they are Buddhists but who do not follow the Buddha's teachings on eating animals. He shares some of his favourite writings on the subject, including that of a Bon master, showing that vegetarianism as an ethical, philosophical movement were very much 'alive and kicking' in Tibet both prior to and after the Buddhist teachings spread there, and prior to 1959 when the Chinese communists took over political control and power in Tibet.

    For more research and translations on the topic of Buddhism and vegetarianism, see here.

    • 1 hr 19 min
    'Dance of 17 Lives: The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa': Interview with writer/journalist, Mick Brown (Dakini Conversations: Ep.3)

    'Dance of 17 Lives: The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa': Interview with writer/journalist, Mick Brown (Dakini Conversations: Ep.3)

    For the third episode of Dakini Conversations, Adele Tomlin speaks with British journalist and writer, Mick Brown about his important book 'Dance of 17 Lives: The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa' (originally published in 2004).

    As Adele mentioned recently in an interview , it was reading this book on a plane to India for the first time in 2005, that led her to meet the Tibetan Buddhist master and lineage head, 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje for the first time. This meeting led to her completely changing her life as a qualified lawyer and strategist in the City of London to take up practice, studies of Tibetan language and philosophy, later to become a scholar and translator within the tradition. Brown's book tells the story of the 17th Karmapa, the spiritual head of a 900 year old main lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, Karma Kagyu, and the internal dispute about his recognition by one of the four main Kagyu teachers, the 14th Zhamarpa.

    Mick Brown (born 1950 in London), and is a British journalist and author who has written for several British newspapers, including The Guardian and The Sunday Times, and for international publications and currently works for newspaper, the Daily Telegraph. He is also a broadcaster and the author of several books about travel, music and spirituality. His second book, 'American Heartbeat: Travels from Woodstock to San Jose by Song Title', was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Prize for best travel book in 1994. His book 'The Spiritual Tourist', catalogued contemporary spiritual quests around the globe, particularly in India. As a journalist Brown has interviewed well-known figures such as Salvador Dali, the Rolling Stones, James Brown, Ravi Shankar, Diana Ross and more. The video of the interview can also be watched on Youtube with subtitles and time-stamped chapters: https://youtu.be/OGq0_8zoj8o

    • 1 hr 33 min
    Entering the Space of Dakinis: Interview with Prof. Janet Gyatso (Harvard University) (Dakini Conversations: Ep.2)

    Entering the Space of Dakinis: Interview with Prof. Janet Gyatso (Harvard University) (Dakini Conversations: Ep.2)

    In this second episode of the Dakini Conversations podcast it is a great delight and honour to welcome Prof. Janet Gyatso, the first and current Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies at the Divinity School of Harvard University. In the Buddhist Studies and Tibetology world, Prof. Gyatso really needs no introduction, and is a prime example of a woman who has reached the peak of the academy, while at the same time writing original and thought-provoking research about issues connected to women, feminism, gender, androcentrism and Buddhism. If anyone might be awarded the title ‘Queen’ of the Buddhist Studies academy, Prof. Gyatso would surely be a prime contender!

    Her books include Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet; Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary; In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism; and Women of Tibet.

    Prof. Gyatso has also been writing on sex and gender in Buddhist monasticism, and on the current female ordination movement in Buddhism. Her current writing concerns the phenomenology of living well with animals and related ethical issues and practices.

    Gyatso was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science in 2018, was president of the International Association of Tibetan Studies from 2000 to 2006, and co-chair of the Buddhism Section of the American Academy of Religion from 2004 to 2010.

    In the interview the following topics are discussed:
    00:00:00 Introduction
    00:01:36 Personal Background
    00:04:15 Studies at University of California during the 1970s and Tibetan Buddhist teachers
    00:06:15 A hub of activity: hanging out with fellow students at the Mediterranean Cafe
    00:08:22 Studies of Sanskrit and Tibetan and its relevance for practitioner
    00:11:17 PhD on Tibetan master and innovator, Thangtong Gyalpo
    00:14:32 Translating terms in English or keeping them in the original language
    00:16:20 Translation as a 'special pleasure' and entering the mental space of a text/teaching
    00:19:03 The importance of real devotion and connection with the text or teacher
    00:20:00 Reasons for becoming an academic
    00:23:24 Being a woman in academia
    00:26:31 The book 'Women in Tibet'
    00:31:35 Own personal feeling and outlook on Buddhism as philosophy and practice
    00:33:26 Secret Autobiographies of Jigme Lingpa: Getting transmission and permission from Drodrubchen, Dilgo Khyentse and others
    00:38:53 Entering the poetic space of the hidden and secret levels of transmission/lung
    00:42:54 Dakini Talks: The Dakini and Jigme Lingpa, the dakini principle and 'voice'
    00:45:35 The Dakini as troubling, annoying, direct female 'messenger' of truth
    00:48:55 The female roots of Vajrayana and lack of female visibility in the 21st Century
    00:52:20 Being an 'animal-lover' and reasons for new work on Animal Ethics and Rights
    00:53:59 Mass factory farming and the work and ideas of philosopher, Peter Singer
    00:55:34 Becoming vegetarian, the 17th Karmapa's example and strong attachment to eating meat
    00:59:37 Buddha's teachings on eating animals, and examples of Tibetan Buddhist vegetarianism
    01:02:40 Current research drawing people's attention to loving animals and their capacities
    01:07:15 Sexual misconduct of Tibetan Buddhist teachers and supporting survivors more
    01:12:26 Opportunities to discuss cross-cultural physical boundaries and changing norms

    Interview was recorded on 7th May 2023.

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Vegetarianism in Buddhist Bhutan: Karma Dendup Interview with Adele Tomlin

    Vegetarianism in Buddhist Bhutan: Karma Dendup Interview with Adele Tomlin

    In the first episode of Dakini Conversations, a new channel for interviews/podcasts, Adele Tomlin (Buddhist scholar-translator-practitioner and founder of Dakini Translations) interviews Karma Dendup, Bhutanese founder of Jangsem Monday (Meatless Monday Bhutan) and an advocate for a more compassionate planet. Karma Dendup is also a media producer who before becoming Head of Production at the Bhutan film and media company Reflection Films, was a TV host and producer with the Bhutan Broadcasting Service, where he was also awarded a national award for his documentary during the 2nd Annual Journalism Awards. He hosted a popular TV chat show called Bodhi Tree Bhutan.

    In this interview, Karma Dendup talks about his life growing up in Bhutan, his background in Buddhist study and practice, his studies of film and cinema in India, his TV show and then about founding Jangsem Monday and the thinking behind it, as well as a more general discussion about being a Buddhist and eating animals: For the Youtube video of this interview, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQr9WCMKHE8

    0:00:00 Introduction
    0:03:00 Education in Bhutan and first time studying in Delhi, India
    0:06:00 Return to Bhutan and studying Buddhism and Ngondro retreat
    0:07:00 Back to Delhi and film school
    0:08:00 Reason for studying film and cinema
    0:11:00 Favourite films and directors
    0:13:00 Speaking, studying and teaching English
    0:17:00 the Bodhi Tree Bhutan TV show
    0:21:00 Empowering youth of Bhutan with greater knowledge of Buddhism
    0:24:00: What is a Buddhist?
    0:26:00 Including animals and the 17th Karmapa's efforts on vegetarianism and the environment
    0:27:00 Jangsem Monday (Meatless Monday)
    0:30:00 Buddhist aspect of Jangsem Monday
    0:34:00 17th Karmapa's statement on meat-eating in Tibetan Buddhism
    0:36:00 Geography of Bhutan and Tibet and 17th Karmapa in USA
    0:39:00 Meat as a status symbol in Bhutan, and the 'poor northener'
    0:40:00 The karma of animals who are eaten and Buddha's advice to Ananda
    0:42:44 Eating animals forbidden in Lankavatara Sutra and not allowed for monastics unless begging for alms
    0:44:28 "Meat is the new tobacco" and breaking addiction to meat one day at a time
    0:47:00 Toxic effects of eating meat and speaking to a more 'westernised' Bhutanese youth
    0:49:00 Buddhists in Europe, America and Asia still eating animals even though Buddha forbade it
    0:50:00 Being an environmentalist and eating animals, a major 'blind spot'
    0:53:00 Animal welfare, adopting pets, and turning vegan

    0:55:00 Buddha's three-fold rule as applied in the 21st Century, 'not seeing' is no excuse

    1:00:00 No such thing as 'humane' slaughter and if 'slaughterhouses had glass walls'
    1:02:00 Meatless Mondays globally - Bhutanese influences and the Jangsem Monday song

    1:03:30 Deliberately not showing videos of slaughtered animals

    Although the majority of vegans and vegetarians will no doubt wonder why only Monday/one day? Murdering animals for food is murder and unnecessary any day of the week, nonetheless, such initiatives are still beneficial in getting people to consider whether or not eating animals is kind, healthy and good for the environment. In any case, whatever one's diet, it is very clear that the Buddha never said it was OK to willingly murder defenceless animals for food for health, desire or pleasure.

    Music? The Jangsem Monday song,  Meat is Murder by the Smiths.

    For more on Jamgsem Monday:


    For original research and translations on Buddhism and Vegetarianism, see here:https://dakinitranslations.com/buddhist-vegetarianism/

    For the teachings and ideas of 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje on Tibetan Buddhism and vegetarianism, see here: https://dakinitranslations.com/2021/06/26/meat-is-murder-tibetan-buddhist-vegetarianism-ancient-and-modern-17th-karmapa/

    • 1 hr 5 min

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