So - over on my Facebook page I’ve been posting pictures of fierce naked ladies that I’ve been drawing AKA Dakinis! Thus far I’ve completed three Dakini pieces and I’ve got many ideas for several more.
“But what?” you may be asking, “is a Dakini? And why are drawing them?”
I could tell you ALL THE THINGS about Dakinis but there are other people much better suited to do so - like Judith Simmer-Brown, for example. I am a very fortunate owner of a signed copy of Dakini’s Warm Breath, which, whilst not necessarily containing everything there is to know it certainly contains enough to provide a really solid understanding of Dakinis, Dakini Wisdom and their iconography.
Because Simmer-Brown has done all the research I am going to quote the description from her book to explain Dakinis (in brief):
“…the dakini symbolizes levels of personal realization: the sacredness of the body, both female and male; the profound meeting point of body and mind in meditation; the visionary realm of ritual practice; and the empty, spacious qualities of mind itself.”
Quick clarification here - Buddhist iconography is almost always created to reflect the wisdom of the individual who looks at it. Thangka paintings are classic images rich with symbolism representing the inherent wisdom and enlightened state of every human being.
And Dakinis are a big part of this, though a very misunderstood part because, well, that whole sticky issue of sex and sexuality and celibate monks. But the nudity of a Dakini isn’t sexual at all. It’s a blatant representation of the naked and open quality of an enlightened mind.
I am not an expert, thought, and not here to give a lesson on Dakinis and the teachings surrounding them. I’m a Creative Polymath and student of the Dharma (Buddhist teachings/scripture/way of life) therefore I am exploring these teachings by making art!
Why Dakinis? Well, one of the teachings that Simmer-Brown shares in her book is that the Dakini does not belong to women. Rather, we belong to the Dakini. And well, so do men, for that matter. And gender ambiguous people too and all the lovely in between identities of gender.
What this means is up for interpretation and not something I’m yet able to put into words - although I do feel I 'get it' more often than not.
All I know right now is I’m compelled to draw them.
I dreamed about one and I want to draw her. I see certain women - powerful, proud, strong women - and I want to create Dakini versions of them. I listen to a teaching where the teacher describes a Dakini and then I feel the need to draw it. I take a picture of myself dancing and decide the pose is that of a Dakini.
So, I just wanted to let you know what all these brightly coloured naked women are about.
To see more of my Dharma inspired work check out the Dharma Art in my online Gallery. The Vajrayogini piece pictured with this post is now complete but not yet in The Gallery. It will be soon!
When not writing, making art or recording podcasts,
Kaitlyn can be found in trees, listening to Dharma talks on her iPod, Boon.
Thusly named because
Brian Froud = Awesome.