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Lions Roar : May 2019
What is your practice tradition? Tibetan Buddhist, specifically Nyingma and the lineage of Machig Labdrön, the eleventh-century Tibetan yogini who established Chöd teachings. Favorite meditation practice? Integration with the sky done in nature. Your favorite virtue? Generosity. Your chief characteristic? Embodied joy and warmth. I love to connect with and nurture my students. Your principal poison? Spaciness. Your idea of happiness? Being with my family and watching my grandchildren laugh. Your idea of misery? Loneliness and grief. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I was a maid in a hotel with a sexually abusive boss. Name three of your heroes. The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Your favorite author? Gretel Ehrlich. Your favorite musicians or groups? Leonard Cohen, Bach, and Martina McBride. Your favorite current TV show? I don’t watch TV. What’s for dinner? Poached salmon and steamed kale. A motto that represents you? Never give up! Guilty pleasure? Really good red wine in Italy and drinking it where the grapes were grown. MEET A TEACHER Lama Tsultrim Allione I WAS BORN IN MAINE in 1947. My father was the publisher of a small-town daily newspaper and my mother was a labor media- tor. They were a happy couple with deep mutual respect. I was also influenced by my grandmother, who was one of the first women to get a Harvard–Radcliffe PhD in philosophy. She had to ask male students to get the books she needed because women weren’t allowed at the Harvard library. She gave me a book of Buddhist hai- kus when I was fifteen, and I felt a deep resonance with Buddhism. I traveled to Asia at nineteen and met Tibetans in Nepal. Then I hitchhiked across India to Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama lives. In 1969, I was ordained by the Sixteenth Karmapa, the first Ameri- can woman to be ordained by him. After four years as a nun, I returned my monastic vows, mar- ried, and raised a family of three. I also had a fourth child who died from SIDS. To recover from her death, I collected stories of women, and they eventually became my book Women of Wisdom. In 1993, my late husband David Petit and I founded Tara Man- dala, a seven hundred acre retreat center in Pagosa Springs, Colo- rado. It has the only temple in the West dedicated to the sacred feminine in Buddhism. The main shrine room is circular and con- tains life-sized statues of the twenty-one Taras—some wrathful, some peaceful, and some blissful. My book Wisdom Rising: Journey into the Mandala of the Empowered Feminine came out in 2018. It focuses on the fierce sacred feminine, an energy we need desperately right now to face the situation around #metoo, and also the environmental crisis. ♦ LION’S ROAR | MAY 2019 35 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE