Call of the Dakini—A Memoir of a Life Lived

I have now published my memoir, Call of the Dakini—A Memoir of a Life Lived, ©2021, as a ebook on amazon.com.au, with a paperback version due soon through the Lulu self publishing system, and amazon.com and its various outlets including amazon.com.au

You can get a taste of this memoir on the downloadable PDF on this site.

My motivation for writing this memoir was never to reinvent myself as a successful author, but rather to make sense of my life.  In the spirit of the Grail Legend, to explore what ‘holy grail’ I had found from my rich and interesting life’s journey, and to share this with whomever might find it of interest.

INTRODUCTION

I first encountered the idea of the dakini in the life story of the 8th century Tibetan woman mystic, Yeshe Tsogyal. The dakini is a non-gendered Tibetan Buddhist symbol of dynamic awareness associated with the feminine principle, in union with the masculine principle of primordial spaciousness, The ‘great disruptor’, the dakini’s call challenges our habitual patterns of thought and action. In this narrative memoir I trace how long before I actually encountered the Tibetan Buddhist teachings, the dakini had been calling to me throughout my life, shaping my intellectual and spiritual quest through its many twists and turns. The spirit of the dakini is also guiding me in my current quest to respond to the challenge of honouring Australia’s First Nations cultures in their 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, and to embrace their unique ways of knowing and Caring for Country, as the world faces the destructive forces unleashed by global capitalism allied with technological entrancement. That we will all learn to answer the call of the Dakini, whatever name we give to her.

Chapter 1: The Dakini Calls

I recognise the dakini has been calling me from an intellectually impoverished childhood in regional Queensland marked by family tensions and anxieties, through reflections on Australia’s relationship with its history, to an encounter with China in 1968 during the Cultural Revolution, then life in Sydney as a fledgling member of the Sydney Push, where while a student at UNSW I meet the man who will become my husband, Charles Lepani from the Trobriand Islands of PNG.

Chapter 2: Across the Colonial Divide

In 1971, I visit PNG with my university lover to meet his family and journey to the Trobriand Islands, where I encounter the world of colonialism, and take the plunge of marriage to cross the colonial divide as the wife of a Trobriand Islander, one of the very few white women to have taken this plunge at this time in PNG’s history.

Chapter 3: Life in the Third World

My life in PNG during the years of self-government and independence, and my return to Australia in late 1978 as a single working mother before making the difficult decision to agree to my young children returning to PNG to live with their father and stepmother.

Chapter 4: Perception and Reality

An experience in the Massim Collection of the Australian Museum in Sydney that changes the course of my life, sending me on an epistemological quest into different ways of knowing, including the importance of the mythopoetic.

Chapter 5: I Want You to Dance

A failed romantic relationship, emotional turmoil and a new relationship with myself, then a journey to Central Australia, where the message from the Dakini is ‘dance with life’s unexpected turns and twists’.

Chapter 6: Encountering the Vajrayana with Sogyal Rinpoche

My journey into ways of knowing becomes a spiritual journey when in 1985 I find my teacher in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and enter ever more deeply into its knowledge system and mystical ways.

Chapter 7: Guru Yoga—the Mystical Path

I experience the full glory of Guru Yoga, taking me through a mystical portal to meet the revered Tibetan Buddhist master, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, at his Shechen Monastery in Nepal in 1990, and seek to understand the challenges of my fellow Western dharma students in breaking free of the hegemonic assumptions of their Western knowledge tradition.

Chapter 8: Parallel Perspectives

I complete my Masters Degree in Science and Technology studies and enter more deeply into the world of Tibetan Buddhism, finding interesting points of intersection.

Chapter 9: Wisdom Journeys

Very different ways of knowing open up.

A journey to Sikkim to visit Khandro Tsering Chödrön in 1993

Working with Australian Yankunytjatjara elder, Tjilpi Bob Randall in 1999 on his autobiography, Songman (2003), whereby I begin to learn about the experiences of the Stolen Generation, and some important aspects of Aboriginal culture.

Chapter 10: Amnyi Trulchung Rinpoche

I help to look after Amnyi Trulchung Rinpoche in New Zealand and in 2004 travel with him and his students to his monastery in Tibet, and then on to Lhasa and Samye, the first Buddhist monastery established in Tibet in the 8th century on the banks of the Tsangpo River, during the time of Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal and the monk, Shantarakshita.

Chapter 11: Retreat

In the spirit of the ancient Grail Legend and the search for the gift of wisdom, I take a deep immersive journey into the inner knowing of the Vajrayana during a three-year retreat in France between 2006 and 2009.

Chapter 12: Towards Regenerative Living

With my insights from the retreat, I decide that the holy grail we must all find is how to pursue the path of wisdom and challenge the objectivist, binary nature of the Western knowledge system. We need to hear the deep rhythms and voices of this land, Australia, and re-make our relationship with ourselves, one another, and Country in its myriad life forms. The new emergent zeitgeist is a search for a new philosophy of regenerative living based on two-way learning between the Western cultural inheritance and other knowledge systems, particularly those of First Nations people and other ancient wisdom traditions such as Vajrayana Buddhism, as an answer to the despair of the age of global warming, the persistent ideology of economism and technological entrancement, geo-political shifts and the hegemonic anxieties impacting the world.