Mother and Father Lineages of Machig Labdrön
The 11th century teacher Machig Labdrön evolved two paths of practice: the Father and Mother Lineages. The Mother Lineage came from Machig’s own experiences with direct transmissions from female deities such as Tara and Vajra Yogini, her own meditation experiences, and the practices she evolved through teaching and practicing as a woman in her lifetime. The Father Lineage evolved from her male teachers, thus the word “father” was used.
Machig was the only teacher to develop this distinction between male and female lineages. It allowed her to honor both the lineage from her teachers, and the teachings that came directly to her. In Machig’s time, there were some disciples that held both lineages, as well as those that held one or the other. Both men and women held these lineages; it was not the case that one was for women and one was for men. For example, Machig’s second son, Tönyöm Samdrub, was the main holder of the Mother Lineage.
At Tara Mandala, Lama Tsultrim has chosen to follow this model. The Father Lineage was established through the Gateway Program which began in 2013 and is carried on in all the other practices she teaches from her male teachers. She is now introducing the Mother Lineage in the form of the Magyu Program.
Lama Tsultrim met Buddhism in India and Nepal while still a teenager, deepened it through her years as a Buddhist nun in the early ’70s, and honed it as the mother of three and through her unceasing commitment to the Tibetan Buddhist path, extensive solo retreats, daily practice and continual study with her sublime Tibetan teachers. Interfacing these teachings with the western psyche, she developed particular methods to make the teachings accessible and effective in the modern world and to create genuine transformation for the whole being.
As with other Vajrayana teachers before her, Lama Tsultrim has received meditative visions throughout her life. These visions have informed and guided her life in many ways, including her inspiration to manifest Tara Mandala as a seat for authentic and deep practice in the West. Just as Machig Labdrön herself experienced a thousand years ago, Lama Tsultrim has received specific practices from Sambogakaya beings in visions as a result of her sincere connection with the Dharma. She has refined these received teachings, organized them into a consolidated and complete path for students to follow, and is offering this program as Magyu: The Mother Lineage Path.
Overview of the Magyu Program
The Magyu Program is an invaluable opportunity to enter this extremely fresh practice stream revealed by Lama Tsultrim. The psycho-spiritual integration of this path inherently distinguishes it from the more traditional Father Lineage. The Magyu Program in the mother lineage works directly with the individual through helping each student to identify his or her particular encumbered patterns and relevant practices to transform those patterns. There are special webcasts and tele-teachings for those enrolled in the Magyu Program, as well as direct contact and support through interviews and emails with Lama Tsultrim and her authorized Magyu teachers. The Magyu Program is a path of personal development and individuation as well as a path of spiritual evolution leading to the stabilization of the recognition of the ground of being and its display within the individual.
Similar to the Gateway Program in the Father Lineage, the complete path of the Magyu Program will take approximately seven years (it may take less or more time depending on the student’s commitment), and will be undertaken within a supportive sangha of practitioners. Unlike the Gateway Program which has certain retreats that must be done each year, the Magyu students works their way through the retreats and practice commitments according to their own timing. This allows flexibility for those in the Magyu for having a baby, an illness, or some other life changing situation. Those who have completed Kapala Training Levels 1, 2 or 3 prior to entering the Magyu Program, will not have to repeat them but will need to document the practice hours required for each level. Each student enrolled in the Magyu Program will receive a “Kaliyanamitra” or Spiritual Friend, who is an authorized teacher providing personal practice support, email contact and phone calls as well as personal meetings. From Kapala Training Level 3 and higher, each Magyu student will also have personal interviews with Lama Tsultrim as part of the program. Due to the fact that this is a fresh and evolving lineage there may be some additions and variations once the program is underway.
Both women and men will participate in the Magyu Program. The Mother Lineage is oriented toward dedicated practitioners who wish the walk the path fully with guidance and support. It includes solitary retreats, group retreats and dedicated daily practice. A mother lineage practitioner should be prepared to commit to a daily practice of a minimum of 1.5 hours with occasional retreats and day-long practices, as well as all the necessary group retreats. The path follows five levels of Kapala Training beginning with such practices as Feeding Your Demons and Prajnaparamita, then going more deeply into the Nature of Mind practices taught by Machig and Chöd practices linked to Machig. It also includes other practices and retreats compiled and revealed by Lama Tsultrim such as the two week Dakini Retreat and the Five Dakinis, Five Buddhas, and Yab-Yum Mandala practices with accompanying transformational personal work. Additionally, the Magyu Program includes Green Tara, White Tara Yum-Yab , and the Lion headed Dakini Simhamuka practices as well as specific movement practices, practices with the five elements, and compassion practices.
This path cultivates both the spiritual and emotional awakening of the practitioner, integrating the ancient Tibetan Buddhist practices with modern teachings appropriate for our western disposition. The Magyu Program of the Mother Lineage can be a complete path by itself or it is possible to combine it with the Gateway Program of the Father Lineage or some of those practices such as the ngondro for those students with the time, inclination, and endorsement by their Kaliyanamitra and Lama Tsultrim.
FOR THE JANUARY 12th WEBCAST PLEASE SEND YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MAGYU PROGRAM BY JANUARY 10th to firstname.lastname@example.org