Yeshe Tsogyal was the chief disciple and consort of the Indian master Padmasambhava during the 8th century in central Tibet. A master or guru in her own right, Tsogyal preserved Padmasambhava's teachings and demonstrated the path to enlightenment through the example of her own life.
Yeshe Tsogyal, whose name means Victorious Ocean of Wisdom, is said to have lived 211 years. Centuries later, she is still revered as the epitome of all the female buddhas and beloved mother of the Tibetan people. It is predicted that she will have a billion emanations of compassion for the benefit of all beings.
Although the culture of her time no longer exists, she continues to benefit the world through her wisdom. Her autobiography is lauded as a story "as lovely as the music gandharavas play upon their lutes." Not only a literary masterpiece, Tsogyal's story is also an archetypal guide to the path of spiritual awakening through the practices of Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhism.
Her autobiography, published as Mother of Knowledge by Tarthung Tulku in 1983, was written by Tsogyal in a symbolic dakini script and hidden as a treasure. It was later discovered and transcribed into Tibetan by Taksham Samten Lingpa in the 17th century. A second English translation became available in 2002 as Lady of the Lotus Born, Padmakara Translation Group.
Tsogyal Latso is the 8th century birthplace of Yeshe Tsogyal in Tibet. Since the Cultural Revolution, it has been gradually revitalized and expanded through the efforts of dedicated nuns, Tulku Sang Ngak Rinpoche, Khandro Tare Lhamo and Namtrul Rinpoche, Dorje Drak Rigdzin Yidzhin Norbu and more recently, by Jnanasukha Foundation's Lama Dechen Yeshe Wangmo and its global sangha.
Cradled in a valley surrounded by the legendary mountain abodes of the female buddhas Saraswasti and Vajra Varahi, Tsogyal Latso lies southeast of Lhasa. Today, it includes Tsogyal's famous visionary life force lake, two artesian springs with the healing waters of her breast milk, and the life force tree which nourished her as a baby. The main temple houses precious stone impressions of her hands and feet, statues, and a branch from her life-force tree. Tsogyal Latso is also renowned as the place where the 14th century master Jigme Lingpa had a vision of sacred symbols on the surface of Tsogyal's life-force lake. He later decoded these symbols as the practice of Yumkha Dechen Gyalmo, the heart meditation of the Longchen Nyingthik.
Tsogyal Nuns: Ani Samten,who spearheaded the restoration and development of Tsogyal Latso after the Cultural Revolution, came to live at Tsogyal Latso in 2004. In describing the situation, she recounted:
"In those days, Tsogyal Latso was very isolated and run down. There was no road. There were only three or four nuns including me. And, only a few pilgrims once in a while. With my companions, we would go around begging for donations. In twelve months, there was enough to build a stone perimeter around the land. In the second year, we were able to clean out the life force lake after it had been desecrated during the Cultural Revolution. Then we built an earthen floor inside the temple and in the fourth year, we built individual rooms for ourselves. In 2009, we built a new enlightenment stupa on top of the old crumbling 14th century stupa that marks the exact place where Tsogyal was born."
Today, there are sixteen nuns at Tsogyal Latso. In 2015, they built a much-needed new temple, kitchen, and bathrooms. In the following year, they completed the pathways and landscaping and earlier this year, they installed a protective canopy over the life force lake. Now, the nuns are focused on the interior of the new temple. They have hired two thangka painters and their assistants and purchased several large statues and all the ritual necessities. This phase will take at least two years to complete.
The nuns have a schedule of study and practice of both Jigme Lingpa's Longchen Nyingtik and Dudjom Tersar. They also care for the sacred environment, Tsogyal's life force lake and her artifacts and welcome pilgrims every day.