Dakini Mandala: (Jogini) In the center of concentric spheres, an emanation of Vajrayogini called Sukhasiddhi, the "attainment of bliss," balances on a flaming lotus. Initiatress into the unfolding mysteries of birth and death, into all that remains unknown, Sukhasiddhi expresses the Tantric spirit of the Divine Feminine, which guides spiritual aspirants to realms of selfless freedom. Tantric Buddhism, the "Diamond Vehicle" (Vajrayana), does not suppress the powerful forces of human existence, but celebrates them in ecstatic imagery that cuts to the core of experience, Brandishing a flaying knife and garlanded in skulls-taking as ornaments what is normally rejected-Sukhasiddhi cuts through hope and fear, attachment and aversion, to unite with all existence. Her chopper (Kartrika) severs the roots of illusion, while her upraised skull cup is an offering of the nectar of emptiness, the interdependent miragelike nature of all life. As the Second Dalai Lama wrote in The Transmission of the Wisdom Dakini, "Above your head visualize a white or red Vajrayogini?.. Summon and absorb the Wisdom Beings, invoking and receiving their empowerments ? Recite the secret mantra ?. One's mind in the form of a white syllable AH shoots up the central channel paralleling dissolves into her heart. Meditate that the mind becomes one with the Wisdom of Bliss and Emptiness [embodied by ] Vajrayogini." Female archetypes of enlightened awareness are central to the Tantric form of Buddhism, which envisions the boundless, unconditioned wisdom mind as "feminine" and the compassionate activation of this underlying reality as "male." The insoluble union of the complementary energies is illustrated at the top of this painting in the form of Buddha Samantabhadra, the "all-beneficent." This joyful Buddha symbolized the eros of enlightened mind-the total integration of the poles of feeling and thought, spirit and matter, form and emptiness, bliss and all-penetrating awareness. Framing this icon of ecstatic union are wrathful Dakinis. "sky dancers," who manifest enlightened activity free from conventional perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs. Drinking from skull cups the nectar of pure perception, they imagine without boundaries, emanation from the primordial darkness of infinite possibility in aureoles of flames. The Mandala itself is the primal matrix-the womb door from which all life and experience come forth. According to the Guhyagarbha Tantra, "To understand what is born you must first penetrate what is beyond both birth and death. " Before entering into the light, you must encompass the darkness. The womb door is the gate of all mysteries, a portal between embryo and emanation and an invitation into the mind of infinite freedom.