The greatest inspiration and rôle model for women and teacher for men, in terms of Tibetan Buddhism, is the enlightened yogini Yeshé Tsogyel (ye-shes mTsho-rGyal). Yeshé means ‘primordial wisdom’, and Tsogyel means ‘queen of the ocean-like quality of Mind’. She is the female Buddha of the Nyingma tradition. As a historical figure she is the mother of all Nyingma lineages. Yeshé Tsogyel, together with her incarnations and emanations, is an inspiration to women as a rôle model, and to men as a teacher.
Yeshé Tsogyel’s gaze is at once soft and penetrating; compassionate yet playfully wrathful, in token of her ability to infuse all circumstances with vivid opportunities for realisation. Her wide open eyes sparkle with the electricity of existence and non-existence and communicate the immanence of liberation for all yogis and yoginis. Her strong laughter overpowers all dualistic conceptions. She wears the six human-bone cemetery ornaments to show that she has accomplished the six Tantric vehicles. She wears the conch yogini earrings, and sits on a tiger skin in display of her mastery of all siddhis. In her left hand she holds a skull bowl; symbol of the transformed emotions, and of wisdom. The white bone of the skull is the male quality of spacious-passion. The red frothing oceans of menstrual blood within the skull bowl are the female quality of passionate-space. She cradles the khatvangha trident in the crook of her left arm. The three points of the khatvangha pierce the fabric of attraction, aversion and indifference. The secret nature of the khatvangha is Padmasambhava – her secret inner method nature. In her right hand she holds the golden five-pronged wrathful vajra, with which she overpowers all apparent phenomena in bliss-emptiness. She sits in the Dzogchen yogini’s posture. Her left foot is extended in token of her ability to enter swiftly into activity for the benefit of everyone and everything everywhere.