Sarah in Tibet at Dralek Monastery in Ganze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, PRC. Sarah is reading different editions of Sera Khandro’s collected works.



00:00:00 Introduction

00:02:00 On translating Sera Khandro’s autobiography and what makes her particular autobiography so unique.

00:05:00 Human creativity coming out of interdependence and inter-relationality.

00:13:00 Prophetic visions with dakinis, khandro-ma and non-human consorts, and significance of tendrel in terma, treasure revelation. 

00:18:00 More on earth and mind treasure including an example from Sera Khandro’s autobiography. 

00:25:00 Climate crisis and relating with the earth.

00:28:00 Metaphors in Sera Khandro’s writing on joy and grief, and great love.

00:38:00 Linguistic universes of Tibetan and English, and how that affects the interpretations of translations, including words like enlightenment, lord, sin, inseparability and equality.

00:45:00 A story Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche told about his first hand experience with his teacher Sera Khandro.



Previous conversation with Dr. Jacoby on Love & Liberation, Writings of Sera Khandro

Lecture with Dr. Jacoby through Boston University on Interdependent Personhood and Relational Ethics: A Tibetan Perspective


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TRANSCRIPT Please excuse all errors

Olivia Clementine: I am Olivia Clementine, and this is Love and Liberation. Today our guest is Dr. Sarah Jacoby. Sarah is an associate professor in the religious studies department at Northwestern University. She specializes in Tibetan Buddhist studies with research interests in Buddhist revelation, religious autobiography, Tibetan literature, gender and sexuality, the history of emotions and the history of Eastern Tibet.

She is the author of Love and Liberation autobiographical writings, the Tibetan Buddhist visionary Sera Khandro, co-author of Buddhism, introducing the Buddhist experience and co-editor of Buddhism Beyond the Monastery, tantric practices and their performers in Tibet in the Himalayas. She is working on a full Tibetan English translation of Sera Khandro’s autobiography among other projects.

Sarah was a guest on a previous episode where we focused on her book Love and Liberation, which of course shares the same title as this podcast. To listen in to this previous conversation. You can visit the show notes for the link.

Last time we spoke, you said you were working on the 400 plus folio autobiography of Sera Khandro, and I’m wondering how that’s unfolding for you. 

Sarah Jacoby: It’s great. The more I read and translate this work, Sera Khandro’s autobiography, the more profound I realize it is like peeling and onion.

There are so many layers of insight that stretch from the very most sacred essence of the Buddhist tradition to even insights about what it is to be a Tibetan nomad and how people spoke to each other and the dialect sounded like. Sera Khandro writes in these many different registers in the autobiography, she writes dialogue in this way that she puts her to the mindset of the person who’s speaking.

So if she’s quoting a famous renowned Lama from Golok, she’ll speak in honorific profound terms. And if she’s quoting the guy next door who was yelling at her about something, She’ll quote much Golok dialect, vernacular and actually hear the life world in which she lived. The other thing that’s amazing about the way Sera Khandro writes is that there’s so many different genres of writing within this text that we’re calling her autobiography, which maybe we think of when we hear that word autobiography some sort of like prose narrative of the story of my life from birth until now or something. But in Tibetan, there’s so much song and, and poetry and this kind of combination. She breaks out into beautiful verses and then, And then reenters into dialogue with other deities and other people in her world.

 So there’s this kind of profound intersubjectivity on so many different levels that I find really fascinating. 

Olivia Clementine: So do we wanna get into that, this intersubjectivity and her ability to be so porous to what we were speaking of previous to recording this focus on interconnection from the Buddhist perspective and her relationship with all kinds of people that she’s around and really being able to be in their shoes the way she’s expressing herself, as well as being connected to beyond human beings.

Sarah Jacoby: Sera Khandro was a beautiful, eloquent, inspired writer. And so she describes this social and spiritual world of profound interdependence, not, not in a way that others don’t, in the Tibetan world, she’s not the only one. I’m not saying that this is something unique to Sarah Kro, but, but somehow the way Sera Khandro writes, I think is a really, really important reminder to us today that we’ve mistaken human creativity for something that comes out of autonomy instead of interdependence or interrelationality. And there’s so many ways to talk about this, and Tibetan Buddhism isn’t alone in reminding us that we aren’t autonomous, but yet require other people, other we, that we require the air to breathe. We require water. We require everything else in the universe to exist in order to exist ourselves.

And that it’s actually about our relationship with everything else that we find creativity and power. It’s through reciprocity and not autonomy that we’re able to be agents who act in the world. And I’m talking about a Tibetan word here that I’ve been thinking a lot about, and that is tendrel (རྟེན་འབྲེལ་) which is a word I would suggest we should all get to know and make friends with and explore.

Tendrel is among other things, the Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit pratitya-samutpada, which means interdependent origination. So for those of us schooled in Buddhism we can think of the Wheel of Life and the 12 links of interdependent origination. And if anybody wants to learn more about what I’m talking about there, just very briefly, I gave a lecture that is on On the internet available to anyone.

It’s called Interdependent Personhood and Relational Ethics, A Tibetan Perspective. And you can find that on the website for the Institute for Philosophy and Religion at Boston University, where I go through all the links and what they mean and, and, and more. 

Olivia Clementine: We’ll put a link for that. 

Sarah Jacoby: Oh, great.

 So there’s this philosophical meaning for tendrel, but it’s much more than that in Tibetan. And this is the part that really fascinates me. So the word tden means a support or a basis that which holds and drel means connection, relation, link. So causal connectivity could be a translation or dependent origination is one of the common ones, right, for the philosophical element. But what’s so fascinating to me is that tendrel means something specific in the process of treasure revelation, and it also means something more general in Tibetan that could be best translated as auspicious connections or favorable circumstances, good omens, fortunate conditions.

The, the kind of synergies between people and elements in the world through which we are able to accomplish something or something fortuitous happens, which is never something that we do as autonomous individuals, but rather in relationship with others. So it’s the causal connectivity itself between you and me or this and that.

That is the active force in this conversation, in this idea, in this word. And the reason I think it’s important to center this now I guess I’ll tell you something personal about myself. I think why I’m interested in this is because I grew up in New England, in a small town by the ocean. Really beautiful, wonderful place.

But it was all about individual autonomy. It was a certain kind of culture of do it yourself, which. We kind of joke about a lot. There’s so many ways to make fun of this inheritance in the United States, which I will call like Puritanism or, you know, it’s, it’s not that my parents were puritans exactly, but I think there’s a certain inheritance a certain kind of work ethic of you get what you make and don’t ask for help and do it yourself.

And that’s how success is derived, right? It’s a kind of competitive consumerist idea that my wellbeing will be built against yours and I should take as much as possible. And that’s what makes me intelligent to be able to take more, right? To build something. It’s, it’s like the, the roots of, in some ways, our capitalist economy or even international relations are built on some of these ideas.

And we’re destroying the world, we’re destroying the earth. And this is becoming clear for everyone every day between the storms that we’re experiencing the unnatural heat or extreme cold, in some cases, the, the imbalance that we’re creating because of these ideas that we’ve forgotten, reciprocity or the fact that we can only survive in relation to this entire world.

And that is something that I would say. Is a kind of, it’s not that Sera Khandro is writing some kind of treaties about why tendrel is important. She’s taking it as just a kind of obvious fact. Like it’s part of the, I don’t know, it’s like the, the water that the fish is swimming in. And it comes up, I think this word tendrel 177 times in the 407 folio length of this Tibetan text.

It’s, it’s everywhere. So I’ve been really thinking a lot about that lately. 

Olivia Clementine: Mm-hmm. And do you see any kind of transformation in, in reading her work from beginning to end? Do you see that there’s maybe evolution of that experience for her as she shares her story? You know, maybe in the beginning is there more of an infancy 

in relationship to that?

Sarah Jacoby: I think there’s a strong prophetic voice in Sera Khandro. She’s having these visions, you know? And here’s maybe where contemporary ideas of environmentalism would maybe not, not be so tied in with prophetic voices and traditions, but in the way that Tibetan Buddhist visionary writings are. But she’s being called by forces outside of her, or other than her sense of who she is as a young person namely by different dakinis who are appearing before her khandro-ma and reminding her that she needs to bring the auspicious connections together. The tendrel. And this means something very specific in the context of treasure revelation. It means being the right person at the right time in the right place with the right companions in order to be able to reveal a treasure or a terma.

And the right companions are the cho-dak, the doctrine holder which I think means a person who will inherit the teaching so it will be passed on to someone. And a consort or tap-drok literally a method companion, someone whose force or energy or vitality is necessary for the process of revelation itself to occur.

 And this can sometimes be in the form of an actual human person, but sometimes the consort appears through an item like a in Sera Khandro, there’ll be like some hair or a, a vajra, like a ritual implement that is owned by her consort. And if she has that, then that can bring the auspicious connections together.

So then again, we have a kind of breakdown between our sense of agents and objects, right? Like we might call a piece of hair or a vajra a thing and not a being, but maybe we have to reimagine a sort of different grammar of animacy in which we understand vitality as distributed more broadly than all the its in our world.

Because if it’s an it, then it’s there for us to use and exploit. So we establish a certain relationship with things that we think of as its mm-hmm. And this isn’t my idea, by the way. This is something I was just listening to, it was an interview with Robin Wall Kimmerer, do you know Braiding Sweetgrass?

It’s incredibly beautiful, and I find so much in her writing that reminds me of the Tibetan concept of Dre different words, but similar ideas. 

Olivia Clementine: Hmm. And in terms of tertons and revealing treasures and, and Sera Khandro, and also just because this is an area that you’ve been studying in general, even beyond Sera Khandro. Do you notice certain ways of relationship to allow them to be able to reveal treasures, you know, with with earth forms? Earth terma. Curious if there’s a through line that you see when you’ve researched tertons in terms of this aspect of right relationship. Yeah. And, and how does that actually show itself? Like what are these tertons doing that may be different than other people, other, other practitioners.

Sarah Jacoby: I think that treasure revealers, so much of Tibetan literature is actually revelation when you look at it a, a lot of the most famous biographies and histories. Enormous volumes of Tibetan Buddhist literature are revelation. And so it’s easy to think of something like Revelation as something which a treasure revealer takes or receives. It’s what they get. 

But what we don’t always think about, especially those of us outside of Tibet who are experiencing revelation through texts that perhaps our Lama is sharing with us, is that treasure Revealers are involved in a reciprocal relationship with the earth as a vital presence. Mind treasures, gom ter which don’t necessarily involve the earth in a kind of literal sense because what those are, are visionary revelations that appear in the mind of the treasure revealer.

 But even those actually are tied in with a pantheon of deities and spirits that are tied to the earth. So I’m not even sure we can pull apart the earth from gold, terror, mind treasures. But satter earth treasures are treasures that revealers find from the ground, from the earth. And when they do so they.

Return this treasure. They take the treasure out and they replace it with a teart up or a treasure substitute. And these can be different things. They’re often these vessels with minerals and blessing substances or vases sometimes they’re called bumpa. And so there’s a kind of process of exchange that’s taking place in the act of revelation.

So treasurer revealers are mediators between the, the past, the time of Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal and the present in which the revelation is taking place. But they’re also mediators between the Earth as vital and humans that are living on, on and with it. With it. Right. The it again. 

There’s an article by Antonio Terrone called “The Earth as Treasure” which explores this reciprocality in greater detail. And another thing we could do if you’d like, is I could read what that sounds like in Sera Khandro’s writing.

Olivia Clementine: I would love to hear. Yeah, please. 

Sarah Jacoby: Okay. So Sera Khandro goes to Amni Machen Mountain, which means I guess we could say Grandfather Machen. Grandfather Great Ma Mountain. So already we have a kind of human relation that’s within the name itself.

This is the kind of anthropomorphic head of the land of Golok. It’s a mountain that’s over 20,000 feet above sea level and is the abode of a kind of royal kingdom with a king and a queen and gatekeepers and people of the court. These are the spirits that Sera Khandro encounters when she goes there.

 In 1934, she visits Grandfather Machen, Amni Machen Mountain, and this is how she describes it”

“that year – and some of his associates.” This is the man she ended up marrying and having children with, “were preparing to go to Machen, the Nun -, and I joined them and went to Magyal,” which is another name for the mountain. “When I arrived at Tachok Pass, Magyuel’s minister -came to welcome me actually riding a horse made of cloud. We went into Magyuel’s Palace where there was a sumptious spread of food and drink as if meeting someone he knew already he was delighted, as were his queen children, entourage and servants. The palace gatekeeper said: great female Bodhisattva thank you so much for coming to our sacred land. Stay here for a few days. For the Sacred Land offer a cleansing ritual and an auspicious vase that restores the earth’s nutrients. For us you must give us expansive dharma teachings. 

I fulfilled all their desires and our relationship as sacred land and guest was unified.” 

It actually goes on, but maybe I’ll stop there to describe some of the things that I’m trying to say in my less eloquent words, which is that there’s an exchange taking place. So Sera Khandro appears on the sacred land of Amni Machen and is invited in, and she’s asked to provide something. The deities of the landscape, say for the sacred land, do a ritual and offer an auspicious vase that restores the earth’s nutrients.

So bring us something that will provide health and wellbeing for the land and the space and give us dharma teachings. And then Sera Khandro proceeds to say, oh I think some of my treasures are hidden here. And they provide them to her. And the way she describes this is this interesting expression, – which means literally host guest relationship.

 Or another way to put that would be I think I said it there in that translation, our relationship as sacred land and guest. So it means sacred land. – means guest, and – is the Tibetan word for Samaya, which in tantra contexts refers to pledges or vows. That one makes when one’s initiated into a lineage, a tantric lineage.

 But here the word – doesn’t just refer to something that comes from Sanskrit or from Vajrayana Buddhism. It, it is mixed with what I suspect our indigenous Tibetan ideas of sacred or reciprocal relations with spirits of the Earth, which it has an overlay of Buddhism but isn’t exclusively Buddhist. Maybe we could understand this better as Tibetan than Buddhist, seeing those things as closely tied, but maybe not one in the same. 

I think that’s really fascinating. I’m bringing this up, not just as a practitioner or just as a historian of religion, which are two hats that I wear, but actually also just as a person worried about the climate crisis as a kind of knowledge, a different kind of understanding of the way that we could relate to this earth as guests who need to establish the proper relation with the Earth that’s hosting us.

I think this is as true in the mystical world that Sera Khandro lived as the everyday encounter that we have as humans on the earth now. So I sort of wonder what would it mean if we took that seriously as a kind of call to establish the proper relation. Between ourselves and our environment. Mm-hmm.

Olivia Clementine: Staying with Sera Khandro in the sense that she is really able to straddle both worlds of ordinariness, you know, this human being who’s so expressed and, and genuine and emotional and this realized being, what do you notice as a guide what that could be like, not just when she’s going to realize a terma in a moment, but just throughout the day, what is her relationship like with our earth world?

What is she doing? What are examples of the ways that she exhibits the naturalness of tendrel.

Sarah Jacoby: I think she’s making offerings and prayers of devotion and that perhaps we can follow in her footsteps, but she’s also attuned to spirits of the Earth in a way that I would say extends beyond my capacities as maybe someone that’s heard too many stories of the modern secular worldview that Sera Khandro is having visionary experiences in which different kinds of land deities and placed based spirits are manifesting before her.

So there’s something to that that she’s actually talking to them in her visionary experience, waking and dreaming. And she writes about this, and I have every reason to believe as a reader and translator that she’s sharing her real experience with us. Mm-hmm. So there’s a degree to which I can imagine what her life is like and a degree to which it exceeds my capacity.

Olivia Clementine: I appreciate your honesty, your humility. Would you be interested in going into some of her language? I really have some, I have some questions I’m curious about that feel tied to this. You mentioned early in this conversation her ability to move in language like she seems so, once again, fluid.

 And actually even in our previous conversation you did speak about metaphors in ways that she says one thing, but it has multiple meanings. And I’m wondering if there’s any particular metaphors, whether they’re common metaphors potentially, that you continue to come across that have multiple meanings, you know, outer inner and secret meanings that you’d be willing to share.

Sarah Jacoby: There are so many beautiful metaphors that just course throughout Sera Khandro’s writing. I’m not sure that I have just like the perfect outer inner and secret metaphor to share with you at this moment. I’ll just tell you one that I was just translating the other day that I think is reminiscent of the ties between people that we don’t always think about.

She uses this metaphor for joy to be joyful. ” That I was upon seeing him, I was as joyous as a living person meeting with the dead.” And I’ve been thinking about how to translate that because I don’t think we say that. There’s one thing that maybe we say, and I’ve been thinking about the metaphor so much that now I feel like I’m forgetting English.

You know, like like for instance, in Tibetan they always talk about snow mountains. And I’m not sure we say that, but I’ve said it so much through translation that I’m like, do we call that a snow mountain or do we just say it’s a mountain that has snow on it? I don’t know. But so this idea maybe we’d say, I was so happy it was like I met someone raised from the dead. I mean, maybe you’d say that, but then you get into some idea about zombies, you know, and in Tibetan you do too. If you say it that way, then it’s like a ro-lang, a zombie. And that’s not what it’s meant to say. It’s an acknowledgement of the grief we feel when someone passes from this life and they’re inaccessible.

And the joy we would feel if we could see them again. And this is something that Sera Khandro, this is a metaphor a turn of phrase, right, that you don’t have to think really hard about to use in Tibetan. But it’s also a kind of metaphor that Sera Khandro lived with and struggled with her, her, for much of her life because many people close to her died, especially her Guru Drime Ozer, son of Dudjom Lingpa and also her son.

So it’s, it’s more than a metaphor, the kind of joy you would feel if you could be reunited with the dead. But it is a metaphor. So language tells us a lot. 

Olivia Clementine: She also has intimate metaphors that express her devotion with Drime Ozer and, and it’s interesting when I think of the Western language we have such few words that we use to express devotion and are there any words that come to mind from recent translations, one way that she expresses her incredible devotion and, and love for Drime Ozer? 

Sarah Jacoby: So she uses this word tsewa-chenpo , which means great love. And I think it’s interesting, this is just one example of many, but this word can mean great devotional love, like the love you feel for your guru or the love you feel for your father or in Tibetan, it wouldn’t be more like the love your father feels for you because there is a kind of hierarchical feeling in this kind of love. Like it’s similar to the idea of great compassion, that you would have great compassion for someone who is suffering or someone who is needy and you would wish to sort of scoop them up in your bounty or your health and help them.

 So compassion can also have this what I’m trying to communicate by calling it hierarchical, like I wanna give you something that I have and perhaps you don’t, is implied there. Mm-hmm. So tsewa-chenpo is a kind of great love that a guru bestows upon their disciple, but it also is the kind of love that a lover feels for their beloved.

And then we see these words of pensun, like mutuality. There’s a kind of mutual love, so there’s this sort of linguistic overlay between what we might speak of in 21st century English as romantic love, although there are enormous debates about this in, in literary studies about whether you can take the word romantic love or the set of ideas that we have about what that means and apply that across cultures and across time periods.

But without delving into the weeds too much there, I think we can all evoke some sense of, whether we call it romance or some other word, the kind of passionate love that lovers feel for each other that is mutual, which is of a totally different register than devotional love in a kind of sacred space.

But what’s interesting to me is that these share some common elements of language and metaphor, and there seems to be a kind of space in the narrative that Sera Khandro wrote, the story she told about her life. It seems to me as a reader that she had enormous devotion and respect for Drime Ozer as a guru, but there seems to be a kind of mutuality, a kind of love between them as yab and yum lover and Beloved that is also there.

And the two don’t cancel each other out. It’s not an either or situation. It’s a kind of both and, and it’s beautiful. You know, it’s very beautiful as sacred language and maybe even as sacred erotic language, thinking about the way that Audre Lorde wrote so beautifully and eloquently about the erotic uses of the erotic, the essay that I’m quoting right now.

I don’t mean to debase it by using that word, but I think there is a certain way we can speak of that. 

Olivia Clementine: Yeah. It also ties into the beginning of this conversation on tendrel and this kind of endless life that’s flowing through all of these connections rather than these kind of bounded experiences of self. It feels like that erotic aspect fits in very nicely in many ways to interconnection on the intimate realm. 

Can we speak to lost in translation for a moment? It’s so easy to assume that common words that are translated are certain. I’m prefacing this question with the fact that I listened to a conversation where Dzongsar Khyentse was speaking, and he mentioned that a lot of common words that we see in Dharma texts, including enlightenment, compassion, and practice, were inaccurate. So those are three words, three terms that are like a given in many ways, in, in one’s mind perhaps. 

And then I also am thinking, I heard a recent guest of ours, Khandro Kunzang, she was speaking to the word visualization and how Lama Dawa Rinpoche suggested using the word experience rather than visualization because he felt it was more accurate.

And I’m curious, what are words that may be missing the mark in Buddhist translations? And are there some words that you’ve started to translate differently? 

Sarah Jacoby: Translation is always interpretation. This is a, this is a famous adage but it’s especially true in the act of translating Tibetan to English because these languages have, I think you could say no, cognates.

There’s a few, right? Like mota is the Tibetan word for motor, which is obviously a lone word that comes from English. But they’re operating in linguistic universes that have been separate from each other for thousands of years. I, I don’t know, I don’t know how many years exactly, but I think they’re fairly separate.

And so just like the famous expression that the Inuit people have many different words for snow, right? There’s no Google Translate that can do the work of translating Tibetan to English because it’s not a matter of robotically changing words from one language to another because the concepts that underlie them are either missing or envisioned in a completely different way in the broader experiential and linguistic universes invoked by words in Tibetan and in English.

And this is one of the things that I find most fascinating about the act of translation, because it’s an act of creativity and exploration that teaches us so much more about what Tibetan teachings mean than we get from translations. And translations are great. I don’t mean to discount them and without the work that previous translators have done, we would be so much more impoverished in our understanding of the Buddhist tradition.

So I think translation is immensely valuable, but it’s like the finger pointing to the moon, not the moon itself. And I mean, for one word, you just brought up enlightenment. That word has strong resonances for us, whether we overtly realize it or not, the European Enlightenment, the age of reason, a certain conception of rationality, a kind of awakening that is tied to the Industrial revolution. Concepts of personal autonomy, that there’s a whole nexus of meanings that are pinned on this word enlightenment. And we in the Buddhist world may think that we’re different than that inheritance, but as long as we’re using the word, we are still rooted in a, in one way or another, whether it’s understood by us or just kind of assumed or implicit.

So this is the problem. It’s unavoidable because every word we choose is tied into a broader conversation. You know, for example in Tibetan, the Lord himself, is what Sera Khandro calls Drime Ozer. I translate that as the master because I think that a spiritual master in Buddhism has a little bit of a different ring.

It means obviously deeply respectful the guru, but it doesn’t sound like we’re talking about the Lord Jesus Christ, right? The Lord has a very specific meaning. Another one would be dikpa sin. That’s a word that is part of a domain of sin and salvation and these Christian terms but it’s actually impossible to escape from.

So sometimes I think, oh, I have to find a new word, like negativity or something like that. Other times, I think especially if it works with the meter of the verse, I’m translating sometimes I just allow myself one of those words that pops into my head from my own Christian inheritance. So I’m not rigidly judgmental on this, but it’s a kind of interpretive sort of project to think about the resonances that different words have.

 One word that I’ll bring into the conversation though is equality. And this comes from something that Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche wrote actually. So to tie in with something you said just now that he brought up. So nyam-nee Equality, we tend to think about that as a kind of Rights based language. All people are equal, or you and I are equal.

You should get the thing that I have and it should be in the equal amount. But equality – is associated with something else in Tibetan, Indivisibility. The idea that we are not fundamentally separate, that we’re, we’re inseparable and therefore there is this equality between us of inseparability.

And that’s really different than how big is your pile because I want the same, you know, that like, I have an older brother and it reminds me of the, like, I cut you choose like there’s one piece of toast. I’m gonna cut that exactly in the middle because I know you’re choosing. It’s not that so thinking about how to translate words like that is it’s a fascinating project.


Olivia Clementine: Is that word coming back again to tendrel? This indivisibility another reflection of how tendrel is so laced into the Tibetan Buddhist language that even equality is not measured it’s really, once again, interconnection, this currency that moves between us as beings.

Sarah Jacoby: I think it all comes from the assumption that we are not separate which sounds really simple and perhaps overstated and can be found in many different philosophies and religions. But yet still feels like something we need to hear over and over again. Not just as a philosophy, but what does that mean for how we behave in the world, that we’re not separate?

What would a politics of Inseparability look like? Or a political platform of tendrel. 

Olivia Clementine: May I ask you one final question? 

Sarah Jacoby: Sure. 

Olivia Clementine: Wondering if you have any stories you’ve heard Chatral Rinpoche share about Sera Khandro, his personal experience with her, 

 or if there’s anything you feel moved to share about in terms of your time gathering information about Sera Khandro.

Sarah Jacoby: I think maybe a fundamental one is a story that Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche told me about meeting Sera Khandro. He was 15. And his maternal uncle Norbu Wangyal, was a disciple of Sera Khandro. And he went to meet her and he was just embarking on his spiritual journey. And it was Sera Khandro’s prophetic vision that he needed to go to Katok monastery to study with Khenpo Ngagchung.

And that, that Khenpo Ngagchung was Chatral Rinpoche’s root guru. This was her vision and she sent him to do that. And so I think that’s really just incredible to consider. That this great master that many of us had a chance to encounter or somehow connect with is a someone who embodied and lived her Sera Khandro’s prophetic vision.

So the tendrel comes down through the generations and is still alive today in the Living Lineage representatives. Hmm.

There are so many other stories, but maybe that one is the really special thing that I got to hear about from Chatral Rinpoche. 

Olivia Clementine: Thank you Sarah. And is there anything else you wanna share? Anything you want us to know about or anything current moving through your world these days? 

Sarah Jacoby: Maybe just that. It has taken me quite some time to finish Sera Khandro’s translation.

 And so I would like to reassure everyone that it’s actually becoming it, it took a long time to, to be able to do this work. And I’m still in a long process of working through questions and points of confusion with the profundity of the language and also the local meaning of everyday things in Sera Khandro’s world that go back to nomadic lifestyles that are different than the ones that I’m familiar with.

And so there’s this process of learning that’s still unfolding, but I’m hopeful that it will be finished in the near future. I’m saying that in this way. So it’s not to nail myself down, but just to say that this is a, it’s, it’s very important to me and it’s my main project right now. Hmm. So I can’t wait to share it with you sometime soon.


Olivia Clementine: Well, thank you so much for your commitment and for moving through those blocks of meaning and understanding, and I hope you have many people that support you when you reach moments of trying to translate native Golok phrases and, and things like that, that sounds really fun from the outside, but I imagine when you’re in it, a lot of patience is involved.

Sarah Jacoby: You know, the, this is just another reflection of tendrel because there’s no way that one person especially one person sitting in Chicago could ever translate Sera Khandro’s namtar. It’s actually entirely the relationships that I’ve had, that I’ve been fortunate to have with others from, you know, gurus in Tibet and Nepal to Dharma siblings to colleagues and friends and students.

Some of my students are from Tibet and they’re immensely helpful in, in teaching me. So I’ve been learning from these relationships and I’m so grateful, and without them, I never could do it.