Practices of Kurukulle: feminine wisdom of magic and magnetizing in Tibetan Buddhism
Dr. Jan Westerhoff, Dr. Cathy Cantwell
My research focus is on Kurukulle (Skt. Kurukullā, Tib. ku ru ku lle or rig byed ma) practice in Tibetan Buddhism, especially in Chökling treasure text (Tib. mchog gling gter gsar) tradition of the Nyingma (Tib. rnying ma) school. Kurukulle is a female deity of Indian origin considered to be a form of Tara, and she is particularly associated with esoteric knowledge, magic, subjugation and magnetizing. Despite her rather unique role in Tibetan Buddhist pantheon, a detailed academic study on Kurukulle practice in Tibetan tradition has not yet been published. Using the main ritual (Skt. sādhana; Tib. sgrub thabs) texts from Sakya (Tib. sa skya), Nyingma (Tib. rnying ma) and Kargyu (Tib. bka' brgyud) lineages as primary sources, I will examine the emergence and role of Kurukulle in Tibetan Tantric practice within the context of the meaning and usage of the four activities. Four activities (Tib. phrin las rnam bzhi) are a generic term for the classification of the Tantric rituals based on the means or the goal of the ritual -the four activities of pacifying, enriching, magnetizing, and subjugating or destroying-, and Kurukulle seems to particularly symbolize the 'magnetizing' and 'subjugating' aspects of female deity yoga practices. Additionally, I would like to discuss Kurukulle's role in female lineage transmissions and examine Kurukulle practice from a gender studies perspective by applying discourse analysis and use primary and secondary sources as well as the contemporary commentaries of lineage holders and the perspectives of practitioners for comparison.
Study of Religion and Religions, Asian Religions
Other research interests:
Ritual Theory and dynamics, psychology of religion and spiritual experience, comparative religion, non-sectarian and non-dogmatic spirituality, esotericism and esoteric Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu Tantrism, mindfulness, integrating Western psychology with Eastern philosophies, Post-structural, psychoanalytical and feminist discourse methodologies, Silk Road cultures, Turkic and Tibetan relations in Central Asia during the Imperial period (7-11 CE).
Peer supporter in Wolfson College
Güzin was born and raised in Istanbul where she obtained her BA in Psychology and Comparative Literature and an MA in Cultural Studies (thesis on the construction of the self in Tibetan Buddhist and Western psychological traditions). Working as a psychotherapist in Turkey and reading for a second MA degree in Forensic Sciences and Psychology she continued training in different psychotherapy techniques, and then has worked as a psychotherapist and mental healthcare expert in Turkey, India, and Egypt, collaborating with government and NGO projects.
Living in different regions of India for nearly a decade Güzin became interested in experiential aspects of Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist yogic traditions and their philosophical and ritual practices. After attending a Tibetan Translator Training programme in Dharamsala, Güzin collaborated in translation projects with Dr. Alexander Berzin, becoming a translator for the Turkish section of his online Buddhist archives. She continued to live in Dharamsala, HP, India where she concentrated on studying Tibetan Buddhist meditation and ritual. In 2014-2015 Güzin pursued an MSt degree in Oriental Studies (Tibetan Studies) at the University of Oxford, focusing on the early historical roots of the Tibetan State Oracle tradition and its protector deity Pehar. She is currently reading for her DPhil in Tibetan Buddhism (Theology and Religion) at Wolfson College, concentrating on the ritual practices of the Tantric female deities Lotus Dakini and Kurukulle associated with magic and magnetizing.
Güzin leads a weekly university-wide session in the methods of Mindfulness and Tibetan Buddhist meditation at Wolfson College.