Featured Native American Peacekeeper: Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo

The Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo, as it reads on her website, is an international spiritual teacher, author, and spiritual catalyst for peace. She is a rare and precious jewel who is largely undiscovered in the Western world where messengers of peace such as Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai Lama are well-known.  Venerable Dhyani is a member of the traditional Etowah Band of the Eastern Tsalagi (Cherokee). Venerable Dhyani has been offering teachings of peace to any who wish to come for over 40 years. Trained by her grandparents, she is the twenty-seventh generation to carry the ancestral wisdom of the Ywahoo lineage.  She is unique as a teacher by virtue of carrying three intact streams of this ancient spiritual tradition.

She is also unusual for being a respected teacher of Vajrayana in the Drikung Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.  This transpired as a result of a meeting in 1976 between Venerable Dhyani and His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, the late head of the Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism.  This meeting had been foretold by prophecies from both the Native American and Tibetan Buddhist traditions.  In the 8th century, Guru Padmasambhava foretold of Buddhist teachings spreading west from Tibet.  “When the iron bird flies and ponies run on wheels,” he said, “the Dharma will spread to the land of the red men.”  Venerable Dhyani’s grandparents had visions of their people meeting men with red hats, similar to those worn by Tibetan masters.

She founded the Sunray Meditation Society in 1969 in Vermont and established the Sunray Peace Village in 1985.  The Village provides a ceremonial “Homefire” for the Green Mountain Band Ani Yunwiwa and Sunray.  The Peace Villages of the past were open to people of all traditions and cultures.  They continue to honor this tradition and also invite teachers from other Native Nations and religions to come and share wisdom at the Peace Village.  An Elders Gathering has been hosted every summer at the Village for many years and will once again convene from July 27-August 1 of this year. Any and all may come.

Venerable Dhyani has worked tirelessly to spread ceremonial and meditation practices designed to “generate clear mind and transform patterns of disturbance for all.”  She teaches how to maintain ceremonial seasonal cycles, rituals of purification, and community celebration. As she writes in her book, Voices of Our Ancestor: Cherokee Teachings from the Wisdom Fire: “In 1969, after generations of secrecy, it was decided to share the teachings of the Tsalagi tradition with non-Native people, so that our children would have water to drink and a place to walk. The intention is to strengthen individuals’ relationships with their families, communities, nations, and the land, the Earth herself.  We do not invite people to become Indians. We invite people to be in good fellowship and to respect the teachings of their family of origin.  Thus may we all cooperate in manifesting in a vision of peace.”

May her teachings be spread far and wide.

For more information about Venerable Dhyani, you may go to the website for the Sunray Meditation Society.  A premier of a film made about the Elders Gathering, “Peace Village” will take place at the Tibet House in New York City on Friday, June 22 from 7-10 pm.  To find out more, click here.  The film has been given two Indie awards.

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