Ven. Dhyani Ywahoo: Recognizing the heart connections with Native American and Tibetan Cultures Trained by her grandparents, Dhyani Ywahoo is the twenty-seventh generation to carry the ancestral wisdom of the Ywahoo lineage of the Cherokee. Sheis the spiritual director of Sunray Meditation Society and also a respected teacher of the Drikung Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. She is a musician, and author of Voices of Our Ancestors, Learning Cherokee Ways and a number of other limited editions. - When did you meet the 16th Karmapa for the first time? I did have the good fortune to meet His Holiness in New York City in 1976 and later I met him in Vermont at Karme Chöling. During the meeting there were many guests with him. I spent time with him in the meditation shrine. I sat at his feet and many guests came in to meet with him. He gave me an education through his demeanor and then at some point during this session I experienced that we both flew out of the window and were playing in the autumn leaves , and simultaneously we were sitting in the meditation room. That left a big impression on me. He had the capacity to be in many places simultaneously. I heard this also from other people who regularly spent time with him. The vastness of his compassion in a sense generated rūpakāyas to help sentient beings and his understanding of forms arising was such that he could be in two or more places simultaneously. He was a profoundly compassionate human being. Even after he left his body, many people through Guru Yoga and some heart connection would feel his support for the Dharma growing in the West. The Tibetans and First Nations seem to share some prophecies…? In 1978 it finally became legal for Native Americans to care for themselves and practice their religious ceremonies and to educate their young in the original language of their peoples, with an attempt to abrogate all Indian Treaties that offered the carrot of “we will give you religious freedom.”. In the seventies, many Native American communities were re-awakened after years of subjugation. Native Americans in North America started again to speak their languages, care for themselves and educate themselves. So in the late sixties there was a wave of re-awakening. A group called the White Roots of Peace went to different areas and asked the First People communities what they remember of their cultures and traditions, and the secret practices which the elders had kept secret for over four hundred years. They basically re-awakened traditions and communities. The same system of ‘dominion over’ that was used to take the lands and the rights of the Native American communities, have been applied in Tibet. There was an awareness that our relatives would come from Tibet. For the First People of North America people wearing red robes were prophesied and considered relatives returning, and the prophecies spoke even of the similarities of the clothes, their belief system and even similarities in language, especially with the Hopi, one of the oldest of the nations who had remained on their land. My grandparents and many other Elders had visions of their people meeting men in red robes, similar to those worn by Tibetan lamas. They believed that the Tibetan plateau and the Colorado plateau were points for the planet’s atmosphere and the planetary mind. They believed as well that these plateaus continuously exchange information in a cycle of ongoing communication. The people had this belief and it was revealed in certain designs that swastikas represent the turning of four winds over sacred ground such as the Tibetan and Colorado Plateau. This counterclockwise turning, represented in the original swastika found on iindigenous pottery from all over the world, is the representation of sacred wind, voice and life. These sacred places are a point around which air, time and space pivot. It benefits people that the Hopi and Pueblo peoples retained the Heart of Compassion and that they maintain ceremonies that transform ignorance and remind people that we are all interconnected, that we are dreaming this world together. So they knew that relatives would come from across the sea and together they would energize compassion and skillful action to lift ignorance from the minds and activities of people, so all can recall that we are relatives in the dance of life. And what we think and do does resonate through the atmosphere and affect every being. There are many connections and deep resonances and that is the result of the understanding of the interdependence of forms arising. When meeting Trungpa Rinpoche with my young son, Changlochen Rinpoche, they both burst into incredible laughter! At that time, my son was just nine months old and we all went into the basement to look at the furnace and they were talking to each other in ways I didn’t understand. And when we came upstairs, Trungpa Rinpoche presented me with a text, the Vajrayogini sadhana and said “this is yours” along with some private words. And then, when a newer translation was made, he also sent it to me. The heart connections are deep within the traditions of the Tibetan people. You didn’t speak with His Holiness about similarities of the old cultures? With the 16th Karmapa, our conversation was deeply experimental. He showed that we are at more than one place at the same time. When I met him the first time, I was living in New York City. Later, on his advice, I moved to Vermont. He pointed out two places, and my grandparents had pointed them out too, which were suitable for practice, one was Vermont and the other was Nova Scotia. My grandparents additionally advised Vermont. I spoke to Karmapa also about people coming from other worlds. He listened and understood, because many of the First Nations stories refer to people coming to earth from other star systems. There is the theory that many old cultures came from the same old continent, Lemuria…? Yes, we understand many of the people of the West Coast , descendants of the First Nations, speak of having lived earlier on a large land mass in the Pacific Ocean, even before the retreat of the ice in North America. These people were very large. In the story of earlier days, the Aniyunwiwa speak of having come to Earth from the Pleiades and living first on via a series of five interconnected islands in the Atlantic Ocean. These lands sank due to people’s manipulation of matter, to control rather than live in harmony with Earth. Many First Nations people, of the East coast, may be descendants of those who lived on Atlantis. There are many myths from these earlier people that Earth is a living being and changes in a cycle of growth and exploration, that nothing is fixed. Even the Earth itself grows as an exploration of infinite possibilities. How we maintain spiritual practice and ceremony contributes to life supporting, wisdom enhancing growth. When people seek domination over, destruction of living systems occur. The 16th Karmapa met Chief White Bear, who had written a book about the theory that their ancestors are from Lemuria…? It appears that descendants of Lemuria are still found in Hawaii, the West Coast, Alaska and New Zealand, as their ceremonial longhouses and ceremonial designs are similar. When observing the designs and ceremonies, it is clear that there are connections between these people. We were taught on the Eastern side, the five interconnected lands sank because people sought to have power over other living beings rather than recognizing our interdependence. The changes on the West coast were also said to have occurred as an opportunity for growth and putting away of what was outgrown. These are just a few simple words that are energized by your request and conversation regarding His Holiness the 16th Karmapa. His Holiness, the 16th Karmapa was indeed a wondrous being who heard the cries of those beyond the horizon and responded by bringing the Dharma to the land of the Red People, for which I and many others are grateful.
Interview May 2018 by Gerd Bausch. Edited by Ven Dhyani Ywahoo.
 Many references to Lemuria place the sunken continent it in the Indian Ocean, but some believe that it was situated in the Pacific.