E and VAM are seed syllables that symbolize the two essentials needed for enlightenment— wisdom and method, emptiness and compassion, the feminine and the masculine.
Although this essential pairing is expressed in many forms throughout the tradition, E and VAM have a particularly strong and explicit link to the feminine and masculine. Thus we chose them because we are working primarily with women, working to strengthen the feminine, but within a context in which the development, balance, and harmony of both the feminine and the masculine is essential. Wisdom and compassion are the two wings of the bird flying to enlightenment, and without both, fully developed and perfectly balanced, enlightenment is not possible.
The seed syllables E and VAM are surrounded by a circle of twenty-one TAM, the seed syllable of Tara, the feminine embodiment of compassion, twenty-one because the twenty-one forms of Tara are one of her most popular manifestions. The nuns have a particular affinity for Tara and are frequently asked by the Tibetan community to perform Tara rituals on their behalf.
The Tibetan for Tara is “Dolma”, and thus “Dolma Ling”, the name of our main undertaking, the Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, means “Place of Tara”.