Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Duncan February 25 1990
Teachings from a text by the first Dalai Lama, 1400's
The first Dalai Lama was a very powerful practitioner who started to establish the Gelug tradition of Tsong Khapa. It was not, however until the second Dalai Lama came that there was some recognition of him as a reincarnation of the First Dalai Lama. When the Mongolians invaded Tibet they venerated this particular Lama and gave the name Dalai Lama which means ocean like.
The praise of twenty one Taras is the praise I wanted to do. It is called just Praise to Tara and gives details of Tara. After that, then we can do the twenty one prayers to Tara.
I would like to expose you to the feminine principle and how it is venerated so highly in Tibetan Buddhism in particular and in being an integral part of realization. Whether it is a woman realizing a more powerful divinity within herself, or for a man just having a less chauvinistic relationship with the divine feminine, it is an important facet. The teachings have a great deal to do with image. You might think it is interesting but does not mean anything to me, but I would like you to reflect on your own capacity to read images or things shown to you. People dressed in particular ways to show what they want to show about themselves. Thus they present an image which gives a message. We read those messages all of the time!
Different images affect us or communicate different information to us. So when you practice any of these particular divinities, there is a lot of visual emphasis saying, right hand forward, left hand up, fingers in such a posture, and this means such and such! All of these things are part of the whole embodiment of an image and building a visual library for yourself within your own mind. So relate to it that way. It does have meaning for you because you are always interpreting images you are seeing around you whether from your spouse, children or others.
TO ARAYA AVALOKITESHVARA, I BOW DOWN
Although Tara is considered to be a princess who practiced in previous lifetimes, then finally attained to Tara, there is another aspect to Tara in which it is said that Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Love and Compassion who is said to work hard for sentient beings, became disheartened. It is said that he was put off with the fact that sentient beings were so thick headed they could never become enlightened, although he worked very intensively, he seemed to be too methodical in his way of working with beings. And he could not be quick enough to be able to respond to them. And at one point he cried about this so hard his tears formed a lake, and then one of his tears landed on a lotus and turned into Tara. She said to him, I can appreciate your suffering in your compassion, because your tears of compassion are so pure, you have given birth to me. Because I am a woman, I am more intuitive. I don't need to think about how to help others, I just do it! In this way, Tara was named the Quick One, the speedy goddess.
On the ultimate plane Buddhas are Buddhas and there is no difference in them. They are all fully enlightened. But it is said on the relative plane that a woman will respond more intuitively than a man. Therefore Tara, when you have sufferings, will respond quicker than if you rely on a male deity.
Thus to Avalokiteshvara I bow down, because it is making homage to the birth of Tara by his tears of compassion.
HOMAGE TO EXALTED TARA WHOSE LOTUS FEET VISHNU, BRAHMA, VERALKPATI, GANESH, ISHVARA, SURA AND ALL THE OTHER GODS, WEAR YOU AS A CROWN ORNAMENT. YOU ARE THE MOST REVEREND TO WORSHIP.
They are many divinities in Hinduism. As far as Buddhists are concerned, all divinities, even the Great White Spirit of the West or Jesus, would worship Tara because she is special. She is said to be the mother of all Buddhas. It does not mean that she is physical mother, but rather enlightenment goes beyond the intellect. That way, one has to intuitively penetrate into enlightenment. One does not sort of think it through. In that way, all previous Buddhas have had to rely on Tara in that she is the intuitive flash into the ultimate nature of reality.
BY THE MAGICAL POWER OF AVALOKITESHVARA'S COMPASSION, THE KNOWLEDGE, MERCY, AND STRENGTH OF BUDDHAS PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE, MANIFEST IN THE FORM OF THE BEAUTIFUL GODDESS OF ACTION, TARA.
AT THE FEET OF TARA, WHO PROTECTS FROM POVERTY, I BOW DOWN.
There it refers to that from Avalokiteshvara's pure love comes the manifestation of the beautiful goddess of action. Tara acts spontaneously. It is the knowledge, mercy and strength of the Buddhas past present and future, manifests in the form of the goddess of actions. It emphasizes that you should not think that because Tara is a woman, maybe she has some limitations or problems because she is a woman, it is said Tara is completely beyond those problems. She has all of the knowledge mercy and strength of all the Buddhas. And so to the feet of Tara who protects from poverty, I bow down. It is said of the different manifestations of Tara, if you have trouble with money, you should pray to white Tara because she has lots of wealth. Her name is the wish fulfilling Tara. Thus, Tara protects from poverty.
UPON A PURE LOTUS AND MOON SYMBOLIZING KNOWLEDGE AND VOIDNESS, SITS THE EMERALD GODDESS HAVING ONE FACE AND TWO ARMS. HOMAGE TO SHE, ABOUNDING WITH YOUTH, WHOSE RIGHT LEG OUTSTRETCHED AND LEFT WITHDRAWN, SYMBOLIZES METHOD AND WISDOM CONJOINED.
This refers to her body. First she sits on a lotus and moon cushion. The lotus is said to be the method, moon, which is a very receptive symbol, for example, the moon does not have it's own light. It reflects light. In the same way, the ultimate nature of reality is something which you should have reflect to you. It is something you do not put to things. It is something which is there and should just naturally reflect back to your mind. In the same way, because Tara is fully enlightened, is seated upon a lotus and white moon cushion, symbolic of having perfect method and perfect wisdom.
She is an emerald green goddess, a very rick and growing color. Having one face and two arms, homage to she, abounding in youth, meaning although she can appear old or as a baby or even as a man if she felt like it, she appears very youthful. When you have a perfect vision of Tara, she will be very young. In Asia they say she is about sixteen. I think we have to be careful, we do not want to look at her as being immature, so I would say maybe nineteen to twenty one. Although she is young in body, she is old and wise in spirit, alright?
Right leg outstretched and left withdrawn symbolizing method and wisdom conjoined. The tradition says when a Buddha has one leg down, that Buddha is ready to arise up quickly. Lama Yeshe taught me that Tara has her right leg tucked in toward her genitals, meaning she has perfect control over her cycle. So for normal women, they might have emotional turbulence, Tara has that completely under control. She has gone beyond the physical thing. Lama Yeshe said that men are different from women. that they are more cerebral and think about things a lot more than women. Women are much more earthy. In that way, they are much more cyclic. By earthy, it means part of the world around them. For example, the moon goes through cycles. He said that women live in this cycle of twenty eight days and in many ways are much more in tune with the elements around them. And that their body responds in that way. For that reason it should not be seen that women are inferior, just that they are much more attached to the earth and the cycle of things around. Whereas men are less aware on that level.
WITH HER BULGING BREASTS, A TREASURY OF NON SAMSARIC BLISS, HER MOON LIKE FACE SMILES BRILLIANTLY, AND HER WIDE COMPASSIONATE EYES GAZE SERENELY. HOMAGE TO THE BEAUTIFUL ONE OF THE ROSE WOOD FOREST.
Lama Yeshe said when a woman has large breasts she has lots of kundalini. That is a good sign! She female Buddhas have very large breasts and have lots of kundalini power, and are very special and fully developed in all of their chakras. A treasure of non samsaric bliss, meaning that the breasts which can give bliss, are non samsaric. Normally when we have bliss, like apiece of chocolate and it is so wonderful, that is samsaric bliss because you get more attached to chocolate. With non samsaric bliss, when you experience the bliss, it does not tie you to anything. It means, if you have proper realization, when you have bliss or ecstasy, then you do not cling to whatever gave it to you. You just live in the ecstasy of that and it does not down grade your mind. In that way, Tara has blissful breasts that do not bring her or others down!
It is said that her moon like face, more Asian, is considered a very beautiful face, very round and beautiful. Her eyes see everything perfectly and she has no faulty vision in looking and seeing the world as it is. And yet there is serenity, she has deep wisdom within herself.
The Rosewood forests refers to one maha-siddha who prayed to Tara sincerely in a forest of rosewood trees. Finally Tara stepped out of the rosewood tree and manifested herself to him. Thus she has been referred to as the one of the Rose Wood forests. There are many references to the one of the rosewood forests.
HOMAGE TO SHE WHOSE DELICATE RIGHT HAND IS LIKE A TURQUOISE TREE SPREADING ITS BRANCHES STRETCHES IN TO THE MUDRAS OF SUPREME GENEROSITY AS THOUGH INVITING SAGES TO THE FESTIVAL OF THE SUPREME CITY.
The mudra of supreme generosity is an open hand with palm towards you, first finger and thumb are touching, that is considered the mudra of giving. So Tara bestows the mundane prayers and wishes that we have. Problems, a new car, to resolve issues, mundane level reliance on Tara will give you what you need to resolve those problems and such. Particularly if you rely on Tara and have some realization of the practice of the path, then Tara gives you the supreme siddhi of enlightenment. So she gives you the realization of how to integrate your method and wisdom. That is the real gift that Tara bestows on you.
So her hand is slim and graceful, smooth.
HOMAGE TO SHE WHOSE LEFT HAND IS IN THE MUDRA OF BESTOWING REFUGE WHICH SYMBOLIZES THE THREE JEWELS. SEEMS TO CALL OUT, OH YOU WHO SEE ONE HUNDRED TERRORS, FEAR NOT, FOR I WILL QUICKLY PROTECT YOU.
Tara or Drolma means protectress or liberate. So when you pray to Tara she will liberate and release you of fears. The eight great fears refer to external objects such as lions and snakes, floods and fires. But they also refer to the; more symbolic aspect of those things, the lion of pride, the fire of desire, etc. When you get released from a fear, it means you understand how to take refuge. By taking refuge it does not mean that you run to a temple and throw yourself at the feet of the Buddha, it means, if you have a problem with the world around you, you withdraw into yourself and find your resolve or inner fortitude. And in this sense, it should be in line with the teachings of realization, such as having patience based on true compassion and wisdom, how best to interact in any given situation. This is the real protection which Tara can offer, she gives you those teachings. But on a mundane level, you can also pray to Tara as an external entity and request assistance. And very often, you will find interesting things happen.
It is said when you do lots of devotions to Tara, women become very special around you and become instrumental in solving problems in your life and having faith in Tara, prayers for Tara, doing meditation, reciting Tara's mantra, all of these are good for establishing that type of a mandala around you, that you have veneration of the divine feminine. And even mundane women pick up on it, alright!
So even if you have thousands of things which are terrifying you and making you paranoid, if you rely on Tara, she can resolve them all.
HOMAGE TO SHE WHOSE HANDS ARE ADORNED WITH BLUE LOTUS FLOWERS THAT ACT AS AN INSPIRING WHIP, BE NOT ATTACHED TO SAMSARIC PLEASURES, BUT ENTER THE SIDDHI OF THE GREAT LIBERATION.
Her left hand holds the stem of a lotus which goes down and back up behind her left shoulder, and behind her shoulder is three lotus flowers on one stem. One is in full bloom, one is partially open, and the other is yet a bud. There can be the same thing on the right side. The symbology of the lotus is that though the lotus grows out of a swamp, it blossoms above the swampy murky water and has great beauty and fragrance. So in the same way, when we have realizations, our mind rises beyond the normal samsaric desires which are always trying to attract us and bother us. And yet we blossom into a very beautiful person above attachment to samsaric pleasures. So in this way, the lotus flower is said to be like a whip which beats you and says don't be attached to samsaric pleasures. Go for the power of liberation. And in that way she is inspiring.
This is all to give you more information about Tara. At some point in your life you might sit down and spend a bit of time with Tara meditation. It has always intrigued me that whenever I have had some suffering, and have sat down and intensively prayed to her, things sort of worked out. Then I immediately forget that I did all of those prayers and sort of do my own thing, and then I think, I did actually ask for this to happen. And do I ever say thank you that things worked out?
The more information you have about Tara the more she will grow in your mind. Then, when you do have an opportunity to do meditations to her, or are inspired to recite her mantra, it has a lot more weight for you.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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