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.
April 1 1990
In talking about Tara, we went through the general praises of her appearance, her qualities and such. Last week I talked about how Green Tara was special in liberating us from the eight fears such as lions, tigers and snakes and so on. By relying on Tara she will free you from these hindrances. There are stories of people who have prayed to Tara, which is sort of related to the external things, and it is said, one story is of a successful merchant in India who was a devotee of Tara. Other merchants in the area became jealous of his success and tried to burn his house down. They threw torches on his house. He was trapped in his house and prayed to Tara. A great rainstorm appeared and put the fire out. So there was Tara protecting him by putting out the fire with rain.
There was another story of a young man who was a devotee of Tara who was being pursued by an army who hid in tall grass. The soldiers came and he prayed to Tara. They walked right by him. These sorts of stories which refer to external elements and how Tara can protect from those. But the more important thing to be protected from are delusions. Our own delusions make us miserable, suffer, and suffering generally in the world around us. The eight fears Tara protects us from are then turned into analogies of various things.
The first is protection from the terrible lion of pride. Even in Asia they have the proud lion. In this sense pride is a negative pride where there is arrogance. So you pray to Tara and she will always assist you in defeating or being free of the negativity of the arrogance of pride. And it refers to protection from the elephant of ignorance. It is said that ignorance is like a crazed elephant, powerful, destructive. So also with our mind, when it is unconscious or uncontrolled, it is like an elephant destroying many thing, very dangerous. So it says, please protect me from that with the sharp hooks of mindful awareness. Next is protect us from the terrifying fires of anger. Instead of having a house fire which the merchant prays for rain for, it is the horrible fire of anger which can cause a great deal of suffering for us. And then protect us from the terrifying snake of jealousy. In that way, jealousy causes problems in our lives. The snake of jealousy has a horrible poison which it sprays everywhere, it emits the vapors of it's poisonous fangs and pollutes and poisons the atmosphere. That is so true of jealousy. When someone is jealous, everything around us is very colored in that negative light. It makes the people we are attached to very unhappy and causes a lot of problems. So if you rely on Tara, she will protect you from intensive feelings of jealousy.
And protect us from the terrifying thief of wrong view. wrong view is considered a thief because in wrong view you do not believe in the law of cause and effect. You think there is no results from the actions we do. And we can think any thoughts or act in any way we want and it is fine. It is not that there is retribution, the word that comes to mind, but if we allow ourselves to act in a certain way, if we have a wrong view we feel that there are not results from that, we don't need to be concerned about that, which, didn't the case. If we have a bad attitude, lot's of negativity can come from that. It is related to being a thief because it steals our virtue, our qualities away.
Those are the five I have covered in the previous week, so now I am going to cover the last three, and there are a few final closing prayers of dedication, and then we have finished the text of the Praise of Tara. Next week I will do the twenty one Taras of praise. At that time I will have it all printed out so you will have it to read.
PROTECT US FROM THE TERRIFYING SHACKLES OF MISERLINESS, THAT WHICH HOLDS US IN A LOCK OF ATTACHMENT DIFFICULT TO SPRING AND BIND LIVING BEINGS HELPLESSLY LIN THE UNBEARABLE PRISON OF CYCLIC EXISTENCE.
Miserliness is the mind that says "I can't do that." Let's say you have a good feeling and would like to be generous and then think you can't do that. I need that for later. I need my money because I have to pay my mortgage at the end of the month and I cannot be generous with food because what will I do tomorrow. Things like that. In this way we are totally tied. Although we may have good feelings, we do not allow them to be expressed because we feel limited, tied or bound by our sense of can't do this or that.
In this way, miserliness is like the shackles which bind us from making any positive action. The more miserly you are, although you may have possessions around you, the less enjoyment or pleasure in whatever you may have amassed. In that way miserliness is a horrible thing because it completely cripples you. You cannot enjoy anything because you are always attached to maybe even use it. You put everything away in glass cases and lock it up.
PROTECT US FROM THE TERRIFYING WATERS OF DESIRE. THEY CARRY US THE CURRENT OF SAMSARA SO HARD TO FORD. AND THAT, CONDITIONED BY VIOLENT WINDS OF KARMA TOSS US IN THE WAVES OF BIRTH, SICKNESS, OLD AGE, AND DEATH.
The principle sufferings we have as human beings are said to be birth, old age, illness and death. And, old age refers to the whole aging process. When we hit middle age we start to suffer from the lack of the ability to do things that we used to be able to do well. The terrifying waters of desire. In this way you can think of a river which is surging down canyons and such. The analogy is that you try to cross over the ocean of cyclic existence to get to the other shore of liberation. In that way, when you try to cross the ocean or river, you are swept away by your desires. The unsatisfied mind, the mind which does not appreciate the qualities of what it has right now, like right now you might have a wonderful situation for yourself, and yet, because you do not have satisfaction, you never feel comfortable in that. Because of that you are pushed. I need to do more, I need to do this or that. In that way you are swept or carried away. You are tossed very violently, it is said by the waves of karma.
It is said that the success of experiencing satisfaction is related to the karma that you have. So if you have low grade karma, like your karma isn't that high quality, that you have not been generous for example, or generous kind considerate and such, in this lifetime you might not have the best of situations. In that way your karma pushes you into suffering all the time. In that way you feel it is more suffering on top of the suffering of your already unfulfilled desires. Your wish to be more happy. Your wish to be more rich, etc. It is not easily fulfilled because you do not have good karma.
In that way then, you are blown hither and thither by the violent winds of the negative karma that you have amassed and you are not given any freedom because you do not have the accumulation of positive karma which gives you the possibility of being able to be satisfied. That refers to in this lifetime in being able to be satisfied. You can be satisfied any time you desire to. Whether rich or poor, it is immaterial to which position you have. Satisfaction is a state of mind.
Because of karma we take a rebirth. Because we take a body we have the karma that we have to grow older. And in our lifetime, due having been unkind to other sentient beings, we have to suffer illness and hindrances to our own body. finally we have to suffer the final karma of having taken rebirth, we have to die. All of that is produced because of the products of desires which push us hither and thither. Because of our desires we have never been controlled in our karma, and have therefore to suffer birth, old age, illness and death.
So you pray to Tara to protect you from accumulated negative karma and trying to inspire you into positive karma.
PROTECT US FROM THE TERRIFYING GHOST OF DOUBT, THE MALIGNANT SPIRIT THAT MOVES IN THE SPACE OF IGNORANCE ATTACKING THOSE WITH INTEREST IN ULTIMATE AIMS, DISTURBING THE LIFE OF FREEDOM.
There are two types of doubt. Positive and negative. The positive doubt is when you think about something. If you think about something and find doubt, and investigate, that is positive doubt. You could think about the law of cause and effect. The law of cause and effect isn't easy to realize, but if you think about it a lot, maybe you doubt, and investigate in the world around if is seems logical that things follow in a evolutionary process, is the effect proportionate to the cause that produces it? If you think about things like that, you may find a belief in karma. So you may doubt originally, but with thought, you find belief. So that is where doubt is positive.
The negative doubt is where you doubt without any further thought about it. That doubt which does not investigate further is negative. In that way it is like, if I don't see it, I can't believe in it. There is ignorance. Because one does not see something, it is said that the ghost of doubt moves in the sphere of the space of my ignorance and in that way afflicts me and causes me to remain more stupid.
So attacking those with interest in ultimate aims, which for ourselves, we are trying to become more enlightened, more realized, so doubt then cripples us and disturbs our life and freedom. So rather than realizing a more free state of mind through meditation and a greater openness of mind, because we we doubt it, we never get the life of freedom and we stop ourselves from attaining our goals.
These are the eight fears. When you see a Tara Thanka, around Tara you will see little creatures around her. You will see a thief, a lion and elephant and so on. These are the eight fears Tara protects you from. It is said that those people who recite the mantra and have faith in their practice, they will be protected from these eight fears which can destroy your practice and make life miserable.
The next are verses of prayer.
BY THE POWER OF THIS PRAISE AND SUPPLICATION TO YOU, MAY CONDITIONS OPPOSING DHARMA PRACTICE BE QUELLED. MAY ALL CONDUCIVE CIRCUMSTANCES SUCH AS LONG LIFE, MERITS, GLORY AND PROSPERITY BE PRODUCED. MAY ALL BEINGS BE CARED FOR BY THE BUDDHA AMITABHA AND LED TO THE PURE LAND SUKAVATI WITHOUT THE HUNDRED FOLD DIFFICULTY, MAY THEY QUICKLY TOUCH THE GROUND OF ENLIGHTENMENT. MAY I ALWAYS REMEMBER MY PREVIOUS LIVES, MAY I NEVER BE SEPARATED FROM ENLIGHTENED ATTITUDE, AS FIRMLY AS A RIVER FLOWS, MAY I PERSEVERE IN SEEKING THE VAST WAVES OF THE BODHISATTVAS. NEVER HOPING TO BENEFIT MYSELF ALONE, SOLELY FOR OTHERS, MAY I ABSORB MYSELF IN THE QUEST AND MAY I PRODUCE CONDITIONS THAT ACTUALLY BENEFIT OTHERS SUCH AS MYSTIC VISION, CLAIRVOYANCE, SKILL IN TEACHING AND PATIENCE. MAY I NEVER BE FAINT AND FURTHERING THROUGH INFINITE FIELDS, THE HOLY TEACHINGS OF THE VICTORIOUS ONES. AND IN ORDER TO CONSTANTLY FULFILL THE NEEDS OF LIVING BEINGS, MAY I QUICKLY AND EASILY GAIN THE STATE OF BUDDHA.
These are the dedication prayers of Gelwen gawa drklup, for his having written praise to Tara. The closing caption says, the Crown Ornament for the wise, praise of supplication of Green Tara, She of the Rose wood forest, written by the Buddhist monk gelwen genden drup after a long retreat for Tara while he was residing in the hermitage of the great awaking of the SP?
You have now the first part of the Teachings on Tara. In that way I hope when you have a time when it is needful in your life to pray to Tara and such. And there are many benefits from Tara. Just from my own experience of seeing other people in their practice, I knew of one lady who when she came to Katmandu and became involved with Lama Yeshe, she was a nasty and rude woman. But she had something in her mind which inspired her. Lama Yeshe said his main practice was Tara. He always made incredible things about Tara. He said all of his realizations were due to the kindness of Tara. Any way, he obviously had a special energy for Tara and this woman picked up on it. And so she asked him to be able to do retreat. He was hard on her for a long time and gave her a rough time. Finally he allowed her to go into retreat. For the rest of us who knew her, she was a horrible person. She wasn't even nice to other women. Although she claimed to be a femininist, she was horrible and no one liked her. But when she came out of retreat, she was like another person. It was like she touched based with the sort of woman within her. And it really changed her. She ended up getting a boyfriend and although she still believed in her feminine ideals, she softened so much. He personality gained incredible benefit.
So reliance on Tara brings may great benefits. It says if one has needs of inspiration or needs to find a new energy for things, Tara is good because she is the Goddess of actions and activities. So if one prays to Tara and relies on her, one can find new meaning and inspiration for life. Her right hand is in the gesture of bestowing whatever you want in life, whatever you need. So when you do praise, you should always have in your mind that the real thing that you want is enlightenment. Because if you became enlightened, you would be the most beneficial person in the best position you could be in for being able to help other and yourself also because you are fully enlightened.
That is the principle thing you should have in your mind. But on a smaller scale, if there are things which are needful in your life, whether it is more harmony with relationships with others or having more money to do whatever you want, whatever. Tara is special for that. She gives you those blessings. That is what she is for. Is to give you those things.
Other Buddhas, Manjushri for example, is for getting wisdom. Avalokiteshvara is for loving kindness. For those, you already have to have yourself fairly organized, then you go into their practice and get the benefits. Whereas for Tara, if there is confusion, she is the best deity because she is the one who helps you work things through. That is her whole activity. Her whole aspect. To help work things through, to find solutions. So of all the Buddhas, she is the best to rely on for finding solutions for helping one to come to better realizations.
When you pray, and when you do have meditations, have those thoughts in mind. When you turn your mind to Tara, as you recite the recitation, think about Tara in different ways. And then you can think about the things you need for your own personality. Whatever is necessary. In that way you have many different facets to your meditation. Alright!
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
All Rights Reserved