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.
Feb 18 1990
Intro to Tara.
I wanted to do about a month's teachings on Tara. And then I want to hand out a book which is a series of meditations on Tara. And then a series of prayers to Tara, which include the twenty one praises on Tara and in doing that you will get a broad perspective on Tara. Personally, I think there is something in our society we do not sometimes appreciate is, that there is a place for a divine male and divine female within us. And whether you term it as the divine or enlightened male or female, it is an image which is something which when do do aspire towards being a better person, which would be natural embodiment of it. So whether you have a male image of what would be the best man today, and todays image is that which is most perceived as people as the nicest or best expression of masculine, is a man who is not oriented towards goal achievement externally and becoming wealthy and such, rather it has a goal of better self realization and such things as compassionate, a good family person and such things.
That is something which we are not too conscious of, or maybe we are. But we do have images in our mind what it would be like, if I was the best and wonderful person, what would my image be? And I am sure each of you have an idea whether conscious or not. You do have an image of what would personify the best man or woman. So Tara meditations, in Asia there is veneration of the feminine which has existed a long time. And there have been many female deities, whether in Hinduism with Chamundi or Pravati, all the various aspects of the feminine. In Buddhism you have Tara, and such. And in the Catholic Church you have the veneration of the Virgin Mary.
There is that aspect and is something which is worth while for you as individuals to be conscious of and cultivate. Cultivate that part of your psyche. Whether you consciously hold it or not, you do have that as part of your psyche. So it is good to become more conscious of that part.
What is going to be explained is the divine feminine and what sort of woman she is. The twenty one praises to Tara covers twenty one verses of praise to Tara and in many of them are very aggressive and wrathful. She beats the male Gods and can wrinkle her brow and all of the Buddhas shake, and when she snarls, everyone is terrified. This is part of the divine feminine, there is that power. And then one of the praises speaks of her laughter, when she laughs, sit is such a full laugher that it brings bliss to your mind. So it is a fully mature woman laughing in a beautiful divine way. So there are many aspects of Tara, but in dealing with it, I believe you will naturally start to build up an appreciation of the divine feminine and aspects of the feminine maybe arn't normally too cultivated.
That is part of the intention I wanted to touch on Tara. On the other side, because there are women in the meditation group, it is good for them to appreciate that there is the divine feminine and that it has been a functioning entity for a long time, and it is good to get behind and say, hey, that is something which I have a connection with, and I can certainly strive to attain. And as for the men, it is to appreciate a more liberated feminine image for yourself.
In taking Taras teachings, it is good to first touch on Tara as she was originally explained by the Buddha. At the time of Buddha, Tara was a manifest as a Buddha and was instrumental to bringing the Buddha to his own enlightenment. And when Tara was manifesting during different times of the Buddha, he then taught or explained Tara in her previous lifetimes, or how her evolution had taken place. Also he then taught the Praises to Tara and explained them.
In talking of Tara, she was originally, of course you have to look at it in a series of rebirths, she had evolved to a fairly high series of worldly rebirths in royal families. She has obviously acquired a great deal of positive merit in being able to take rebirths in royal families and had evolved quite a high character of morality and such. In one of her lifetimes, as Yeshedawa she became a dedicated bodhisattva. Ysana Chandra is the sanscrit name if it means anything. She was a princess in a wealthy kingdom. She had all of the education available and as she grew she became interested in Buddhism. In the teachings that Buddha gave, he said that means many eons ago and there were Buddhas around at that time that were giving teachings. So she became interested in Buddhism and approached a Buddha and asked for teachings. And he taught her what was called the immeasurably liberating samadhi. That was a type of samadhi where if she entered into it, she would enter into a deep level of concentration and then could project her mind to wherever she wanted to help a sentient being. And in this samadhi she would go around and liberate various sentient beings of free them from whatever obstacle they were experiencing. And so, as she developed, she then took a commitment upon herself that she would liberate a thousand people before she had lunch and another thousand people after she had her lunch. So very early in the morning she would rise, clean herself, do her prayers and then enter into this samadhi and until noon would perform whatever miraculous feats she could to liberate various beings.
I don't mean she would bring them to enlightenment, but she would free them from a fear they had. If someone was having an argument, with her blessings or grace waves, she would make them calm down and solve their problems sensibly. Maybe in other situations, someone was afraid of an animal attacking them. Well then she would somehow with her blessings make the animal turn away and such things. In this way she liberated a thousand people in the morning from some type of fear, and then again after lunch she would do that meditation for another thousand people.
She did this for many hundreds of years, it is said. At that time lifetimes were very long. So she practiced this intensively for two or three hundred years. In doing that she became very proficient at liberating sentient beings from fear and such. As her samadhi became greater and more powerful, she then manifested multiple bodies and sent them out to do various things. She was becoming very successful in helping sentient beings. Finally a particular Buddha appeared before her in a vision and said, no you have truly entered into the Buddhist path and are a true bodhisattva. And so I would like to prophesy your enlightenment. In this, in so many hundreds of years, due to the merits you have amassed right now, you will manifest as a Buddha. And so could you please tell me, what time in the future you would like to manifest as a Buddha, and at that time you will manifest as a male, won't you! She thought about it for awhile, and tradition was that if you were to become enlightened, you took a male rebirth because of course, men could get around easier. Just that it seemed logical that a male rebirth would be a better one to have.
She pondered on this awhile and said no, I won't be a male. I am going to dedicate all my merits that I have amassed that I will take a rebirth as a female in my final lifetime when I become a Buddha, I will do it within a womans body. I want to symbolize for women that it is possible to become enlightened as a woman, and therefore I am going to manifest as a woman in my final rebirth. I do not want a man's body. The Buddha was taken aback by her breaking of tradition. He finally accepted it and prophesied that in a thousand years she would take rebirth as Tara, and in that she would become a Buddha and teach many sentient beings.
So she finished that lifetime and went to the pure realm of Sukavati and there she stayed until she took her rebirth for the last time and became enlightened and became Tara. From that time until now she has been fully enlightened and manifested in all of the many millions of guises she can to help liberate sentient beings.
So for ourselves, when we pray to Tara, we should have some feeling for her that her special aspect of the divine female is to free us from obstacles. It is said she is a liberator or saviouress. She is called the Divine Heroine Tara. She saves you from all the ordinary delusions you might have by giving teachings as a Buddha, but her special aspect is to free you from fears. So whenever you have a fear or paranoia or anxiety within yourself, if you turn your mind to Tara then she will manifest in whatever way if appropriate for you to free you from that fear. And just recitation in her mantra or having faith is sufficient.
I wanted to touch on her as the divine feminine and a little bit of her life time. Next week we will have the books ready for you and such and we will go through the twenty one praises of Tara and whatever is necessary in that.
The mantra is OM TARE TUTARE TURE SVAHA Om is the blessings, the integration of body speech and mind, Tare Tutare Ture svaha, means liberate, liberate please liberate, please free me from the outer, inner and secret hindrances. The outer hindrances are when you are being afflicted by bandits, thieves, illnesses and such. Inner hindrances are delusions or misconceptions about something. Secret hindrances are the obstructions of the nervous system, whether the chakras or energy running through the chakras, those are considered secret obscurations. It is said if you have a particular obscuration in the chakra or central channel, it is said you can have delusions be predominant in you because of obstructions. So if you practice yoga, breathing exercises and a very stable meditation technique, you can purify the nervous system. And in doing that by relying on Tara, you can actually purify some parts of your nervous system.
There is a particular Tara technique which is taught after you have received a very high initiation, for example in Yamantaka, then you are eligible to receive an initiation called Chittamani Tara. She is called the extra ordinary or uncommon Tara practice and is very special. The particular Lama who had the vision of this Tara, having had the vision had unbelievable succession his life since that so he gave the initiation to others. And that particular lineage is part of the lineage of Tara, abut is a special aspect of Tara and is very powerful. In the technique from this initiation, you visualize your chakra petals on the central channel, and on each of these you should visualize Tara, but it was quite a profound visualization technique to do to purify the chakras and such.
In doing the meditation, allow yourself to start to appreciate a very powerful feminine aspect or principle which is part of the world. As a side note, it is said for those who want to have experiences quicker, in doing meditation technique, it is said by meditating on Tara, experiences happen quicker because the feminine is said to be intuitive, wisdom. And so, rather than being intellectual and analyzing and such which is more of a masculine tendency, the feminine principle is that which is intuitive, it does not require a lot of elaboration or intellectualization. It just intuits immediately how to perceive things. So often for men who meditate on Tara, they will have quick and powerful experiences because they liberate a certain aspect of themselves which as been quite depressed, the intuitive side. As for women, they are more naturally more in touch with their intuitions and such, but sometimes it makes women more confident.
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