In times of doubt and need, in times of crisis we reach for that which will bring us immediate relief from our suffering. When we cut a finger we look for a bandage. When we fracture a bone we place it in a cast. When our heart is broken we look for a way to put it back together again…we seek wholeness again…we find a way to close the wound and find our resilient emotional faculties.
All living things desire, above all, happiness, life and freedom, to exist without suffering and hindrances…to be permitted to thrive of their own accord. Each one of us travels in our own boat, gliding along the waters of experience according to our own inner guidance or knowledge. We eventually seek to land on the shore, however briefly, of a fulfilled and nourished life, a true meaning…gnosis…of our journey clearly inscribed upon our heart. So much of our suffering is self induced, self inflicted by our refusal to acknowledge the deeper, innermost workings of our hearts and minds. Gnosis emerges when we take the time to stop our furious travels on the waters, dig through the layers of the untamed mind, and return to the pure state of a consciousness that does not cling, grasp or fixate on our emotional baggage.
“All that we call real in this transient world is a hologram”, Olivia Robertson reminds us (in “Isis is For All”, Isis-House Publishing, 2011), “deliberately created to teach us to become our true selves. Our souls are born of Deity, and we have within us an individual Divine Being”. In other words, we have created an alternate reality in our daily lives, and we hold fast onto this as if it were substantial, and yet it is but a fleeting moment of time in the life cycle of the soul, and it is this Soul, part of the Great Soul, Deity, Divine Consciousness, that is the true reality of which all things are composed. Our suffering? Suffering arises because of our obsession with our alternative reality…our physical and earthly existence. But it is our ethereal existence, born from the realm of Spirit, that holds the ultimate meaning of reality.
If we can, but for little moments at a time, take ourselves back into the womb of our beginning, into the realm of Spirit…the realm of the Infinite Soul, Deity…then we can bring back with us some of that consciousness and experience into our physical, terrestrial lives. We can enliven the here and now with the nurturing, healing, compassion and wholeness not fixed in time or space, nor bound by our mortality. Truly, we are immortal beings. Death, suffering, limitations and ignorance are illusions that can be overcome, but only through our sincere effort to peel away our own self imposed fetters. In order to do this, we reach out to Mother, to our place of beginnings in the liquid warmth of the Mother’s womb.
Târâ Drölma, Liberator
Tibetans have many names for Mother Tara, Who is ever and always the compassionate, all-embracing reality from which transcendence emerges, and ills subside. Within the milk of kindness Dölma, the Liberator, sublime Tara takes Her ethereal seat upon the lotus throne, and from Her hand springs the blue or white lotus, the hallmark of the mind of enlightenment.
Tibetans tell the story of the princess Sherab Drölma, whose determination to end the suffering of all beings transformed her into a Bodhisattva, a being whose compassion commits her or him to take rebirth until the liberation of all sentient beings from the cycle of suffering and perpetual birth. From Bodhisattva, Tara Dölma emerged, reaching out to answer the prayers of all who call upon Her. With the immediacy of a mother who hears the crying of her very own child, noble Tara responds swiftly to the call of all sentient beings, prepared to shower them with Her flowering mercy.
It is also said that Tara began as the emanation of Avalokiteshvara-Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion, being born from his tears as he looked upon the innumerable suffering beings under his care, and despaired of ever liberating them all. It was Tara who sprang forth in such unwavering compassion and determination, infused with a limitless and undaunted reservoir of altruism.
Although there are twenty-one manifestations of Tara Dölma, each with unique characteristics and iconography, it is the White and Green Taras who are especially venerated by the people of the Land of Snows (Tibet) as the liberators and protectors of all suffering beings. These are the Taras Who grant boons freely, defend against ecological crises (such as earthquakes and fires), and manifest to practitioners as the removers of obstacles to the mind of enlightenment. The White and Green Taras can diminish hatred, greed and pride, and urge the practitioner towards the complete development of compassion and altruism.
The Meditation & Prayer, Coming to Tara
What follows is my own inspired composition- meditation and prayer- while meditating upon the root mantra of Tara, and contemplating the great ecological suffering being experienced by our planet at this time. Not only ecological, but social suffering and want continues to urge action and demand higher consciousness. While we continue to consume our natural resources on a vast scale, our population explodes without regard to the gross taxation this imposes on our Earth, and our hunger grows. Each group fights for its own interests- personal and ideological- while denying the human rights and needs of “the other”. Governments impose measures that seem to restrict and hinder, instead of liberate or serve. Each heart seems possessed by personal desire and self preservation. How can we work with these tempestuous feelings as they arise within ourselves?
On Thursday June 29, 2000 I was first initiated into the practice of the White and Green Taras, with His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama of Tibet acting as Root Guru. The Dalai Lama guided us through an astonishing visualization to enter into the presence of the twenty-one emanations of Tara Drölma, ending in the White and Green Taras, with particular emphasis on generating the mind of enlightenment in order to bring liberation to all sentient beings.
Within a shower of rainbow colored light, noble Tara appeared as the radiant heart of compassion, which begins with the self but quickly expands to encompass all sentient beings. As the body of White Tara expands, emerging from the blast of a pure white conch shell, we see the Goddess erect on Her lotus throne, the embodiment of victory over obstacles, while Her hands gracefully raise the white and blue lotus. Her face shines with the luminescence of a lamp, golden and jewel-toned, which is the lamp of Dharma, the Truth, the Universal Law. Kindness, compassion and care for all beings is resident in the level of the third eye, making its application universal, not solely personal. For the suffering of one is the burden of all, Tara tells us. She causes us to awaken to the hunger of others, who starve for tenderness and mercy, not only material gain.
From the crown of Tara- ornamented with a bejeweled diadem and pristine black locks- a nimbus or halo of rainbow light pierces through the veil of blue-black darkness, and within the heart the sound OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SVAHA bursts again and again, as a seed taking root in consciousness and multiplying rapidly like a tree of great shade. In this moment we ourselves become a beautiful vessel of lustral water, pure and sweet nectar, pouring out for the thirst of all sentient beings. Selfishness dissolves, and concern for others becomes the focus of our condition.
We realize all at once that the garments of Tara shimmer with a rich panoply of green, red and gold threads, iridescent, and floating like clouds passing softly through an azure sky. Again the thunder of a pure white conch sounds from all around, and this time the syllables OM AH HUM proliferate within the heart, again and again. Body (OM) speech (AH) and mind (HUM) are purified of selfishness, greed and anger, and the altruistic mind is generated for the welfare of all sentient beings. The Earth and its ills are given over to the lap of Tara, who becomes the Liberator, the Savioress of invincible mercy…the Mother of the Buddhas.
Feeling the qualities of compassion, altruism and determination arise, the heart maintains the syllables OM AH HUM, while the mind generates the root mantra of noble Tara, saying OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SVAHA. With each recitation, the mind becomes saturated with the compassion that encompasses all sentient beings, beginning with the self and extending outwards. Having gathered courage, determination and wisdom from the emanation of Tara, one is firmly rooted in the desire to liberate all beings from the fetters of suffering. The boundless compassion of Mother Tara, Liberator of all creatures, becomes my compassion, our compassion…shared by one, shared by all.
In accomplishing this practice, we will begin with the lighting of two candles, one White, given over to the honor of White Tara (Dolma Karpo or Sitatara, Who embodies purification and protection), and the other green, committed to the care of Green Tara (Who removes obstacles to the path of spiritual awakening). We will also offer incense (sandalwood, if available) and a bowl of pure water to the deity. Our prayers should be spoken aloud and with conviction, for in conviction we are determined to receive and offer the great compassion of Mother Tara on behalf of all sentient beings. Our determination flowers from a heart yearning to relieve the suffering of each living creature…each plant, animal and human…but also the waters, which surround and nourish, and make all life possible.
Having gratitude for all my teachers and peers, I have placed a few verses at the beginning of this prayer to honor (and petition) His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, since it was he who initiated me into the White and Green Taras, and has so generously bestowed upon me his kindness and wisdom.
To Lady Olivia Robertson, co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis, I also pay my love and gratitude for her endless gifts, and gentle tutelage. May she be blessed and cherished, ever with us, ever within our love for the Goddess.
OM AH HUM
In the sacred land surrounded by snow mountains,
You are the source of all benefit and happiness,
O Powerful Chenrezig, Tenzin Gyatso,
Remain in this world until samsara ends!
OM AH HUM
(A green candle is lit in the presence of Green Tara. A white candle is lit in the presence of White Tara)
O garland of virtues, pristine body of all Dharma,
Your radiance shines as a lamp of undiminished,
Refined light, where no doubt can remain!
Enthused with compassion you light the way
For the weary, where the blessedness of hope
Dispels the demons- selfishness, anger and greed.
O blessed Tara of innumerable virtues,
Shine your light from within my heart,
And fashion from my mind a jewel of
OM AH HUM
(Incense is offered to the Goddess Tara)
I offer all virtues to the sky
Like the pure white smoke billowing forth
As the noble Wind-Horse,
Carrying the precious teachings of
The noble lineages,
Paying homage to the Buddhas and the
Indestructible Dharma that is perfect truth.
OM AH HUM
A conch shell, pure white,
Blasts from the Land of Snows,
Heralding virtue of mind, body and speech-
Known to the four directions as wisdom,
Compassion and skillful means.
The Gods appear in rainbow light,
Beaming from the pristine forehead of
Drölma, the Liberator, Mother of all
Buddhas, Whose perfections embrace
The earth and purify its ailments.
This is accomplished through the
Endless compassion of the Bodhisattvas!
O Drölma, Precious Mother,
Emanated from the tears of Chenrezig,
Your crown pierces the suffering of all
Realms with the Three Jewels, in which
We go for refuge.
To the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha we
Commit our prayers, purifying the ills of
The earth and its people.
(An offering of pure water is poured out for the Goddess Tara)
OM AH HUM
May the mercy of your heart prevail.
May the insurmountable wisdom of
The Dharma, the Supreme Truth,
Manifest awareness and generate
The Mind of Enlightenment.
O lamp of seven eyes, your vision
Pierces the heart like the thunder of
A conch shell, whose beauteous melody
Diminishes delusion and clarifies the
Mind for Enlightenment.
O Compassionate One,
We pray for the ills of the earth,
Seeking the compassion of the Buddhas
Of the four directions!
The ills I have cultivated I hand over
Into the care of merciful Drölma,
Beseeching wisdom and engendering
(water is flicked or sprinkled in the presence of the Goddess Tara)
OM AH HUM
To the waters I bestow the purity of my
To the creatures of the land I bear the
Will of preservation, harming none
And seeking only to do good.
To all sentient beings I proffer the
Three virtues of charity, mercy and love.
From the sweet and light-emitting lotus
Of compassion do all aspirations rise,
And the Mind of Enlightenment, which
Flourishes with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,
Becomes the root of my life.
OM AH HUM
Recitation of the Mantra of White Tara
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jñana Pustim Kuru Svaha
Recitation of the Mantra of Green Tara
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha
All text copyright © 2001-2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa