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Second Session: Sunday, May 29, 2005 (morning)

This commentary offers us a deeper understanding of the inconceivable qualities of Tara’s holy body, speech and mind and how her different aspects can help us overcome difficulties in our daily lives and Dharma practice.

A commentary on the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras, taught over three sessions at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore in May 2005, by Khensur Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup Rigsel. Translated by Venerable Tenzin Gyurme. Edited by Lobsang Drolkar. This book is available as an ebook from online vendors.

Praises: Introduction
First Session: Thursday, May 26, 2005
Second Session: Sunday, May 29, 2005 (morning)
Third Session: Sunday, May 29, 2005 (afternoon)
Praises: Appendices

Before we start the session, it is important to generate a very pure motivation. We should think of how all the kind mother sentient beings whose number is equal to infinite space have been kind to us since time without beginning. They have also been very kind to us in the present time. Because our kind mother sentient beings are under the control of their negative emotions, especially self-grasping and self-cherishing, they have suffered since time without beginning and they are still suffering from all sorts of different problems. Since this is the case, we must free them from all this suffering and the causes of suffering.

You should think, “I am going to do that by myself alone. However at the present moment I do not have the power and the ability to do so. Without attaining enlightenment myself, there is no way I can help to free all sentient beings from all their suffering and the causes of suffering. Therefore, by all means, I must attain the state of full enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings.”

Even though we may generate the thought to achieve the state of full enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, at the present moment, we have not yet realised the true nature of reality. We do not know the true nature of how things actually exist in reality. We have this wrong consciousness grasping at ourselves and all phenomena to be truly or inherently existent. But although we grasp at ourselves and phenomena as existing inherently, in reality, they do not exist in the way they appear to us. Our self-grasping conception is a wrong consciousness and we need to eliminate it.

In short, in order to achieve enlightenment, in order to have success in our Dharma practice, in order to gather all the perfect conditions and to eliminate all the obstacles that we may meet along the path, we need to rely on this special deity, Tara.

So with a mind of faith, remembering Tara and the qualities of her holy body, holy speech and holy mind, we should think, “Tara is the supreme mother of all buddhas. For the purpose of achieving enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, I am going to engage in the practice of Tara.” With this motivation, we should have faith and, with a happy mind, listen enthusiastically to this commentary.

This explanation of the Praises to the Twenty-one Taras is a Mahayana teaching. Among Mahayana teachings, it is a teaching of the Mahayana Secret Mantra. Obviously the motivation for listening to and engaging in such a practice is to have the thought to benefit others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings.

At the same time, we can reflect on how all phenomena including ourselves exist but do not exist inherently, i.e., they do not exist from their own side. That means all phenomena come about through causes and conditions. It is the same with the object of refuge, Tara. She does not exist from her own side, i.e., she does not exist inherently. It is also the same with the goal of enlightenment that we are trying to achieve. It exists but it does not exist inherently. It comes about through causes and conditions.

The goal here, Tara-hood, i.e., full enlightenment, is to be achieved by engaging in the path that contains the practices of the union of both method and wisdom. According to tantra, it is achieved through the path of non-dual profundity and clarity. By travelling on such a path, we can then achieve the state of Tara-hood.

The Tara that we visualise and the state of Tara that we are trying to achieve are expressions of the holy mind of Tara, the truth body of Tara, i.e., a state characterised by the complete pacification of ordinary appearance and ordinary grasping. This is the Tara that we meditate on and this is the state of Tara that we are trying to achieve.

Now what we should do is to remember Tara. Abiding in the space in front of us, we visualise Tara to be inseparable from our root guru. At the same time, with a mind of faith, remember the qualities of her holy body, holy speech and holy mind and generate the thought, “When can I achieve this state of Tara?” It is good to keep this in mind while listening to these teachings.

We have been looking at praising Tara with reference to her sambhogakaya aspect. That is divided into two: (a.) praising Tara with reference to her peaceful aspect and (b.) praising Tara with reference to her wrathful aspect. We have completed the section: “Praising Tara with reference to her peaceful aspect.” Now we will look at praising Tara with reference to her wrathful aspect. This section has seven parts.

2. An extensive explanation of these praises

A. Praising Tara with reference to her legend

B. Praising Tara with reference to her aspects

1) Praising Tara with reference to her sambhogakaya aspect (complete enjoyment body)

a. Praising Tara with reference to her peaceful aspect

b. Praising Tara with reference to her wrathful aspect
i. Praising Tara with reference to how she purifies all the maras and the two obstructions
ii. Praising Tara with reference to the implements she holds in her two hands
iii. Praising Tara through her crown ornament and the sound of her laughter
iv. Praising Tara with reference to how she accomplishes different activities by employing the ten directional protectors
v. Praising Tara with reference to her crown ornament
vi. Praising Tara with reference to her wrathful posture of abiding
vii. Praising Tara with reference to how light radiates from the syllable HUM at her heart

2) Praising Tara with reference to her dharmakaya aspect (truth body)

C. Praising Tara with reference to her enlightened activities

1) Praising Tara through the enlightened actions of both her peaceful and wrathful mantras
2) Praising Tara with reference to how she shakes the three realms
3) Praising Tara with reference to how she eliminates poisons
4) Praising Tara with reference to how she dispels quarrels and bad dreams
5) Praising Tara with reference to how she eliminates different epidemic diseases
6) Praising Tara with reference to how she destroys spirits and zombies

1) Praising Tara with reference to her sambhogakaya aspect (complete enjoyment body)

b. Praising Tara with reference to her wrathful aspect

~Verse 8~

i. Praising Tara with reference to how she purifies all the maras and the two obstructions

CHHAG TSHÄL TURE JIG PA CHHEN PO
DÜ KYI PA WO NAM PAR JOM MA
CHHU KYE ZHÄL NI THRO NYER DÄN DZÄ
DRA WO THAM CHÄ MA LÜ SÖ MA

Homage to you, Tara, the great fearful one,
Whose letter TURE destroys the mighty demons completely,
Who with a wrathful expression on your water-born face
Slay all enemies without an exception.

“Homage to Tara”: we are paying homage to Tara who is called “the great fearful one.” “TURE” is the expression of her holy speech. With the roar of the sound TURE, she “destroys the mighty demons completely.”

In this verse Tara is depicted in a very wrathful aspect. With this wrathful aspect she is able to destroy the mara that is extremely difficult to subdue. Which mara is this? It is the mara of the afflictions, which is the most difficult to destroy among all the different hosts of maras.

Her holy face is a “water-born face.” Here “waterborn” refers to a lotus. Her face is likened to a very big lotus. At the same time, it is in a wrathful aspect. With that expression, she is able to slay completely, without exception, all external enemies.

Mara is translated as “demon” here. There are four kinds of maras:

1. Mara of the afflictions
2. Mara of the aggregates
3. Mara of death
4. Mara of Devaputra

Of these four maras, the worst and the most difficult to subdue is the mara of the afflictions because the afflictions, our negative emotions, are the causes of all our suffering. When we look at all the different kinds of negative emotions we have, the root of all these negative emotions is the self-grasping conception together with our self-cherishing. All the other afflictions such as pride, anger, jealousy and so forth, arise under the power of the self-grasping conception and self-cherishing.

As a result of having these negative emotions in our mind and with the self-grasping conception as the root, we take rebirth in samsara with these contaminated physical and mental aggregates. These contaminated physical and mental aggregates are called the mara of the aggregates. The mara of the aggregates is the result of the afflictions that we have, especially the self-grasping conception. Once we take on these contaminated physical and mental aggregates, without control and without any choice, we have to suffer. From that very moment, once we get these contaminated physical and mental aggregates, they are in the nature of suffering. They are not stable and we have no control over them whatsoever.

Because of having taken on these contaminated physical and mental aggregates, without any control or any independence on our part, sooner or later we have to die. Without choice we have to leave this body behind. Death is certain and the time of death is uncertain. This is what we call the mara of death.

Then there is the mara of Devaputra. With the negative emotions acting as the conditions, all human beings, nonhuman beings and the gods are tormented by the different kinds of negative emotions. The mara of Devaputra refers to this class of worldly gods who dislike Dharma practitioners. They like to cause problems for those who are practising the Dharma. It is said that they shoot five different kinds of arrows. When any of these arrows hits us, with the afflictions in our mind acting as the conditions together with these harms from this host of spirits and worldly gods, our negative emotions increase, creating problems for our Dharma practice.

Sometimes when we find that we are unable to control our negative emotions that seem to be increasing or we think that we are experiencing some spirit harm, at that time, we should remember Tara, especially this wrathful aspect of Tara. When such things happen to us, we should do something about it. We should remember Tara in this wrathful aspect and make requests to Tara to pacify all these problems. We can also recite the mantra of Tara. With a mind of faith, we make requests to Tara and recite her mantra. We will definitely receive the blessings of her holy body, speech and mind. Even those negative emotions that manifest can be pacified and the other obstacles that we are experiencing can also be pacified.

Among the four different kinds of mara, the worst is the mara of the afflictions. It is the negative emotions and their imprints that prevent us from achieving liberation and enlightenment:

  • What is obstructing or preventing us from achieving liberation? The obstructions to liberation arising from the conception of grasping at true existence.
  • Together with the predispositions of these afflictions, which are called the obstructions to omniscience, they prevent us from attaining enlightenment.

Once we get rid of these two—the obstructions to liberation and the obstructions to omniscience—all the other three types of mara will be destroyed. When we destroy the four maras, we will achieve enlightenment.

The main obstacle that prevents us from achieving liberation, i.e., the obstructions to liberation, primarily refers to the conception grasping at true existence. What does this mean? It means that whatever appears to our mind, we grasp at it as being truly existent, something real coming from the side of the object. This is how things appear to our mind. Although things appear to us in this way, is this how they exist in reality? No, things do not exist in the way they appear to us.

Just think of a reflection on the surface of a mirror. Anything can be reflected in a mirror. You know that the object that appears on the surface of the mirror is the reflection of a particular object. It is not the actual object. Although it appears to be the object, we know that it is not the actual object. In the same way, things do not exist in reality in the way that they appear to us. But there is a problem: we believe they exist in the way they appear to us. They seem so real from their own side. So when we talk about phenomena, we grasp at everything to be truly existent and real from its own side, although in reality that is not the case.

Not only do all phenomena appear to us as if they are real, i.e., that they exist from their own side, we believe they are truly existent and grasp at them. What will happen then? With this appearance together with our belief in that appearance, we either have a lot of superstitious thoughts and we superimpose certain qualities on the object, which do not exist or we deny certain characteristics that do exist in the object. This is what we call superimposition and denial respectively.

When we do this, negative emotions like attachment arise. Without this grasping at true existence, there is no way that attachment can arise. But because we truly believe that the object is real, attachment arises. Only when we understand that that particular object does not exist in the way that it appears to us, then there is no basis for attachment and the other afflictions to arise. Therefore it is extremely crucial to put effort into learning how to recognise that, in reality, things do not exist truly, that they do not exist from their own side.

~Verse 9~

ii. Praising Tara with reference to the implements she holds in her two hands

CHHAG TSHÄL KÖN CHHOG SUM TSHÖN CHHAG GYÄI
SOR MÖ THUG KAR NAM PAR GYÄN MA
MA LÜ CHHOG KYI KHOR LÖ GYÄN PÄI
RANG GI Ö KYI TSHOG NAM THRUG MA

Homage to you, Tara, whose fingers adorn your heart
With the gesture of the sublime precious three;
Adorned with a wheel striking all directions without exception
With the totality of your own rays of light.

That refers to prostrating respectfully with one’s body, speech and mind. Here we are prostrating to Tara “whose fingers adorn your heart/ With the gesture of the sublime precious three,” i.e., with the gesture of the Three Jewels.

With her left hand at her heart and with her ring finger and thumb joined together, and the remaining three fingers pointed upwards: this is the mudra symbolising the Three Jewels. At the same time, with her ring finger and thumb joined together, she is holding the stem of a lotus that blooms besides her right ear. Her right hand is in the mudra of granting sublime realisations and her palm is adorned with a Dharma wheel. Many light rays and nectar of different colours come from this Dharma wheel. The palm adorned with a Dharma wheel is one of the holy signs of a buddha.

This mudra of the Three Jewels reminds us that Tara is in nature the Three Jewels. The Three Jewels are the Buddha Jewel, the Dharma Jewel and the Sangha Jewel. Even though we visualise Tara in just one aspect, actually the Three Jewels are embodied within that single aspect. Her holy body symbolises the Sangha Jewel, her holy speech symbolises the Dharma Jewel and her holy mind symbolises the Buddha Jewel.

At the same time, think that the Tara we are visualising is inseparable from one’s own root guru. Since Tara is inseparable from one’s own root guru, then:

  • the holy body of one’s own root guru is inseparable from Tara and is also the Sangha Jewel
  • the holy speech of one’s own root guru is inseparable from Tara and is also the Dharma Jewel
  • the holy mind of one’s own root guru is inseparable from Tara and is also the Buddha Jewel

You can also reflect on how one’s own root guru is the embodiment of the Three Jewels and how one’s own root guru is also the embodiment of all the enlightened activities of all the buddhas.

~Verse 10~

iii. Praising Tara through her crown ornament and the sound of her laughter

CHHAG TSHÄL RAB TU GA WA JI PÄI
U GYÄN Ö KYI THRENG WA PEL MA
ZHE PA RAB ZHÄ TUTTARA YI
DÜ DANG JIG TEM WANG DU DZÄ MA

Homage to you, Tara, whose radiant crown ornament,
Joyful and magnificent, extends a garland of light,
And who, by your laughter of TUTTARA,
Conquer the demons and all of the worlds.

We are now paying homage to Tara “whose radiant crown ornament,/ Joyful and magnificent, extends a garland of light.” Tara is also able to “conquer the demons and all of the worlds” with her laughter.

We are praising this aspect of Tara who has this radiant crown ornament that is said to be very joyful and magnificent. This aspect of Tara is able to fulfil the wishes and generate joy in all those who possess faith in her. For those who do not possess such faith, she is able to overwhelm them with her splendid crown ornament. With her laughter that has the sound of the mantra TUTTARA, she is able to subdue Shiva, the lord of the desire realm, and his entire entourage.

The main cause of receiving all the benefits from and the blessings of Tara is to have faith in her. When we have faith in Tara, she can fulfil all our wishes. This also pleases her holy mind.

What about those who have no faith? She is able to subdue those without faith. Just by seeing the representation of Tara, e.g., the statue of Tara, she is able to subdue those who have no faith. All we need is faith. Anyone who has faith and make requests to Tara, she is able to fulfil all their prayers and wishes.

All the different ornaments that Tara is wearing, such as anklets, bracelets, a crown and necklaces, are all very beautiful. They are not like our ordinary ornaments because Tara’s ornaments naturally emit light rays that go out in the ten directions to work for all sentient beings. The ornaments that Tara is wearing on her body are manifestations of her holy mind and represent all her qualities.

~Verse 11~

iv. Praising Tara with reference to how she accomplishes different activities by employing the ten directional protectors

CHHAG TSHÄL SA ZHI KYONG WÄI TSHOG NAM
THAM CHÄ GUG PAR NÜ MA NYI MA
THRO NYER YO WÄI YI GE HUM GI
PHONG PA THAM CHÄ NAM PAR DRÖL MA

Homage to you, Tara, who is able to invoke
The entire assembly of local protectors,
Whose wrathful expression fiercely shakes,
Rescuing the impoverished through the letter HUM.

We pay homage to Tara who possesses the power “to invoke/ The entire assembly of local protectors” and employ them to accomplish various activities. “SA ZHI” refers to the earth that is the place of sentient beings like humans and so forth.

There is this group of beings who are called the ten directional protectors and their entourage. They are the holders and sustainers of the earth. This aspect of Tara possesses the power to invoke and hook the ten directional protectors and their entourage and use them to accomplish various activities.

This aspect of Tara has a wrathful holy face “whose wrathful expression fiercely shakes” the world. At her heart is the seed syllable Hum from which countless iron hooks are emanated in the ten directions, invoking and summoning all the good things such as longevity, wealth, possessions and so forth. By doing this, she is able to eliminate the suffering of poverty of all sentient beings.

When we are experiencing financial difficulties or poverty, we should remember and think of Tara. The motivation must be to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings or, at the very least, to benefit others. We then visualise this aspect of Tara and, with faith and respect, we make requests to Tara to eliminate the poverty we are experiencing.

When we talk about poverty, there are many different kinds of poverty. It is not just the poverty of wealth. There is also the poverty of the Dharma such as the poverty of experiences and realisations. We can make requests to this aspect of Tara to eliminate all these different kinds of poverty.

Visualise that from the syllable HUM at her heart, light rays in the aspect of iron hooks going out in the ten directions, hooking and summoning back all the good things such as longevity, wealth, possessions and so forth. These dissolve back into the syllable Hum at her heart, and blessings in the form of light rays and nectar enter into you. You should also visualise all other sentient beings experiencing this, especially those who are also undergoing financial difficulties and problems. While receiving the blessings, think that you are receiving longevity, wealth, possessions and so forth.

As miserliness is the cause for us to experience poverty, at the same time, think that all the obstacles, such as miserliness and its imprints, are completely purified. Think that now you are like an inexhaustible treasure. When you think like this, all the negative karma that causes us to be poor is purified. When those karmas are purified, all the good things will come.

We can do this practice especially when we have difficulties at work, financial difficulties in business and so forth. The motivation however should not just be for one’s own benefit such as wishing, “May my business do well.” The motivation must be conjoined with the thought of benefiting others, to achieve enlightenment to benefit other sentient beings. Without this kind of motivation, even if you do this practice, the practice does not become Dharma.

I mentioned this particular visualisation because I thought it may be beneficial. It may also be helpful in your work and activities for sentient beings.

~Verse 12~

v. Praising Tara with reference to her crown ornament

CHHAG TSHÄL DA WÄI DUM BÜ U GYÄN
GYÄN PA THAM CHÄ SHIN TU BAR MA
RÄL PÄI KHUR NA Ö PAG ME LÄ
TAG PAR SHIN TU Ö RAB DZÄ MA

Homage to you, Tara, whose crown is adorned
With the crescent moon, wearing ornaments exceedingly bright.
From your hair knot the buddha Amitabha
Radiates eternally with great beams of light.

“CHHAG TSHÄL DA WÄI DUM BÜ U GYÄN”: “DUM BÜ U GYÄN” describes how Tara is adorned with a halo of light behind her head. Her crown is adorned with the crescent moon likened to the moon on the first day of the lunar calendar. She is “wearing ornaments exceedingly bright.” The white light rays from her ornaments eliminate all the suffering of sentient beings.

Tara’s hair is very black and shining and is tied up into a hair knot. The lord of the lineage Amitabha Buddha is seated on her crown. From Amitabha Buddha light rays of different colours emanate going out to perform work for sentient beings. Tara and Amitabha Buddha are inseparable from our own root guru.

We can visualise this aspect of Tara when we are not feeling well, when we are sick, unhappy, frustrated or stressed. We visualise and remember Tara and make requests to her. Visualise light rays and nectar coming from the holy bodies of Tara and Amitabha Buddha, both of whom are inseparable from our own root guru, entering our body and mind and purifying whatever problems or unhappiness that we have. At the same time, think that we have received the blessings of Tara’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind. It will be beneficial for us to do this.

~Verse 13~

vi. Praising Tara with reference to her wrathful posture of abiding

CHHAG TSHÄL KÄL PÄI THA MÄI ME TAR
BAR WÄI THRENG WÄI Ü NA NÄ MA
YÄ KYANG YÖN KUM KÜN NÄ KOR GÄI
DRA YI PUNG NI NAM PAR JOM MA

Homage to you, Tara, who dwells within a blazing garland
That resembles the fire at the end of this world age;
Surrounded by joy, you sit with your right leg extended
And left withdrawn, completely destroying all the masses of enemies.

We are making prostrations to Tara who is seated within a mass of blazing fire “that resembles the fire at the end of this world age.” At a particular time in the future, our world will be destroyed by an unbelievable blazing fire. This Tara is seated within a mass of blazing fire that is likened to the very hot fire at the end of this time. This mass of fire however is actually the fire of wisdom. Tara is seated with her right leg extended and her left leg bent.

This aspect of Tara is able to destroy the whole host of outer and inner enemies by turning the wheel of Dharma. The inner enemy refers to our negative emotions. The outer enemy includes both humans and non-humans, and the problems and obstacles that arise as the result of the negative emotions in our mind. By relying on this Tara we can pacify all these enemies.

~Verse 14~

vii. Praising Tara with reference to how light radiates from the syllable Hum at her heart

CHHAG TSHÄL SA ZHI NGÖ LA CHHAG GI
THIL GYI NÜN CHING ZHAB KYI DUNG MA
THRO NYER CHÄN DZÄ YI GE
HUM GI RIM PA DÜN PO NAM NI GEM MA

Homage to you, Tara, with hand on the ground by your side,
Pressing your heel and stamping your foot on the earth;
With a wrathful glance from your eyes you subdue
All seven levels through the syllable HUM.

“Homage to you, Tara, with hand on the ground by your side,/ Pressing your heel and stamping your foot on the earth”: With her hand in a threatening mudra, Tara wrathfully suppresses the entire world. With her two holy feet, she stamps on the earth that refers to Mount Meru and the four continents.

Her holy face is in a wrathful aspect and her hand is in a threatening gesture. From the blue syllable HUM on the palms of her hands and soles of her feet, fire and countless vajras are emanated. They go to the seven levels beneath the earth to destroy all the nagas, demi-gods, the lord of death and so on. These beings harm other sentient beings by causing sicknesses and so forth. The fire and countless vajras destroy their negative minds that have the wish to harm others. Tara pacifies their thoughts of harming others and also subdues whatever powers they have to cause such problems. Tara is able to render them harmless.

When we are harmed by these non-human beings, such as nagas or spirits, we should rely on Tara in this wrathful aspect and make requests to her. Visualise that from the blue syllable Hum in both her palms and the soles of her feet, fire and vajras are emanated and enter into us and those who are harming us. When we receive these blessings all the negative emotions, especially the thought of harming others in our mind and in the minds of those beings harming us are completely pacified and purified. Both our mind and the minds of those who are harming us become very pure and clear. Not even a single thought of harming others remain. If we do this practice when we are experiencing such harm, it is extremely beneficial.

By praising Tara with reference to both her peaceful and wrathful aspects, we have completed the whole section on praising Tara with reference to her sambhogakaya aspect. Now we come to praising Tara with reference to her dharmakaya aspect.

~Verse 15~

2) Praising Tara with reference to her dharmakaya aspect (truth body)

CHHAG TSHÄL DE MA GE MA ZHI MA
NYA NGÄN DÄ ZHI CHÖ YÜL NYI MA
SVAHA OM DANG YANG DAG DÄN PÄ
DIG PA CHHEN PO JOM PA NYI MA

Homage to you, Tara, O happy, virtuous and peaceful one,
The very object of practice, passed beyond sorrow.
You are perfectly endowed with SVAHA and OM,
Overcoming completely all the great evils.

We are paying homage to “Tara, O happy, virtuous and peaceful one”:

  • She is the “happy” one because she has no suffering.
  • She is the “virtuous” one because she does not accumulate the causes of suffering, i.e., non-virtue.
  • She is the “peaceful” one because she does not have any more afflictions, the objects of abandonment, in her holy mind.
  • She has “passed beyond sorrow,” a state that is characterised by the complete abandonment of the two obstructions, the obstructions to liberation and the obstructions to omniscience. She is always in meditative equipoise within the sphere of peace.

Next is the recitation of the mantra. Due to the power of the wisdom of meditative equipoise, she always remains within the sphere of peace, the state characterised by the abandonment of the two obstructions. Due to the power of that wisdom, the mantra is manifested. As it says here, “You are perfectly endowed with SVAHA and OM.” In between SVAHA and OM, there are the other syllables, TARE TUTTARE TURE. Altogether there are ten syllables in the mantra of Tara: OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SVAHA.

While visualising her, when we recite this Tara mantra with faith, even the negative karma such as the five uninterrupted heinous actions, the negative karma of abandoning the Dharma, together with the causes of those actions, which are the negative emotions such as anger and attachment, and all the very powerful afflictions together with their sufferings will be completely purified without any remainder.

This verse is praising Tara through her dharmakaya aspect or her truth body. Tara’s holy mind is always abiding in meditative equipoise within the sphere of peace. While abiding in that sphere of peace, she is able to perform activities benefiting all sentient beings spontaneously and effortlessly. Sentient beings cannot do that because when they are absorbed in meditative equipoise, they are unable to do anything else. Only a buddha can do the two things simultaneously. While in meditative equipoise, a buddha is able to engage in activities to benefit other sentient beings spontaneously and effortlessly. This is the special characteristic of a buddha.

Praising Tara with reference to her enlightened activities

~Verse 16~

1) Praising Tara through the enlightened actions of both her peaceful and wrathful mantras

CHHAG TSHÄL KÜN NÄ KOR RAB GA WÄI
DRA YI LÜ NI NAM PAR GEM MA
YI GE CHU PÄI NGAG NI KÖ PÄI
RIG PA HUM LÄ DRÖL MA NYI MA

Homage to you, Tara, surrounded by the joyous ones,
You completely subdue the bodies of all enemies;
Your speech is adorned with the ten syllables,
And you rescue all through the knowledge-letter HUM.

“You completely subdue the bodies of all enemies;/ Your speech is adorned with the ten syllables”: we are praising this Tara for how she turns the wheel of Dharma in order to benefit the minds of all her disciples by destroying the outer and inner enemies in their mental continua.

“The ten syllables” refer to the mantra of Tara. There are both the peaceful mantra and the wrathful mantra:

  • The peaceful mantra is OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SVAHA that surrounds the syllable TAM at the heart.
  • The wrathful mantra is OM NAMA TARE NAMO HARE HUM HARE SVAHA surrounds the syllable HUM at the heart.

Light rays emanate from these mantra garlands of both the peaceful and wrathful mantras and liberate us from all enemies and obstacles.

When we need to engage in the rite of pacification, e.g., when you need to pacify certain diseases, sicknesses or spirit harms, visualise Tara with the syllable TAM at the heart surrounded by the peaceful mantra OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SVAHA. Visualise that you receive Tara’s blessings and all the problems are pacified peacefully.

At times when you need to engage in wrathful activities e.g., when there are obstacles from humans and non-humans harming the teachings of Buddha or harming the long lives of the gurus and so forth - visualise Tara with the syllable HUM at the heart surrounded by the wrathful mantra OM NAMA TARE NAMO HARE HUM HARE SVAHA wrathfully pacifying all these obstacles.

When we need to engage in these practices, visualise the appropriate mantra and perform the relevant visualisation.

~Verse 17~

2) Praising Tara with reference to how she shakes the three realms

CHHAG TSHÄL TURE ZHAB NI DEB PÄ
HUM GI NAM PÄI SA BÖN NYI MA
RI RAB MANDHARA DANG BIG JE
JIG TEN SUM NAM YO WA NYI MA

Homage to you, Tara, stamping your feet and proclaiming TURE.
Your seed syllable itself in the aspect of HUM
Causes Meru, Mandhara and the Vindya mountains
And all the three worlds to tremble and shake.

“Stamping your feet and proclaiming TURE”: “TURE” here means the swift one and is referring to Tara. She is wrathfully stamping with her two holy feet.

“Your seed-syllable itself in the aspect of HUM”: this refers to how this aspect of Tara is generated. Normally when we engage in deity practice, we generate ourselves as the deity and we then visualise the deity. First, one is purified into the state of emptiness and from that state of emptiness, one visualises the seed syllable of the deity. The seed syllable of the deity then transforms into the deity itself. In the case here, from the state of emptiness arises the seed syllable HUM. This seed syllable HUM then transforms into Tara in her wrathful aspect.

We are making prostrations and paying homage to this Tara who possesses the power to shake the three worlds. The text says she “causes Mount Meru, Mandhara and the Vindhya mountains … to tremble and shake.” These are different mountains that are the abodes of the different nagas, gods and so forth. We are now prostrating to this wrathful Tara who possesses the power to shake these very powerful mountains. Tara possesses the power to shake even the three worlds and all the beings that live within them.

I mentioned that these different mountains are the abodes of different kinds of beings especially the evil gods, nagas and so forth who harm sentient beings. I guess the reason why Tara shakes the three worlds and the different mountains is to weaken their thought and their power to harm others. By doing this she is able to render them powerless and harmless.

~Verse 18~

3) Praising Tara with reference to how she eliminates poisons

CHHAG TSHÄL LHA YI TSHO YI NAM PÄI
RI DAG TAG CHÄN CHHAG NA NAM MA
TARA NYI JÖ PHAT KYI YI GE
DUG MAN MA LÜ PA NI SEL MA

Homage to you, Tara, who holds in your hand
The hare-marked moon like the celestial ocean.
By uttering TARA twice and the letter PHAT
You dispel all poisons without an exception.

This Tara, who is able to dispel poisons, holds in her hand a round moon resembling a mirror, marked with a drawing of a rabbit. By showing this to sentient beings, she is able to eliminate the poisons abiding within them. The poisons referred to here are not just ordinary poisons but also referring to the mental poison of the negative emotions.

“By uttering TARA twice and the letter PHAT” – uttering TARA twice is referring to the two TARAs in the mantra: OM TARE TUTTARE. Instead of uttering OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SVAHA, she is uttering OM TARE TUTTARE TURE PHAT. She holds the moon in her hand and shows this to sentient beings and by uttering the mantra OM TARE TUTTARE TURE PHAT, she is able to remove and dispel all the poisons within sentient beings, not only external poisons but also the mental poison of the negative emotions.

There are many different kinds of poisons. We may be poisoned by others, or we may accidentally ingest some poisons or harmful substances ourselves and so forth. At those times or when you want to benefit others who are suffering from poisoning, visualise this aspect of Tara in the space in front of you. Visualise that she is holding a moon that looks like a mirror in her hand and showing this to yourself and all sentient beings as she utters the mantra OM TARE TUTTARE TURE PHAT. Visualise that you receive the blessings and that all the poisons, both external and internal (such as the mental poison of the negative emotions), are completely pacified for oneself and others.

~Verse 19~

4) Praising Tara with reference to how she dispels quarrels and bad dreams

CHHAG TSHÄL LHA YI TSHOG NAM GYÄL PO
LHA DANG MI AM CHI YI TEN MA
KÜN NÄ GO CHHA GA WÄI JI GYI
TSÖ DANG MI LAM NGÄN PA SEL MA

Homage to you, Tara, upon whom the kings of the assembled gods,
The gods themselves and all kinnaras rely;
Whose magnificent armour gives joy to all,
You who dispel all disputes and bad dreams.

This Tara is someone “upon whom the kings of the assembled gods,/ The gods themselves, and all kinnaras rely.” The assembled gods refer to the gods of the desire realms and the form realms. The king of the gods of the desire realm is Indra. Then there are the worldly gods such as Brahma and so forth. All these gods pay respect to Tara at her holy feet with the crown of their heads.

By meditating on this aspect of Tara and reciting her mantra, with her splendour and brilliance, she is able to eliminate all problems such as quarrels, disputes or fights that you are having with others and also all bad dreams. All these will be dispelled and eliminated. When we have nightmares and bad dreams, we become unhappy. When we get into disputes and quarrels with others, with lawsuits and so on, we need to pacify these problems by relying on this aspect of Tara.

Visualise this Tara in the space in front of you. Visualise red light rays and nectar coming into you and pacifying all the nightmares, bad dreams and whatever problems you are facing such as disputes, quarrels, lawsuits and so forth. All of these different problems together with all their causes are completely purified. Not even a single atom remains. It will be helpful to do this practice when you have such problems.

We shall end the session for now. In this session, we have accumulated merit and virtue through explaining and listening to the teachings and we need to dedicate the merit and virtue we have created. How should we dedicate this merit? Please pray in the following way:

  • We should dedicate this merit for the preservation and flourishing of the teachings of the Buddha.
  • In particular we should pray that all the spiritual masters who are preserving and spreading the teachings of the Buddha, especially His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, have long and healthy lives, and that all their holy wishes be fulfilled.
  • Also dedicate for all the students here especially those who are serious about practising correctly. May all of them have long and healthy lives and may their lifespan, merit, realisations and experiences of the path to enlightenment increase like the waxing moon.
  • Also may there be no wars, no conflicts, no famines, no problems in this world.
  • In short, may all sentient beings always be able to abide in happiness.

 

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