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Buddhadharma : Summer 2006
buddhadharma| 25 |summer 2006 especially associated with long life and wisdom. And as a female manifestation of the enlightened energy, Tara is said to come to our aid quickly and powerfully. In the West, we are familiar with Mother Mary, whose quali- ties of boundless compassion and love very much resemble those of Tara. So most of us have some familiarity with someone like Tara and the qualities she represents. She may have a different name or slightly different look in the way she is depicted here and there, but that merely indicates how popular and how nec- essary she is for us. We all recognize the need for caring and compassion. This is what Tara represents. So where does Tara come from? What is she? How does she function? There are a number of stories by different masters, but the most reliable and commonly accepted source is The Origin of the Tara Tantra, written by Taranatha in the early seventeenth century. According to this text, Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, was very busy helping beings. But at one point, he was nearly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task and the extent of the suffering that beings were experiencing. It is said that he became concerned to the point of shedding tears, saying, “I need help.” He took a teardrop existence of countless other enlightened beings or buddhas. Tara is one of these enlightened beings in female form. This is one of the reasons I have been doing Tara blessing ceremo- nies in different parts of the country lately. There is actually a long history of such blessings in Tibet. It’s not something I just cooked up. This type of blessing is called a gom lung, and it is a combination of meditation and oral transmission. By doing these activities, I hope to help bring the enlightened feminine presence forward. Maybe I am not the best person for the job, because, ulti- mately, it is important for women to do this. But because of my background and training in Old Tibet, I feel that giving my support may be of some help. Who is Tara? We find images of Tara throughout Eastern culture, although she may be referred to by different names. In China, she is called Kuan Yin. In Japan, she is Kannon. In Tibet, we call her Drolma. Tara is her Sanskrit name. It means “one who liber- ates.” Tara is known as the “Mother of all buddhas.” She is ColleCTionofSHelleyanddonaldRubin,WWW.HimalayanaRT.oRGiTemno.51iTemno.290iTemno.441 Tara – White Tibet, 19th century Vajrayogini (Naropa Tradition) Eastern Tibet, 19th century Shri Devi (protector) – Magzor Gyalmo Tibet, 19th century