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Buddhadharma : Summer 2006
summer 2006| 28 |buddhadharma These elements also have an emotional component. The space element is related to the sense of spaciousness. An imbal- ance of space will leave us feeling cramped and constrained in our thinking. The air element is associated with the mind and mental functioning. When the air element is imbalanced, you may feel flighty or exceedingly nervous; when the air is balanced your mind is curious and flexible, and you are able to grasp new ideas and ways of thinking. An imbalance of the fire element can lead to impulsive “hotheaded” behavior. A healthy fire element strengthens your willpower and enables you to feel passionate and inspired in your efforts. A healthy water element helps to calm your emotions; otherwise you may feel overly sensitive or emotionally turbulent. And a healthy earth element allows you to feel grounded. In the Tara practice of healing the elements, we learn to visu- alize and work with the energies that affect the balance of these elements. In this practice, we visualize colored light streaming forth from Tara and renewing each of our elements with the essence of inexhaustible vitality. We associate a golden light with the earth element. A white, opalescent light is associated with the water element. The fire element is red-orange, like the glow of molten metal. The air element is emerald green, and the space element is sapphire blue. We visualize these colors streaming forth from Tara. The light of each element extends to the outermost reaches of the universe and collects the essence of each element. Then we visualize this light and similarly colored liquid completely filling our bodies and fully rejuvenating each of our elements in turn. Tara’s six-shield practice Tara’s six-shield practice is a practical and very helpful prac- tice that we can use to clear away obstacles and protect our- selves – and those we care about – from harmful influences. In this practice, we visualize shields of different colored light radiating from Tara and encircling us and our loved ones in concentric spheres of protection. These shields transform our usual neuroses into their wisdom nature. That very wisdom nature becomes a powerful and skillful energy that uplifts and benefits both self and others. The first shield is white, not only for pacifying difficulties but also for purifying faults. The next shield is composed of golden light, which is for increasing prosperity and also for developing our beneficial qualities. A shield of red light brings us power, as well as a sense of capability and confidence. The blue shield not only brings the necessary wrathful qualities needed to say no when no is necessary, but also the discriminating power of destruction when destruction is needed. This reminds us that compassion does not mean being a doormat. The green shield is not just for miscellaneous activity but also for the supreme and mundane powers required on the path to enlightenment. A final shield is composed of a rust-colored light that helps to stabilize the qualities we gain from the other shields. This is incredibly important because it is not possible to have spiritual development without stability. Protection from the eight fears Tara can also help us learn to protect ourselves from the eight fears. These are not the common fears we share with most human beings, such as fear of dangerous animals, nightmares, illness, or untimely death. In this practice, we use the power of Tara’s mantra, Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha. Om represents Tara’s enlightened body, speech, and mind. Tare means one who liberates from suffering. Tutare means one who liberates from the eight fears. Ture means one who liberates from ignorance with the wisdom that brings the true cessation of suffering. Soha means may the meaning of the mantra take root in my mind. This mantra is used to overcome the eight fears of the spiri- tual practitioner, which are: The lion of pride: As the king of the jungle, the lion looks down on everyone and listens to the counsel of no one. Our pride will isolate us from help and keep us locked in the control of ignorance. iTemno.542,ColleCTionofSHelleyanddonaldRubin,WWW.HimalayanaRT.oRG Tara – White Eastern Tibet, 19th century