Artwork by Lasha Mutual – Red Tara
Tara is seen as the swift acting heroine. She is presented as diversified in appearance and can manifest as peaceful, wrathful, powerful, attractive and whirling with activity – never still, always ready to help. She can be a heroine, a powerful priestess, a healer, a peace maker, a mother, a daughter, a young girl or an old lady. She can transform negative situations into positive situations and can protect us from the eight great fears (see below for the 8 fears). It is important to note however, that Tara is an enlightened being and therefore her highest purpose is always positive action and blessings that will contribute towards our personal and collective wellbeing and which therefore cannot do harm to any other sentient being.
The 8 Great Fears are fear of 1) water 2) lions 3) fire 4) snakes 5) thieves 6) false imprisonment 7) elephants 8) ghosts. These fears were relevant to past Tibetan society but could equally be applied to the world today as per my suggestions here which are not exclusive but merely suggestions depending upon whereabouts in the world a person lives currently. For example: 1) drowning, floods or is the water safe to drink 2) being preyed upon/stalked 3) being burnt alive, losing everything to wildfires etc. 4) being poisoned, addicted, caught up in a suffocating situation, negative social media – trolls etc. 5) experiencing theft break ins, war, pillage, taking another countries resources and land etc. 6) not being believed, not being listened to/heard, prejudice, racial discrimination, destruction of the environment by corporations, poverty etc. 7) elephant society is a matriarchal society so could feasibly represent whereby women are repressed and have no equality and get trampled upon by the patriarch 8) the past catching up and causing present day suffering and the mental and physical sickness and ill health that can result. All of these eventualities can be appeased by calling upon Tara for help.
It was common practice in Tibetan society for ordinary Tibetans, not just monks and nuns, to daily chant and practice the 21 praises to Tara. Anyone can practice and recite the 21 praises to Tara, but in order to gain a deeper and more transformational practice we have to be initiated by a Lama who will give us a lung (which is a spiritual transmission given as part of a traditional Buddhist spiritual path) and which authorises us to do the practice and which teaches us the inner essence of the practice, essentially how to manifest as Tara in our personal and daily lives. Tara’s manifestations although commonly presented as 21 different manifestations are actually limitless but ultimately, Tara is just one.
The most popular and widely recognised Tara is Green Tara, although in the 21 manifestations she appears as red, white, blue, black, yellow as well as the much-loved green manifestation. Each colour equates to a particular energy that Tara manifests. So white is peaceful, red is semi-wrathful, black is wrathful and so on. In the Nyingma Buddhist tradition, each Tara appears in her particular colour, holding a blue Utpala flower in her left hand which rests above her left shoulder and upon which a sacred ornament is sat. Her right hand rests on her right knee in an open upward palm indicating her willingness to offer help to all beings. She is seated on a lotus sun and moon seat cross legged but her right leg is bent ready to leap into action for beings who need her help.
Each of her 21 manifestations has a different mantra. A mantra in this instance is a powerful short Sanskrit phrase pertinent to the relative Tara which calls her to action. In some instances the results of calling for Tara’s help have been immediate, such as when I was preparing my Peaceful Abiding one day workshop on 21 Taras and wondering where I could find some beautiful images that I could use without recourse to licences, suddenly in my Facebook feed as if out of nowhere, appeared the beautiful 21 Tara paintings of Lasha Mutual. I asked her if I could use them in my workshop and she said ‘Yes’ and that was the answer to my needs. Lasha even answered my request by return email straight away! Swiftly and precisely! Wonderful! But I have also had some wonderful experiences and blessings from calling upon Tara which I can reveal to attendees in the Peaceful Abiding one day workshop.
The basic mantra for calling upon Tara to intervene is Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha (pronounced Om Taray two taray turay swaha) and anyone can use this mantra.
In the Peaceful Abiding one day workshop June 25th 2023 9.30am – 5pm, participants will be introduced to the 21 praises to Tara and be given access to a full and detailed practice which they may do at home. Participants will also be eligible to join a regular once a month group Tara practice with Peaceful Abiding.
May this be of benefit to all beings.