Most people think of Buddhas as being male. It is true that the Buddha most of us know of was born a male, but he has not been the only Buddha. There have been many beings who have achieved enlightenment and become Buddhas, but we don’t usually hear about them unless we are part of a Buddhist organisation. So there have been many Buddhas, but the one we currently refer to is Buddha Shakyamuni, who was born and lived over 2000 years ago as the son of a king but gave up everything to become enlightened. This prince was called Siddartha and he was definitely male. However, just as many women have become enlightened and Noble Tara is probably one of the most famous and well known of those female Buddhas.
Tara also lived on the Earth and she became a Buddha long before Siddartha left his kingdom and went in search of enlightenment or began teaching the dharma that many of us practice today. Buddhism is a spiritual path, one that each of us must take by ourselves to find our own way back ‘home’ to our true nature, the light within. The Buddha’s role is to point the way and our fellow practitioners are our support on the path. So Tara followed the teachings of the time and practiced until she became a Buddha.
Tara was a princess named Yeshe Dawa which is Tibetan and translates as Moon of Primordial Wisdom. Primordial wisdom referred to her true inner nature as having the qualities of being non-changing and non-dual from the beginning and being fundamentally and basically good. This in fact is a way we could describe the true inner being state of all sentient beings – us too! . For most people, our basic goodness has become obscured rather like the clouds that obscure the sun. The result is that we are ignorant of and have forgotten about our true nature and therefore don’t recognise our intrinsic nature – our inner goodness. This ignorance of knowing the reality of our true selves then becomes the cause of the challenges and suffering we face during the course of our lives. This suffering can often manifest in our outer lives and inwardly as not believing we have self-worth, self-belief or value.
Tara was sad to see so much suffering caused by beings not recognising their true nature that she wanted to help. She was a Bodhisattva which is someone with such an unshakeable strong and pure intention that they want to dedicate their life to helping all sentient beings achieve enlightenment. Tara had great devotion to the Buddha of her time and having such a strong intention, Tara vowed that she would become enlightened for the benefit of all beings past present and future.
The monks of the day, knowing Tara’s intention, told her that if she wanted to become enlightened she would have to reincarnate in a man’s body because it was believed that only men could achieve enlightenment. However, Tara simply replied “As long as samsara is not emptied, I will benefit beings in a female body.” So when she became enlightened she was able to carry out her noble intention of benefitting all beings who ask her for help and she is still doing this work today.
Tara knew that if she became enlightened she would no longer have a physical body, but instead she would revert to her true nature and be a body of light. She would no longer reincarnate in samsara but would reside in the pure lands where there is no duality, no concepts of male/female, good/bad, black/white, up/down, happy/sad and so forth. Instead she would remain forever in the pure land which is a permanent state of bliss and unlimited potential with no suffering and where there is no distinction between male and female.
Male and female are concepts that relate to our samsaric world. When we become enlightened, we no longer have concepts. Concepts are part of having a dualistic mind. Enlightenment is achieved when we wholly recognise ourselves as basically good, light beings and are able to manifest our primordial nature which is an open and spacious nature of mind. This open and spacious nature of mind is referred to in Tibetan as the Great Mother.
Samsara is called the relative world – which means that here we exist only in relation to the outside world. Everything we perceive about ourselves and anyone else or anything else is related to how we relate to our outer world. Nirvana is the opposite world and is a world blessed by permanent states of bliss, and relates to how we relate to both the inner and outer world, but Nirvana is still relative in that it is the opposite of samsara and therefore a dualistic concept. Beyond the relative world is what is referred to as the Absolute realm. The Absolute realm is where our fundamental basic goodness, our inner light can be found. It is our connection to our true nature and to the place in which Tara now resides. This means that as we have a connection to the Absolute, we can use that connection to benefit ourselves and to benefit others.
How can we connect with Tara?
Although Buddhists don’t worship a god, there are many deities in Buddhism. These deities, including Tara, are representations of our very own true nature. When we practice Buddhist meditation with the purpose of wanting to become enlightened, we need some other being to focus on who represents the enlightened qualities we wish to attain. What happens is that by bringing the focus of our attention to those enlightened qualities in the form of a deity such as Tara (or any Buddha for that matter e.g. Buddha Shakyamuni) and opening our hearts and minds to those beings, particularly if we chant their mantra regularly, we can start to make a connection with the essential nature of the ‘deity’. This creates a two way channel that we can tune into and we find that our mind begins to expand and become more spacious. We get enlightening insights in the form of wisdom and compassion and skilful means and start to manifest some of the qualities of those deities.
Tara is known as the Swift One because when she is called upon, her response is swift and immediate. There are endless examples of circumstances that Tara has been called upon to assist people with material and spiritual requests, and each time her response has been immediate. The most effective way to call on Tara is to start by quieting our minds by practicing some Shamatha Peaceful Abiding meditation.
Next, if possible you would study a drawing (thanka) of her downloaded from the internet and then visualise her in front of you. . When we have a good image in our minds or at least the intention that we would like to have an image of her in our minds we relax our minds and with no doubt whatsoever in our minds and devotion in our hearts we imagine light in the form of love coming from our heart centre and going to Tara. Then we say her mantra which is Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha (pronounced om taray tuttaray turay swaha). We repeat her mantra several times and at the same time focus on the circumstances we are asking for her help with.
There are 21 different manifestations of Tara and they each are represented by a colour which is either white – peaceful, red – joyful, blue – creative, yellow – abundant, black – wrathful and green – fertile. These manifestations are different energies or qualities or aspects of Tara’s enlightened nature. In fact, we can find many examples of people who manifest Tara’s enlightened nature in our world past and present. Tara has emanated in many different beings over the centuries in both men and women – it is mainly females that are being represented in this blog as an inspiration to women, but she is available and will help anyone regardless of gender. When Tara emanates in someone it means that her enlightened energy has manifested on earth in a particular person or persons usually for a particular purpose. That purpose is to help the human race evolve materially and spiritually. Examples of such women include those who have championed and stood up for and worked for climate change (e.g. Greta Thurnberg) the environment (Rachel Carson (1907-1964), animal welfare (Jane Goodall) and there are numerous creative and spiritual women who achieve prominence working for the good of the human race, the planet and for all living beings. Whenever you discover a woman who is working to benefit others, that is Tara manifesting in those women.
Tara can manifest in a limitless number of people at the same time. Usually, Tara will only be able to emanate in someone who has been connected with her through practice and devotion in previous incarnations. But she is available to everyone of us regardless of whether we believe in her or not.
The most famous Tara is Green Tara. She is especially loved by and connected to many devotees and there is only one Green Tara unlike nearly all of the other Taras which have more than one of their respective colours. The other single coloured Tara is the black Tara. But Tara can help with anything that we ask for help with, be it financial, health, love, somewhere to live, the planet, our spiritual growth, for direction on our spiritual path, and a thousand other reasons, basically absolutely anything at all. As long as our intention is pure and her help will not cause harm to someone, or if her intervention will interfere with your own karma, you can expect results.
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha!
For more information: Read: ‘Tara’s Enlightened Activity’ by Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal
May this blog be of benefit.
By Christine Jeffcutt Peaceful Abiding UK
 Sentient being means able to perceive or sense things. All living beings are sentient beings.
 A Bodhisattva is someone who has taken a vow to forgo enlightenment until every last sentient being has achieved enlightenment. However in order to do that, the Bodhisattva has themselves to become enlightened first.
 Samsara describes the nature of our existence as being in which we don’t recognise our inner light, our basic goodness and is therefore the world that we find ourselves in. There are 6 different realms of existence which are also psychological states: God realm, jealous god realm, human realm, animal realm, hungry ghosts realm and the hell realms. A search on the internet can give you more information about these. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s book ‘Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism’ gives a good explanation.
 The Great Mother is called thus as all things that manifest or are born come from the potential that is this realm. There is nothing in existence or that will come into existence that isn’t born from the Great Mother.
 The Absolute realm is called the Dharmakaya and is often referred to as the Great Mother.
 All deities have a mantra that ‘calls’ to them and is recognised as their mantra. The most famous mantra is the 6 syllable mantra Om Mani Padme Hum which is the mantra of Avalokiteshvara the Buddha of Compassion. Mantras are very powerful spiritual tools.
 Shamatha is the Tibetan term for Peaceful Abiding meditation. To learn how to meditate visit our website peacefulabiding.uk
 The drawing is a representation by an artist and is used to assist us to tune in visually to Tara. As human beings we tend to need something to hold our focus and this is true of ‘deity practice’
 visualisation is hard for some people this is why it is good to have a picture to help with to begin with.
 or as little doubt as possible. Doubt can be one of our biggest obstacles. Trying to stay open minded and not trying to control what is happening and definitely not beating yourself up if you find that you can’t let go of doubt is the way to go. The results will speak for themselves.
 This light is a visualisation. Some may feel a warmth or even feel an energetic quality but if you don’t feel that it doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. Energy follows thought!