Mother of All the Buddhas
I was born in Louisiana, but my soul came with my parents from Korea. My father was stationed in Seoul when my mother became pregnant with me. Soon after they relocated back to the United States. Although I was raised Catholic, spiritually speaking my heart had always followed the path of a different sort. I didn’t understand the need to feel superior to other living things in this world…I felt part of nature and not separate. In my pursuit of spiritual connection and perfection, I stumbled into Buddhism rather early on; although witchcraft was always the first real leap I took with my seeking, I needed something to be grounded in.
In the beginning there was just me and Buddha in meditation…there will be another post about this guy later because THAT is a different story. But soon realized I was only working with some intangible Goddess in my spiritual work; there She was, an archetype as vague and mutable in Her most primal aspect. I waited and read whatever crossed my path, contemplating and considering. It wasn’t until one of my many retreats in Mount Shasta that a Goddess came to me.
My friend and teacher in meditation gave me a new mantra to learn…to invoke a most powerful presence in the Bodhisattva Tara. There are many stories about this Princess turned Buddha, but the main theme goes something like this: She was in pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and fulfillment, which is traditionally only to be received by a person born as a man; there had been no female Buddhas at this point. So Tara meditated and prayed, becoming awakened in the process. With immense compassion She chose to continually be reborn in the form of a Bodhisattva, a Buddhist saint, so She can actively pray and help teach others how to achieve escape from Samsara, the cycles of death and rebirth. Tara is called the Mother of the Buddhas, the Swift Heroine, Star Walker…She is the compassionate saviouress who can swallow our pride up to make the way to liberation easier. Like a mother, Tara can be gentle but firm; not in the way experienced by devotees of other Mother Goddesses such as Kali or Hekate…Tara has much more sympathy for Her children than that. She comes quickly, to any and all who ask for her help. She is beloved by the Tibetan people, Her homeland.
And so, I would dedicate several weeks a year to Her: looking at all 21 emanations and taking the vibrations created through the mantras into my heart…seating Her on a lotus dais and radiating Her energy throughout my body and life. It has only been in recent years I have not recited Her mantra on a daily basis; having so many other deities popping into my life really has taken away my most intimate time with Her. Right now I hear Her call and will answer the best way I can…with a meditation and writing every day for 21 days, a day for each aspect; taking in Her qualities to liberate and find the peace I seek right now.
This is the Tara mantra practice I have been using for the past 10 years, and I find it NEVER disappoints me in challenging and revealing some new aspect of myself. Traditionally the mantra should be repeated 108 times, but it doesn’t really matter with Tara; 108, 1008, or 18 will bring Her presence into your life.
OM is the greeting, paying homage to Lady Tara, the Heroine and Swift One who answers the call of all Her children.
TARA TUTTARE is Her name that banishes all fears and negativity.
TURE is Tara the Liberator…the one who frees us form the bondage of our egos and the material world.
SOHA is the closing statement, paying with respect and courage.
Lady Tara, The Swift Heroine
The first Tara is always the hardest. Appearing in red to symbolize Her active qualities, She sits in repose on a lotus dais. One leg is always extended so a foot is touching the Earth, and the other seated with Her in meditation. In Her hand She holds a a flower containing a conch shell, a symbol of the Buddha’s message. She is poised to move at a moment’s notice, in aid to any and all who call upon Her. A very popular Goddess in general, Nyurma Pamo is like the Wonder Woman of Bodhisattvas…She is relentless in Her compassion, fierce in Her ability to swoop down and help any who call Her name. Her mantra can be said at anytime, no altar laden with incense and candles are needed. Only a sincere plea for assistance or strength will be answered, in the quickest and sometimes unexpected ways. She is a psychopomp in Her border crossing, multicultural nonchalance. She cares not if you are Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian…She is too quick to consider such things.
Today I call forth the power and presence of Nyur.na.pa.mo. I give you my body, heart and soul. Let all my prayers be answered rapidly. May all sufferings be alleviated swiftly with compassion and healing.
*Much information for this blog, including the images, can be found at this website: http://twentyonetaras.tripod.com/index.html and from the book “Tara’s Enlightened Activity” by Kenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal; Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, NY. 2007