Tara, The Lady of Liberation, is a woman Buddha and the female embodiment of enlightenment. Traditionally she’s represented in twenty-one different forms, meant to illustrate her special ability to appear to you in whatever way would be most beautiful and beneficial for you. This teaching is a detailed explanation of these twenty-one verses in praise of her different forms.
This teaching was given by Geshe Michael Roach in Tucson, Arizona on September 10-11, 1999. It is based on a commentary written in 1818 by the great Tibetan Lama, Ngulchu Dharma Bhadra (1772-1851), which in turn is based on an earlier commentary by The First Dalai Lama, Gendun Drup (1391-1474). Geshe Michael also used the following texts and commentaries for this teaching: A commentary by the great Sakya Lama Jetsun Drakpa Gyeltsen (1147-1216), a text by the second Dalai Lama Gendun Gyatso (1475–1542), Jetsun Taranatha’s (1575–1634) History of Buddhism, a text by Lord Atisha (980–1054) who helped bring Buddhsim to Tibet from India, and finally a text by an Indian master named Ravigupta. Ravigupta, who’s dates are unknown, was considered to be the beginning of this secret lineage. He was a layperson from Kashmir that was cured of leprosy by a miraculous statue of the Tara. Ravigupta is famous for having many visions of Tara and originating many lineages of her practice such as the Twenty-one forms of Tara, Vajra Tara, Seventeen Deity Tara practice, etc.
This is not an initiation or secret teaching per se, it’s taught in an open way and meant as a introduction and glimpse into the core of a practice whereby people over the centuries have “reached” Tara, The Lady of Liberation. As you’ll see in this teaching, “reach” in the context of tantric practice has the special meaning of meeting an Enlightened Being face-to-face, and also to “reach” in the sense of becoming that Enlightened Being yourself. If you don’t already have an initiation from a qualified teacher, you can use these verses of praise as a supplication to Tara, asking for her to meet a qualified teacher who can give you the initiation, teach you Her mantra, and teach you the related practices.
Topics of this teaching include: Introduction to tantra; Sources for this teaching; Meaning of OM; Collecting powerful karma; What is a vow and importance of keeping vows; An explanation of the three sets of vows; Meaning of emptiness; Marriage of karma and emptiness; Difference between intellectual understanding of emptiness and the direct perception of emptiness; Meaning of Her name (Tara); Two Tara mantras (peaceful and wrathful); Explanation of the difference between a peaceful and wrathful Tantric Deity; What is a third eye?; The story of the birth of Tara from the tear of Loving Eyes (Avalokiteshvara); The three realms; Tara’s physical appearance and symbolism; The bodies of an Enlightened Being; Reversing of the aging process through tantric practice; Rainbow body; What is a chakra?; The six perfections of a bodhisattva; The seven worlds; The meaning of sadhana, or “to reach”; The ten great protectors of the world; Four types of demons; How to visualize a protection circle; How protection in Buddhism ultimately is compassion; The creation and destruction of the universe according to Buddhism; Turning the wheel of Dharma; The real meaning of rebirth; The definition of nirvana; Good desire vs. ignorant desire; The ultimate nature of Tara; Dharmakaya; How emptiness makes enlightenment possible; Buddha nature; The power of mantra; Two requirements of an authentic mantra; Tara’s enlightened activities
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Please note! Unfortunately, the only audio tape of this teaching that we had in our archive was damaged. We’ve done our best to extract and edit as much of the audio as we could, but as you’ll notice the first 20 minutes of the second part of this teaching has some distortion, however still mostly listenable. We’ve listed that damaged section here as a separate audio file. Sadly, the teaching on the last few verses of praise were damaged beyond repair and at least for now it will remain incomplete. We’re hoping perhaps someone who attended the original teaching has a recording. If you do, please contact us at: [email protected]
Part Two Intro (Damaged, please see note above)