Arya Supreme White Tara, ultimate Tara is more than a “long life” Tara — she is the ultimate of the Taras
Vajrayana Buddhist teachers are universal in their enthusiasm for White Tara. Almost every teacher has real-life stories of people close to them who have been helped by White Tara, especially for health and auspiciousness. In fact, when we wish our teachers long, healthy life, White Tara is most often the practice we dedicate to this important mission.
“White Tara practice for compassion, long life and peace is an equally widespread Tara practice in Tibet and the Himalaya region,” wrote Venerable Zasep Rinpoche in his new book Tara at your Lotus Heart, a sequel to his popular Tara in the Palm of Your Hand.
White Tara and Yanfen
A recent, typical anecdote of White Tara’s activity — typical, because you’ll find thousands of these true stories — is a recent Facebook post by Amrita Nadi.
Amrita Nadi posted, with a picture of Yanfen and Garchen Rinpoche:
“There is a story behind this picture that HE Garchen Rinpoche wanted shared with everyone.
Yanfen, the lady in the photo was very ill 28 years ago and her doctor told her and her family that they should prepare for her death. She came to see Rinpoche and Rinpoche instructed her to visualize White Tara and do her mantra everyday.
She is shown here greeting Rinpoche on his recent trip to Tibet at age 88. HE Garchen Rinpoche told Yanfen that she should share this story so that people understand the result of White Tara practice and if you supplicate White Tara she will help and protect you.
Om Tare Tutare Mama Ayu Punya Jhana Puktrim Kuru Svaha!”
Tara as the Mother of All Buddhas
Tara is often called the Mother of all the Buddhas. She represents the wisdom of the Buddhas. It is wisdom that is the mother of Enlightenment.
Venerable Zasep Rinpoche explains: “Prajnaparamita or Mahamata, the great mother, manifested as Tara; almost all female deities are emanations of Tara, the most beloved and best known of them. Emanations of Tara include the powerful female deities, Vajrayogini, Kurukulla, Sarasvati, Machig Labdron, and Palden Lhamo.”
The Power of Tara
In his new book, Tara At Your Lotus Heart, Zasep Rinpoche, describes many of his own experiences with Tara throughout his life:
“I myself have had many experiences of the power of Tara, starting from when I was a boy in Tibet. When I was six or so, my grandmother and I, along with an attendant, were riding on a mountain path. Suddenly we came across a mother bear with three cubs. She turned on us as if to attack. My grandmother quickly recited Tara’s mantra. Instantly the bear turned her back on us and ambled off, following her three cubs, which were wandering away. Just to be on the safe side, my grandmother continued reciting Tara’s mantras all afternoon.”
The practice of White Tara is widespread among Tibetans and Himalayan Buddhists. White Tara is also known as Sitala (“the cool one”), due to her power to heal fevers. White Tara is perhaps the most popular Tara among Western practitioners.
White Tara for Healing
“White Tara is particularly associated with healing, protecting and stabilizing your life-force.” Gelek Rimpoche
White Tara is as much the “swift heroine” as Green Tara—since they’re both aspects of Tara, who is known as the “swift savior.” Although I practice many types of self-healing—and also healing for others, now that my parents and friends are aging—I’ve found Sita Tara is the fastest to bring “first aid” as well as the most effective for long-term health.
I do, personally, work with several effective healing Buddhist practices and deities—including the most wonderful Medicine Buddha Bhaisajyagururaja—but, if I’m in pain, in need of quick help, or feel my very life is threatened by illness, White Tara is my main practice. Why? Because, Tara’s help is immediate and nearly miraculous in results. [For a guided video meditation with H.E. Zasep Rinpoche, see below. For a very short White Tara practice that does not require empowerment see “Simple White Tara Practice” section at the end of this feature].
Daily, I practice both Medicine Buddha and Tara—both simple practices involving offerings, affirmations and mantras. Regularly, since I have initiation and instruction from my teacher, I also fulfill my commitments for their sadhanas and try to keep my Bodhisattva vows.
I find both White Tara and Medicine Buddha practices are effective, both generate merit to help overcome negativities and bad karmic potentials, both heal, both maintain health. However, if I feel the matter is urgent, White Tara’s mantra’s is on my lips automatically, especially for my aging parents. It’s not for nothing she’s called the “swift one.” She embodies the activity of compassion and wisdom. [For information on Medicine Buddha, please see our story “The First Doctor: Medicine Buddha Bhaisajyaguru—Empowering You to Heal.”]
In Tibet, there’s a saying, “For protection, call on your protector if you have time—but call on Tara if you have no time.” (I’m paraphrasing.)
A prayer from the fifth Dalai Lama puts it this way: “Merely by remembering Her feet one is protected.”
Is White Tara the Same as Tara?
“The main characteristic of Arya Tara— Noble Tara— is that she is a Buddha who in earlier times promised to always be born in the pure form of a female body in order to help living beings reach enlightenment. There are many outer and inner impediments that practitioners encounter, so Arya Tara manifests in order to eliminate hindrances and obstacles one runs in to while on the path to liberation from suffering.”
—Venerable Chöje Lama Phuntsok
White Tara is one of the main 21 manifestations of Arya Tara—which means, yes, She is Tara. In Venerable Choje Lama Phuntsok’s words: [White] “Tara protects disciples from one of the main outer hindrances, which is death – she helps practitioners live a long life.”
There’s an old unattributed Buddhist saying—which is my way of demonstrating why White Tara is for healing practice:
“Good Health is the simply the slowest way for a human to die.”— Unknown
Explaining from the point of view of the Kagyu lineage, Venerable Lama Phuntsok said: ” …White Arya Tara, from among the 21 Taras, frees practitioners from untimely death. It is truly possible to extend the span of one’s life by practicing White Tara and this will be very beneficial for one’s Dharma practice.”
Short 30 minute White Tara teaching and guided visualization with animated graphics and beautiful images of White Tara, taught by H.E. Zasep Rinpoche:
How Does Tara Heal?
Again, drawing on the teachings of Venerable Lama Phuntsok, White Tara overcomes the impediment to long life and long Dharma practice: “All problems—sufferings, sicknesses, and diseases arise from thoughts that are based upon attachment, aversion, and ignorance as to the way things really are. It is said again and again that the worst obstacle is the third—concepts and thoughts. We continually think that we want to be happy and be free from suffering; we therefore never stop wanting more and more and as a result increase our attachment and aversion.”
Buddhism teaches that “we are the creators of our own suffering,” said Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche at a recent Lojong Seven-Point Mind Training retreat at Gaden Choling Toronto. “Everything depends on mind.”
From this point of view, all of our problems, including health issues, arise from our mind and concepts. Tara helps us to overcome the obstacles of mind and body. At a relative level, Tara rescues from disease, illness and apparently “external” health factors. At an ultimate level, Tara protects our mind, preventing the rising of attachments, aversion and ignorance.
Famously, Tara protects from the eight fears—fear of fire, lions elephants, snakes, imprisonment, floods, demons, robbers—but these eight fears are also “metaphors” for the cause of our obstacles leading to suffering. The fifth great Dalai Lama wrote a magnificent praise for Green Tara where he illustrated the metaphors of the eight great internal fears: anger (fire), pride (lions), ignorance (elephants), snakes (envy), imprisonment (avarice), floods (attachment), demons (doubt) and robbers (wrong views.)
Practicing White Tara
Sita Tara rescues all, and requires no special permissions or initiations to practice at a basic level. Advanced practices, some sadhanas and advanced healing certainly require a teacher’s guidance and permission, but the meditations and practices I’m discussing here are for anyone.
Meditating on Sita Tara is a good place to start. If you have time, take a half hour and meditate along with Gelek Rimpoche of Jewel Heart—a well-known and highly realized teacher of the Gelugpa tradition.
Gelek Rimpoche of Jewel Heart “White Tara Guided Meditation”:
Mantra and Meditation
Mantra is very effective for protection and healing both. Simply repeating the mantra with focus is enough to bring healing. Visualizing Tara’s blessings entering into your body as purifying light, purging illness and pushing out negativities as black smoke or sludge, is even more affirming, strengthening the blessing.
According to the FPMT Education Department, “This meditation can be done on behalf of oneself or others. It is frequently done to remove the obstacles to our gurus’ long lives and health. If one has experienced many health problems, accidents, depression, or a loss of “lust for life,” the practice of White Tara can be especially powerful.”
Tara’s mantra, chanted by millions daily around the world connects with Tara, including the White aspect—since all Tara’s are ultimately one:
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha
Pronounced Aum Tah-ray Tew-tah-ray Tew-ray Svah-ha. Svaha is sometimes pronounced Soha in Tibetan traditions.
The root Tara mantra (above) is as effective as the more specialized White Tara mantra (see White Tara Mantra below)—which adds more specific requests and intentions.
Mantras were given by the Buddhas via Sutra or transmission of lineage, and carry great cumulative, power. Mantra literally can translate as “mind protection.” Since the mind affects health, a Sanskrit mantra dedicated specifically to healing is very effective.
The meaning of the mantra is explained in numerous ways by many great teachers, all of which are complimentary and correct. Lama Zopa Rinpoche taught :
- “TARE shows that Mother Tara liberates living beings from samsara”
- “TUTTARE liberates you from the eight fears related to the external dangers from fire, water, air, earth and also from such things as thieves and dangerous animals. However the main dangers come from ignorance, attachment, anger, pride, jealousy, miserliness, doubt and wrong views.”
- “TURE liberates you from disease”—so Green Tara is equally the Healer as White.
One reason Tara’s mantra is especially meaningful is that it contains within it the entire teachings on the Four Noble Truths. See our previous stories on Tara in Buddha Weekly for more on this:
- Limitless Tara, Beyond the Green
- Mama Buddha Tara: Compassionate Action
Here is one of the most beautiful sung versions of Tara’s mantra by the Internationally famous Ani Choying Dolma at the Rigpa Center Berlin:
Lung or Empowerment
Although Tara mantras can be practiced by anyone—they are more effective when transmitted by a teacher. If you are in need of healing, it would be ideal to seek out a qualified lineage teacher and ask for either lung or initiation. Lung is, broadly speaking, transmission of the mantra itself (or permission to use the mantra), whereas initiation (also known as empowerment) can involve complete deity practice and commitments.
According to the highly realized teacher Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the FPMT, “empowerment of Tara is needed to practice [Tara’s] sadhana in full. However, one can do this practice without such an empowerment as long as one does not generate oneself as the deity. If one does not have the empowerment, one can do the self-generation practice at the crown of one’s head.” Basically, visualize Tara and meditate on her, and receive blessings from her, but do not absorb or merge with Tara—a more advance practice.
With or without empowerment, all mantras carry the blessings of the deity—connecting us with our inner Buddha or Tara (Buddhanature). Mantas are quite powerful in meditation and active healing. If empowerment or lung is impossible, the mantras are less powerful, but still effective. I chanted Tara’s mantra for eight years before a teacher came into my life to guide me and empower my practice of Tara. I believe, in some ways, chanting the mantra for those years created the conditions for me to find my teacher.
Anyone can chant Tara’s mantra. The visualizations and certain other practices are different if you receive teachings from a qualified teacher. In Tibet, some of the first words children learn to speak are mantras, particularly “Om Mani Padme Hum” and “Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha.”
White Tara Mantra
White Tara mantra is Tara’s root mantra, but energized with additional intentions and “words of power.” After Om Tare Tuttare Ture—and before the final Svaha—the mantra adds “Mama Ayuh Punya Jnana Pushtim Kuru Svaha, thus becoming:
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jnana Pushtim Kuru Svaha
Pronounced: oṃ tā re tu ttā re tu re ma ma ā yuḥ pu ṇya jñā na pu ṣṭiṃ ku ru svā hā
In Tibetan pronunciation this might sound like:
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayur Puney Gyana Puntin Kuru Soha
The three extra words do have multiple meanings, but are generally translated as:
- Mama — “mine” or “I would like to possess these qualities”
- Ayuh —”long life” — for which White Tara is famous
- Punya — “merit” — to live ethically
- Jnana — “wisdom”
- Pushtim — “increase”
When added to the root Tara Mantra, the mantra is basically drawing on Tara’s power to increase my long life, merit and wisdom and blessings.
For main healing practice, normally the mantra is recited with visualizations of Tara, however singing or chanting is a very beautiful and effective way to receive the blessings.
Here’s one of the most beautiful “chanted” versions.
Versatility of the White Tara Mantra
Healing and helping others is something we all should all wish to accomplish. Aside from the selfish goal of increasing our own merit and good karma, we engage our compassion as humans and Buddhists when we think of others.
The White Tara mantra can be modified from a “personal” affirmation to one targeted at someone else. “Mama” in the mantra means “mine”, or “I” or “me” meant for self healing. Simply replacing “Mama” with the name of another person sends Tara’s healing power and blessings to someone else.
For instance, if we wanted to practice White Tara for the long life of my teacher or parents, we would substitute Mama:
Om Tare Tuttare Ture [person’s name] Ayuh Punya Jnana Pushtim Kuru Svaha
Wishing my teacher long life would become
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Zasep Rinpoche Ayuh Punya Jnana Pushtim Kuru Svaha
Wishing the Dalai Lama long life would become
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Tenzin Gyatso Ayuh Punya Jnana Pushtim Kuru Svaha
There are also forms of White Tara’s mantra for subduing or pacifying, with somewhat different wording, meant for subjugating fevers, viruses, evil spirits and so on, but those are more advanced practices that should be guided by a teacher. Fevers, evil spirits and viruses are equally subdued by the main White Tara mantra, or even the root mantra of Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha.
More Advanced White Tara Healing
Tibetan medicine often makes use of “mantra-blessed water or medicines.” At a basic level, after performing a twenty or thirty minute mantra recitation-meditation, preferably visualizing Tara, blow on your medicine or a glass of water and visualize the mantra’s “power of Tara’s speech” as light coming from your mouth and being absorbed. Then, consume the medicine.
In more intense practices, or when the medicine is for someone else, you can place a week’s supply of medicine on a table or shrine dedicated to Tara with Her Image, some water bowl offerings, perhaps Her mantra written out, and other meaningful objects. Chant the mantra for a week, then use/dispense the blessed medicine.
Finally, mantra’s fullest ripening comes from full performance of a sadhana. These are passed down through the centuries by direct transmission of teacher to teacher, right back to the Buddha or Enlightened Being. These normally require a teacher’s transmission, lung or empowerment. Some sadhanas, such as White Tara’s sadhana written by the fifth Great Dalai Lama can be performed by anyone, provided the uninitiated do not generate themselves as the deity. In other words, substitute simple visualization for generation of oneself as Tara.
White Tara’s Visualization
Visualizing Tara is an important part of mantra recitation when possible. Although the mantra can be recited while walking, cooking, etc, when engaging in a highly focused healing practice, sitting with eyes closed (or half closed) in meditation is best.
“Visualization isn’t the best translation for what we do,” explained Venerable Jigme in her talk during a White Tara Retreat (see video below). “We’re actually working with our imagination. Visualization implies that we’re working with a visual image, and then using our eyes. So, we’re working with our imagination… not only are we working with imagined sights, but we’re working with imagined touch and smells and sounds, physical sensations and feelings.”
“We use our imaginations in a very practical manner to develop the potential we all have to transform ourselves,” Venerable Jigme continued. “So, it’s quite an important piece of our practice! It’s a very creative process.”
When you have a teacher’s guidance—the visualization would be as he or she instructs. There are generation practices associated with some initiations, but none of that should be contemplated without a teacher.
For someone without a teacher’s guidance, a basic visualization of Tara in front of you—generally involving healing white light flowing from Tara into you or the person being healed—is simplest. Sometimes you visualize Tara on top of your head, arising from your crown chakra sitting on a lotus throne with 1000 petals.
You can make the visualization simple or complex. More complex and detailed visualizations engage the mind to a higher level, and tend to be more effective for that reason. Visualize what you can of the following details.
White Tara is shining white, the nature of light, a glowing beacon of healing, vitality and perfection. We wouldn’t think of Tara as flesh and bone, but as glorious, spectacular, awe-inspiring (and at the same time) soothing light. Sometimes, what is meant by “body of light” is “uncontaminated body.”
In the same way Tara is visualized uncontaminated and spectacular, we should see Her arrayed in gorgeous silks and shining jewels like stars. Tara, Her name, literally translates as “star.” The beautiful ornaments are not meant to show attachment, but are symbolic of Her transcendence. On the crown of Her head is a crown of five sides representing the five Dhyani Buddhas and on top of Her hair knot is Amitayas Buddha, the Buddha of Long Life. Amitayus is the Long Life emanation of Amitabha. With other Taras we visualize Amitabha as her hair ornament. Amitabha and Amitayus are the same Buddha, different manifestations (similar to Green and White Tara). Amitayas and Amitabha are both red in colour.
We visualize Tara sitting on a thousand-petal white lotus. She is sitting in a position of meditative equipoise in the vajra (full lotus) position. The glorious lotus signifies renunciation, the spontaneous wish to be free from samsara, or cyclic existence. From Geshe Wangdu’s White Tara Commentary: ” So the manner in which the lotus signifies renunciation is that, even though the lotus itself was born out of a pond, what we call a swamp, or a muddy pond, even though it grows out of that, when it blooms on top of the water, there’s not even a bit of mud on its’ petals, and it is free of the mud itself. That is how it resembles renunciation.”
The Lotus and Moon Disc
On the lotus is a moon-disc, representing all-important bodhicitta, and the wish to achieve enlightenment. The deity sits on both a lotus and moon-disc, indicating Tara has achieved enlightenment through renunciation and bodhicitta.
Beautiful Tara Herself has one face, two arms, but—importantly—seven eyes. An eye appears on each of Her hand palms, Her feet and three on Her face (two “regular” eyes and the wisdom eye on the forehead chakra). The eyes represent how the Mother of the Buddhas sees all our suffering.
Seven Eyes of White Tara
Very strikingly, the position of the seven eyes create the shape of the sankrit letter TAM which is Tara’s mantra when you connect the eyes with lines), according to Visible Mantra. Also, they symbolize the special relationship between the five “extra” eyes of White Tara and the five Dhyani Buddhas: Akshobya, Amitabha, Amoghisiddhi, Vairochana and Ratnasambhava.
The right hand of Tara is in the “mudra” (hand gesture representing) Supreme Generosity—the mudra that signifies Tara is ready and willing to grant us the state of Enlightenment.
The left hand of Tara holds a white lotus flower or uptala. Uptala is really a different flower from the lotus, but most people are content with visualizing a lotus. The uptala stems out in three branches, each with a different flower, one in full bloom, one about to open, one just a bud. These represent the Buddhas of the three times: past, present and future.
In advanced visualizations, we’d see a white syllable TAM—Tara’s seed syllable mantra. If you don’t know what that is, it’s best to wait for a teacher. The Tam is normally at her heart. Often, visualizations would—as with other Buddhas—visualize shining seed syllables OM, AH and HUM at her crown, throat and heart respectively. These represent the Holy body (OM), speech (AH) and mind (HUM) of Tara Buddha.
Healing Light Visualization
You might visualize (imagine) white healing light flowing from Tara into your crown chakra (top of your head) or heart chakra, or all of your chakras. The energy fills you as you chant the mantra, displacing negativities, bad karma, disease and other impurities—often visualized as black smoke or sludge dispelled violently from your body. For advanced practices, your teacher would guide your visualization, but for simple practices, the healing light is a safe, effective image.
As a final note, try to imagine Tara as a real, three dimensional being of light, who can move, speak, gesture, transmit—Tara is above all “activity” of the Buddhas and definitely not a static two-dimensional picture.
For a better description on how to visualize during Tara Deity Practice, please refer to Venerable Jigme (Sravasti Abbey’s” teaching video, part of a White Tara retreat (7 minute video):
Simple White Tara Practice
A simple daily practice, or a practice that you could use when you are ill, would normally include some basic fundamentals, such as going for refuge. Many teachers say that Refuge is the first healing. When you take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, that refuge will help you in all your difficulties, including illness. To the practice of refuge, you might add a simple offering of water bowls, in front of an image of White Tara. Basically, a simple practice, not requiring empowerments, would be:
- Take refuge and dedicate.
- The four immeasurables: This prayer affirms your wishes that all beings not suffer and be happy—important to generate loving kindness and Bodhicitta.
- Make an offering (for example, a water bowl offering—see our article “Buddhist Water Bowl Offerings as an Antidote to Attachment”)
- Preferably recite the Seven Limbs practice (seven short lines that contain the essence of good practice).
- Visualize Tara as described above or as indicated by your teacher. Normally you visualize Tara in front of you when you do not have teacher instructions.
- Recite the mantra (either Tara’s root mantra, or the full White Tara mantra, optionally with the name of the person who is ill replacing “mama” in the mantra. As you recite, visualize white healing light and energy transmitting from Tara to you or the person. In advanced visualizations this might emit from Tara’s heart chakra and absorb into your heart chakra, or as advised by your teacher.
- Affirmation prayers (optional)
- Dedicate the merit. (This is generally very important).
Typical Refuge Prayer (normally 3 times)
I go for refuge until I am enlightened.
To the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Supreme Assembly.
By my practice of giving and other perfections,
May I become a buddha to benefit all sentient beings.
May all beings have happiness and its causes,
May they never have suffering or its causes.
May they constantly dwell in joy transcending sorrow;
May they dwell in equal love for both near and far.
You can visualize mental offerings if you don’t have bowls of water. Buddhas do not need your offering. You are generating merit by this practice.
To You Venerable Tara, with my body, speech and mind, I respectfully prostrate.
I offer flowers, incense, butter lamps, perfume, food, music and a vast collection of offerings, both actually set out and emanated through wisdom and imagination.
I declare all my non-virtuous acts since beginningless time.
I rejoice in the virtuous merit accumulated by Holy and ordinary beings.
I request You turn the wheel of Dharma.
I beseech You to remain until samsara ends. Please, with your boundless compassion, look upon all beings drowning in the ocean of suffering.
May whatever merit I have accumulated be transformed into the cause for Enlightenment so that I may help all sentient beings.
Mantra and Visualization
Visualize Tara and healing energy and recite one of the mantras:
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jnana Pushtim Kuru Svaha
or, if healing or doing long life practice for another person such as your teacher, substitute person’s name for “Mama”
Om Tare Tuttare Ture PERSON’S NAME Ayuh Punya Jnana Pushtim Kuru Svaha
By this merit may I quickly reach
The enlightened state,
So that I may lead all living beings without exception
To the same Enlightenment.
A Praise to White Tara by the First Dalai Lama
Another healing practice is to recite sutras or texts, or to pray to Tara daily. The First Dalai Lama Gyalwa Gendun Drub’s “A Praise of White Tara” is especially powerful—written centuries ago:
Homage to the Female Buddha beautiful with youth
Who sits on seats of white lotus and moon in nature
Spreading with stainless compassion and knowledge,
Who captures the radiance of snow mountains.
Homage to the Youthful One with budding breasts,
Who has one face and two arms, sits in the vajra posture,
Is bold with grace and calm, has a full moon as backrest
And is filled with great bliss.
Homage to the Ultimately Generous One whose right hand,
Showing the mudra Supreme Giving
Easily releases boundless karmas of peace, increase, power and wrath
As well as the eight siddhis and even supreme Buddhahood.
Homage to the Spiritual Mother who gives birth to Buddhas
Past, present and future; whose left hand
Supporting a blue lotus, grants protection
From lions, elephants, fires and all eight terrors.
Homage to the Refuge of the World, who has eyes
In hands and feet gazing at the four doors of freedom
And who leads all living creatures
Toward the isle of blissful liberation.
Homage to she whose face unites
The beauty of a million autumn moons,
Whose wide eyes gaze with compassion
Whose Joyous mouth smiles equally on all.
Homage to she with head adorned by Amitayus, boundless Life,
The mere thought of whom grants life and wisdom,
Whose hand, in the contemplative mudra,
Hold a vase filled with ambrosia of immortality.
Homage to the All-Beautified One whose crown
Steals the light of sun and moon,
Whose sapphire hair is half knotted on top
And half falling freely over her shoulders.
Homage to the Majestic One of precious ornament blazing,
Whose crown, earrings, necklaces, arm-bands,
Bracelets, anklets and belt so elegantly arranged
Surpass the ornaments of men and gods.
Homage to she of celestial raiment,
Whose shoulder-sash and skirt
Hug her body like rainbows
Hug the crystal mountains.
Homage to the goddess before whose lotus feet
Vishnu, Indra, Shiva, Brahma, the antigods, spirits,
Men, semi-humans and all the world
Submit themselves in devotion.
Merely by reciting your mantra,
Those who make offerings at your lotus feet
Gain immortality, wisdom and merit
And attain all desired siddhis; to you I bow down.
The knowledge, compassion and perfect actions of all Buddhas
Appear in the form of the beautiful goddess
I take refuge in you and offer you my prayers;
Pray eliminate all my obstacles and fulfill all my aims.
Quickly release your perfect action of peace,
Calming all interferences to my practices for enlightenment;
Interferences such as the eight terrors,
Sickness, demons and other harmful agents, inner and outer.
Quickly release your perfect action of increase which multiplies
All good qualities, such as life, merit, unapprehending compassion,
The stainless wisdoms of learning, contemplation and meditation,
And the three higher trainings.
Quickly release your perfect action of power,
Which causes gods, men and spirits
To humbly bow before you
And which fulfils all wishes of the mind.
Quickly release your perfect action of wrath,
Which with punishments befitting the evils done
Destroys demons, interferences and hindrances
Hateful opposing Buddhadharma and its holders.
Pray, bestow quick and easy attainment of siddhis
Such as the magic sword, mystic eye-medicine, fast-walking,
The food pill and the precious vase,
And even mahamudra, the highest siddhi.
In brief, from now until enlightenment
I respectfully make offerings at your lotus feet
I need seek no other refuge
Out of compassion gaze upon me and quickly grant protection.
By the meritorious energy of this practice
May the transcended, perfect Tara
Look upon me forever with pleasure
And never leave me, even for a moment.
May all sentient beings after death take rebirth
Before Amitayus in Sukavati, Land of Pure Joy,
May they live in the ways of the great Bodhisattvas
And come to equal Avalokiteshvara, Lord of Compassion.
May I realise the oceans of Sutras and Tantras
To be able to pass them on to others;
And until samsara be emptied may I strive
To uphold the victory banner of practicing exactly as taught.
Mantra: OM TAREE TU-TAREE TUREE MAMA AYU-PUNYE-JANA PUTIM KURU SOHA
The Colophon: This praise of exalted White Tara, supreme mother of all Buddhas, was written by the monk Gyalwa Gendun Drub while he was residing in the Hermitage of Great Awakening at the Tegchen Potreng.
 Presented at the Kamalashila Institute in Germany, 2005 https://www.rinpoche.com/teachings/whitetara.htm
 Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche speaking at Nepal, May 1987. https://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=357
 White Tara, Tam and the Mandala, Visible Mantra https://www.visiblemantra.org/whitetara-mandala.html
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Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.
17 thoughts on “Arya Supreme White Tara, ultimate Tara is more than a “long life” Tara — she is the ultimate of the Taras”
White Tara please help my daughter Autumn Gaughan
Thank you so much for all of this beautiful information! I am grateful to have found this site!
Thank you for your kind words. Metta
Thank you so much for this webpage.
How can I find a white Tara teacher in Los Angeles, California? Please heal my sons David & Zachary.
Dear Caren, First, sending my healing thoughts and wishes go to your sons David and Zachary. Until you find a teacher, please don’t hesitate to keep chanting her mantra (along with, perhaps, Medicine Buddha) and visualizing healing energy flowing to them. There are a number of Buddhists Dharma centres in California, and it’s not usually a quick find to match up with a teacher. If you are focused on the healing energy of White Tara, this implies you need a Tibetan Buddhist Centre. The Office of Tibet is North America has a directory page on their website with Tibetan centres: https://tibetoffice.org/tibet-in-north-america/dharma-centers-canada
I copied and pasted out the ones in LA for you here:
Chokhor Gepel Ling
Tibetan Buddhist Center
3536 McLaughlin Avenue,
Los Angeles, California 90066
Phone: (626) 823 – 0451, (424) 228 – 4255
Nechung Dharmapala Center (New)
515 N. Cresent Heights Blvd
Los Angeles, California 90048
Phone: Geshe Gyaltsen (347) 656 – 1412
Since I don’t know L.A., here are some more California ones:
Land of Enlightened Wisdom
(Kunken Yeshe Ling)
1317 North Park Avenue
Pomona, California 91768
Phone: (626) 698 – 4756, (909) 622 – 3297
Gaden Shartse Thubten Dhargye Ling
3500 E, 4th St
Long Beach, California 90814
Phone: (562) 621 – 9865
Gaden Shoeling Center
14041 Olive Street
Westinster, California 92683
Phone: (714) 891 – 5456
Drikug Kyobpa Choling
1600 Sheridan PL
Escondido, California 92027
Phone: (760) 738 – 0089
Vairotsana Foundation, Santa Barbara
1524 Anacapa Sreet
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Phone: (805) 899 – 8177
LAND OF COMPASSION BUDDHA
2322 E. Cortez Street
West Covina, California 91791
Spiritual Director: Khen Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel
Ari Bhöd [Nyingma] 75 S. Grand Ave. Suite 217
Pasadena, California 91105
Phone: (626) 564-0702
TSECHEN CHOKHOR LING [Sakya] 12037 Clark Street
Arcadia, California 91006
Phone: (626) 831-4413
Website: http://www.sakyatemple.org (https://188.8.131.52/~sakyacen/)
VAIROTSANA FOUNDATION [Nyingma]
10311 Kern Avenue
Garden Grove, California 92843
I personally can’t suggest a particular teacher or centre as I’m not in L.A., but this is a start I hope for you and maybe some readers will jump in with suggestions too.
Sending healing energy your way: OM TARE TUTTARE MAMA AYUR PUNYE JNANA PUSHTIM KURU SVAHA
Medicine Buddha: OM BEKHANDZE BEKHANDZE MAHA BEKHANDZE BEKHANDZE RANDZE SUMUNDGATE SVAHA (feature article on Medicine Buddha here: https://buddhaweekly.com/the-first-doctor-medicine-buddha-bhaisajyaguru/ )
Hi – what do you mean exactly by “do not generate themselves as the deity.”?
Hi Julie, Basically, if you have initiation from a qualified teacher, your practice would include visualising the self as the deity (yourself as White Tara). If you have no initiation you visualise White Tara in front of you. As a healing practice, in front of you is recommended and many teachers will do public blessings with this in mind. In private meditation, the healing benefit is definitely there as well with Tara visualised in front of you and healing nectar or light entering your body. The extra step of visualising self as White Tara is a Vajrayana practice that helps us understand the true nature of reality, Buddha Nature, and also trains us life-long on the path (a profound meditation). This is only done with a teacher’s approval and instruction because the practice is easily misunderstood or can lead to incorrect views if not guided. So, for most of us, for Medicine Buddha or White Tara, we visualise White Tara in front of us for our healing or devotional practice, then the healing light or nectar entering the crown of our heads. If we have initiation, the practice has many more steps. Hope that helps. In kindness, Lee
I understand there is a long mantra and a short version ? Of white tara.
Also I want to create a altar dedicated to white Tara. Is there anything specific I need ?
Love & light
There are many variations of Tara’s mantras. The core mantra is Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha, which is all Taras (not just Green Tara). White Tara’s mantra is an actual specific request mantra (and there are also other longer and longer versions depending on requests), in the sense that we request blessings for ourselves. (You can modify it for blessing others). The full White Tara mantra is
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE MAMA AYUH PUNYA JNANA PUSTIM KURU SVAHA
Everything after Ture is added as a request. It means (contextually, rather than literally):
MAMA – mine or I would like to possess this quality
AYUR – long life and health
PUNYA – merit of living ethically
Jnana – with wisdom
Pushtim – increase
Kuru – please do this
If blessing others you’d change MAMA (mine or I) to their name, for example.
You can also expand the requests. For instance, after Jnana (wisdom) you could add Karuna (compassion), Virya (vitality and energy).
Finally, there’s also a pacifying versions. in this case you name that which is to be pacified in this framework:
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SARVA (WHAT SHOULD BE PACIFIED) SANTI KURU SVAHA
For example: GRAHAN (evil spirits) JVARAN (fevers), UPADRAVAN (injuries) AKALAMRTYUN (untimely death) DUHSVAPAN (bad dreams) or CITTAKULANI (Confusions). (Source for this last version is Visible Mantra.)
In kindness, Lee
Hello and namaste. I would like to get a tattoo of te White Tara mantra; howvere,we have seen many variations and would appreciatiethe correct Tibetan prayer and aspelling, please.
Hi Roscoe, Ouch, a tattoo, better get it right, no corrections, right? Actually, if you’re tattoo-ing a mantra, that’s a good one… long life:-) Problem is you have Sanskrit version, Tibetan version, and then you have Sanskrit letters and Tibetan letters. As English characters, meant for chanting, i.e. transliteration the SANSKRIT transliteration is: Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jnana Pustim Kuru Svaha (but some people capitalize the letters, some don’t), but it’s pronounced with some “SH” sounds (Pustim is Pushtim)… so I’d strongly suggest for a Tattoo you consider Sanskrit or Tibetan lettering, not English. It seems more genuine. Most Tatts I’ve seen are in Tibetan or Sanskrit characters rather than English. Some people tattoo the Seed syllable and then the rest in English. So it depends on what you’d like. The best authority for getting it right (for all three: Sanskrit, Tibetan and English) would be Visiblemantra.org. The page for White Tara is HERE: https://www.visiblemantra.org/white-tara.html. That site is very reliable. You’ll see they have Tibetan Uchen type version as well as Siddham (Sanskrit) typography there.
Thanks for this useful information. I have a picture of white Tara. Where should I place it?
What direction should the picture face?
As it’s a wall hanging picture, where in the house should I hang it? Like bedroom – master or children’s..
Is there any prayer that I should offer on a daily basis when it’s hung..
Thanks n look forward to your response.
Can I request you to send the response to the email pls?
Thank you for writing. There are different schools and traditions, and, of course, broadly speaking, you don’t have to follow rules. (Please bear in mind this is my answer, you certainly could ask your teacher and might get a more authoritative answer.) Having an image of an enlightened Buddha will be a blessing wherever you hang it, but generally it should be respectful, so these are the most common rules:
1. Buddhas (Tara is a fully enlightened Buddha) should always be higher than other images of beings (horses, people, etc) and in a central prominent position to give due respect. If you have a shrine, place on or above. If not, the main living room, or an entrance in an attractive, prominent position. Often, it is respectful, if you are a Tibetan Buddhist, to drape a kata (scarf) along the edges of the frame. If it is blessed by a teacher, so much the better. When you hang the picture, say the mantra (see below).
2. Tara is from all directions, but White Tara might be best associated with the West and the Padma Lotus family. If you are actually doing a White Tara practice, usually West, but there are diferent traditions. If you are actually practicing White Tara for health and long life, placing the image centrally or on a shrine is best (But ask your teacher if you have one). If you have a sick person, in their room is best, so they can see Tara (it will bring comfort.)
3. Particularly in Asia, they do not hang images of Buddhas in the marital bedrooms (unless the person is sick). (A monks room of course doesn’t matter.) It’s fine and beneficial in Children’s bedrooms of course. The idea behind that tradition is that Enlightened Beings are about removing attachments and clinging to pleasures, but in the marital bedroom, you know what happens:-)
4. Traditionally, when you first see the image (in the morning, coming into the house etc), you would bow your head, perhaps raise your hands in prayer mudra, or do a prostration (depending on your faith) and you would normally say, something like “Namo Buddhaya, Namo Dharmaya, Namo Sangaya” or in English “I take refuge in the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha”. Or, you could say Tara’s mantra. If you have no White Tara initiation, normally you say OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA (this is fine for everyone) and if you have initiation you can say “OM TARE TUTTARE TURE MAMA AYU PUNYE JNANA PUSHTIM KURU YE SOHA” which is the long life mantra of White Tara.
5. If you drop or damage the picture, always bow, touch it to your head, and say something like OM AH HUM (purifying body speech and mind) or just say “I’m sorry.” Enlightened Buddha images should never be just tossed in the garbage or burned as if they are household waste, even if damaged.
Ultimately, just be respectful. In Buddhism, although we know the Enlightened is in all things and Whtie Tara is everywhere, (all beings have Buddha Nature) it is a matter of good karma for you to be respectful of images.
I thought the White Tara mantra was “Aum Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ajur Dschanna Punje Pushting kuru svaha”?
There are some variations, and you should always do it — and pronounce — as transmitted by your teacher (i.e. lung or mantra transmission). If you were given in that order, and that pronunciation, that is the way you should do it. In Sanskrit it’s slightly different than in Tibetan.
The White Tara mantra has a number of variations, but a common one in its Sanskrit form is:
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jnana Pushtim Kuru Svaha
Typically pronounced: oṃ tā re tu ttā re tu re ma ma ā yuḥ pu ṇya jñā na pu ṣṭiṃ ku ru svā hā
Note ṣ as in is more-or-less pronounced “sh”.
In Tibetan pronunciation this might sound like:
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayur Puney Gyana Puntin Kuru Soha
And, sometimes words change, such as “Mama” (see below) because “Mama” means self, and here you would substitute the word “guru” or a name of a person if you’re doing it for someone else. There may be other reasons teachers change the order, so follow your teacher. However, for mainstream (the most common practices):
If you don’t have lung or permission for the mantra, I’d its best to use a well-accepted pronunciation of the mantra (per the story above). (Aum is the same as Om, pronounced the same. Some people preferthe three letter verion to represent Buddha’s body, speech and mind.)
Anyway, the only difference in your mantra and the more widely accepted versions is the ORDER of the words. You have Ayuh and Jnana (i.e. in your phonetic spelling Ajur and Dschanna) reversed — but all the syllables are the same, so probably there’s not difference, but ask your teacher. That’s why we have to rely on our Guru. This kind of story is “commentary” or information only, teacher is the guide.
There are some variants on all mantras (including White Tara), for example, if you’re doing Long Life White Tara for your teacher (instead of yourself) (“Mama” is myself, so if you’re doing it for another person, you’d use their name instead, as explained by Ven. Choden: If you’re doing it for your teacher instead of mama you would say guru: om tare tuttare ture guru ayur punye jnana pushtim kuru soha.”
I think, but I’m not sure, your spelling of Dschanna is phonetic. The Sanskit word is Jnana (which means “Wisdom”) as here:
Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puṣtiṃ Kuru Svāhā
I haven’t personally sen the mantra with Jnana after “ayuh”or “ayur” and before “punya” The order is different from how it is typically given (Please search online, aside form Tibetan versus Sanskrit spelling, the most common mantra is: Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puṣtiṃ Kuru Svāhā
Sometimes, the “ye” is pronounced before the Svaha, as in: Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puṣtiṃ Kuru Ye Svāhā — but you should only be guided by your teacher — and his or her pronunciation (in my opinion). When your recieve “lung” transmission for the mantra, you are saying the mantra back in the same way the teacher pronounces it. For clarity, here is Venerable Choden explaining the matnra syllable by syllable:
“Meaning of the mantra
Some people were asking about the meaning of the mantra. We have two mantras here. We have the general Tara mantra: om tare tuttare ture soha. The whole word Tara means liberator. That’s what her name means.
We have three derivatives of that: om, which refers to the Buddha’s body, speech and mind because it has those three sounds: om, ah, um. That’s the Buddha’s body, speech and mind. Then, tare tuttare ture, so there are three things that we’re liberated from. tare liberates from samsara by removing the afflictive obscurations: the afflictions, their seeds, and the karma that cause rebirth. Tuttare counteracts the eight dangers and I’ll talk about those later. They are eight specific inner afflictions that correspond with eight external dangers. They’re listed in the book How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator. I’ll go over those in the future. Then ture is freeing from all disease. While you’re saying the mantra you’re thinking of being freed from all of those three things. When we’re talking about disease, of course it can be physical disease but the biggest illness is our afflictions. Then soha means: “may this all come about,” or “may this take root.” You can also think about the meaning of the mantra when you’re saying it and feel liberated: from samsara, from the eight dangers, and from all illness.
We also have the increasing mantra: om tare tuttare ture mama ayur punye jnana pushtim kuru soha, and that is for increasing our life, our merit, and our wisdom. Om is the same: the Buddha’s body, speech, and mind. Tare is freeing from samsara; tuttare is freeing from the eight dangers; ture is freeing from illness. Mama means myself, so here you’re doing it to increase your own lifespan, merit and wisdom. If you’re doing it for your teacher instead of mama you would say guru: om tare tuttare ture guru ayur punye jnana pushtim kuru soha. I do that for my teachers every day. So you would have mama, meaning yourself; ayur is lifespan; punye is merit; jnana is wisdom; and then pushtim is increase. Again, kuru soha: may this come about.
You can think about the meaning of that mantra while you’re saying it. Really feel like your lifespan is increasing. We’re increasing your karmic lifespan and especially removing any kind of karma that would cause untimely death. Also, we’re increasing our merit so that we can have a longer lifespan. They say that death comes about either because: (1) the karmicly given lifespan that was with us when we were born either that has run out or we have an untimely karma that ripens. Or, (2) we run out of merit.
Punye is increasing our merit, not just the merit to have a long life, because that’s just this lifetime. The reason we want a long life, by the way, isn’t just because we don’t want to die—it’s because we want to practice the Dharma. Everybody doesn’t want to die, but we should have a better motivation than that: it’s for doing our Dharma practice. So punye means increasing our merit—because to gain realizations we need a lot of merit.
Jnana is wisdom—the collection of merit, the collection of wisdom. We need both of those. And then, “may they increase.”
You can contemplate that those three are increasing (lifespan, merit, and wisdom). This of course leads you into a contemplation of what else besides saying this mantra can I do so that my lifespan, merit, and wisdom increase. Well, lifespan, okay, take good care of our selves. But how do we increase our merit? We do this through the practice of generosity, keeping good ethical discipline, practicing patience, doing all sorts of different meritorious actions: prostrating, making offerings, and so on. How do we increase our wisdom? By learning the scriptures, thinking about what we’ve learned, reflecting on it, and then meditating on it, as well as putting it into practice in our daily life.
You can think about the meaning of the mantras. Then that should lead you into a reflection of what else can I do to increase these three qualities—which are very important for gaining realizations and being of benefit to all sentient beings.” https://thubtenchodron.org/2011/01/what-tara-mantra-means/
Yesterday I found a small Tara statue on the ground at my feet. I looked over at it and thought, is that a Buddha!?? 🙂 I picked it up and immediately felt joy and curiosity for what I had just found. I texted my friend who practices Buddhism, and she told me, she is the protector. I had never seen this buddha before, so I began to research who she was, and I found this page. You have so much amazing information here. I was very happy to find it. Can you perhaps help me to understand a bit more of why this statue has been presented to me?