Why is Buddha Tara so beloved around the world? Is it because she is the Mother of All the Buddhas — the embodiment of wisdom? Or, because she is the swift one — the one who comes to our aid instantly? Is it her role as saviour and her tireless activities in all worlds and times to rescue us from suffering?
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There can be no doubt it is her role as Tara, the protector of the eight dangers, that makes her supremely popular. These eight dangers or fears are divided into two categories: external and internal.
The external dangers include lions, elephants, fire, snakes, robbers, imprisonment, floods, and shipwrecks — which certainly were dangers in the time of the Buddha. These may seem like physical dangers, but they also speak to the fear of loss, harm, and danger in our daily lives. Tara helps us navigate these challenges with courage and confidence.
The internal fears include pride, delusion, wrong views, doubt, improper conduct (ethics), flawed livelihood (our job or career), disturbing emotions such as anger or attachment, and incorrect meditation or concentration. Again, Tara helps guide us through these inner obstacles with wisdom and a clear understanding of the true nature of reality.
By calling upon Tara’s protection, we can let go of fear and live with courage, wisdom, and compassion. May we always be blessed by the loving protection of Tara, the swift saviour.
Each of the eight great external dangers is matched with an internal obstacle or poison. For example, “The lion of pride.”
The Song by the First Dalai Lama
This is expressed beautifully in a song or prayer by the First Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gendun Drubpa, which today is a daily prayer for many Tara devotees:
Dwelling in the mountains of wrong views of selfhood,
Puffed up with holding itself superior,
It claws other beings with contempt:
The lion of arrogance—please protect us from this danger!
Untamed by the sharp hooks of mindfulness and introspective awareness,
Dulled by the maddening liquor of sensual pleasures,
It enters wrong paths and shows its harmful tusks:
The elephant of ignorance—protect us from this danger!
Driven by the wind of inappropriate attention,
Billowing forth swirling smoke—clouds of misconduct,
It has the power to burn down forests of goodness:
The fire of anger—protect us from this danger!
Lurking in its dark pit of ignorance,
Unable to bear the wealth and excellence of others,
It swiftly injects them with its cruel poison:
The snake of jealousy—protect us from this danger!
Roaming the fearful wilds of inferior practice
And the barren wastes of absolutism and nihilism,
They sack the towns and hermitages of benefit and bliss:
The thieves of wrong views—protect us from this danger!
Binding embodied beings in the unbearable prison
Of cyclic existence with no freedom,
It locks them in craving’s tight embrace:
The chain of miserliness—protect us from this danger!
Sweeping us in the torrent of cyclic existence so hard to cross
Where, conditioned by the propelling winds of karma,
We are tossed in the waves of birth, aging, sickness, and death:
The flood of attachment—protect us from this danger!
Roaming in the space of darkest confusion,
Tormenting those who strive for ultimate aims,
It is viciously lethal to liberation:
The carnivorous demon of doubt—protect us from this danger!
Through these praises and requests to you,
Quell conditions unfavorable for dharma practice
And let us have long life, merit, glory, plenty,
And other conducive conditions as we wish!
May we quickly attain Green Tara’s enlightened state,
And may Green Tara protect us and all beings!
By calling upon Green Tara’s protection and guidance, we can let go of fear and live with courage, wisdom, and compassion. May we always be blessed by Green Tara’s loving protection.
Tara the Swift One
As Tara is the Swift One, there are three very fast ways to call on her for help from any of the eight fears and dangers (and all other fears and dangers).
Tara’s mantra chanted in Sanskrit by Hrishikesh Sonar — chant along!
The three fastest ways are to simply call her name, or chant her mantra, or chant the praise above. If you have slightly more time, an encouraged practice is to chant her 21 Praises.
Tara’s mantra chanted beautifully by Yoko Dharma in the Tibetan style:
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha
The 21 Praises to Tara with captions for chant along in English:
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Author | Buddha Weekly
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.