White Tara Practice with
H.E. Garchen Rinpoche

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The Mantra Meditation of the Bodhisattva White Tara

What is a bodhisattva?

The word "bodhisattva" is a compound word formed from bodhi (spiritual awakening, enlightenment) and sattva (a being). The word may

be translated as "A being intent upon enlightenment," or "A being whose quality is enlightenment" or simply as "Enlightenment being".

In early Buddhism, bodhisattva simply referred to "the previous lives of the Buddha", recounting his deeds while accumulating the vast positive karma necessary for supreme Enlightenment. These were recorded in the Pali canon of sacred texts.

In Mahayana Buddhism, bodhisattva refers to any being (whether human or not) committed to the attainment of enlightenment for the sake of all other sentient beings. This is the primary goal of someone practicing the path of the Mahayana ( Greater Vehicle)

Bodhisattva also refers (in Mahayana Buddhism) to archetypal beings such as Avalokiteshvara ( total compassion) and Manjushri ( perfect wisdom). These are objects of devotion. Tara is such a Great Being manifesting in female form.


Mantra Meditation
Mantras may seem mysterious, as uncommon sounds that correspond to and somehow connect to positive spiritual forces which otherwise are represented in visual form.

Actually the Sanskrit word mantra has a deep meaning of ‘mind protection’. Mantras are sounds ( a series of syllables, words or phrases) used as an object for concentration. In Buddhist meditation, many things may be used as objects of concentration , as a skilfull means “which protect the mind".


Although the grammar of mantras may be rather obscure, the various mantras’ meanings are usually poetic and symbolic. For example the root mantra of Tara: ‘Om tare tuttare ture svaha ! ; is a play on her name, which means "savioress" or "she who carries across" in Sanskrit.

 

The mantra which one is working with may be chanted out loud, or may be heard internally, or visualized , or a combination of all three. The posture, the breath, and the hands are engaged as well, as often a mala ( rosary) is used for counting the mantras. In Tibetan Buddhism there is a wide range of uses of mantras in multi-media , ranging from rock carvings to prayer flags to amulets to the quiet spinning of a ‘prayer wheel’ containing many thousands of mantras. Nowadays we have screen savers and micro-film prayer wheels spinning millions of mantras intended to bless everyone and everything, everywhere.


The mantra of Sitatara ( White Tara) begins very similarly to that of the Green Tara form, with the adding of several words connected to a long and robust life.

 

OM TARE TUTTARE TURE MAMA AYU PUNYA JNANA PUSHTIM KURU SVAHA

 

Ayu means life (as in Ayurveda ), Punya means merit that comes from ethics, Jnana means knowledge, Pushtim means wealth and abundance, Kuru is a mythical land to the north, Mama means mother or ‘mine’. Some people hold that mantras have an inherent "spiritual meaning" . If someone chants the mantra of Tara they will develop a connection with the compassion of Tara, without knowing anything of the detailed meanings about the bodhisattva. While others hold that one should develop associations with the mantra as one chants it and thus begin to learn more about the bodhisattva. Certainly as an object of concentration (like many others) , a mantra can help us to still the distracted and wandering mind. Therefore the word mantra is said to mean "that which protects the mind." However, as Garchen Rimpoche teaches, it is much more important to grow the inner Love, Compassion and Wisdom which shine forth as our own inner Buddha Nature. That is the ultimate protection deriving from deity yoga: when we understand that Tara is always there as our own deepest Mind which is shared with all other beings, no matter how much we might sometimes sink into dualism and confusion.

Introduction by Orest V. Pelechaty C.A.





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