Commentary on Green Tara Practice by Khempo Yurmed Tinly Rinpoche
We have on the cover of the prayer booklet a portrait of green Tara. And in the meditation we're working with the visualization of this image of Green Tara. If we look at it, this is the image that we are to keep in mind, to fix in our mind, and to meditate on her presence, in other words, that she is right there in front of us, in the sky in front of us, so that the meditator meditates on this image of Green Tara, that she is actually present in this form that we see in the portrait, and that she is actually sitting there in front of us.
Now who is Green Tara? For this meditation, we have to understand the great value of Green Tara in order to do this.
So when we say that to do the meditation we have to understand the great value of Green Tara, what does this mean? The great value of Green Tara is based upon the ability to make a key differentiation. The differentiation is between the enlightened being, that is the Buddha, and ordinary sentient being, the ordinary living being. You could say, very rightly, that the ordinary living being is also very valuable, very precious, but precious in a different way, valuable in a different way from the enlightened being.
The ordinary living being in the world, like ourselves, is in a very vulnerable state in which there is a great deal of misery. The ordinary being is caught up helplessly in this state of misery. On the other hand, the enlightened being, like the Buddha, like Green Tara, has attained a state of freedom which we call liberation from all these miseries. So that is the key discrimination, the key point of differentiation between the ordinary being and the enlightened being. We must appreciate that in order to understand the great value of Green Tara.
When we speak of the enlightened being, generally the term we use is "Buddha", and what is a Buddha? First of all, we speak of the three types of Buddha: the Buddhas of the past, the Buddhas of the present, and the Buddhas of the future. Those of the past, of course, are those who have appeared in the world and are no longer existing, or appeared in a former age of the world. Then the present Buddha that appeared in this world, in this epoch, is Sakyamuni Buddha. And then, for instance, the Buddha who is to appear in this world in a future epoch is Maitreya, so this is an example of the Buddhas of the three times. So when you hear that term, the Buddhas of the three times, that's what it means.
Now another way in which we understand enlightened being is through the three aspects, that is body, speech and mind. Any being has these three parts of what we call a being, whether enlightened or not, the body, the speech, the mind; the physical, the verbal, and the mental. And for the enlightened being we speak of the physical, the body, as being of (the Sanskrit word is Tathagata) the body of the fully enlightened being. Second, with regard to the speech, the speech of the type which is called the lotus, the lotus speech of the enlightened being. And the third, the mind, is of the "Vajra" nature, the Vajra type. The mind of the fully enlightened being is the Vajra mind.
What is the example or the symbol here of the physical aspect of enlightened being, which is called the Tathagata, the fully enlightened one? The symbol of this is the flaming sword of wisdom, which is held in the right hand of Manjusri. The flaming sword of wisdom is that which severs all of the bonds of karma, the darkness of ignorance, the manifestations that cause misery. All of these things are cut away and destroyed by the sword of wisdom which is the symbol of the enlightened being's body.
Second, the speech of the enlightened being is said to be like the lotus, or the lotus type. Now the lotus is the symbol of the Buddha's speech because the lotus is something that grows in the dirt, the mud, and rises out of the mud, blossoms forth in this beautiful, pure, undefiled blossoms forth in this beautiful, pure, undefiled blossom of the lotus even though its roots are growing out of the mud. And this is the symbol of the Bodhisattva, of the all-compassionate being, who purposely goes into the mud and dirt and defilement of the ordinary world but rises above it and manifests the beautiful, compassionate teachings of the enlightened one in order to benefit living beings. So that is the symbolism of the lotus, and, again, it symbolizes the speech of the Buddha, or of the enlightened one who speaks in the language of living beings in order to liberate them from their misery.
Third, the mind of the fully enlightened being is said to be of the Vajra type. Now this is the Vajra right here (holding up a Dorje) the little instrument right there, that is the manifestation of the Vajra. Now the symbolism here goes back to the holder of the Vajra in the ancient Vedic deities. The king of all the deities, the lord of heaven, is called Indra. Indra is the chief of the gods. And he attains his position and wields the great hundred-pointed Vajra.
Now, this Vajra (Khempo holds up a Vajra) has five points on it, but Indra's is much bigger, of course, and has a hundred points on it. When Indra picks up his Vajra and throws it in any direction (Indra is the mighty warrior god), nothing can oppose his Vajra. Whatever it is, it will cut right through it. It is stronger and more powerful than anything, so it's said to be diamond, the diamond Vajra. The Vajra's nature is the diamond itself, or that is the only thing that can be compared to it, because the diamond can cut all other materials, but nothing can scratch the diamond, nothing is as hard as the diamond. Likewise the Vajra can destroy everything, but nothing can destroy it. The symbolism here is again the mind of the enlightened one, which can cut through all obstacles and obscurations, but nothing can obscure it. And so this is the mind of what is called the Risi (Tibetan Drangtsong) Drang means "straightforward, totally honest, never saying anything that's untrue; tsong has to do with that as a path, or the way in which such a being goes, absolutely truthful, absolutely straightforward, and the Drangtsong, the Risi, is someone who can go into meditation, and so powerful is his or her mediation that nothing can obstruct it. And so, sitting in meditation, needing almost no food, but gaining tremendous vitality from the power of the mind, such a person becomes a Drangtsong through that type of meditation. And you can stay in that meditation for incredibly long periods of time, billions of years, kalpas, eons of time without having to worry about material things, because of the great power of this adamantine, diamond-like mind, this diamond-like awareness. And so that is the symbolism of the Vajra, the diamond-like clarity, sharpness, hardness of that mind which can penetrate any obstacles and cannot be obstructed by anything, and so is called the Vajra-like awareness of the fully-enlightened being.
Green Tara is said to arise out of, or to be born from, the second of these, the lotus-like speech of fully enlightened being.
When we say that Green Tara arises out of, is born out of, the lotus type, the speech of the fully-enlightened being, associated with the lotus, what is this lotus type, this Lotus Lineage that the term in Tibetan is Rigs and that can mean "type" or "lineage"? Well, the Lotus Lineage out of which she's born has the three-fold manifestation, the three-fold existence, as do all of the different lineages or types. You have the Dharmakaya, the Sambhogakaya, and the Nirmanakaya. These are the three bodies of the fully-enlightened being. The first is the absolute, or what's called the truth body, the ultimate body of the fully-enlightened being. In the lotus lineage, from which Green Tara arises, the Dharmakaya is the Buddha Amitaba. The Sambhogakaya, which means the body of full enjoyment or the body of true enjoyment, that, in the lotus lineage, is Avalokiteshvara, in Tibetan Chenrezig. And the Nirmanakaya, this is the manifestation body that ordinary beings can perceive, which manifests in a physical way in the world, for the lotus lineage, this is Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava). So that's the three-fold body of the fully-enlightened being of the Lotus Lineage from which Green Tara arises.
The Sambhogakaya, sort of the celestial body you could say, the full enjoyment body, of the lotus lineage, in Tibetan is called Chenrezig, in Sanskrit Avalokit�shvara, � and both of these terms Chenrezig and Avalokit�shvara refer to the power of seeing. The great compassionate one, Chenrezig or Avalokit�shvara is called such because of the ability to see all living beings, and that Avalokit�shvara never closes his eyes. His eyes are always open, he always sees what's going on for each and every living being, is never blind to, never ignores, the conditions of or the suffering of any living being near or far away, large or small, everyone without exception, Chenrezig perceives that being's situation.
So Chenrezig looking upon each and every being, and seeing the great troubles experienced by living beings, the different types of miseries and sufferings, never closing his eyes to any of these, he reacts with great compassion, and looking upon them, tears often come to his eyes seeing the sufferings of living beings.
What happened then, while Chenrezig directly, unblinkingly saw the sufferings of beings, tears came into his eyes, and the tears from one eye coalesced into or became Green Tara; the tears from the other eye coalesced into or became White Tara.
White Tara and Green Tara, born from the tears of Chenrezig, each have a different focus, or a different specialty. White Tara specializes in relieving threats to the life of living beings � in other words, preserving life, rescuing from dangerous situations, and allowing living beings to maintain their life. Green Tara, on the other hand, is focused on the miseries of living beings and on how to actively clear away those miseries, or protect living beings from those miseries. So Green Tara has this active function of going forth and protecting or relieving living beings from their miseries.
The first thing we see when we look at Green Tara, of course, is that she is green. The color green corresponds to, or symbolizes, the active function of the fully-enlightened being. "Active function" means the enlightened activities in which fully-enlightened beings engage in order to relieve the sufferings of living beings.
If we look at the picture, we see that Tara is seated upon a cushion, in this image you can see just a little of the white cushion She's seated upon. That's what's called the lunar disk, the moon symbolizing pacification, peacefulness. So her nature is peaceful She brings peace and is by nature peaceful. That is on top of a lotus, She's seated on a large lotus blossom. The lotus here symbolizes Her freedom from any defilement, just as the lotus rises out of the dirt and mud but the blossom itself is pure and undefiled, so Green Tara arises in the world but is completely undefiled by the world.
The symbolism of the figure is quite extensive, but to say just briefly a few of the things, you can see that she's not seated in the full lotus position, but rather has the right leg extended and the left held in. The extension of the right indicates that she is pressing down on something with her right foot, and that means that she's actively holding down or subduing all untoward phenomena, that is, anything that could hinder, interfere with, or cause a problem. In particular, there are lists of the eight great fears and the sixteen calamities, the things which She is able to overcome. The extension of the right foot indicates the reaching out to hold down and suppress such obstacles. The left foot is held inward, which means the holding inward of the two great assemblages, which are merit and wisdom � these are the things which we have to accomplish and always keep hold of � the accumulation of merit through all manner of good deeds, proper activities, or proper Dharma practice, and the assemblage of wisdom, which is the accomplishment of all aspects of wisdom. This is symbolized by the left foot being held inward.
The right hand is extended with the palm outward, in the gesture of giving called the dhana mudra, the gesture of giving charity, which in this case is the great charity of the two types of accomplishment, called the ordinary and the sublime accomplishments. The ordinary are the eight great siddhis, the high spiritual accomplishments of those who engage in proper meditation to attain spiritual status, spiritual accomplishment. Those are called the ordinary siddhis, the ordinary accomplishments. She bestows those, and in particular she bestows the sublime accomplishment, which is the attainment of ultimate, perfect enlightenment.
The left hand is held up, again with the palm facing outward, and grasping the lotus. This is called the Kyabchin Chagya mudra, the "gesture of refuge". It is granting refuge from all of those things which would obstruct or cause trouble, and here again we have the lists of the eight great terrors, which are fires, poisons, snakes, and things like that; anything that could harm you or cause you trouble she is granting protection from.
There are two types of "halos". One is the halo around Her entire body, and that's the yellow or orange, the large one. We should understand when we look at the picture that the halos there are the representations which have been given by the artist of the, you could say, aura. The aura is not something which you can really paint. It's a radiance, a powerful, energetic radiance which comes forth as if it's a halo like that. So we should understand it not as something we can reach out and touch, but rather something which is like rays of light, invisible like that. And the one around the body, the larger one, shows the perfect awareness, the state of perfect supreme awareness or highest wisdom, which gives forth this radiance all around her whole body.
There are several lotuses here, and the type of lotus is called "utpala". Utpala is a type of lotus, and it's a blue or greenish lotus. The lotus she's seated on is that type, it's an utpala. There are two other lotuses. If you look closely you can see that between her thumb and forefinger of the right hand and then also held in the left hand there are stems of a flower. That flower is the utpala, the blue or green lotus. The symbolism there is of the active principle of the fully-enlightened being, that is the enlightened activity of the enlightened being or the Buddha, which accomplishes all of the tasks of the Buddha to help living beings.
If you look, she has various types of bodily ornaments. These are various types of metal or precious stones, jewelry all around on different parts of her body. These are precious jewels. The bracelet, armlets going around the upper arm, necklace, earrings, the long necklace � there's a short necklace that goes around the neck and a long one that goes down the front of her body � anklets, and various other things: these symbolize her status as being a diving being, in particular the three bodies of the Buddha � Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya � the second being the Sambhogakaya, the body of perfect enjoyment � the deities who posses this body of perfect enjoyment always have these types of ornaments that indicate their status as that type of enlightened being enjoying all of the powers and prerogatives of the heavens. So the importance of this is that she is possessed of the great power of the divine being, the great opulence of the diving being, and has all of these jewels, valuable things, with which she can clear away the miseries of deprivation or poverty of all living beings.
If you look very carefully, you can see that on the crown of her head she has a crown ornament that looks like a hat, and in the very center of that there's a red figure. That red figure is the Buddha Amitaba, who's always red in color, and it's at the very center of the reddish halo around her head, it's the red figure Amitaba. This indicates her affiliation with the lotus lineage, in other words she's a part of this lotus lineage. The Buddha of the lotus lineage is Amitaba, or in Tibetan Amwa Tayay, infinite light. She is, again, the representative of that lineage.
There are five lineages of Buddhas. The lotus lineage is just one of these five. The five are always in relation to one another according to the cardinal directions. So there is the lineage of the north, of the east, of the south, of the west, and of the center. Amitaba is the Buddha of the west, associated with the color red and the lotus.
Refuge and Bodhicitta
Preliminary to the Seven Branches are the two vital aspects of refuge and the generation of the Bodhisattva attitude. These precede any other Dharma activity. The very first thing we do is to take refuge. Again, this is done with respect, here, to Green Tara. So we must have this visualization, first of all, fixed in our mind, realizing her to be present, and through that realization we take refuge in her.
When we take refuge, we're doing it not just by ourselves, but we visualize that all around us, and together with us, all other living beings are also taking refuge. Understanding the central importance of the refuge, we visualize that on our right side our father of this lifetime is bowing down and taking refuge, on our left our mother is there bowing down taking refuge, and around us all living beings without exception are also taking refuge, receiving the refuge and protection from Green Tara, but, principally, our mother and father, as they are those toward whom we owe the greatest debt of gratitude, because it is through their kindness that we came into this world and gained the present wonderful opportunity to receive the refuge, protection, and guidance of Green Tara.
With that in mind, we take Refuge. We ask for refuge from this moment on, until we attain enlightenment due to the help of Green Tara.Having taken Refuge, we do the next central aspect of the practice, which is the generation of the Bodhisattva attitude. Both of these are preliminary to, precede, the seven other aspects of worship.
The generation of the Bodhisattva attitude means that we take refuge, we engage in the practice, we proceed on the path to enlightenment, not for our own sake, but putting away selfish goals, selfish motivation, we do so for the sake of all living beings. In other words, we're concerned to practice refuge, to attain enlightenment, not for our own sake alone, but rather for all living beings, and this is the Bodhisattva attitude.
This must be done not just in a formal manner, where we just say it, but rather it has to arise from the depths of our heart, we have to be engaging in this practice from the deepest motivation to benefit other living beings.
When we engage in this practice, starting from the very first, before we take refuge and generate this altruistic Bodhisattva attitude, and before we engage in the seven aspects of worship, it's vital that we realize that in front of us, in the sky, looking down upon us, observing us, being present for us, is Green Tara herself. She is the principal deity toward whom we are engaging in this practice, but she is not alone. Surrounding her on all sides are the twenty-one Taras. So, she is in the center, she is the principal one, but then you have all twenty-one Taras surrounding. And around them, on all sides, are the Buddhas of the past, the Buddhas of the present, the Buddhas of the future, the Buddhas of all ten directions -- throughout limitless space, in all ten directions, all of the Buddhas throughout the infinity of space are present. In addition to them, all of the Bodhisattvas are present. In addition to them are what are called the Shravakas and the Pratyekabuddhas, these are those who attain Arhatship, or liberation, following the lesser vehicle, the Hinayana. They are there, as are all other beings throughout space and time who have generated in their hearts this altruistic aspiration to attain perfect enlightenment for the sake of all living beings. That is, all those who've attained or generated the Bodhisattva attitude -- they too are present. We are going for refuge to all of these beings.
All of these deities, all of these enlightened beings that we are visualizing in front of us in the sky, are not just there in empty space, but are there in the pure land of Green Tara. That pure land is called Yulod Kurpa, which means "the Turquoise-colored Pureland". This is her heavenly, or celestial, paradise, which is complete with all aspects of a diving paradise, and is characterized by this turquoise color. This entire assembly arises here in this green pure land. This is the name of Her celestial paradise, where living beings go to attain enlightenment. Something should be said about this turquoise-colored paradise. It resembles some sort of fantastic heavenly rock 'n roll party. The deities there are filled with bliss, spending their time in dance and song, special enlightened dance and song, so that if ordinary beings even perceive it, even see it, they are filled with a sense of happiness and faith.
When we're visualizing Green Tara and the enlightened deities, this is the setting, the environment in which they arise, these enlightened beings in this land where all of the beings are so happy and are engaged in dancing and singing. We should understand of this paradise of Green Tara that if we were to go there, if we were born there, our experience would have not even a hint of any of the miseries we have on earth, certainly none of the miseries of birth, sickness, old-age, and death.
As a matter of fact, all of the deities there (if we were to look at their appearance, we would say that they're sixteen years old, never getting older, never getting younger) have bodies that are like a sixteen year old's. They're engaged in dancing and singing, but every sound made in the dances and the songs is a Dharma sound; in other words, it brings enlightenment to those who hear it. No other sounds are there. The music is played by what are called the "gandharvas". A gandharva is a celestial or heavenly musician. So this is the nature of the pure land of turquoise color.
The process by which we're doing this, at first, is what we call a process of imagination. In other words, we are imagining such a sight in front of us in the sky, Green Tara, all of these enlightened beings, and this fabulous heavenly Pureland of enjoyment and music, and so forth. We're imagining this, we're generating it from our imagination to begin with, but what we do then, the key thing that's done, then, is the invocation (it's the same word you would use for invitation).
We're actually asking that Green Tara manifest herself from where she is, and all of the other living beings we invite, we invoke their presence, and through their compassion and their enlightened activity, they come and they inhabit our visualization. In other words, the actual Green Tara comes and enters into the imagined, the visualized Green Tara, and they become undifferentiated. So that's the actual Green Tara there, it's not just imagined, but we invoke her presence and through Her compassion She comes. Likewise, all the other enlightened beings, and the pure land itself, manifest in front of us in reality, not just through imagination.
We engage in this process of the invocation of the deities into the visualized assembled field of refuge. The process is the same as if we were inviting an honored guest. First, we set the table. We prepare the seats, the cushions, and everything else. Then we invite the guest. We now have a place where they can sit and things we can offer to them. So, first, we do that work of setting up the visualization, and then we invoke the deities, ask them to come, to manifest themselves, to enter into this visualization.
After we have done this, after they have entered into the visualization and are actually present, then we engage in the various aspects of worship that we described before, the seven-fold aspects of worship.
After engaging in these seven aspects of worship, from the bowing down to the dedication, we engage in some other types of worship; for instance, making a prayer request that Green Tara and the other enlightened beings bestow or facilitate a state of peace and happiness in this world.
Seven Branch Offering
When we look at this image of Green Tara, and we notice all of the particulars of this image and hold that in our mind, understanding or appreciating as much as we can the details of it and the symbolism involved. This is the image we hold in front of us. In other words, when we engage in the practice of Green Tara it is important to realize that Green Tara through this practice comes into our presence, is actually seated there in the sky above us in such a form.
With that realization of the presence, we then engage in the practice. In particular, we engage in the seven aspects of the worship.Of the seven aspects of the worship,
The first is the bowing down, the obeisance, the giving of honor of body, speech, and mind. So we're bowing down to Green Tara in this form.
The second of the seven is the giving of offerings. We present the offerings, we make the offerings, to Green Tara, understanding her to be there in front of us.
Third is the confession, confessing all of our misdeeds and shortcomings. So we're doing that again to Green Tara, who we understand to be in front of us.
Fourth is the rejoicing in the virtue of all living beings, in particular the enlightened beings who accomplish the sublime virtues. It's the welcoming or active rejoicing in the virtues of others. We do that again with respect to Green Tara .
Fifth is the exhortation. Here we address Green Tara. Principally, we exhort Her to turn the wheel of the Dharma, that is, to bestow upon us and all living beings the sublime teachings of the Dharma.
The sixth aspect of worship is the prayer, or supplication, to Green Tara that she not withdraw her manifestation, but that she remain continually in the world for the benefit of ourselves and all living beings.
The seventh and last aspect of worship is the dedication. Again, we do this in front of, and with respect to, Green Tara, dedicating the meritorious results of all of our Dharma practice -- all of these other aspects, from the obeisance through the supplication. We dedicate the meritorious value to the ultimate enlightenment and liberation of all living beings.
These are the seven aspects of worship. Again, briefly, the first is bowing down, the second is making offerings, the third is confessing sins, the fourth is welcoming or rejoicing in the virtues of others, the fifth is entreating or exhorting the enlightened one to turn the wheel of the Dharma, to bestow the Dharma, the teachings, on us and all other living beings; the sixth is the supplication that the enlightened being remain in the world for the benefit of living beings and not depart the world and enter into a nirvana-like state of peacefulness and withdrawal from the world; and seventh is dedication of the merit.
So these are the seven aspects of worship present in any type of full Dharma practice, or a Dharma practice session.
Then, again, an offering of the various aspects of the offering (the seven different types of offering, or the seven bowl offering) is made to Green Tara and the deities. Briefly, these offerings are:
Argham (Chod yon) � Pure stream water gathered from the entire universe and offered to the three jewels (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha). This exceptionally pure water has eight qualities: crystal clarity, coolness, sweetness, lightness, softness, freedom from impurities, a soothing affect on the stomach, and the ability to make the throat clear and free of phlegm and obstruction.
Padhyam (Shab sil) � Water especially dedicated to cleansing an object of refuge, such offering it to the Buddha for a bath.
Pushpe (Me tog) � All of the offering flowers in the universe, including the utpala flower, medicinal flowers, fruits, and grains.
Dhuppe (Dug po) � All of the finest incense in the universe.
Aloke (Mar me) � All natural lights (the sun, the moon and all moons, stars, quasars, etc. ) in the universe and all man-made lights (candles, lamps, spotlights, lasers, etc. ), to dispel the darkness of the mind.
Gendhe (Dri chab) � All pleasant fragrances, including perfumes that are pleasing to the smell and liquids that are pleasant to drink.
Nivide (Shalse) � All nutritious and pleasing food, ethically produced, in the universe.
There are various aspects to the offering, there are different types of offering. There are the ordinary offerings of the seven types described above. There is also the offering of the Mandala.
The offering of the Mandala is where we offer the entire world, we offer everything, not just this earth, not just this planet, but the billions of worlds throughout the universe. We gather them together as an offering in which we hold nothing back and make the great Mandala offering.
Praise to the 21 Taras
Another aspect of the Green Tara practice is making offerings in particular to Green Tara and the twenty-one Taras. Here, again, we're doing a similar thing of making these types of offerings, but this time limited to just them. So here, again, we go through the process of building up the visualization then invoking the presence of Green Tara and the twenty-one Taras, and then making offerings to them.
Then again we make the seven bowl offerings � the water, flowers, food, and so forth � to them. Following that we offer the Mandala to Green Tara and the other Taras, and here it's a different type of Mandala offering. At this point, having offered the Mandala to the twenty-one Taras, we make the praise of the twenty-one Taras. In this we are focusing individually on each of the twenty-one Taras, making the praises to each one according to Her particular attributes. This praise to each of the Twenty-one Taras is repeated, so we do it twice. After that, after we make the praise to each of the twenty-one two times, again we make the offering to all of them, and after that we again make the Mandala offering.
As we engage in, now, a three-fold repetition of the praise to the twenty-one Taras, we visualize in our heart, upon a lotus cushion, the syllable TAM � the syllable TAM represents Green Tara � and around it go the letters of her Mantra, and, as this process is taking place, light goes out in all directions from that syllable and from the letters of that Mantra. The light goes out in all directions and takes the form of sublime offerings to all of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and enlightened beings in all directions, and then comes back to us and goes out again. This time it clears away all of the defilements and obstacles from all living beings throughout the universe. Then it comes back.
Then we visualize that, following the Mudra of Green Tara, her right hand bestowing boons, bestowing whatever is necessary to living beings; the left hand granting protection, we visualize that all living beings have attained refuge from obstacles, from all of their fears, from all of the things which threaten them. They have attained a state of refuge or protection from all negativities. And then, according to the gifts bestowed by Green Tara with her right hand in the gesture of generosity, we visualize that all living beings have attained satisfaction � their desires, whatever they are, have been fulfilled, and they are now in a state of happiness and fulfillment.
Then, in recognition of, or gratitude for, this; for this great work of the Enlightened Being having been accomplished in this way, we make the seven types of offerings and offer the Great Mandala, which includes everything throughout the great universe.
Next, we visualize that Green Tara, after we make the offerings and present the Mandala to her, comes forth and resides above us on the crown of our head.
If you look at the picture, the lowest part of Her body is the big toe of the right foot, and that is what is contacting the top of our head. All of her blessings, Her enlightened blessings, then come down to us through that, through Her toe into the top of our head. We visualize it as a white fluid filling our body from the very top all of the way down. You can think of it as if your body is a crystal vase being filled with white nectar or milk. What is happening then is that all of our defilements and obscurations are being cleansed, and in their place is this pure nectar of enlightenment.
As we visualize this flow of the blessings, the nectar of enlightenment, the blessings of Green Tara, enters into the top of our head. At this point is a different aspect of the visualization. We visualize that our body is filled with all of it's defilements and obscurations, and this includes physical problems that we have, illness or disease, or some sort of impediment, or anything like that, these also are visualized as being in this container of our body and being dark in color.
All of these things are being pushed down from above. The top of our bodies are being filled with the white, radiant nectar. The darkness of all of these impediments, diseases, and so forth are being pushed down and are leaving or evacuating our body from the lower openings in our body. They're being flushed out from above, and our bodies are being purified from all of that.
The darkness being flushed out is mixed with this nectar of enlightenment, leaves our body, and goes down below into the earth. As it goes down, it enters into the mouth of Yama, the Lord of Death. Entering into His mouth, (this includes all of the gross physical aspects of our body, the bones, the blood, and so forth) enters him through his mouth, freeing us from all of these things. Through his mouth, it then goes into the lower worlds of the animals, the hell beings, and the pretas or hungry ghosts. All of these beings in the lower worlds we have a connection with us from former lifetimes; one way or another our former lives touch theirs, and we owe them in various ways -- some kind of karmic debt that we owe them, some sort of way in which we have yet to repay them for their kindness or whatever way we owe them.
The nectar then, mixed with all of these aspects from our gross physical body, goes down and takes the form of whatever they need to relieve them of their miseries. Through the enlightened nectar, then, not only are their miseries relieved, but they are transformed and freed from their miserable states of existence. Now, freed from these problems, they arise and enter into the turquoise colored pure land of Green Tara, there to attain bliss and ultimate enlightenment.
We recite the praise to the twenty-one Taras seven times as we visualize this.Through this, we enter into the prayer, we supplicate the twenty-one Taras, that peace will come to the earth, that peace and happiness will come to the earth, and that the Dharma will spread and prosper in all directions.
Offering the Torma of Consciousness
Once we have completed the seven repetitions of the 21 Taras, we recite the mantra:
At this point we're visualizing the fire of wisdom burning up, completely consuming, all negative things, all defilements, all obscurations. They are completely burned up in the fire of wisdom, and nothing is left of them. After that comes the Mantra that is the Mantra of the realization of emptiness, where all phenomena without exception are realized as being free of true existence, or inherent, existence, and the ultimate truth is realized.
At this point there is the offering to the twenty-one Taras and all enlightened beings. We'll see these in the text, where we visualize the white syllable OM arising from emptiness as we've just recited on page 39 of the text, the Offering of the Torma. We have two Mantras, the second one establishing the realization of emptiness. From that emptiness, there arises the white syllable OM. This appears in a mighty jeweled vessel. This is a great vase made of purified gold, silver, and jewels, large enough to contain the entire material universe, but filled with all of the precious, divine ornaments which are then offered to, principally, Green Tara and the twenty-one Taras, and also to all enlightened beings. So, offering is made.
Then,From these three syllables tormas appear. Tormas are offering cakes made of all of the most pure and perfect foods, with all of the most perfect flavors. This is the food of the divine beings, and these are offered individually to all of the twenty-one Taras and the other enlightened beings. This offering is then confirmed, or made real, through the recitation three times of the Mantra
Then repeat three times the offering Mantra
Then repeat three times the offering Mantra of the god realm
Next come the prayers to the lotus lineage, the lotus family, the Buddha Amitaba being the head of the family, the Buddha of all of the Bodhisattvas of the lotus lineage. So these are the prayers, offerings, and the praise of the lotus lineage. So you're making prayers to Amitaba, whose name means "Limitless Light", the head of the Lotus lineage, and all of the other deities within that lineage are being praised and offered to.
After making the praise, the obeisance, the offerings, and so forth, there are the special requests to the lotus family, such as the request for world peace, the request for the happiness of all living beings, the request for the spreading and prosperity of the Dharma in the world, and so forth.
Tara Mantra Recitation
We have the recitation of the Mantra, which is repeated at this point as many times as possible (hundreds or thousands of times). As we recite it, we're not just saying the words or the syllables, but we're visualizing.
We visualize the seed syllable, the essence syllable of Green Tara, being on a lotus in our heart. That syllable is the syllable TAM. Around the syllable TAM are the (Tibetan) letters of the mantra, going around the seed syllable in a clockwise rotation. >From the rotating Mantra light rays go forth. These light rays first of all, as before, go forth and make offerings to all enlightened beings in all of the ten directions. When the light rays return, one is transformed into Green Tara. So, now you are meditating on yourself as Green Tara. You are no longer an ordinary living being, but you have attained the state in which you are undifferentiated from Green Tara. So you're visualizing yourself as (before we visualized Her in the sky in front of us) now we are, through this process of purification, of saying the mantra, transformed into Green Tara. We are therefore able to send forth these rays of light to accomplish the protection and happiness of beings.
Vajrasattva Hundred Syllable Mantra
In the process described up until now, it's likely that we've omitted something, done something in the wrong order, done something incorrectly, forgotten something, or gotten something messed up -- it's very complex. So, at this point, we have the recitation of the Hundred Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva. The power of this Mantra is to correct all these errors, to fill in all of the omissions, and to straighten it all out so that we don't have to be concerned with errors or problems we have in the meditation.
Completion of Practice
Then, having recited this Hundred Syllable Mantra once, on the top of page 46 we see in the confession of our shortcomings, unwholesome deeds, and so forth, that we recognize these, acknowledge them, repudiate them or regret them, and make a resolution not to repeat them.
Request for Attainment
The is the request for the boon of the spiritual accomplishment. So here, we're asking the blessings of the Dharma, that Tara bestow upon us the siddhis or spiritual attainments. This request is empowered by recitation of the Mantra which is recited and brings about the fulfillment of the request.
Request for the Deities to Return
Next is the request that, after having invoked Green Tara, the Twenty-one Taras, and all enlightened beings, that having them appear in this way before us and giving these blessings, now they depart to their various Buddha Realms, their pure lands, but we ask them now that you are departing, don't just leave, but come again. This is the sort of thing any polite host or hostess would say to an honored guest when they leave, recognizing that they're going back to their own house, but please come again. This is said with sincerity, from the heart.
There is the meditation where it says that the deity and the nature of one's mind remain inseparable, remain in the equipoise of the innate sphere of truth. Here we have purified our obscurations, we have attained this understanding of the lack of inherent existence of all phenomena, and so we have this state of emptiness, which is empowered or motivated by great compassion. Our state of mind here is one that joins together great compassion, the compassion for all living beings without exception, and the wish for their ultimate happiness and liberation. This great compassion is joined with the realization of the lack of inherent, or true, existence in any phenomenon. This is the state of mind which is called the innate sphere of truth. In other words, this is the state of the enlightened being's mind. So we try to remain in this state at this point, to enter into it, or to hold this mediation for as long as we can, remain in this equipoise, this state of meditation.
Arising out of this meditation, we conclude our practice with the dedication of merit. All of the merit we have generated through this extensive practice we dedicate, so that we and all living beings may attain this state of perfect peerless enlightenment characterized by Tara Herself. This is the ultimate purpose of the meditation, of the entire practice of Dharma. We dedicate all of the positive energy, the merit, that has arisen from all of these practices, we dedicate it to that supreme purpose of the ultimate enlightenment of all living beings.
The concluding aspect of the practice, then, is the prayer for auspiciousness. And auspiciousness in this context means that in this life, in all future lifetimes, may we never be separated from this connection with Green Tara. We recognize that she is the embodiment in the form of a beautiful goddess of all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and that from her come all auspicious things; that she is like a wish-granting jewel or an excellent vase. Of course, anyone who possesses a wish-granting jewel will immediately obtain whatever they wish for. The excellent vase is that from which, like a cornucopia, whatever you desire you can extract. Arya Tara, Green Tara, is like that. She is the true manifestation of the wish-fulfilling jewel and the excellent vase. She is the embodiment of the wisdom, compassion, and enlightened deeds of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Our final prayer is that, in this and all lifetimes, we may never be separated from Green Tara.