Meeting with the Curitiba, Brazil Tara Dhatu Student Teachers

It was quite precious, this meeting with these four dedicated women. All of them are so unique, all with a sincere wish to continue to work with Tara’s practice. Bernadetta on the far left did most of the interpreting, though Myri was happy to fill in when necessary. Danielle, next to her, is just joining the Student Teacher Program. Edna is the Level 2 Facilitator of the group. She has been holding things together for two years, my last visit to Curitiba. Lila, at Level 1 has showed consistent support.

There were two bits of the conversation that I found very insightful and wanted to share them with our other dancing Taras.

One of the interesting things about our Mandala Dance is that most of our Student/Teachers start out with very little personal experience of Tara and the Dharma. They have an experience of the dance with a Senior Teacher and they get inspired and long to share it in their community.

They join the Tara Dhatu Student Teacher Program and to the best of their ability, they work with the dance elements. As encouraged in our Student Teacher notes, they are directed to read a page of the dharma teachings and discuss it at their meetings.

The dharma teachings they study together are shared as a group. The beginning Student Teachers are encouraged to present themselves…not as teachers but as facilitators. This absolves them of the responsibility of trying to teach something that they don’t have a lot of experience with.

It is through their sincere desire to share the dance that they learn and grow. They hold the space but they are not expected to have all the answers. They are engaged with the other dancers in penetrating the depths of the practice.

In this way they are driven deeper into the practice. They must explore ways to express what the practice means to them. And by exploring the meaning within the prayers, discussing this within the group and keeping note of their questions and concerns they grow with the practice.

The other element of discussion that I found provocative was the question of how to attract other women to the dance. My message to them was that they should go out and share elements of the dance with other communities. They don’t have a 3rd Level Teacher in their community so they can’t offer the Mandala. But there are so many different places and opportunities to share some little form of the dance….it doesn’t need to be a big public offering of the mandala.

Of course, offering the mandala  is wonderful and each community should arrange for at least one of those a year….but there are all kinds of celebrations and situations that the blessing of Tara would be welcome. They could do the short version of the dance of the qualties, or the dance of Shantideva…..or just the mantra dance…..the dance of White Tara is very precious to this group so I encouraged them to share that in whatever situation seemed relevant.

In this way they can grow their circle organically.

The other point of this part of the discussion….. don’t worry if your core group remains small. You will hold the vital force, the presence of the dance in your city. People will come and go, having a taste when they have time….but if you are consistent you will end up introducing a great number of dancers to your practice and when a big event comes…..a dance for a visiting teacher…..a retreat….you will have a bigger pool of friends to draw from.