Dancing Tara in Seattle Story

Dagmola is considered an emanation of White Tara. She is a kind and respected friend and teacher.

Dagmola Kushog, The revered Mother of the Sakya Clan, requested that the Tara Dance be performed once a year in the Sakya monastery in Seattle. Parvati Forrest Burke, Assistant Director of Tara Dhatu’s Student Teacher Program, fulfilled this year’s request. The weekend dance workshop was held at a private home. Parvati writes…..

Our week-end began early Thursday night.  Her Eminence Jamyang Sakya, familiarly known as Dagmola, gave an empowerment of Green Tara. The Sakya temple is a remarkable and beautiful place, adorned by much deep and profound spiritual practice and teachings as well as magnificent traditional Tibetan painting and statuary. In this setting of romance and beauty Dagmola performed a powerful and illuminating ceremony with care and elegance. She gave each person present a transmission of Mother Tara, Her body, speech, and mind.

Gail Frederickson has danced Tara in Seattle for almost 20 years. She made the arrangements with her friend Ilga (right) to have the retreat at her beautiful home.

The dancers gathered Friday night at Edgewood Estate outside of Seattle. Our gracious hostess, Ilga, had offered her private home for us to retreat in for the weekend and she prepared a lovely meal to welcome us.  It was a place of  grandeur and beauty. Walking down a gravel path, through the extensive gardens, into the incense filled “ballroom” we were to call our workshop home, my eyes filled with tears. The sensation of arriving to a new Tara nest all prepared for our ritual to unfold reminded me vividly of so many such scenes in the 12 years since I joined the dance. The moment of arrival, before the lotus unfurls is so pregnant with all that will unfold—the beauty, the power, the moments of struggle and catharsis, the profound sense of sharing with so many precious beings… In a flash I felt the familiar sensations of gratitude for this precious and auspicious opportunity.

Saturday morning with glass windows and skylights allowing us to feel the outside world all around us, we entered into the heart of the Mother Tara through Anahata’s beautiful music, “Beloved Tara, luminous and beautiful, with devotion, I request you guide us to your blissful state.”

We had twenty dancers, a beautiful mix of those who had been involved with the practice since its birth and those who were entirely new to the dance. I was moved by the quality of the group’s attention and focus. I am always impressed how each individual meets the challenge and the happiness of becoming one with a moving, breathing organism made from the sum total of all. It is a poignant experience of  interconnectedness that is ever present but not always so easy to see or feel.

When one had a physical need to stop, we stopped…no shame, just the truth revealed. Such a simple and elegant revelation that showed each one so much about how they move inside and outside… every ripple touching all. And so entwined, we danced and danced and danced.  Toward the end of the night we broke into small groups by Tara color-Buddha family wisdom and worked on solo praise choreography. The energy rose once again and we flew through to the end of the night’s work.

Sunday morning we practiced all the movements for the ending prayers of dedication and then put it all together. By 2:30 the group had packed up and driven the hour or so back into Seattle and was practicing a final round in the Sakya monastery shrine room.

This room is extraordinary. Behind us there is a wall of immense statues representing our sources of refuge, towering above us as we dance. Divine mandalas adorn the ceiling. What a delight, to dance in such a beautiful space that is so saturated with auspiciousness and the sacred.

As we danced all the way through the entire practice for the last time before dressing for the evening offering I found myself profoundly moved by the sensation that as we passed the light through the spiral, one heart to the next “Faith. Surrender. Send out light” that the source of the light spinning our spiral and sending Tara’s wisdom and compassion into the world was none other than Shakyamuni Buddha. His huge likeness there on the shrine above us, third eye glittering, sat so still and yet I felt such a real warmth and presence… the profound love for all that led him to devote his entire life to liberating all beings from suffering by helping each one to know the truth of their nature, of the nature of all. And it is from this same heart of true love that Tara is born to ferry all across the sea of suffering… And so the light, the wisdom is passed on to the next and through this we see the true face of all.

Mandala’s on the ceiling on a background of blue sky and white clouds.

What an amazing and auspicious thing, to dance, to practice with Dagmola there radiating Divine Mother’s love, wisdom, and support. My heart throbs with gratitude to her for her dedication to support and guide, inspire and uplift! Gratitude to Prema for this amazing revelation of a practice! Gratitude to the local organizing team, Gail and Rhiannon, for helping to manifest the week-end. Gratitude to Ilga and Mike for hosting us in such supportive and inspiring circumstances. Gratitude to all those at Sakya that supported the offering in so many ways. Gratitude to Mother Tara for guiding and supporting us and so many, making the impossible, possible, over and over again! Om Tare!