News From the Dancing Taras

Teaching the Mandala Dance of Tara has been an exhilarating, inspiring, and deeply rewarding experience. For the last 26 years I have traveled about this beautiful ball of earth sharing the profound practice of Tara’s Dance. Every day I receive letters from students and friends describing their experiences with the dance. It is a journey of consciousness. On these pages I will share with you some of the stories and pictures from our Tara Dhatu family. I will also share some insights about the practice as it reveals itself to me. Feel free to comment, to question, to contribute Prema Dasara

Tara is Dancing in the Heart of Acadiana!

Adrianne LaBry Smith is a Tara Dhatu Level 3 Teacher. In 2005 she was inspired to join the Tara Dhatu Educational Program after participating in a Tara Mandala Weekend led by Prema and her niece, Jessica Zebrine. She is a close student of Khentrul Lodrö Thaye Rinpoche, who encourages her to share the dance of Tara. This November she offered her first public presentation of Tara’s Mandala close to her home in an area of French Louisiana known as the Heart of Acadiana.   She writes….

As I began the process of organizing the weekend I faced many obstacles, including finding the perfect venue. I kept receiving the message from various sources, “It is important that you offer this now, don’t worry about how perfect it is. Just do it!” Fortunately, Michael Cooper, the owner of Community Acupuncture of Acadiana, graciously offered a space. The Tara Mandala Offering is in alignment with his vision to impact the local community in positive ways. His business logo is a fully open lotus, which may not be of note in other areas of the country, but is definitely not a common sight on local business advertisements in South Louisiana! The setting was just right for our Mandala of nine.

This tiny wooden building was built circa 1902, originally for use as Saul (Bernard’s) Grocery Store. The Bernard family has ties to my French family of origin, the LaBry family. This past June I had set an intention to be of benefit in any way I could to clear negative karma and bring healing to my ancestry. Holding my ancestors in mind I was especially aware of the suffering experienced by and the suffering caused by my twice-great grandfather, Aristide LaBry and his family. A teacher and an artist like me, Aristide, was the first LaBry in my ancestral line on American soil, and in the mid 1800s lived less than a mile from this location.

The Bernard family members were inter-married with the LaBry family. I am dismayed to admit, these families participated in the atrocious enslavement of other human beings; a fact that I cannot erase from history, but I can strive to heal. Dancing on this property that once belonged to a family connected to mine, I opened to reveal the negativity held within my own heart-mind, guiding the dancers to face our own obscurations, to purify our own emotions, and dancing to send out light to heal and balance this community and the world!

The effort exhibited by the dancers was truly inspiring. Because of the size of our Mandala, each of the participants had to dance at least two Tara praises and some had to dance three! It was a lot to expect of them, yet they faced the challenge with Invincible Courage, and Impeccable Virtue!

We also had the extra challenge of incorporating a tenth participant, Jennifer, who is visually impaired. Jennifer attends our monthly Tara Dance meetings, sitting as Tara in the center of the circle on a “lotus” (meditation cushion), holding her hands in Tara’s gestures of supreme generosity and True Refuge. She signed up for the weekend knowing she might not be able to dance in the Mandala, but wanted to be in the energy, experience the meditations, and receive teachings on Tara. The other workshop participants insisted they could work together to include Jennifer in the Mandala, and we made adjustments so she could dance as Complete Enlightenment.

By the end of the first day of practice, there was an air of transformation. Arising as Worthy of Honor, each dancer demonstrated such willingness to address her own thoughts and emotions as they arose. The poisons of inadequacy, of fear and anxiety, of self-judgment, and the judgment of others were transmuted into Radiant Health and Auspicious Beauty.

By the time of the Mandala Offering on Sunday these All Victorious dancers had engaged in profound concentration with pure motivation for the benefit of all beings. In their offering of the Mandala they revealed Irresistible Truth, magnetizing the audience and drawing them into the dance. Though our audience was small, everyone joined in our closing Dances of Universal Peace, and Bliss and Joy was made manifest as the light of Wisdom, Compassion, and Power cascaded out from the heart of a lotus, beyond the walls of this small wooden building, from the

 

Heart of Acadiana

Om Tare

******************************************

Tara is Dancing in Virginia

By Rev. Jacquelyn Sendak Zavaleta

Having shared the Introduction to Tara and the Dharma dances of Tara Dhatu in Virginia Beach for many years, we had a solid group of interested people attending this year’s Tara Dance programs.  Our series of classes were opened with a hosting by Tara White and her husband Mike.

 

I started the evening by showing “The Quiet Revolution”, a video covering some of the story of the Tara dance.  Many participants were very moved by the video.

Prior to our visit Tara had reorganized her home to dedicate a Tara shrine room. We consecrated the space by chanting the Green and White Tara mantras, then bathing in the profound meditation and music of White Tara and the Six Shields.  Rigdzin taught a Guru Yoga practice of Tara and basic Buddhist practices such as dedication of merit.

The next Sunday we introduced the Tara practice at the Fellowship of the Inner Light Church. It was a very mixed group of attendees, some new to Tara and Buddhist teachings, others experienced practitioners. Many had attended my Tara teachings in prior years.

One young lady said she had come to my Tara dance event a couple of years ago and liked it so much that she drove 5 hours to participate. She brought her boyfriend who was a good sport, dancing without knowing any details of what he was getting into.

We focused on White Tara and her healing aspects.  The White Tara and the Shields dance brought a number of people to tears.  We ended with a group chanting White Tara’s Mantra and directing the energy generated to do hands on healing.

The dance of Tara’s Qualities was so well like that the group asked to repeat it.  The church’s scheduler said she would put me on the calendar for next year. Something wonderful to look forward to!

Om Tare!!

***********************************

Dancing Tara with Prema and Myri in Europe

Almost a year ago I was asked, if I could go anywhere before I died where would I go. Bubbling up from my far distant childhood I realized, I would like to visit Fatima and Lourdes. That vision set in motion a series of events that ended in Myri and I teaching Tara throughout Europe this summer, and yes, visiting Fatima and Lourdes.

Portugal – Lisbon

We started our journey in Lisbon, Portugal. Vera, a woman well known for her own spiritual circle was intrigued with our work. A very close student of hers recommended us, and with great courage and faith she invited us to lead a weekend workshop in the South of Portugal. It was a wonderful experience.

Portugal-Fatima

 Fatima is very close to Lisbon so on our return from retreat we went directly to the shrine of Mary. Vera had a lovely student who opened her home to us so we could really soak in the atmosphere. The first day we visited the main cathedral. Mary and a heralding angel had appeared to three peasant children, giving her message of peace and redemption to the world. The second day we went to a shrine area in an olive forest. It was a sacred experience and I really understood deeply how we all need to be devoted to living love and peace.

France-Lourdes

Our next stop was to be a tiny, new retreat center in southern France, just a few hours from Lourdes. We decided to go Lourdes first and were so glad we did as the retreat center had some issues, cancelled the workshop and instead, paid for us to stay a few extra days in Lourdes. I am so grateful. It was a profound experience, bathing in the devotions of people from all over the world,

bathing in the sacred healing waters. There were so many signs that showed us our devotions to Tara and to Mary were the same. We experienced the ritual of complete immersion, feeling the tender love of Our Lady of Mercy.

 

 

France-Paris

We stopped off in Paris for a few days, and had a wonderful time doing touristy things, like taking an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, breathing in the power of the Chartres Cathedral!!!

Netherlands – Amsterdam

Esther Scheller met us at the airport and whisked us away to her mother’s apartment. Esther had never had any experience of the Tara Dance and it was with so much joy that we gathered a lovely circle of dancers to introduce Tara and the Mandala. It was especially poignant for me to be in this beautiful city where I lived from 1969-1971.

Scotland – Edinburgh    

Sara Rashani Trevelyan was the gracious hostess for our time in this timeless city. She introduced us to the Rosslyn Chapel, inspiration for the provocative book The Da Vinci Code. The weekend workshop was held in an exquisite little center outside the city. We were joined by a feisty nun in the Tibetan tradition who loved the dance and was hoping to make it part of her center.

 

Russia – Perm

 

Perm is in the Ural mountains of Russia where a group of Tara dancers have been dancing Tara for eleven years. We were greeted with much enthusiasm and our ten days in the area were filled with joyful gatherings, explorations of the area and a powerful mandala of 22 dancers.

Switzerland – Bern

Navigating through Europe on a shoestring budget and the time constraints of being somewhere else every weekend had it’s challenges. Getting from Perm to Bern we decided to land in Zurich and train to Bern. The reality of that was far more complicated than we could imagine. But truly magic happened to save us from our folly.

Renske, one of the workshop attendees in Amsterdam, decided she would drive to Zurich, pick us up at the airport and take us to Bern. At the same time we had serendipitously, the night before we flew into Zurich, connected with our old friend Marge from South of Brazil who had moved to Zurich some years ago. She decided to meet us at the airport and take us all home with her to her sweet apartment on a crystal river. She joined our merry band and Renske drove all four of us to Bern. One of Marge’s Zen mentors, Barbara Wegmueller, was so happy to see us she joined in dancing Tara with us, and then housed and fed us when we went exploring.

Hildi Thalman had arranged for us to give a workshop and performance at the House of Religions, a modern institution housing eight different religious groups. The director was retiring and she asked Myri and I to perform at a gathering held in her honor. We had a lovely day to ourselves exploring the beauty of this lovely city. We went to one of the lake parks and felt that we truly touched the heart of this remarkable country.

Greece – Mykonos, Santorini, Athens

Myri’s one request, if we went to Europe, could we please spend some time in Greece. It was really just a hop from Switzerland and we had a lovely time resting and exploring the islands of Mykonos and Santorini.

 

We ended with a couple of days in Athens, paying homage to divine mother Athena and hopping on a plane to NY City.

 

 

New York – Brewster, Woodstock, Hartford

Hope Jinishian had done an amazing job of organizing our time in the North East. Professor Neela Bhattacharya picked us up at JFK and whisked us off to her lovely home in Brewster. We did a rollicking evening of introducing Tara to her living room packed with friends.

Hope drove us up to Woodstock where we immersed ourselves in teaching “Calling Tara From the Heart”. We had the precious opportunity of dancing for Khenpo Karthar, who blessed me as the old Tara and Myri as the small Tara.

Then it was off to Malou’s center in Hartford where she introduced us to a beautiful sadhana of Khenpo Tsustrim Gyamptso, with the idea that we could create a dance around the practice. So many blessings.

Washington – Orcas Island

We ended our tour in beautiful Orcas Island. Julia Sanders-Dobos arranged a workshop of “Calling Tara”. It was the perfect way to end our epic tour.

I am so grateful for the unfolding joys and gifts of sharing this precious work. Meeting dancers from so many different cultures, traditions, ages, experience reinforced my sense of our international Tara Dhatu – Realm of the Enlightened Feminine.

It is not a place, it is a state of mind. It is universal. It is the essence of wisdom and compassion, alive and well in this wild and wonderful world. I pray that Tara’s gifts continue to unfold in our lives and lead us deeper into the essence of our possibilities.

May All Beings We Well

May All Beings Be Happy

May All Beings Live in Peace

May All Beings Be Free.

****************************************

 

Myri On Tour, Dancing Tara in Chile and S. Brazil

Myri Dakini Naves is an outstanding dancer and a sincere dharma practitioner. In Tara Dhatu South America she is the moving force of all the accomplishments. Because of her careful nurturing we have circles of Tara Dancers all over Brazil and Chile. She is our Assistant Director of Tara Dhatu’s Educational Program and teaches the movement and the dharma with joy and depth. This year she engaged in a five week teaching tour encompassing Chile and the South of Brazil. She writes… 

Following in Prema’s Footsteps

“Just as the trunk of an ordinary tree lying in the soil of the Malayan forest absorbs the scent of sandalwood from the damp leaves and branches, so you will remember who you follow. “Patrul Rinpoche

Tara inside us, Tara that we are, Tara around us.

Tara in the elements; earth, water, fire, air,

Dancing within infinite space!

What a wonderful opportunity it was to share Tara’s dances in so many different communities. I delighted in opening, throughout this journey, the path of dedication, mind training, and the open heart.. Our dancing bodies provided the means for a transformation of consciousness. Together we supported each other, in all our differences, our ways of being. Keeping the teachings revealed through the dance, we dove deep to reveal the inner treasure.

Tara is Dancing in Chile

My first flight was to Santiago, Chile. A committed group of Tara Dancers have been diligently developing the sangha of Tara Dhatu in Chile. Maria Concepción, Atma, Valentina and Flavia came to the retreat this year in Brazil and felt the call to deepen in the path of Tara. They made all the arrangements for my eight days in the country. It was an incredible experience.

I was so happy to be able to connect with Vera, the first student/teacher from Chile who invited me to teach there in 2010. Three years ago she had a great personal challenge and finally, this year, was able to return to dance with us.

My first class was in the heart of Santiago, the capitol city of the country, sharing the Dance of The 8 Precious Offerings. The next day we went to a beautiful retreat center outside the city, a precious place where the presence of Mother Mary welcomed us. The center wrapped around a beautiful garden with a statue of Mary surrounded by white flowers. Mary and Tara, the two faces of the Divine Mother. We danced the Mandala of the Praises, it was very powerful.

After the retreat we had breakfast with Maria, a medicine woman of the Mapuche, the indigenous culture of Chile. It was very interesting. She came with her husband Jose, and following the tradition of the Mapuche, greeted the trees, the cat, everything on the path from their car to the house we were in. They stopped at the door and questioned Flavia. They have certain criteria for entering a strangers house and must know that they are meeting with mutual respect.

We then sat at the table and talked about her work and ours. She works with a circle of women to keep the customs of the Mapuche. She believes the circles of women meeting all over the world will help the earth. She was cautious with us, but over time developed trust. She works with all kind of medicine for women. The Chilean government killed a lot of the tribals so they are very careful.

She asked Flavia to make sure the Tara Dancers of Chile brought the flag of the Mapuche to the Monlam so we can keep connected.

Her husband said that I have a great heart, that I live what I teach. They acknowledged that their lives, like ours, were devoted to empowering the women, bring blessings to the earth, balancing the elements.

Next we had a meeting with all the teachers of our Educational Program. I was able to guide them, answer questions, share teachings. The Tara Dhatu sanga of Chile grows and new students keep entering the Educational Program.

My last event in Chile was at Viña del Mar, in the South of the country. There I connected with Valentina’s group and taught Gold Tara.

On to the South of Brazil

The next day I flew to Porto Alegre in the far south of Brazil. There are several groups in the area and we had a lot of agendas. We drove several hours to the city of Caxias. Michele had opened her own dance studio and we had a glorious weekend of classes and performance.

I returned to Porto Alegre with Edith. She and Lia have been working with the children at Lia’s school. I offered one session of Dancing Tara to their adult circle and one session to the children of Lia’s school. It was so precious with the children. They danced a few verses of Tara Tames the 8 Fears as an offering to me, and then I taught them to do the mudras of the 8 Precious Offerings. Children love to play with their hands. We then danced Manjushri to awaken their intelligence and the Wind Horse, a piece of music that Prema created to Chenrezig, Lord of Compassion. We had a great time.

Santa Cruz du Sul

The next day I took a bus even further south to Santa Cruz du Sul. Luciana has been gathering a sincere group of dancers. We dove into a medley of dances; Dukkar – the 1000 Armed White Umbrella Tara, the 8 Precious Offerings, , Calling Tara From the Heart, Vajrasattva.

The Perfect End to a Perfect Tour

I returned to Porto Alegre to get a plane to Guarapari, Victoria, a town a little south east of Rio. Daisen and Celeste had organized a day of teachings for me. They started this group with Daisen’s daughter, Grazielle, and I enjoyed giving a full introduction to Tara’s Mandala. By special request we danced through Medicine Buddha and Vajrasattva. And then in the evening I gave a little performance.

I also had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time at the beautiful beach. What a relief it was to relax in the arms of mother ocean.

 

The last day of my tour Daisen and a small group of dancers went to a Zen monastery and danced in the beauty and the peace of this special place. Daisen is a member of the sangha there and arranged for us to meet with the priest. We were discussing our aspirations to have a retreat center for dancing Tara somewhere in Brazil and he mentioned that the monastery might have just the place. We looked at the lovely grounds that are available to us and I went home dreaming of Tara Ling, our own retreat center with Prema as resident teacher half the year.

And so another year comes to a close and I think of all the wonderful experiences I had dancing and praying for our world. How much learning, how much growth. Every city where I shared Tara’s dances felt the support of our beloved Prema, who always inspires and guides us, directing us to uncover our true nature.
I have great gratitude to all who created the conditions favorable to my journey and pray that Tara’s Wheel of Blessings continues to turn.

Om Tare Tutare Ture Svaha

Myri Dakini Naves

*******************************

Tara is Dancing in the Bay Area, California

Floods, Hurricanes and Fires Oh My!!!

Pia Hagan is a Level 3 Tara Dhatu Teacher in the Bay Area of  California. Many of you remember Pia as one of our most excellent Master Chefs at our Annual Camp in Kauai. Pia organized and offered a Mandala at Terra’s Temple in Berkeley September 2nd & 3rd. She writes….

Such a crazy time in the world, I have to admit when I booked Terra’s Temple way back in May, I had no idea how many ladies would commit and it was a test of my faith as I prepared for the weekend. This was not an easy one to pull off but I know the power of this Prayer and knew that dancing the Mandala would help to stabilize us!

With the flooding in Texas and hurricanes in full force in Puerto Rico we 19 dancers focused our prayers to pacifying Mother Earth. Because of the timings of Terra’s Temple we had to set up Saturday morning, skipping the usual Friday evening orientation. We set up quickly, engaged in the preliminary practices. And the temperature kept rising. It was 95 degrees by noon. We were sweltering.! We placed everyone into their praise and took a break.

We were so lucky to have Jade, a professional dancer and a long time Tara Dancer give us instruction on dancing a praise. She had a way of making everyone comfortable and shared some key observations. We all enjoyed the confidence she shared with her beautiful and sometimes funny movements.

Then we had Jade, Karen Metta and Deborah Ursula dance Ferocious Compassion to show the individuality of each dancer. It was quite a treat to see the diversity in the heart of these three experienced Tara Dancers!

A few days before the event Parvati had driven in from Arizona! She supported me in keeping things on track. It was a trial by fire as the Temple literally continued to heat up. I was reminded, there is a moment in the Mandala we call “cooking our beans” as emotion intensifies. Self confidence is tested. It is the provocative nature of this work with Mother Tara.

The group was wilting despite the fan Ridgzon brought us and the ice Barbara distributed. Many of us wondered why we were there!

We stopped early and as I drove home to Pacifica I went over what was important and chanted Tara’s Mantra across the bridge.

Fortunately Sunday it had cooled down. We began the morning with each dancer offering her personal prayer for the world. We were moved by the heartfelt intentions of each Tara and from this place we danced all the way through the Mandala!

It was amazing to see the seven women who had never danced the Mandala go deep into the practice!

We offered the Mandala in the afternoon. It was so beautiful. Our intentions were clear. I felt Tara’s loving support and rejoiced as we all witnessed each woman transform!

We ended the day with the dance of White Tara Of The Six Shields. The participants who did not know the dance sat in the center of our circle and we invited anyone from the audience to sit with them.

Many tears were cried as those of us who knew the dance sent our blessings into the circle and then out into the world.

I feel blessed to have been able to share these prayers of Tara. I am grateful for the group of woman who danced through the heat and limited time!!

We had no idea that in a few short weeks we were to face blazing fires here in Northern California.

We dedicate our prayers and our dance to all those affected by the flooding, the hurricanes and the fires. We send the power of our prayers to all those affected by the wars. We send the power of our prayers to all those who continue to fight and pray for our waters to be cleansed and respected. We send the power of our prayers to our Mother Earth, that she may be fertile and at peace for the next generations to come.

May all the Elements be balanced on this Earth and within ourselves.

May we come together and know peace.

I dedicate this Mandala especially to Lama Kunga Rinpoche of Ewam Choden who was not able to be with us but as always he sent his special blessing and loving support. For many years he graced the Tara Dance Offerings in the Bay Area and the Tara Empowerments he give us after each offering have stayed in my heart.

Om Tare Tu Tare Ture Soha

Love, Pia

 

 

Parvati Leads Tara’s Mandala – Seattle, Phoenix, Woodstock

Parvati Forrest Anee Burke is one of our most senior teachers. Her dedication has led her to be our Central Coordinator, holding together the reins of our international Tara Dhatu. This Fall she offered three weekend mandalas of the Mandala Dance of Tara. She writes….

 Thank you Prema and Mother Tara for the amazing and beautiful, powerful and empowering teachings and sangha.  Recently a new friend asked me why I am drawn to this work and the answer is clear… I see so much transformation of poisons in my own life and the life of others. In a thirteen hour weekend retreat I have seen those with a chronic tone of discomfort in their being relax into an open hearted presence. I have seen precious and nourishing connections made countless times.  Each weekend is unique with its gifts and challenges and Tara always shows up!  In a world with so much confusion and suffering, this precious practice brings so much goodness and it is my joy and honor to serve Tara and the world by sharing the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara again and again.  May these offerings bring much joy, inspiration, and benefit and may the merit support the aspirations of our teachers, in particular, the May23-27, 2018 Peace and Prayer Monlam Festival in Brasilia, Brazil.

Dancing Tara in Seattle for Dagmola

The annual October offering held at the Sakya Monastery in Seattle was rich and beautiful with regular participants mixed with some who had not danced a Mandala in years, and others who were totally new to this form of Tara practice. We had thirteen plus me in the Mandala, a valiant protector, and a couple Tara elves supporting us.

Dagmola glowed with joy. She explained to the audience that what they had witnessed was not just a performance but a precious offering. They were able to witness the emanations of Tara, dancing for them through the retreat participants. She lingered to visit with the dancers.

The next morning Gail Fredrickson took me to have a little visit with Dagmola in her home. Gail is Dagmola’s close student making the arrangements every year for the Mandala Dance to happen at Sakya in fulfillment of Dagmola’s aspiration.

Dagmola shared some of her recent journey to Tibet. She gave a blessing to the Monlam, happy that we are engaging in such a powerful practice.

Dancing Tara in Phoenix

The annual Phoenix retreat in November was luscious and glorious with a number of traveling Taras joining us from Tucson, NY, TX, and a couple from the bay area in addition to our local community.  We chose not to have a public offering in order to allow for a retreat that could go deep into the Mandala, meditations, and supporting practices. It also created a very intimate space where all were able to bring in their deepest concerns of heart and mind. The result was really special.

We had the gift of Shivadam’s ever skillful and patient, beautiful musical support.  Participants were able to connect deeply with one another and carry the personal concerns weighing on hearts and minds into the final offering. It was powerful and empowering weekend and offering.

Dancing Tara in Woodstock New York

The Woodstock Mandala was a triumph, resonant with the quality of Tara, The All Victorious, in sync with Hope, our valiant organizer’s, praise attunement.  For Hope, the thirteen hour weekend workshop format was a new experience and she bravely agreed to take on the additional layer of complexity by bringing Shivadam to do the music live.

 

The payoff was big with a gorgeous Mandala offering!  Shivadam served us skillfully and tirelessly throughout the weekend. He was joined by two more talented musicians for the offering, Avainash on drums and Lee Marabai with opening kirtan, vocals, shruti box and bells.  The group was a lovely mix of totally new Taras and those who has danced again and again through the years. We had 18 in the Mandala and I was so touched by the presence of each and every dancer… each one bringing a lifetime of experiences with them into the offering.  We were supported by a wonderfully brave protector who was totally new to dancing Tara but popped in and out of the Mandala in practices as we needed him and held the protector post skillfully for the offering.

The Woodstock area experienced a 40-50 degree drop in temperature just as we dove into the weekend and our Yurt meeting spot had snow on the ground outside.  The propane gas heater was intense with noise and fumes and we went from sweltering heat to freezing cold. What a wild adventure. The wise community of Taras harvested these challenging circumstances and began to reflect on these extremes as reflections of the conditions on this planet at this time as well as the many realms unseen by us in this human life.

As the leader of the Mandala and workshop, I invoked the Tara of Creative Wisdom to understand how best to work with the challenges as they arose. The key, as Prema and I have often discussed, is to just not panic. Do the practice and hold space through which the possibilities present themselves. And I was gifted with a group of dancers that were all valiant and resilient! Eh Ma Ho.

The audience of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery (KTD) and kirtan community members was so loving and welcoming. We had an exalted offering ending with some Dances of Universal Peace led skillfully by Shivadam.

At the same time as our retreat was beginning there was the culmination of a retreat to the1000 Armed Chenrezig Nyugne practice at the KTD monastary across the street. We felt that we were dancing in sync with that powerful practice of wisdom, compassion, and inspiration throughout our time there.  As a delightful and perfect surprise, just as we finished our offering a Sri Lankan man from the monastery community appeared exclaiming, “Om Tare” and inviting us all to a freshly cooked, hot dinner at the monastery. A perfect ending to complete our offering and beautiful way to send out dancers back out into the world… with hearts, minds, and belly’s full and deeply nourished!

Om Ah Hung!

May we continue to turn the wheels of Tara’s love and light.

May the rays of Mother Tara’s blessings spread far and wide.

May all beings be nourished, blessed by the One Who Blazes With Glory!

*******************************

Dancing Tara in Woodstock

 Dance in the Mandala of Tara

In Woodstock, NY

Fri Intro Evening open to all at KTD Monastary

With the weekend workshop and offering across from the KTD Monastery

November 10 to 12

Shivadam and Parvati at the Konark Temple, India

Parvati  Leading

Live music with Shivadam.

Public offering  Sunday

November 12 at 4:30 pm.

Public  Offering Free with requested offering

Spots still available for the full weekend  workshop and scholarships available.

The KTD monastery just finished consecrating eight stupas across from our workshop space.

May all beings benefit from our sincere prayers.

Click Here To Register

 For more information contact Hope

Hope Jinishian is a Tara Dhatu Student Teacher who has for the past several years supported Tara Dhatu in many ways.  We have been encouraging her to start a circle of dancing Taras in her area (Woodstock, NY) and this September 30th she did!! The Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery is the North American seat of His Holiness the Karmapa and has always offered a warm welcome to the Tara Dance. Lama Lodro was offering a weekend of stories of White and Green Tara and she invited Hope to share the dances after her Friday night introduction.    Hope writes…..

I’m happy to share that my offering at the opening evening of the Green and White Tara stories retreat with Lama Lodro at KTD Monastery on September 30th was a success. I had the full attention of a group of 30 practitioners at the start of their retreat and Lama Lodro invited everyone to receive the Tara dance teachings and instructions as a practice and meditation. She fully participated herself.

I taught Prayer of Motivation, Refuge and Bodhicitta and the Dance of the 21 Qualities and took time to break down the different components of the Qualities dance. Everyone stayed fully engaged, danced well and sang the mantra and all the prayers full out.

The Dance Studio where the Mandala workshop will take place.

I received a lot of positive feedback. I felt that these past couple of years of

study and practice with Tara Dhatu events and at KTD paid off in a strong synthesis of a vibrant, centered, meaningful experience with the group.

Several of the retreatants were from Hartford and said they were available to participate in a monthly circle there. And we have a few who would like to join the mandala dance retreat weekend in November.

Seems it was a rich experience as several people sought me out over the weekend to share.

Here’s a nice snippet of an email from a woman who wrote to me after the group..

I just wanted to tell you again, how much I enjoyed the Tara Dance/Movement Practice last evening. I’ve never participated in this type of practice and found myself becoming captivated by the movements, rhythm and repetition of the music and lyrics. I appreciate you taking the time and having the interest in sharing this with everyone.

A Precious Meeting in the Heart of Tara

September 10th the Maui Tara Dancers had the good fortune to present a sacred dance offering to the respected and beloved dharma teacher, Anam Thubten.  Eighteen dancers of all ages and experience offered the Tara Dhatu preliminary practices.

Anam gave his loving attention and the simple offering was ecstatic.

The Sacred Earth Temple is a beautiful room, blessed by countless offerings of sacred music and dance.

Behind Anam, an enormous crystal amplified his peaceful, joyful presence.

Several months ago Anam had written a powerful poem to Tara and wanted to share it with the dancers. He then taught a melody of Her mantra that was precious to him.

We rearranged our group, half of the dancers experienced enough to dance the new, powerful practice, “Calling Tara From the Heart” in a crescent moon configuration, the other half sat to the side, offering the mudras like a powerful background chorus.

We were all transported. Anam was visibly moved by the offering. He told us that he has seen many sacred dances but truly felt our hearts, our compassion and devotion. He could see that it wasn’t about the ego or about what great dancers we were (although he said we were all beautiful dancers) but it is about the practice, dedication and heart.

He said that the dance put him into an altered state. He recognized that we were working with sadhana, a form of spiritual training. He declared our dance offering “liberation on seeing and liberation on hearing”.

He loved the variety of dancers, from 13 year old Camry to several women in their 70’s. He laughed and said we were all wonder women! Indeed that is what we felt like, certainly we were women in wonder of it all.

 

Om Tare!!!

Dancing Tara for Dagmola on Maui

While on tour in Europe I received a message from my dear dharma friend and teacher, Dagmola Kushog. Some members of her family had made arrangements to spend some days on Maui and Dagmola wanted to know if the Tara Dancers would like her to give some teachings. I contacted the group and they were very excited to meet, receive teachings and dance for Dagmola.’’ 

It was a fabulous group effort. I worked as closely as possible with them, deciding on the programs, the outreach. They gathered together and worked out the endless details. Georgianna of the Maui Dharma Center arranged for an evening of presentation at the Center and the resident Lama Gyaltsen attended the dance offering.

Here are some of the dancer’s impressions of the experience…

Dear Prema,

Thank you for your love, support and guidance!  It was a fabulous event! People really enjoyed the Tara Dance and got a lot out of Dagmola’s teachings. It was a  GREAT experience for me to lead the dances. There is always so much more to learn as a leader – but I can see that this is the only way to really learn – through experience.  Great appreciation for how you lead and make it look so easy.

Barbara Gach

Our dance offering to Dagmola and Lama Gyaltsen was extraordinary!  We exchanged many heartfelt blessings, and loved her bright smile of joy!

What an honor it was to present this most auspicious offering.  The entire experience, including the talks at the Dharma Center and at Laura’s, the personal one-on-one interviews,  the auspicious dancing, and the personal Tara initiation given to each dancer from Dagmola touched my heart and soul deeply and profoundly, and will remain with me forever. Dagmola changed the vibration of my life.

Deborah Pozin

My heart is overflowing with gratitude. It was an amazing experience.  A special thank you to each of my Tara sisters for their unique contributions, bringing their hearts and wisdom to the offering.

Ali Naralani 

I longed to be dancing with you, but it was a joy to see all in their Tara radiance!

Linda G

Oh Prema it was so sublime! I really love Dagmola. I was happy to lead Shantideva’s Prayer. It was good to have the challenge of having to do it on our own.  We are fortunate to have you here with us much of the time.  We had to flex our Tara muscles.  It was amazing, the infinite number of details gracefully handled by a bevy of Taras.

Thank you Tara and Tara Sisters for this sublime experience.

 Sea Lily

Thank you Prema for birthing and teaching Tara ‘s dances. Thank you Barbara for organizing and leading the dances. Thank you Laura for offering your home and coordinating everything. Thank you Dagmola for your wisdom and blessings!

What an unforgettable evening!

Rita Massey

 

 

 

Creating A Brighter Future: A Bright Nepal Report

It’s a New Year!

The Nepali school year transitions from one to the next around the middle of April every year.  This year’s transition was a big one for the children of Bright Nepal as they moved from Pabitra’s private home/hostel to the school’s hostel. Pabitra continues to manage their personal and financial affairs and is regularly found volunteering at the school these days as well.

In May of every year, the school has an award ceremony that is a reflection of their work during the previous school year. (The picture above shows the children with the gifts they received for their awards).  This year we had several Bright Nepal children at the top of their class.  AND the big news is that Bright Nepal’s, Kincho Chomo Tamang who is 9 years old and in the 3rd grade, came in as the number one student in the entire school.  Kincho comes from an uneducated, impoverished farming family of 5 who are refugees from Tibet.   GO BRIGHT NEPAL TEAM!!! – and that means several of you who have donated to this program!!!  We couldn’t do it without you- you do make a difference. DEEP GRATITUDE TO ALL OF YOU. . .  And if you want to really get a perspective of the difference you make and be even more inspired, please watch the short “Girl Effect” video below.

Kincho with her trophy for being the top student of Lord Buddha Secondary School in Kathmandu, Nepal

With the recent transition, came additional costs, bringing each students expenses to $80 a month. And so we have been in the process of bringing on additional godparents as sponsors to help make up the difference.  As an organization, Bright Nepal is completely run by volunteers which includes Pabitra on the ground with the children, Angela Bennett as the godparent program coordinator and Anahata Iradah, who not only assists with the godparent program, but also fundraisers to make up for the gaps (we don’t always have the amount of godparents/sponsors we need and there are unexpected medical costs at times etc),  We are currently still in need of godparents/sponsors that can donate $40/month for the children below.  Please email Angela if you or anyone you know is interested: angelinATL99@gmail.com.  Blessings!

 

Annual Aug Kauai Tara Retreat Special Offer & Reflections

IMAG0378

For many years Tara Dhatu has hosted and annual camp on the beautiful island of Kauai.  Situated in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, the rustic camp YMCA Naue provides the Tara community a perfect spot to dive deeply into Tara’s Pureland in a spot situated perfectly on the ocean and beneath the majestic misty mountains.

Below community members share reflections of their experience of the special retreat.

You are invited to join us for the Aug 12-20th, 2017.

Not registered yet?  Tara Dhatu members are invited to join or renew membership by July 15th 2017, grab a friend, register and you both will receive a $50 discount on the full week retreat.

That is a full week of Tara retreat in paradise for just $645!!!

IMG_1517

Click Here to Read More about this year’s retreat and register

Clare (right) with Nikki (left) 2015

Clare (right) with Nikki (left) lotus heart dancers

Clare from New Zealand shares:

Kauai Camp comes to mind often. Sleeping in my own tent, by the sea surrounded with love and lushness and waking in the morning  for another of 10 days with our beautiful teachers. Camping with the buddhas and devas and living ‘as if’ in Paradise – what’s not to love? It was such a privilege  to be on that sacred beachland in a real and natural way, blessing and being blessed by the elements, connecting with other lovely souls, dancing our dreams and wishes for humanity and all else that calls Earth home. The memories of Camp 2015 are still rich in me.

 

IMG_1615

Sea Lily (second from the right in blue pants) and Adrianne (in the center) dance with their fire dakini Tara sisters after the 2016 public  Mandala offering.

SeaLily who lives on Maui shares:

The Tara Retreat on Kauai is a life-saving annual pilgrimage that reorients my mind and stabilizes my emotions.  Through the Tara practice, I let go of all that is burdensome, transforming fear and confusion into wisdom, compassion and power.  The camp is a place to dive deeply into the practice and be part of the evolution of the dances of the Feminine Divine.

Adrianne from Louisiana shares:

Words are inadequate to describe the bliss and joy of the experience.  Over 40 of us gathered from around the world to move deeper into the practice of Tara and the Dance of Her Mandala.  It was extraordinary!  Sincere connection with beautiful souls, united in our intention to develop our own Wisdom and Compassion for the benefit of all beings! 

IMG_1521

Ivy (in the center, wearing a green and blue dress just to the right of Prema) with her Tara Mandala dancing sisters after the 2016 offering dance.

Ivy from Wisconsin shares:

There is no place on the planet as beautiful and magical as the area where Camp Naue is located. To be able to dance, sing, learn, and rejoice there with our teacher Prema is a blessing. Sharing the divine feminine aspects of ourselves in Tara’s Mandala is transcendent.

T4Ali

Ali, who lives on Maui, shares a special moment with María Concepción from Chile and Samara from Brazil.

Ali Carter: The Kauai retreat is fabulous because of the inspiring talks by Prema, the camaraderie with our sisters, and the physical location…ahhh…being right on the ocean in that most beautiful place on earth….At the retreat last year…I knew my prayers and intentions for healing and peace floated effortlessly through the universe…magnified by those beautiful waters of the pacific ocean; reverberating off the cliffs and mountains.    

 

IMG_5839

Siobhan, founder of OneMama.org, who lives in San Fransisco & Uganda shares:

Tara camp has become a must have in my ever increasing busy life over responsible life. There is a soul sisterhood in one of the most sacred places on earth that heals the chaos  of my hectic life every year. Tara camp is based in grounding spiritual practices, dances and community that stays with me all year. The one year I didn’t go in last 9 years was the one year that I almost lost everything dear to me. 

I feel like I just can’t put into words what this retreat brings to my practice… it puts it into action in such a lovely way!

14079976_10210102573311703_7071752336540384397_n

France (in black on the left) and retreat friends after a water blessing ceremony, Aug 2016.

France who lives in Lousianna shares: It was my first trip to Hawaii, and what a trip!  The YMCA is a peaceful property with gorgeous flowers and fabulous beaches. We had flexible schedule, the dances were fun and easy, the nature excursions were adventurous & nurturing, the food was great overall an amazing week at Tara Camp surrounded by wonderful people!!!

 

 

T2Beach (1)

Aerie (in the black skirt) and Siobhan

 

Aerie Waters of Maui shares:

I am imagining that we all wish to create an atmosphere of love, harmony and beauty, in which to live, breathe and have our being. Kauai Tara camp is in one of the most magnificent imaginable places in nature, where we dance and do our practices in an open air pavilion, by the ocean, drinking in the beauty with inner and outer cultivation. We live in harmony with our surroundings and one another, in an international and loving community of practitioners, sending  out our energy for the benefit of all beings. Who could ask for anything more??

 

IMG_1726

Jasmine and Mark

 

Jasmine Cheryle of Hawaii’s Big Island shares:

Kauai camp is a great way to deepen a connection to Tara and her qualities and to experience profound mind training methods in a relaxing, fun, beautiful environment. 

Aloha, OM TARE TUTARE TURE SOHA

 

 

P1120338

Amina (second from the left in purple and red) and Tara sisters on “fire day” 2011.

Amina of Tempe, Arizona shares:

It is great to get the time to dive deeply into the practices and dances in such a beautiful natural environment, close to the elements – earth, wind, water and fire – with women from all over the world.

 

 

 

T 1 Jasmine Judith (1)

Jasmine Judith

 

Jasmine Judith of Arkansas and Costa Rica shares:

If you love Sufi Camp you’ll love Tara Camp even more! Tara Camp has all the wonderful fun, music, dancing, teachings, practices and food; but all one deity, one tradition. It allows me to go so much deeper into the heart of the great divine mother!

 

 

 

Andrea from Nepal shares:

P1020747

Andrea dancing on the beach after the public Mandala Offering, Aug 2015.

Two years ago I participated in the Tara Retreat on Kauai…a land of Paradise…

 

one of Tara’s Realms. Inspired by the musicians, into Tara’s realm we went… 

Isa with cave offerings 2015

Isa caring the groups offerings into the holy cave.

Into the realm of bliss and the divine. One day we went to the beach at the end of the road and danced in the ocean. a moment of relaxation… Offerings were  taken down to the local holy cave with an incredibly blissful natural pool of water.

After our divine swim, to the top we returned, manifesting as Tara and the blessings of Tara appeared in the sky as a double rainbow…

May Tara’s blessings flow through the ocean to all beings in every direction!!!

 

20160817_201324

Coming together in love, to nourish and heal.

T Grounds Cabins & Tents (3)

Cabins and tents between mountains and sea

 

 

P1020735

Sea Lion neighbor returns to the ocean after a beach nap

Trio of Mermaids and Sunset

Mermania Sunset bliss

10625016_10204317324274825_1873386528728171283_n

Swimming with sea turtles is always a blessing

20160814_201313

Divine music created by Atreya, Ricardo, and Jocelyn, Aug 2016.

20160815_200605_resized

Eana offers an earth blessing Hula

T 1 Fernanda

Fernanda does some yoga by the ocean, 2016.

11988452_10207167263521525_719027589012694290_n

Tara is Dancing in New Zealand

catherine cCatherine Callaghan is one of our most active Student Teachers in New Zealand. She is based in Nelson, in the South Island. She recently led a workshop at the beautiful Chandrakirti Meditation Centre. Her students describe the event…

This has been an enlightening weekend for me, not only learning some sacred dances of Tara but also the history behind them and the centre. It was a wonderful weekend spent with some beautiful ladies and Catherine, our very inspiring Tara Dance Teacher.

Chandrakirti is wonderful. The Nalanda hall has the most amazing collection of Tara statues.

20170430_150246

I am not a practicing Buddhist, but my life values align with Buddhism. These sacred dances are very beautiful and graceful. Such a nice way to incorporate Tara’s teachings into my life, to absorb them through the heart and soul. I felt a sense of empowerment and connectedness with myself and the goddess within.

20170430_150811

I feel very blessed and grateful for this opportunity to experience this tradition. I know this is just the beginning of my Tara Journey. You don’t need to be able to dance or be a Buddhist, just be open to a new, wonderful and amazing experience. Thanks Catherine and my fellow Taras. Love you all.

Lesley Evan

On Discovering Tara

by Fiona Mackay

 

IMG_0156

Traveling to new places,

New faces, new path?

New fear? . . . no . . . same,

Arriving, alone again.

Beautiful garden,

Welcoming space,

Smiling faces greet me,

New friends, all decided.

Gompa Tara. . .

WOW!!!

Colours greet me now,

And serenity.

Words and welcome done,

The dance begins.

Tentatively I enter the space,

And learn to greet fellow Taras.

Sacred safe space.

Body I have,

Becomes body I am.

The goddess I feel,

And the goddess I become.

 

Turning, turning, reaching, evoking,

Movements learned . . . movements embodied.

Familiar and new,

Sinking out of the mind,

And into the expression.

Beautiful new words and concepts,

Imagine . . . Fierce Compassion,

And . . . Transforming Poisons.

Powerful feminine,

Felt and enjoyed.

Laughter! Joy! Abandon!

The fear dissolving,

Into passionate embrace,

Of femininity, resolve, and refuge.

Swift Protection and Invincible Courage,

Fells like a solid warmth in the belly,

Where the fear once lived.

Such strength in the movements,

Wrapped in intent and released.

Sister Taras undulating,

Swaying, stepping, turning . . .

Rhythmic voices join to honour,

The sacred presence of Tara in all.

Time dissolving into the now,

Of the breath . . . the beat,

The circling dancers,

Connecting to each other, the sacred space . . . the trees, birds, and universe . . .

. . . . And Tara.

 

Tara Dances at Texas Yoga Retreat

  AnjaliAnjali Maazel is a Tara Dhatu Student/teacher in Austin, Texas and was invited to teach at a weekend-long women’s yoga retreat entitled

“Wash, Rinse, Retreat!”. She writes…

The retreat was held in a magnificent Hindu temple complex in south Austin. The grounds are extensive and the room was spacious, peaceful and inspiring.6190737130_7cf5d7407e_z

The participants of my class were encouraged to dress for meeting and embodying the Goddess. The organizers gave each woman a golden scarf, a bindi and a green/blue beaded bracelet with a personal message of welcome.

Most of the women had little experience with Tara so I did some extensive introductions and invited everyone to be playful as they danced, focusing on the joy of sharing the experience.

IMG_6745

Such a wonderful evening! It was very rewarding and powerful to see people who had never encountered these teachings so uplifted.

I will never forget the first time I danced the Qualities. Here was Tara, and She was dancing! We were dancing as Tara!!!! I had seen classical Indian dance performances over the years and practiced many Tibetan sadhanas, but never thought of the two coming together, although it is so natural and so right. I saw some of that amazement with this group, and it was delightful.

Om Tare!

Long Life Prayer Music & Dance For Prema Dasara

Anjali and Prema

Prema and Anjali at the Palri Pema Od Ling temple in Austin

Anjali Maazel shares…

The beautiful recording of Mercedes Bahleda and Shivadam singing our Long Life Prayer for Prema, which is now available as a download in the Tara Dhatu Dance the Goddess Emporium (click here) , is the fruit of several years’ aspirations, dreaming, conversations, writing, practice, composition, choreography and fundraising. It has also been a personal journey for me.

I began dreaming about a long life prayer for Prema shortly after meeting her. I felt that the intention behind this tradition—to direct the energy raised during practice towards the longevity of the teacher, lineage, and spiritual community—was a powerful way to honor her as the vehicle of the Tara teachings and embodiment of Tara in our world. I also felt that this was an important way to redress the imbalance which has led more men than women to become authentic wisdom teachers, in the Buddhist tradition among others. Fortunately, progress is being made to redress it, and I wanted to contribute to this positive trend.

Anjali, Prema, Kathryn, and Elizabeth

Anjalim, Prema, Kathryn, and Elizabeth

Since the early 90’s, I had sung long life prayers to HH the Dalai Lama and other masters after dedicating practice in Tibetan Buddhist centers, and found the texts and the motivation inspiring. I also received teachings on the context in which to understand these long life prayers from the author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche. l learned about common misconceptions regarding the person of the teacher, and the sacred relationship between an authentic teacher and student. In that tradition, prostrating to the teacher and honoring her are not about venerating the person of the teacher, but rather the teacher as vehicle for the teachings, as an embodiment of the teachings, as a precious link in the lineage, and as an embodiment of the deity we are connecting with. An authentic teacher will not require homage to be paid to her personally. In our world, there are some false gurus, and there is sometimes misplaced devotion as a result. However, when the authenticity of the teacher is verified—and Ken Mcleod’s section on the student-teacher relationship in Wake Up to Your Life has a comprehensive checklist—then the practice of devotion is placed in a clear container.

With this in mind, I aspired to write a long life prayer for Prema, and planted the seed in a conversation with the other two Austin Tara Circle teachers, Elizabeth Gergaud and Kathryn Henderson in 2014. A few months later, Elizabeth sent me several beautifully lyrical stanzas, and I thought it would be fitting, were we to offer the prayer to Prema during her next visit, to have it co-written by the three of us. I added a few stanzas, and Kathryn added one as well. In editing the final long version, I checked with traditional texts and also tried to convey the qualities unique to our lineage and to Prema’s skill as a teacher. In addition, I wanted to invoke the blessing of Vasudhara on Tara Dhatu as an organization. This was the final draft of the long version of the prayer:

Long Life Prayer for Prema Dasara

 Om Tare!

 Like the Dakini’s warm breath,

You inspire and empower all you touch.

 Melting our hearts

Into compassionate action,

Skillful and wrathful to tame our minds,

You show us the path of peace.

 Freeing with joyful dancing,

Your teachings liberate,

Turning the wheel of the precious dharma,

You bring the source of bliss.

 Rainbow Light Goddess, 

Rainbow Light Dancer,

Lineage Holder of East and West,

Your rainbow light bridges all realms.

Daughter of the lineage of Tara herself,

Refuge for beings in the darkness of Samsara,

You embody the light of the Three Jewels,

Resplendent with the wisdom of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

 Prema Dasara, with Tara’s own face and hands,

May your life be long,

Supported in every way,

Surrounded by the Gurus, Devas and Dakinis.

 Radiant Vajra Dancer, glowing with health,

May Vasudhara shower you with treasure and abundance,

May Tara Dhatu shine in glory

For the benefit of all.

 Sublime Teacher, protector who dances the wisdom of the dakinis,

May the Divine Ones bless your body, speech and mind

With long life, good health and wisdom.

 Beautiful Dakini, may you be a guide for beings for eons to come,

May happiness and good fortune fill all the worlds.

 Soha!

Myri Danced LLP for Prema MM Spring 2017

Myri danced an offering of the full length Long Life Prayer for Prema and the Taras at the Spring Tara Dhatu Retreat at Mount Madonna.

 We read the prayer aloud as on offering to Prema during her visit to Austin in 2014, and shared it with a few students. Shortly thereafter, I began to dream about a shorter version, which could be sung and danced after the dedication in our daily practice to the happiness and freedom of all beings. I began to work on the text and asked for input from Kathryn and Elizabeth, who encouraged me. When the text was finished, I sent it to a group of student teachers for comments, emphasizing that I hoped this prayer would resonate broadly and become part of our practice. I began to feel that it could serve an important function for us, for Prema and for Tara Dhatu, and I loved the idea of concluding daily practice after the dedication with this final energetic seal.

I began looking for a melody, and fell in love with the 16 Offering Goddesses. I liked the simplicity  of the alternating chords and the connotations to the offering that a similar melody might have, so I wrote a melody which resembled it. Along with the melody, came the desire to create a choreography. Like the prayer and melody, the dance would honor our lineage, which at its root combines classical Indian, Tibetan and Western sensibilities. I looked for mudras we are familiar with in our practices, so that we could easily learn the dance, and I was inspired by the flowing beauty of Calling Tara from the Heart and White Tara of the Six Shields. Not knowing if what I was doing would speak to anyone else or if it was respectful in the way I intended, I called on Parvati and Myri. They encouraged me to pursue the idea, and Myri contributed the vajra mudra and the elegant Vajra “flip” above our heads for the “Radiant Vajra Dancer” portion of the text. At the same time, Myri told me she was choreographing the long version of the prayer with her own music. I have seen videos of this dance but have yet to enjoy her dance it in person. To know that the long version of the prayer inspired such a work of beauty and devotion was energizing—the project now felt not only viable but alive!

In the winter of 2016, I taught the short dance and song to our Austin group, and we offered it to Prema in the spring. My mother, who is a composer, spent many

LLP recording team Spring 2017

The recording team in the studio: (from right to left) Anjali, Mercedes, Shivadam, and Parvati

hours handwriting the score, so we could offer that as well.

The next aspiration was to record the music, and we thought it might be done while Prema was in Brazil in 2016. After talking to Ricardo, the Brazilian guitarist who has greatly contributed to so many of our favorite recordings, I understood that the melody I had composed was too close to a traditional melody many of the Brazilian dancers were familiar with. As I wanted to find music that would inspire as many of us as possible, I asked Ricardo for some ideas, and he offered a variation. I reworked it again, using some of the suggestions and adding some new material. The new melody required a refrain, so this was the resulting text:

Long Life Prayer for Prema Dasara

Om Tare!

Daughter of the lineage

Of Noble Tara,

Radiant Vajra Dancer,

Sublime Teacher,

Prema Dasara,

May your life be long,

Supported in every way!

Until all beings

Awaken into freedom,

May you remain with us and guide us,

Dancing in bliss and joy,

Surrounded by love,

Abundance and good health,

Surrounded by love,

Abundance and good health,

Manifesting Tara’s

Wisdom, Compassion and Power!

Soha!

LLP recording Spring 2017 Mercedes and Anjali

At Big Bug Sound recording studio, Anjali danced the prayer over and over again as Mercedes sang through various takes, working to get it all just right.

When the melody and dance were set in 2016, I began imagining Mercedes Bahleda, the singer we love from White Tara of the Six Shields and Calling Tara from the Heart, as the voice to carry this precious message. From this aspiration, and the joyful thought of surprising Prema with a recording, came the courage to contact her. Mercedes was delightful—inspired by our project, she agreed to do it! We worked on dates, places, and in the end, as she lived near Parvati and Shivadam outside of Phoenix, we decided to find a recording studio there. Shivadam offered his skill and devotion to the

LLP recording Spring 2017 Shivadam

Shivadam sang in the recording booth while the computer captured the rainbow dancing notes.

project. He and I, with Parvati’s input, worked for several weeks on orchestration and sound texture. I wanted a baritone male voice to sing an “Om” throughout the song : I felt the male energy should be present, as it is in the 16 Offering Goddesses as well as the two main Tara origin myths. For me, the “Om” in Prema’s translation—“All that Exists”—naturally contained the masculine and feminine. Shivadam’s voice was ideal for this, and his familiarity with Indian music and practice brought depth to the mantric sound.

Now all that was needed was funding. Here again, Parvati and Myri were the cheerleaders, and then Parvati became the doula of the fundraising effort. In a short amount of time, the community of student teachers—all of you!!!—contributed so generously, that I booked the studio and arrived in Phoenix a few weeks later in March 2017.

 

Shivadam works with Robert of Big Bug Studios to get the mix just right.

Shivadam works with Robert of Big Bug Studios to get the mix just right.

The experience of recording the long life prayer was magical. Shivadam had initiated me to the importance of preparing all details before entering the sound studio, so we arrived with a script, which we revised according to Mercedes’ own process. I worked with him, Mercedes and Robert, the sound engineer, to create in soundscapes what I had dreamt about for so many years. The dream was spun into sound with great precision and great love, and details were added that gave depth and sparkle to the initial vision.  Mercedes’ voice shimmered (as it does), and she layered her offering with some improvisation. The result is what you hear… That afternoon in the studio was an oasis of Bliss and Joy I will never forget. I felt great healing in my relationship to music and to past experiences with it, and felt Tara’s presence—her enveloping warmth and love.

The morning of my flight back to Austin, Robert, Shivadam and I re-mixed the song into its final version, with a few tweaks that addressed imbalances and enhanced key details. Spending the extra time proved invaluable, and we were grateful for Robert’s generosity.

I know some of you, the student teachers, led by Myri and Parvati, offered this version of the Long Life Prayer to Prema at the Mount Madonna retreat. Barbara Patton generously pulled together some cards and CDs at the last minute, which looked beautiful. And I have heard that you managed to keep the secret till the day of the offering and that Prema was surprised… Mission accomplished! Thank you to all of you who danced that day! When I heard about the offering, I felt that the energy directed towards Prema’s good health had also blessed me with a sense of completion. It had been a very long time since I had been able to shepherd a creative project to its fullest expression. On a personal level, the sense of fulfillment was profound, and my gratitude grew stronger.

Tara Dhatu 2017 by Celestine Star - Lundell LLP Offering

Prema sat patiently as she waited for the Taras at the Spring Mainland retreat to offer her the surprise they had been working on quietly throughout the week.

So you see—this project was the result of a group effort and brought with it many blessings. The support of our community, the encouragement of Parvati and Myri, the inspiration of Elizabeth and Kathryn, Shivadam’s musicianship, the Brazilian community’s suggestions, Mercedes’ ethereal voice, and the offering at Mount Madonna all played a vital part in bringing it to fruition. My particular prayer is this:

To conclude our daily practice, may we direct the energy of this chant and dance to Prema’s long life and good health, the harmony of our community and our own vitality, so that we may appreciate and support each other in bringing our gifts into the world for the benefit of all beings. Soha!

Tara Dhatu 2017 by Celestine Star - Lundell 4-1-17 LLP

With Hearts full of gratitude and dedicated to nurturing to the auspicious circumstances that will support Prema-ji, the Taras all over the world, and all wisdom teachings, we offer this prayer and dance for the benefit of all beings. Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Bright Nepal ~ Girls Rising… with a little help from their friends

Education Changes the World

Bright Nepal Girls 

Begin the New School Year with BIG Changes

And they need your generous support! 

*******************************************************************

“Money is like manure. 

It’s meant to be spread around encouraging young things to grow”

Dolly Levi (Hello Dolly!) 

BrightNepalGirls

NGO Bright Nepal rescues impoverished “at risk” girls, 

gives them a safe haven and educates them.  

Bright Nepal is part of the powerful, transformative “girl effect”. 

Make a one time US tax deductible contribution through Tara Dhatu:

Click Here to Make  One Time Donation to Bright Nepal

OR
Set up an ongoing monthly contribution to support Bright Nepal through Tara Dhatu and become a godparent to help sponsor a child for their monthly expenses:

 Click Here to make a $40/month Bright Nepal donation and cover 1/2 of a child’s monthly expenses

OR…

Click Here to make an $80/month Bright Nepal donation covers a child’s monthly expenses in full

Visit the Tara Dhatu Humanitarian Webpage ~ Click Here
**************************************************

Due to recent financial and personal health stresses, Pabitra Lama, Bright Nepal‘s founder and director, has decided to make changes to the organization as we have come to know it. Instead of the girls living in the Bright Nepal hostel when school is in session, they have moved into the hostel that is connected to their school, the Lord Buddha Secondary School. This just happened at the start of the new school year on April 17th. Pabitra will continue to manage not only the finances to pay for the girls room, board, school supplies, school fees, and clothing (etc.) but she will be managing their overall wellbeing by checking on them weekly and organizing outings for them once a month. 

In order to be able to support this change, it’s become imperative that we find additional godparents (sponsors) for the girls 

as soon as possible.  At the moment, each girl has one godparent that has committed to donating $40/mth to support them in their pursuit of a better life.  This amount only covers about half of Bright Nepal’s current costs.  So, we are seeking partner godparents for each of the girls.  If you are interested, please contact Angela directly as soon as possible.  

If not, consider making a tax deductible donation
to help finance this change.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your generous support
in whatever form you feel inspired to give it!
With Love

  ~ Angela and Anahata 

GirlsRising

Dancing Tara With the Children in Victoria, Australia

Clare WoodhamClare Woodham is a Level 2 Tara Dance teacher in Napier, New Zealand where she facilitates a lovely dharma center and a very loyal group of Tara Dancers. Recently she was invited to share some of our dances at the SIBA Retreat Center in Victoria, Australia this January. She writes…

I shared the dances during the Family and White Tara Retreats at SIBA. The Sakya International Buddhist Academy is set on the edge o f the Snowy River National Park in Victoria and was a yoga retreat centre for 25 years with organic orchards and vegetable gardens. A massive amount of native birds and some goannas, snakes and kangaroos also live there.

Eleven years ago it was offered to Lama Choedak Rinpoche, heart son of H.E Chogye Trichen Rinpoche. The Sakya Losal Choe Dzong based in Canberra bought the land and buildings, a beautiful new gompa was built and the old wooden community hall was spruced up for the visit of His Holiness Sakya Trizin in 2009 and renamed the ‘Golden House’.

Every year since then they have held a Family Retreat at the same time as the annual White Tara Retreat. The Golden House is the venue for the Children’s program and set up for all sorts of creative play; reading children’s Dharma books, doing Dharma plays. There is also a teepee outside and a small man-made lake encircled with rushes and always the right temperature for swimming.

It was a profound privilege to give the 25 or so children in the program a channel for their natural love and recognition of what is good and beautiful. The ages of the children were between 3 and 13 years old.

IMG-20170129-WA0008

Day 1 Catherine, the director of the program welcomed everyone and lead the Refuge prayer from the Buddhist Family Prayer Book. We then stood in a circle and I taught the Dance of Motivation. We talked about what wisdom is, what ‘manifest’ means, what blessings are. We made invisible warm balls of light between our hands and made them grow then took that energy ball to our hearts and imagined our hearts glowing softly and kindly.

We talked about how we can bless our pets by stroking them gently and making soft sounds to them, and how good it feels when our mums and dads give us hugs and say kind words to us. We talked about blessing our friends with our smiles and sharing happy stories. We blessed the earth by walking softly and barefoot.

“I don’t dance said one 8 year old”.

“Well let’s see how you go with just walking with the rest of us” I encouraged. She stayed and danced all the dances and came back the next day. Her mum said she showed her that evening what she had danced, and was very happy.

The Dance of Motivation was followed by the Tara Mantra Dance. First we repeated the mantra and it was explained. Next we practiced blessing the earth, the waters, the air, and all the things that grow, with our kind eyes and our blessing hands and our soft footfall.

Then we walked the Tara Mantra Dance, seeing the Tara in the heart of the one in front of us. After this we did the Dance of Dedication as a way of sharing our good feelings with others

Day 2 I introduced the White Tara Dance of the 6 Shields. Parents reported their children humming the mantra in the afternoon.

Day 3 we worked on Refuge and Bodhicitta and the Six Shields.

Day 4 we completed the White Tara Dance of the 6 Shields.

Day 5 we offered the dances to Rinpoche, parents, residents and retreat participants. Rinpoche congratulated the children on their heartfelt dances. He encouraged them to keep building their ability to love everyone and be kind to everyone. In addressing the adults Rinpoche said how easy it is for children to relate to what is good and beautiful. He encouraged the parents to continue to give their children ways of expressing their aspirations and their dreams as in this sort of dancing meditation.

It was such fun to share the dances in this way and gratifying to see how much they were appreciated by the children, the adults and Rinpoche. They want me to offer the Tara Dances every year.

I couldn’t resist sharing this note from Catherine, the Children’s Program Coordinator…

Dear Clare

Just wanted to say thanks for your participation in the children’s program at Siba making it richer, graceful and beautiful. I rejoice in what you shared with us and what you continue to share with your community in New Zealand. May the love continue to ripple out to the community and flow with White Tara’s generosity, grace and radiance….

I had some wonderful reflections from the adults that watched the dance – a couple were moved to tears and others said it shifted something within. One man reported, “seeing the children offer the Tara Dances ignited the light within my heart”

Love and light

Joy and peace

Catherine

Here’s some footage from the 2014 children’s camp…lovely rendition of the 4 immeasurables

 

Tara Is Dancing In Wimberly, Texas

AnjaliAnjali Maazel has been leading a Tara Dance Circle in Wimberly, Texas. The group has lately been working with the Mandala Dance of the 21 Taras, focusing on individual Taras. Their last meeting was celebrating the Gold Tara, All Victorious.

 

 

The previous meeting one of the dancers, Dalmara Bayne, PhD, ND and author of Holistic Healing, a Pathway to Wholeness wrote an exceptional observation of her connection with the Tara Dance. This is an excerpt from her writing…

Tara Dancing & The Importance of

Experiential Spiritual Practice

image1

Dalmara is standing first from the Left

Dancing Tara provides the perfect cauldron for an extraordinary spiritual opportunity through a mandalic moving structure and the power of intention. The intent here is to both invoke and embody the “Enlightened Divine Feminine.”

This takes us beyond dogma, interpretation, traditions, and into the realm of pure beingness. As long as we surrender to this intention and do not try and minimize the experience through mental machinations; mistakes and misinterpretations are impossible.

Here is a vehicle that embodies safety and truth at its core; engendering effortless surrender. The form and rituals empower the intent as does our participation, but the intent is paramount. It is what makes this practice universally accessible and of value to anyone and everyone.

I have studied many traditions, engaged multiple practices, and been inspired by the words and actions of numerous teachers, but the one thing I absolutely trust above all is pure experience. As an individual with expanded senses and a fair amount of scientific discernment, I understand the pitfalls of treading into unknown domains; particularly those codified via dogma, but the intent of this practice is pure to its core.

While I have a personal affinity for “Tara” it is just a name which offers definition not limitation; such energies cannot be contained by one tradition for their domain is one of universal truth. And this practice offers us the opportunity to become that truth; if even for a moment we will be given a beacon or guiding light to our true essential-whole-selves.

With enough such moments we will become that beacon offering a light to others. I am so grateful to have encountered this practice and to Prema for both creating it and making it accessible to others, to Anjali for leading the practice in Wimberley, and of course; TARA. Thank you for helping me reclaim my true essence.

image4

Om Tare

Tara is Dancing in Virginia

Jacquelyn Amid the Goddesses At Dong Hung Temple Virginia Beach, VA

Jacquelyn Amid the Goddesses
At Dong Hung Temple Virginia Beach, VA

Jacquelyn Sonam Lhamo and her husband Rigdzin are ardent dharma practitioners. Jacquelyn is a Level 2 Tara Dance teacher.  She has shared the dance several years in Virginia and returned to lead a series of Tara Dancing experiences July 2016. This is her story….

The Great Compassion Festival

This year I was invited to present some of our Tara and Dharma dances at the Great Compassion Festival in Virginia Beach, VA. This yearly event, dedicated to those who have passed,  is presented by the Vietnamese Buddhist community.

The crowd was already up and dancing to New Age drumming music when Curtis, a fan of Tara dance from past years, said “Here come the Tara dancers.”

I said “My name is Jacquelyn and I am Tara.  You are also Tara.  Tonight we will all be Tara dancers. ”  As I was setting up, Rigdzin presented some dharma visuals on liberation through seeing, including the flag the former Karmapa had seen in a dream.

Rigdzin became my mouth piece, speaking the lyrics as I introduced the movements.  Although I was suffering from jet lag, Goddess Tara’s energy poured through me, giving me the power and energy to continue the presentation in Her honor.

unknown_1

After doing the preliminary practices and prayers of  motivation, refuge, and bodhicitta, I shared Prema’s recent email about healing the planet’s elements with Tara’s mantra and we danced the mantra dance.

Dancing Tara at the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple

Concerned folks, many from various backgrounds, shared a retreat day of meditation, Tara dance, silent silence and dharma dialogue at the temple.

The Temple was really attractive, filled with beauty, energy, various depictions of the Enlightened ones and a happy English speaking monk from Vietnam, Smilie.  Many expressed concern about trying to integrate the teachings to be part of the solution to our world problems.

unknown_2

In dancing Tara folks had an opportunity to embody the energy of an enlightened being.  Our Tara prayers grounded us, uniting body, heart, and mind. It was a joyful experience of sangha.

Smilie emphasized the importance of non duality through personal practice to find peace within and, in our own way, help the world. Detachment from our emotional blocks helps us to center in our Divine state of being! As we become more aligned with Enlightened energy and approach the world situation from the view of not seeing positive or negative, it changes us. Our collective efforts can energetically make major shifts.

Dancing Tara at the Inner Light Church

The final phase of our Tara dance July tour reminded me of my first meeting held years ago, that one can do the Tara presentation without equipment or props! With the vast selection of Tara and Dharma dances to choose from the three hours flew by!

Church of the Inner Light, our dance group are holding Jessica's Tara Meditation cards, Karmapa's flag, and the Guruyoga symbol of White Ahh in dakini script, both considered Liberation-On-Seeing symbols!

At the Church of the Inner Light our dancers are holding Jessica’s Tara Meditation cards, Karmapa’s flag, and the Guru Yoga symbol of  White Ah, both considered Liberation-On-Seeing symbols!

Tara Dances in Vermont

Jacquelyn Sonam Lhamo and her husband Rigdzin are ardent dharma practitioners. Jacquelyn is a Level 2 Tara Dance teacher who has introduced the dance to several new communities. She and Rigdzin had an opportunity to share with a group in Vermont. This is her story….

We needed an escort to find where this center was located in Benson, Vermont which was way out in the sticks!  We drove through lots of green mountains, corn, and long highways.  Finally we were greeted by our host Orest who provided us with nourishment and had organized a small group of friends.

He informed us that we would dance outside after we shared dharma practices in his lovely Shrine room. He told us that for years he had listened to the Tara Dance music and was so happy that he would be able to experience the actual Tara dance practices.  I was eager to present other dharma dances  as well.

Our group was mixed, males and females; included were a professional bee keeper, published author and shaman who studied with natives in Mexico, and visiting folks from Slavic countries.

IMG_0302Our uplifting day of dance in the warm sun amid the green hills of Vermont ended before the sun went down.  We got lost again and had to be guided back to the main highway.

Orest invited me to come again next year for a bigger venue.

Everyone appreciated our event and I was gifted with a dozen freshly laid eggs, a jar of maple syrup and a jar of honey.

 

Blessings To All From Kathmandu

andreaEvery year our good friend Andrea Abinanti, long time resident of Kathmandu, Nepal, invites us to support her in making special prayer offerings during the holiday season.

She invites us to gather names of people who have recently died or need some prayer support to be read out during a series of pujas that she and her expat community support. This year we asked our students and members if they would like to participate, to make donations for the offerings, and send in names.

Dzambala, Deity of Abundance and Good Fortune presides over Wealth Vase Blessings

Dzambala, Deity of Abundance and Good Fortune presides over Wealth Vase Blessings

Blessing of the

Wealth Vase

The offerings started in early December. For some years now, she has maintained a wealth vase for us, to help keep Tara Dhatu financially viable. Every year she takes it to the Temple of her teacher Drubtop Rinpoche to have it re-empowered.

Dispelling Harm Ushnisha Vijaya

The next set of offerings were made on the day of  the winter solstice to  Ushnisha Vijaya.  According to Tibetan astrology, the elements of that day were very good…wind/wind: the day has sublime energy to quickly accomplish one’s wishes.

ushnisha-vijayaThis form of the great Mother is the essence of the Wisdom of all the Buddhas…she is the ‘Victorious One’…having the ability to dispel harm.  Through her great kindness she prolongs life. Her white body is radiant like glistening snow on the top of a mountain; her central face pacifies obstacles. Her second face, the yellow one to her right, brings about the increase of qualities. Her third face, the blue one to her left, is slightly wrathful; it brings control over the negative mind.butterlamps

 

Entering the gompa you can see so many offerings, the butter lamps send the light of wisdom to all.

 

andreatemplereadAt every event Andrea read the names of those who have passed away during this past year…may they receive the blessings of Ushnisha Vijaya and quickly receive a precious human rebirth. She also read the names of those who are sick. If their life span is completed, may they pass quickly and peacefully, taking a precious human rebirth. Those who have the karma to live, may they quickly recover from whatever sickness they have and may the rest of their life be healthy and full of joy and happiness!

May all other beings have excellent health and a long life filled with happiness and success!

May the prayers spread in all directions, to every being.

From the depth of our heart, we send our love to all.

May all obstacles be removed.

Whatever one undertakes, may it be successful.

And may all sicknesses be healed!

May everyone’s wish be fulfilled

and may Ushnisha Vijaya’s blessings of good health  be received by all!!!

Christmas Offering

medicine-buddhaMany years ago, I had the desire to sponsor special prayers for Christmas.  I asked Drubthop Rinpoche which puja would be most beneficial to offer. He recommended the Medicine Buddha puja.

Medicine Buddha, the Supreme Healer, is an enlightened being who has unbiased compassion for all beings.  He protects all from physical and mental sicknesses, removes the sickness of delusions  and helps eradicate the three poisons; attachment, hatred and ignorance.

May those traveling through the Bardo see the light of the enlightened ones.

May they take a precious human rebirth!

All who are sick, may they quickly recover!  May all others have good health and long lives!

May the light of the Lord of Compassion radiate out to all, filling everyone’s heart with great bliss!!!

May the darkness of ignorance be dispelled.

May the mind awaken to it’s clear, luminous nature.butterlampswoman

May the light be sent out to all!

For those who have passed on, may the Medicine Buddha neutralize their past bad karma.

May all those who are sick be quickly cured and may all others have good health and great happiness!!!

May all receive the blessings of the masters and enlightened ones!!!

swayambuNew Years Day

We started our cycle of offerings on New Year’s Day at the Swayambhu Stupa. We were able to enjoy a beautiful morning with perfect weather.  Last year, because of the earthquake, we did not have permission to offer our annual painting of the stupa. This year, we were all so happy to be allowed!!!

We surrounded the stupa with butter lamps, sponsored a whitewash for the great dome and adorned it with lotus swirls of saffron and a new curtain above the eyes. The group then assembled in the monastery to make prayers.

 

prayerflags

 

Lha gya lo!  Lha gya lo! Lha gya lo!  Ki ki tso tso

May all the gods be happy with our offerings!

 

 

 

May auspiciousness pervade in all the realms!

group

 

The Balinese Masks of Tara – Complete

mekarepaintMekare Fiske has midwifed through her capable hands and radiant heart the completion of a long held aspiration of Tara Dhatu – masks of the 22 Taras of our dancing mandala to be revealed in their glory at the Festival of Prayer in Brasilia, May 2018.

It has been a long and winding road to this birthing.  In 1987 Situ Rinpoche told me that there would be a festival based on the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara. For thirteen years on Maui we developed the Festival of the Great Mother, dancing Tara and including the Maui community in presenting multicultural expressions of music, dance and drama. As my teaching travels expanded it became more difficult to manifest this festival. But the vision of it persisted, and expanded. I imagined four mandalas of dancers, one of them masked. 

 Unbeknownst to me, one of my senior students, Mekare, was a mask dancer. And she did not know of my vision of masks for Tara. In 2007, kismet happened. Mekare had been blending her practices of deity yoga with mask dancing, and was inspired to offer a solo deity mask dance at Tara Camp as a surprise gift to us all. Thus, through the magic of Tara, many dreams and talents and life experiences wove together and catalyzed a surge of energy for Tara’s mask project.

Impecable Virtue

Impeccable Virtu

Knowing nothing about dancing in a mask, or making a mask, I turned to different people to help me develop the vision. Janice Walrafen led a workshop at one of our Kauai camps, creating masks in paper mache. Several of my other students also experimented with dancing in masks. I consulted with artists and mask makers and could never quite hit the note my internal guide was asking for. I was directed to a magnificent artist but she worked in leather. For Tara, that was not an option.  I kept praying and seeking. And then one day I realized, the answer was Mekare. 

The Destroyer of Negativity

The Destroyer of Negativity

The Tara of Bliss and Joy

The Tara of Bliss and Joy

Last year she went to Bali to commission the carving of the masks, met Oka, the mask maker perfect for the task, and encountered many wonderful adventures. The making of deity masks requires great talent and great dedication. The masks could not be completed in just a few months, so plans were made for her to return again this year. Following her own inner guidance, Mekare  connected with an artist friend in her home town and used her studio to explore mixing colors in order to assemble the kinds of paints needed to bring out the exceptional colors necessary to complete the project.  This July she returned to Bali with the paints she had chosen, and she and Oka completed the masks. Here is her story…..

Oka, the mask maker

Oka, the mask maker

“We are in process of painting 9 of the masks for the Buddha Tara. My heart is overflowing with joy. I sit with Oka on his carving mat, surrounded by masks and paints, (and on occasion his 6 year old grandson and a bit older comic mask actor from Australia  )

We put layers and layers of thin coats of color onto the beautiful faces, punctuated by drying times and fine sanding, then more layers of color. The breeze is cool and we are having such fun mixing colors and speaking of eye and mouth expressions and the nature of the art of the Mask.  I love the feel of my soft brush moving over the exquisite smooth curves of Tara’s face.

creative-wisdom-joy-and-laughterirresistable-truth

Creative Wisdom, Radiant Health, Swift Protection

Creative Wisdom. Swift Protection. The Remover of Sorrow. Worthy of Honor. Impeccable Virtue. The Destroyer of Attachment. Triumphant Joy. I chant their Praises in a soft whisper as I paint.

And the memories flood in. Dancing Creative Wisdom in Atlanta, The Destroyer of Attachment in Vermont, Triumphant Joy in Santa Fe, Irresistible Truth in India and Nepal ….. And on and on and on. A swirl of all the Tara’s and all the travels and all the sisters pour through my mind and heart.

And my time in Bali 22 years ago, that magic time when I first fell into the magic well of mask dancing and swam so deep it changed me forever. And that very moment happened only yards from here, in this same family  compound in Mas. The

Remover of Sorrow

Remover of Sorrow

magic and wonder of life brings tears and a boundless grin!

But most importantly now in this moment, is Tara. It is She who came to me in dreams in my early twenties. Powerful dreams. Awakening dreams. It is She who led me to China Galland who taught me Tara’s mantra and my first introduction to Tibetan Buddhism (in this life), and to Lama Tsultrim Allione who profoundly inspired my young woman’s heart awakening in this world.

Invincible Courage

Invincible Courage

And later to beloved Prema Dasara and the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara, to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to the nun in Paris, to the artist in Ojo Caliente, to the magic of Findhorn and the woman with the seed pearls, to Lisa Bach and Karma Moffet in San Francisco, to the sadhu in Kathmandu, to the canyon in the Jemez, etc etc etc etc……

And now back to beloved Bali.

Most of all, I am thankful for Tara’s loving guidance inward, to the wisdom, beauty, strength, and compassion within my own heart, the journey within, the journey we all make “alone”, the most important journey of all…..

I dedicate this moment of gratitude, awe, and love to the wisdom, beauty, strength, compassion, and courage within YOUR heart. Yours.

And the hearts of All Beings, without exception….

Mekare and Oka, the masks are finished

Mekare and Oka, the masks are finished

Three weeks later Mekare wrote….

Hello Beloveds…….I am in tears of joy and awe and love. A month ago when I realized I needed to stay longer than planned, we all looked at the calendar and saw that the Full Moon Eclipse was on the holy day of Penampahan Kuningan AND my birthday. Oka said we would all do our best to finish all the masks for my birthday.

The priest blesses the masks

The priest blesses the masks

It is very important to do a ceremony on completion of deity masks. Not to wait. They are very sacred and need honor and respect. Last year we all agreed that whenever the masks were finished we would have a small potent private ceremony for the birthing of the masks. Mask dancers do many ceremonies for their masks. Each time is a purification and a blessing and a re-charge. These amazing masks will be blessed in many ways …. Balinese, Tibetan, and more, I have a feeling.

We set our intentions for the completion of the masks and a ceremony on Full Moon/Eclipse/Kuningan/my Birthday.

Blessing the masks

Blessing the masks

It was an extraordinary work, requiring much focus and prayer and dedication. Tara in every cell of our beings. All forces Seen and Unseen strongly present. Oka and I both fell “ill” over the course of creation. So much energy! Many many mantras chanted. We had huge support from our families and friends here in Bali and from all of you … in Arizona and Maui and beyond…..and also my Bee sisters in England doing a womb weave of energy for creation.

The masks being complete is a miracle. And to have a purification and blessing on a Full Moon Kuningan is such an extraordinary blessing that it is beyond words.

The masks are blessed and ready, filled with Taksu

The masks are blessed and ready, filled with Taksu

Kuningan is a very special Balinese holy day. It is a time when the Gods and Goddesses descend to earth, accompanied by wise ancestor spirits, bringing infinite blessings for all people and the entire universe. There are ceremonies of prayer and meditation for humanity’s harmony, balance, and prosperity. It is truly a Golden time! “Kuning” itself means golden yellow.

To have our beautiful masks born and blessed during this time is extremely auspicious.

There really are no words for how all of this evolved and happened.

group-blesses

The masks are all perfect. An Unseen Hand had Her way with these masks to be in sizes for all women and all shapes.  My friend Putra said to me yesterday , “What you and Oka have done is very special. Very unusual and very special. Tara is so happy you have brought Her faces into the world”.

Many years ago I made a prayer to go deeper and deeper into what creation really truly is in this lifetime. The step-down of spirit into matter.  The extraordinary process by which everyone and everything takes form.  This journey with the masks has been another surge of learning for me in this realm and I am so thankful. I understand more now why Oka could not do the masks without me here, I understand more now about the relationship between Spirit and human consciousness in bringing forth creation, and I understand more than ever what Trust truly is….

And all on my birthday. Wow!!!

After the beyond beautiful little ceremony for the masks, I decided to go alone to Tirta Empul, the water temple, for more birthday blessings and to pray. 22 years ago, the waters of Tirta Empul had a huge effect on me. I wanted to return on this special day.

mekare

I went down back roads through rice fields and little villages. Women were hanging the woven coconut leaf shields on their homes for Kuningan. The air was cool. And the waters were crystal clear and full of shakti, mana, ormus, power, and love.

I am reborn yet again.

Sending love and gratitude and cups of gold to all of you!!!

Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha

Mekare

 

 

 

Season of Sangha’s Creative Wisdom Manifest

Silhouette of ten young women, walking hand in hand.

We asked you to share your creative explorations into your Tara practice.  Here is a sample of the tremendous talent and creativity in our Tara Sangha. We thank each one of you who shared your special Tara art with us.  Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha!

beth-anne-tara-doll

 

Hello!
Here’s an art doll I made in January 2015, inspired by Green Tara.
I’m looking so forward to seeing what beautiful art this sangha shares! Thanks for marking July as a month to celebrate this community and this profound practice and path!

Om Tare!
~Beth Anne in Indiana

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

jasmine-tara-art

This is an art form I do called encaustic. It is painting with a mixture of beeswax, pigment, and tree resin. This piece of Green Tara is in a custom frame I made.

~ Jasmine of The Island of Hawaii

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

amina-tara-hearts

A few years ago when I was home ill for a few months. I started making Tara Hearts. My husband was making them out of plaster and I was listening to the Tara meditation CD and I started getting ideas about hearts for the different praises. I’m not an artist and I really wasn’t sure I could manifest the visions I was getting of the different heart praises . Here are a few: Sublime Intelligence, All Victorious, Transformer of Poisons, Serene Peace, Ferocious Compassion, Remover of Sorrow. In general, I was really pleased with how they turned out. I ended up doing about twelve hearts until we ran out of Hearts to paint and I got better physically, mentally and spiritually and went back to work. Now they are adorning my alters.                     ~Amina of Tempe, Arizona

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

tam-embroderyIn 2006, when Hurricane Rita left us without electricity for nine days, I spent hours at my table in the carport cutting out tiny scraps of fabric by hand and stitching entirely by hand a doll-size  Civil War-style quilt.  I enjoyed this so much that I grabbed my box of gorgeous Asian style fabrics with their rich colors and metallic gold accents. I simply stitched  different 2- inch blocks alternating with beautiful white- on- white squares. But something needed  to go in that square. I love the shape of TAM and embroidered that in each white square. Since that time, I am never without my “TAM” kit and have made several of these tiny wall hangings. It is a delightful form of practice.

~ Lilliha of the Louisiana swamps & Tara Dahtu’s secretary

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

rhiannon-white-tara-2016

On Sept 2, 2016 Rhiannon of Seattle posted this lovely painting…

“I just wanted to post a little painting I did of White Tara today. I hope you are having a lovely day, Tara Friends.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

eana-tara-maskEana Rose of Kauai created the beautiful Tara mask to the left by making a mold on her own face with plaster strips.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

robyn-crosa-art

Hello! I am a gourd folk artist and I was inspired to make this after participating in my first dance offering! This is a representation of Purple Tara!

Om Tare!   ~Robyn Crosa of Atlanta, GA

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is but a small of taste of the Tara talent that abounds. Keep an eye out for our regular newsletters and Face Book posts where the creative offerings of the community members are often featured. If you would like to submit something for an upcoming post email us.

Tara Dhatu Season of Sangha FaceBook Fun with Friends

We have been playing some fun Q&A with FaceBook friends.

See some of the answers below… Join the fun on FaceBook, click here

Season of Sangha question #1

Hope Jinishian: I met Tara in Bali and it was love at first sight. Tara Dhatu practices and the Buddha Goddess Tara have propelled me all over the world this past year deepening, healing, guiding, consoling and inspiring, Culminating in the recent sharing of the Motivation Prayer, Refuge and Bodhicitta, Shantideva Prayer, White Tara of the Six Shields, Calling Tara from the Heart and Om Ah Hum dances at His Holiness 17th Karmapa’s Monastery in Woodstock, NY with Prema Dasara and MyriTara Naves, landing me a job here within a few days. Om Ah Hum! Speechless and joyful, happy and turned around. Grateful and…Om Tare! Love, Hope

Jasmine Ginter: I was looking for a retreat and a friend suggested Tara retreat on Kauai. It was (and still is) a compelling mix of spiritual, movement, and healing female goddess energy in a beautiful location. And I dove in!

Lydia San Riv: I was leaving in chile, just before I started my Doula certification, and two pregnant women were there… Was so magical. I continue dancing in Chile until I moves to Barcelona, and now it’s very difficult to find a group where I can dance.

Kylie Slavik: awesome! it was literally RIGHT down the street from my house and it was sort of mixed with DUP which I was into – so i just walked on down the street and totally fell in love

Adrienne Wyman: Bonnie Grey Meyer, Karen Metta Fleischer, Marie Elena Gaspari, Denise Weatherwax and I started dancing together. Hillside Church, El Cerritos CA.

Phyllis Danu: I had been reading a book about women and Buddhism. In this book the author mentioned Tara and quoted her mantra. So I started using her mantra, with a little tune that I made up I guess – don’t recall it now. I asked Tara to bring more of her practice into my life. Very shortly after this my dear friend told me she was going to a weekend retreat at The Abode of the Message called The Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara. I told her I would go with her. That was in spring 2002.

Catherine Walker: About 7years ago i saw a little black n white flyer advertising an introduction to Tara Dancing at Chandrakiriti Meditation Centrei.I went and after that was offered the leadership of the group, and my life hasn’t been the same since either!

Teresa Newberry: I was in a belly dance class and someone described the dance offering that was to given for HH the Dalai Lama and I knew I had to see it. I went and watching the dance stirred something deeply in my being and I determined that I would dance the Mandala. The next year when Prema returned to Tucson, I experienced the Mandala dancing as Auspicious Beauty and that was the beginning of a deep and beautiful path!

Sherry Harris: Taking a drumming class by African drummers Isa Marie was sponsoring, I spotted a postcard flyer, ‘Feet on the Earth’ for dancing Tara in Koke’e on Kaua’i. I called the # and spoke with Eana. Learning about Tara and the divine dance of her qualities over the weekend, I found myself wrapped in a Sari and part of a public offering that sweetened my soul and moved me so deeply. Been dancing in her footsteps ever since!

Parvati Forrest Anee Burke: My mom was dancing and called me up Sat and said she was doing the most amazing thing (she could not explain it) and said I had to throw my best friend in the car and come see the offering. I was in love immediately, even though I had no idea what I had just experienced. My life was never the same again!

Tara Mantra Accumulation Invitation Attunement

Tara 2

Phyllis Moses writes:

One tried and true method of bring these practices deeper within so that we can always feel the joy and freedom of our True Nature dancing in our life is accumulating mantra. We simply repeat the mantra and count (generally on a mala of 108 beads, and there are also ‘counters’ that can be put on the mala so we can keep track up to 1 million). We do this to enliven our own inherent joy and capabilities. The definition of mantra is – that which protects the mind, that which protects your own mind from negativity (anyone else ever hear the voice of the  self critic? ; )  Mantra is the essence of sound (hence each syllable is called a seed syllable), and when we repeat the whole mantra it’s like watering seeds that can then ripen and sprout. What are we ripening? Our own essence, which is none other than Tara! We can start with this suggested visualization as a way to ‘get a feel’ for the love and devotion in our hearts, and to have a focus of one of the qualities Tara exemplifies.

Let’s focus on Tara # 2 – Creative Wisdom (Loter Yangchenma). She is known as Melodious Liberator, Source of Wisdom, the essence of creativity. She is white and shining brilliantly like the light of a thousand full autumn moons, and thousands of shimmering stars. She inspires us to meet life with creativity. One aspect of this creative mind is the power to see every circumstance, no matter how difficult, as an act of empowerment. We can ask our creative mind, “How can I meet this circumstance with wisdom and compassion?” – rather than becoming discouraged or despondent. Ultimately, the shimmering of stars represents the shimmering of love, compassion, wisdom, courage, and commitment radiating beneficial qualities to all beings. These are the qualities that our noble teachers reflect to us, they are more than poetic vision, they are  possibilities inherent within each of us.

We can cultivate these qualities by visualizing Tara, she is white symbolizing her activity of pacifying. In the center of the blue lotus flower she is holding by her left ear we visualize a mirror (in Tibetan, melong – symbolizing emptiness and pure consciousness) in which all wisdom is completely reflected. See the white light from the center of the mirror radiating in every direction. Begin to recite  Tara’s mantra (Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha), seeing the white light from Tara’s heart and from the mirror, emanating in ten directions. The light dispels all ignorance, gathers all the knowledge and wisdom that can benefit sentient beings, and returns back to the mirror. Then again from the mirror, light and wisdom radiate, filling every part of our bodies, and we feel that inner glow of compassion, wisdom, and love –  feeling this healing for all beings.  Then dissolve the visualization, sit in meditation for as long as possible, and then dedicate the merit.

Notice for yourself how it feels when you do 1 mala round, 2 malas….or half a day. The Tibetans say that doing 1 million mantras helps us to actualize the deity. Stay sincere with yourself, maybe some days might be 3 mantra repetitions – it’s all good! Notice how the contemplation helps inform your life circumstances, if we even remember to bring in this tool during a rough patch (and no judgement if we don’t remember). These are tools to help us come closer to actualizing our own Light. Which we know the world surely needs of each of us.

May all beings be well and happy.

May all beings know peace and joy.

May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Samdong Rinpoche Celebrates the Tara Dance

tara Dance-kopan 99

 

In 1998 fifty Tara Dancers from 11 countries of origin traveled to India and Nepal to dance the Mandala of the 21 Praises of Tara for the Tibetan Refugees. One of the stops was the sacred land of Sarnath, where Shakyamuni Buddha gave his first teaching after his enlightenment experience in Bodhgaya

Samdhong RinpocheThe group offered the dance at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. They were invited by the Director, Samdhong Rinpoche, who several years later became the first President of the Tibetan People in exile. His addressed to the audience and performers after the dance was recently transcribed  from the video “The Quiet Revolution”.

 

 

I don’t know how to address you. Shall I address you all the 21 Taras? My Deity? Or shall I address you the wonderful artists? The performers?

I am indeed very happy to be able to witness this excellent performance of Tara dance. And I think this is the blessing of Tara Deity.

A very new initiative; for my knowledge it is for the first time I have heard and have witnessed a dance of 21 Taras.

It is therefore you all deserve my sincere congratulations, appreciation.   And I believe that it would benefit all sentient beings, to receive blessings, to receive prayers, through this manifestation.

I appreciate each one of you for performing excellently.

The composition of this performance is of international stature. Almost each part of the continents of the world are represented in this group. That is really very important. This signifies the unity and integrity of humanity all over the globe. And signifies that this dance performance can dispel the divisions, conflicts and hatred among mankind, and humanity all over the globe can live with loving kindness and compassion, together, to benefit to entire sentient beings.

I once again thank you all on behalf of my student community, my colleagues and my own self for this wonderful performance. And I dedicate the merits, which we all earned and created together in this evening for the devotion to Tara for attainment of Buddhahood to all sentient beings. All may live in peace. Thank you.

« Older Articles