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 Dances in Portland

Myri Dakini is Prema’s personal assistant, Assistant Director of Tara Dhatu’s Educational Programs and the Director, President and main mentor of Tara Dhatu South America. This October she headed to Portland mid October to study with Charya teachers Helen and Prajwal.

Prajwal is the Vajracharya (head Priest) of the beautiful Dance Mandal, a temple built in the Nepali Newar tradition right in the heart of Portland. Prajwal’s father, Ratnakagi Vajracharya, was one of Prema’s teachers.

While there Myri offered to do a couple of evenings of dance instruction and she was happily joined by a group of Taras who had just accomplished the weekend mandala in Seattle.

Monday night she led the group in the Protector Dance of Dukkar. After the class everyone was invited to celebrate Prajwal’s birthday!!

Tuesday night Myri and the group shared the profound dance practice,  Calling Tara From the Heart.

It was an exquisite sharing.


Tara Dances in Virginia


Jacquelyn Sendak Zavaleta has been sharing the Tara Dances in Virginia for several years,accompanied by her

Tara Protector husband, Rigdzin Zavaleta.

She writes…


Rigdzin and I had two welcome dinners organized by our friends and hosts Tara White and her husband Mike.

Due to two knee injuries, it was a total stretch for me to lead the dance practices in Virginia Beach and Portsmouth.  However, attendees were so open, receptive, and caring that we managed just fine.

I began by sharing my temporary limitation, and some experiences about how these Tara practices have changed my life.  As soon as I did this, everyone became very attentive and focused. Rigdzin led a Green Tara meditation. And then we danced. One gentleman who said he did not dance eventually joined us during the dances of the praises.

Eventually, my knees hurt too much to lead movements anymore. After the program, one lady kindly went home to pick up a surprise a gift of Chinese medicine to rub in my knees that Martial artist use for injuries.  She showed a vivid interest in the dances and after doing the Tara qualities she said she felt a resonance to embody them all.  We were invited next year to expand our Tara program to include her Dharma Center.

It is always wonderful to come to a Dharma Center and share the Dharma and Tara dances with Buddhist Practitioners.  It is especially inspiring when a person is just discovering the Goddess Tara.  The richness and depth of the movements, combined with Mantras, meditation, and dharma teachings creates an excitement and interest.  Long term Buddhist Practitioners share how Tara and Dharma dances inspire them.  Although we have been coming to Virginia Beach and Portsmouth area for many years, this time we encountered both new and experienced folks to our programs.

One of my Tara sisters donated some Tara materials that she encouraged me to give away as gifts which I did.   This opened the door for me to introduce the Tara food blessing, basic teachings, and a Bardo prayer.

The Savvic Center in Portsmouth, Va serves the local Buddhist community and attendees welcomed us expressing “this is a great way to spend a Sunday.”

Our initial Tara Dance teaching in Virginia Beach was at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (Edgar Cayce). We were then invited to dance at the Fellowship of the Inner Light Church, the joyful Church with the big heart.

This year, we were very fortunate the fellowship’s founder’s wife, Sharon, was in attendance!  She finally was able to experience what we have been doing here for the past few years.  Attendees were reluctant to leave so we were given permission to take as much time as we wanted to continue the program.  She really enjoyed our presentation so much that her parting comment was “so we will see you again next year?” I heartily agreed. Our Tara Groups will continue to meet and dance in Virginia.



Gutsy Women – Prema & Myri on FM Radio

Our dear friend and Tara dancer, Amorah St. John, has a radio program called “Gutsy Women” on Maui public radio, KAKU. She has been interviewing the fun and fabulous women of Maui who are making a difference in the community. She invited Prema and Myri in for an interview .

“Gutsy” in the dictionary means courageous, determined and filled with spirit. Amorah’s guests live up to that definition, empowering listeners to make a difference and follow their hearts. The show airs live every Friday from 11:00 am to Noon Hawaii time.  If you would like to listen to the interview with Myri and Prema go to

Scroll down the list on the right to July 27th.

It was really lovely the way Amorah brought Myri into the conversation.


Tara Dances in Phoenix – A Profound Weekend Retreat

The Phoenix Tara Circle has been turning for many years under the guidance of Senior Mentor and Teacher, Parvati. Each year they host a weekend Tara Dance retreat. This year’s retreat, September 14-16 was unique as the leading of the dances was shared by several senior teachers.

Friday evening opened with an Introduction to Tara. Parvati danced Tara’s origin story. This was followed with an enlightening introduction to Tara’s 21 qualities by color, providing insight into their power and meaning.

They were very fortunate to have Shivadam provide his most excellent live accompaniment with voice and guitar.

On Saturday the day was divided into 2 hour sessions. The Eight Precious Offerings were led by Carey, Calling Tara from the Heart was led by Johanna, and White Tara of the Six Shields was led by Parvati and Johanna.

Sunday morning was devoted to Vajrasattva, led by Noelle and Carey with helpful translation as we learned the practice. Dancers were delighted. In the afternoon Parvati led a spirited full Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises offering with 8 dancers, 4 enthusiastic protectors (3 newbies), and Shivadam providing the beautiful music.

The retreat ended with Prema’s Long Life Prayer led by Anjali in Texas via video call and Hope leading Om Ah Hum as a dedication dance.

A mix of new and experienced dancers were present with Tara’s traveling from New York, Manitoba Canada, New Mexico and western Arizona. The abundance of student teachers allowed the leading responsibilities to be shared among the group and they did a fantastic job! Sessions included the meditations for the various dances. The enthusiastic reception by participating Tara’s has encouraged our Phoenix Tara Circle to aspire to hold similar retreats in the future.

Come join us!

Om Tare!

Dancing Tara in New Zealand: A Magical Mystery Mandala Tour

Adrianne and Clare

Adrianne LaBry Smith is a Level 3 Tara Dhatu teacher. She met Clare Woodham at the Monlam in Brazil and these two lovely Taras cooked up a teaching tour for Adrianne this September.

Adrianne writes …

At the request of Tara Dhatu Level 2 Teacher, Clare Woodham, I made my first journey (in this lifetime) to the mystical, magical land of New Zealand, the islands of Aotearoa “land of the long white cloud”. I was greeted with a warm welcome of “Kia Ora” in the language of the Maori, “be well, be healthy”. The New Zealand accent holds traces of British flair and   I can’t help but think of that English rock band, the Beatles, and their lyrics:

Roll up roll up for the Mystery Tour… That’s an invitation … Roll up for the Mystery Tour…

With Clare as guide, we set out across the North Island on a Magical Mystery Mandala Tour of Tara Dance; 3 weekends and 2 Wednesdays dancing Tara on 3 coasts—Napier, Kapiti, and Auckland. We lived like nomads, packing up clothes, food, tea, images of our sources of refuge—photos of our precious teachers, statues and thangkas of beloved Tara—water bowls and offerings, brocades, sacred texts and music, and 3 peacock feathers to remind us of our ability to transform poison into wisdom radiance.

The Magical Mystery Tour … Is waiting to take you away…

Transported to the pure realm of Tara’s Mandala. Birds singing, flowers blooming, waterfalls dancing down the hills. Reminders of Her were everywhere, sacred mounds of radiant green, bush forests of refuge. Even the names of the places we traversed were boldly proclaiming her name, Taradale, Tararua.


Imparting a sense of pilgrimage, a special trip was made to Te Henga (Bethells Beach), location of the filming of Prema Setting the Motivation as seen in the video Dance the Goddess Rainbow Essence of Tara. With reverence I recited the Daily Prayer-The Tara I Am and we danced the Prayer of Motivation.

At each location, I introduced myself in the traditional Maori fashion offering my Pepeha. Standing at sacred sites one greets the ancestors of the land by reciting, in this order, the names of the following: a key land formation and a river near your place of origin, your People, your Paternal Grandfather, your Father, your Maternal Grandmother, your Mother, your Oldest Brother, your Oldest Sister, your name, and a greeting offered to all.

And in each place of gathering I felt the welcome of the ancestors and of the living, breathing Taras who call New Zealand home. Our weekends and Wednesdays together felt like retreats. The sincerity and openness of those present providing sanctuary from worldly affairs, allowing for deepening in the practice of taming the mind, refining away the obscurations that veil our true nature.

We set clear intention and made offerings to engage in the virtue of body, speech, and mind, dancing our Prayer of Motivation, Refuge & Bodhicitta, Shantideva’s Prayer, and The 8 Precious Offerings.

We invoked our sources of refuge, visualizing protection for ourselves and all beings as we danced Dukkar and White Tara of the 6 Shields. We engaged in dances to reveal our Tara radiance, manifesting wisdom and compassion for the well-being of all—Tara’s Qualities, Calling Tara from the Heart, The Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara.

The number in our Mandala changed from day-to-day…4, 6, 12. Regardless of the number, with invincible courage the dancers spiraled—joyfully revealing the 21 manifestations of the enlightened feminine. Mandalas of beautifully powerful Taras reflecting a varied array of cultures: The Maori, descendants of the first arrivals; progeny of British, Welsh, Irish, Dutch, Croatian, Indian, French, Greek; more recent immigrants from Germany and South Africa; and visitors from Australia.

They’ve got everything you need … Roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up … Satisfaction guaranteed.

The beauty and welcome of the people, the magic and mystery of the land, the heartfelt intention of the dancers, the power of the practice…was all beyond imagination. Filled and satisfied. May all beings benefit. May all have such joy.

Dancing Tara at the Women in Buddhism Conference in Seattle

Kim Abbey is a relatively new Tara Dance facilitator but a long time Tara Dancer. It is wonderful to see her spread her wings and share the dances. She has a circle of Tara Dancing in her Olympia, Washington community and we are always delighted to have her join us in the dance. She writes….

My experience at the 6th Annual Women in Buddhism Conference in Seattle at the Seattle Betsuin (Pure Land) Temple was so joyful.  I was invited by the planner, Irene Goto, to facilitate a Tara Circle at this one day conference.

We had half an hour to share, immediately after the bento box lunch that was provided for all 65 in attendance.

I quickly organized a table shrine with fruit and flowers and the precious thangka that was one of the 21 that were hung all around us at the festival in Brazil!

Then we danced in a big circle in the gym at the Temple. Several women spoke to me about their joyful feelings, raising their arms and swaying to the prayers was a very new experience for these mostly elderly Japanese women.

Om Tare!

Phyllis Reports on Monlam in Northwest Dharma Web News

Phyllis Moses is one of our precious Level 3 Tara Dhatu teachers, living in Vancouver, Washington. She has been our representative in the Northwest Dharma Association for several years

It was our great good fortune that she was able to attend our Festival of Prayer in Brazil this May and has written this article that was printed in the NDA’s web news.

Click Here to read Phyllis’s article

She asked me to share that, “I was asked to focus on the North West, so personally, I felt like I left out many credits to the Brazil (and beyond) sangha, yet this is what the focus needed to be, so forgive me if I left out some things.”

It is a delicious taste of the wonder that was our Festival


Post Monlam Visit to Chapada Imperial

May 29, 2018 Post Monlam Tour Day 2

Shared By Sherry Harris…

Our last official day together in Brazil Prema and Myri put together a very special grand finale.  An hour bus drive out of Brasilia, down windy dirt roads through the bush, we came to Chapada Imperial, an ecological sanctuary, a nature preserve of the cerrado biome, the high plains plateau of central Brazil. The owner of the land greeted us enthusiastically and gave us a tour.  The center was closed to the public on this day. We were the only guests.

We were also greeted by a roaming peacock and a large blue gold parrot.  One of the jobs of the sanctuary is to rescue, rehabilitate and return to the wild animals that have been captured. He was passionate as he showed us the cages where animals had been taken to market and he pleaded, ”Please, do not take home animals”.

We then assembled around hike choices, small, medium (3 hours), or long (5 hours) I chose “the middle path”.  We start off down a well maintained trail. Our guide shared his extensive knowledge of the healing properties of the plants, and introduces us to birds, insects, and animals on our way.  We delight in the colorful flowers and the colorful stories.  The sun is out and we are feeling light, happy, playful. The Taras are singing and laughing, holding hands, taking photos, talking openly and lovingly in community.  We pass waterfalls and view dense forest and rolling hills.  The dance of the trees and butterflies, the smells of the woodlands seep into us, the elements in nature bathing our senses.

In the 1st waterfall, most of the Taras slide gently across smooth, massive granite rock into the fresh pools of reflected water sending ripples across the surface and ripples of delight upon our skin.  We take turns underneath the pounding water of the falls, a natural massage.  We lay across the sun-drenched rocks, arms around one another, heads resting in laps, smiling, laughing, talking, beckoning, attracting all to join us.

Beautiful clear, clean water. We call to each other.  No one is left out.  We feel healed and forgiven as we let go of any resistances., Bathing in the waterfall pools, the flowers around us shimmer, we breathe in the sweet smell of forest plants and the bursting freshness of the falling water. We celebrate a rising awareness of the power of prayer, the light glimmering in our eyes a reflection of the light within.

Back at home base we are served an incredible abundance of fresh food grown on the farm. Tara’s songs upon our lips, filled with joy and laughter, we are living the 8 precious offerings.

As we finished with lunch we had options and several choose to play in a special area built around towering trees. Climbing into one of the tree giants, a zip line sent our Taras squealing .  Aerial ropes and wooden planks, painted tires, and balance line woven through the tree tops gave another group some intense challenges. Some of us decided to just rest in the hammocks and watch the action.

On our return, happy and tired, we ended the day with a magnificent sunset and rising full moon to seal the mystery.  May all beings be happy.  May all beings be free.

Post-Monlam Brasilia Tour & Prayers

Sherry Harris from Kauai, Hawaii traveled to Brasilia, Brazil to participate in the Festival of Peace, Festival of Prayer, Tara Dance Monlam. She shared a bit about Monday’s Post-Monlam Tour….

May 28th, 2018

After nine full days of attention and effort to the structure of the Monlam, dancing in ever-changing forms, we entered our first day of post-Monlam activities.  Myri and Prema had arranged a luxury bus to introduce us to a bit of Brasilia. Fifty dancers, mostly from out of the country joined the fun, exploring this Capital City. Brasilia was built in 1960 on a utopian, all-inclusive vision, all the buildings uniquely designed.

Our 1st stop was the Museu dos Povos Indigenas – The Museum of the Indigenous People of Brazil. The Museum was usually closed on Mondays, but Myri arranged for our Tara Dhatu circle to be specially welcomed. The plan was for some of the tribals to open our visit with singing and dancing but the trucker strike and consequent gas issues meant that they could not make it. Fortunately one of the managers was able to hostess our group.

Beautiful Maya translated our day. The building spiraled downwards to end in an earthen circle, open to the sky.  Along the way were implements of Indios lives … clay pottery, woven basketry, carved wooden benches in shapes of birds used for daily meditation upon returning to one’s home. A long woven tube caught my eye. The women of the tribe use it to squeeze out the juice of the manioc root,  many hands, twist and turning.

There were large photographs of the Indios in demonstrations with the government and the police,  in rallies of opposition to their treatment.  They need to be seen, to be heard, to be recognized … to have a place among  the people of Brazil … standing up and standing strong and proud. They want their culture to be respected.

A few of our Taras were invited to don headpieces with reverence, unity, intention, respect. We had been asked by the director to offer prayers for the well being of the tribal people. We gathered in a large circle in the open courtyard, including a big tree stump representing the inclusion of the tribes before us.  Lekshe, and Prajwal joined us as Prema led us in song and dance –  Tara’s Refuge, Motivation,  Shantideva and the dance of Tara’s Mantra Meditations.

Shivadam held the melody with his guitar and Isa kept the beat of the drum. My bare feet in the sand in

which so many have danced and chanted in ceremony, I felt completely connected, in solidarity with all people for equality, empowerment and freedom.  Many felt a deep sadness here. Mixed emotions were apparent, acknowledgement pervasive. It was a powerful time of prayer.

We then piled onto our luxury bus and Maya pointed out the city plan, laid out in the shape of an airplane looking to take to the sky. Her stories were clear and she also shared the story of the “unspoken division” of a class system that “didn’t yet go away”.

Our next stop was the Cathedral, with 16 arched columns. It was a long staircase down into the sanctuary with wavering stained glass walls and huge hovering angels hanging from the ceiling in the center.  Breathtaking.

Our group found a cozy circular underground room used for christenings, and were happy to dance a modified version of our new dedication piece, May All Beings. The room had amazing acoustics. Such a blessing.

Lunch at Restaurant Mangai, was lavish. We were surrounded by herb gardens and reflecting pools with a stunning view of a bridge of arches over the lake.  Maya tells us she swims across the lake, shared with many fish, small not-biting crocodiles, and capivaras, a little hippopotamus-like animal!

With a vast array of Brazilian foods before us, we learn about Kilo eating. You weigh your plate full of food after selecting from the buffet.  It would take a dozen visits to taste it all!  The restaurant was full of fun accents of Brazilian country life. A sculpted server had little cups of that wonderfully smooth Brazilian coffee as a good bye treat, free for us to enjoy.

Our last visit was to Templo da Boa Vontade, the Temple of Good Will.  This vision of wonder represents raising the temple of the Living Divinity inside our human heart.  The pyramid-shaped structure of seven points has the purest, large crystal at its apex. We are thus magnetized to enter and walk, in silence, the spiral floor of the first temple room.

We entered on the dark spiral, walking counterclockwise, contemplating the difficulties in our journey.  Standing in the center under the crystal, we find the Light and begin our new journey.    Walking in meditation, praying, we return on the spiral of light, illuminated by spirit.

This meditation was brilliant for our group, as we have danced Tara’s Praises together, transforming poisons, destroying our attachments, removing our sorrows, and truly feeling worthy of honor.  We have been deeply touched and changed in a joyous and profound way.

Sharing our bliss and joy is unstoppable!  We are walking Tara’s teachings in real time.  We drank from the fountain of blessed waters. We bowed at the altar of the four elements. And then on to the art gallery we went, passing paintings of the Tarot using aspects of Brasilia to illustrate the Major Arcana.

We had been invited to offer prayers in the gallery and so two circles formed quickly. We danced Motivation, Shantideva and Tara the White, in English and Portuguese.  It is so alive, this heartfelt unity as we looked at each other with Tara’s eyes, seeing her face in each one of us.

Photos by Amber Roniger

We laughed.  We cried. All of us united in this collective release of built-up energy from the hard work, the chaos and the joy, living Tara’s truths revealed.  We dance for each other, knowing we contain the power of prayer and transformation, the energy to make a difference where there is suffering.  This Monlam, this gathering of Tara’s and Prema’s dream has empowered us and set us free!  Love really is the answer.

Read More: Conclusion of Monlam, May 27, 2018

So happy to be connecting with all of you one last time and to have the opportunity to share the exciting conclusion of the Monlam!

Dressed in white for our preliminary morning practices, we danced and chanted Beloved Tara, and Refuge and Bodhicitta. We then invoked Mother Tara and recited the Seven Purifications. Next, we cast a protective circle with a visualized vajra in our right hand and phurba in our left, as our umdze chanted the mantras of protection. We continued with Dukkar and Calling Tara from the Heart. Dancing Calling Tara from the Heart together is a blissful experience–the words inspired by a Dudjom Rinpoche sadhana are so evocative and powerful that they, along with the choreography, take us to the very core of our being.

We were then led into chanting The Daily Prayer about the fundamental nature of our mind: we are, in fact, limitless – it is only misperception that limits our understanding of who we are and what we can become. Prema reminded us that this prayer is the essence of our practice, which strives to dissolve the veils of the mind and align us with the truth. For us, this series of practices in the morning has become a powerful way of recreating the foundation daily for the offering rituals that followed.

Determining the mandalas for later in the day was a Herculean task. Prema strives to give everyone a chance to dance the Praise they feel called to do as well as increase the training of new dance leaders. I am learning to unwind the mandala, so I requested Tara #1, Swift Protection.

We were happy to head for lunch. Our two big buses took us to a delicious meal in town–a multi-colored buffet with selections to satisfy everyone.

After lunch, we began the offerings, which included  the Eight Precious Offerings, the Dance of the Five Wisdom Dakinis, and offering the  copper mandala composed of precious stones representing infinite universes. We offered the Twenty One Praises of Tara with the masked dancers and the turning of three concurrent Mandalas!  It was incredibly powerful and as full a schedule as it sounds–the accumulation of offerings, real and visualized, filled the space with a sense of generosity, richness, and profound accomplishment.



We chanted sections of the text, which gave us an opportunity to connect deeply with the meaning behind the offerings. Guided by her powerful experience in Lourdes and a life-long commitment to exploring the many faces of the Divine, Prema included not only the traditional Buddhist sources of refuge, but all realized beings of all spiritual traditions, so we offered to an infinite array of Enlightened Ones from all times and all cultures.

In the same way, the long life prayer we offered to Prema–a traditional Tibetan way of directing of the energy raised through practice to the long life and good health of the teacher and the lineage–can be used to celebrate and pray for all authentic wisdom teachings, teachers and lineages. Who are your sources of refuge? They can all be included!

My particular wish for this prayer is that we use it to strengthen our communities and safeguard our lineage, of which we are all holders, by practicing it after dedicating our daily practice to the happiness and freedom of all beings. It was purposely shortened from a longer version to only 2 minutes in order to encourage us to practice it. You can download the music from the Tara Dhatu website here and dance it with your circles: I will make a video available soon to demonstrate the simple choreography.


Throughout our time at Paradise on Earth and in Brasilia, our talented and tireless musicians filled our hearts with joy, and their presence gave vitality and inspiration to every moment of our practice.

To seal the energy we raised over the course of the retreat and Monlam, we dedicated the merit we generated to the healing, empowering and awakening of all beings and to peace for Mother Earth.

Willing hands cut the mantra cord and put the mandala stones in little pouches. Prema and team gave every person who approached, including audience members, these tokens of remembrance, a physical witness to the wonder that we created together.

As we reflected on the Monlam, we realized the magnitude of the undertaking and the sincere effort that had been made to fulfill Prema’s vision for this Festival of Prayer, Festival of Peace.

So many people contributed to make this event happen, and we all felt deep gratitude, particularly to Myri for all her hard work and determination. Om Tare!

As I look through the photos many of us have taken, I see once again the truth of the teachings: Taras are many–21 does not begin to cover the variety:


Prema’s final prayer for us was to promote harmony in our sanghas, in our communities through forgiveness, compassion and patience. We all make mistakes. The question is, are we going to respond with judgement and blame or with love? Ferocious Compassion tells us that sometimes we need to be firm and clear when someone is harming themselves or others. We can say no and set boundaries, true–in fact we have to, for our own benefit and the benefit of others. But we can strive, as our guiding principle, to bring people together, to resolve conflict, to forgive. Together, we can do so much! And we have to. The world needs us!

Directing the power of the mantra OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA and the merit of this Monlam with us, is an opportunity for deep healing. We are interconnected. We need each other not only to survive but to thrive. Let’s keep dancing together, hand in hand, to embody the kindness and peace we aspire to see reflected back to us by our neighbors, our sangha, our families, and our planet.

May all be auspicious! Sarva Mangalam!

May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!

Svaha, Soha!

Photos by Amber Roniger, Abha, and community, and text by Anjali

Read More: Monlam Day 4, May 26, 2018

Greetings from Brasilia–so glad you have connected with us today!

Our morning was left open so we could enjoy a local fair, and I hear that the artisanal offerings there were plentiful despite the trucker’s strike which was still in place. Prajwal Ratna taught again and one Tara reported learning from him how to create sacred gesture or mudra from the heart instead of as a habitual movement. Prajwal is a priest from the Newar tribe and for him, as he explained in a lively dialogue with Gen Lekshe and our community a few nights ago, the dance is the spiritual path, a way of engaging fully with the enlightened energies embodied by the deities. What a privilege it has been to have him with us!

The mantra recitation continued, as our practitioners transitioned with patience and grace from the hotel, to the our new Monlam location: these efforts have enabled the mantra to keep flowing day and night, in two hour shifts. Another magnificent blessing for us and for the world. Om Tare!

Each day we were guided to fulfill the sadhana Prema had assembled for us. Based on a Mind Treasure of the great yogi, Chokjur Lingpa, we danced and chanted through all the elements of the practice. From the preliminaries to the dedication of merit to cap our day, Prema guided us with love and endless patience. Through various configurations of the mandalas, dealing skillfully with the arising circumstances and challenges, she embodied for us the Wisdom of Accomplishment–everything done in the right time, in the right way, with the right amount of effort.

Every day we are filled with gratitude for the team of Brazilian Taras, led by Myri, who have worked tirelessly to make this Monlam possible. They have encountered many challenges and we see them smiling, doing their very best to make this experience a positive one for us in all ways. We bow to their devotion and efforts and are deeply appreciative of what they have done for us.

In the evening we were blessed with a dance of Vajrapani by Prajwal–blue and ferocious, shaking the earth with his wisdom wrath. We also enjoyed a traditional song and a Tibetan opera aria and dance by our young Nepalese Tara, Sonam. Her grace and sincerity touched us all and evoked the colors and sounds of her homeland.

If you are facing challenges today, what do you need to address them? Tara is the Swift Protectress, coming in an instant to the aid of all who call Her. What protection do you long for? With sincerity, ask for what you need, what you are aspiring to for yourself, your loved ones and for the world. Recite the Tara mantra and dedicate your practice so that all beings may receive the pure medicine of the dharma and face their challenges with exactly what they need in this moment!


May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!

Photos by Amber Roniger, Abha and community, and text by Anjali

Read More: Monlam Day 3, May 25, 2018

Our last day at the retreat center before leaving for our next location in the city of Brasilia…

At our inspiring morning practice, Prema gave us a teaching on working with challenging circumstances. The current situation in Brazil is delicate. The truckers’ are striking, cars are lined up for miles to get gas.  Flights being grounded as a result of fuel shortage. As in other parts of the world, people are resisting and voicing their dissatisfaction. For us, the question is: how do we step into this climate of unrest in a way that maintains our ability to be of greatest benefit, our hearts open and compassionate? 


Prema talked about her experience of being robbed in the past and how her teacher, Lama Tenzin, instructed her to pray for the thieves so that they might enjoy the very possessions they had taken from her! What a concept! To illustrate the reason behind that approach, she told the traditional story of the farmer and his horse. His response to his neighbors’ assessments of his changes in fortune was always the word “maybe.” We never truly know whether what arises is positive or negative until the entire story plays out, so rather than be attached to specific results, maintaining an open mind and a compassionate heart are the best antidotes to the suffering  that we experience when our expectations are not realized.

She reminded us that we listened to our hearts in coming to this monlam. We have had ecstatic moments as well as challenges so far, and in going forward there is no guarantee of how everything will evolve. This applies to our daily lives as well. In each moment, we bring what we have, and no one can ask any more of us than that.

Prema once asked Tai Situ Rinpoche, one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist teachers of our time, what vow we should take and he said, “do your best”. We don’t know how the situation will evolve with the flights and departures from here, but we aspire to meet what does arise with love, and exclaim, “Om Tare!”


In answer to a question about the mantra recitation that we are maintaining day and night during the Monlam, Prema said that we can use mantra to eliminate restrictions in the mind and open to blessings that are available to us. One of her main teachers, Lama Tenzin, said that daily practice maintains your meditation abilities while in retreat it is possible to generate intense insight.

The meditators here are holding a vajra in one hand and a green cord attached to the image of  Tara at the center of our altar. Holding the vajra represents the  compassionate action of the practice. The cord starts with the statue of Tara because she is our Vajra Mystress, the head of our lineage, and saying the mantra builds connection with Her. At the end of the Monlam, we will cut the cord and give a piece to each of us as well as stones from Mandala. All of these sacred objects are props to help us remember: our job is to take into the world the blessings that we have received here.

After our morning practice we received the good news that our buses had enough gas to bring us to town. We finished our packing for the drive to Brasilia. Om Tare!

We checked into the Manhattan hotel, a very comfortable and lovely residence. We had a few hours to unpack and have an early dinner as the local team organized the meeting space for our practice. Our comfortable luxury bus dropped us at a light-filled circular building, with wood floors and glorious, exposed beams. We delighted in knowing that this was our new home for the rest of the Monlam.

The evening offerings opened with a dance and a chant by several women from indigenous tribes of the area.   Prema explained that wherever she offers the dances publicly she invites representatives of indigenous people to open the event in order to honor not only the local spirits but also the local and original population.

An electrifying dance by Prajwal followed—the protector Mahakala, which Prema explained is the essence of Ferocious Compassion. The stage shook as Prajwal wove a magnetic web around us.

The Praises were then danced by the masked Taras, and I stood behind as a protector, ensuring the integrity of the crescent moon configuration after each praise. The dancers who have been working with the masks continue to report how profound the practice is. The masks will stay with Myri in Brazil this year and she will offer two trainings, one in Brasilia and one in the far south city of Caxias.  Mekare has several invitations to do mask work next year. Stay in touch with Tara Dhatu for dates.

Another set of offerings found our beautiful, pregnant Brazilian Tara, Dani, in the center of the circle, embodying the Goddess.

After the masks, the three mandala configuration of the Praises turned and we concluded the evening with a powerful dedication of merit. It was an exhausting and exhilarating day, and we felt that once again magic had occurred. Om Tare!

What is your aspiration for your community, your country and the world? What prayer to Tara is in your heart today? With sincerity, ask for what you need, what you are aspiring to for yourself, your loved ones and for the world. Recite the Tara mantra and dedicate your practice to the peace, healing and joy of all sentient beings!


May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!


Read More: Monlam Day 2, May 24, 2018

Glad you are with us today!

Prajwal continued teaching his morning class, which was deeply appreciated.

Dressed in white, we opened the morning with our preliminary practices—Beloved Tara, Refuge and Bodhicitta, and Shantideva. We then invoked Mother Tara, took refuge in her and danced Dukkar, to create a protective umbrella around our temple. Calling Tara from the Heart, we remembered that everything arises in the mind, and we deepened our sense of interconnectedness.

After a break, we changed into our gold skirts and cholis and draped beautiful scarves in preparation for  dancing the Eight Precious Offerings. We engaged in the extensive seven purifications and offered the traditional ringed mandala, every stone representing a universe.

The Dakinis once again poured their wisdom nectar into the top of our heads. Prema gave us a teaching about the power of offerings and their role in our development.  Why do we offer? To generate the refined energy called merit.

There are three main gifts inherent in this merit: our mind becomes more stable and clear, so we see the interconnectedness of all beings. As a result, we become more naturally generous. Secondly, it allows us to appreciate what we already have—the richness of our lives. When we feel into that space, once again, generosity can more easily arise. Thirdly, the practice of generosity and the merit it creates energizes us for our work in the world— we are empowered to carry out our enlightened activities.

Is there anywhere you feel stuck? Anything you would like to accomplish but don’t have the energy to realize? Experiment with the practice of generosity as described in yesterday’s post to generate the circumstances most auspicious for your activity.

After lunch we worked on the mandalas of the 21 Praises, walking through the positions, then dancing them to stabilize our orientation. We danced in a beautiful configuration of three mandalas. The sensation of dancing in a Mandala that was turning, next to two other turning mandalas, was extremely powerful! I danced gold Auspicious Beauty and felt connected to the earth and the gifts bestowed by the inexhaustible and fertile abundance of Enlightened mind.

At 4:00 PM, the offering goddesses danced, then the masked dancers followed by the three mandalas offering the 21 Praises to Tara. Prema has set practice goals for the Monlam, so every day we strive to accomplish them. I was talking to another Tara and we were marveling how wonderful it is to be able to accomplish practice in this delightful and nourishing way. We were sharing how the beauty of the sacred dances and chants were helping us to become more naturally disciplined.

It reminded me of the attraction aspect of our visualization: Tara is adorned with silks to attract others to her. In the same way, Prema has created practices that delight the senses, so that practice becomes a form of divine enjoyment. Of course there are days or periods of resistance for most of us, but I feel much of that is counteracted by the sacred sensory enjoyment of the music and movement.

In the evening, we were graced with Myri and Vesta dancing a new, Eight Auspicious Symbols Dance.  As with the Five Wisdom Dakinis, there was a feeling of being in a pure land and receiving teachings from the Enlightened Ones. I can’t wait to learn it! Prema told us about the meaning of the symbols, which you can read about here, and explained the Jungian idea that they have manifested from the collective unconscious over time in different cultures as carriers of universal significance.

The three mandalas then danced again, and it was my first experience watching, instead of dancing in, a Mandala Offering. One after another, radiant Taras were born and displayed their qualities. It was deeply moving to see the sangha sisters I am getting to know transform completely into their divine manifestations. Abha, Carolina and so many others who I have observed as soft spoken and gentle emerged blazing and majestic as Noble Tara in her various forms. So powerful–Om Tare!

To conclude the evening,  Gen Lekshe Tsomo gave us a teaching about merit, building on what Prema had offered in the morning. She emphasized the importance of dedicating the merit we have generated during the day so it is not dispersed, and generating refuge and bodhicitta before we go to sleep. Her advice was to try to sleep mindfully, and to investigate dream yoga if we feel we would like to deepen this.

In the morning, the recommendation was to dedicate the merit we generated while sleeping and start the day with refuge and bodhicitta once again. In this way we engage with presence in all aspects of our experience. We also discussed the meditative power of our dance lineage. Concluding the evening with chanting Om Mani Peme Hum on a melody that came to Gen Lekshe at the waterfall on the retreat center grounds, we welcomed a night of rest after such a full, rich day together.

I subsequently learned from  Gen Lekshe Tsomo that the term “Ani,” which I have heard used over the years in referring to nuns, is in fact a condescending form of address which can be translated as “auntie.” I thought I would share this as many of us belong to Tibetan Buddhist sanghas. The better way of addressing a teacher such as Gen Lekshe is with the word “Gen” (which means teacher) or Venerable. She has devoted her life to improving the condition of Buddhist nuns, particularly in Asia, who were traditionally treated as inferior to their male counterparts. Let’s support her work of empowerment by not perpetuating through our words the unjust hierarchy which is now obsolete. Om Tare!

How are you today, tonight? What prayer to Tara is in your heart? With sincerity, ask for what you need, what you are aspiring to for yourself, your loved ones and for the world. Recite the Tara mantra and dedicate your practice to the peace, healing and joy of all sentient beings!


May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!

Text by Anjali, Photos by Amber Roniger

Read More: Day 1 Monlam May 23, 2018

Greetings from Paradise on Earth. After years of aspirations, devoted work and planning, today the Monlam begins! Om Tare!

Guided by Lama Sonam from the dharma center in Brasilia, we opened the Monlam with prayers for auspiciousness, blessing and dispelling obstacles. We made many offerings, including Riwo Sangchö, and we danced the Eight Precious Offerings. Myri Dakini and four of her Brazilian students had prepared The Dance of the Five Wisdom Dakinis. Exquisite in their individual choreographies, each one dancing with a small copper pitcher, they empowered us with the nectar of the five purified emotions: white Space Dakini blessed us with mirror-like wisdom, blue Water Dakini empowered us with the wisdom of the dharmadatu, gold Earth Dakini brought us the wisdom of equality, red Fire Dakini poured her nectar of discriminating awareness wisdom and green Air Dakini blessed us with the wisdom of accomplishment. The meditations narrated by Prema on the soundtrack took us deep into the transformation of our five main habitual tendencies into their corresponding powers. The combination of the music, narration and dance transported us into a pure land where we received teachings from the Dakinis themselves, and we share those blessings with you!

Prema also gave us a teaching on the power of generosity that underlies our Festival. What is a Monlam? It is a time of intensive practice that generates a tremendous amount of the refined energy we call merit. If we do not make direct offerings, we can invoke the offering goddesses to make them for us. The idea is to transcend our limited notion of what is possible and give from our heart in physical and visualized offerings.

Prema also gave instructions to the masked dancers to remain grounded within the experience of an elevated state. This is in keeping with the Tibetan tradition of anchoring in presence at all times, regardless of the quality of the experience arising. We can apply these instructions to our daily lives, remaining connected to whatever grounds us and reminds us of our true nature, like a mantra.

Prema introduced the masked version of the Mandala Dance Of the 21 Praises of Tara offering, the first of its kind, as a”herstoric” as opposed to “historic” event. In Asia in particular, women have been banned from sacred dance, so the offering brought with it a precious historical dimension. We have already alluded to the power of the masked dances, and we will offer video asap as well.

His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, one of Prema’s main teachers, told her that given how conservative Tibetans are, the fact she created a masked version of the 21 Praises was a demonstration of her maturity in the dharma–she was taking the teachings in an entirely new direction. It was so exciting to be part of this and see Prema and Mekare’s vision, so lovingly and devotedly created, blossom before our very eyes!

In the evening, we were blessed with a dance by Prajwal Ratna: he embodied Avalokiteshvara, the Lord of Compassion, out of whose tears, according to legend, Tara was born. Prajwal gave us another experience of a deity coming to life, overflowing with the heart of compassion and the calm majesty of an enlightened being entirely dedicated to others. Fittingly, the next dance was a green Tara dance by Vesta, one of Myri Dakini’s students. She inspired us with her grace and sincere expression of the dharma.

We also offered another group of Mandalas as well, practicing the configuration of three turning at the same time. The room sparkled with a sea of gold, and we concluded the evening with profound gratitude for the bountiful gifts of the day and a dedication of all the merit we had generated.

What can you offer today for the benefit of your community, of the world? You can also invoke the Offering Goddesses and visualize vast, golden clouds of offerings, dedicating the merit you create to the realization of peace, healing and joy for the world. Join the celebration daily by touching into this blog, reciting the Green Tara Mantra, OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA, making offerings, and dedicating these gifts to the realization of peace, healing, ultimate liberation. Om Tare!

May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!


Read More: Pre-Monlam Day 3 May 22, 2018


The excitement is building—the Monlam starts tomorrow! Today is a day of practice and preparation centered around the Mandala of masked dancers.

As we described yesterday, the practice of mask dancing is a spiritual path in itself. The relationship between a dancer and her mask has many levels, and Mekare has been teaching us layer after layer of the practice. And this is just the beginning…

Our morning included the preliminaries and Dukkar, to set our intentions for the day and invoke the Thousand-armed and Thousand-eyed White Umbrella Protectress.

In the afternoon, we set up three mandalas, two of which will dance with masks. Prema painstakingly and lovingly tried to honor the many the requests made by the dancers in terms of the Praises they wanted to dance and whether they were ready to engage fully with the masks. Despite the shape of the temple, which required further orientation the next day, we managed to complete three mandalas turning simultaneously. My own experience of leading the third mandala, supported by Prema and Noelle, revealed what has been accomplished already in my practice and what I need to focus on next in my training.

After lunch, dressed in gold, the first two groups and a few alternates experienced the process of mask dancing from the meticulous costuming with headdress and wig, robes, to the reverent relationship with the mask. Each masked dancer was paired with an attendant from group two. Over the next few days, they will exchange positions.

Noelle worked tirelessly with Mekare to adjust the costumes, headdresses and masks. So much love, care, and devotion, and patience, too, as the configuration and performance glitches were worked through. As an audience member for the first run-through, I can say that watching the 22 masked manifestations felt like we had called Tara from the heart, and she appeared: the power and presence and magnetic quality of the masked dancers truly made the outside world to fall away… Magical!

Dancers reported merging with the masks, having very different sense of space, and Mekare had said that the experience creates an altered state. As a result, the protectors or attendants helped the first group stay grounded and shift positions after the birth of each new Tara. Tomorrow we will try the birth from the center of the crescent moon mandala.

Prema reminded us that in witnessing the Mandala Dance we have the opportunity to experience letting go of self obsession, and realize our true nature. Every aspect of the experience—watching, dancing, or meditating, creates a powerful field of energy. And you can join us in offering prayers for peace and healing for yourselves and the world!

In the afternoon, Prema led us again to the white circular temple on the hill—our last day there: I was writing yesterday’s blog but was told it was beautiful!

In the evening, Prema guided us through a  Vajrasattva meditation in preparation for the Monlam. Then we had the blessing of watching Prajwal Ratna dance Vajrasattva. The son of Prema’s teacher, he is the lineage holder of the Nepalese Charya Nritya,  a Vajrayana Buddhist dance tradition. We were also blessed by a teaching on the Buddhist philosophical foundation of Vajrasattva practice by Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo, an inspiring American born nun, scholar and social activist in the Tibetan tradition who has devoted her life to improving the condition of Buddhist nuns, particularly in Asia. She created Sakyadhita, which you can read about here.

We concluded the evening dancing three mandalas simultaneously, and I was able to dance Transformer of Poison, who consumes negativity and turns it into the energy of wisdom, compassion and power.

What is your prayer today for yourself and for the world? Join the celebration daily by touching into this blog, reciting the Green Tara Mantra, OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA, and dedicating your prayers to the realization of peace, healing, ultimate liberation. Om Tare!

May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!

Photos by Amber Roniger, text by Anjali

Read More: Pre-Monlam Day 3 (Tuesday) May 22, 2018


Dukkar–Portuguese an English

Setting up the mandalas: 3 groups two that would have masks–amazing job as usual of honoring everyone’s request–got through three mandalas turning simultaneously. My own experience leading the mandala and personal process–a deep teaching

after lunch, dressed in gold, first two groups and few alternates experienced the mask dancing from the meticulous costuming and reverent relationship with the mask to, to the order: hair tied low in back, mask on, headdress and wig, the protector for each Tara was from group 2

Costume adjustments with Noelle

Masks–creascent moon arrangement with Tara’s birthed from right: learning expereince

Felt like we had called Tara and she was now here: power and presence, magnetic quality, and the outside world falls away… Truly magical!

Dancers reported merging with the masks, having another sense of space, and Mekare had said that the experience creates an altered state. As a result, the protectors (group 2) helped the first group stay grounded and shift positions after the birth of each new Tara. Tomorrow will try the birth from the center and dancing with the masks in the spiral configuration.

Teaching: witnessing the Mandala you have the opportunity to experience letting go of self obsession. Incredible opportunity in audience. Whatever you are doing–watching, dancing, meditating creates a powerful field of energy. Join us in offering prayer for peace, healing

Then we left for the temple–insert description–

Then VS meditation guided, Prawal, Nun’s teaching (Sakyadita creator), VS, and 3 mandalas




Read More: Pre-Monlam Day 2 May 21, 2018


Welcome to Pre-Monlam Day 2! We hope you feel connected to us here at the Paradise on Earth Retreat Center in Brazil–we are so happy to be able to share the experience with you and to know that you are thinking of us, too!

Yesterday was full and rich. We began morning practice with establishing Motivation, Refuge and Bodhicitta, aligning ourselves with our reasons for being here–in our lives and on retreat–as well as with our sources of refuge. We affirmed our vast motivation to lead every single sentient being to Enlightenment.

We then continued with the White Umbrella Protectress form of Tara, Dukkar. At a certain point in the dance, we walk radiating the power of the implements Dukkar holds, her right hand in the refuge mudra turning the wheel of the dharma and bestowing teachings and the left hand holding the umbrella of protection. The experience is one of constant flow of enlightened activity—wonderful opportunity to let go of the controlling mind and allowing the body’s inherent wisdom to align itself with the movements.

We also worked on our costuming throughout the day, which will have a variety of options: the base is a gold wheel skirt and choli (cropped short sleeve top traditionally used in the Indian sari). Noelle and Dani (Shrivasvati) were the seamstress dakinis, patiently adjusting their creations to allow us to feel completely comfortable. Over the base will be layered either a sari or a large scarf. In the evening, we learned how tie to the scarves in a variety of different ways to suggest the draping and regal majesty of the sari without actually wearing one.

Our morning concluded with all the dancers, divided into three groups, singing the Tara mantra with “Faith, Surrender, Send out Light” in preparation for the actual mandala. Before our lunch break, we also set up the mantra rotation list as during the Monlam, there will be a 24 hour Green Tara mantra recitation. Join us by doing a mantra recitation session and let us know on the Tara Dhatu Facebook Page how many mantras you have accumulated. The generation of merit in this way is a powerful method of calling forth the energy that will best support our practice and and our lives.

In the afternoon, we alternated between costuming sessions with the saris, practice sessions for Calling Tara from the Heart and The Eight Precious Offerings, and mask work with Mekare, while the musicians rehearsed and our newest Taras became familiar with the foundation practices.

I had the opportunity to experience the mask for the first time. We reverently approached the table and Mekare gave us the background of the creation of the masks (read more about the masks here). Mask making and mask dancing are spiritual paths and each part of the mask—from the carving of the wood, to the painting of the face and eyes is imbued with sacred power through the motivation of the mask makers and the recitation of mantra. The end result: 22 extraordinary masks including the central Tara and the 21 Manifestations were available for us to connect with and begin to inhabit. I was drawn to the copper Radiant Health and in Mekare’s profound explanation found myself deeply touched by the essence of her Praise. For me, the eye-heart connection was a empowerment, and Tara 20 answered the question I asked her. Om Tare!

After dinner–and did I mention the vegetarian and vegan food is delightful?–Barbara Gach led us in an energetic and joyful improvised dance. After dancing Calling Tara from the Heart and Om Ah Hum, I had the opportunity to teach the short version of the Long Life Prayer for Prema (it is available as an mp3 download here, along with all the other music we have been dancing to). I reminded the dancers that the goal of the prayer is not worship of an individual, but the teacher as a vehicle of the teachings. Singing and dancing this prayer, we can invoke all our teachers, lineages and communities. Based on the traditional Tibetan custom of offering a prayer to safeguard the long life and good health of the teacher, the lineage and the community, this prayer was written, composed and choreographed with the intention of providing our sangha with a short daily prayer to seal our practice after the dedication. We were able to dance the prayer through in English and Spanish, and look forward to the Portuguese version which will be forthcoming!

We were then blessed with two mask dances by Mekare. In the dimness of late evening, by the light of flickering candles, we recited the mantra in preparation for Mekare’s arrival while she entered into the sacred space of the mask and costuming backstage. When she emerged, first as Destroyer of Attachment, then as Ferocious Compassion, we were riveted by her magnetic presence and potent gestures. If you have the opportunity to attend one of her upcoming workshops, don’t miss it!

And do connect in–you are with us every step of the way! What is your intention for the Monlam? What is your prayer for yourself and for the world? Join the celebration daily by touching into this blog, reciting the Green Tara Mantra, OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA, and dedicating your prayers to the intention you have set. Om Tare!

May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!

Photos by Amber Roniger, text by Anjali

READ MORE: Arriving at Paraiso Na Terra May 19 2018

We are so happy to be connecting with all of you from beautiful Paradise on Earth retreat center in Brazil! May our prayers for the world unite as one voice!

As clouds gathered and prepared a shower of blessings for Mother Earth, we gathered to dance and sing Beloved Tara, Motivation and Shantideva in Portuguese and English simultaneously. Realizing Prema’s long held vision of offering translations that were rhythmically aligned to allow for a multilingual experience, we manifested our interconnectedness in this beautiful way.

The precious advice Prema then gave us applies not only to our situation here at the retreat, but also to our daily lives. She encouraged us to see the obstacles that arise as valuable opportunities for transformation, to work gently with ourselves in accepting that circumstances may not always appear as expected, and to be kind with ourselves and others. When we feel frustrated, instead of suffering in silence or lashing out in anger, we can ask for help and take care of ourselves.

When nearly 100 Taras from North and South America, Nepal, New Zealand and Russia gathered afterwards in a circle for introductions, we saw how the Divine Mother manifests across cultures and geography. We then spoke our intentions for the Monlam into the circle, offering heartfelt prayers for peace, healing, awakening, love, animal welfare, joy and fun (from one of our children participants), among many others. What is your prayer for the Monlam–your deepest aspiration for yourself and for the world? You may write it down in your journal or place a card with this prayer on your altar and dedicate your practice to its realization.

Over the course of the next week, we invite you to be part of the celebration by touching into this blog, reciting the Green Tara Mantra, OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA, and dedicating your prayers to the intention you have set today. Om Tare!

May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!


    Written by Anjali, Photographs by Amber Roniger

Read More: Pre-Monlam Day 1 May 20, 2018

Sunny skies and cool temperatures welcomed us to Day 1 Pre-Monlam. 

After generating our Motivation and dancing refuge and bodhicitta through Shantideva, Myri Dakini taught us the practice of Dukkar, Thousand-armed and Thousand-eyed White Umbrella Tara. In this lineage, Mother Tara appears as a Protectress to bestow upon us the confidence to move through life fearlessly. As the Power of Compassionate Action, Dukkar holds an implement in each of her hands to dispel, subjugate and transform all negativity. This beautiful dance guides us through Dukkar’s blessings of the five elements, earth, water, fire, air and space, and we embody her skillful activities. The dancers in the circle end fingertips to fingertips, forming a majestic protective umbrella to shelter all beings.

Prema’s instructions to us about the retreat extended once again beyond its confines: she reminded us about bringing awareness into our response to circumstances: the circumstances are not the problem, our attitude is.  When we align ourselves with what is, we perceive the perfection of the present moment. It may not correspond to what we expected, so it is up to us to greet it with an open mind and heart. The question is: are we going to turn towards the heart of love or turn our back on it and suffer? It is our choice.

The afternoon was dedicated to learning how to relate to and dance with the sacred masks Mekare had created in Bali. I will be experiencing them for the first time this afternoon and will write about it in the next post! We also practiced the Eight Precious Offerings dance, our sangha brother Frank painted prayer flags with the names of all our dear donors, a number of us learned how to adorn ourselves in saris, and the men practiced the Dance of the Qualities to prepare for dancing as Protectors in the Mandala.

The afternoon ended with a magical gathering: as the winds rose, we spiraled into the circular temple at the top of the hill, bowing before a shrine to Tara. There we danced Motivation, Shantideva, Refuge and Bodhicitta, and the Dance of the Qualities in a seamless alternation of English and Portuguese. Our united voices filled the room and radiated out through the open door into the surrounding countryside. Devotion and joy filled our hearts as we connected to ourselves, to each other and to Mother Tara. Om Tare!

In the evening, we were led through a joyful and energetic series of sambas by Dani, one of our dear Brazilian Taras. We then learned a beautiful short Vajrasattva, and the inspired Calling Tara from the Heart. Afterwards, we danced Om Ah Hum, an empowering offering dance based on a song by Tina Turner,  and concluded with a Four Immeasurables dedication based on a traditional Tibetan melody offered by Claire, a dear New Zealand Tara.

What is your intention for the Monlam? What is your prayer for yourself and for the world? Join the celebration daily by touching into this blog, reciting the Green Tara Mantra, OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA, and dedicating your prayers to the intention you have set. Om Tare!

May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!


Photos by Amber Roniger, Text by Anjali

This precious statue of Tara was donated by the local dharma center to grace the center of our altar throughout the Monlam.

Live From The Tara Peace & Prayer Monlam Festival in Brazil

Read More: Conclusion of Monlam, May 27, 2018

Read More: Monlam Day 4, May 26, 2018

Read More: Monlam Day 3, May 25, 2018

Read More: Monlam Day 2, May 24, 2018

Read More: Monlam Day 1, May 23, 2018

Read More: Pre-Monlam Day 3 May 22, 2018

Read More: Pre-Monlam Day 2 May 21, 2018

Read More: Pre-Monlam Day 1 May 20, 2018

Read More: Arriving at Paraiso Na Terra May 19, 2018

Beginning May 19th…

Our dear Sangha Sister Anjali has traveled from Texas to participate in the 2018 Tara Dhatu Peace and Prayer Monlam festival in Brazil and she is making daily posts to share the offerings with the wider sangha. She has begun posting during the pre-Monlam retreat at Paraiso Na Terra in the countryside outside of Brasilia. Check this page daily from May 19th-May 27th.

We are all connected in the heart of Mother Tara.

The prayers of the 108 gathering in Brazil will be amplified by our heart community spread out across this blue green ball of earth.

May our offerings bring great benefit, inspiration, nourishment, and the perfect remedy to all that ails the beings of every nation and every species as well as to Mother Earth herself.

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

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.


 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.


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.




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



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