Arya Tara, Book Review

Tara propels me deeper into her inner love and pushes me into her own intimate connection and knowing, a personal Compendium Taradiscovery. I am remembering my eternal Tara journey.

I finished reading this book the other day. It took me about 2 days to read it. It is a really a practice manual and much better to get it in print than to read an ebook, as you can mark pages with sticky notes, beautiful bookmarks as well as make notes [if you are that kind of a person].

The Tara Compendium, Feminine Principles Discovered is published by Rangjung Yeshe Publications  – Oral teachings of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and his spiritual sons

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920 – 19996) was a contemporary Buddhist master of the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages, who lived at Nagi Gompa hermitage in Nepal. He was considered to be one of the greatest Dzogchen masters of our time.

From the publisher:

Tara’s tenacity is immense and Buddha Shakyamuni, when teaching on Tara, said among all the other buddhas, Tara has exceedingly great resolve. Tara is an emanation of the mother of all the buddhas of the three times. She carries out all their activities, dispelling the obstacles created through the eight or sixteen types of fear. Most significantly, she vowed to emanate in female form until all of samsara is emptied. When anyone supplicates Tara, her response is swift. The activities resulting from her aspiration are extraordinary, and there is ample evidence of this, right up to the present day. The special quality of Tara is her extraordinary compassionate resolve to benefit all beings by removing whatever causes them to feel anxious or afraid, and dispelling the eight or sixteen types of fears.Tara is the heroine who swiftly carries out the activities of all the buddhas. She is the very identity of enlightened activity beyond that which we can mentally imagine or fathomand has incredible virtues that surpass any thought. In short, through the symbolic meaning, you will realize the true state of original wakefulness. Within this very lifetime you will accomplish the state of the utterly indestructible, undefeatable and unchanging Vajra Tara of the innermost essence, who is prajñaparamita.
This book gives the devotee the tools to apply the great energy and vitality of Tara in practice. Offering an overview of the many practices associated with this incredible Buddha, it gives of the gift of enlightenment into the palm of the readers’ hand and affords the possibility to benefit others.

The book is a compilation of practices and personal stories by teachers and masters of these traditions.

Every Tara Practice is unique and empowered by the linage holders of that tradition. Every Tara teaches the same thing, feminine wisdom, compassion and every Tara practice is a doorway into enlightenment.

Tara is often seen as a mother of Buddhas. I think that this is a personal perspective. In Buddhism I consider the principle of Prajñāpāramitā as a stronger Mother Figure than Tara. Prajñāpāramitā refers to perfected way of seeing the nature of reality, as well as to a particular body of sutras and to the personification of the concept in the Bodhisattva known as the “Great Mother”, or the Mahavidya in Hinduism (the wisdom goddesses/aspects of Adi Parashakti).

Both Prajñāpāramitā and Tara point us towards emptiness, however Tara is more personal, closer to us on a human level, this is why some see Tara as a mother and others don’t.

Her 21 manifestations are a doorway into the feminine psyche and inner and outer wisdom.

Women enjoy Tara’s friendliness, protection, companionship and it is easy for women to identify with the figure of Tara, similarly like in Christianity the Holy Mary is a symbol of devoted, all encompassing mother figure. Since Tara is contained in Prajñāpāramitā principle we must remember that Tara is all things feminine, secret, visible and invisible. This knowing changes our relationship with the feminine as well as the practice.

Due to the principle of Prajñāpāramitā we could stipulate that Buddhism is a feminine philosophy and religion. Essence of luminosity however is genderless and inconceivable to the average mind. Practice is important to remove the obscurations to see and experience that clearly for oneself.

What is different is the way we approach the practice, this book offers some of the wording, mantras and rituals and offerings in a different way. I felt very drawn to the soft, compassionate and serene as well as the exuberant praises of devotion to the essence of Tara in this book.

The manual provides a beautiful doorway into the wisdom of the feminine, healing capacities of Tara and her limitless compassion.  It is a true compendium of feminine principles in the tantric action of practice.

Rev. Dr. K. Sonam Wangmo