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How to relate to the deity

How to relate to the deity

Part of a series of Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talks given during the Green Tara Winter Retreat from December 2009 to March 2010.

  • Who is Tara?
  • How to relate to Tara

Green Tara Retreat 004: Who is Tara? (download)

We are doing the Tara practice and the question may arise in your mind, “Well, who is Tara and exactly how should I relate to Tara?”

We might tend to relate to Tara like God, for those of us who grew up in a theistic culture. You just take away God and then there’s Tara; or you take away the saints and then there’s Saint Tara. This is not the way to regard Tara.

There is one way in which we see Tara. We see Tara as someone who was once an ordinary being and then became a fully enlightened being. There’s this story about a princess named Yeshe Dawa, who liberated many sentient beings in the morning. She wouldn’t eat breakfast until she had liberated so many sentient beings. Then, she wouldn’t eat lunch until she liberated another huge amount of sentient beings. She also wouldn’t eat dinner in the evening before she had led to liberation another huge amount of sentient beings.

She is very disciplined and very compassionate. At one point, some of the leaders came to her and said to her, “You know, you should really pray to be a man in your next life.” The Princess said, “Forget it fellows. I’m going to take enlightenment in a woman’s body.” And she did.

In that way we can see Tara as somebody who was once an ordinary being like us and one who practiced well and became a fully enlightened being. In that way, it is a very inspirational way for us to regard Tara. It gives us the feeling that, if she did it, so can we.

This is only one way to view Tara.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.