Refuge and bodhicitta
I take refuge until I have awakened in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
By the merit I create by engaging in generosity and the other far-reaching practices,
may I attain Buddhahood in order to benefit all sentient beings.
The four immeasurables
May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes.
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes.
May all sentient beings not be separated from sorrowless bliss.
May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.
The actual practice
In the space above on a lotus and moon seats sits Arya Tara, emerald green, with one face and two arms. Her right hand is in the gesture of supreme giving, fulfilling the wishes of all beings. Her left hand, is at her heart in the gesture of the Three Jewels. Always present to liberate living beings, but never affected by the defects of cyclic existence, she holds blue utpala flowers.
She is extremely beautiful, representing all goodness in visible form, adorned with jeweled ornaments and heavenly silks. To symbolize the union of method and wisdom, she sits with her right leg slightly extended and her left bent. On her crown is Amitabha Buddha. Tara sits amidst an aura of light, her three places adorned with three vajras—OM at her crown, AH at her throat, HUM at her heart.
Surrounding her in space are the 21 Taras, as well as all Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Surrounding you are all sentient beings. Imagine leading them in reciting the prayers and requests to Tara.
Reverently I prostrate with my body, speech and mind,
And present clouds of every type of offering, actual and mentally transformed.
I confess all my destructive actions accumulated since beginningless time,
And rejoice in the virtues of all holy and ordinary beings.
Please remain until cyclic existence ends,
And turn the wheel of Dharma for sentient beings.
I dedicate the virtues created by myself and others to the great awakening.
This ground, anointed with perfume, flowers strewn,
Mount Meru, four lands, sun and moon,
Imagined as a Buddha Land and offered to you
May all beings enjoy this pure land.
The objects of attachment, aversion and ignorance—friends, enemies and strangers, my body, wealth and enjoyments—I offer these without any sense of loss. Please accept them with pleasure, and inspire me and others to be free from the three poisonous attitudes.
Idam guru ratna mandala kam nirya tayami
Homage to the 21 Taras
OM I prostrate to the noble transcendent liberator.
Homage to Tara swift and fearless
With eyes like a flash of lightning
Lotus born in an ocean of tears
Of Chenrezig, three worlds’ protector.
Homage to you whose face is like
One hundred autumn moons gathered
And blazes with the dazzling light
Of a thousand constellations.
Homage to you born from a gold blue lotus
Hands adorned with lotus flowers
Essence of giving, effort and ethics,
Patience, concentration and wisdom.
Homage to you who crown all Buddhas
Whose action subdues without limit
Attained to every perfection
On you the bodhisattvas rely.
Homage to you whose TUTTARA and HUM
Fill the realms of desire, form and space
You crush seven worlds beneath your feet
And have power to call all forces.
Homage to you adored by Indra,
Agni, Brahma, Vayu and Ishvara
Praised in song by hosts of spirits,
Zombies, scent eaters and yakshas.
Homage to you whose TREY and PEY
Destroy external wheels of magic
Right leg drawn in and left extended
You blaze within a raging fire.
Homage to you whose TURE destroys
The great fears, the mighty demons
With a wrathful frown on your lotus face
You slay all foes without exception.
Homage to you beautifully adorned
By the Three Jewels’ gesture at your heart
Your wheel shines in all directions
With a whirling mass of light.
Homage to you, radiant and joyful
Whose crown emits a garland of light
You, by the laughter of TUTTARA
Conquer demons and lords of the world.
Homage to you with power to invoke
The assembly of local protectors
With your fierce frown and vibrating HUM
You bring freedom from all poverty.
Homage to you with crescent moon crown
All your adornments dazzling bright
From your hair knot Amitabha
Shines eternal with great beams of light.
Homage to you who dwells in a blazing wreath
Like the fire at the end of this age
Your right leg outstretched and left drawn in
Joy surrounds you who defeats hosts of foes.
Homage to you whose foot stamps the earth
And whose palm strikes the ground by your side
With a wrathful glance and the letter HUM
You subdue all in the seven stages.
Homage to the blissful, virtuous, peaceful one
Object of practice, nirvana’s peace
Perfectly endowed with SOHA and OM
Overcoming all the great evils.
Homage to you with joyous retinue
You subdue fully all enemies’ forms
The ten-letter mantra adorns your heart
And your knowledge-HUM gives liberation.
Homage to TURE with stamping feet
Whose essence is the seed-letter HUM
You cause Meru, Mandara and Vindya
And all three worlds to tremble and shake.
Homage to you who holds in your hand
A moon like a celestial lake
Saying TARA twice and the letter PEY
You dispel all poisons without exception.
Homage to you on whom the kings of gods
The gods themselves and all spirits rely
Your armor radiates joy to all
You soothe conflicts and nightmares as well.
Homage to you whose eyes, the sun and moon,
Radiate with pure brilliant light
Uttering HARA twice an TUTTARA
Dispels extremely fearful plagues.
Homage to you, adorned with three natures
Perfectly endowed with peaceful strength
You destroy demons, zombies and yakshas
O TURE, most exalted and sublime!
Thus the root mantra is praised
And twenty-one homages offered.
Homage to the 21 Taras
Homage to the 21 Taras (download)
The condensed praise
OM to the transcendent subduer, Arya Tara, I prostrate.
Homage to the glorious one who frees with TARE;
With TUTTARA you calm all fears;
You bestow all success with TURE;
To the sound SOHA I pay great homage.
Requesting protection from the eight dangers, by the First Dalai Lama
Dwelling in the mountains of wrong views of selfhood,
Puffed up with holding itself superior,
It claws other beings with contempt,
The lion of pride—please protect us from this danger!
Untamed by the sharp hooks of mindfulness and introspective alertness,
Dulled by the maddening liquor of sensual pleasures,
It enters wrong paths and shows its harmful tusks,
The elephant of ignorance—please protect us from this danger!
Driven by the wind of inappropriate attention,
Billowing swirling smoke-clouds of misconduct,
It has the power to burn down forests of goodness,
The fire of anger—please protect us from this danger!
Lurking in its dark pit of ignorance,
Unable to bear the wealth and excellence of others,
It swiftly injects them with its cruel poison,
The snake of jealousy—please protect us from this danger!
Roaming the fearful wild of inferior practice
And the barren wastes of absolutism and nihilism,
They sack the towns and hermitages of benefit and bliss,
The thieves of wrong views—please protect us from this danger!
Binding embodied beings in the unbearable prison
Of cyclic existence with no freedom,
It locks them in craving’s tight embrace,
The chain of miserliness—please protect us from this danger!
Sweeping us in the torrent of cyclic existence so hard to cross,
Where, conditioned by the propelling winds of karma,
We are tossed in the waves of birth, aging, sickness and death,
The flood of attachment—please protect us from this danger!
Roaming in the space of darkest confusion,
Tormenting those who strive for ultimate aims,
It is viciously lethal to liberation,
The carnivorous demon of doubt—please protect us from this danger!
Through these praises and requests to you
Quell conditions unfavorable for Dharma practice
And let us have long life, merit, glory, plenty,
And other conducive conditions as we wish!
Purification and inspiration
Visualize much radiant and blissful green light from the TAM and mantra syllables at Tara’s heart streaming into you and into the sentient beings surrounding you. This light purifies the imprints of all destructive actions, pacifies all afflictions, fear, and anxiety, and dispels all sickness and harms from negative forces. The light brings inspiration and blessings from Tara, enabling you to realize the stages of the path to awakening. While doing the visualization, recite Tara’s peaceful mantra:
om tare tuttare ture soha
Tara mantra (download)
Aspiration and absorption
The most important thing in my life is to not harm others and to benefit them. Just as I do not wish harm from them, all beings do not wish to receive harm from me. Just as I wish every sentient being to benefit me by giving me temporal and ultimate happiness, all sentient beings wish me to benefit them and give them temporal and ultimate happiness. Doing this is the purpose of my life.
Because you have the attitude to not harm and to benefit others, Arya Tara is extremely pleased. She comes on top of your head, melts into green radiating light, and dissolves into you. Your body, speech, and mind become inseparable from Arya Tara’s holy body, speech and mind. Concentrate on this for as long as you can.
(Meditate on the lamrim, the stages of the path to awakening. You may do this according to meditation outlines, or recite The Three Principal Aspects of the Path and meditate deeply on it.)
Due to this merit may I soon
Attain the awakened state of Arya Tara.
That I may be able to liberate
All sentient beings from their suffering.
May the precious bodhi mind
Not yet born arise and grow.
May that born have no decline
But increase forever more.
Due to this merit, may the Venerable Lady Tara take care of me and all sentient beings. May we see the face of Amitabha Buddha in Sukhavati, and may we enjoy the Mahayana teachings.
O compassionate and venerable subduer, may the infinite beings, including myself soon purify the two obscurations and complete both collections so that we may attain full enlightenment.
For all of my lives, until I reach this stage, may I know the sublime happiness of humans and gods. So that I may become fully omniscient, please pacify quickly all obstacles, spirits, obstructions, epidemics, diseases, and so forth, the various causes of untimely death, bad dreams and omens, the eight dangers, and other afflictions, and make it so that they no longer exist.
May the mundane and supramundane collections of all excellent auspicious qualities and happiness increase and develop, and may all wishes be fulfilled naturally and effortlessly, without an exception.
May I strive to realize and increase the sacred Dharma, accomplishing your stage and beholding your sublime face. May my understanding of emptiness and the precious bodhicitta increase like the moon waxing full.
May I be reborn from an extremely beautiful and holy lotus in the joyous and noble mandala of the conqueror. May I attain whatever prophecy I receive in the presence of Amitabha Buddha.
O deity whom I have practiced in previous lives, the enlightening influence of the three-time Buddhas, emerald green with one face and two arms, the swift pacifier, O mother holding an utpala flower, may you be auspicious!
Whatever your body, O Mother of Conquerors, whatever your retinue, lifespan and pure land, whatever your name, most noble and holy, may I and all others attain only these.
By the force of these praises and requests made to you, may all disease, poverty, fighting and quarrels be calmed. May the precious Dharma and everything auspicious increase throughout the world and directions where I and all others dwell.