This is a painting of Green Tara (Drolma Jangu in Tibetan). Tara is a Bodhisattva, a Buddha who has agreed to stay and help sentient beings as they work themselves out of Samsara, or suffering. Well, that's the short version. I think of Tara often and pray that her mantra always be on the tip of my tongue. But Buddhist prayer isn't so much about supplication but rather a request for blessing for us to emulate and generate the good qualities of that particular Buddha, Bodhisattva or holy being. While they do have the capability to do anything (the way we'd see a worldly god/dess be able to influence the everyday happenings in the lives of sentient beings) they more often (I think) influence us when we meditate and reflect on their qualities and abilities.
Green Tara is the Bodhisattva of swift action. When you call Her, She comes. When you think of Her, She appears. Her actions are compassionate and always for the best. She cares for all sentient beings without discrimination. These are qualities that are worthy of emulation. And so we think of her, and we try to be like her, to be of benefit to others.
There is a prayer that is the Praises to the 21 Taras... it is a prayer/recitation practice that calls on the 21 different Taras (all of which are purposeful emanations of the primary Tara, pictured above) and a practice of which I'm very fond. I'd like to undertake a more studious look at the text and I thought I might do that by writing about each of the stanzas of the Praise one by one here.
There are a couple different versions available in English. You can find a .pdf version on the FPMT site HERE.
And here are the texts I'll be referencing:
Tara's Enlightened Activity by Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal
How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator by Ven. Thubten Chodron
In Praise of Tara: Songs to the Saviouress by Martin Wilson
The Practice of Green Tara by Ven. Bardor Tulku Rinpoche
It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway...I am NOT a teacher and I know very little. I am merely a student of the Buddhas who wants earnestly to understand the Teachings. I only hope that we can share a dialogue as we learn together.
**New here? Please click the name of Tara to jump to the wikipedia page to learn the basics of who She is. It's wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt. If you have any additional questions, you can always leave them in the comments, or email me: returntorural at gmail dot com