Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tara Comes to HSU

Today in my class Meditation, Contemplation, and Imagination, we had a wonderful guest lecturer, Allison Rader. Allison is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who is now the head lama at Chagdud Gonpa Rigdzin Ling, a Vajrayana community out in beautiful Trinity County. I had the pleasure of doing an experiential retreat weekend through the Religious Studies department last year, led by Allison at the Gonpa. She is an incredible teacher, so real, and engaging. And she has the ability to hold such sacred space. In a room full of 30 people, I felt like we were engaged in a private conversation (and so did everyone else!). For an hour and half she gave an incredible Dharma talk, describing the spiritual path of the Vajrayana, and particularly leading towards a general understanding of Tibetan visualization mediation practice. We then closed our eyes, sat up straight, and she led us through a basic Red Tara practice, visualizing some of the basic elements of Tara - compassion, loving-kindness, humility, etc. It was so beautiful, I slowly opened my eyes feeling tingly all over. Then we read aloud:

In the space in front of me the mother of all the victorious ones, Arya Tara, actually appears and to her I pray:
Now, as I and countless others are lost in the ocean of samsaric suffering,
I seek buddhahood to gain temporary and ultimate happiness for myself and all living beings.
For this reason I take refuge in Arya Tara, embodiment of pure awareness,
inseparable from all perfect qualities of buddha, dharma, sangha, lama, yidam and dikini.
From the depths of my heart I pray, evoking from Tara's forehead, throat and heart
a brilliant surge of rainbow light.
As the light rays touch me and all other beings, the poisonous fruits of negative karma-
sickness, demonic afflictions and obstacles - evaporate like dew in the morning sun.
Merit, wisdom, glory, wealth and longevity increase beyond measure.

Illustrious Tara, please be aware of me. Remove my obstacles and quickly grant my excellent aspirations.



The last part in Tibetan we sang/chanted in harmony. There was a brief moment of rational discomfort, to be chanting in the classroom... then I realized, we're chanting in the classroom! It was such a beautiful practice. The Tibetan syllables left my body vibrating in illumination. We finished with a proper Buddhist dedication.

Throughout my many lives and until this moment,
whatever virtue I have accomplished
including the merit generated by this practice, and all that I will ever obtain,
this I offer for the welfare of sentient beings.
May sickness, war, famine and suffering be decreased, for every being
while their wisdom and compassion increase in this and every future life.
May I clearly perceive all experiences to be as insubstantial
as the dream fabric of the night
and instantly awaken to perceive the pure wisdom display
in the arising of every phenomenon.
May I quickly attain enlightenment in order to work ceaselessly
for the liberation of all sentient beings.

Prayer of Aspiration
Buddhas and bodhisattvas altogether:
whatever kind of motivation you have,
whatever kind of beneficial action,
whatever kind of wishing prayers,
whatever kind of omniscience,
whatever kind of life accomplishment,
whatever kind of benevolent power
whatever kind of immense wisdom you have,
then similarly I, who have come in the same way to benefit beings,
pray to attain these qualities.

The Auspicious Wish
At this very moment, for the peoples and nations of the earth,
may not even the names disease, famine, war and suffering be heard.
Rather may their moral conduct, merit, wealth and prosperity increase,
and may supreme good fortune and well-being always arise for them.

No comments: