Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, an American-born Tibetan Buddhist nun, has studied and practiced Buddhism in India and Nepal since 1975. She leads retreats around the world and has written many books including Buddhism for Beginners, Working With Anger, and Taming the Mind. We have found her to be a profound spiritual teacher who always gives us new practices to try.
Her focus here is on Tara, the feminine embodiment of enlightenment. The name means "liberator," and she can help set us free from eight dangers. In the most revealing segment of the book, Chodron looks at the lion of pride, the elephant of ignorance, the fire of anger, the snakes of jealousy, the thieves of wrong views, the chains of miserliness, the flood of attachment, and the carnivorous demon of doubt. The challenge for all of us is to transform our minds and become like Tara whose tranquility, compassion, and wisdom make her so beautiful. There is also an appealing nurturing side to her: "We can relax in her presence and look at ourselves honestly, knowing that Tara will not judge, reject, or abandon us due to our shortcomings. Like a mother, she sees her child's potential -- in this case, our spiritual potential or Buddha -- nature and wants to nurture it."
Chodron presents the "Homage to the Twenty-one Taras" that are frequently chanted in Tibetan monasteries and homes and examines the poem "A Song of Longing for Tara, the Infallible" written by Lama Lobsand Tenpey Gyaltsen, along with her reflections on its relevance to Dharma practice. In her consideration of the praise and admiration so many of us are attached to, the author presents the following practice:
"Think, 'The amount of praise and appreciation I receive is sufficient. I'm content with it.' Imagine being content with the amount of love and appreciation you receive. Try to let go of the needy, dissatisfied mind that clings to wanting more. Say to yourself and imagine feeling, 'However much people love me is good enough. However much people appreciate me is good enough. However much they praise me is good enough. I have my own internal sense of well-being. There's a lot of love inside, and I'm going to focus on sharing that will others.' Training our mind to think like this is real Dharma practice."
Chodron always hits the mark with her practice suggestions. This is one we will start immediately. - Spirituality and Practice.com
"How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator by Thubten Chodron has been chosen for a Spirituality & Health Book Award as one of the 50 Best Spiritual Books of 2005."--Spirituality & Health Magazine
"...many delights... an authoritative guide to the practice of Tara."--Mandala Magazine
"...an excellent work of theory and practice."--The Middle Way
"...a profound spiritual teacher...Chodron always hits the mark with her practice suggestions."--Spirituality & Health
"Chodron gives a helpful, straightforward explanation of deity practice, and an explication of the Tara sadhana, or liturgy."--Shambhala Sun
Thubten Chodron's books have sold over 100,000 copies and include Buddhism for Beginners, Working with Anger, and Open Heart, Clear Mind.
"This practical and inspiring book will be helpful to all who wish to tame their minds so that they are not constantly enslaved by pride, ignorance, anger, jealousy, distorted views, miserliness, attachment and doubt.... This is truly a book that will appeal both to a general audience and to those specifically interested in female manifestations of the divine."--East and West Series
"The great strength of this book lies in its thoroughness, its realistic approach and in the fact that the author finds simple, fresh language to explain even the most abstract and complex ideas."--Tara Mandala Newsletter
"This book contains everything one needs to know to begin an informal Tara practice, and with the right understanding is a precious jewel in itself."--Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D., is the author of over 40 books on yoga and health, including Yoga Morality: Ancient Teachings at a Time of Global Crisis, The Deeper Dimension of Yoga, Holy Madness: Spirituality, Crazy-Wise Teachers, and Enlightenment, and Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga