Tara the Liberator: How to Free Your Mind Paperback – 17 Jun 2013
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In short, it provided me with all the detail in a consise way. This is one of my "keeper" books!
p. 57: "Although we seem to be praying to Tara, we are invoking our internal wisdom and compassion."
p. 76: "We wouldn't have external hindrances if we didn't have internal ones."
pp. 94-5: "Although many of these verses show Tara ostensibly banishing external harms, my guess is that on a deeper level, these are analogies for internal and external obscurations."
p. 100: Chanting "once with sincerity and concentration" is better than "21 times with a distracted mind."
p. 166: "Guilt does not free us from self-centeredness."
p. 167: "Bodhichitta is the ultimate anti-depressant."
p. 178: "Meditating on the meaning of these verses isn't simply praying to Arya Tara as an external being. We're trying to tap into our own Tara-nature, our Tara-potential."
p. 180: "it is the mental transformation, not the recitations themselves, that leads to rebirth in a pure land."
She convincingly explains many Buddhist views: reasons for mantras, multiple interpretations, types of monastic vows, the 5 paths (accumulation, preparation, seeing, meditation, & no more learning, Tulkus (not necessarily Bodhisattvas), and (perhaps most importantly) the value and nature of Tara practice:
p. 21: "21 Taras, each of whom manifested to alleviate specific problems. Therefore, each of these Taras exists for you."
p. 37: "Like a child who dresses up and pretends to be a fireman, thereby developing the confidence to become one, we image ourselves to be a Buddha who relates to people as a fully enlightened being does-without ignorance, hostility, or clinging attachment and with immeasurable wisdom, compassion, and skill...Identifying ourselves with our Tara-nature, we gain invigorating confidence that spurs us to make our life more meaningful."
p. 56: "Tara is not a self-existent, independent deity or god. Like all persons and phenomena, she exists dependently and is empty of independent or absolute existence."
She says (p. 156) fantastic aspirations are uplifting though unattainable helping us feel more spacious
However, the end of the book consists of overly extensive arguments regarding self, existence, etc. While she provides interesting analogies (e.g. our body the car), the arguments are scientifically unconvincing (& repetitive). One need begin with consistent definitions, for example, in Websters a car is defined BOTH in terms of its main components (wheels, & maybe engine) AND function-transportation, defeating her argument. Nevertheless, she provides a short, pithy paragraph in the middle (p. 202) of her exposition that effectively & concisely proves her thesis ("Furthermore...every sentient being, as well as his or her body and mind, is changing moment to moment..."). In summary, we must agree that: p. 53: "We need a guiding star to find our way across the dark seas of the disturbing emotions. The Sanskrit noun Tara means `star' and the verb trii indicates `to guide across,' to cross over," rather than taking (p. 141) Worldly refuge in the worldly 3 jewels = "the shopping center, the refrigerator, and the TV." For a 4-dimensional commentary on the "Homage to the 21 Taras" see Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche's "The Smile of Sun and Moon" with color plates of the Taras.
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
Tara meditations are designed to extend the mind beyond the personal and into the objective and thereby create distance from ego-based interpretations.
Buddhist detachment is a powerful and potent tool in removing and extracting oneself from the bondage of anger. It doesn't condone what has happened. What it does is allow perception to tune into what is going one beyond the personality. Herein lies the gift ... like the story of the frog who is stung by a scorpion despite carrying it over the water ... compassion is the ability to see that the scorpion by nature is a stinger ... and to have an "agape" love for it as a part of the animal kingdom's circle of life ... but yet to be wise enough to be detached from its venom ... in an ultimate act of self-love. Compassion enables one to see how another's sometimes even cruel behavior is their own poison extended outwards in rage and hate and freeing oneself from the effect of it, leaving the angry person to stew in their own poison, and isn't the best revenge the well lived life immune from a vindictive individual's tentacles?
Many a Tibetan monk has been tortured by Chinese officials and yet worked to have compassion and de-personalize the event .. not easy ... but to triumph is worth it when you see that nothing of what happened means that you are unloveable or worthy .... but that the perpetrator has such self-hate in themselves that they act it out in projection on others. That is the ultimate victory ... when you give back the poison in a detached loving way back to the unevolved soul. That said, when justice is called for ... do it in a detached way with the intention for fair and just resolution... and then let go .... leave the person with their poison and go swim in the bliss of an antidote.
"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world."
"It is in Pardoning that we are Pardoned."
- Saint Francis of Assisi
"There are two big forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over external forces such as tornados, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those disasters? Over that I have complete control."
- Leo Buscaglia
"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"It's choice - not chance - that determines your destiny."
- Jean Nidetch
"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."
- William James
"The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved - loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves."