News From the Dancing Taras

Teaching the Mandala Dance of Tara has been an exhilarating, inspiring, and deeply rewarding experience. For the last 26 years I have traveled about this beautiful ball of earth sharing the profound practice of Tara’s Dance. Every day I receive letters from students and friends describing their experiences with the dance. It is a journey of consciousness. On these pages I will share with you some of the stories and pictures from our Tara Dhatu family. I will also share some insights about the practice as it reveals itself to me. Feel free to comment, to question, to contribute Prema Dasara

Parvati Leads Tara’s Mandala – Seattle, Phoenix, Woodstock

Parvati Forrest Anee Burke is one of our most senior teachers. Her dedication has led her to be our Central Coordinator, holding together the reins of our international Tara Dhatu. This Fall she offered three weekend mandalas of the Mandala Dance of Tara. She writes….

 Thank you Prema and Mother Tara for the amazing and beautiful, powerful and empowering teachings and sangha.  Recently a new friend asked me why I am drawn to this work and the answer is clear… I see so much transformation of poisons in my own life and the life of others. In a thirteen hour weekend retreat I have seen those with a chronic tone of discomfort in their being relax into an open hearted presence. I have seen precious and nourishing connections made countless times.  Each weekend is unique with its gifts and challenges and Tara always shows up!  In a world with so much confusion and suffering, this precious practice brings so much goodness and it is my joy and honor to serve Tara and the world by sharing the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara again and again.  May these offerings bring much joy, inspiration, and benefit and may the merit support the aspirations of our teachers, in particular, the May23-27, 2018 Peace and Prayer Monlam Festival in Brasilia, Brazil.

Dancing Tara in Seattle for Dagmola

The annual October offering held at the Sakya Monastery in Seattle was rich and beautiful with regular participants mixed with some who had not danced a Mandala in years, and others who were totally new to this form of Tara practice. We had thirteen plus me in the Mandala, a valiant protector, and a couple Tara elves supporting us.

Dagmola glowed with joy. She explained to the audience that what they had witnessed was not just a performance but a precious offering. They were able to witness the emanations of Tara, dancing for them through the retreat participants. She lingered to visit with the dancers.

The next morning Gail Fredrickson took me to have a little visit with Dagmola in her home. Gail is Dagmola’s close student making the arrangements every year for the Mandala Dance to happen at Sakya in fulfillment of Dagmola’s aspiration.

Dagmola shared some of her recent journey to Tibet. She gave a blessing to the Monlam, happy that we are engaging in such a powerful practice.

Dancing Tara in Phoenix

The annual Phoenix retreat in November was luscious and glorious with a number of traveling Taras joining us from Tucson, NY, TX, and a couple from the bay area in addition to our local community.  We chose not to have a public offering in order to allow for a retreat that could go deep into the Mandala, meditations, and supporting practices. It also created a very intimate space where all were able to bring in their deepest concerns of heart and mind. The result was really special.

We had the gift of Shivadam’s ever skillful and patient, beautiful musical support.  Participants were able to connect deeply with one another and carry the personal concerns weighing on hearts and minds into the final offering. It was powerful and empowering weekend and offering.

Dancing Tara in Woodstock New York

The Woodstock Mandala was a triumph, resonant with the quality of Tara, The All Victorious, in sync with Hope, our valiant organizer’s, praise attunement.  For Hope, the thirteen hour weekend workshop format was a new experience and she bravely agreed to take on the additional layer of complexity by bringing Shivadam to do the music live.


The payoff was big with a gorgeous Mandala offering!  Shivadam served us skillfully and tirelessly throughout the weekend. He was joined by two more talented musicians for the offering, Avainash on drums and Lee Marabai with opening kirtan, vocals, shruti box and bells.  The group was a lovely mix of totally new Taras and those who has danced again and again through the years. We had 18 in the Mandala and I was so touched by the presence of each and every dancer… each one bringing a lifetime of experiences with them into the offering.  We were supported by a wonderfully brave protector who was totally new to dancing Tara but popped in and out of the Mandala in practices as we needed him and held the protector post skillfully for the offering.

The Woodstock area experienced a 40-50 degree drop in temperature just as we dove into the weekend and our Yurt meeting spot had snow on the ground outside.  The propane gas heater was intense with noise and fumes and we went from sweltering heat to freezing cold. What a wild adventure. The wise community of Taras harvested these challenging circumstances and began to reflect on these extremes as reflections of the conditions on this planet at this time as well as the many realms unseen by us in this human life.

As the leader of the Mandala and workshop, I invoked the Tara of Creative Wisdom to understand how best to work with the challenges as they arose. The key, as Prema and I have often discussed, is to just not panic. Do the practice and hold space through which the possibilities present themselves. And I was gifted with a group of dancers that were all valiant and resilient! Eh Ma Ho.

The audience of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery (KTD) and kirtan community members was so loving and welcoming. We had an exalted offering ending with some Dances of Universal Peace led skillfully by Shivadam.

At the same time as our retreat was beginning there was the culmination of a retreat to the1000 Armed Chenrezig Nyugne practice at the KTD monastary across the street. We felt that we were dancing in sync with that powerful practice of wisdom, compassion, and inspiration throughout our time there.  As a delightful and perfect surprise, just as we finished our offering a Sri Lankan man from the monastery community appeared exclaiming, “Om Tare” and inviting us all to a freshly cooked, hot dinner at the monastery. A perfect ending to complete our offering and beautiful way to send out dancers back out into the world… with hearts, minds, and belly’s full and deeply nourished!

Om Ah Hung!

May we continue to turn the wheels of Tara’s love and light.

May the rays of Mother Tara’s blessings spread far and wide.

May all beings be nourished, blessed by the One Who Blazes With Glory!


Dancing Tara in Woodstock

 Dance in the Mandala of Tara

In Woodstock, NY

Fri Intro Evening open to all at KTD Monastary

With the weekend workshop and offering across from the KTD Monastery

November 10 to 12

Shivadam and Parvati at the Konark Temple, India

Parvati  Leading

Live music with Shivadam.

Public offering  Sunday

November 12 at 4:30 pm.

Public  Offering Free with requested offering

Spots still available for the full weekend  workshop and scholarships available.

The KTD monastery just finished consecrating eight stupas across from our workshop space.

May all beings benefit from our sincere prayers.

Click Here To Register

 For more information contact Hope

Hope Jinishian is a Tara Dhatu Student Teacher who has for the past several years supported Tara Dhatu in many ways.  We have been encouraging her to start a circle of dancing Taras in her area (Woodstock, NY) and this September 30th she did!! The Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery is the North American seat of His Holiness the Karmapa and has always offered a warm welcome to the Tara Dance. Lama Lodro was offering a weekend of stories of White and Green Tara and she invited Hope to share the dances after her Friday night introduction.    Hope writes…..

I’m happy to share that my offering at the opening evening of the Green and White Tara stories retreat with Lama Lodro at KTD Monastery on September 30th was a success. I had the full attention of a group of 30 practitioners at the start of their retreat and Lama Lodro invited everyone to receive the Tara dance teachings and instructions as a practice and meditation. She fully participated herself.

I taught Prayer of Motivation, Refuge and Bodhicitta and the Dance of the 21 Qualities and took time to break down the different components of the Qualities dance. Everyone stayed fully engaged, danced well and sang the mantra and all the prayers full out.

The Dance Studio where the Mandala workshop will take place.

I received a lot of positive feedback. I felt that these past couple of years of

study and practice with Tara Dhatu events and at KTD paid off in a strong synthesis of a vibrant, centered, meaningful experience with the group.

Several of the retreatants were from Hartford and said they were available to participate in a monthly circle there. And we have a few who would like to join the mandala dance retreat weekend in November.

Seems it was a rich experience as several people sought me out over the weekend to share.

Here’s a nice snippet of an email from a woman who wrote to me after the group..

I just wanted to tell you again, how much I enjoyed the Tara Dance/Movement Practice last evening. I’ve never participated in this type of practice and found myself becoming captivated by the movements, rhythm and repetition of the music and lyrics. I appreciate you taking the time and having the interest in sharing this with everyone.

A Precious Meeting in the Heart of Tara

September 10th the Maui Tara Dancers had the good fortune to present a sacred dance offering to the respected and beloved dharma teacher, Anam Thubten.  Eighteen dancers of all ages and experience offered the Tara Dhatu preliminary practices.

Anam gave his loving attention and the simple offering was ecstatic.

The Sacred Earth Temple is a beautiful room, blessed by countless offerings of sacred music and dance.

Behind Anam, an enormous crystal amplified his peaceful, joyful presence.

Several months ago Anam had written a powerful poem to Tara and wanted to share it with the dancers. He then taught a melody of Her mantra that was precious to him.

We rearranged our group, half of the dancers experienced enough to dance the new, powerful practice, “Calling Tara From the Heart” in a crescent moon configuration, the other half sat to the side, offering the mudras like a powerful background chorus.

We were all transported. Anam was visibly moved by the offering. He told us that he has seen many sacred dances but truly felt our hearts, our compassion and devotion. He could see that it wasn’t about the ego or about what great dancers we were (although he said we were all beautiful dancers) but it is about the practice, dedication and heart.

He said that the dance put him into an altered state. He recognized that we were working with sadhana, a form of spiritual training. He declared our dance offering “liberation on seeing and liberation on hearing”.

He loved the variety of dancers, from 13 year old Camry to several women in their 70’s. He laughed and said we were all wonder women! Indeed that is what we felt like, certainly we were women in wonder of it all.


Om Tare!!!

Dancing Tara for Dagmola on Maui

While on tour in Europe I received a message from my dear dharma friend and teacher, Dagmola Kushog. Some members of her family had made arrangements to spend some days on Maui and Dagmola wanted to know if the Tara Dancers would like her to give some teachings. I contacted the group and they were very excited to meet, receive teachings and dance for Dagmola.’’ 

It was a fabulous group effort. I worked as closely as possible with them, deciding on the programs, the outreach. They gathered together and worked out the endless details. Georgianna of the Maui Dharma Center arranged for an evening of presentation at the Center and the resident Lama Gyaltsen attended the dance offering.

Here are some of the dancer’s impressions of the experience…

Dear Prema,

Thank you for your love, support and guidance!  It was a fabulous event! People really enjoyed the Tara Dance and got a lot out of Dagmola’s teachings. It was a  GREAT experience for me to lead the dances. There is always so much more to learn as a leader – but I can see that this is the only way to really learn – through experience.  Great appreciation for how you lead and make it look so easy.

Barbara Gach

Our dance offering to Dagmola and Lama Gyaltsen was extraordinary!  We exchanged many heartfelt blessings, and loved her bright smile of joy!

What an honor it was to present this most auspicious offering.  The entire experience, including the talks at the Dharma Center and at Laura’s, the personal one-on-one interviews,  the auspicious dancing, and the personal Tara initiation given to each dancer from Dagmola touched my heart and soul deeply and profoundly, and will remain with me forever. Dagmola changed the vibration of my life.

Deborah Pozin

My heart is overflowing with gratitude. It was an amazing experience.  A special thank you to each of my Tara sisters for their unique contributions, bringing their hearts and wisdom to the offering.

Ali Naralani 

I longed to be dancing with you, but it was a joy to see all in their Tara radiance!

Linda G

Oh Prema it was so sublime! I really love Dagmola. I was happy to lead Shantideva’s Prayer. It was good to have the challenge of having to do it on our own.  We are fortunate to have you here with us much of the time.  We had to flex our Tara muscles.  It was amazing, the infinite number of details gracefully handled by a bevy of Taras.

Thank you Tara and Tara Sisters for this sublime experience.

 Sea Lily

Thank you Prema for birthing and teaching Tara ‘s dances. Thank you Barbara for organizing and leading the dances. Thank you Laura for offering your home and coordinating everything. Thank you Dagmola for your wisdom and blessings!

What an unforgettable evening!

Rita Massey




Creating A Brighter Future: A Bright Nepal Report

It’s a New Year!

The Nepali school year transitions from one to the next around the middle of April every year.  This year’s transition was a big one for the children of Bright Nepal as they moved from Pabitra’s private home/hostel to the school’s hostel. Pabitra continues to manage their personal and financial affairs and is regularly found volunteering at the school these days as well.

In May of every year, the school has an award ceremony that is a reflection of their work during the previous school year. (The picture above shows the children with the gifts they received for their awards).  This year we had several Bright Nepal children at the top of their class.  AND the big news is that Bright Nepal’s, Kincho Chomo Tamang who is 9 years old and in the 3rd grade, came in as the number one student in the entire school.  Kincho comes from an uneducated, impoverished farming family of 5 who are refugees from Tibet.   GO BRIGHT NEPAL TEAM!!! – and that means several of you who have donated to this program!!!  We couldn’t do it without you- you do make a difference. DEEP GRATITUDE TO ALL OF YOU. . .  And if you want to really get a perspective of the difference you make and be even more inspired, please watch the short “Girl Effect” video below.

Kincho with her trophy for being the top student of Lord Buddha Secondary School in Kathmandu, Nepal

With the recent transition, came additional costs, bringing each students expenses to $80 a month. And so we have been in the process of bringing on additional godparents as sponsors to help make up the difference.  As an organization, Bright Nepal is completely run by volunteers which includes Pabitra on the ground with the children, Angela Bennett as the godparent program coordinator and Anahata Iradah, who not only assists with the godparent program, but also fundraisers to make up for the gaps (we don’t always have the amount of godparents/sponsors we need and there are unexpected medical costs at times etc),  We are currently still in need of godparents/sponsors that can donate $40/month for the children below.  Please email Angela if you or anyone you know is interested:  Blessings!


Annual Aug Kauai Tara Retreat Special Offer & Reflections


For many years Tara Dhatu has hosted and annual camp on the beautiful island of Kauai.  Situated in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, the rustic camp YMCA Naue provides the Tara community a perfect spot to dive deeply into Tara’s Pureland in a spot situated perfectly on the ocean and beneath the majestic misty mountains.

Below community members share reflections of their experience of the special retreat.

You are invited to join us for the Aug 12-20th, 2017.

Not registered yet?  Tara Dhatu members are invited to join or renew membership by July 15th 2017, grab a friend, register and you both will receive a $50 discount on the full week retreat.

That is a full week of Tara retreat in paradise for just $645!!!


Click Here to Read More about this year’s retreat and register

Clare (right) with Nikki (left) 2015

Clare (right) with Nikki (left) lotus heart dancers

Clare from New Zealand shares:

Kauai Camp comes to mind often. Sleeping in my own tent, by the sea surrounded with love and lushness and waking in the morning  for another of 10 days with our beautiful teachers. Camping with the buddhas and devas and living ‘as if’ in Paradise – what’s not to love? It was such a privilege  to be on that sacred beachland in a real and natural way, blessing and being blessed by the elements, connecting with other lovely souls, dancing our dreams and wishes for humanity and all else that calls Earth home. The memories of Camp 2015 are still rich in me.



Sea Lily (second from the right in blue pants) and Adrianne (in the center) dance with their fire dakini Tara sisters after the 2016 public  Mandala offering.

SeaLily who lives on Maui shares:

The Tara Retreat on Kauai is a life-saving annual pilgrimage that reorients my mind and stabilizes my emotions.  Through the Tara practice, I let go of all that is burdensome, transforming fear and confusion into wisdom, compassion and power.  The camp is a place to dive deeply into the practice and be part of the evolution of the dances of the Feminine Divine.

Adrianne from Louisiana shares:

Words are inadequate to describe the bliss and joy of the experience.  Over 40 of us gathered from around the world to move deeper into the practice of Tara and the Dance of Her Mandala.  It was extraordinary!  Sincere connection with beautiful souls, united in our intention to develop our own Wisdom and Compassion for the benefit of all beings! 


Ivy (in the center, wearing a green and blue dress just to the right of Prema) with her Tara Mandala dancing sisters after the 2016 offering dance.

Ivy from Wisconsin shares:

There is no place on the planet as beautiful and magical as the area where Camp Naue is located. To be able to dance, sing, learn, and rejoice there with our teacher Prema is a blessing. Sharing the divine feminine aspects of ourselves in Tara’s Mandala is transcendent.


Ali, who lives on Maui, shares a special moment with María Concepción from Chile and Samara from Brazil.

Ali Carter: The Kauai retreat is fabulous because of the inspiring talks by Prema, the camaraderie with our sisters, and the physical location…ahhh…being right on the ocean in that most beautiful place on earth….At the retreat last year…I knew my prayers and intentions for healing and peace floated effortlessly through the universe…magnified by those beautiful waters of the pacific ocean; reverberating off the cliffs and mountains.    



Siobhan, founder of, who lives in San Fransisco & Uganda shares:

Tara camp has become a must have in my ever increasing busy life over responsible life. There is a soul sisterhood in one of the most sacred places on earth that heals the chaos  of my hectic life every year. Tara camp is based in grounding spiritual practices, dances and community that stays with me all year. The one year I didn’t go in last 9 years was the one year that I almost lost everything dear to me. 

I feel like I just can’t put into words what this retreat brings to my practice… it puts it into action in such a lovely way!


France (in black on the left) and retreat friends after a water blessing ceremony, Aug 2016.

France who lives in Lousianna shares: It was my first trip to Hawaii, and what a trip!  The YMCA is a peaceful property with gorgeous flowers and fabulous beaches. We had flexible schedule, the dances were fun and easy, the nature excursions were adventurous & nurturing, the food was great overall an amazing week at Tara Camp surrounded by wonderful people!!!



T2Beach (1)

Aerie (in the black skirt) and Siobhan


Aerie Waters of Maui shares:

I am imagining that we all wish to create an atmosphere of love, harmony and beauty, in which to live, breathe and have our being. Kauai Tara camp is in one of the most magnificent imaginable places in nature, where we dance and do our practices in an open air pavilion, by the ocean, drinking in the beauty with inner and outer cultivation. We live in harmony with our surroundings and one another, in an international and loving community of practitioners, sending  out our energy for the benefit of all beings. Who could ask for anything more??



Jasmine and Mark


Jasmine Cheryle of Hawaii’s Big Island shares:

Kauai camp is a great way to deepen a connection to Tara and her qualities and to experience profound mind training methods in a relaxing, fun, beautiful environment. 





Amina (second from the left in purple and red) and Tara sisters on “fire day” 2011.

Amina of Tempe, Arizona shares:

It is great to get the time to dive deeply into the practices and dances in such a beautiful natural environment, close to the elements – earth, wind, water and fire – with women from all over the world.




T 1 Jasmine Judith (1)

Jasmine Judith


Jasmine Judith of Arkansas and Costa Rica shares:

If you love Sufi Camp you’ll love Tara Camp even more! Tara Camp has all the wonderful fun, music, dancing, teachings, practices and food; but all one deity, one tradition. It allows me to go so much deeper into the heart of the great divine mother!




Andrea from Nepal shares:


Andrea dancing on the beach after the public Mandala Offering, Aug 2015.

Two years ago I participated in the Tara Retreat on Kauai…a land of Paradise…


one of Tara’s Realms. Inspired by the musicians, into Tara’s realm we went… 

Isa with cave offerings 2015

Isa caring the groups offerings into the holy cave.

Into the realm of bliss and the divine. One day we went to the beach at the end of the road and danced in the ocean. a moment of relaxation… Offerings were  taken down to the local holy cave with an incredibly blissful natural pool of water.

After our divine swim, to the top we returned, manifesting as Tara and the blessings of Tara appeared in the sky as a double rainbow…

May Tara’s blessings flow through the ocean to all beings in every direction!!!



Coming together in love, to nourish and heal.

T Grounds Cabins & Tents (3)

Cabins and tents between mountains and sea




Sea Lion neighbor returns to the ocean after a beach nap

Trio of Mermaids and Sunset

Mermania Sunset bliss


Swimming with sea turtles is always a blessing


Divine music created by Atreya, Ricardo, and Jocelyn, Aug 2016.


Eana offers an earth blessing Hula

T 1 Fernanda

Fernanda does some yoga by the ocean, 2016.


Tara is Dancing in New Zealand

catherine cCatherine Callaghan is one of our most active Student Teachers in New Zealand. She is based in Nelson, in the South Island. She recently led a workshop at the beautiful Chandrakirti Meditation Centre. Her students describe the event…

This has been an enlightening weekend for me, not only learning some sacred dances of Tara but also the history behind them and the centre. It was a wonderful weekend spent with some beautiful ladies and Catherine, our very inspiring Tara Dance Teacher.

Chandrakirti is wonderful. The Nalanda hall has the most amazing collection of Tara statues.


I am not a practicing Buddhist, but my life values align with Buddhism. These sacred dances are very beautiful and graceful. Such a nice way to incorporate Tara’s teachings into my life, to absorb them through the heart and soul. I felt a sense of empowerment and connectedness with myself and the goddess within.


I feel very blessed and grateful for this opportunity to experience this tradition. I know this is just the beginning of my Tara Journey. You don’t need to be able to dance or be a Buddhist, just be open to a new, wonderful and amazing experience. Thanks Catherine and my fellow Taras. Love you all.

Lesley Evan

On Discovering Tara

by Fiona Mackay



Traveling to new places,

New faces, new path?

New fear? . . . no . . . same,

Arriving, alone again.

Beautiful garden,

Welcoming space,

Smiling faces greet me,

New friends, all decided.

Gompa Tara. . .


Colours greet me now,

And serenity.

Words and welcome done,

The dance begins.

Tentatively I enter the space,

And learn to greet fellow Taras.

Sacred safe space.

Body I have,

Becomes body I am.

The goddess I feel,

And the goddess I become.


Turning, turning, reaching, evoking,

Movements learned . . . movements embodied.

Familiar and new,

Sinking out of the mind,

And into the expression.

Beautiful new words and concepts,

Imagine . . . Fierce Compassion,

And . . . Transforming Poisons.

Powerful feminine,

Felt and enjoyed.

Laughter! Joy! Abandon!

The fear dissolving,

Into passionate embrace,

Of femininity, resolve, and refuge.

Swift Protection and Invincible Courage,

Fells like a solid warmth in the belly,

Where the fear once lived.

Such strength in the movements,

Wrapped in intent and released.

Sister Taras undulating,

Swaying, stepping, turning . . .

Rhythmic voices join to honour,

The sacred presence of Tara in all.

Time dissolving into the now,

Of the breath . . . the beat,

The circling dancers,

Connecting to each other, the sacred space . . . the trees, birds, and universe . . .

. . . . And Tara.


Tara Dances at Texas Yoga Retreat

  AnjaliAnjali Maazel is a Tara Dhatu Student/teacher in Austin, Texas and was invited to teach at a weekend-long women’s yoga retreat entitled

“Wash, Rinse, Retreat!”. She writes…

The retreat was held in a magnificent Hindu temple complex in south Austin. The grounds are extensive and the room was spacious, peaceful and inspiring.6190737130_7cf5d7407e_z

The participants of my class were encouraged to dress for meeting and embodying the Goddess. The organizers gave each woman a golden scarf, a bindi and a green/blue beaded bracelet with a personal message of welcome.

Most of the women had little experience with Tara so I did some extensive introductions and invited everyone to be playful as they danced, focusing on the joy of sharing the experience.


Such a wonderful evening! It was very rewarding and powerful to see people who had never encountered these teachings so uplifted.

I will never forget the first time I danced the Qualities. Here was Tara, and She was dancing! We were dancing as Tara!!!! I had seen classical Indian dance performances over the years and practiced many Tibetan sadhanas, but never thought of the two coming together, although it is so natural and so right. I saw some of that amazement with this group, and it was delightful.

Om Tare!

Long Life Prayer Music & Dance For Prema Dasara

Anjali and Prema

Prema and Anjali at the Palri Pema Od Ling temple in Austin

Anjali Maazel shares…

The beautiful recording of Mercedes Bahleda and Shivadam singing our Long Life Prayer for Prema, which is now available as a download in the Tara Dhatu Dance the Goddess Emporium (click here) , is the fruit of several years’ aspirations, dreaming, conversations, writing, practice, composition, choreography and fundraising. It has also been a personal journey for me.

I began dreaming about a long life prayer for Prema shortly after meeting her. I felt that the intention behind this tradition—to direct the energy raised during practice towards the longevity of the teacher, lineage, and spiritual community—was a powerful way to honor her as the vehicle of the Tara teachings and embodiment of Tara in our world. I also felt that this was an important way to redress the imbalance which has led more men than women to become authentic wisdom teachers, in the Buddhist tradition among others. Fortunately, progress is being made to redress it, and I wanted to contribute to this positive trend.

Anjali, Prema, Kathryn, and Elizabeth

Anjalim, Prema, Kathryn, and Elizabeth

Since the early 90’s, I had sung long life prayers to HH the Dalai Lama and other masters after dedicating practice in Tibetan Buddhist centers, and found the texts and the motivation inspiring. I also received teachings on the context in which to understand these long life prayers from the author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche. l learned about common misconceptions regarding the person of the teacher, and the sacred relationship between an authentic teacher and student. In that tradition, prostrating to the teacher and honoring her are not about venerating the person of the teacher, but rather the teacher as vehicle for the teachings, as an embodiment of the teachings, as a precious link in the lineage, and as an embodiment of the deity we are connecting with. An authentic teacher will not require homage to be paid to her personally. In our world, there are some false gurus, and there is sometimes misplaced devotion as a result. However, when the authenticity of the teacher is verified—and Ken Mcleod’s section on the student-teacher relationship in Wake Up to Your Life has a comprehensive checklist—then the practice of devotion is placed in a clear container.

With this in mind, I aspired to write a long life prayer for Prema, and planted the seed in a conversation with the other two Austin Tara Circle teachers, Elizabeth Gergaud and Kathryn Henderson in 2014. A few months later, Elizabeth sent me several beautifully lyrical stanzas, and I thought it would be fitting, were we to offer the prayer to Prema during her next visit, to have it co-written by the three of us. I added a few stanzas, and Kathryn added one as well. In editing the final long version, I checked with traditional texts and also tried to convey the qualities unique to our lineage and to Prema’s skill as a teacher. In addition, I wanted to invoke the blessing of Vasudhara on Tara Dhatu as an organization. This was the final draft of the long version of the prayer:

Long Life Prayer for Prema Dasara

 Om Tare!

 Like the Dakini’s warm breath,

You inspire and empower all you touch.

 Melting our hearts

Into compassionate action,

Skillful and wrathful to tame our minds,

You show us the path of peace.

 Freeing with joyful dancing,

Your teachings liberate,

Turning the wheel of the precious dharma,

You bring the source of bliss.

 Rainbow Light Goddess, 

Rainbow Light Dancer,

Lineage Holder of East and West,

Your rainbow light bridges all realms.

Daughter of the lineage of Tara herself,

Refuge for beings in the darkness of Samsara,

You embody the light of the Three Jewels,

Resplendent with the wisdom of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

 Prema Dasara, with Tara’s own face and hands,

May your life be long,

Supported in every way,

Surrounded by the Gurus, Devas and Dakinis.

 Radiant Vajra Dancer, glowing with health,

May Vasudhara shower you with treasure and abundance,

May Tara Dhatu shine in glory

For the benefit of all.

 Sublime Teacher, protector who dances the wisdom of the dakinis,

May the Divine Ones bless your body, speech and mind

With long life, good health and wisdom.

 Beautiful Dakini, may you be a guide for beings for eons to come,

May happiness and good fortune fill all the worlds.


Myri Danced LLP for Prema MM Spring 2017

Myri danced an offering of the full length Long Life Prayer for Prema and the Taras at the Spring Tara Dhatu Retreat at Mount Madonna.

 We read the prayer aloud as on offering to Prema during her visit to Austin in 2014, and shared it with a few students. Shortly thereafter, I began to dream about a shorter version, which could be sung and danced after the dedication in our daily practice to the happiness and freedom of all beings. I began to work on the text and asked for input from Kathryn and Elizabeth, who encouraged me. When the text was finished, I sent it to a group of student teachers for comments, emphasizing that I hoped this prayer would resonate broadly and become part of our practice. I began to feel that it could serve an important function for us, for Prema and for Tara Dhatu, and I loved the idea of concluding daily practice after the dedication with this final energetic seal.

I began looking for a melody, and fell in love with the 16 Offering Goddesses. I liked the simplicity  of the alternating chords and the connotations to the offering that a similar melody might have, so I wrote a melody which resembled it. Along with the melody, came the desire to create a choreography. Like the prayer and melody, the dance would honor our lineage, which at its root combines classical Indian, Tibetan and Western sensibilities. I looked for mudras we are familiar with in our practices, so that we could easily learn the dance, and I was inspired by the flowing beauty of Calling Tara from the Heart and White Tara of the Six Shields. Not knowing if what I was doing would speak to anyone else or if it was respectful in the way I intended, I called on Parvati and Myri. They encouraged me to pursue the idea, and Myri contributed the vajra mudra and the elegant Vajra “flip” above our heads for the “Radiant Vajra Dancer” portion of the text. At the same time, Myri told me she was choreographing the long version of the prayer with her own music. I have seen videos of this dance but have yet to enjoy her dance it in person. To know that the long version of the prayer inspired such a work of beauty and devotion was energizing—the project now felt not only viable but alive!

In the winter of 2016, I taught the short dance and song to our Austin group, and we offered it to Prema in the spring. My mother, who is a composer, spent many

LLP recording team Spring 2017

The recording team in the studio: (from right to left) Anjali, Mercedes, Shivadam, and Parvati

hours handwriting the score, so we could offer that as well.

The next aspiration was to record the music, and we thought it might be done while Prema was in Brazil in 2016. After talking to Ricardo, the Brazilian guitarist who has greatly contributed to so many of our favorite recordings, I understood that the melody I had composed was too close to a traditional melody many of the Brazilian dancers were familiar with. As I wanted to find music that would inspire as many of us as possible, I asked Ricardo for some ideas, and he offered a variation. I reworked it again, using some of the suggestions and adding some new material. The new melody required a refrain, so this was the resulting text:

Long Life Prayer for Prema Dasara

Om Tare!

Daughter of the lineage

Of Noble Tara,

Radiant Vajra Dancer,

Sublime Teacher,

Prema Dasara,

May your life be long,

Supported in every way!

Until all beings

Awaken into freedom,

May you remain with us and guide us,

Dancing in bliss and joy,

Surrounded by love,

Abundance and good health,

Surrounded by love,

Abundance and good health,

Manifesting Tara’s

Wisdom, Compassion and Power!


LLP recording Spring 2017 Mercedes and Anjali

At Big Bug Sound recording studio, Anjali danced the prayer over and over again as Mercedes sang through various takes, working to get it all just right.

When the melody and dance were set in 2016, I began imagining Mercedes Bahleda, the singer we love from White Tara of the Six Shields and Calling Tara from the Heart, as the voice to carry this precious message. From this aspiration, and the joyful thought of surprising Prema with a recording, came the courage to contact her. Mercedes was delightful—inspired by our project, she agreed to do it! We worked on dates, places, and in the end, as she lived near Parvati and Shivadam outside of Phoenix, we decided to find a recording studio there. Shivadam offered his skill and devotion to the

LLP recording Spring 2017 Shivadam

Shivadam sang in the recording booth while the computer captured the rainbow dancing notes.

project. He and I, with Parvati’s input, worked for several weeks on orchestration and sound texture. I wanted a baritone male voice to sing an “Om” throughout the song : I felt the male energy should be present, as it is in the 16 Offering Goddesses as well as the two main Tara origin myths. For me, the “Om” in Prema’s translation—“All that Exists”—naturally contained the masculine and feminine. Shivadam’s voice was ideal for this, and his familiarity with Indian music and practice brought depth to the mantric sound.

Now all that was needed was funding. Here again, Parvati and Myri were the cheerleaders, and then Parvati became the doula of the fundraising effort. In a short amount of time, the community of student teachers—all of you!!!—contributed so generously, that I booked the studio and arrived in Phoenix a few weeks later in March 2017.


Shivadam works with Robert of Big Bug Studios to get the mix just right.

Shivadam works with Robert of Big Bug Studios to get the mix just right.

The experience of recording the long life prayer was magical. Shivadam had initiated me to the importance of preparing all details before entering the sound studio, so we arrived with a script, which we revised according to Mercedes’ own process. I worked with him, Mercedes and Robert, the sound engineer, to create in soundscapes what I had dreamt about for so many years. The dream was spun into sound with great precision and great love, and details were added that gave depth and sparkle to the initial vision.  Mercedes’ voice shimmered (as it does), and she layered her offering with some improvisation. The result is what you hear… That afternoon in the studio was an oasis of Bliss and Joy I will never forget. I felt great healing in my relationship to music and to past experiences with it, and felt Tara’s presence—her enveloping warmth and love.

The morning of my flight back to Austin, Robert, Shivadam and I re-mixed the song into its final version, with a few tweaks that addressed imbalances and enhanced key details. Spending the extra time proved invaluable, and we were grateful for Robert’s generosity.

I know some of you, the student teachers, led by Myri and Parvati, offered this version of the Long Life Prayer to Prema at the Mount Madonna retreat. Barbara Patton generously pulled together some cards and CDs at the last minute, which looked beautiful. And I have heard that you managed to keep the secret till the day of the offering and that Prema was surprised… Mission accomplished! Thank you to all of you who danced that day! When I heard about the offering, I felt that the energy directed towards Prema’s good health had also blessed me with a sense of completion. It had been a very long time since I had been able to shepherd a creative project to its fullest expression. On a personal level, the sense of fulfillment was profound, and my gratitude grew stronger.

Tara Dhatu 2017 by Celestine Star - Lundell LLP Offering

Prema sat patiently as she waited for the Taras at the Spring Mainland retreat to offer her the surprise they had been working on quietly throughout the week.

So you see—this project was the result of a group effort and brought with it many blessings. The support of our community, the encouragement of Parvati and Myri, the inspiration of Elizabeth and Kathryn, Shivadam’s musicianship, the Brazilian community’s suggestions, Mercedes’ ethereal voice, and the offering at Mount Madonna all played a vital part in bringing it to fruition. My particular prayer is this:

To conclude our daily practice, may we direct the energy of this chant and dance to Prema’s long life and good health, the harmony of our community and our own vitality, so that we may appreciate and support each other in bringing our gifts into the world for the benefit of all beings. Soha!

Tara Dhatu 2017 by Celestine Star - Lundell 4-1-17 LLP

With Hearts full of gratitude and dedicated to nurturing to the auspicious circumstances that will support Prema-ji, the Taras all over the world, and all wisdom teachings, we offer this prayer and dance for the benefit of all beings. Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Bright Nepal ~ Girls Rising… with a little help from their friends

Education Changes the World

Bright Nepal Girls 

Begin the New School Year with BIG Changes

And they need your generous support! 


“Money is like manure. 

It’s meant to be spread around encouraging young things to grow”

Dolly Levi (Hello Dolly!) 


NGO Bright Nepal rescues impoverished “at risk” girls, 

gives them a safe haven and educates them.  

Bright Nepal is part of the powerful, transformative “girl effect”. 

Make a one time US tax deductible contribution through Tara Dhatu:

Click Here to Make  One Time Donation to Bright Nepal

Set up an ongoing monthly contribution to support Bright Nepal through Tara Dhatu and become a godparent to help sponsor a child for their monthly expenses:

 Click Here to make a $40/month Bright Nepal donation and cover 1/2 of a child’s monthly expenses


Click Here to make an $80/month Bright Nepal donation covers a child’s monthly expenses in full

Visit the Tara Dhatu Humanitarian Webpage ~ Click Here

Due to recent financial and personal health stresses, Pabitra Lama, Bright Nepal‘s founder and director, has decided to make changes to the organization as we have come to know it. Instead of the girls living in the Bright Nepal hostel when school is in session, they have moved into the hostel that is connected to their school, the Lord Buddha Secondary School. This just happened at the start of the new school year on April 17th. Pabitra will continue to manage not only the finances to pay for the girls room, board, school supplies, school fees, and clothing (etc.) but she will be managing their overall wellbeing by checking on them weekly and organizing outings for them once a month. 

In order to be able to support this change, it’s become imperative that we find additional godparents (sponsors) for the girls 

as soon as possible.  At the moment, each girl has one godparent that has committed to donating $40/mth to support them in their pursuit of a better life.  This amount only covers about half of Bright Nepal’s current costs.  So, we are seeking partner godparents for each of the girls.  If you are interested, please contact Angela directly as soon as possible.  

If not, consider making a tax deductible donation
to help finance this change.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your generous support
in whatever form you feel inspired to give it!
With Love

  ~ Angela and Anahata 


Dancing Tara With the Children in Victoria, Australia

Clare WoodhamClare Woodham is a Level 2 Tara Dance teacher in Napier, New Zealand where she facilitates a lovely dharma center and a very loyal group of Tara Dancers. Recently she was invited to share some of our dances at the SIBA Retreat Center in Victoria, Australia this January. She writes…

I shared the dances during the Family and White Tara Retreats at SIBA. The Sakya International Buddhist Academy is set on the edge o f the Snowy River National Park in Victoria and was a yoga retreat centre for 25 years with organic orchards and vegetable gardens. A massive amount of native birds and some goannas, snakes and kangaroos also live there.

Eleven years ago it was offered to Lama Choedak Rinpoche, heart son of H.E Chogye Trichen Rinpoche. The Sakya Losal Choe Dzong based in Canberra bought the land and buildings, a beautiful new gompa was built and the old wooden community hall was spruced up for the visit of His Holiness Sakya Trizin in 2009 and renamed the ‘Golden House’.

Every year since then they have held a Family Retreat at the same time as the annual White Tara Retreat. The Golden House is the venue for the Children’s program and set up for all sorts of creative play; reading children’s Dharma books, doing Dharma plays. There is also a teepee outside and a small man-made lake encircled with rushes and always the right temperature for swimming.

It was a profound privilege to give the 25 or so children in the program a channel for their natural love and recognition of what is good and beautiful. The ages of the children were between 3 and 13 years old.


Day 1 Catherine, the director of the program welcomed everyone and lead the Refuge prayer from the Buddhist Family Prayer Book. We then stood in a circle and I taught the Dance of Motivation. We talked about what wisdom is, what ‘manifest’ means, what blessings are. We made invisible warm balls of light between our hands and made them grow then took that energy ball to our hearts and imagined our hearts glowing softly and kindly.

We talked about how we can bless our pets by stroking them gently and making soft sounds to them, and how good it feels when our mums and dads give us hugs and say kind words to us. We talked about blessing our friends with our smiles and sharing happy stories. We blessed the earth by walking softly and barefoot.

“I don’t dance said one 8 year old”.

“Well let’s see how you go with just walking with the rest of us” I encouraged. She stayed and danced all the dances and came back the next day. Her mum said she showed her that evening what she had danced, and was very happy.

The Dance of Motivation was followed by the Tara Mantra Dance. First we repeated the mantra and it was explained. Next we practiced blessing the earth, the waters, the air, and all the things that grow, with our kind eyes and our blessing hands and our soft footfall.

Then we walked the Tara Mantra Dance, seeing the Tara in the heart of the one in front of us. After this we did the Dance of Dedication as a way of sharing our good feelings with others

Day 2 I introduced the White Tara Dance of the 6 Shields. Parents reported their children humming the mantra in the afternoon.

Day 3 we worked on Refuge and Bodhicitta and the Six Shields.

Day 4 we completed the White Tara Dance of the 6 Shields.

Day 5 we offered the dances to Rinpoche, parents, residents and retreat participants. Rinpoche congratulated the children on their heartfelt dances. He encouraged them to keep building their ability to love everyone and be kind to everyone. In addressing the adults Rinpoche said how easy it is for children to relate to what is good and beautiful. He encouraged the parents to continue to give their children ways of expressing their aspirations and their dreams as in this sort of dancing meditation.

It was such fun to share the dances in this way and gratifying to see how much they were appreciated by the children, the adults and Rinpoche. They want me to offer the Tara Dances every year.

I couldn’t resist sharing this note from Catherine, the Children’s Program Coordinator…

Dear Clare

Just wanted to say thanks for your participation in the children’s program at Siba making it richer, graceful and beautiful. I rejoice in what you shared with us and what you continue to share with your community in New Zealand. May the love continue to ripple out to the community and flow with White Tara’s generosity, grace and radiance….

I had some wonderful reflections from the adults that watched the dance – a couple were moved to tears and others said it shifted something within. One man reported, “seeing the children offer the Tara Dances ignited the light within my heart”

Love and light

Joy and peace


Here’s some footage from the 2014 children’s camp…lovely rendition of the 4 immeasurables


Tara Is Dancing In Wimberly, Texas

AnjaliAnjali Maazel has been leading a Tara Dance Circle in Wimberly, Texas. The group has lately been working with the Mandala Dance of the 21 Taras, focusing on individual Taras. Their last meeting was celebrating the Gold Tara, All Victorious.



The previous meeting one of the dancers, Dalmara Bayne, PhD, ND and author of Holistic Healing, a Pathway to Wholeness wrote an exceptional observation of her connection with the Tara Dance. This is an excerpt from her writing…

Tara Dancing & The Importance of

Experiential Spiritual Practice


Dalmara is standing first from the Left

Dancing Tara provides the perfect cauldron for an extraordinary spiritual opportunity through a mandalic moving structure and the power of intention. The intent here is to both invoke and embody the “Enlightened Divine Feminine.”

This takes us beyond dogma, interpretation, traditions, and into the realm of pure beingness. As long as we surrender to this intention and do not try and minimize the experience through mental machinations; mistakes and misinterpretations are impossible.

Here is a vehicle that embodies safety and truth at its core; engendering effortless surrender. The form and rituals empower the intent as does our participation, but the intent is paramount. It is what makes this practice universally accessible and of value to anyone and everyone.

I have studied many traditions, engaged multiple practices, and been inspired by the words and actions of numerous teachers, but the one thing I absolutely trust above all is pure experience. As an individual with expanded senses and a fair amount of scientific discernment, I understand the pitfalls of treading into unknown domains; particularly those codified via dogma, but the intent of this practice is pure to its core.

While I have a personal affinity for “Tara” it is just a name which offers definition not limitation; such energies cannot be contained by one tradition for their domain is one of universal truth. And this practice offers us the opportunity to become that truth; if even for a moment we will be given a beacon or guiding light to our true essential-whole-selves.

With enough such moments we will become that beacon offering a light to others. I am so grateful to have encountered this practice and to Prema for both creating it and making it accessible to others, to Anjali for leading the practice in Wimberley, and of course; TARA. Thank you for helping me reclaim my true essence.


Om Tare

Tara is Dancing in Virginia

Jacquelyn Amid the Goddesses At Dong Hung Temple Virginia Beach, VA

Jacquelyn Amid the Goddesses
At Dong Hung Temple Virginia Beach, VA

Jacquelyn Sonam Lhamo and her husband Rigdzin are ardent dharma practitioners. Jacquelyn is a Level 2 Tara Dance teacher.  She has shared the dance several years in Virginia and returned to lead a series of Tara Dancing experiences July 2016. This is her story….

The Great Compassion Festival

This year I was invited to present some of our Tara and Dharma dances at the Great Compassion Festival in Virginia Beach, VA. This yearly event, dedicated to those who have passed,  is presented by the Vietnamese Buddhist community.

The crowd was already up and dancing to New Age drumming music when Curtis, a fan of Tara dance from past years, said “Here come the Tara dancers.”

I said “My name is Jacquelyn and I am Tara.  You are also Tara.  Tonight we will all be Tara dancers. ”  As I was setting up, Rigdzin presented some dharma visuals on liberation through seeing, including the flag the former Karmapa had seen in a dream.

Rigdzin became my mouth piece, speaking the lyrics as I introduced the movements.  Although I was suffering from jet lag, Goddess Tara’s energy poured through me, giving me the power and energy to continue the presentation in Her honor.


After doing the preliminary practices and prayers of  motivation, refuge, and bodhicitta, I shared Prema’s recent email about healing the planet’s elements with Tara’s mantra and we danced the mantra dance.

Dancing Tara at the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple

Concerned folks, many from various backgrounds, shared a retreat day of meditation, Tara dance, silent silence and dharma dialogue at the temple.

The Temple was really attractive, filled with beauty, energy, various depictions of the Enlightened ones and a happy English speaking monk from Vietnam, Smilie.  Many expressed concern about trying to integrate the teachings to be part of the solution to our world problems.


In dancing Tara folks had an opportunity to embody the energy of an enlightened being.  Our Tara prayers grounded us, uniting body, heart, and mind. It was a joyful experience of sangha.

Smilie emphasized the importance of non duality through personal practice to find peace within and, in our own way, help the world. Detachment from our emotional blocks helps us to center in our Divine state of being! As we become more aligned with Enlightened energy and approach the world situation from the view of not seeing positive or negative, it changes us. Our collective efforts can energetically make major shifts.

Dancing Tara at the Inner Light Church

The final phase of our Tara dance July tour reminded me of my first meeting held years ago, that one can do the Tara presentation without equipment or props! With the vast selection of Tara and Dharma dances to choose from the three hours flew by!

Church of the Inner Light, our dance group are holding Jessica's Tara Meditation cards, Karmapa's flag, and the Guruyoga symbol of White Ahh in dakini script, both considered Liberation-On-Seeing symbols!

At the Church of the Inner Light our dancers are holding Jessica’s Tara Meditation cards, Karmapa’s flag, and the Guru Yoga symbol of  White Ah, both considered Liberation-On-Seeing symbols!

Tara Dances in Vermont

Jacquelyn Sonam Lhamo and her husband Rigdzin are ardent dharma practitioners. Jacquelyn is a Level 2 Tara Dance teacher who has introduced the dance to several new communities. She and Rigdzin had an opportunity to share with a group in Vermont. This is her story….

We needed an escort to find where this center was located in Benson, Vermont which was way out in the sticks!  We drove through lots of green mountains, corn, and long highways.  Finally we were greeted by our host Orest who provided us with nourishment and had organized a small group of friends.

He informed us that we would dance outside after we shared dharma practices in his lovely Shrine room. He told us that for years he had listened to the Tara Dance music and was so happy that he would be able to experience the actual Tara dance practices.  I was eager to present other dharma dances  as well.

Our group was mixed, males and females; included were a professional bee keeper, published author and shaman who studied with natives in Mexico, and visiting folks from Slavic countries.

IMG_0302Our uplifting day of dance in the warm sun amid the green hills of Vermont ended before the sun went down.  We got lost again and had to be guided back to the main highway.

Orest invited me to come again next year for a bigger venue.

Everyone appreciated our event and I was gifted with a dozen freshly laid eggs, a jar of maple syrup and a jar of honey.


Blessings To All From Kathmandu

andreaEvery year our good friend Andrea Abinanti, long time resident of Kathmandu, Nepal, invites us to support her in making special prayer offerings during the holiday season.

She invites us to gather names of people who have recently died or need some prayer support to be read out during a series of pujas that she and her expat community support. This year we asked our students and members if they would like to participate, to make donations for the offerings, and send in names.

Dzambala, Deity of Abundance and Good Fortune presides over Wealth Vase Blessings

Dzambala, Deity of Abundance and Good Fortune presides over Wealth Vase Blessings

Blessing of the

Wealth Vase

The offerings started in early December. For some years now, she has maintained a wealth vase for us, to help keep Tara Dhatu financially viable. Every year she takes it to the Temple of her teacher Drubtop Rinpoche to have it re-empowered.

Dispelling Harm Ushnisha Vijaya

The next set of offerings were made on the day of  the winter solstice to  Ushnisha Vijaya.  According to Tibetan astrology, the elements of that day were very good…wind/wind: the day has sublime energy to quickly accomplish one’s wishes.

ushnisha-vijayaThis form of the great Mother is the essence of the Wisdom of all the Buddhas…she is the ‘Victorious One’…having the ability to dispel harm.  Through her great kindness she prolongs life. Her white body is radiant like glistening snow on the top of a mountain; her central face pacifies obstacles. Her second face, the yellow one to her right, brings about the increase of qualities. Her third face, the blue one to her left, is slightly wrathful; it brings control over the negative mind.butterlamps


Entering the gompa you can see so many offerings, the butter lamps send the light of wisdom to all.


andreatemplereadAt every event Andrea read the names of those who have passed away during this past year…may they receive the blessings of Ushnisha Vijaya and quickly receive a precious human rebirth. She also read the names of those who are sick. If their life span is completed, may they pass quickly and peacefully, taking a precious human rebirth. Those who have the karma to live, may they quickly recover from whatever sickness they have and may the rest of their life be healthy and full of joy and happiness!

May all other beings have excellent health and a long life filled with happiness and success!

May the prayers spread in all directions, to every being.

From the depth of our heart, we send our love to all.

May all obstacles be removed.

Whatever one undertakes, may it be successful.

And may all sicknesses be healed!

May everyone’s wish be fulfilled

and may Ushnisha Vijaya’s blessings of good health  be received by all!!!

Christmas Offering

medicine-buddhaMany years ago, I had the desire to sponsor special prayers for Christmas.  I asked Drubthop Rinpoche which puja would be most beneficial to offer. He recommended the Medicine Buddha puja.

Medicine Buddha, the Supreme Healer, is an enlightened being who has unbiased compassion for all beings.  He protects all from physical and mental sicknesses, removes the sickness of delusions  and helps eradicate the three poisons; attachment, hatred and ignorance.

May those traveling through the Bardo see the light of the enlightened ones.

May they take a precious human rebirth!

All who are sick, may they quickly recover!  May all others have good health and long lives!

May the light of the Lord of Compassion radiate out to all, filling everyone’s heart with great bliss!!!

May the darkness of ignorance be dispelled.

May the mind awaken to it’s clear, luminous nature.butterlampswoman

May the light be sent out to all!

For those who have passed on, may the Medicine Buddha neutralize their past bad karma.

May all those who are sick be quickly cured and may all others have good health and great happiness!!!

May all receive the blessings of the masters and enlightened ones!!!

swayambuNew Years Day

We started our cycle of offerings on New Year’s Day at the Swayambhu Stupa. We were able to enjoy a beautiful morning with perfect weather.  Last year, because of the earthquake, we did not have permission to offer our annual painting of the stupa. This year, we were all so happy to be allowed!!!

We surrounded the stupa with butter lamps, sponsored a whitewash for the great dome and adorned it with lotus swirls of saffron and a new curtain above the eyes. The group then assembled in the monastery to make prayers.




Lha gya lo!  Lha gya lo! Lha gya lo!  Ki ki tso tso

May all the gods be happy with our offerings!




May auspiciousness pervade in all the realms!



The Balinese Masks of Tara – Complete

mekarepaintMekare Fiske has midwifed through her capable hands and radiant heart the completion of a long held aspiration of Tara Dhatu – masks of the 22 Taras of our dancing mandala to be revealed in their glory at the Festival of Prayer in Brasilia, May 2018.

It has been a long and winding road to this birthing.  In 1987 Situ Rinpoche told me that there would be a festival based on the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara. For thirteen years on Maui we developed the Festival of the Great Mother, dancing Tara and including the Maui community in presenting multicultural expressions of music, dance and drama. As my teaching travels expanded it became more difficult to manifest this festival. But the vision of it persisted, and expanded. I imagined four mandalas of dancers, one of them masked. 

 Unbeknownst to me, one of my senior students, Mekare, was a mask dancer. And she did not know of my vision of masks for Tara. In 2007, kismet happened. Mekare had been blending her practices of deity yoga with mask dancing, and was inspired to offer a solo deity mask dance at Tara Camp as a surprise gift to us all. Thus, through the magic of Tara, many dreams and talents and life experiences wove together and catalyzed a surge of energy for Tara’s mask project.

Impecable Virtue

Impeccable Virtu

Knowing nothing about dancing in a mask, or making a mask, I turned to different people to help me develop the vision. Janice Walrafen led a workshop at one of our Kauai camps, creating masks in paper mache. Several of my other students also experimented with dancing in masks. I consulted with artists and mask makers and could never quite hit the note my internal guide was asking for. I was directed to a magnificent artist but she worked in leather. For Tara, that was not an option.  I kept praying and seeking. And then one day I realized, the answer was Mekare. 

The Destroyer of Negativity

The Destroyer of Negativity

The Tara of Bliss and Joy

The Tara of Bliss and Joy

Last year she went to Bali to commission the carving of the masks, met Oka, the mask maker perfect for the task, and encountered many wonderful adventures. The making of deity masks requires great talent and great dedication. The masks could not be completed in just a few months, so plans were made for her to return again this year. Following her own inner guidance, Mekare  connected with an artist friend in her home town and used her studio to explore mixing colors in order to assemble the kinds of paints needed to bring out the exceptional colors necessary to complete the project.  This July she returned to Bali with the paints she had chosen, and she and Oka completed the masks. Here is her story…..

Oka, the mask maker

Oka, the mask maker

“We are in process of painting 9 of the masks for the Buddha Tara. My heart is overflowing with joy. I sit with Oka on his carving mat, surrounded by masks and paints, (and on occasion his 6 year old grandson and a bit older comic mask actor from Australia  )

We put layers and layers of thin coats of color onto the beautiful faces, punctuated by drying times and fine sanding, then more layers of color. The breeze is cool and we are having such fun mixing colors and speaking of eye and mouth expressions and the nature of the art of the Mask.  I love the feel of my soft brush moving over the exquisite smooth curves of Tara’s face.


Creative Wisdom, Radiant Health, Swift Protection

Creative Wisdom. Swift Protection. The Remover of Sorrow. Worthy of Honor. Impeccable Virtue. The Destroyer of Attachment. Triumphant Joy. I chant their Praises in a soft whisper as I paint.

And the memories flood in. Dancing Creative Wisdom in Atlanta, The Destroyer of Attachment in Vermont, Triumphant Joy in Santa Fe, Irresistible Truth in India and Nepal ….. And on and on and on. A swirl of all the Tara’s and all the travels and all the sisters pour through my mind and heart.

And my time in Bali 22 years ago, that magic time when I first fell into the magic well of mask dancing and swam so deep it changed me forever. And that very moment happened only yards from here, in this same family  compound in Mas. The

Remover of Sorrow

Remover of Sorrow

magic and wonder of life brings tears and a boundless grin!

But most importantly now in this moment, is Tara. It is She who came to me in dreams in my early twenties. Powerful dreams. Awakening dreams. It is She who led me to China Galland who taught me Tara’s mantra and my first introduction to Tibetan Buddhism (in this life), and to Lama Tsultrim Allione who profoundly inspired my young woman’s heart awakening in this world.

Invincible Courage

Invincible Courage

And later to beloved Prema Dasara and the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara, to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to the nun in Paris, to the artist in Ojo Caliente, to the magic of Findhorn and the woman with the seed pearls, to Lisa Bach and Karma Moffet in San Francisco, to the sadhu in Kathmandu, to the canyon in the Jemez, etc etc etc etc……

And now back to beloved Bali.

Most of all, I am thankful for Tara’s loving guidance inward, to the wisdom, beauty, strength, and compassion within my own heart, the journey within, the journey we all make “alone”, the most important journey of all…..

I dedicate this moment of gratitude, awe, and love to the wisdom, beauty, strength, compassion, and courage within YOUR heart. Yours.

And the hearts of All Beings, without exception….

Mekare and Oka, the masks are finished

Mekare and Oka, the masks are finished

Three weeks later Mekare wrote….

Hello Beloveds…….I am in tears of joy and awe and love. A month ago when I realized I needed to stay longer than planned, we all looked at the calendar and saw that the Full Moon Eclipse was on the holy day of Penampahan Kuningan AND my birthday. Oka said we would all do our best to finish all the masks for my birthday.

The priest blesses the masks

The priest blesses the masks

It is very important to do a ceremony on completion of deity masks. Not to wait. They are very sacred and need honor and respect. Last year we all agreed that whenever the masks were finished we would have a small potent private ceremony for the birthing of the masks. Mask dancers do many ceremonies for their masks. Each time is a purification and a blessing and a re-charge. These amazing masks will be blessed in many ways …. Balinese, Tibetan, and more, I have a feeling.

We set our intentions for the completion of the masks and a ceremony on Full Moon/Eclipse/Kuningan/my Birthday.

Blessing the masks

Blessing the masks

It was an extraordinary work, requiring much focus and prayer and dedication. Tara in every cell of our beings. All forces Seen and Unseen strongly present. Oka and I both fell “ill” over the course of creation. So much energy! Many many mantras chanted. We had huge support from our families and friends here in Bali and from all of you … in Arizona and Maui and beyond…..and also my Bee sisters in England doing a womb weave of energy for creation.

The masks being complete is a miracle. And to have a purification and blessing on a Full Moon Kuningan is such an extraordinary blessing that it is beyond words.

The masks are blessed and ready, filled with Taksu

The masks are blessed and ready, filled with Taksu

Kuningan is a very special Balinese holy day. It is a time when the Gods and Goddesses descend to earth, accompanied by wise ancestor spirits, bringing infinite blessings for all people and the entire universe. There are ceremonies of prayer and meditation for humanity’s harmony, balance, and prosperity. It is truly a Golden time! “Kuning” itself means golden yellow.

To have our beautiful masks born and blessed during this time is extremely auspicious.

There really are no words for how all of this evolved and happened.


The masks are all perfect. An Unseen Hand had Her way with these masks to be in sizes for all women and all shapes.  My friend Putra said to me yesterday , “What you and Oka have done is very special. Very unusual and very special. Tara is so happy you have brought Her faces into the world”.

Many years ago I made a prayer to go deeper and deeper into what creation really truly is in this lifetime. The step-down of spirit into matter.  The extraordinary process by which everyone and everything takes form.  This journey with the masks has been another surge of learning for me in this realm and I am so thankful. I understand more now why Oka could not do the masks without me here, I understand more now about the relationship between Spirit and human consciousness in bringing forth creation, and I understand more than ever what Trust truly is….

And all on my birthday. Wow!!!

After the beyond beautiful little ceremony for the masks, I decided to go alone to Tirta Empul, the water temple, for more birthday blessings and to pray. 22 years ago, the waters of Tirta Empul had a huge effect on me. I wanted to return on this special day.


I went down back roads through rice fields and little villages. Women were hanging the woven coconut leaf shields on their homes for Kuningan. The air was cool. And the waters were crystal clear and full of shakti, mana, ormus, power, and love.

I am reborn yet again.

Sending love and gratitude and cups of gold to all of you!!!

Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha





Season of Sangha’s Creative Wisdom Manifest

Silhouette of ten young women, walking hand in hand.

We asked you to share your creative explorations into your Tara practice.  Here is a sample of the tremendous talent and creativity in our Tara Sangha. We thank each one of you who shared your special Tara art with us.  Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha!



Here’s an art doll I made in January 2015, inspired by Green Tara.
I’m looking so forward to seeing what beautiful art this sangha shares! Thanks for marking July as a month to celebrate this community and this profound practice and path!

Om Tare!
~Beth Anne in Indiana




This is an art form I do called encaustic. It is painting with a mixture of beeswax, pigment, and tree resin. This piece of Green Tara is in a custom frame I made.

~ Jasmine of The Island of Hawaii



A few years ago when I was home ill for a few months. I started making Tara Hearts. My husband was making them out of plaster and I was listening to the Tara meditation CD and I started getting ideas about hearts for the different praises. I’m not an artist and I really wasn’t sure I could manifest the visions I was getting of the different heart praises . Here are a few: Sublime Intelligence, All Victorious, Transformer of Poisons, Serene Peace, Ferocious Compassion, Remover of Sorrow. In general, I was really pleased with how they turned out. I ended up doing about twelve hearts until we ran out of Hearts to paint and I got better physically, mentally and spiritually and went back to work. Now they are adorning my alters.                     ~Amina of Tempe, Arizona



tam-embroderyIn 2006, when Hurricane Rita left us without electricity for nine days, I spent hours at my table in the carport cutting out tiny scraps of fabric by hand and stitching entirely by hand a doll-size  Civil War-style quilt.  I enjoyed this so much that I grabbed my box of gorgeous Asian style fabrics with their rich colors and metallic gold accents. I simply stitched  different 2- inch blocks alternating with beautiful white- on- white squares. But something needed  to go in that square. I love the shape of TAM and embroidered that in each white square. Since that time, I am never without my “TAM” kit and have made several of these tiny wall hangings. It is a delightful form of practice.

~ Lilliha of the Louisiana swamps & Tara Dahtu’s secretary





On Sept 2, 2016 Rhiannon of Seattle posted this lovely painting…

“I just wanted to post a little painting I did of White Tara today. I hope you are having a lovely day, Tara Friends.”


eana-tara-maskEana Rose of Kauai created the beautiful Tara mask to the left by making a mold on her own face with plaster strips.



Hello! I am a gourd folk artist and I was inspired to make this after participating in my first dance offering! This is a representation of Purple Tara!

Om Tare!   ~Robyn Crosa of Atlanta, GA


This is but a small of taste of the Tara talent that abounds. Keep an eye out for our regular newsletters and Face Book posts where the creative offerings of the community members are often featured. If you would like to submit something for an upcoming post email us.

Tara Dhatu Season of Sangha FaceBook Fun with Friends

We have been playing some fun Q&A with FaceBook friends.

See some of the answers below… Join the fun on FaceBook, click here

Season of Sangha question #1

Hope Jinishian: I met Tara in Bali and it was love at first sight. Tara Dhatu practices and the Buddha Goddess Tara have propelled me all over the world this past year deepening, healing, guiding, consoling and inspiring, Culminating in the recent sharing of the Motivation Prayer, Refuge and Bodhicitta, Shantideva Prayer, White Tara of the Six Shields, Calling Tara from the Heart and Om Ah Hum dances at His Holiness 17th Karmapa’s Monastery in Woodstock, NY with Prema Dasara and MyriTara Naves, landing me a job here within a few days. Om Ah Hum! Speechless and joyful, happy and turned around. Grateful and…Om Tare! Love, Hope

Jasmine Ginter: I was looking for a retreat and a friend suggested Tara retreat on Kauai. It was (and still is) a compelling mix of spiritual, movement, and healing female goddess energy in a beautiful location. And I dove in!

Lydia San Riv: I was leaving in chile, just before I started my Doula certification, and two pregnant women were there… Was so magical. I continue dancing in Chile until I moves to Barcelona, and now it’s very difficult to find a group where I can dance.

Kylie Slavik: awesome! it was literally RIGHT down the street from my house and it was sort of mixed with DUP which I was into – so i just walked on down the street and totally fell in love

Adrienne Wyman: Bonnie Grey Meyer, Karen Metta Fleischer, Marie Elena Gaspari, Denise Weatherwax and I started dancing together. Hillside Church, El Cerritos CA.

Phyllis Danu: I had been reading a book about women and Buddhism. In this book the author mentioned Tara and quoted her mantra. So I started using her mantra, with a little tune that I made up I guess – don’t recall it now. I asked Tara to bring more of her practice into my life. Very shortly after this my dear friend told me she was going to a weekend retreat at The Abode of the Message called The Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara. I told her I would go with her. That was in spring 2002.

Catherine Walker: About 7years ago i saw a little black n white flyer advertising an introduction to Tara Dancing at Chandrakiriti Meditation Centrei.I went and after that was offered the leadership of the group, and my life hasn’t been the same since either!

Teresa Newberry: I was in a belly dance class and someone described the dance offering that was to given for HH the Dalai Lama and I knew I had to see it. I went and watching the dance stirred something deeply in my being and I determined that I would dance the Mandala. The next year when Prema returned to Tucson, I experienced the Mandala dancing as Auspicious Beauty and that was the beginning of a deep and beautiful path!

Sherry Harris: Taking a drumming class by African drummers Isa Marie was sponsoring, I spotted a postcard flyer, ‘Feet on the Earth’ for dancing Tara in Koke’e on Kaua’i. I called the # and spoke with Eana. Learning about Tara and the divine dance of her qualities over the weekend, I found myself wrapped in a Sari and part of a public offering that sweetened my soul and moved me so deeply. Been dancing in her footsteps ever since!

Parvati Forrest Anee Burke: My mom was dancing and called me up Sat and said she was doing the most amazing thing (she could not explain it) and said I had to throw my best friend in the car and come see the offering. I was in love immediately, even though I had no idea what I had just experienced. My life was never the same again!

Tara Mantra Accumulation Invitation Attunement

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Phyllis Moses writes:

One tried and true method of bring these practices deeper within so that we can always feel the joy and freedom of our True Nature dancing in our life is accumulating mantra. We simply repeat the mantra and count (generally on a mala of 108 beads, and there are also ‘counters’ that can be put on the mala so we can keep track up to 1 million). We do this to enliven our own inherent joy and capabilities. The definition of mantra is – that which protects the mind, that which protects your own mind from negativity (anyone else ever hear the voice of the  self critic? ; )  Mantra is the essence of sound (hence each syllable is called a seed syllable), and when we repeat the whole mantra it’s like watering seeds that can then ripen and sprout. What are we ripening? Our own essence, which is none other than Tara! We can start with this suggested visualization as a way to ‘get a feel’ for the love and devotion in our hearts, and to have a focus of one of the qualities Tara exemplifies.

Let’s focus on Tara # 2 – Creative Wisdom (Loter Yangchenma). She is known as Melodious Liberator, Source of Wisdom, the essence of creativity. She is white and shining brilliantly like the light of a thousand full autumn moons, and thousands of shimmering stars. She inspires us to meet life with creativity. One aspect of this creative mind is the power to see every circumstance, no matter how difficult, as an act of empowerment. We can ask our creative mind, “How can I meet this circumstance with wisdom and compassion?” – rather than becoming discouraged or despondent. Ultimately, the shimmering of stars represents the shimmering of love, compassion, wisdom, courage, and commitment radiating beneficial qualities to all beings. These are the qualities that our noble teachers reflect to us, they are more than poetic vision, they are  possibilities inherent within each of us.

We can cultivate these qualities by visualizing Tara, she is white symbolizing her activity of pacifying. In the center of the blue lotus flower she is holding by her left ear we visualize a mirror (in Tibetan, melong – symbolizing emptiness and pure consciousness) in which all wisdom is completely reflected. See the white light from the center of the mirror radiating in every direction. Begin to recite  Tara’s mantra (Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha), seeing the white light from Tara’s heart and from the mirror, emanating in ten directions. The light dispels all ignorance, gathers all the knowledge and wisdom that can benefit sentient beings, and returns back to the mirror. Then again from the mirror, light and wisdom radiate, filling every part of our bodies, and we feel that inner glow of compassion, wisdom, and love –  feeling this healing for all beings.  Then dissolve the visualization, sit in meditation for as long as possible, and then dedicate the merit.

Notice for yourself how it feels when you do 1 mala round, 2 malas….or half a day. The Tibetans say that doing 1 million mantras helps us to actualize the deity. Stay sincere with yourself, maybe some days might be 3 mantra repetitions – it’s all good! Notice how the contemplation helps inform your life circumstances, if we even remember to bring in this tool during a rough patch (and no judgement if we don’t remember). These are tools to help us come closer to actualizing our own Light. Which we know the world surely needs of each of us.

May all beings be well and happy.

May all beings know peace and joy.

May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Samdong Rinpoche Celebrates the Tara Dance

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In 1998 fifty Tara Dancers from 11 countries of origin traveled to India and Nepal to dance the Mandala of the 21 Praises of Tara for the Tibetan Refugees. One of the stops was the sacred land of Sarnath, where Shakyamuni Buddha gave his first teaching after his enlightenment experience in Bodhgaya

Samdhong RinpocheThe group offered the dance at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. They were invited by the Director, Samdhong Rinpoche, who several years later became the first President of the Tibetan People in exile. His addressed to the audience and performers after the dance was recently transcribed  from the video “The Quiet Revolution”.



I don’t know how to address you. Shall I address you all the 21 Taras? My Deity? Or shall I address you the wonderful artists? The performers?

I am indeed very happy to be able to witness this excellent performance of Tara dance. And I think this is the blessing of Tara Deity.

A very new initiative; for my knowledge it is for the first time I have heard and have witnessed a dance of 21 Taras.

It is therefore you all deserve my sincere congratulations, appreciation.   And I believe that it would benefit all sentient beings, to receive blessings, to receive prayers, through this manifestation.

I appreciate each one of you for performing excellently.

The composition of this performance is of international stature. Almost each part of the continents of the world are represented in this group. That is really very important. This signifies the unity and integrity of humanity all over the globe. And signifies that this dance performance can dispel the divisions, conflicts and hatred among mankind, and humanity all over the globe can live with loving kindness and compassion, together, to benefit to entire sentient beings.

I once again thank you all on behalf of my student community, my colleagues and my own self for this wonderful performance. And I dedicate the merits, which we all earned and created together in this evening for the devotion to Tara for attainment of Buddhahood to all sentient beings. All may live in peace. Thank you.

Eulogy for a Great Master of Odissi Sacred Dance Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena

GurujiMy beloved Odissi teacher, Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena, has passed away. My sister dancer friend Elizabeth Burnett, who has a school for orphans in Puri, Orissa, wrote of his March 26th passing, “He was preparing for a dance festival at Khira Chora Gopinath Temple. He had been fasting as was his habit on such days and doing puja. He felt a little funny and got up and just had a heart attack and left like a golden bird! ”

Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena pakawaj

I studied with Guruji in Madras as his private student every day for four years. He was an amazing teacher and I could never repay the gift that he gave me.

Guruji’s style was lyrical and subtle. He was a master at leading each dancer into a personal expression of Odissi. He was deeply devotional. Every day he would arrive at my house, and say a prayer before each picture of the deities I had on the wall of the main room where we danced. He would settle himself before the altar I would have meticulously arranged with fresh flowers, incense burning and an oil lamp flickering. I would place his drum before him, touch his feet, and then we would both be transported into the heavenly realm of music and dance.dancing - temple copy

When my husband first offered to sponsor me in whatever study I chose, I was naturally drawn to Indian dance. There were a number of styles and possibilities but when I saw Guruji’s class at the esteemed Kalakshetra Academy, I was smitten.

I immediately asked him to accept me as a private student. He refused, but did invite me to join his class at Kalakshetra. It was a very intimidating prospect. The class had been going for two years. I knew nothing about Indian dance. But I was determined, so three times a week I would gather with the 10 other young women, some of them professional dancers, in a little screened-in thatched shack. The floor was polished concrete and we would stamp away. I stayed in the back, scrambling to figure out what they were doing. It was so complicated; rhythmic patterns, body shapes, midriff, hands eyes, and all of this had to be infused with feeling. Classes were held in three different languages….Guruji’s native Oriya, the local Tamil and the universal Sanskrit/Hindi. Guruji spoke little English at the time and there were no translators.

Yamuna & children copyI would chase the other dancers around begging them to show me any little piece of the puzzle I could understand. Then I would practice for hours. After a month of this, Guruji approached me and said he had never seen anyone learn as fast as I did. He said that he would come to my house the next day. Being accepted in this way was the equivalent of being accepted into his family and indeed I was soon to meet his beautiful wife, Yamuna, and his three sons. We became very close.

foto001Guruji had a beautiful voice and was a master pakawaj (drum) player. He was immeasurably sensitive and I learned how to coax exquisite feminine expressions out of my coarse western woman ways. Many of the movements were so subtle he would take my hands and place them on his body so I could feel where the movement originated.

Guruji’s ability to transform himself into any number of dancing deities was like watching a master of shape shifting. All of this was done with the deepest sense of devotion. To dance as the deity was the most precious offering one could make.

devadasi puriThe dance of the Maharanis (sacred dancers) in Orissa was essential to the life of the people. The dancer was “married” to the god, Jaganath, and danced as the Mother of the Universe before him. If the dancer did not dance, the god did not eat. If the god did not eat the rain did not fall and the people did not eat.

Guruji had long desired to bring his students to his birth village, Remuna, to dance at the sacred temple of Khira Chora Gopinath. Several months after my private classes began I was invited to join him and four of his senior dancers to make an offering there.

Version 2Remuna is deep in the countryside of Orissa. Guruji’s father, a farmer, was in his cucumber field when we arrived. Standing barefoot and bare-chested in his field, he looked like a noble man on his own estate. His mother was short and round and beaming with love. She was so happy to see her son and to welcome his students into her home. The house was made of mud walls and thatched roof. There were all kinds of nooks and crannies, small side rooms. It was an extended family home and there must have been twenty people including numerous children in and out. We visitors were tucked into various rooms and corners, Guruji was very solicitous for his western students.

We had a sumptuous meal, we sat with the family on mats on the floor with Guruji’s mom and his sister-in-law serving us on banana leaf plates. We ate with our hands. Since there was no electricity, we carried candles and kerosene lamps into our rooms and were quickly asleep with the exhaustion of travel and new impressions.

The next day, we went to the Khira Chora temple and were touched by the enthusiastic reception. Guruji was a favored child when he lived at home, starring in local renditions of sacred plays. He ran away to gain instruction in dance and it was deeply rewarding for all of them to have him return as a successful performer and teacher.

Version 3The building was old and permeated with mystery and wondrous stories of visiting saints and the appearance of the Khira Chora Gopinath himself. Gopi means cowherd girl and nath is Lord. Therefore we knew this was a Krishna temple as that is one of his most popular titles, Lord of the Cow Herd Girls. Chora means thief and Khira is a prized Indian sweet dish made of rice cooked in condensed milk and sugar with almonds and raisins. The legend is that the area was famous for its Khira, especially at one devotee’s house, who would always put a container of the best Khira in her shrine as an offering to Lord Krishna. Every night, she locked the shrine and every morning when she opened the door, the Khira would be gone. Wanting to catch the thief, she sat up one night watching and sure enough, it was Lord Krishna himself who was stealing her sweet.

When we got back to Guruji’s home for lunch, we were told that the villagers wanted to give us a display of their dance. Everyone was very excited about this. The young men set off on bicycles to pick up essential supplies and Guruji organized for someone to bring some folding chairs. We were puzzled, wondering where this dance would take place. All the rooms of the house were very small. We ate on the veranda and that was not very big.

Around sunset, Guruji directed his family to organize the chairs by the side of the road. The road was just a dirt track. We had been brought there by taxi the day before but had not seen another car pass that way. A few bullock carts, a few bicycles, lots of walkers…..but no automobile traffic. As night settled in, Guruji had torches placed on both sides of the road and ordered us into our chairs. We became aware of a primal drumbeat, that seemed to come from a great distance. As it approached, we also heard men chanting, weaving their voices around this deep-throated sound. Finally we saw them coming around a far bend in the road. Young boys held torches and led the procession, followed by two men with enormous round-faced, flat drums hanging from their necks in front of their bodies. They swayed as they walked and pounded the drums with padded sticks.Version 2

Behind the drums walked the village men, each one carrying a long pole. They were bare chested, bare foot, with only a half lungie tied around their waist. The singing got louder as they approached and then they were in front of us. The torch bearers drove the pointed ends of their torches into the ground and the men faced us, first whispering a prayer and doing some simple mudras. Guruji explained that they were going to do a dance that was famous in this part of Orissa. It was actually a martial art. The men were going to fight with the sticks. Then, without further introduction, they began. Sometimes there were just two men fighting with each other. Then another pair of men would join and they would change partners. The striking of the sticks was rhythmic, but also quite aggressive and Guruji moved our seats back a few times when it looked like things were getting especially hot between a couple of the contenders.

There were young boys on the edge of puberty who were drawn into the circle by the mature men and you could see the way they were being trained. Old men were also invited in to the fight and careful consideration was given to their limited abilities. But when the young men went for each other it was terrifying and things grew to a crescendo with all the men paired off and fighting. In the midst of this cacophony and chaos, coming from the other side of the road, as if from a great distance we heard the sound of a different drum.  The voices of the village women began weaving their way into the dynamic atmosphere. The men, pair by pair, ended their fight and sat down around us as the women entered the arena, following their torch bearers and their drums.

They were in two lines holding each other around the waist. They were dressed in a single piece of cloth, a village sari that went just below the knee and wrapped around their waist and breasts. They did not have any choli or slip under their saris. They were very dark skinned with exquisite facial features and their singing was mesmerizing. The two lines snaked around each other. The movement was simple and after a time the women on the end of the lines took our hands, and pulled us into their weaving, swaying, undulating dance. We entered their trance time, dance time, time disappeared.

Several years later, Guruji started his own dance school in Cuttuck, Orissa, and I joined him there. After years of preparation, he declared that I was ready for the ceremony of Mancha Pravesha. This ceremony represented the marriage of the dancer to the god. In modern times, it had become a formality, a way of a dance teacher presenting his latest dancer of significant accomplishment.

It was currently the style to rent a large hall and invite all the dignitaries of the city. But I was not especially interested in establishing my name as a dancer. I wanted to have my ceremony in the Kheera Chora Gopi Nath temple. Guruji was delighted with the idea.

The area certainly had an atmosphere of Krishna and his play with the Gopis. There was a magic in the air, fairy dust, and looking through the sunbeams bouncing off the leaves,  you could see the Gopis laughing and playing with the Blue Skinned God, Krishna.

The priests of the temple were simple folk and this was a very big deal for them. A foreign woman would receive the shawl, blessed by the God, representing her marriage to Him and her willingness to serve Him with the beauty of her dancing body. They were enthralled.

I merged completely with their delight and wandered about the simple compound, melting with devotion.

preparationforjourneyThe day of the celebration started with a deep mediation in a nearby Shiva shrine. I was in a very peaceful mood when I entered the temple and the simple ceremony of being married to Lord Krishna was enacted by the priest and Guruji. They had draped the precious silk shawl that I bought for this occasion over the shoulders of Lord Krishna and he wore it throughout the morning devotions. Then the priest, chanting beautiful prayers, took it from Krishna and placed it around my shoulders. It was an ecstatic moment and I walked out into the blazing sunshine shimmering with joy.

As I skipped down the steps, I noticed a great deal of kerfuffle in the courtyard. A small army of villagers were draping the elegantly carved stone walls of the temple with pink and blue satin bunting. I was appalled and ran to Guruji. He was delighted. It was his idea and I didn’t dare be critical about whatever he planned. It was a ceremony celebrating him as a teacher as well as me as a student and he had his standards. Then I noticed a huge generator over by the outer wall and several police men hanging around. Guruji explained that the electricity would surely go out during the performance and that he had to have his musicians amplified, they expected this.

The police were there to keep the villagers out of the temple complex when I was dancing. The mayor of the small town was coming and they didn’t want the riff raff making too much noise.

I could not have been more disappointed. Guruji bustled off to oversee the bunting and I drooped my way over to the Natya Mandir.

In ancient times, the dancer danced on this elevated stone platform, directly in front of the inner sanctum. When the doors to the temple were open, you could see Krishna dancing, surrounded by his milkmaids.

The roof of the mandir is held up by elegantly carved stone pillars, so I was protected from the blazing midday sun. Everyone soon left the compound, time for afternoon lunch and nap. I fell into a deep meditation, feeling disappointment boiling in my body, boiling in my blood, hot tears pouring down my cheeks.

Overwhelmed with so much emotional pain, I thought of all the years of preparation, the sacrifices, the dreams, all destroyed by pink and blue bunting. As I suffered, I happened to look up and I saw that the door to the temple was open and Krishna was looking directly at me. There was so much light I was blind to everything but him. My heart was beating wildly, and then I felt something in me let go.

I realized that none of the details mattered. Everything was being done with so much love, so much care, what did it matter. The same intensity of suffering burst into an explosion of bliss. The temple melted into light. I melted into light. There was nothing but joy.

Later in the afternoon, my friend Ananda came to help me dress. The layers of intricately sewn silk, traditpremamanchapravesh3 copyionally dyed and woven went on first. Then the silver jewelry, the traditional pieces representing a dancer’s accomplishments. The elaborate crown, carved from balsa reeds, mimicked a halo of jasmine flowers. Next came makeup, with eyes exaggerated and ruby lips. Then hands and feet were adorned with red dye in simple patterns. I picked up my ropes of ghungaroos (54 bells on each ankle) and after pressing them to my eyes to take their blessing. I wrapped them carefully.

I was ready. I could hear the musicians tuning. Guruji sat behind his pakawaj. (double headed drum) His brother Tarani, the main singer, sat next to him. The violinist and the flautist were professionals. As I walked into the temple, I could hear the roar of the generator and I smiled to myself thinking of the afternoon’s meditation. I could also see sitting all around the outside wall of the temple the local folk, chattering loudly. They became very animated when they saw me. The police men brandished their clubs. I smiled.

premadancing copyI assumed the position of entry. Guruji nodded and the drum roll announced the opening dance. I was so filled with joy that I could not stop smiling. The pieces rolled one into the other. I knew them like the back of my hand. I was ecstatic, dancing to honor my teacher, dancing for the honored guests, dancing for the villagers, dancing for Krishna, dancing as a sublime expression of liberation, beauty, harmony, joy.

And then my teacher was garlanding me, the mayor garlanded me, the crowds roared and I could not stop smiling. Unattachment leads to great bliss. What a blessed day.

And so now I am faced with the ultimate unattachment, to accept that my beloved Guruji has left us to join the gods and goddesses he served with such devotion.

IMG_8263Several years ago I led a group of dancers to India. I had not seen or heard from Guruji in many years. Visiting Puri, the most sacred village in Orissa, my friend Elizabeth told me that Guruji had moved back to Orissa. He had been teaching in Delhi and every time I passed through that city, I was unable to meet him. Now he was retired to his beloved Remuna and had a small dance studio there. Elizabeth gave me a current phone number and I was able IMG_8244to connect with his oldest son Biswa. Arrangements were made and Guruji, Yamuna, Biswa and his wife met us at one of my most sacred places in India, the Temple of the 64 Yoginis.

We were all ecstatic. We prayed together. And then my students and I offered dance to Guruji and the deities in the temple. Guruji was delighted to see that the movements he had so carefully taught me were reflected in the dances I had created and in the students I had shared them with.DSC00751IMG_0297

That evening, Guruji accompanied us to one of the temples of Bhubaneswar, where a festival of Odissi dance was being held. I was pleased to see the respect the dignitaries of the art world paid him.

DSCN3887The next day I danced for him and he danced for us at our hotel. When we said goodbye, I touchedDSCN3838 his feet in reverence, never knowing it would be for the last time.

How fleeting this life. How precious this connection that provided me with the movement vocabulary that I have used to create dances of exquisite beauty and powerful inspiration. Whenever I dance, I think of my Guruji, the gifts he gave us, the preciousness of moving our bodies in a way that celebrates life and devotes our beauty and awakening to the highest ideals.

Sarva Mangalam Guruji. May All Be Auspicious For You

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Tara Dances in Java at the Sakyadhita Conference

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Most of our Bali pilgrims opted to join us at the 14th Sakyadhita International Conference in a lush resort outside of Yogyakarta.




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It was a short hop from Bali to Java. Our small plane was filled with tribal elders from some of the remote island tribes enroute to meet with the government of the country to discuss issues. The sounds and smells were quite exotic!! As we flew through the clouds we could see the peaks of several volcanos venting. We were riding on the mythical Garuda into a new world.




We arrived and were treated with loving attention, whisked into a huge bus and ferried to the Sambi Resort. Our rooms were lovely. The grounds were exquisite with a little river running through the center and sculpted gardens and walkways. They were pulsing with one thousand mostly women, many of them nuns, from all over the world, greeting each other with glee.


The focus of the conference was to discuss creating better connections between Dharma and the social and political dimensions of women’s experience. For one week we explored through meditation, educational presentations, workshops, interactive discussions, cultural exchanges and spontaneous conversations how compassion and spiritual development can help shape a more just and peaceful world.

Over many centuries, Buddhist women have made significant contributions to the spiritual and social well-being of their communities. Nevertheless, Buddhist women are frequently excluded from the processes that shape their communities, such as negotiations among religious, governmental, and social leaders. Since 1987 Sakyadhita has been addressing these concerns methodically and it is very moving to see the women share their strategies with each other.

IMG_0169The first order of business was a magnificent feat of organization….the entire 1000 members of the conference were transported to the royal palace to meet the Sultan/Governor of the area. We were seated in a lovely pavilion and treated to welcome talks, food and drink, and then a tour of the royal palace. It was a very powerful way to start the conference.



The days were organized with panels in the morning and early afternoon presenting papers and 2015 SAKYADHITA yogyakarta_dancing of tara_photo by Yeonsuk KA-GAGYO05discussing topics. Mid afternoon were a wide range of workshops from learning the art of batik, to learning the art of meditation. We were part of the workshop offerings. There were many wonderful things being offered and it was difficult for people to choose but despite the competition, our workshops were filled to overflowing.


2015 SAKYADHITA yogyakarta_dancing of tara_photo by Yeonsuk KA-GAGYO_122We led one group in dancing the Qualities of Green Tara. Another afternoon we concentrated on White Tara. But I think the most popular and amusing event of all was teaching Tara Tames the Eight Fears, a dance drama that I wrote for children. Attendees to the conference were from 40 different countries and I knew that we were going to bog down in translation. So I simply started dancing and singing with the music acting out all the parts. We were given a charming little spot next to the river. I wasn’t anticipating a big crowd but I was so wrong.

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The small space quickly filled up with laughing dancing friends. People continued to gather and dance with us on walkways, hills and gardens surrounding us. By the time we got to dancing the “Demon of Doubt” there were almost a hundred people surrounding us chanting with glee, “Namoh Arya Tara”!!!

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According to the schedule we were to offer the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara at one of the sacred temples in the area. We invited anyone who was willing to practice with us every morning for an hour to join the mandala. We were given an open air pavilion, on the highest level of the resort.




We looked right out onto the smoking volcano, Mount Merapi. the most active volcano in Indonesia.

After practicing the praises Myri and I taught the group our new “Dancing Tara From The Heart”, inspired by a Dzogchen Sadhana of Dudjom Lingpa. By the end of practice we were all in an altered state.


DSCF5109At the end of the conference we went with about half of the attendees on pilgrimage to some of the ancient Buddhist sites of the area. Java was a famous seat of Buddhist practice and learning from the second century until the 14th century. It was breathtaking to wander these ancient monuments.







Our first stop was a sunrise meditation at Borobodur. the largest Buddhist temple in the world. We spent all morning meditating and walking contemplatively around the massive structure, enjoying the exquisite reliefs, endless depictions of the Buddhist Way.


After a lavish meal the buses bounced us through the countryside to one treat after another. One of the temples we explored was devoted to White Tara, a practice brought to the area by Atisha, famous for bringing Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet. We danced Tara on the grounds, a joyous, uplifting experience.


The pilgrimage climaxed with an offering of the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara in front of the Manjushri Temple complex. All the arrangements that we had been promised, a stage, etc were not in evidence…..we were pointed to a grassy area where there were a few chairs stacked, a few rolls of mats and a few trees to escape the sun.

Tara_042_NAM4246The dancers didn’t miss a beat. We had brought some sheets “just in case” and created a dressing room held up by dancers and supporters. Once we decided on the direction, facing the audience, the temple behind us, we rolled out the mats for our audience, organized some chairs and walked through the mandala to center ourselves.



Parvati meets Tenzin Palmo, President of Sakyadhita, who enjoyed the offering immensely.

We managed the sound through my little blue tooth speaker and one of the conference attendees amplified it through a speaker she happened to have with her. Letting go of all preconceived ideas of the way it was supposed to be we all entered a state of profound bliss, dancing and singing Tara’s Praises. Audience and dancers, all were transported.




We have an invitation to bring our precious dharma dances to the next Sakyadhita Conference to be held in Hong Kong. Let me know if you want to join us. I am also seeking sponsorship for two of our senior teachers to attend. Let me know if you would like to make a donation to help me realize this .

We join hearts with this precious gathering of dynamic women and cheer them on in their endeavors of providing equal opportunity in the dharma for all.

Om Tare

If you want to enjoy more images of the Conference here are a couple of links……

… a short video by Ari Amphel about the 14th Sakyadhita Conference

…a link to Olivier Adam’s professional photos



The Quest For a Crown Maker

IMG_0774Another Bali adventure with Mekare!!

Balinese Crowns~  What a glorious site to behold! Most are made of intricately carved leather painted with real gold. Extraordinary and luscious.  For Tara, however, we cannot use leather, so I began the quest to find a crown maker who worked in metal. The search involved friends and family asking friends and family, many motorbike rides through the countryside to other villages, often in rain showers through emerald green rice fields following directions given word of mouth from a friend to a friend to a friend.

The search was full of adventures but after weeks, only crown makers who used leather had been found. And then Oka suddenly suggested we look in the village of Bangli. He had an intuition that someone was there. Bingo. Friends of family confirmed this intuition. So early one bright morning we set off, Budi, Oka, and I. It was priceless.


Budi, the Crown Maker and Oka

After unexpected shop closings, more mysterious Balinese directions, and help from divine guidance we arrived way down a side road at a little shop, in the magical world of the crown maker.

The crowns were amazing. Gleaming gold. The shop was little. Three women were working at a table making the golden attachments that go on wedding crowns and dancer’s crowns that shimmer and shake.  And the man who makes the crowns was so very beautiful.

A fun pow-wow began.  Oka and Budi translating and telling what I needed….. five points, five different color stones. Between the three of us in Balinese, Bahasa Indonesian and pantomime, magic happened. The crown maker brought out his designs and we talked of how to modify them to make them into “Tara Crowns”. It was a wonderful collaboration, full of joy and inspiration and such fun.  I will never forget, after all had been discussed, dear Budi listening intently and writing the list to give to the crownmaker in Bahasa as I stood there envisioning the crowns on the Taras and speaking aloud in English.

#1 ” … this one with red stone in center … Swift Protection, # 2 … this other one with white stone in center…. Creative Wisdom….OH!  I see… #12.. this other one with gold stone in center…  Auspicious Beauty… Yes Yes Yes…. that other one…. that is Irresistible Truth.

Oka came over… took my hand and said….  “This one for the Buddha, Mekare, for Complete white tara crownEnlightenment” Yes! Exactly. We all beamed at each other.

And then, I said, “Budi, I really need to know prices.” Oka and the crown maker spoke. They translated for me.  800,000 Rupiah a piece… around $65 each, much more than was budgeted for crowns. But I beamed at the crown maker who is so kind and lovely.  I said that the crowns are amazing and that I would send this information to the director of the project who was in Brazil and that we would call when I knew what was possible. We all shook hands and bowed. And we took off in the car.

After about 15 minutes, I had the courage to ask… “Are the leather crowns that price?”

No, usually a little cheaper. But depending on the elaborate carving.. some can be more expensive.”  Ok…   the courage to ask more…. I said, “I am confused.  I have to ask you, do Balinese pay that for their crowns? Or is that a price for foreigners?”

Budi looked at me, a bit confused too, and said…. “We don’t buy crowns. We RENT them!”

For Dances and Theater and Weddings and Ceremony, crowns are RENTED.

They are fantastic quality, precious, and honored. And rented.

Nothing cheap. Nothing to only last briefly. But wonderful, beautifully made. Whether in leather or in metal.

As Budi laughed and said… “No one has crowns at home.”

And Oka explained to me, that the crowns are made of Copper, then dipped in Silver, then dipped in Gold.  The alchemy of metals. We had spoken of this a bit in our first long day of Tara teachings. When I had told him of Radiant Health and Copper, he had told me that in Bali the 3 precious metals are Gold / Blood,  Silver/ Lymph, and Copper/Sweat and we had had a wondrous discussion of spirit and health and body and alchemy.

CeleneNow, here we were again. The most precious combination of metals within a crown placed upon the crown of a human being. I was in awe of the power and majesty of this. The activation of the inner sovereign. The glow of enlightened mind. The revelation of the Goddess within. Glorious. Magical.

I immediately wrote Prema in Brazil and told her the story and recommended, if it was at all possible, to have these crowns made for Tara. She did not hesitate. Two days later, she sent me an email saying “Yes!”.  Oka and Budi and I were so happy. We made that call to the crown maker, smiling in joy.

The Blessing of the Crowns

priest and wife

Though he will forever lovingly be “The Crown maker” to me, he is called Jero Mangku. I like that too. Those are names of a priest. And there was something I knew I wanted to ask him when Budi and I returned to Bangli ~  If there was a day during our retreat that was auspicious for a blessing of the crowns!

The Balinese dancers have a special purification ceremony and blessing of their headdresses before they dance.  Similar to the ceremony mask dancers have for their masks.  It is a very profound ceremony. I wanted to offer this ceremony as part of the retreat.  So I asked, and the beloved Crownmaker, Jero Mangku, smiled in deep appreciation. Budi translated. He said he was very happy that such an important act to the Balinese was also important to me. He checked the Balinese calendar (which is a most extraordinary astrological “bible”!)

“Yes, Absolutely. The powerful day of the Dark of the Moon.”

We could do the ceremony sometime between 6 AM and Midnight on Tuesday, June 16th.

I was ecstatic. I then asked a friend, Putra, one of the dearest beings I have ever met, and a priest and puppeteer, which is a most sacred of combinations in Bali, if he would do the ceremony for the Crowns. I knew his energy would be a sublime gift to our group. Was he available?  Yes!

The ceremony is first a purification of the crowns… cleansing them of any astral energies making offeringsaccumulated during their creation, from the process and the environment, etc. Then a blessing of power in which Taksu is invoked to enter the crowns.  When Taksu is invoked into a crown, headdress, or mask, it imbues the object with a potent and precious spiritual power and the dancer is thus empowered when she/he wears it.

We gathered around the complex and extremely beautiful altar. There were tears of wonder in the eyes of those in our group. The flowers and holy water gifted their gifts, Putra chanted the mantras of blessing, and the crowns glowed… and glowed…. and glowed…. brighter and brighter. The wind blew softly. And Taksu entered.

There was no doubt that this ceremony blessed and empowered the exquisite crowns of copper, silver, and gold that the crown maker had so lovingly made.  A set of 22 beautiful crowns made for Tara, that will empower and bless Tara Dancers all around the world, had been born!

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The Miracle of the Masks

DSCN5872A Letter from Mekare about the Tara Mask Project

How can words explain the mystery? That is always the question when attempting such a thing. And that is certainly true in the story of the making of a set of masks for the 21 Praises of Tara. What an incredible journey it has been. And it continues.

All over the world mask dance rituals have been conduits power and blessing. Magical and mystical, the roots of mask dancing are


Oka’s brother demonstrates the power and presence of the mask.

ancient.  The mask is a tool of shape shifting, power, and a portal into another world. A mask powerfully enables a dancer to embody the energy of another being. Most people first think of a mask as a way to conceal, but in actuality masks are tools of deep transformation, offering the dancer a unique way of transcending usual states of consciousness and entering a profound spiritual state.

I began my life’s journey with masks in 1996 in Bali, in the studio of Ida Bagus Anom.  A direct transmission from a mask flooded through my being and I have never been the same since. As Anom says, “The relationship between a dancer and the mask is infinite”.

I am on the path of the infinite, in relationship with the magic of the mask. By 2002 I was performing solo masked dance ritual pieces and exploring the myriad of ways in which healing, awareness, and empowerment can happen through mask dancing.

When Prema asked me to go to Bali to find and work with a mask maker to create masks for Tara to be danced at the Tara Dance Monlam, I was immediately excited. This project combined three of my great loves ~ masks, Bali and Tara. Tara Dhatu sponsored, I returned to beloved Bali in March 2015.

Less than 48 hours after arriving I ventured to Mas, the village of the woodcarvers. I had decided not to contact any of the mask makers to make appointments quite yet for I knew that I was just meant to wander that day, get reacquainted with Bali, and remember the magic that happened for me there many years ago. I was to open to experience, not plan anything. As I wandered through the village, reveling in just being back in Bali, breathing deeply, I said prayers to Tara to guide me to exactly where I needed to be, to meet exactly who I needed to meet.

Suddenly, I felt called to turn around and walk back the way I came.  This seemed a bit unusual, but I followed that feeling. I crossed the street, wandered in and out of a few shops. I was walking past a man standing on a terrace in front of a shop of wooden sculptures. I could see no masks inside the shop.  But the man…. I felt I knew him…. he was so compelling to me….. he looked image2familiar…. soul familiar…. so very beautiful. I turned to look at him and we smiled. He gestured for me to enter. And I did.

It was an open airy room with carved sculptures, no masks.  But I did not want to leave. We kept smiling at each other. There was a feeling in the air I will never be able to put into words. I suddenly turned to him and said “I feel like I know you” And he said he felt the same way about me. We began to speak of life and death, art and magic. Suddenly, I asked his name. He replied, “Oka”.

“Oka, the mask maker?” I replied, totally surprised in delight. “Yes” and he smiled into my eyes.  “Oka!! I am Mekare, the woman who contacted you about the masks for Tara!” Months ago Prema had connected with an American woman who lived in Bali and worked with some mask makers. She had introduced Prema to Oka. Prema had him make a mask as a sample and mail it to me. I knew immediately, when I saw that mask, that I could work with him.

He stared and grinned. I stared and grinned. And then we hugged a big hug and burst into joyous laughter. It was a most magical moment. We know each other. Somehow. From somewhere. From sometime. And we were meant to meet again now. As one of my bee sisters would say, “we had an appointment with destiny.”

Oka told me that he had been carving and suddenly felt compelled to walk outside for a break. I told him I had suddenly felt compelled to turn around and cross the street.  We burst into DSCN4189laughter and hugged again.  And then he invited me to come into the inner courtyard and sit with him on his carving mat. That spot quickly became my favorite place in Bali.

We spoke of our personal journeys with the mask.  We spoke of our relationship with Tara.  He had carved a beautiful sculpture of Tara many years ago and she had touched him. He said it was when he was “oh so very young.” And then he told me about the wood that had just “come”.

Sacred masks in Bali are made with the wood of the Pule tree.  Many of the sacred aspects of the mask are breathed into the mask by the spirit of Pule.  A few days prior to my arrival in Bali, in a huge wind, a large Pule tree fell and the master mask makers of Mas received its holy wood. Oka now had the wood he needed to carve many masks. Before that tree fell, he did not have enough to make the masks of Tara.

It is considered very auspicious when a tree falls without the hand of man, offering itself. The image1wind had blessed us all.  I smiled at him. “It is said that Tara rides the wind, Oka. The wind is her element!”  He took my hands and said…. “Together we will make these masks, you and I and Tara and the spirit of the wood!”

I returned often to Oka’s carving mat giving him the teachings of each Tara. Oka had asked if I had pictures of each of the Taras. I explained that most of the thangkas and paintings of the Taras all had the same Buddha face, but that in our dance we embodied the expressions of the qualities and we wanted these expressions on the masks.


He asked how he would know these expressions. I replied, “With this!” and gestured to my face and my body. “I will transmit them to you!”  We both grinned.  Those days were truly some of the happiest of my life. I would give the teaching of a specific Tara and dance her energy and expression, then we would talk about the essence of that quality.  Our lively discussions explored elements of Tibetan Buddhism and elements of Balinese Hindu/Animism and the journey of the human soul. It was a remarkable time. We then made simple rustic sketches of expressions with notations and the mantra.

It was a week before Balinese New Year, Nyepi. Oka said he would begin carving after the New Year. The excitement was palpable!

Sacred masks in Bali are created with extreme care and awareness. From a block of holy wood emerges the face of the deity. Masks go through many stages of carving and sanding, and then many layers of paint are applied. For high holy masks such as the Barong, the process takes several months of carving and painting and the mask is painted with over 40 layers of paint. When the masks are complete, a beautiful and powerful ritual of cleansing and blessing is performed. In this ceremony the deity is invited to fully enter the mask. The mask becomes the “mouthpiece of the deity in the world”. It is extraordinary.

Eight of the masks of Tara have now been completed and others are in different stages of carving. DSCF4961Because of Oka’s mission of goodwill to Australia, we were not able to continue our work during the time the Tara Dhatu pilgrims were in Bali.

Oka and I are committed to completing this project. The energy of Tara is still vibrating in the creative process.  I asked Oka what he needed from me the most and he told me to continue sending him energy from my daily Tara practice to empower and bless our creation. And to return soon to Bali to work with him to fine-tune the expressions during the final carving stage and assist in selecting the nuanced colors to paint each of the masks.

There have been so many people involved in the creation of these masks, from Buddhist practitioners with many years experience to those who had never heard of Tara before. There have been many changes over the years, many delays, many interesting tales, twists, and turns. And most of all much much magic.  In the words of dear Budi, a wonderful young Balinese man who was my driver, translator, protector and friend, who quickly became what I call my “international executive assistant”, a young man who learned more about Tara than most ever will by being by mask2my side through one adventure after another… whenever a major delay happened… He would smile at me and say “Do not worry. It is all in Tara’s time.”

In this world in which we live, during these most challenging and profound times of change and evolution, it is more important than ever to support each other, to support the wisdom teachings, the creative arts, and the evolution and enlightenment of all beings. To acknowledge each and every being with love and tenderness, to offer refuge and inspiration, to bless and empower all.

From my heart I send you a sip of magic from this most amazing Tara cup, for her magicDSCF4963 and her light are flowing with great strength into these masks and into all who are involved in their creation in any way.  Fourteen more masks are to be completed, making a full set of twenty-two (Central Tara and Her 21 Emanations), twenty-two faces of the Buddha Tara.

We need to raise $7000 in order to complete this project. To Contribute to supporting the Tara Dhatu Tara Mask Project

click here

Send an email to   informing us that your donation is for the Masks of Tara.

With love and a litany of gratitude



I would like to thank, first and foremost, the Buddha Tara, for her immense wisdom, compassion, and power. It is for Her that these masks are made.

Gratitude to Prema Dasara for her very being, her wisdom, her dance, and for her commitment to bringing the teachings of Tara ever more into this world in profoundly beautiful and creative ways.

Many thanks to Tara dancer Lena Grace and the amazing mask maker Lauren Raine who contributed so much energy, expertise, and love to the evolving vision of the masks of Tara.

Thank you – Suksma – Terima Kasih – to the extraordinary and precious Balinese mask makers Ida Bagus Oka and Ida Bagus Anom. I bow to your hearts and the skill of your art. You inspire me with every breath you take.

Gratitude to my personal deity yoga dance teachers on the inner plane… His Holiness the Karmapa, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, Yeshe Tsogyal, the Bee Mistress, and the Dakini.

And to Dayu, Budi, Made, SuSanti, Komang, Ricka, Putra, Choc-in, Sally, Linda, and Sika  ~ my Balinese family, who throughout this work have been protectors, creative assistants, mentors, and most of all beloved friends.

And gratitude for YOU… all of you, each and every one.  You know who you are.

Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha


Offerings and the Invisible

IMG_0019Offerings connect us with the invisible. Every Balinese knows that in addition to our concrete reality perceptible to the senses, there is the invisible reality. Though hidden and secret it can be sensed.

Tunggal, the unthinkable, the inconceivable, he who cannot be imagined is the supreme god of Indonesian Hinduism.  He is known to most modern Balinese as the “All-In-One God”. This divinity, who is emptiness, emanates countless bodies to provide an underlying order in the visible world, the dimensions of time, space, matter and energy

A simple daily household offering is presented to Tunggal every day as a form of thanks for the peace given to the world. The philosophy behind these offerings is self-sacrifice, they take time, effort and resources to prepare.bali offerings

Siwa with his consort Durga, Wisnu with his consort Sri and Brahma with his consort Saraswate are primary emanations.

Each local temple, each household shrine, has it’s own gods and goddesses. Many are deified ancestors. These numinous beings impinge on the visible world in peculiarly individualized and localized ways.

There are also demonic, malign or destructive aspects of the invisible world that require attention.

Spiritually infused objects mediate between the visible and invisible worlds. Sacred and magical, the artisan priest invokes invisible forces with mantras, purifying the objects to eliminate any harmful influences. They are then brought to life, inviting invisible forces of blessing to enter and make it useful.DSCF5025

These objects must be periodically cleaned, dressed and fed with offerings. Without such treatment the invisible forces within them vanish.IMG_0784

Positive invisible forces are drawn to fragrant smells, harmonious sounds, profusions of color. Power results from this kind of maintenance of connection with the invisible world. One must have firmness of purpose and a mastery of fear, maintain disciplined intent and inner calm.


For the rest of the story about our engagement in Bali

click here



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