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

Dancing Tara for Women with Disabilities

Amina has worked with disability most of her life. She has often represented the differently abled, advocating for their rights and place in society. Several years ago she became a Facilitator of the Mandala Dance of Tara and has led a small circle of disabled women in the dance practices.

Last year she applied to the 2019 World Parliament of Religions to present a paper she had written, “Tara as Divine Feminine Contradiction to Ableism(discrimination against people with disabilities characterizing them as inferior to the non-disabled) for Women with Disabilities” Her paper was accepted and she presented her workshop. Here is her report…

My workshop was scheduled for the very end of the Parliament, Tuesday Nov. 6 at 3pm. The Parliament’s last session was the next day. It was good to be able to see how others skillfully led their various dance sessions since I only had 45 minutes.

My dear friend and Tara sister, Jenny Mish helped me to sort out what were the three most important things to get across in my session. 1. Ableism/disability oppression information, 2) information about Tara and how the practice was developed 3) a real experience invite the participants to dance the Qualities of Tara

Parvati had made up some Tara cards that we passed out to let people at the conference know about our sessions and I boldly went up to every woman with a visible disability (using scooter, wheelchair, walker or canes), introduced my self and invited them to my session. I also gave them the paper I had written because it explained what I was trying to convey.

There were many other sessions running at the same time, though I was quite encouraged as I had 21 people in my session. Fortunately several were experienced Tara dancers, which boosted my confidence.

It was very helpful to be blessed with Shivadam’s musical accompaniment since flexibility was needed. I first gave out information about how the negative ableist attitudes experienced by women with disabilities gets internalized and we can mistakenly believe that is who we are (a burden, unreliable, fakers, lazy, too emotional, dangerous, too much trouble, unattractive, better off dead, etc.).

Then I explained that after many years as a disability advocate, when I saw the 21 Praises of Tara Mandala offering I was struck how this was the best contradiction to sexism and ableism I had ever seen and I set out to learn the practice and then to make it available to women with disabilities and chronic illness who don’t have the ability or stamina to dance the full Mandala.

After giving  a little background on Tara and her many names in various cultures and Prema’s story of how this practice came to be, I invited them to do the Prayer of Motivation with me. Then I led them through the refuge and bodhicitta practice and invited them to do the dance of Tara’s Qualities with me. The participants were enthusiastic and beaming as they danced the qualities of Tara. I had the pleasure of seeing those beaming faces and watching Tara in action in my life once again!

 

 

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Tara Is Dancing In The Encyclopedia Of Women In World Religions!

Several years ago Phyllis Moses was asked to write a lengthy article about Taradhatu. When Barbara Patton, a TDEP Facilitator of Pacifica, California noticed it, she mentioned that her sister, Susan, was editing an Encyclopedia and put them in touch. Although The Mandala Dance of Tara is not considered a ‘religion’ by Phyllis, nor many who participate in it, she thought it would be a great vehicle to help get the word out about our beloved Dance.

When Barbara wrote to her sister, Susan replied:”I could use the article if it underwent a major revision. It has to be objective, meaning not a personal story, “I,” and “we” have to be edited out. There is plenty of information in the article to re-make it, so if she is interested, please let me know.”

Thus, the birth of Phyllis’s current article in  ‘The Encyclopedia Of Women In Religion – Faith and Culture Across History’, edited by Susan De Gaia with cooperation, insight, and feedback from Prema Dasara.

You may read the article here:Encylo.w.photo

The Encyclopedia is a beautiful collection of ‘herstory’, magnificently edited by Susan de Gaia. For a list of all the articles and authors, go to:

https://susandegaia.weebly.com/encyclopedia-of-women-in-world-religions-author-title-list.html

And if you’d like to help get it for yourself, or let others know about it, (such as: the reference library of your local college, or community library), it’s also available on Amazon.

This is the original long article: final.Mandala(ed).copy:photos

There was an additional ‘further reading’ that did not make it into the Encyclopedia, but is also quite relevant to our Dancing Taras.

From the included blurb of the book,

“Sixty Four Yogini Temple Hirapur”

by Suresh Balabantaray

 

Lying in the midst of paddy fields and vast water shed, barely six kilometers from the temple city of Bhubaneswar the Yogini temple of Hirapur, surrounded for years with such a veil of secrecy that its existence became public knowledge only in the year 1953. Built in 9th Century A.D. Hirapur temple is the smallest of all Yogini temples and measures only thirty feet in diameter, with stone walls barely eight feet high. Yet the atmosphere that exists within it is quite awe-inspiring. This miniature circle conveys an impression of overwhelming power and seems to transmit the potency and dynamic strength of its sixty-four Yoginis.

Prema Dasara used to go there (early 80’s) when she lived in India and was studying with her teacher Guru Ramani Ranjan Jena. She had not seen him in over 25 years and when Prema returned to India in 2013 I joined a pilgrimage of 20 of her student dancers. We met her teacher and his wife and son at the Hirapur temple. We danced for her Guruji and he said to Prema, “I knew you would not do something traditional, yet i knew you would do something great”. To read his eulogy: http://www.taradhatu.net/2016/05/eulogy-for-a-great-master-of-odissi-sacred-dance-guru-ramani-ranjan-jena/

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Charging the Wealth Vase

For some years our good friend Andrea Abinanti, who lives on Manjushri Hill, Swayambu, Kathmandu, Nepal, has kept a Wealth Vase for Tara Dhatu. Every year a Puja is performed at the Thuckche Choling Monastery to honor the God of Wealth, Dzambhala. It is said that he grants spiritual wealth and financial stability.

Each year local residents bring their wealth vases to be re-energized by the prayers and mantras of this puja. Andrea is kind enough to place ours in the blessing area.

In the early morning Yamantaka is propitiated to remove all obstacles. Then the various wealth deities are called upon and innumerable mantras are recited.

In the afternoon the protectors are invoked to remove obstacles that plague all beings and create the cause for all to have material means to survive comfortably.

Prayers are made that the natural elements are in balance; that there will be abundant crops, successful businesses, good jobs and all societies treating everyone with loving kindness.

On the final day when the initiation was to be given, Dhrubtop Rinpoche’s yangtse (re-incarnation) came to oversee the last part of the annual puja. The previous Dhrubtop Rinpoche graciously received the Tara Dhatu pilgrimage of 2001 and told us of finding the self-arising Tara in the jungles of Parping. Now as a young child he listened with great happiness to the teachings.

 

May the power of Dzambhala’s prayers and mantras,

And the mantras of all the gods and goddesses of wealth,

Shower their blessings on all 

Bestowing the prosperity of wisdom,

Wealth, health and happiness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayers for Our Dear Elizabeth Breck

Elizabeth Breck dancing Tara of Irresistible Truth

Teresa Tara Noor is a long time Tara dancer and leader who lives in Tucson and has shared leadership with Elizabeth Breck in Tucson, AZ for many years. Below is a letter from her and a call to our global Tara Sangha for prayers.  Prema offers the below prayer and says, “Please tell everyone to visualize Elizabeth surrounded by Tara’s Loving Light.”

Dear Ones:

For those who do not yet know, our dear Tara sister and teacher, Elizabeth Drolkar Breck has been missing since last Sunday [Sunday January 13, 2019].  We are all very concerned about her well-being and the police have issued a missing person’s alert.  Here is a link to the news story which includes a phone number to call if you have any information or have seen her.

http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/2019/01/18/tucson-high-teacher-goes-missing-pinal-county/

In the meantime, we are requesting prayers for her well-being and safe return to family and friends. We will still be meeting this Sunday as scheduled from 2 to 3:30 and will dedicate our practice to sending prayers and intention for Elizabeth’s safety and well-being.  I sincerely hope that she will be located and found safe and well before then, but in any event, we will dedicate our practice to healing, balance, and blessings for Elizabeth and her family.

In addition, Prema Dasara, Founder and Spiritual Director of Tara Dhatu (http://www.taradhatu.net/) is urging us to engage in the practice of White Tara and has written the beautiful prayer below:

Prema asks that we picture Elizabeth surrounded by Mother Tara’s love and light.

Beloved Mother Tara,

Our dear friend, sister, student, teacher Elizabeth Breck has gone missing and we are worried about her, Mother.

Please hear our prayer that she be returned to our loving arms. Keep her safe, Mother, and let our love be a beacon to her that she return to us safe and sound.

 Tara, Mother, you bring peace to the worried heart. You surround us all with your protective light and help us to heal in this world of intense challenges. Elizabeth has turned to you most of her life, Mother with great faith and sincerity. So now we all turn to you, vibrating every element with your mantra, sending our wishes and prayers that this concern be quickly resolved.

We think of all the families who are missing dear ones, knowing the pain of the heart and as we pray for Elizabeth so we pray for all who suffer. May our love and light bring Elizabeth home and bring healing to all hearts.

Om Tare Tutare Mama Ayu Punye Jnana Pustim Kuru Soha

Great Mother Who Removes All Fears, Who Bestows Good fortune Give us Long Life, Wisdom, Merit, and Good Health

Here is a link to a beautiful version of  White Tara Mantra:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ukr6ohaShM0&fbclid=IwAR2s8l4Vi5kkgdsmWzUPRs6dV-Ewf2P-NUz77JKpS7-kSF1-4oX4P4nnbnE&app=desktop

Love, peace, and blessings to you all,

Teresa Tara Noor

 

THE TARAS GATHER ON BOTH COASTS

Weekend of March 30th 2019

The Vermont Tara community invited…

“We are coming together to honor and celebrate our Tara sister Elizabeth Breck at the Spring Equinox, with a Saturday night gathering to share our grief and praise for our Elizabeth and her many gifts – a time to share stories or images or anything we need to and just be together. That will be Saturday March 30th,5-9 pm at the upstairs space at The Plainfield Co-op. Then on Sunday, March 31st we will re-convene 1-5 to set the Mandala and dance the 21 Praises of Tara. Followed by the Offerings dance led by Ivy Garland , who is flying in for the weekend. Then we will dance White Tara and the beautiful prajnaparamita dance to close.”

Location: The Plainfield Co-op 153 Main St Plainfield, VT 05667

For more information please visit the FaceBook event listing:

https://www.facebook.com/events/2522249694470945/

Suki, Elizabeth’s dear friend and long time Tara Dhatu community member shares the following on this FaceBook group: “i would like to open up this space for people to share how they feel about Elizabeth and her disappearance and how we can come together to share those feelings and thoughts and praise and grief.. please feel free to share in here

AND…

In the California Bay Area Pia invited…

Join us Sunday the 31st from 3-6PM at Shelldance Orchid Gardens 2000 Coast Highway Pacifica, CA as we come together to honor our beloved Tara Sister Elizabeth who is still missing. We will dance the Mandala or the Qualities depending on the turn out and end the practice with White Tara Of The Six Shields. After we will have a pot luck. Come dance in the beauty of the Orchid Gardens. With all the crazy things going on in the world dancing together in this sacred way helps to lift our spirits and connect with each other.
Contact purpletara21@gmail.com Sugessted donation $21

For more information please visit the FaceBook event listing:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1264668807018620/?active_tab=about

Pia, another dear Tara sister of Elizabeth and Tara leader Mandala leader shares the following on this FaceBook group:

“8 weeks ago today…Missing our missing one. In some ways it seems like if anyone would just disappear it would be Elizabeth…poof… gone… here for a minute gone in the next. A blink of a lifetime…lifeline…life shine…I continue to see her and worry about her…

Last time she was here she was on an 8 hour layover after her personal visit with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India.
I picked her up at the airport brought her home and she took a very, very, very long shower. I made us lunch, as I had just gone to the farmers market. Rice noodles with veggies & cilantro ginger pesto.

She really helped me with some of the politics of dancing that I was having a really hard time with. She had many more years of experience and it was like Tara sent her to me for support. Hand in hand we went to see Prema Dasara who had just arrived in Pacifica…The timing of this was divine…Mother Tara stay with us until the end of time… here one minute gone the next…

I wore the cord of protection she gave me until it disintegrated… we continued our talks over the years about our practice and the politics of dancing…We went for a quick walk on the beach as our time was running out…

She went through a bag of clothes I had and she found so many things she had to wear 3 or 4 layers of clothes because she had no room in her luggage.
She arrived pretty thin in her beautiful and delicate dancers body and left with a “few extra pounds”. We laughed a lot, we cried also…

One thing about the soul connection of our Tara Sisters is we have been together for many, many lifetimes…It is clear when we dance together, meet each other eye to eye, hand to hand, heart to heart… sometimes no words are ever spoken…our connection is surreal…in devotion…

So today 8 weeks you are still missing…here one minute and gone the next…I hope you dissolved into rainbow light in bliss…Or you are dancing in the sky beautiful Dakini…I pray no harm has come to you beautiful one…no pain or suffering…the not knowing is hard for us here…”The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences”
Here one minute gone in the next…Om Tare Tu Tare Ture Soha…”

And… circles gathered all over the world including circles lead by Prema and Myri in Brasilia and Parvati, Amina, and Carey in Phoenix…

The Global Tara Dhatu sangha is offering prayers all over the world for the well being and safe return of our lost Tara sister and friend. Om Tare Tutare Mama Ayu Punye Jnana Pustim Kuru Soha

(We have heard no new news of her whereabouts. It has been months since she went missing near Tucson, Arizona where she lived. Please contact us if you do have any information.)

Here Elizabeth and her daughter Arabella are pictured after a Mandala offering with the other Arizona mothers and daughters dancing that weekend together.

Tara Dances at the Parliament Of World Religions

Parvati led a group of Tara Dancers in presenting a Tara Dance workshop at the Parliament Of World Religions in Toronto, Canada this November. She writes…

The Promise Of Inclusion

The Power Of Love

With the inspiration to join hands and hearts in commitment to justice and the well being of all – including Mother Earth Herself,

With the courage to say yes and step into the circle of the unknown and share our hopes, hurts, fears, dreams, truths, and highest aspirations,

With the innate awareness that there is an inherent unity bigger than each individual one, out of which all are born and unto whom they must return,

With eyes, ears, and hearts open to both the beauty and the horror,

With a desire to share in sacred space and practice both of and outside our own traditions,

With compassion and conviction, over 8,000 beloveds from over 80 countries joined together as religious leaders, musicians, dancers,  scholars, students, and delegates of this world’s faith traditions along with atheist friends.

The first Parliament Of World Religions was held in Chicago in 1893 and the 2018 Parliament was held the first weekend of November in Toronto.  It was WONDERFUL and POTENT and… the Taras were there dancing!

In 2015 I attended my first Parliament in Salt Lake City and was blown away by the some 10,000 heart/minds who had come together, committed to inclusive social justice, planetary unity, and holistic well being for ALL beings. They had gathered together to share and connect, to give and receive information, to inspire and be inspired.

Imagine yourself in an airport full of radically inclusive people passionate about living the spiritual ideals of love, compassion, generosity, patience, forgiveness, and radically committed to being the change they want to see in the world. This was what we found at the Parliament and there was no question in my mind that our Tara Dance sangha needed to connect with this community.  With the support of Phyllis Danu, Johanna Leseho (who valiantly agreed to do the leg work of actually submitting the proposal for our session), Shivadam, and Amina, I stepped up to offer an session of our 21 Praises of Tara.

We had only 90 minutes to share so we treated it much like a Friday night introduction of the fuller Mandala Dance Of The 21 Praises Of Tara retreat weekend.  Opening with Motivation, Dancing Refuge and Bodhicitta, sharing a couple of stories about Tara’s birth and a bit about our beloved Teacher and lineage, we concluded with the Dance of the 21 Qualities of Tara and the Mantra Dance.

We dove right in. The group that joined us was packed into the room and each person brought such a wonderful quality of presence to their enthusiastic participation.  Some knew Tara and some were completely new to Tara but all were right there with us every step of the way.

There were over 40 sessions in the same time slot as our own and with so many rich offerings, including another one focused on the 21 Praises Of Tara, I was elated that we had such a rich group join us.  It was a joy to share the session and the week with sister Taras Johanna Leseho, Jasmine Judith, Aimee Johnson, Jenny Malika Mish, and Phyllis Danu, as well as my own beloved wise and wonderful mother Amina who also  led a powerful Tara session on dancing Tara as a contradiction to internalized disability oppression.

It was also beautiful to have the celestial musical support of my own divine minstrel Shivadam who played for both Amina’s session and ours. Phyllis’ s own beloved Habib also joined in with his drum for our main Tara session.  As all the Tara leaders know, having live music is such a gift both energetically and in terms of logistical flexibility. Both Shivadam and Habib had originally been scheduled to play with the Dances Of Universal Peace in their session but since that session was, by some cosmic joke, also scheduled in the same time slot, we felt very privileged to have them playing for us.  And so our 3 concentric circles danced with great joy and exuberance… we did not get an official count but we guessed we had about 45 participants.  Thank goodness for cordless mics!

Our session was just one of hundreds offered each day of the week and in every time slot there were at least another 5 or so workshops, each one we wanted to attend.

Dr. Vandala Shiva was among the most powerful speakers and communicates with such wit and elegance about the circumstances on our planet at this time, the causes and conditions that got us to this place, and some very creative solutions to help us heal both ourselves and our planet.

So many enlightening and empowering voices of wisdom from over 80 countries and every religion I can think of. While grabbing a quick bite to eat with several hundred other people at the free lungar lunch being offered by the generous Sikh community before going to set up for our session, Shivadam and I ran into a woman drinking tea who introduced herself and as we chatted we realized she was leading the other 21 Taras session!

She had planned to go on the 2001 pilgrimage but was one who felt she needed to stay home for family reasons… a small and beautiful world so full of magical connections.  She showed me her newly published 21 Taras deck of cards, we laughed, and hugged, and went off to lead our sessions!  While I had once worried about our sessions being offered at the same time I felt the magic was just multiplied. How perfect!

I cannot recommend this experience highly enough and will be sure to tell you all when they announce where and when the next Parliament will be held. Thank you to Prema for all the inspiration and support and for gifting us all with this precious and powerful practice.

Om Tare! Om Ah Hung!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tara Dances in Chile

The Flowering

Of Divine Mother Tara

In the Andean Lands

Myri Dakini has been cultivating a group of young women in Chile for several years. This November she offered a five day retreat in Chile.  Myri writes …

Through the loving spirit of One Being, we become aware of our responsibility to follow with joy and surrender the path of awakening.

We retreat, practicing Tara, meeting to strengthen and share our luminous nature.

It was with this dedication and vision that I accepted the invitation for Tara’s third retreat in the Andean lands. To cross the mountains of the Andes is to feel the female presence of Pachamama, her mystery, her magic and welcome. This brings back the memory of the ancestry of a people dedicated to cultivating and honoring the Divine Mother.

We shared four days full of magical moments, of harmony, beauty, color and joy … the expression of the gifts of femininity in splendor.

The group was mostly women. we had one male protector, who was welcomed with love by all.

We opened the circle with fire, gathering in the round, all ready to receive the transmissions of light and nutrition for the mind heart.

This year’s focus on this retreat was to learn in depth the Dance of Tara’s Qualities, the movements, mudras, and dharma teachings. We started at 7:15 am and finished at 9:30 p.m. only stopping for meals. Everything and everyone was in their place and enjoyed every moment.

The evening session was very interesting. It was a time of personal sharing.

My first question to each dancer was what motivated them to participate in the retreat. Wow! It was incredible, very touching. Everyone shared with an open heart.

The last day of the retreat was a celebration of intense gratitude. We did our practice on the beach, facing the mighty pacific ocean. Looking at the infinite space of the brilliant blue sea we connected in spirit with our beloved Prema on her island in the midst of the great pacific ocean. We felt that there was no distance when we are all interconnected in the heart.

Back at the retreat center we circled around the fire to thank the invisible and protective beings of the place. We were so grateful forthis precious opportunity to be together in the way of the Dharma.

I specially want to thank the precious teachers of our Tara Dhatu Educational Program; Valentina, Maria Concepción, Atma and Karian, who organized and prepared the retreat. It was was built with wisdom, compassion, power and love …

From my heart great gratitude, Myri Dakini

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Maria Concepción

To begin to put into words all the beauty that happened in our last Tara Retreat would seem to be unfair, given the language limitations, to the reality and manifestation of this precious event.

It required a long preparation. A retreat carried out with so much love. Every retreat’s detail and moment was thought and felt with great love.

At the beginning the four organizers faced decisions that meant a big challenge to us as an organization, we knew to read the signals that Mother Tara was sending every moment, regarding a leap of faith and to trust that everything would be given in order to manifest this retreat. Praying deeply, receiving profound inspiration, surrendering at Her service , the retreat was manifested and raised with great splendor.

Personally I felt this retreat was a great success, intensely enjoyed by each of the participants, who surrendered themselves to live the experience of our 3rd Tara Retreat in Chile.

I was especially pleased to note the harmony existing throughout the retreat. It was a friendly ambience between all the participants. We enjoyed the harmony in the center with its natural beauty that was in tune with the work we were doing. The two women owners of Las Coincidencias (http://www.lascoincidencias.cl/) were so helpful, accommodating, caring and receptive to us and our work. It was a convergence of auspicious factors that made this retreat an unforgettable experience, a memory treasured with love in our lives.

With deep gratitude to Great Mother Tara for manifesting herself inspiring us, her organizers, with so much beauty, love, compassion, generosity, wisdom and perfection.

Profound gratitude to our Teacher Myri Dakini, who shared with so much Joy, and trust in us. Every time she has come to us in Chile she shares her knowledge, with so much generosity, seeding the wisdom and awakening seeds in every participant. Inmense gratitude and admiration to our Teacher Prema Dasara for her amazing work all of these years creating the beautifull Dances of Tara for our awakening path.

Feeling ultimately, a heartfeelt call and vocation to keep walking this precious path of spiritual growth, I dedícate myself for the benefit of all beings.              SOHA.

 Atma

Being part of the Organization group taught me many things on a personal level as well as the collective level. Together we learned from many challenges.

In the personal level I could see my relationship with abundance; how my mind passes from very positive to negative, how I create expectations, and so on.

As the Organization group we lived the experience in a closer and more democratic way of working, trusting each other and everybody taking her place, everyone trusting in the other’s work.

The energy of this retreat was different as I can see the community in Chile becoming more cohesive.

I lived the retreat intimately. I had no tension of organizing since we could foresee situations and harmonically organized with others, The work was shared so no stress. I was able to connect with the retreat experience and enjoy the dances, dive into the meditational practices.

I am still digesting the experience I am in a life cycle of many changes, self-reflexions of what my path has been, and what I want it to be.

In that way the retreat was a space to integrate my soul´s restlessness.

I am so thankful for the experience, both individual and collective and grateful for Myri’s trust and dedication.

 Karina

I decided to join the organizational team when I felt my fellow’s enthusiasm, I wanted to give them support and cheer them on in this adventure of organizing the retreat, encouraging them, and being by their side on what I could, I don’t know much about technologies and computers, but they could count on me if they needed an opinion to make decisions concerning the venue’s choice or visiting different places, feeling the place’s energy and cheer them up on all that would be possible.

The economic part was complex, but we encouraged each other, generating a conviction and trusting one another. In every meeting ‘ideas and inspiration rain’ were flowing. It was an opportunity for lots of learning and personal and collective work.

With confidence, the most auspicious situations took place. I was alert to the signals that life and the environment were sending me. When we visited the venue ‘Las Coincidencias’, to me it was key to see a hummingbird over a bush full of flowers… I felt that was the signal to choose that place, and then, when we saw that beautiful spiral room, I knew it was perfect for dancing.

And then we had to spread the word, inspiring others, transmitting enthusiasm for them to come to the retreat. Everything flowed harmoniously. Little by little people were signing up and we saw with great surprise new people who had never danced before were excited about participating. This was a great present and joy.

My friends have done a great and enormous work. I try to be always positive and optimist in all situations of life, so I felt that the people coming to the retreat would be the right ones, regardless the number of participants. I was thinking: my wonderful Tara is in their hearts, and the right ones would be inspired to participate.

Near to the retreat’s date, on October 8th, a family crisis arose. My granddaughter Rafita, only 2 months old was diagnosed by the doctors who gave no chance for her to survive. This has been an ‘earthquake’ in the life of my family. At the time I devoted myself completely to my son, to be present, to support him, be by his side and encourage him on everything. I took refuge in the mantras and danced with all my heart, connecting from the purest place of my soul, asking for strength and guidance for this sad and painful time.

I decided to fully live day by day, in the present, enjoying and feeling gratitude for every second that we were able to have our precious Rafaela with us. I cheered my family, demonstrating that was the way to be with her, encouraging her, with joy, support, strength and much love, filling her with sweetness with all our soul.

I became more aware of the impermanence of life, living every minute the best way possible. It was complex to decide whether I would go or not to the retreat. But things got stabilized with the seriousness and I felt the compromise to be in support of all this great organization work. I went with the intention to come back (to my city) in any moment if something happened to my Rafita. I am so thankful that everything got even more stabilized. I realized I would a be bigger support to my family by being in the retreat. I danced connected to my family. It was very beautiful all the support and love I received from everyone. It was a joy and strengthened me to see how everything flowed wonderfully in the retreat and to see how every participant was enjoying and connected to each dance. It was something really formidable, moving, and inspiring.

I thank with all my heart every smile, each word of encouragement, and the support on my beautiful Myri, her company, and advice. I am very grateful. I came back strengthened to re-join my day-to-day of life and keep living this experience with so much love for my family.

This 2018 retreat has left us many teachings and an even deeper connection to our beloved Tara.

 

 

Tara Retreat at Shambhala, Golden Bay, Aotearoa

Catherine Walker has been a devoted Tara Dance teacher for many years. She has kept the dance alive in the Nelson area of the South Island of New Zealand and in the exquisite area of Golden Bay. For four years she has offered a retreat in the area at the Shambhala retreat center, an exquisite sanctuary overlooking the sea. She writes…

The sound of the Karanga, a Maori ritual calling new Taras to join us, opened what became a rich and moving weekend for all, including me, the teacher! The Karanga, has the ability to move one out of the body and into the outer realms. Once we were inside our beautiful haven for the weekend, I felt myself return. It was a deeply spiritual start to our magnificent weekend.

Greetings and introductions were made, we warmed up our bodies moving to Taras Mantra, and continued creating the Sacred Space with our invocations to the Enlightened Ones. Following that we went outside and honored Hine Moana, Goddess of the Ocean, with a simple dance to the music   “There is so much Magnificence in the Ocean”.   Each one of us, stepping forward and offering our bows of Gratitude for being in her magnificent presence, as we let go of our busy lives in the external world and eased into our own Inner Tara Magnificence.

We then entered our dancing shrine area and danced Tara the White. The November Full Moon Meditation brought us much inspiration.

Saturday was a rich and fulfilling day for all as I introduced and taught two new dances, Dukkar, the 1000 Armed Protector Tara, and Premas Long Life Prayer that was written by one of her students in the US. We then developed a creative interpretation of Om Tare Tu Tare/Om Mani Padme Hum.

Saturday was also a day of Silence, a time to be quiet and reflective. To support this, there were creative spaces set up for those wishing “to do something”. A green glass bead Tam was made in one corner, stones were painted, writings and drawings noted.

Sunday morning, the keen Taras met at 5.30am on the beach to farewell the night and greet the new day…. the Karanga was offered again , and Tara’s Mantra floated out towards the changing sky.   A water cleansing ceremony unfolded and we held the space for each Tara who wanted to release unwanted negativities, hurts, pains, and distortions of their true beautiful nature.

We stopped off at The Tea House Gazebo, overlooking the sea, as the perfect place to go for a hot cup of tea before breakfast.

All our delicious meals were prepared, shared and served by a rotating group of Taras. Each meal was a feast for the eyes as we offered our Sacred Food Blessing.

It was with much Love, and Gratitude to Prema for bringing this life enriching Tara Practice into the world that we closed our Circle on Sunday afternoon.

We all left with a deeper appreciation of ourselves and each other, our environment and our Lives.

Some thoughts from several of the dancers…

Big heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to making the Tara Dance weekend such a totally wonderful experience. This was only my second experience of Tara Dance and I fell in love with it!

 I had been really stressed recently at work and when I went back on the Monday my colleagues were all saying ‘where have you been ? you are glowing, wow!’

 Every aspect of the weekend gave so much in terms of beneficial energy and experience that could then go back out into the world. 

It supported, strengthened and inspired my own practice.

I felt cherished, held, delighted, expanded, challenged (in a positive way), uplifted, and profoundly nourished on all levels.

 Aroha nui to our dear teacher Catherine and her student Fiona.

Birthday good wishes for Prema Dasara, and gratitude for her teaching, wisdom and love.

Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha

Ali Symmons

“” to move , meditate , and dance in silence was an especially meaningful day, it gave depth and focus and a stillness to the experience that was so valuable, its one Id like to repeat. For all this in our 2 days together  I remain so grateful for Prema’s continued wisdom, aroha  and new blessings in the form of dance, and Catherine’s  dedication to pass this on …… they are enormous gifts so deeply appreciated .

In gratitude

Helen Bracefield

Sacred Space unfolds

Taras gather together

Souls meet, dance begins.

Laughter rings out through the hall

Joy, acceptance, belonging, celebration

Silence begins and Stillness allows

A coming together in a different way

Bodies swaying, eyes meeting

Connection, compassion, inner peace 

Mother Tara

Blessed be your gift.

 

 

Giving Tues 2018

Your support makes it possible for us to spin the wheels of of light and inspiration all over this beautiful blue green ball of earth and share the tools in Tara’s chest of treasures.

Thank you for your generous support.

Visit our donations page to give now.

Om Ah Hung

 

Tara’s Masks Dance the Mandala in Caxias

  For many years I have had the impulse to create masks of Tara for the dancers, and this aspiration has gone through several incarnations. One Retreat on Kauai the dancers created masks in paper mache  …. it was an experience that was very inspiring for the dancers. Those masks adorn the Golden Lotus Studio on Kauai and are used during special occasions.

My vision finally came to fruition when Mekare Fiske went to Bali and through many magical connections had a set of masks and crowns made for Tara Dhatu. It was an important part of my vision for the Monlam that we offered in Brasilia this year.

Noelle Faulkner created complimentary wigs and costumes and the masks had their debut at the festival. It was a very moving experience for everyone.

Mekare led the dancers into the mystery of the masks, sharing her vast and deep experience as a masked dancer. She organized each masked dancer to have a protector dressing her, dancing behind her, and leading her into and off of the performance area. This was an extremely powerful experience for the dancers.

As things developed it became obvious that there was not enough time for the masked dancers to train in dancing in the mandala formation. Mekare and I developed a choreography that was workable for the situation and everyone was inspired. 

Myri felt very strongly that we should continue to try and manifest my vision of dancing in the Mandala formation in the masks. She approached Michele Trentin, one of our senior teachers who has a dance studio in Caxias, the far South of Brazil. This October, together with seven other senior teachers of Tara Dhatu South America, they accomplished this vision.

Myri writes …

Faith, Surrender and Trust

Mother Tara when I felt the wind caressing my face I heard your voice whispering in my ear “Do not fear. I am your Refuge!”

 

It is with great joy and gratitude that I can share this adventure of determination, faith, confidence, focus and love!

Having the opportunity to guide a group to dance the complete Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara with the masks we had made in Bali was a dream come true. When I offered to do this job I was open-hearted and sincere. I knew it would be incredibly challenging. I also knew it would be an ecstatic experience. It required my total surrender!

I worked hard with the text of the Mandala, so that it was tattooed on my body. I needed to be prepared to work with the ways I might need to adjust the movements to be able to guide the dancers to dance confidently. With our Tara masks there is limited peripheral vision, restricted air flow for breathing. All of this had to come into consideration.

We were fortunate to have a group of women who had already had experience in the complex movement of the mandala.. We had seven of our precious senior teachers; Michele, Angelis, Lia, Ruth, Edithe, Natália, Mariana and Jeniffer.

Michele offered her beautiful temple, her students, and her heartfelt experience in organizing workshops and events. I thought that I would not dance in the Mandala, wanting to direct from the outside. I invited Michele to be the Central Tara, giving her my full support.

I ended up having to dance a praise to take the place of a beautiful woman who had to step out. We were together, this group of incredible women turning the mandala of Divine Mother Tara’s blessings. I have great gratitude to every dancer. We held hands and together created the circle !! Thank you for trusting me!

To open the group’s connection with the masks I led a simple exercise from my long time association with studying the Kabala and moving with that orientation in masks.

I guided them to come to class without makeup and to look into a mirror at their own face with the clarity and certainty that they were walking on the most profound path. Then I asked them to open themselves to feel the mask as the face of Tara, to merge their face with the mask and feel they are Tara Herself, the two faces, inseparable! After putting on the mask I directed them to move. manifesting the quality they represented, getting familiar with the restrictions of the mask, dancing the body of the Goddess! The focus of this preparation was Faith and Surrender!

Prema has often said that Tara has her own agenda. I shared this message with the precious dancers, also quoting Prema … “ we are in our spot!”

I offer my sincere gratitude to Tara who has helped us assemble favorable conditions to turn her amazing Mandala of Prayers!

I offer my gratitude to the precious teacher Prema for trust, guidance and support.

I offer my gratitude to dear Mekare for her excellent and inspiring work with the masks.

And I offer my thanks to the women who created the magic circle of this initiatory mandala with me.

I sincerely wish that as the wheel of life keeps spinning I can continue to share this beautiful Tara Mandala with or without the masks. May I find circles of women willing to manifest the enlightened feminine, to awaken to their true nature for the benefit of all Beings!

I open my heart to the many dancers who will follow us, turning the Mandala of Tara, your face merging with the mask, Tara’s face, your face, we are all united in the magic and wonder that is Tara!

I send my love and pray that we may always be connected in the Light that is Tara.                    Myri Dakini

 It is with great joy that Michele tells us about the experience of Myri’s guidance leading a group of women dancing Tara’s Mandala in the masks in her beautiful Temple Studio, Rakaça Templo de Dança. Michele writes…

During the four days of training everything was very smooth, serene, despite impermanence playing it’s tune. Tara was guiding us finding the perfect position for everyone.

Myri`s leadership was exceptional, precise and perfect! With her skills and experience the mandala developed smoothly. We were ready to dance the Mandala of the 21 Praises of Tara with the Masks!

Myri asked me if I would be willing to take the position of Central Tara. She needed to be able to be outside of the mandala, directing everyone. I never imagined that I would be in the place of Central Tara. It was a gift but also an immense responsibility! My mind and heart were fully concentrated to make the mandala spin well.

I am so grateful to Myri for  trusting me. It was a great empowerment. I was able to focus, learned so much about leading the mandala. I feel much more secure to work with the Mandala Dance of Tara in the future.

Thank you Myri that you chose us to have this precious mandala with the masks to turn here, in our dance temple. You have brought so many blessings to our dancers, to all who were with us as audience and our community. I am always open to  help and to do everything that Tara Dhatu wants to accomplish.

We are all grateful to Prema for transmitting this practice in such a profound and precious way, a practice that uplifts hearts and souls!

And many thanks to the brave, patient and courageous dancers who formed our mandala! Each one was amazing.

Filled with gratitude,         Michele

In this video you can see some of the preliminary work, some close ups of the dancers in mask and costume and a bit of action with the audience dancing Om Ah Hum and Tashi Deleg with the performers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5LLUCtrvVo

 

 

 

 

 

 

This video focuses on the birth of each Tara and a bit of Her dancing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HH7PMQtWWY&feature=youtu.be

this imbedded video is the Mantra Dance

This is the dedication dance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tara is Dancing in Guarapari

A few days after Myri Dakini arrived at her home in Brasilia, after traveling more than 24 hours  from Portland, Oregon, she headed out to the North East of Brazil. She was invited to lead a workshop and performance of the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara in Guarapari,  Spiritu Santo. For two   years Daisen Marchito has been leading a group of dancers at her clinic “Integrating Psychoanalysis and Integrated Therapy Training”. Here is a rough translation of Daison’s report …

We were happy to once again receive Myri Dakini, to experience her excellent training in the Mandala of Tara, the meditative dance of the Enlightened Feminine. Myri is a wonderful presence among us, teaching with such confidence and excellence.

In our bi-weekly meetings, most of the time there are seven participants so it was lovely to have a group large enough to make a bigger mandala.

I am delighted to see the evolution of those who have come consistently in our group. The dance brings discipline, concentration, joy, generosity, self knowledge, balance, harmony, creativity, respect, just to name a few of its benefits.

I am including testimonials from some participants . We are really inspired to keep meeting. We are forever thankful to Prema Dasara for giving us such valuable teachings and for Myri’s tireless dedication. We hope to have Myri and her lovely charisma with us again next year.

“For me, the dance means freedom.  It is such a different experience, to realize TARA is inside me.”                      

Rosimery Claret – Therapist

“The dance for me was a divider. There was a Fran before the Dance and another one afterwards. It takes care of me every day, makes me a better being. I have so much Gratitude.”            

Fran – Yoga teacher=

“This meditative dance gives me a connection with the divine. God’s feminine presence is in me. Every gesture, every movement is a form of the elevation of the mind through the body. We are integral beings and the dance provides this perception in ourselves.” 🙏🏿😊 Luciana

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations – Two Tara Babies Born

 

At the monlam this year we were treated to two of our lovely dancers pregnant, and only a few days apart in their anticipation of birth. Dani and Jocelyn delighted us all with their enthusiastic participation and very obvious swelling bellies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dani Acosta is one of our main dancers in Brasilia. She is beautiful, sincere and talented, often playing the drum to accompany Ricardo, and one of Myri’s picks for the new Dance of the Five Wisdom Dakinis. She portrayed Padma Dakini, the Red Goddess who is Irresistible, magnetic, carrying the power of discriminating awareness wisdom.

She gave birth

To baby Eloah

15 October, 2018.

 

 

 

Jocelyn Rainbow Wolfe resides on Maui and had made a commitment to sing at our Monlam festival before she knew she was pregnant. Lucky for us she did not let that stop her and diligently gathered the funds necessary to join us.

Before she left for Brazil she had an ultra sound determining that her child to be would be a boy. Her participation in the monlam was precious, her voice supremely powerful and beautiful. And big surprise, when she arrived back on Maui the next ultra sound, done during the 21st week of pregnancy, showed baby to be a girl!!!

‘Āinalei was born Oct 24, 2018

Congratulations to these two beautiful young mothers and lovely sweet babies. May they all always rest in Tara’s arms.

 

Dancing Tara at the Sakya Monastery in Seattle

Seattle was one of the first cities outside of Hawaii that the Tara Dance was offered. In the audience was Dagmola Kushog, the first Tibetan woman who ever witnessed the Tara dance. She was the wife of a very high Sakya Rinpoche, and was famous throughout Tibet for her ability to “dream”. She was known as an emanation of White Tara and it was truly amazing that we were able to dance for her.

She gave a wonderful speech after the dance. She congratulated us in may ways, especially touched that the dancers would be wearing saris. “Buddha Is from India,” she reminded us. “ Wearing a sari shows respect for that culture.

The next day she asked to see me and she reported several dreams that she had indicating that she was to support the Tara Dance, first of all by offering empowerment to the dancers. Then by inviting us to dance in the Sakya Temple. Prema and several of her senior students have made an effort to offer the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara every year at the monastery. 

For the past several years Parvati has organized and offered the mandala in fulfillment of Dagmola’s request. This year a group of Tara Dancers from all over the US and Canada joined Parvati for the offering. Carey Avery, a Level 2 Teacher, residing in Phoenix, Arizona wrote …….

What an opportunity – dancing in a Tara mandala in the Sakya Monastery in Seattle.  I have held this aspiration for many years, it was fulfilled over the weekend of October 4-7, 2018.

We began Thursday evening with a Green Tara initiation from H.E. Dagmola Sakya for the Tara dancers and Sakya Monastery community.  The initiation and many of the weekend’s activities were held in the Shrine Room, which is a visual feast for the eyes and nourishment for the heart/mind.

It is an exquisitely beautiful and inspiring space:  clouds adorning the ceiling, the monastery’s lineage tree painted on one wall, the Buddha’s first students on another, and beautiful statues including White Tara and Green Tara.

It was such a comforting and supportive environment in which to embody Tara.  Several times during the weekend I would glance at a painted figure or statue and feel they were looking directly at me, encouraging and guiding.

Parvati, did a superb job of organizing and leading the Mandala.  Friday evening was an Introduction to Tara and we danced through the Qualities.  Saturday and Sunday morning we prepared and practiced; culminating in a luscious offering Sunday evening.

It was a wonderful blending of new and experienced dancers.  Women traveled from California, New York, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Oregon to be there.  With so many coming from out of town, Kim Abbey found a rental in the Ravenna neighborhood and 7 of us were able to stay there.  That added an extra element of joy to the weekend – ironing saris and enjoying delicious home-cooked meals together.

We join our heartfelt prayers to Dagmola’s that the Mandala of the 21 Praises of Tara continue to be danced in the Sakya Monastery.

Many thanks to Gail Fredrickson, our liaison with Sakya Monastery.

For many years she has organized the needs of the dancers in order to fulfill Dagmola’s request that the dance be offered at Sakya at least once a year. As a special blessing for Gail, this year her son brought his whole family and it was the first time the baby was in the presence of the Mandala Dance of Tara. Om Tare!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Tara Dances at KTD Woodstock, New York

Hope Jinishian works in the bookstore at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, the seat of his Holiness the Karmapa in the USA. This dharma center, nestled in the forest above Woodstock, New York, is a powerful Kagyu monastery and has hosted the Tara Dance numerous times.

 

 

Hope is dedicated to the dances of Tara Dhatu and has organized workshops for Prema, Parvati and other senior teachers.

As a Level 2 Tara Dhatu teacher, she has offered the dance at various retreats, and has helped organize for any Tara Dance teachers that visit KTD to share their method of teaching the dance.

Recently, Elizabeth Breck, a professional dancer and Level 3 Tara Dhatu Teacher volunteered to teach at a two day teens and family weekend retreat. She taught White Tara of the 6 Shields. She wove the dharma into her class in a delightful way that was enthusiastically received by the teenagers and the nuns and lamas who joined.

Tara Dances in Portland

Myri Dakini is Prema’s personal assistant, Assistant Director of Tara Dhatu’s Educational Programs and the Director, President and main mentor of Tara Dhatu South America. This October she headed to Portland mid October to study with Charya teachers Helen and Prajwal.

Prajwal is the Vajracharya (head Priest) of the beautiful Dance Mandal, a temple built in the Nepali Newar tradition right in the heart of Portland. Prajwal’s father, Ratnakagi Vajracharya, was one of Prema’s teachers.

While there Myri offered to do a couple of evenings of dance instruction and she was happily joined by a group of Taras who had just accomplished the weekend mandala in Seattle.

Monday night she led the group in the Protector Dance of Dukkar. After the class everyone was invited to celebrate Prajwal’s birthday!!

Tuesday night Myri and the group shared the profound dance practice,  Calling Tara From the Heart.

It was an exquisite sharing.

 

Tara Dances in Virginia

 

Jacquelyn Sendak Zavaleta has been sharing the Tara Dances in Virginia for several years,accompanied by her

Tara Protector husband, Rigdzin Zavaleta.

She writes…

 

Rigdzin and I had two welcome dinners organized by our friends and hosts Tara White and her husband Mike.

Due to two knee injuries, it was a total stretch for me to lead the dance practices in Virginia Beach and Portsmouth.  However, attendees were so open, receptive, and caring that we managed just fine.

I began by sharing my temporary limitation, and some experiences about how these Tara practices have changed my life.  As soon as I did this, everyone became very attentive and focused. Rigdzin led a Green Tara meditation. And then we danced. One gentleman who said he did not dance eventually joined us during the dances of the praises.

Eventually, my knees hurt too much to lead movements anymore. After the program, one lady kindly went home to pick up a surprise a gift of Chinese medicine to rub in my knees that Martial artist use for injuries.  She showed a vivid interest in the dances and after doing the Tara qualities she said she felt a resonance to embody them all.  We were invited next year to expand our Tara program to include her Dharma Center.

It is always wonderful to come to a Dharma Center and share the Dharma and Tara dances with Buddhist Practitioners.  It is especially inspiring when a person is just discovering the Goddess Tara.  The richness and depth of the movements, combined with Mantras, meditation, and dharma teachings creates an excitement and interest.  Long term Buddhist Practitioners share how Tara and Dharma dances inspire them.  Although we have been coming to Virginia Beach and Portsmouth area for many years, this time we encountered both new and experienced folks to our programs.

One of my Tara sisters donated some Tara materials that she encouraged me to give away as gifts which I did.   This opened the door for me to introduce the Tara food blessing, basic teachings, and a Bardo prayer.

The Savvic Center in Portsmouth, Va serves the local Buddhist community and attendees welcomed us expressing “this is a great way to spend a Sunday.”

Our initial Tara Dance teaching in Virginia Beach was at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (Edgar Cayce). We were then invited to dance at the Fellowship of the Inner Light Church, the joyful Church with the big heart.

This year, we were very fortunate the fellowship’s founder’s wife, Sharon, was in attendance!  She finally was able to experience what we have been doing here for the past few years.  Attendees were reluctant to leave so we were given permission to take as much time as we wanted to continue the program.  She really enjoyed our presentation so much that her parting comment was “so we will see you again next year?” I heartily agreed. Our Tara Groups will continue to meet and dance in Virginia.

 

 

Gutsy Women – Prema & Myri on FM Radio

Our dear friend and Tara dancer, Amorah St. John, has a radio program called “Gutsy Women” on Maui public radio, KAKU. She has been interviewing the fun and fabulous women of Maui who are making a difference in the community. She invited Prema and Myri in for an interview .

“Gutsy” in the dictionary means courageous, determined and filled with spirit. Amorah’s guests live up to that definition, empowering listeners to make a difference and follow their hearts. The show airs live every Friday from 11:00 am to Noon Hawaii time.  If you would like to listen to the interview with Myri and Prema go to

https://kakufm.org/gutsywomen

Scroll down the list on the right to July 27th.

It was really lovely the way Amorah brought Myri into the conversation.

 

Tara Dances in Phoenix – A Profound Weekend Retreat

The Phoenix Tara Circle has been turning for many years under the guidance of Senior Mentor and Teacher, Parvati. Each year they host a weekend Tara Dance retreat. This year’s retreat, September 14-16 was unique as the leading of the dances was shared by several senior teachers.

Friday evening opened with an Introduction to Tara. Parvati danced Tara’s origin story. This was followed with an enlightening introduction to Tara’s 21 qualities by color, providing insight into their power and meaning.

They were very fortunate to have Shivadam provide his most excellent live accompaniment with voice and guitar.

On Saturday the day was divided into 2 hour sessions. The Eight Precious Offerings were led by Carey, Calling Tara from the Heart was led by Johanna, and White Tara of the Six Shields was led by Parvati and Johanna.

Sunday morning was devoted to Vajrasattva, led by Noelle and Carey with helpful translation as we learned the practice. Dancers were delighted. In the afternoon Parvati led a spirited full Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises offering with 8 dancers, 4 enthusiastic protectors (3 newbies), and Shivadam providing the beautiful music.

The retreat ended with Prema’s Long Life Prayer led by Anjali in Texas via video call and Hope leading Om Ah Hum as a dedication dance.

A mix of new and experienced dancers were present with Tara’s traveling from New York, Manitoba Canada, New Mexico and western Arizona. The abundance of student teachers allowed the leading responsibilities to be shared among the group and they did a fantastic job! Sessions included the meditations for the various dances. The enthusiastic reception by participating Tara’s has encouraged our Phoenix Tara Circle to aspire to hold similar retreats in the future.

Come join us!

Om Tare!

Dancing Tara in New Zealand: A Magical Mystery Mandala Tour

Adrianne and Clare

Adrianne LaBry Smith is a Level 3 Tara Dhatu teacher. She met Clare Woodham at the Monlam in Brazil and these two lovely Taras cooked up a teaching tour for Adrianne this September.

Adrianne writes …

At the request of Tara Dhatu Level 2 Teacher, Clare Woodham, I made my first journey (in this lifetime) to the mystical, magical land of New Zealand, the islands of Aotearoa “land of the long white cloud”. I was greeted with a warm welcome of “Kia Ora” in the language of the Maori, “be well, be healthy”. The New Zealand accent holds traces of British flair and   I can’t help but think of that English rock band, the Beatles, and their lyrics:

Roll up roll up for the Mystery Tour… That’s an invitation … Roll up for the Mystery Tour…

With Clare as guide, we set out across the North Island on a Magical Mystery Mandala Tour of Tara Dance; 3 weekends and 2 Wednesdays dancing Tara on 3 coasts—Napier, Kapiti, and Auckland. We lived like nomads, packing up clothes, food, tea, images of our sources of refuge—photos of our precious teachers, statues and thangkas of beloved Tara—water bowls and offerings, brocades, sacred texts and music, and 3 peacock feathers to remind us of our ability to transform poison into wisdom radiance.

The Magical Mystery Tour … Is waiting to take you away…

Transported to the pure realm of Tara’s Mandala. Birds singing, flowers blooming, waterfalls dancing down the hills. Reminders of Her were everywhere, sacred mounds of radiant green, bush forests of refuge. Even the names of the places we traversed were boldly proclaiming her name, Taradale, Tararua.

 

Imparting a sense of pilgrimage, a special trip was made to Te Henga (Bethells Beach), location of the filming of Prema Setting the Motivation as seen in the video Dance the Goddess Rainbow Essence of Tara. With reverence I recited the Daily Prayer-The Tara I Am and we danced the Prayer of Motivation.

At each location, I introduced myself in the traditional Maori fashion offering my Pepeha. Standing at sacred sites one greets the ancestors of the land by reciting, in this order, the names of the following: a key land formation and a river near your place of origin, your People, your Paternal Grandfather, your Father, your Maternal Grandmother, your Mother, your Oldest Brother, your Oldest Sister, your name, and a greeting offered to all.

And in each place of gathering I felt the welcome of the ancestors and of the living, breathing Taras who call New Zealand home. Our weekends and Wednesdays together felt like retreats. The sincerity and openness of those present providing sanctuary from worldly affairs, allowing for deepening in the practice of taming the mind, refining away the obscurations that veil our true nature.

We set clear intention and made offerings to engage in the virtue of body, speech, and mind, dancing our Prayer of Motivation, Refuge & Bodhicitta, Shantideva’s Prayer, and The 8 Precious Offerings.

We invoked our sources of refuge, visualizing protection for ourselves and all beings as we danced Dukkar and White Tara of the 6 Shields. We engaged in dances to reveal our Tara radiance, manifesting wisdom and compassion for the well-being of all—Tara’s Qualities, Calling Tara from the Heart, The Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara.

The number in our Mandala changed from day-to-day…4, 6, 12. Regardless of the number, with invincible courage the dancers spiraled—joyfully revealing the 21 manifestations of the enlightened feminine. Mandalas of beautifully powerful Taras reflecting a varied array of cultures: The Maori, descendants of the first arrivals; progeny of British, Welsh, Irish, Dutch, Croatian, Indian, French, Greek; more recent immigrants from Germany and South Africa; and visitors from Australia.

They’ve got everything you need … Roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up … Satisfaction guaranteed.

The beauty and welcome of the people, the magic and mystery of the land, the heartfelt intention of the dancers, the power of the practice…was all beyond imagination. Filled and satisfied. May all beings benefit. May all have such joy.

Dancing Tara at the Women in Buddhism Conference in Seattle

Kim Abbey is a relatively new Tara Dance facilitator but a long time Tara Dancer. It is wonderful to see her spread her wings and share the dances. She has a circle of Tara Dancing in her Olympia, Washington community and we are always delighted to have her join us in the dance. She writes….

My experience at the 6th Annual Women in Buddhism Conference in Seattle at the Seattle Betsuin (Pure Land) Temple was so joyful.  I was invited by the planner, Irene Goto, to facilitate a Tara Circle at this one day conference.

We had half an hour to share, immediately after the bento box lunch that was provided for all 65 in attendance.

I quickly organized a table shrine with fruit and flowers and the precious thangka that was one of the 21 that were hung all around us at the festival in Brazil!

Then we danced in a big circle in the gym at the Temple. Several women spoke to me about their joyful feelings, raising their arms and swaying to the prayers was a very new experience for these mostly elderly Japanese women.

Om Tare!

Phyllis Reports on Monlam in Northwest Dharma Web News

Phyllis Moses is one of our precious Level 3 Tara Dhatu teachers, living in Vancouver, Washington. She has been our representative in the Northwest Dharma Association for several years

It was our great good fortune that she was able to attend our Festival of Prayer in Brazil this May and has written this article that was printed in the NDA’s web news.

Click Here to read Phyllis’s article

She asked me to share that, “I was asked to focus on the North West, so personally, I felt like I left out many credits to the Brazil (and beyond) sangha, yet this is what the focus needed to be, so forgive me if I left out some things.”

It is a delicious taste of the wonder that was our Festival

 

Post Monlam Visit to Chapada Imperial

May 29, 2018 Post Monlam Tour Day 2

Shared By Sherry Harris…

Our last official day together in Brazil Prema and Myri put together a very special grand finale.  An hour bus drive out of Brasilia, down windy dirt roads through the bush, we came to Chapada Imperial, an ecological sanctuary, a nature preserve of the cerrado biome, the high plains plateau of central Brazil. The owner of the land greeted us enthusiastically and gave us a tour.  The center was closed to the public on this day. We were the only guests.

We were also greeted by a roaming peacock and a large blue gold parrot.  One of the jobs of the sanctuary is to rescue, rehabilitate and return to the wild animals that have been captured. He was passionate as he showed us the cages where animals had been taken to market and he pleaded, ”Please, do not take home animals”.

We then assembled around hike choices, small, medium (3 hours), or long (5 hours) I chose “the middle path”.  We start off down a well maintained trail. Our guide shared his extensive knowledge of the healing properties of the plants, and introduces us to birds, insects, and animals on our way.  We delight in the colorful flowers and the colorful stories.  The sun is out and we are feeling light, happy, playful. The Taras are singing and laughing, holding hands, taking photos, talking openly and lovingly in community.  We pass waterfalls and view dense forest and rolling hills.  The dance of the trees and butterflies, the smells of the woodlands seep into us, the elements in nature bathing our senses.

In the 1st waterfall, most of the Taras slide gently across smooth, massive granite rock into the fresh pools of reflected water sending ripples across the surface and ripples of delight upon our skin.  We take turns underneath the pounding water of the falls, a natural massage.  We lay across the sun-drenched rocks, arms around one another, heads resting in laps, smiling, laughing, talking, beckoning, attracting all to join us.

Beautiful clear, clean water. We call to each other.  No one is left out.  We feel healed and forgiven as we let go of any resistances., Bathing in the waterfall pools, the flowers around us shimmer, we breathe in the sweet smell of forest plants and the bursting freshness of the falling water. We celebrate a rising awareness of the power of prayer, the light glimmering in our eyes a reflection of the light within.

Back at home base we are served an incredible abundance of fresh food grown on the farm. Tara’s songs upon our lips, filled with joy and laughter, we are living the 8 precious offerings.

As we finished with lunch we had options and several choose to play in a special area built around towering trees. Climbing into one of the tree giants, a zip line sent our Taras squealing .  Aerial ropes and wooden planks, painted tires, and balance line woven through the tree tops gave another group some intense challenges. Some of us decided to just rest in the hammocks and watch the action.

On our return, happy and tired, we ended the day with a magnificent sunset and rising full moon to seal the mystery.  May all beings be happy.  May all beings be free.

Post-Monlam Brasilia Tour & Prayers

Sherry Harris from Kauai, Hawaii traveled to Brasilia, Brazil to participate in the Festival of Peace, Festival of Prayer, Tara Dance Monlam. She shared a bit about Monday’s Post-Monlam Tour….

May 28th, 2018

After nine full days of attention and effort to the structure of the Monlam, dancing in ever-changing forms, we entered our first day of post-Monlam activities.  Myri and Prema had arranged a luxury bus to introduce us to a bit of Brasilia. Fifty dancers, mostly from out of the country joined the fun, exploring this Capital City. Brasilia was built in 1960 on a utopian, all-inclusive vision, all the buildings uniquely designed.

Our 1st stop was the Museu dos Povos Indigenas – The Museum of the Indigenous People of Brazil. The Museum was usually closed on Mondays, but Myri arranged for our Tara Dhatu circle to be specially welcomed. The plan was for some of the tribals to open our visit with singing and dancing but the trucker strike and consequent gas issues meant that they could not make it. Fortunately one of the managers was able to hostess our group.

Beautiful Maya translated our day. The building spiraled downwards to end in an earthen circle, open to the sky.  Along the way were implements of Indios lives … clay pottery, woven basketry, carved wooden benches in shapes of birds used for daily meditation upon returning to one’s home. A long woven tube caught my eye. The women of the tribe use it to squeeze out the juice of the manioc root,  many hands, twist and turning.

There were large photographs of the Indios in demonstrations with the government and the police,  in rallies of opposition to their treatment.  They need to be seen, to be heard, to be recognized … to have a place among  the people of Brazil … standing up and standing strong and proud. They want their culture to be respected.

A few of our Taras were invited to don headpieces with reverence, unity, intention, respect. We had been asked by the director to offer prayers for the well being of the tribal people. We gathered in a large circle in the open courtyard, including a big tree stump representing the inclusion of the tribes before us.  Lekshe, and Prajwal joined us as Prema led us in song and dance –  Tara’s Refuge, Motivation,  Shantideva and the dance of Tara’s Mantra Meditations.

Shivadam held the melody with his guitar and Isa kept the beat of the drum. My bare feet in the sand in

which so many have danced and chanted in ceremony, I felt completely connected, in solidarity with all people for equality, empowerment and freedom.  Many felt a deep sadness here. Mixed emotions were apparent, acknowledgement pervasive. It was a powerful time of prayer.

We then piled onto our luxury bus and Maya pointed out the city plan, laid out in the shape of an airplane looking to take to the sky. Her stories were clear and she also shared the story of the “unspoken division” of a class system that “didn’t yet go away”.

Our next stop was the Cathedral, with 16 arched columns. It was a long staircase down into the sanctuary with wavering stained glass walls and huge hovering angels hanging from the ceiling in the center.  Breathtaking.

Our group found a cozy circular underground room used for christenings, and were happy to dance a modified version of our new dedication piece, May All Beings. The room had amazing acoustics. Such a blessing.

Lunch at Restaurant Mangai, was lavish. We were surrounded by herb gardens and reflecting pools with a stunning view of a bridge of arches over the lake.  Maya tells us she swims across the lake, shared with many fish, small not-biting crocodiles, and capivaras, a little hippopotamus-like animal!

With a vast array of Brazilian foods before us, we learn about Kilo eating. You weigh your plate full of food after selecting from the buffet.  It would take a dozen visits to taste it all!  The restaurant was full of fun accents of Brazilian country life. A sculpted server had little cups of that wonderfully smooth Brazilian coffee as a good bye treat, free for us to enjoy.

Our last visit was to Templo da Boa Vontade, the Temple of Good Will.  This vision of wonder represents raising the temple of the Living Divinity inside our human heart.  The pyramid-shaped structure of seven points has the purest, large crystal at its apex. We are thus magnetized to enter and walk, in silence, the spiral floor of the first temple room.

We entered on the dark spiral, walking counterclockwise, contemplating the difficulties in our journey.  Standing in the center under the crystal, we find the Light and begin our new journey.    Walking in meditation, praying, we return on the spiral of light, illuminated by spirit.

This meditation was brilliant for our group, as we have danced Tara’s Praises together, transforming poisons, destroying our attachments, removing our sorrows, and truly feeling worthy of honor.  We have been deeply touched and changed in a joyous and profound way.

Sharing our bliss and joy is unstoppable!  We are walking Tara’s teachings in real time.  We drank from the fountain of blessed waters. We bowed at the altar of the four elements. And then on to the art gallery we went, passing paintings of the Tarot using aspects of Brasilia to illustrate the Major Arcana.

We had been invited to offer prayers in the gallery and so two circles formed quickly. We danced Motivation, Shantideva and Tara the White, in English and Portuguese.  It is so alive, this heartfelt unity as we looked at each other with Tara’s eyes, seeing her face in each one of us.

Photos by Amber Roniger

We laughed.  We cried. All of us united in this collective release of built-up energy from the hard work, the chaos and the joy, living Tara’s truths revealed.  We dance for each other, knowing we contain the power of prayer and transformation, the energy to make a difference where there is suffering.  This Monlam, this gathering of Tara’s and Prema’s dream has empowered us and set us free!  Love really is the answer.

Read More: Conclusion of Monlam, May 27, 2018

So happy to be connecting with all of you one last time and to have the opportunity to share the exciting conclusion of the Monlam!

Dressed in white for our preliminary morning practices, we danced and chanted Beloved Tara, and Refuge and Bodhicitta. We then invoked Mother Tara and recited the Seven Purifications. Next, we cast a protective circle with a visualized vajra in our right hand and phurba in our left, as our umdze chanted the mantras of protection. We continued with Dukkar and Calling Tara from the Heart. Dancing Calling Tara from the Heart together is a blissful experience–the words inspired by a Dudjom Rinpoche sadhana are so evocative and powerful that they, along with the choreography, take us to the very core of our being.

We were then led into chanting The Daily Prayer about the fundamental nature of our mind: we are, in fact, limitless – it is only misperception that limits our understanding of who we are and what we can become. Prema reminded us that this prayer is the essence of our practice, which strives to dissolve the veils of the mind and align us with the truth. For us, this series of practices in the morning has become a powerful way of recreating the foundation daily for the offering rituals that followed.

Determining the mandalas for later in the day was a Herculean task. Prema strives to give everyone a chance to dance the Praise they feel called to do as well as increase the training of new dance leaders. I am learning to unwind the mandala, so I requested Tara #1, Swift Protection.

We were happy to head for lunch. Our two big buses took us to a delicious meal in town–a multi-colored buffet with selections to satisfy everyone.

After lunch, we began the offerings, which included  the Eight Precious Offerings, the Dance of the Five Wisdom Dakinis, and offering the  copper mandala composed of precious stones representing infinite universes. We offered the Twenty One Praises of Tara with the masked dancers and the turning of three concurrent Mandalas!  It was incredibly powerful and as full a schedule as it sounds–the accumulation of offerings, real and visualized, filled the space with a sense of generosity, richness, and profound accomplishment.

 

 

We chanted sections of the text, which gave us an opportunity to connect deeply with the meaning behind the offerings. Guided by her powerful experience in Lourdes and a life-long commitment to exploring the many faces of the Divine, Prema included not only the traditional Buddhist sources of refuge, but all realized beings of all spiritual traditions, so we offered to an infinite array of Enlightened Ones from all times and all cultures.

In the same way, the long life prayer we offered to Prema–a traditional Tibetan way of directing of the energy raised through practice to the long life and good health of the teacher and the lineage–can be used to celebrate and pray for all authentic wisdom teachings, teachers and lineages. Who are your sources of refuge? They can all be included!

My particular wish for this prayer is that we use it to strengthen our communities and safeguard our lineage, of which we are all holders, by practicing it after dedicating our daily practice to the happiness and freedom of all beings. It was purposely shortened from a longer version to only 2 minutes in order to encourage us to practice it. You can download the music from the Tara Dhatu website here and dance it with your circles: I will make a video available soon to demonstrate the simple choreography.

 

Throughout our time at Paradise on Earth and in Brasilia, our talented and tireless musicians filled our hearts with joy, and their presence gave vitality and inspiration to every moment of our practice.

To seal the energy we raised over the course of the retreat and Monlam, we dedicated the merit we generated to the healing, empowering and awakening of all beings and to peace for Mother Earth.

Willing hands cut the mantra cord and put the mandala stones in little pouches. Prema and team gave every person who approached, including audience members, these tokens of remembrance, a physical witness to the wonder that we created together.

As we reflected on the Monlam, we realized the magnitude of the undertaking and the sincere effort that had been made to fulfill Prema’s vision for this Festival of Prayer, Festival of Peace.

So many people contributed to make this event happen, and we all felt deep gratitude, particularly to Myri for all her hard work and determination. Om Tare!

As I look through the photos many of us have taken, I see once again the truth of the teachings: Taras are many–21 does not begin to cover the variety:

 

Prema’s final prayer for us was to promote harmony in our sanghas, in our communities through forgiveness, compassion and patience. We all make mistakes. The question is, are we going to respond with judgement and blame or with love? Ferocious Compassion tells us that sometimes we need to be firm and clear when someone is harming themselves or others. We can say no and set boundaries, true–in fact we have to, for our own benefit and the benefit of others. But we can strive, as our guiding principle, to bring people together, to resolve conflict, to forgive. Together, we can do so much! And we have to. The world needs us!

Directing the power of the mantra OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA and the merit of this Monlam with us, is an opportunity for deep healing. We are interconnected. We need each other not only to survive but to thrive. Let’s keep dancing together, hand in hand, to embody the kindness and peace we aspire to see reflected back to us by our neighbors, our sangha, our families, and our planet.

May all be auspicious! Sarva Mangalam!

May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!

Svaha, Soha!

Photos by Amber Roniger, Abha, and community, and text by Anjali

Read More: Monlam Day 4, May 26, 2018

Greetings from Brasilia–so glad you have connected with us today!

Our morning was left open so we could enjoy a local fair, and I hear that the artisanal offerings there were plentiful despite the trucker’s strike which was still in place. Prajwal Ratna taught again and one Tara reported learning from him how to create sacred gesture or mudra from the heart instead of as a habitual movement. Prajwal is a priest from the Newar tribe and for him, as he explained in a lively dialogue with Gen Lekshe and our community a few nights ago, the dance is the spiritual path, a way of engaging fully with the enlightened energies embodied by the deities. What a privilege it has been to have him with us!

The mantra recitation continued, as our practitioners transitioned with patience and grace from the hotel, to the our new Monlam location: these efforts have enabled the mantra to keep flowing day and night, in two hour shifts. Another magnificent blessing for us and for the world. Om Tare!

Each day we were guided to fulfill the sadhana Prema had assembled for us. Based on a Mind Treasure of the great yogi, Chokjur Lingpa, we danced and chanted through all the elements of the practice. From the preliminaries to the dedication of merit to cap our day, Prema guided us with love and endless patience. Through various configurations of the mandalas, dealing skillfully with the arising circumstances and challenges, she embodied for us the Wisdom of Accomplishment–everything done in the right time, in the right way, with the right amount of effort.

Every day we are filled with gratitude for the team of Brazilian Taras, led by Myri, who have worked tirelessly to make this Monlam possible. They have encountered many challenges and we see them smiling, doing their very best to make this experience a positive one for us in all ways. We bow to their devotion and efforts and are deeply appreciative of what they have done for us.

In the evening we were blessed with a dance of Vajrapani by Prajwal–blue and ferocious, shaking the earth with his wisdom wrath. We also enjoyed a traditional song and a Tibetan opera aria and dance by our young Nepalese Tara, Sonam. Her grace and sincerity touched us all and evoked the colors and sounds of her homeland.

If you are facing challenges today, what do you need to address them? Tara is the Swift Protectress, coming in an instant to the aid of all who call Her. What protection do you long for? With sincerity, ask for what you need, what you are aspiring to for yourself, your loved ones and for the world. Recite the Tara mantra and dedicate your practice so that all beings may receive the pure medicine of the dharma and face their challenges with exactly what they need in this moment!

OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA

May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!

Photos by Amber Roniger, Abha and community, and text by Anjali

Read More: Monlam Day 3, May 25, 2018

Our last day at the retreat center before leaving for our next location in the city of Brasilia…

At our inspiring morning practice, Prema gave us a teaching on working with challenging circumstances. The current situation in Brazil is delicate. The truckers’ are striking, cars are lined up for miles to get gas.  Flights being grounded as a result of fuel shortage. As in other parts of the world, people are resisting and voicing their dissatisfaction. For us, the question is: how do we step into this climate of unrest in a way that maintains our ability to be of greatest benefit, our hearts open and compassionate? 

 

Prema talked about her experience of being robbed in the past and how her teacher, Lama Tenzin, instructed her to pray for the thieves so that they might enjoy the very possessions they had taken from her! What a concept! To illustrate the reason behind that approach, she told the traditional story of the farmer and his horse. His response to his neighbors’ assessments of his changes in fortune was always the word “maybe.” We never truly know whether what arises is positive or negative until the entire story plays out, so rather than be attached to specific results, maintaining an open mind and a compassionate heart are the best antidotes to the suffering  that we experience when our expectations are not realized.

She reminded us that we listened to our hearts in coming to this monlam. We have had ecstatic moments as well as challenges so far, and in going forward there is no guarantee of how everything will evolve. This applies to our daily lives as well. In each moment, we bring what we have, and no one can ask any more of us than that.

Prema once asked Tai Situ Rinpoche, one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist teachers of our time, what vow we should take and he said, “do your best”. We don’t know how the situation will evolve with the flights and departures from here, but we aspire to meet what does arise with love, and exclaim, “Om Tare!”

 

In answer to a question about the mantra recitation that we are maintaining day and night during the Monlam, Prema said that we can use mantra to eliminate restrictions in the mind and open to blessings that are available to us. One of her main teachers, Lama Tenzin, said that daily practice maintains your meditation abilities while in retreat it is possible to generate intense insight.

The meditators here are holding a vajra in one hand and a green cord attached to the image of  Tara at the center of our altar. Holding the vajra represents the  compassionate action of the practice. The cord starts with the statue of Tara because she is our Vajra Mystress, the head of our lineage, and saying the mantra builds connection with Her. At the end of the Monlam, we will cut the cord and give a piece to each of us as well as stones from Mandala. All of these sacred objects are props to help us remember: our job is to take into the world the blessings that we have received here.

After our morning practice we received the good news that our buses had enough gas to bring us to town. We finished our packing for the drive to Brasilia. Om Tare!

We checked into the Manhattan hotel, a very comfortable and lovely residence. We had a few hours to unpack and have an early dinner as the local team organized the meeting space for our practice. Our comfortable luxury bus dropped us at a light-filled circular building, with wood floors and glorious, exposed beams. We delighted in knowing that this was our new home for the rest of the Monlam.

The evening offerings opened with a dance and a chant by several women from indigenous tribes of the area.   Prema explained that wherever she offers the dances publicly she invites representatives of indigenous people to open the event in order to honor not only the local spirits but also the local and original population.

An electrifying dance by Prajwal followed—the protector Mahakala, which Prema explained is the essence of Ferocious Compassion. The stage shook as Prajwal wove a magnetic web around us.

The Praises were then danced by the masked Taras, and I stood behind as a protector, ensuring the integrity of the crescent moon configuration after each praise. The dancers who have been working with the masks continue to report how profound the practice is. The masks will stay with Myri in Brazil this year and she will offer two trainings, one in Brasilia and one in the far south city of Caxias.  Mekare has several invitations to do mask work next year. Stay in touch with Tara Dhatu for dates.

Another set of offerings found our beautiful, pregnant Brazilian Tara, Dani, in the center of the circle, embodying the Goddess.

After the masks, the three mandala configuration of the Praises turned and we concluded the evening with a powerful dedication of merit. It was an exhausting and exhilarating day, and we felt that once again magic had occurred. Om Tare!

What is your aspiration for your community, your country and the world? What prayer to Tara is in your heart today? With sincerity, ask for what you need, what you are aspiring to for yourself, your loved ones and for the world. Recite the Tara mantra and dedicate your practice to the peace, healing and joy of all sentient beings!

OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA

May all beings be happy!

May all beings be free!

 

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