When we practice dharma, whether we are hearing, contemplating, and meditating on it, it is important to cultivate the proper motivation. You need to cultivate a compassion that is as immeasurable as space. Think that you are practicing the dharma for the sake of all mother sentient beings throughout space. We use the words love and compassion and understand their meaning. And the same is true for bodhicitta. But knowing the words is not enough, we need to put the words into practice. This is not easy, it is quite difficult. From beginningless time we have developed the negative habit of egotism. We should think why we want to practice dharma. Everyone wants to be from suffering, but how can that be done? We need to look into this. How can we achieve happiness and avoid suffering? Often we think our suffering comes from external circumstances. But it is the result of our inner attitude. It all comes from our minds. We are tangled up with our afflictive emotions, which are the root cause of suffering. We would like to abandon them instantly, but we cannot. Once we recognize the cause of suffering, we will make a mental commitment not to chase after its causes. We should not let our afflictive emotions control us. To accomplish this, we need to practice a lot. We wonder where peace and happiness come from. It does not come from material objects. We need to investigate where happiness comes from. Authentic happiness comes from inside, from our own mind. We think that if we have money, we will be happy. But that doesn’t work. So where can we find happiness? From the mind that is not contaminated by afflictive emotions and conceptual thought. That mind is very stable and firm, because it is not distracted by emotions and thoughts. That is how we distinguish between big mind and small mind. Small mind is caught up in difficult external circumstance, but big mind is not disturbed by them. Milarepa taught that our meditation should be as stable as a mountain or the ocean. If we develop that kind of great mind, external circumstances will not disturb us. But that mind does not come just from wishing for it. In order to achieve it, we must practice the four thoughts that turn the mind to the dharma and the generation and completion stage practices. The four thoughts are the preciousness of our life, impermanence and death, karmic cause and effect, and the suffering inherent in samsara. If we repeatedly practice them, we will develop that great mind.
So the topic today is Green Tara. This includes the practice of the generation and completion stages. To practice it, you need the empowerment, reading transmission, and instruction in how to do the practice, Once you have them you can do the practice. Green Tara is a female enlightened deity. In the practice you meditate on yourself as having the form of Green Tara. A thought may pop up, “I am not Green Tara.” If it does, think that we possess the qualities of all the deities. Or you may think that you and Tara are the same. If it does, think that Tara is free of delusion and afflictive emotions and we are not.
Based on the qualities we already have, we meditate on Green Tara. The practice has three parts. The first is to have the firm thought, “I am Tara.” The second is to have a clear visualization of Tara. This requires repeated practice. So how should Tara be visualized? She should not be visualized as solid, made up of the five physical elements. She should be seen as empty, like a reflection in the mirror. The third part is the purity of the environment. The entire environment is seen as the Pure Land and all beings contained in it as enlightened. The men are seen as Chenrezig and the women as Tara. All sounds should be heard as mantra. Objects she be seen as empty, yet having a clear appearance. There many different generation stage practices, some long and some short. If you have the empowerment, transmission, and instruction you can do them.
Q: Can you do the Green Tara practice without the empowerment?
A: You can practice it with the sangha. If one person has the empowerment, transmission, and instructions, others can practice with them.
Whatever practice we are doing not just focus on the words, it should focus on the meaning. The Tibetan word for meditation is “gompa”, which means familiarization. It’s like working at a job, which is stressful when we start, but becomes easier as we familarize ourselves with it. Now we easily get angry and it is difficult to be compassionate. With familiarization, it will be easier to be compassionate.
The second part of practice is the completion stage practice. The outer container (the external world) and its contents (its inhabitants) dissolve into light and dissolve into yourself, which is visualized in the form of Tara. Tara dissolves into her seed syllable TAM at her heart. The seed syllable dissolves from the bottom to the top. The AH CHUNG dissolves into the TA, which dissolves into the dot at the top. The dot shrinks to a hair’s width and disappears. Let your mind remain in inseparable appearance-emptiness. Beginners need an object of meditation, but more advanced practice is without object. When you start practice, your mind is like the mountain rapids. Later it is like a great river. Finally, it becomes like an ocean. At that time when thoughts arise there is no need to deal with them, they dissolve on their own, like waves dissolve into the ocean. Do not be attracted to good experiences or reject bad experiences. Practice without any expectations, without hopes or doubts. If you attach to a good experiences, you will lose them. While you recite the mantra of a deity, you can visualize light radiating from the mantra inside you as an offering to all the buddhas and bodhisattvas. They return the light with their blessings and it dissolves into you. You can also visualize light radiating to the six realms, dispelling all their sufferings. If you practice for two hours, first try to have a clear visualization and radiate light to the six realms when reciting the mantra, If conceptual thoughts arise, do not follow them or fall under their spell. This practice is the source of all happiness. Relax when you practice and do it with enjoyment. Do not waste your time with distraction.
The meaning of the empowerment is eliminating all the afflictive emotions and replacing them with wisdom. Any deity practice is good for eliminating afflictive emotions, but the most effective is the practice of Vajrasattva. The top deity deity for skilful means is Chenrezig and the top for wisdom is Mother Tara. Chenrezig made a commitment to liberate all sentient beings, especially those from the three lower realms. For countless eons he liberated beings. Then he looked to see who remained in the three lower realms and saw that they had not decreased. So he felt sad and tears fell from his right and left eyes. The tears manifested as Bhrikuti and Green Tara and they vowed they would assist Chenrezig in liberating beings. Many beings are emanations of Tara. Buddha’s mother Mahamayi, Gelongma Palmo who taught nyung ne, and many abbesses of the Drikung Til nunnery. The empowerment introduces the four kayas and five wisdoms of the deity. We have these qualities, exactly the same as the deity, but they are obscured because we are not purified.
Drupon Thinley Ningpo
April 24-25 2010