Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Green Tara

Green Tara and White Tara - Feminist Ideals in Buddhist Art

Tara in Tantric Buddhism was born from the tears of Avalokitesvara, the boddhisattva of compassion, and personifies His compassion. She has many forms, including White Tara, and can be gentle or menacing depending on Her color--as Green or White Tara, She is compassonate and helpful; as Red, Yellow, or Blue Tara She is fierce and protective.

In Buddhism Her name is usually translated "Saviouress", or "She Who Leads Across", which refers to Her role in helping liberate humanity from Samsara, the Ocean of Illusion. But Tara as Star still resonates, as the constellations are used to help ships navigate the Seas, and She is indeed sometimes described as a boatswoman.

She is called "Mother of All Buddhas", and is appealed to for help in protecting against the Eight Great Dangers. Green is the color of Her main form and indicates Her nature of active compassion; She is known for helping those in need with lightning quickness.

Tara, like other Bodhisattvas, began Her life as a human like the rest of us. When She became enlightened, She decided not to pass on to Nirvana, but to stay on the doorstep, so to speak, and help humanity through Her rebirths. Now this is the usual vow of the Bodhisattvas, but to this Tara added one thing: She would be reborn only as female.

This card signifies an active type of compassion that calls you to get out and help people. You have the energy and passion to make a difference in others' lives now.

Green Tara is Tara's most dynamic manifestation. Her color symbolizes youthful vigor and activity. The Buddhist Lord of karma (action), Amoghasiddhi, is also associated with the green color, thus signifying that they belong to the same family. This is a further affirmation of the perception that Green Tara is a goddess of action.

She is often depicted in a posture of ease with right leg extended, signifying her readiness to spring into action. The left leg is folded in the contemplative position on the lotus pedestal, the two together thus symbolizing the integration of wisdom and art.

Her left hand, in the gesture of granting refuge holds the stem of a blue lotus that floats over her left shoulder as a symbol of purity and power. With her right hand she makes the boon-granting gesture.

On a lotus seat, standing for realization of voidness,
(You are) the emerald-colored, one-faced, two-armed Lady
In youth's full bloom, right leg out, left drawn in,
Showing the union of wisdom and art - homage to you!
Like the outstretched branch of the heavenly turquoise tree,
Your supple right hand makes the boon- granting gesture,
Inviting the wise to a feast of supreme accomplishments,
As if to an entertainment-homage to you!
Your left hand gives us refuge, showing the Three Jewels;
It says, "You people who see a hundred dangers,
Don't be frightened-I shall swiftly save you!"
Homage to you!
Both hands signal with blue blue utpala flowers,
"Samsaric beings! Cling not to worldly pleasures.
Enter the great city of liberation!"
Flower-goads prodding us to effort-homage to you!
... First Dalai Lama (1391-1474)

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