Tara Day

(I wrote this article on 8th September shortly after Rousseau first came to my house, and he has relaxed quite a bit since then! Still, a story is a story…)

Buddha Tara

Today, and the 8th of every month, is Buddha Tara Day, so here is a quick anecdote to celebrate her.

I just got a rescue cat, a panther to be more precise. A dream cat just like the ones painted by Henri Rousseau, and hence his name.

Rousseau stands on his back legs without leaning on anything and growls deeply like a bear if he sees or hears anything out of the ordinary outside. Out of the ordinary at this point includes anything with skin, fur, feathers, or scales.

Can you see Rousseau in this painting?

So he was growling at the door in the dark of night when my Russian neighbor ran up to it, all in a fluster, saying that there was a man who needed an ambulance but her phone was dead and I had to “hurry help”.

We ran over a couple of streets while I spoke on the phone to 911, to find a large rather respectably dressed man in the midst of a psychotic episode, yelling into a cell phone with no one the other end, staring blankly at everything and nothing, lurching violently around, repeatedly slamming his body hard on the pavement, and, most alarmingly, staggering into oncoming traffic.

…and/or Buddha Tara

Irena is about 5 foot 2 but she was trying to touch him: “Please seet down sir, you hurt self.” The policeman on the line (I’d called medical emergency but they decided I needed the police too) heard him scream and told us firmly to “Step away from him immediately and wait at a distance.” We didn’t have to wait long, and I guess this is the point of my story. The fire/rescue paramedics turned up in minutes, sirens blazing, followed fast on their heels by the ambulance and police. It seemed that Irena and I were no longer needed 🙂

It was the same when someone, probably Mr. Magoo, flew off an embankment, having mistaken the gas pedal for the brake, and smashed onto my car several years ago – the entire rescue brigade was there in no time at all. And what struck me then and now was how kind all these emergency people are. They didn’t know (me or) this psychotic fellow personally, but they were still going to do what they could to help him. The fact that they felt sufficiently responsible for him to appear within minutes of the call for help was impressive, and shows the power of community and our dependence upon others. We can say skeptical things like, “Yeah, well, they’re paid to do it”, but when we meditate on the kindness of others we can see that a kindness is a kindness, regardless of motivation (and in any case, let’s face it, we find it hard enough figuring out our own motivation half the time, let alone that of others ;-))

Their speed reminded me of Tara, the “swift one, the heroine”. She is right there, swift as the wind, whenever we need her. If human beings can show up that fast, clearly it is no problem for her to show up the instant we call.

Tara is seated but her right leg is outstretched, showing how quickly she will jump up and help us, her total commitment to us. But Tara doesn’t run around like a headless chicken focusing exclusively on the outer world, getting entirely stressed out. Her left leg in the meditative posture shows how we need to focus on compassion and wisdom in our heart so that our actions of helping others flow naturally from there. Responsibilities born from compassion and love are not stressful or burdensome but joyful; hence her beautiful smiling face and energetic posture.

(On that point, we can be very busy doing the things we naturally want to do and not find it in the least stressful e.g. a child having fun in crowded DisneyWorld, as opposed to feeling pressurized at having to work hard every day because we feel we need something in return.)

As for Rousseau, he likes Tara and all the Buddhas. He stares at their pictures for ages each day without growling at all. He just has to work a bit more on the sentient being part.

Do you have any Tara stories to share in the comments?

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And please share this article with anyone who might enjoy it.


Meantime, check out Losang’s immaculately beautiful statue of Tara:

Author: Luna Kadampa

Based on 40 years' experience, I write about applying meditation and modern Buddhism to improve and transform our everyday lives and societies. I try to make it accessible to everyone anywhere who wants more inner peace and profound tools to help our world, not just Buddhists. Do make comments any time and I'll write you back!

15 thoughts on “Tara Day”

  1. What a beautiful cat!! I love Tara stories. Thank you for this one. I am always so thankful and in awe of the kindness of first responders. There are many stories of EMS, volunteers or paid, that are not on duty and still run to the aid of people in need. Isn’t that an example of Bodhichitta? A spontaneous wish to help others? Years ago I was driving with a doctor-friend when we witnessed an accident on the opposite side of a busy
    parkway in NYC. He jumped out of the car and over the barrier to help the person who had flown out of the windshield. We stayed until the ambulance came.

  2. Tara is my personal deity and i have been relying on her for a long time. When i found out i had breast cancer in 2010 i was a little worried. My sangha friend advised me to start practising the sadhana of Green Tara and make heart requests to her to pacify my mind. By reciting her mantra and with deep faith doing this practise she has pacified my mind so much and i was able to function without worry. When i had the first operation i requested the team of doctors and nurses if i could listen to the 21 homages of Arya Tara while i was under anaesthetic, which they did. After the operation i expected to have some pain, there was none and i didn’t need any pain killers. I did the same thing when i had the mastectomy and yet again no pain no pain killers i was suprised, but i believe Tara has taken my pain. Throughout my chemotherapy treatment i had minimum side effects and my mind was peaceful most of the time. I went for refuge to her day and night requesting blessings.

    Tara works so fast, and she will help anyone who needs her help.

    May everyone have the good fortune to meet such a wonderful holy mother. I feel so protected by her like a mother protecting her children.

  3. Thanks for this story – I love it! Please can we have a video of Rousseau growling on hind legs?

    Once when I was about to leave Tara Centre in the UK after a UKDC, I dropped a friend of at Derby train station, and had to be on my way quickly as well as I was hurrying home for a family event, but there were a lot of roadworks in the city at that time.

    We asked someone in reception for directions – she gave us the longest, most convoluted and detailed set of directions I’ve ever received. The most eccentric thing was that she was referring to roundabouts as ‘islands’, which I put down to being a quirk of the local dialect (it wasn’t).

    We wrote them all down, filling a couple of pages, and set off, leaving about 45 minutes.

    Well, we got to the train station in about 12 minutes flat, via the strangest route that I could never replicate in a million years.

    We mentioned how we must have had Tara’s blessings to make the journey so quickly – then remembered those strange, striking ‘island’ references. In the end we decided that was a real clue to us, and our friendly Kadampa receptionist was not as ordinary as she appeared that day!

    One of many examples of the delightful, blessed ’emanation game’ we can play in daily life 🙂

    1. For our readers, the “island” references are to the island Buddha Tara emanated for Chandragomin. (Is that what you were referring to?)

      I agree with you that having pure view does make life more blessed and delightful 🙂

      1. Yes, it was a reference to that story.

        Sorry, forgot to put my name on before by the way.

        Did you register the request for a cat video? I have to see this 🙂

  4. Geshe-la granted the empowerment of Green Tara at UK Spring Festival 2006. I had not yet received this empowerment, and was thrilled to be going to Manjushri Center to receive it from Geshe-la. My plane sat at the gate in Denver (due to a weather “ground hold” on planes bound for Chicago) for about two hours, and when we got to O’Hare, I arrived at my connecting gate to see the flight to Manchester pushing back. Many flights had been cancelled that day, and the airline’s customer service line went clear down the concourse, past a couple of gates (100 or so yards long). Dejected and starting to worry, I took my place at the end of the line. Since I was on my way to get a Green Tara empowerment, it occurred to me to recite Tara’s mantra while waiting. I had not even reached the 10th bead on my mala when someone in a United Airlines uniform walked right up to me in line, and said, “Where are you trying to go?” I was taken aback, and started to stammer about missing my connection, needing to rebook, etc. He calmly said again, “Where are you trying to go?” I slowed down, and explained that I was going to England for a special event, and needed to be on a flight across the Atlantic that night — if I had to wait until the next day, I would miss the event. He told me to go back out through security, and someone at the international desk could help me. I did, and was able to get rebooked to London on another airline. I made it to Manjushri Center just a few hours later than originally scheduled.

    Many Kadampas would have immediately recognized this as an emanation, but it wasn’t until I arrived at Manjushri Center and started telling friends about my travels that I realized I had met Tara in transit!

    1. Thank you Mark. Some people of course don’t believe in the existence or power of holy beings and would rationalize a story like this away. But if we really understand what an enlightened being is, and how everything depends upon our minds, it is not difficult to believe that we run into emanations like this, and surprisingly often! Enlightened beings or Buddhas help us through teachings, blessings and emanations. Of course they don’t just help Buddhists, enlightened beings help everyone, and all traditions have stories of emanations. Yes, they could all be explained away on one level, but on another level…?!?!

      If we remain remotely open to the possibility of emanations of holy beings appearing in our lives, I think it makes it easier for them to help us. Is there anything to lose?!

  5. Hi, You asked for Tara Stories to inspire. One comes to mind. After many years of sickness with no idea of what was causing it, and having tried many things to get better, I prayed to Tara with a weekend of Tara retreat. A few days later I got a diagnosis and was able to start applying appropriate methods to get better.

    She’s swift. Happy Tara Day from Norway.

    1. From our perspective, yes maybe, but probably less so from the perspective of all the other neighborhood cats whom he has now decided are there solely for his amusement and chasing.

  6. It just dawned on me that I often have both the right and leg extended and none drawn in.

    Yes, this is often the problem, lots of activity in the name of helping others but must draw one leg back in!

    Thank you! xo

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