On Sunday, July 10, the final day of the 2016 North American Kagyu Monlam, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche will graciously bestow the White Tara empowerment. White Tara is said to have emerged from the tears of Chenrezig as he beheld the suffering of sentient beings wandering in the confusion of samsara. Recognized in the Mahayana tradition as a bodhisattva and in the Vajrayana tradition as a fully realized buddha, she is particularly associated with compassion, long life, and healing.
Receiving the White Tara empowerment serves not only as a long-life blessing, but also as a means of forming a profound connection with White Tara—which is especially important for those who wish to take up the practice of White Tara. The practice of White Tara is particularly significant for Kagyu practitioners, since one of the most powerful White Tara sadhanas was revealed to Tilopa, the founder of the Kagyu lineage; and according to legend, the Chinese princess Wencheng, who married Tibet’s first Dharma King, Songtsen Gampo, was an incarnation of White Tara.
Tara’s choice to achieve liberation as a woman has a special resonance in today’s world. According to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the conference on Compassionate Action in 1989, “…She looked upon the situation of those striving towards full awakening and she felt that there were too few people who attained Buddhahood as women. So she vowed, “I have developed bodhicitta as a woman. For all my lifetimes along the path I vow to be born as a woman, and in my final lifetime when I attain Buddhahood, then, too, I will be a woman.”
Lama Norlha Rinpoche has also emphasized the significance of Tara’s choice, noting,
“In ages past, Tara vowed to appear and achieve enlightenment as a female. She is a mother to all sentient beings without any exception. Because she works tirelessly to free others from suffering, she is known as Tara, which means liberator.”
Directing prayers to White Tara and repeating her mantra — OM TARE TUTTARE TURE MAMA AYU PUNYE JNANA PUKTRIM KURU SO HA —are also skillful means of entering and following the profound path to enlightenment. Those who wish to practice White Tara can purchase the sadhana at the KTC bookstore during the Kagyu Monlam. You can also strengthen your connection to White Tara by contributing to the statue of White Tara that will grace the main shrine hall of the Maitreya Center. It is being prepared right now by craftsmen in Nepal. For more information and sponsorship opportunities, visit maitreyacenter.com/donate/sponsor-a-statue#whitetara