Tara, Dispeller of All Misfortune
How to Free Your Mind
The Practice of Tara the Liberator
by Ven. Thubten Chodron
From “Commentary on the ‘Homage to the Twenty-one Taras’ “:
Homage to you with power to invoke
The assembly of local protectors.
With your fierce frown and vibrating hum,
You bring freedom from all poverty.
This Tara is called Tara Summoner of All Beings, Tara Dispeller of All Misfortune, or Tara the Treasure of Wealth. She is the color of darkness. Her specialty is to increase enjoyments and wealth, and eliminate poverty.
Poverty means not only lack of material wealth but also poverty of the Dharma. For example, we find ourselves living in a place where there are no teachers or teachings. To remedy this, we imagine Tara, generate positive aspirations, and pray to meet qualified teachers and perfect teachings.
Sometimes we have a sense of emotional poverty. We feel hollow inside and think nobody loves us. Often people cope with those unpleasant feelings through habitual, dysfunctional strategies. They distract themselves with shopping, eating, watching TV, and gambling. They medicate their suffering by drinking alcohol and taking drugs. Emotional poverty is an obstacle on the path. It draws our energy inward in self-pity and depression, which create obstacles in our mind.
Meditating on Tara can help heal these obstacles. Visualize Tara in front of you. Light radiating from her pours into you, filling up the emotional emptiness, the empty hole inside. Her light of wisdom and compassion heals your emotional poverty and you feel connected to Tara. Then Tara absorbs into you. She reappears at your heart and you feel contented, confident, and connected to others. Loving, compassionate light from the small Tara at your heart radiates to other sentient beings. It touches them and brings them mental and physical ease.
This visualization changes the mind from feelings of self-pity, unworthiness, and lacking love to feelings of love, connectedness, and having something wonderful to share with others. As soon as we generate love toward others, the feeling of emotional poverty goes away. It’s similar to St. Francis’s prayer: May we think not how to be loved but how to give love.