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Lions Roar : March 2016
Lama Rod Owens: We Are Tara Tara is the female buddha of compassion. Called Drolma in Tibetan, her name means Female Liberator or Mother Libera- tor. In her most recognized form, she is Green Tara, a radiant woman of color who sits on an immaculate lotus draped in the finest silks and adorned in exquisite ornaments. Though her iconography is similar to other buddhas, what is noticeably different about Tara is that she does not sit in the usual full-lotus posture. No. She sits with her right leg extended outward. This posture is an act of subversion and resistance, because what Green Tara represents is active and direct com- passion. She rejects a comfortable seat because she knows that we need her to be ready. Even before we turn our minds to her, she is already leaning forward preparing to help. Tara is ready at any time to get into our messiness as a per- sonal agent of our liberation. She becomes Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman, endowed with the audacity and sacred agency to make our suffering and liberation her personal agenda. Some in Angelou’s poem wonder about the secret behind the confidence of the poem’s female subject. Tara’s secret is that she knows how we lose ourselves in suffering, and comes to find us like a mother who has lost her precious one. Perhaps the most important dharmic truth now is this: we are Tara. When she moves, we move. Like her, we jump off our comfortable cushions and get involved not just in helping people but also in confronting the ways in which we reproduce violence when we stay on our comfortable seats. Choosing not to move is choosing to sabotage Tara and our- selves. Our practice, like Tara’s, has to be more than just caring. It must also be about action. LAMA ROD OWENS i s a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School and a core teacher with the Natural Dharma Fellowship in Cambridge. Sylvia Boorstein: Practice As If the World Is on Fire Never in my thirty-plus years of Buddhist practice have I felt that Thich Nhat Hanh’s words “There is no path to peace. The path is peace” were more relevant than they are now. Today, I think the philosophical question, “What is the meaning of life?” that inspired many seekers in the sixties and seventies has shifted to a more pragmatic question: What can I do to rally the world to peace? How can I spread the word that greed, hatred, and delusion can be overcome? The Buddha is said to have said, “One should practice as if one’s hair is on fire.” These days, we should practice as if the world is on fire. The varieties of pain in the world caused by human beings presents itself daily to anyone who watches TV. Perhaps the fact that so many people are frightened will ulti- mately be a boon for the world. Perhaps communal concern will connect more people in a united resolve based on peace. I imagine millions of people meeting peacefully in towns and city centers to inspire each other. Everyone follows what’s happen- ing around the world on their cell phones. I imagine that a skilled