Tara on Tour

Tara is the female Buddha of compassion and wisdom. This is a webdiary of a journey inspired by Tara....

Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Final Frontier...

Here we are then, opening the door on the final Tara to be placed for this project. This is the "Wish-Fulfilling Jewel", also known rather bizarrely as Tara protecting from Evil Spirits. This Tara is green and holds an emblem known as the Glorious Knot: she protects from failure in business, in projects, agriculture, from failing to implement one's aims. Within the mind she protects from worry, mental anguish, competitiveness, indecision. The perfect Tara to complete the story... and to ensure that I get to the end!

Having had such a long, protracted and uncertain journey with the last Tara, it was something of a shock to sit this one on my shrine, begin practice and - whoosh - instantly get the message about where to take her. Could almost be called an anti-climax but actually it made perfect sense once I thought about it.

This one I must take to The Salisbury Centre in Edinburgh and put her in the garden there. This whole project began there 18 months ago and it is very appropriate that, as with all good epics, I should come full circle and end the journey back where it started. There is a wonderful sense of completion in doing that.

Furthermore, The Salisbury Centre is itself undergoing a major refurbishment and the scale of this project is such that the placing of this particular Tara at this time will be of great benefit. And I feel sure that her presence there will support the many people that come to the centre for spiritual and personal growth and healing.

Quite when she gets there isn't clear just yet, but no doubt it'll become obvious very soon...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

At last...

By what feels like nothing short of a miracle, I have finally found a home for Tara protecting from Sickness. Or at least found the right person for the job. She has gone to Leandra, who will initially take her to France next week, and work with her there - and then very probably on to Asia in the Autumn.

Knowing that nothing is a coincidence, what has happened over the last few days must be relevant to the timing, and to Tara's choosing of Leandra.

Initially, I felt that Tara protecting from Sickness was connected to Simon, and to the relationship between myself and Simon - and that she was indeed destined to go to France. Inevitably I thought we might take her there together, but the journey has evolved in a different way. I would say that both he and I, over the last few weeks, have experienced quite a lot of "inner disturbance" both in our respective lives and occasionally between us. On Sunday, a whole load of inner disturbance played itself through my mind after Simon managed to mess up the first meeting we'd arranged together for months. In the middle of the following night, I woke up quite suddenly with a very clear mind - in fact, it was as if my ordinary mind had been taken over by another mind. A very clear one! Tara's mind? In that clarity I saw that the most loving, wise and compassionate action to take at this point in time - to stop the suffering and speed up the purification/removal of obstacles - was to give the relationship up completely. To step right out. For now. Within the mind that saw this, there was complete freedom and no desire, no attachment, no fear and no doubt. No problem! I acted on this, knowing that I probably wouldn't be able to stay in that state of mind but that it was absolutely the right thing to do.

It seems now, in the light of finishing my part of the work with this Tara, that that experience was a taste of the protection she gives in relation to inner disturbance. Preventing it, protecting from it.

Curiously, Simon went to France yesterday - just for an overnight visit, but to the place that he feels drawn to in relation to the healing/health centre he/we want to create.

And I don't think Leandra would mind my saying that she too is working with the kind of inner disturbance that relationships can provoke - and so I am really happy that Tara has been passed on to her at this point in her life, and have every confidence that both she and Tara will benefit enormously from their journey together.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tara in Tibet

The following entry has been sent by Sara Trevelyan:

"It was in August of last year (2006) that my friend Anna asked me if I would be willing to take one of her Tara statues to Tibet. I had told her that I was going on a special pilgrimage there organised by Thomas Warrior from the Shambala Retreat Centre in the north of Scotland by Findhorn. I felt that it was a great privilege to be invited to do this for her.

Tara arrived beautifully wrapped and I placed the small package on my shrine. I positioned her with care amongst my belongings and prayed that my inner guidance would let me know where I should place her. On our pilgrimage we were going to visit a number of different sacred sites in and around Lhasa. The Tara that I had been entrusted with was, appropriately, Tara who protects from political oppression.

When we landed at the airport, the sight of the Chinese guards was an immediate reminder of the political realities of Tibet. I placed my Tara in my hand. The bus sped along the road and outside we had our first views of this extraordinary country. The mountainous landscape was barren but spectacular. Alongside we could see the broad stretches of the Brahmaputra River which has its source near Mt Kailash. We drove along a modern highway - one thing which the Chinese have to their credit is that they are good at building roads. However, this has resulted in the natural protection which Tibet was afforded - through being so inaccessible and remote - being seriously undermined.

We soon drew up outside a very ancient temple called Drolma Lhakang. This temple was originally built by Atisha and is dedicated to Tara. It was my first glimpse of these extraordinarily ancient buildings with golden prayer wheels and prayer flags fluttering high above us in the breeze. Overhead was a vivid blue sky. Thomas invited us to open ourselves to feel the energies of this very special place which remarkably was one of the few monasteries left intact and to invoke Tara's blessing on our pilgrimage.

Inside it was extraordinary to see in the middle chamber a shrine dedicated to the 21 Taras and in the centre, behind a thick grill and therefore scarcely visible, was the original Tara made by Atisha. Viewing this left me filled with feelings of awe and reverence. The significance of this precious place being left intact despite the maelstrom which affected the rest of the country felt inescapably linked to Tara's blessing of protection.

I immediately felt that this was the right place for the Tara which I had been entrusted with. My only hesitation was that we had only just arrived and we had several other important temples to visit. I consulted with Thomas and he immediately said that this was the right place. I was intrigued by the suddenness and quickness of all of this as these are qualities associated with Tara. She responds immediately!

I placed her with great care underneath the Tara made by Atisha, along with a Khata which I had brought with me from Kopan Monastery. At Kopan that morning some of us had spoken to one of the monks who told us that he was from Shigatse. His parents had fled to safety in Nepal when he was a small boy. He spoke whistfully of his homeland and asked us to bring him back a piece of Tibet when we returned at the end of our pilgrimage. I was struck by the extraordinary injustice of us being able to board a plane and arrive here whereas he, a Tibetan, is still in exile and cannot return home. I thought of him and of so many others whose situation is similar, most notably HH the Dalai Lama. I thought of Tara and imagined the deep floodwaters of her compassion flowing out to the Tibetan people who have suffered so much through the catastrophe of the Chinese occupation. I also imagined her compassion flowing out toward the Chinese. What strange karma has brought them here and is there some deeper significance in all that has happened?

My prayer as I placed Tara was that this time of oppression swiftly comes to an end and that HH the Dalai Lama will be able to return to Tibet to make an active contribution to the healing of his people. It was then time to continue our journey into Lhasa. The rest of our pilgrimage was equally moving and we were able to visit several wonderful places. We did on a couple of different occasions however experience problems which could have seriously affected our visit - on these occasions Thomas encouraged us to say Tara's mantra and we all felt sure that through doing this we were able to invoke her protection - each time we did this the threatened disruption was averted.

So my gratitude is immense for having been able to participate in such an inspiring project which I hope will bring Tara's blessings to many different situations. It felt particularly special to have been invited to take her to her homeland, Tibet, at this present time when the political situation remains as intractable as ever and therefore the faith which the Tibetan people have in Tara, the mother of all the Buddhas, is of inestimable importance."

What Sara didn't know.........was that Drolma Lhakang temple is Akong Rinpoche's monastery in Tibet. Rinpoche had blessed her Tara and inspired this whole project, and Sara, through following intuition and some extraordinary synchronicity of events, was guided to leave her beneath the Mother of all Mothers! Om Tara.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tara protecting from Sickness

Finally, I think there is progress with this one! I feel as if I've been really stuck with this one, with very little happening that could be described as relevant. However, I think that's a mistaken view because a very great deal has been happening that pertains to the activity of this Tara - but it's not been possible or appropriate to write about it so far.

Since beginning the work with this Tara, I've reinstated the healing "business" I had in Edinburgh and bringing that work down to this part of the world. The business is called Tara Wisdom and offers healing and personal transformation to individuals and small groups. In essence it rests on the foundation that we are perfect, whole and complete - and ultimately already enlightened - as we are and that it is the blocks to that awareness that prevent us from being our true selves and living the lives we feel are really "ours". So, by using methods that a) focus on that innate enlightened essence and b) that dissolve the blocks, positive changes in our experience of life become natural and inevitable.

Inevitably this work will bring protection from sickness as well as improvement and sometimes cure when sickness is present. Some cures take place in the mind and although there may be no obvious change to a physical condition, the way in which an individual experiences their condition radically changes - and they become free of the suffering associated with it.

Over the past few weeks I have discovered a place in Kent, called The Seekers Trust, which is dedicated to prayer and healing. It's quite an extraordinary place, and has been running for over 80 years - founded by a healer and medium who received channelled guidance from a Frenchman, Dr Lascelles. They hold "Harmony Prayer Circles" several times a day when members of the community come together to pray for individuals who have requested help and healing. It truly is a place that testifies to the power of prayer - which I recently saw described as "the science of love".

I had also had the strong feeling that I should work with my friend Simon in relation to this Tara. There is something about him and the two of us together that generates powerful a healing energy - and something happened on Saturday which confirmed that. And which has suddenly connected me more consciously again with the link between our connection, my work and current life and this aspect of Tara.

I think she will find a home soon!

South Africa

Choden is an old friend of mine originally from South Africa who became a monk about two years ago. He recently returned there on a trip with Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, Abbot of Samye Ling Monastery, and has sent in this account of his visit:

"South Africa was beautiful and abundant. The sun shone everywhere we went, the earth felt powerful and space vast. Yet there is the undercurrent of violence lurking in the shadows; those who do not have envying and conspiring against those who have too much. Fear seemed to be etched onto people's faces. I took Tara protecting from War to Rokpa's therapy centre in Groot Marico in the northern part of South Africa and had it placed on the shrine there. For me, the significance of this aspect of Tara is that her energy and wisdom are like a protective shield warding off the lurking shadows of greed and violence - they cannot approach or penetrate the light of her awareness."

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Tara Protecting from Thieves was given to my friends Justin and Lizzy, who were taking their twin daughters - Tara and India - for a 5-month stay in Goa. What follows is Justin's account of his journey with Tara:

"In south Goa, there is a beach with a rocky promontory on its north side. The rocks look out on fishermen in the bay. The fishermen look out on tourists. The beach is called Patnam.

For seven months of the year Patnam is a resort. Cooks and waiters commute from Northern India and Nepal and Bangladesh. The sun shines, music seeps from stereos, tourists sip cold beers in bamboo shacks and watch their tattoos redden. There is no rain; wind whispers through palm giving only the illusion of rain. There are no clouds. Every evening the fishermen cross the bay in boats of mango wood, black and tar-stained and weighed down with Western flesh. There are no fish anymore. Industrial trawlers on the horizon have drained the seas. The tourists sit in their boats and admire the sunset. The fishermen take their money and dream of being somewhere else.

And then the season ends.

For five months of the year there is no tourism, no money; there is the monsoon, dark clouds and strong winds and rain. The sea rises, boils, beats upon the shore, and the fishermen take their boats beyond the bay. Only now, when the trawlers retire to harbour and wait out the storms, do the fish return. And so the fishermen take out their boats and cast their nets, and every year a few fail to return, lives stolen by the wind and the rain and the sea.

In south Goa there is a beach with a rocky promontory on its north side. The rocks look out on fishermen in the bay. Amidst these rocks there is now a Tara. Perhaps the sea will be kinder this year.

Justin Nimmo
February 2007


Tara Protecting from Weapons was given to my Russian friend Natasha last year, just before she returned to Moscow. What follows is her own journey of what happened and where this Tara took her:

"Everything in the Universe has a purpose.
There are no misfits, there are no freaks,
there are no accidents.
There are only things we do not understand" Marlo Morgan

I woke up twenty minutes before the alarm-clock rang. A few days before I had scheduled to go to the church with my mother, so it was quite an early rise. I still could not figure out what woke me at six o'clock - especially in view of the fact I went to bed long after midnight.
But that night before falling into a deep slumber I suddenly came to understand a very profound thing.... I will definitely tell you what it was that I realised but first I will describe the situation I was in at that moment.

I have been a Buddhist practitioner for 5 years, but was born Orthodox. Before I started to be involved in Buddhism, I was not a believer and went to church as much as I could to find the answer to the questions in my heart. But Buddhism helped me to re-evaluate many things about myself and the world, and through my studies I re-discovered Christianity as a wonderful religion (though it seemed to me the main message was misinterpreted and a lot of things were distorted).

This time I returned to Moscow from UK and brought with me a tiny Green Tara statue consecrated by Akong Rinpoche from Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland and that was given to me by my good friend Anna Howard. It was part of her Tara fundraising project and one of the things she felt strongly about was Tara activities spreading around the world. When she shared this idea with me, I thought it was great - she was giving little Taras to numerous people going to different destinations so that they can bring the activities symbolised by each of 21 emanations of Tara to all parts of the world. The one I brought with me was Tara Protecting from Weapons and it is usually pictured as dark blue in colour. I did not have any idea where to place her. I decided to wait and see. To a certain extent, I could not relate with the "weapon" issue. I know that there are always hazards of terrorist attacks any time in the world and there is a difficult situation in the southern part of my country (Chechnya)... but something was hampering me and I was confused and disorientated.

There has been a series of illnesses in my family recently - quite a serious disease that my younger brother has been suffering from unsettled my mother and kept her constantly on the verge of tears. For the last couple of months I haven't felt good myself and thought it might have been due to lack of vitamins and my limited vegetarian diet in this traditional family of meat-eaters. I got tired very quickly though had not been doing much since my return from the UK.

One day my mother's sister paid us a visit and suggested that some spiritual healing should be done here. And the event that was going to happen was out of the blue for me. She is a big Christian devotee and a woman who has got healing powers. After a conversation with my mother she said, throwing a sideways glance at me, that it would be a good idea for all of us to visit the Orthodox church service (the predominant religion in Russia) - an event extraordinary in itself considering my non-believing parents. There seemed to be some sense in her reasoning: as a religious person, she thought of going to church as a natural and powerful way to get rid of the influence of evil-doers and the evil eye. I smiled to myself as they probably thought I would refuse the whole idea point blank. I did not want to challenge them - and said I was eager to go, leaving all my Buddhist 'antics' for a moment.

And then the night before that, I finally realised where the tiny Tara Protecting from Weapons should be placed.

It became suddenly clear to me that a "weapon" could be figuratively anything we fight with ..... and then I thought about the WORD, either written or spoken, as the means of human communication and interrelation. "In the beginning was the Word...." and in our human realm, it became a powerful tool to influence each other's lives - to revere, to blame, to accuse, to LIE. How much misinterpretation there is as a result! Sometimes the WORD was used as an expression of love and good-will but more often it was used to decry, condemn and kill....


I met a lot of people who were devotees of all sorts of different religions and among them the most intolerant were the Orthodox Christians I met in my country. Usually intolerance was based on ignorance and simple misunderstanding of the fundamentals of other religions. Most people would not see or try to understand what stood behind the words. We often think that words bear truth but actually they are not the truth itself, but only a reflection of it. We forget that the same word arising in different contexts can mean something entirely different and yet we grasp the meaning we know and transfer it to that other reality. Sometimes we just do not want to see a bigger picture because it is so comfortable to stay within our own shells, to keep on clinging to old worn-out ideas. To accept the fact that we might be wrong is frightening and distressing as what we do in our life is to protect our small egos from "invaders".

I have just remembered how Neale Donald Walsch in his book "Conversations with God" said that the Word is a very powerful energy sent into the Universe. "Everything you say is a thought expressed. It is creative and sends forth creative energy into the universe. Words are more dynamic (thus, some might say more creative) than thought, because words are a different level of vibration from thought. They disrupt (change, alter, affect) the universe with greater impact. Words are the second level of creation."

How powerful words can be! Positive as well as negative. But words still reflect our conceptual thinking and that is why words are the least reliable purveyor of Truth.

Thinking this way I wanted to do something that would stand for the idea that the real truth is unnamable. At the same time I would like people to be more aware of how they use their words.

I realised that the Tara should be placed near the Orthodox Church to symbolise the union of spirit and the mature understanding of true spirituality - and in particular of these two world religions. Buddhism and Christianity. After the service I put the little Tara in a hole in the ground under a little fir tree which was growing by the fence of the church...

I pray that in communicating with each other we remember to make our words meaningful. I pray that we are not afraid to say the words that hold true for us. And while cocooning in ever-refined searches for pleasure, I pray that we be mindful not to willingly harm a living soul with our words.

"What a piece of work is a man!"

With limitless potential yet to be realised..........

Natasha Afanasyeva
Moscow, November 2006

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Tara protecting from Famine and Poverty has gone to Zimbabwe. This is a country badly in need of help, blessing and protection. There is so much suffering through poverty, disease and the oppressive regime of Mugabe. The friend who has gone has been a Tara practitioner for many years and is not afraid to meet and engage with suffering: she will bring a big heart of compassion to whoever she meets. It is very difficult to expose ourselves and be exposed to suffering on a massive scale and most people, myself included, are afraid to. To be able to meet it, handle it and respond appropriately takes a strong and very stable mind. The kind of mind that training in the Dharma gives you, but not necessarily straight away.

It is quite shocking to realise how many people there are in the world suffering huge hardship and difficulties; how much disease there is, how much war, how much poverty and starvation, displacement... things most of us don't experience in the West. Sometimes the relative comfort of my own life sits uneasily on shoulders that perhaps could bear more of the burden. To be able to comfort and help people who are not in a position to do that for themselves is a very great thing.

So now I am left with Tara protecting from Sickness, and the final Tara. But the journey will not be over once these two find their homes. Tara will continue to spread her blessings throughout the world as others take small statues with them on their own journeys. Whilst this isn't part of the original plan, it's a wonderful offshoot and extension. To date, one is going to Italy, one to the Congo and one to Sierra Leone. Anyone who would like one is welcome to get in touch.

Monday, April 16, 2007

West London

You don't have to travel the world to see or meet the world's population. A sunny afternoon in Holland Park, London and everyone you walk past is speaking a different language, wearing some strange outfit, looking at home in a country that is clearly not their original homeland. No one appears to think about this; there is total acceptance of one another. Really it's quite amazing when more than half the world is at war because people aren't the same. Here no one is the same, and yet there is total peace and harmony - effortlessly.

Coming to this part of London is another eye-opening experience. Such a kaleidoscope. Great wealth alongside hidden poverty; traditional establishment alongside funky, whacky fashion culture. I'm staying right beside Portobello Road, now apparently an "international institution", famous for its market stalls.

Yesterday I spent the morning wandering through Kensington Gardens, the public grounds really of Kensington Palace, home of Princess Diana. I was very struck when I visited the palace by a strong sense of the person she was and the life she lived, and why her death had such an impact. She represented a very unusual fusion of beauty and innocence, power and fragility, status and ordinariness; she brought a natural compassion and concern to many suffering people and touched many, many lives - she lived a life of enormous privilege and yet suffered herself and never forgot the humanity in people around her. She may have worn her heart on her sleeve to a degree that wasn't helpful, her hurt and anger spilling out in public attacks of the Royal Family; and she may have been looking too desperately for love and affection to have maintained stability and dignity within her private life, but she was I think a great light in the darkness of many people's lives.

I was struck too by the protection that royal status gives. Through palaces, status, position, title, material abundance, members of such a family are elevated to a degree where ordinary concerns are not the focus of their lives and they are free - if they choose - to be of tremendous service in the world. Whether they are or not must depend on motivation rather than opportunity. Handling such enormous privilege without becoming spoilt, degraded or indifferent to others takes a level of training and education that is easily overlooked by those who simply envy the material aspect of this life. Carrying the projections of so many people and being expected to turn up and preside over so many events.... not an easy job.

So - I am in another world again. Continuing to focus on Tara and in particular Tara protecting from Sickness and inner disturbance. As the practice has deepened with this one, so it is emerging that her main activity relates to the kinds of sickness caused by environmental problems. Cholera, typhoid, malaria, dysentry, plague: diseases that aren't a big problem in the west on the whole, but are responsible for high mortality and epidemics in other parts of the world. It no longer seems appropriate to take this Tara to France, but I remain open-minded and will see what arises as the journey with this Tara continues....