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....
"WORDS CAN ONLY SEEK TO SYMBOLISE WHAT YOU KNOW, AND CAN OFTEN CONFUSE WHAT YOU KNOW"
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..........
Moscow, November 2006