Commentary on the 21 Praises of
This talk was given by the Venerable Bokar
Rinpoche, successor and heart son of the Lord of Refuge, Kalu Rinpoche in
November, 1991. He had just been welcomed to Maui, Hawai'i with an
offering of sacred dance. Rinpoche's talk was translated from the Tibetan
by Ngodrup Tsering and has been lightly edited.
This is Bokar
Rinpoche's first tour of America. All of you receiving him in this way
brings such a sense of joy. Rinpoche would like to express his
appreciation for welcoming him in this way.
The dances led by
Prema, the Offering Goddess Dance, the supplication to Guru Padmasambhava
and particularly the Praises to the 21 Taras are very significant. From
the point of view of spirituality and the Dharma, it is a very healthy, a
very special way of expressing artistic talents. It creates auspicious
conditions to have this evening's teaching preceded by such an auspicious
way of creating the environment; a sense of healthy outlook for all of us.
Rinpoche feels it is very clarifying and auspicious. He would like to
thank Prema and all for graciously offering these dances.
and Bodhisattvas express their enlightened activities in manifold ways.
Incomparable among all the deities, Tara is the embodiment of the
enlightened activities of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Tara, as an
enlightened being vowed to experience the awakened state of mind in the
feminine form. She vowed to continuously manifest in the feminine form,
inspiring, benefiting and liberating beings. The importance and benefit of
the practice of Tara, the integration, the inspiration of bringing her
into one's life as practice is emphasized in many of the Buddhist
treatises, texts and teachings.
Many enlightened practitioners in
India and later in Tibet practiced Tara as their principle deity of
practice. As the embodiment of enlightened activity she is very immediate
and very swift in clarifying, in subjugating various obstacles in our
lives including natural calamities, epidemics, war and all kinds of
danger, harm and fear. This is particularly valuable in the world
situation in the times we live in. Any way we can communicate the
inspiration and the qualities of Tara is certainly a source of benefit.
Bokar Rinpoche and Khenpo do Tara practice as their main and daily
practice. Thus this evening to witness the sincere aspiration of the
dancers encouraging all of us to aspire to the activity of Tara is of
ultimate significance. Rinpoche thoroughly appreciates such significant
Rinpoche personally feels that because of the very
essential nature of Tara, those with a genuine heart who express the
enlightened qualities and activities of Tara through dance can be so
inspired that obstacles, hindrances in their own personal lives can be
clarified, giving rise to longevity, and as well from an ultimate point of
view, become endowed with the unconditioned wisdom inspiration of
This is not just a regular common performance. Those of us
who are witnessing such activity are thus inspired by the manifold
qualities of Tara. We allow our own rampant upheaval of conflicting
emotions to subside. There is at least temporary and momentary
clarification from confused preoccupations. At the same time there is the
possibility of clarifying hindrances particularly in pursuing the path of
spirituality in ones own life.
Essentially we need to develop
experience of the unconditioned stability and harmony of mind, the source
of well being and wisdom. The activities of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
manifest in varieties of inconceivable ways in accordance with the
relative propensity and capabilities of beings. They fulfill the various
mental modes and needs of beings.
In the traditions of the Buddha
Dharma the inspiration of the enlightened activities of the Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas have become manifest through various ritual dances and
performances. But in our present Tibetan tradition there isn't ritual
dance in connection with the praises to the 21 Taras. Prema has a very
rich background in Indian ritual and temple dances as well as Nepalese
Buddhist ritual dance. She has received guidance and instructions from
many teachers and lamas about the symbols and meaning of Vajrayana
rituals. Thus, she has created a vehicle in a very wholehearted and
complete way, communicating the inspiration and enlightened activities of
such an important deity as Tara. This is a very healthy