Dancing Tara in Phoenix

Parvati, front & center, "I will attain enlightenment, for the sake of all beings."

Parvati Forrest Burke is our precious Central Coordinator and the Assistant Director of Tara Dhatu’s Educational Programs. She writes….

For the past many years the Phoenix Area Tara Sangha has hosted a Mandala Offering sometime in early November.  My birthday happens in November and my favorite way to celebrate is by offering the dance and being immersed in Tara with other Taras!

The Mandala week-end was a beautiful mix of experienced dancers and those new to the experience.  With a balanced Mandala of 11 dancers and 4 protectors, we had a lovely and stable foundation from which to dive deep. 

Our retreat and offering were further enriched by the live music offered by Shivadam and Debra.  The addition of live music for our offering was a new adventure initiated last year and we are so happy to be able to continue.  Thanks to Shivadam’s immersion in the material for the Kauai Tara Dhatu retreat this past summer, we were able to expand the number of pieces we had accompaniment for including Motivation and Vajra Sattva, and even a simplified version of White Tara of the Six Shields Ritual.

For me, learning to dance in the Mandala while wearing a mic and speaking all of Prema’s parts is definitely a good challenge that has taken my practice to a new level of confidence and concentration.  Om Tare!

One of the highlights for us is  the participation of traveling Taras who join us from far and wide.  From neighboring Tucson, long time Tara and Mandala leader in her own right (as well as mother, professor, and Dances of Universal Peace leader extraordinaire) Teresa Newberry joined us.  She brought her fabulous daughter Heather who first danced with us two years ago when she was only 10 (going on 25).  Two years later she has continued to blossom even further into her natural poise and wisdom (not to mention sense of humor) and carried so perfectly the Praises of Worthy of Honor and Triumphant Joy.

From California came Jade, one of the Taras who danced in the first Tara dance on Maui 27 years ago. It was a precious gift to have her with us, connecting us back to the point of emanation for the dance. She is a professional dancer and we all benefited from her dance vocabulary conversant in many styles.

Also from California came Joi . She had come to Arizona the week-end before to participate in Shivadam’s Dances of Universal Peace camp at Windspirit. She decided to extend her stay and join our week-end retreat… Om Tare!  After all, what would a retreat be without some Joi!

Samira, a new Tara dancer, experienced participant of the Dances of Universal  Peace and Sufi Heart sister to me and Shivadam ,  joined us from New Mexico. She brought Caroline  and Michael of Tucson, also first time Taras. (Shhhh… don’t tell her now, but since Caroline is a lead musician for the very popular Global Chant in Tucson and a musician/leader of the Dances of Universal Peace, we are hoping that at some point she might be willing to offer musical support for the dance in Tucson.)

Locally we also had a new Mandala dancer, Tina. She brought with her many gifts, including her own triumphant spirit of years of devotion to the Great Mother.

Carey has continued her study of the Eight Precious Offerings dance and made the dance offering on behalf of us all.  So beautiful and graceful!

The sangha was so generous in the many ways they gave of themselves to create and hold the space of sacred beauty, a safe temple for all to journey to Tara’s Pureland of Supreme Bliss!  It is the inspiration provided by the presence of so many, willing to call forth from their depths the fullest possibilities of their bodies, hearts, and minds, that reveals many of the most important teachings.

As I stood in the center of the Mandala and navigated the cross currents of the waters of geometric functionality, time, energy, emotion, physical challenge, meditative practice, interpersonal interactions, the very lineage of teachings I found my heart rubbed to a high polish and deeply awake, alert to the preciousness of this rare opportunity.  This sacred moment in time standing apart from all others, the culmination of them all.

With deep humility and gratitude I thank each one who chose to do THIS with their week-end, with their money, their time, their talent,their patience, and their skill.  With wonder I thank the wider community of Taras that turn the wheel of Tara’s mantra far andwide, always holding at the center the wish to be of benefit to all beings.  With great joy and awe I thank Prema for dedicating her life to making this possible for me and so many.  Om Ah Hung!



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