Phyllis Moses witnessed the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara on Maui in 1987. Phyllis soon was drawn into dancing with the Maui Taras and had the privilege of offering the dance with them to many wonderful teachers. An accomplished international teacher of ‘Viniyoga’, Phyllis has also studied Tibetan Buddhism extensively with some of the precious Lamas available to us and has developed a superb class merging the energy flow systems of Hatha Yoga with Tibetan transmissions (she has offered this at our last two camps on Kauai). Phyllis is relatively new to the Tara Dhatu Student Teacher Program and this was her first teaching experience outside her community of Kirkland/Seattle, Washington.
I’m still basking in the afterglow of a most exceptional Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara. I headed out Friday from the Seattle area and went east toward north central Washington. State. It was a beautiful drive up over the Cascade Mountain Pass, on a clear sunny day.
A couple hours away from Tonasket I was reminded of Tibet by the open, spacious views of mountains and sky – for me the workshop was beginning just by feeling the wind, sky, and space.
I was welcomed into this small, close knit community of devoted practitioners and I felt like a fish in water. As I got to know the women and the area, it reminded me so much of a ‘parallel’ community to the one I spent so many years in on Maui. People who raised their children together, left the ‘mainstream’ and found their way to Buddhism. Not everyone in the group would call themselves ‘Buddhist’, Tara’s call reaches far and wide and there is no room for ‘isms’.
One woman shared that she had a deck of “Goddess Cards”, and in the 5 years she had them, had never pulled the ‘Tara” card until a few days ago. Shortly after she pulled it, a friend called and told her about the Mandala Dance! Whatever questions, fears, doubts, shyness, anxieties that any of us brought ……. all began to melt in the cauldron of the perfect generosity of Tara’s love for all her children.
Lama Zopa RInpoche, head of the FPMT (a prominent Tibetan Buddhist Organization), is the main teacher of many of the women who gathered. A couple years ago he said to them to learn the Mandala Dance of Tara’s 21 Praises and offer it to their community. We all know how these ‘suggestions’ by our teachers can take time to manifest. It was sweet joy to finally be gathered to fulfill His wish. (good things are worth waiting for!).
Many wonderful Lamas have come to the area to teach. The whole area had such a sacred feel about it and one of the women said she had read that Edgar Cayce spoke of the area as ‘protected’, a ‘special energy vortex’. I know that the Native Americans also feel that this area is imbued with sacred energy and many large gatherings are held in the mountains here.
The room we danced in was perfect. Its dark midnight blue ceiling with stars, planets, and comets across it was a perfect canopy to dance under.
I was delighted to meet the North West mermaids. My gracious hostess Mary took me to a beautiful lake to swim, at the edge of the Pesaytin Wilderness. Her friend Marianna had flown over from Pennsylvania – also a ‘northern’ mermaid, who lives on a lake. She had started painting Tara thangkhas and when she heard about the Mandala Dance she knew the dance was her next step.
Each person in the mandala gave generously of their time, means, and skills. I was gifted with organic peaches (enough sweetness to last me through the winter!), garlic and tomatoes from their gardens, a beautiful shawl, cards, and handmade earrings. The potluck lunches were nourishing, bountiful, and exquisite.
It was an incredible group of women, 10 Tara’s that I think all journeyed together in our last life. Everyone wass so open, generous and kind. We each had 2 praises to dance, which was perfect. I was so inspired, and I know that Lama Zopa Rinpoches’ vision of offering it to their community will come to pass.
I met the man that created the Smiling Woods Yurts (yurts with wooden walls) and was reminded of Prema’s vision of having Tara dancing houses all over the world. Imagine, mandalas danced in round structures, yum!
Any nervousness, or crusty old kleshas of shyness, had no place in the itinerary! Tara helped wipe all that out. It was about letting the information through, to inspire others and share in the blessings that I have had the good fortune to marinate in for so long. There is a spiritual fire ignited through this dance and many of the women in the circle could feel that Presence.
It seemed like such a daunting challenge to me at first, until I realized it was really just between me and Tara. Out of her perfect generosity of knowing just what I needed ~ and part of that was for ‘me’ to get out of the way! This is the ultimate Lama, always guiding us.
The gifts of opening our hearts, being courageous, learning new ways of moving in the world, setting aside our ‘doing’ mind and resting in Being ~ these gifts were amplified by being together and having pure motivation and dedicating the fruits to our teachers, loved ones, and broader community. Somehow we all knew this was an opening door, as we felt the guidance of Tara and the power of the lineage of Teachers guiding us and ripening our mindstreams.