This is the seventh installment of the 12-part series sharing my understanding of the practice Liberation from Sorrow.
They will attain greatness here
And advance to the ultimate state of Buddhahood.
Greatness here does not mean high position, but rather the great scope of Lamrim, namely the precious mind of bodhichitta. Atisha’s Lamrim has three scopes – initial scope, intermediate scope, and great scope. In the initial scope, we abandon lower rebirth; in the intermediate scope, we abandon samsaric rebirth; and in the great scope, we abandon solitary peace. In other words, we abandon merely seeking our personal liberation, and instead we seek to become a fully enlightened Buddha with the complete power to lead all living beings to the same state. The essence of the great scope is bodhichitta, the wish to become a Buddha for the sake of all. Since Tara is the Lamrim Buddha, we can be certain the greatness we will attain through our reliance upon her is becoming a great scope being. Once we attain bodhichitta, our eventual enlightenment is guaranteed. This is why it is said we prostrate to the new moon of bodhichitta, not the full moon of enlightenment because the former is the definite cause of the latter.
Their violent and great poisons,
Both stable and moving,
And even those that they have eaten or drunk,
Will be thoroughly eliminated by remembering her.
They will be able to prevent all suffering
That arises from spirits, diseases or poisons;
And be able to help others in the same way.
There are two types of poison – outer and inner. Outer poisons, including intoxicants, pollution, and unhealthy food, are extremely destructive. Every year, smoking kills 7 million people globally, alcohol kills 2.8 million, and drugs kill 750,000; bringing the global death toll from intoxicants to 10.5 million people every year. Pollution each year kills 4.8 million globally. Unhealthy food is even more deadly, with 2.8 million dying from obesity, 1.6 million dying from diabetes, and a whopping 17.9 million dying from heart disease, the overwhelming majority of which comes from unhealthy diets. All of these are outer poisons, with a cumulative death toll of almost 38 million every year. Outer poisons are the leading cause of death in the world by a significant margin. But the reality is outer poisons only have the power to kills us due to our inner poisons of delusions that run towards these causes of death as if they were causes of happiness. Our inner poisons of attachment and ignorance conspire to make us voluntarily consume or create outer poisons, which in turn kill tens of millions every year. Thus, if we have any hope of actually preventing the suffering that arises from outer poisons, we must abandon their deeper cause – the inner poisons of delusions.
But ultimately, outer poisons can only kill us in just this one life. The inner poisons of delusions harm and kill us in all of our future lives without end. The scale of the destruction is beyond imagination. Delusions are the cause of all death, since beginningless time. There will be no end to the slaughter until the inner poisons of delusions are abandoned once and for all. Relying upon Tara ends the inner poisons, both for ourself and for all other living beings. She not only blesses our mind to prevent them from ripening, but more definitively she bestows upon us Lamrim realizations which lead us to permanently abandon all delusions. All delusions, directly or indirectly, find their opponent in the Lamrim. Our gaining Lamrim realizations is the only lasting way to end samsara’s ongoing devastation. People rightly dedicate their lives to fighting for justice in the world, but there will be no justice, no peace, no end to suffering until the tyranny of delusions has finally been defeated. The only way to do that is through gaining Lamrim realizations, and reliance upon Tara supercharges our practice of Lamrim.
If they recite these seven times, six times a day,
Those who wish for a son will attain a son,
And those who wish for wealth will attain wealth.
Typically at least once a year, most major Kadampa centers will do a 24 hour Tara puja, which involves a session every four hours engaging in this practice reciting the praises seven times. When the Coronavirus broke out, Geshe-la encouraged us to rely upon Tara, and many centers started doing the 24 hour Tara Puja every month on Tara day. For those unable to join such practices at a center, Manjushri center livestreams the practice on Tara day every month, so we can join in from anywhere in the world. If we are unable to do all six sessions, it is perfectly good to do as many as we can. Some is always better than none. There is something particularly powerful about engaging in group pujas. Venerable Tharchin says that every time we engage in a group puja, we create the causes to do the same thing with the same people again in the future. It is like an insurance policy for refinding our Kadampa Sangha in life after life until we attain our final spiritual goals.
“Son” here refers to the son or daughter of the Buddhas, namely becoming a bodhisattva. We can wish to become a son or daughter of the Buddhas ourselves, and we can also wish for multitudes of sons or daughters of the Buddhas arise from our Kadampa centers around the world. Wealth here refers to the inner wealth of Dharma realizations. Outer wealth can be helpful if our motivation for using it is virtuous, but it can be dangerous if our motivation is not. The inner wealth of Dharma realizations, in contrast, is an unalloyed good. The more we give it away, the more it reproduces itself. It makes us content in this life and provides for us in all our future lives. The inner wealth of Dharma realizations is an inexhaustible fountain of good fortune.
All their wishes will be accomplished.
No more obstacles will arise for them,
And those that have already occurred
Will all be completely destroyed.
This refers to Tara’s ability to also function as a Dharma protector. Dharma protectors arrange all the outer and inner conditions necessary for our swiftest possible enlightenment. Normally, Dorje Shugden is the principal protector of the Kadam Dharma, but Tara also accomplishes a similar function. There are two types of obstacle to our Dharma practice – outer and inner. Ultimately, though, outer obstacles do not exist. They arise only due to a lack of imagination or experience for how to transform adversity into the path to enlightenment. But temporarily, outer obstacles can exist due to current limitations in our wisdom. Tara can prevent outer obstacles from arising (or minimize the extent to which they do, based on our karmic possibilities). Our job is to then use the space to practice she creates for us to then gain the inner wisdom necessary to transform any adversity into the path. If we can succeed in doing that, then no more “obstacles” will arise for us because we will not impute anything as an obstacle. Everything will push us towards enlightenment. Existing obstacles are destroyed, either through purifying the karma giving rise to their appearance or through gaining the wisdom that knows how to see them all as causes of our enlightenment.