In Sept/Oct 2022, some of us in the Asia Pacific region were fortunate to attend
the seven day, online, Green Tara Retreat led by SMS instructor, Oliver Leick.
Conducted at a convenient time (6pm in China, 8pm Australia) up to 70 people
joined in for zoom sessions broadcast from Yeselling in Austria. Simultaneous
translation was skilfully provided for the Chinese community by Catherine, and
others in suitable time zones were also able to join.
It was so wonderful to hear explanations from Oliver on Green Tara and the
Twenty-One Praises, and to have access to his breadth of knowledge and wisdom
as a student of our Master since 1977. To hear his gentle insistence that if really
we take this seriously, Green Tara practice will bring many benefits. But to do
that we must actively participate, to practice with diligence and devotion, to have
confidence, to sing the short invocations — Om Jézunma Pàgma Drólma Kyedla
Dùddo Zevas Gyoñ, like a waltz (a tip attributed to Constantino Albini).
He reminded us that when we do the universal mantra, Om Tāre Tuttāre Ture
Svāhā, we are doing Guru Yoga — that the white, red and blue lights we receive
into our three places are like a laser torch given to us by the Master to help us
enter the state. That when we forcefully sound Tāre over and over, we don’t
have to keep in mind all the things we need help with. She already knows! As the
preceding invocation in the words of the famous Master, Atisha, illustrates —
Tara, you know me, you know all my fears and problems in samsara, please help
Oliver then covered the Four Immeasurables and the Six Paramitas, reminding us
that Tara embodies these qualities completely and on a daily basis we should try
to as well. And just when we thought it couldn’t get more interesting, Oliver
began introducing us to the verses of praise to the 21 Taras, — extolling all their
qualities and functions — some fiercely wrathful, some all peace and light, others
bearing such powers as to make Marvel superheroes look decidedly tame.
He told us that the benefits of daily reciting the praises (a common practice in
Tibet of monks and lay people) are great — fears banished, impediments
purified, strong and powerful poisons removed, all wishes fulfilled as all the
Buddhas grant their empowerments.
In the second half of the session each day, Oliver led us in the Green Tara
practice, adding in the praises we studied that day and explaining that during the
mantra of White Tara we can send lights to other people who may be suffering
illness or difficult conditions. For Guru Rinpoche day we learned how to do a
Green Tara gana puja and Oliver reminded us that when we are doing the
visualisations, mantras, the invocations, the transformations — we must really
feel it, we must bring the practice to life. It is so easy to be distracted, to just go
through the motions. As Rinpoche always said, doing 1000s of mantras means
nothing if you are not present.
For me this was the major take away from the retreat. Remember to bring your
practice to life! And ask Tara to help you, she will be there in a flash!
Many thanks to our dear Master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu for his boundless
patience and generosity, to Oliver for so insightfully carrying on his legacy, and
to the organisers Sean (Australia), Henry (China), translator Catherine and
Jan Cornall, Sydney, Oct 2022.