The Dance of the Twenty-one Taras     
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History/ Sadhana

The Twenty-One Taras Dance follows a sadhana composed by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. It tells the story of Tara 's great love and courage, her path to enlightenment, and the way she protects sentient beings from fear, and opens us to a direct experience of how compassion, wisdom, and faith protect the mind from being afraid. The Dance, requested by Khenpo Rinpoche,is a precious opportunity to relax deeply and to look directly at the essence of our experience. When we gather to perform this sacred Dance, Tara ’s mandala magically unfolds and her blessings are tangibly present. It is a wondrous event.

The Dance tells us the story of Yeshe Dawa -Tara's incarnation as a princess in ancient India-, how she enter the path to enlightenment, and subsiquently how she, as Tara the Liberator, protected people from various fears such as poverty, snakes, and so on. The Tara Dance is not just a dance. It's the practice of a sadhana; an offering of our body, speech and mind to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The dancers visualize while dancing; the singers and musicians visualize while singing and playing music. The Vidhyadara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche once said that fearlessness was grace in the face of fear.
This is what we are training in here.

At the same time, the Tara Dance is unique because it is not just a visualization practice; it is also a Dance. By including song and movement we actively embody Tara with our complete body, speech and mind, and through this the connection and blessings are even more powerful.

The Tara Dance is a precious opportunity for us to train in letting go. We practice letting go of this body made of flesh and bone, of our ordinary concepts, and of our speech of daily life. In their place, we learn to embody the deity. If we make a mistake, we can just notice it, let go and relax, enjoying the present moment, the others around us, the music and the songs.

This particular Tara Dance is also special because it contains the blessings of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. Incorporating song and dance in practice is a unique aspect of all of Khenpo Rinpoche’s teachings. And it is his personal connection with Tara which allows us to experience so completely her energy of compassion. Khenpo Rinpoche’s short Terma verse to Tara which we sing during the Dance, is a sign of both his special relationship to Tara and his blessing for this practice.

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa granted Alexandra permission to use his Tara drawing for this website.






picture by Walker Blaine