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³Whoever may be as burning lamps for the ten directions of this perishable universe, Those who attain the

enlightened Stages of Buddhahood without attachment, All of those Protectors, I, myself, Entreat to turn the unsurpassable Wheel of Dharma.´

We, at Kathok Gonpa are privileged to embrace Green Tara as one of our main practices. Tara, who was born from a tear of compassion on the face of Chenrazig, is considered to be the protectoress of all who supplicate to her and the vanquisher of all fear and discord. She is the destroyer of the enemies of happiness. For a few hours our sangha experienced intensely the innocence and beauty of her protection as we joined together in her praise for a twenty four hour retreat. The blue moon on the night of December 31st and the candlelight within Kathok Gonpa added to the illumination of our hearts. The repetition of three complete practices of the Green Tara puja were performed before midnight, with the beauty of the text ringing clearer and taking on more meaning each time it was repeated. However, preparations for the retreat had been underway for many days before it actually began. The excitement and joy of the Lamas and sangha practitioners in working to create harmonious conditions was reflected in the surroundings of the temple. Every act done in preparation was fulfilled with love and commitment to the practice and to the honor of the Mother of All the Victorious Ones, Arya Tara. Butter lamps were made, the temple was thoroughly cleaned and washed, flowers and offerings flooded in. Every detail from the sweeping of the floor to the most profound heart wishes of the lamas was performed with the aspiration that practitioners might enjoy the beauty of the dharma and the happiness of learning and joining together with the sangha during the retreat. Come here, Arya Tara, ja! Out of compassion and love for myself and all beings by the power of your miraculous emanations,«we pray that the Accomplished Conqueror remain!´* There were people present during the retreat from many different parts of the Island and mainland. It seemed very auspicious that the evening before the retreat began, as Lama Tenzin, Tulku Karzang and Chris Duckworth made tormas for the even,t Tulku had hoped to create 17

tormas. Yet they soon found that there was only enough material for 11 of them. He noted that, interestingly enough, throughout the retreat, eleven core practitioners were always present, though many others came and shared at various times. Everyone that came brought with them delicious food to share, offerings for the altar and a willingness to join together in the best way possible to bring in the new year.(Western calendar). As an example, an offering brought by Jane Ayers early in the day was of special grains prepared by David for the sangha to share, this thoughtful, dedicated gift was enjoyed by many. A new conch shell for the temple was also presented by another sangha member and sounded during the night. The profoundly moving spiritual practice of the retreat began at 1PM with instructions by our precious teacher, Tulku Karzang. He then began the Green Tara puja, which was to be repeated three times before midnight. Throughout the subsequent practice many practitioners progressed in the use of the bells, damarus, mandala offerings and chants and gained confidence that will certainly support their practice at home and in groups. ³Homage to Tara¶s radiant crown ornament, supreme joy spreading in a rosary of light! Laughing, laughing hard, with TUTTARA, She brings the perishable world and Mara under Her power.´ At midnight we were treated to a delightful fireworks display, which was breath taking with the lights of the temple glowing in the background. The significance of fireworks in Asian cultures is noteworthy, part of the purpose being to drive away negative forces and to stir the windhorse of positive energies. I felt the joy of childhood again in the display of light and in the joy of dancing and singing. Afterwards, when the participants were reassembled in the temple each drew a paper with the hour written on it when they would be responsible for sounding the drum and chanting the mantra of Tara: Om Tare, Tutare, Ture, Soha! The one hour shifts between one and ten in the morning were taken by 11 people. I can speak from personal experience when I say it was a bit hard to surrender the drum to the next in line at the end of a shift! Numerous people slept in the temple during the night although when Tulku Karzang took his shift at 2AM many rose up to chant with him. Lama Tensin performed an amazing act of devotion and samaya by staying up all night, tending butter lamps and harmonizing our energies. At ten AM on January 1st the people in the temple refreshed themselves and prepared for a final practice of the complete Green Tara puja. During this puja eleven people were present, confirming Tulku¶s understanding of the significance of the eleven beautiful tormas. ³The unborn clear light of the expanse of reality is the unceasing Pristine Awareness form of the Noble Mother.´* This brightly illuminated moment in time, as ephemeral as the dream fabric of the night, has opened a window for us, to the nature of reality. It was here, fleeting, and then evaporated into New Year ¶s Day. Through the intensity and beauty of this experience I have become more aware of the impermanence of experience and also of what I might aspire to for myself and all

sentient beings. May the New Year bring happiness, peace and prosperity and may all beings benefit! ³From Samantabhadra and Vajradhara Through my gracious Root Guru««.., By the blessing of the truth of the unchanging Dharmata, By the blessing of the unwavering aspirations of the Sangha, In that way, may this dedication and aspiration prayer be accomplished!´* *Quotes are excepted from the precious Puja of Green Tara.