mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF contemplation & craft

Looking for Tara

Tara, gilded figurine, TibetFor all my blabbing yesterday morning about novel writing, I spent Sunday on a different journey (which was supposed to be about Ebay anyway, but I was procrastinating). I started out wanting to sketch a seated figure for my chakra project. Wanting meaningful hand gestures (or mudras) led me to our shelves of Asian figurines.

I always intend to make a meditation on one of these figurines (aside from the rare dusting, which they love). But the vastness of the traditions they represent overwhelm me and I wind up just flitting along the surface.

Idea: use the figurine to illustrate my project instead of my own clumsy drawing. That sent me into photo studio mode.

I originally thought the 4.5 inch figurine was Guanyin (or Avalokitesvara)* but Jim pulled out the right books for me and turns out she is Tara and the gilded sculpture is from Tibet. Tara sprang from the ocean of tears flowing from Tibet's chief deity, Avalokitesvara, bodhisattva** of compassion.

Tara, painting, from TibetKay Larson (New York Times, 8/7/05) writes:

Tara, whose name means "star" — as in the North Star, the guiding light of those who are lost — is enlightenment energy personified. She is passionate mother, wrathful protector, swift and fearless subduer. Eyes flashing like lightning, she stamps her feet and sends tremors through gods and demons alike, correcting great wrongs and fulfilling her promise to bring divine female energies into the world.

Her exalted sisterhood is anything but meek or submissive... Tara and her cohort drink the blood of enemies of the dharma, prance naked on the bodies of those they have defeated, and join with male consorts in passionate sexual union. They are transcendent liberators, defenders of enlightened mind, the birthright of each of us, when we turn to the wisdom within.

Sunday I went from contemplating goddesses to figuring out how to make a spiral of flashing lights snake up and down her spine in Adobe After Effects. And then I got frustrated because my psychedelic background and animations kept crashing.

After finally achieving a little success, I ended the day reading about Tantra. But that's a topic for another day...

7.3.06 (revised 7.7.06)

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*Guanyin: Her Hindu or Sanskrit name is Avalokitesvara. Kannon in Japanese. Guanyin (or Kuan Yin) in Chinese. I've always been attracted to this figure in general because of her femininity, even though this bodhisattva is not always represented as a female. She is the bodhisattva of compassion.

**Bodhisattva: a being who has achieved a high degree of her own enlightenment but postpones her entry into nirvana to assist all other sentient beings in achieving complete Buddhahood.