10/3/2019: Interview - Meet White Tara, Your Temple Deity

"When we meet White Tara,  we’re meeting the archetypal image of a buddha
and she’s putting her hand in ours and saying  'This is the archetypal world of the Buddhas
and this is how it functions in your life and you are this archetypal Buddha.' "
- Rev. Karen Do'on Weik Osho

White Tara sits above the Temple's main Buddha Image.

This post is the conclusion of an interview on Sunday, September 22 where novice Zuisei and Rev. Karen Do’on Weik Osho chatted about Do’on’s personal experiences with the traditional Tibetan source material for the upcoming teaching retreat What to Expect When You Are Human (Tuesday Oct. 8 - Friday Oct. 11) and the White Tara Workshop (Saturday Oct. 12). Read the first part of the interview, about the Stages of the Path, below. This is the second part of the interview, about the White Tara blessing.

Read the first part of the interview, focusing on the Stages of the Path teaching, here.


Zuisei: The Lam Rim retreat will be Tuesday through Friday, and the last day of the retreat is a White Tara Workshop. Does that connect tightly with the Lam Rim, or is it more of a separate topic? 

Do’on: Come to the White Tara Workshop even if you can’t come to the Teaching Retreat. It’s another empowerment that I received from Rimpoche. White Tara is our Temple Deity, our Patron Saint.  

Do’on: As humans our minds are very multi-layered, and one level we function on is the archetypal level. When we work in the archetypal realm, we can get at the dreamlike quality of our psyche that rational inquiry does not, and this gives us a fuller entry into our humanity. When we meet White Tara, we’re meeting the archetypal image of a buddha and she’s putting her hand in ours and saying “This is the archetypal world of the Buddhas and this is how it functions in your life and you are this archetypal Buddha.” 

Zuisei: The way you describe it, it sounds like a perfect bookend with the retreat. On one end, the Stages of the Path will bring a rational, systematic way of working with our life. And then on the other end, White Tara will bring this dreamlike way of working with our life. 

Do’on: Yes! And Tara is all about love and compassion, clarity of mind. She’s really good with emotional balancing, longevity, and health. She’s so kind and loving and accessible. Once I met a Tai Chi teacher who came from a Buddhist country, and I asked him if we was a Buddhist and he said he was a Christian. I was curious how he came to Christianity and I asked him about it. He said, “I just needed something personal to interact with, I needed personal relationship between me and the higher power.” He hadn’t experienced the possibility of encountering our hearts and minds in this archetypal way as a Buddhist. 

Do’on: White Tara archetypal practice is extremely important for people like the Tai Chi teacher who relate to the world in a more devotional, emotional, or relational way, where having direct relationship with roles models you can rely on is important. Not everyone primarily functions relationally, but for some people it is their main go to. 

Do’on: I’m very devotional, but I’m ambivalent about relationships because I’m such a massive introvert. Although I love people and love working with people, and I love my family, and every day I’m so grateful I have them in my orbit. Maybe I’m not really an introvert! -- but I am shy. Tara helps me with all of this. Because I was abandoned at birth and was in the foster care system moving around so much, and then  had a very complicated adoption situation, I personally really need that archetypal mother. She’s my mom.  

Zuisei: So at the workshop people will learn actual brass tacks how to connect with Tara? 

Do’on: How to connect with the primal mother,  her feminine energy. She’s the perfect mother that you never had, the one you wanted. When you’re in relationship with Tara, you can let your human mother off the hook. 

Zuisei: Would you like to share any other thoughts about this Ango in closing? 

Do’on: Keep your practice strong. Really get the bodhi mind and put it at the center of your heart and the center of your life: We are doing this practice -- awakening -- for the sake of all beings, to bring all beings to full and complete enlightenment and buddhahood.  

Do’on: Let that sink in as total purpose, as the organizing factor in your day. This is the way we have a rich human life, use all of the gifts of our human life, and open the treasure of our Buddha nature and wisdom eye. 

Zuisei: On behalf of the Sangha, thank you again for talking with me today. Would you be so kind as to offer a dedication of merit? 

Do’on: For the sake of all beings, to bring all beings to full and complete Buddhahood, we have entered into this period of quite enjoyable conversation, and may the merits of this extend to all beings throughout space and time. May they come to full and complete enlightenment -- and may we take them there.

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    The Zen Buddhist Temple of Toledo is a not-for-profit organization fostering the teachings of Zen Buddhism as adapted to Western cultural forms and traditions by providing training in the disciplines, practices, and devotions of Zen Buddhism and by providing suitable surroundings, instruction, and support for the teaching and practice of Zen Buddhism.