This week's Goddess is Green Tara. She is of Tantric origins, but was taken into Buddhism, especially Tibetan Buddhism. Her name in Sanskrit means "Star," or "Saviouress," or "She Who Leads Across," referring to Her role as a Bodhisattva and guide through the world of illusion and suffering.
She represents compassion, and in one tale is said to have been born from the tears of Avalokitesvara, He of the thousand hands; and like Him, She is a Bodhisattva, meaning one Who has forsaken Nirvana in order to help others reach enlightenment. As such She has committed Herself to remaining within the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, which, in Buddhism, is an experience of suffering to be transcended; but unlike most Bodhisattvas, She took a vow to remain specifically female through Her rebirths. She did this as, well, a deliberate raspberry to the established teachings, which held that women could not possibly attain the highest forms of enlightenment.
Her main form is depicted as green, symbolizing that She is a Goddess of Action, Who quickly comes to the aid of those who call on Her. She has many other forms, though, including white, golden, and red, and can be gentle or fierce depending on those forms.
The message I'm getting this week is both a general and an individual one. It is one of compassion, but there is a certain order to it: that one must first have compassion for oneself before one can expect to have compassion for others. Practice being compassionate towards yourself this week, if you can; for your own sake, primarily, but also because that is what is needed in the world at this time.
Not that it ever isn't needed, I suppose. But I'm getting a very clear image of a rooted tree: compassion for yourself is the strong root system, which allows one to be nourished and grow strong and tall; and the tree itself, the visible part, the compassion we have for others, can only flourish if the roots are healthy.
The way to do this, I think, or the way that has made some headway in me, anyway, is to look at your own actions and feelings as non-judgementally as possible. Treat yourself gently, as you would a frightened child. Be very, very kind to yourself.
When I asked Her what She had to say to the world, She said:
Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself with kindness; let the tears of compassion flow for yourself, let it all flow, and, as many streams form a river, so the compassion of the world will all flow together, strong and swift and healing.
And if you become lost, know that you will be found. If you fear, I will comfort you. I am already here. Do not despair! I will guide you!
It occurs to me She is also one Who can help when we are feeling directionless, as that is just what Her name means, The Guiding Star, the one we navigate by; and this week, I think, we are all being asked to focus some of our energy inward, and to think about what direction we are headed as individuals.
What do you think?
To learn more about Green Tara, go here. For White Tara, here; and for Avalokitesvara, here.