In Buddhism we think of healing, ultimately, as a peaceful mind filled with love. We have many practices and visualizations to help us embody that realization. Tibetan Buddhism particularly cultivates images that evoke a personification of that state as various deities. It is sometimes explained that this is similar to light passing through a crystal lens, becoming a multicolored rainbow reflection, or many images to inspire devotion for different kinds of minds.
Within the family of Buddhas that emphasize how to learn compassion, there are famously 21 Taras, female Buddhas.
During COVID, H.H. Drikung Chetsang went to the ancient records to find the most significant meditations that would be helpful. This Green Tara is a simple paragraph but contains the whole practice path and specifically works with fear of disease.
This peaceful Tara prayer has four stages. First, we give rise to the mind of bodhicitta. We begin with our limited capacity and continue throughout our life to develop bodhicitta. Then we imagine ourselves as Tara or any personal deity figure. Tibetan Buddhism works with thousands of such images, so that each of us can find a path to transmute the unique combination of emotions and patterns of thinking that confine us, obscuring our inner seed of perfection. We understand that Tara’s wisdom is our innate nature, obscured by our own ignorance. At the same time, we are on the path to becoming her, the fruition of our potential — a fearless, limitlessly loving heart/mind. Imagining ourselves as unlimited love and compassion allows us to explore what a relaxed responsive, open heart feels like, setting into motion new mental patterns.
Download the practice: Tara
Lady Parnashavari, the dakini who is attired in green leaves of medicinal plants, is the 20th of the 21 Taras. She protects us from contagious diseases, such as the Coronavirus that we have today. I find her image compelling, as unlike most deities, who are depicted in royal attire, she is clothed in medicinal plants and herbs. She carries a bow and arrow and battle axe to vanquish illness (ignorance) with medicinal plants. She sits with one leg extended, ready to jump into action–an ancient super-hero! The significance is to cultivate confidence in our own seed of wisdom and that of others by imagining a powerful accomplished example.
Chanting mantra unites our body, speech, and mind with her realization. We visualize her and all Buddhas filling the whole of space and sending healing nectar, filling the bodies of all sentient beings in every region and nation, all the bodies of water, all the vast extent of the skies.
Mantra: OM PI-SHA-TSI PARNA-SHA-WARI SARVA MA-RI PRA-SHA-MA-NI HUNG
This is her mandala. The seed syllable “PAM” in the center is the sound of her compassion. The mandala can be printed and hung in windows or gardens as a prayer flag, the air carrying the sound of compassion and her blessings to all countries.
Here is a teaching on the mantra:
OM: sacred syllable that consists of three sounds A, O, and M, representing Buddha’s purified body, speech, and mind. Here in particular, the sounds are invoked to prevent, protect, and liberate our body, speech, and mind from the epidemic disease such as Covid.
PISHATSI: a female divinity of great powers such as a dakini or yogini who can protect, prevent, and liberate beings from all negative and obstructing forces
PARNA: a leaf of a tree or a plant
SHAWARI: a tribal lady of the forest who masters magic and healing using forest herbs and medicines
PISHATSI PARNASHAWARI: a powerful dakini attired in green leaves of medicinal plants that are remedies to all illnesses and pestilences
SARVA: all, everything
MARI: illness or pestilence
SARVA MARI PRASHAMANI: the pacifier of all illnesses and pestilences
HUNG: to attain the siddhis (attainment), to fulfill the aspiration, to be established in the deity-state, the Parnashavari-hood
The head of our Drikung Lineage, H.H. Tinle Lhundup, searched the ancient texts written by our founder, Lord Jigten Sumgön to find her practices so we could envision her now. He then composed this brief version.
Praise and Verses to the Goddess Who Eliminates All Diseases
Out of the mandala of dharmakaya’s great bliss
You protect against dangerous diseases like epidemics
And against untimely death —
I pay homage to you, the mother of wish-fulfilling activities.
You, golden-colored Parnashavari, sit on a lotus seat.
Your main face is yellow, the right one blue, and the left one white.
Your hair is bound up in a topknot, and you are full of splendor —
I pay homage to the divine body of the goddess granting accomplishments.
You Illustrious One, are the embodiment of wisdom and compassion. You stand in the midst of masses of fire, burning like in the end of time. With your three faces and six arms, you look terribly wrathful —
I pay homage to you, whose one leg is stretched and the other bent.
You who wears a robe of leaves, hold bow and arrow,
Battle ax, and a bunch of branches.
Parnashavari, you sow the threatening mudra and hold a vajra —
I pay homage to you, great mother, protectress of human beings.
OM PI SHA TSI PARNA SHA WA RI SARVA MA RI PRA SHA MA NI HUNG*
By this virtue, may I swiftly accomplish Parnashavari
and establish all beings without exception in her state.