At the end of May, the International Sangha Gathering was held at Taraloka
- an annual event for women who have asked for Ordination and run by women from Buddhafield, Tiratanaloka and Taraloka.
The event was called: ‘Entering the Tiger’s Cave’ and was based on the theme of renunciation. Throughout the weekend we listened to talks, studied words from Padmasambhava, participated in special pujas and finished with a talk from Parami about the connection between renunciation, Ordination and the Bodhisattva Ideal. And somehow, within all of that, we managed to fit in a visit from Sangharakshita.
He arrived on the second day, beginning with lunch with the Taraloka Community and a couple of guests. Then, after a short rest, he gave a talk on his connection with Tara – highlighting the importance of metta and vegetarianism. Then everyone followed Sangharakshita, as he made his way to the new Tara shrine-room, all of us chanting the Tara mantra. Surprisingly, all 70 of us managed to fit into the new shrine-room – either standing or sitting – and a poem written by Sangharakshita called ‘White Tara’ was read by Saddhanandi. This was followed by the Dedication Ceremony (also written by Sangharakshita) and the White Tara long life Mantra.
Then it was time for a cup of tea. Sangharakshita sat in the lounge and, as more and more women joined him, a very informal ‘question and answer’ session developed, with a spontaneous photo-call in which Bhante held on his lap the two 5 month old babies that were attending the event with their mothers. Sangharakshita then had supper with a group of Dharmacharinis and Mitras, after which Dhammamati drove him back to Madhyamaloka.
It had been a very beautiful and moving day, and when the Sangha Gathering was over many of us left Taraloka with a strong sense of Bhante’s presence and the blessing of having spent some time around him in such relaxed and easy circumstances. The Tara Shrine Room now stands quietly at Taraloka, fully dedicated and already containing a strong atmosphere of meditation and devotion; a new focus to this Realm of Tara.
for more photos of the event, and here
for photos of Taraloka in general.
Appearing from the depths of heaven
The white robed goddess calm and light
Sheds moon-like on this lower world
The blessing of her silver light.
Seven eyes she has all open wide
In face and forehead and hands and feet
For she of Pure Awareness is
Embodiment and paraclete.
One hand in teaching gesture raised
Imports a wisdom thrice profound T
he other open on her knee
For endless giving is renowned.
A lotus at her shoulder grows
Complete with flower and bud and fruit
Her form is straight and still,
For she Is grounded on the Absolute.
She seems to say
Leave dreams, leave sloth, leave passions vile!
Oh may we, seeing her, go forth
Encouraged by her perfect smile.
Sangharakshita (‘Call of the Forest and Other Poems’ Windhorse Publications)
Labels: Sangharakshita, Taraloka, UK, women