Drikung Khandro: Tara Choying Lhamo is an Austrian-born contemplative who has been living in retreat for over twenty years. Twelve of those years were spent high in the mountains of Nepal in one of the caves frequented by Milarepa (one of Tibet’s most famous yogis and poets). Tara emerged from retreat and agreed to speak publicly about her experience for the first time in 2016 and subsequently came to Australia in 2017 to share her unique story. Many of those who attended Tara’s talks at The Contemplary and other venues were deeply impressed by her presence and obvious contemplative accomplishment. We are delighted to have persuaded Tara to return to Australia in 2019 to lead two residential retreats for The Contemplary. The first retreat will take place in Healesville – about an hours drive out of Melbourne – and will run for three days. The second retreat will take place in Sydney and will run for two days. Each retreat has a different topic which are outlined below.
We have asked Tara to lead these retreats in a way that is accessible for Buddhist and non-Buddhist members of our community who have an interest in contemplative practice.
The Retreat in Victoria—Three Principals of the Path of Awakening
In this retreat Tara will introduce participants to one of the most profound teachings of the whole Tibetan Buddhist tradition—The Three Principals of the Path. Expounded by the great Tibetan genius, Yogi and reformer, Lama Tzong Khapa, in the thirteenth century, the three principals of the path lays out the entire path of awakening on the basis of three core phases—Renunciation, Bodhicitta and Emptiness. Renunciation is given as the entry point for any contemplative endeavor. This means turning away from superficial understandings and practices of happiness and engaging in truly sustainable states of well-being—this is a “definite emergence” into a flourishing state imbued with deeper meaning. On this foundation the mind of awakening, Bodhicitta, arises like a natural flowering. This awakened (bodhi) mind (citta) seeks freedom for the sake of all beings and becomes the fountain-head for the whole of the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism. Lama Tzong Khapa explains that with definite emergence (renunciation) as a basis, the arising of the awakened heart leads to the subtlest teaching of Emptiness, revealing its most powerful transformative potential. Grounded in renunciation and with the flowering spirit of Bodhicitta, a contemplative engages in a life-long exploration of Emptiness. All self-centered attachments are unraveled and the freedom of liberation spontaneously arises.
Tara will give teachings on the three principals of the path and demonstrate how each phase in inextricably woven into practice. For Buddhists and non-Buddhist alike, these teachings can be an indispensable guide for contemplative living and practice.
The Retreat in New South Wales —Deity Yoga in the mind training traditions of Tibetan Buddhism
It is possible that deity yoga (or tantra) is the practice most especially suited for our troubled times. Certainly, the crisis the world is facing requires an empowered and urgent response based on wisdom. Deity yoga is a potent way of transforming and transmuting adversity into the creative potential for enlightenment.
Tara will give introductory teachings on the meaning and purpose of deity yoga meditation in the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. This will include a simple form of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. Chenrezig is the most beloved deity of the all Tibetan traditions and is practiced across all the four lineages. These teachings will include instruction on the power and use of the “OM MANI PADME HUNG” mantra. Deity practice, especially Chenrezig, has been introduced to the general public in the West by many great Tibetan teachers included His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This practice does not require any initiations or commitments. Tara will also introduce participants to additional preliminary practices of mind-training that are used by Tibetan yogis to empower all forms of deity yoga.