Theme: Suffering/End of Suffering
This painting is a lovely depiction of Tara as a protectress. She sits in the pose of royal ease with her right hand extended in the gesture of supreme gift giving. Though Tara bestows her benevolence on all beings, she’s often portrayed specifically as a protector against the “eight great fears” most often experienced by travellers. A few examples of these fears include drowning, being attacked by lions, and being falsely imprisoned. Though these were very real fears for travellers at this time, they also represent psychological states that bring us suffering. For example, drowning represents attachment, while lions are associated with pride, and thieves represent greed. Through her protection, Tara aims to end the suffering of all beings in both their physicality and their mentality.
Image credit: Tara Protecting from the Eight Fears, Kham Province, Eastern Tibet; 19th century Pigments on cloth, Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, F1997.15.1 (HAR 237).
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About the Teacher
Tracy Cochran is editorial director of Parabola, a quarterly magazine that for forty years has drawn on the world’s cultural and wisdom traditions to explore the questions that all humans share. She has been a student of meditation and spiritual practices for decades and teaches mindfulness meditation and mindful writing at New York Insight Meditation Center and throughout the greater New York area. In addition toParabola, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Psychology Today, O Magazine, New York Magazine, the Boston Review, and many other publications and anthologies. For more information please visit tracycochran.org.