Outer, Inner and Secret Tara empowerments FAQ
When are the empowerments?
Between September 18 and 21, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche will give the empowerments for the Outer, Inner and Secret practices of the Tara’s Triple Excellence Terma. The exact days and times of the empowerments are not yet confirmed.
Who is Tara?
Tara is an emanation of the mother of all the buddhas of the three times. Her special quality of extraordinary compassionate activity exceeds that of the Buddhas. When she was still in samsara, Tara gave rise to the unique resolve to always be reborn in a female body. She wished to benefit all beings by dispelling fear and saving them from harm. To this day there are stories of Tara miraculously saving those who supplicate her with complete devotion.
Where does this practice come from?
When the female Buddha, Tara, appeared to Chokgyur Lingpa (1829-1870) in a vision, she said “Excellent, Excellent, Excellent.” These three pith words encompassed the entire terma. Thus, the path of The Triple Excellence spontaneously appeared in the spacious expanse of his realized mind.
What is an empowerment?
The Identity of Empowerment is described in the Light of Wisdom where it says:
“Empowerment is that which ripens one to realize intrinsic wakefulness, that which you want to achieve, or which ripens one to have the definite potential for this realization to occur.”
Karma Phuntsho further explains an empowerment as follows:
"Wang (དབང་) or empowerment is a rite introducing a practitioner to tantric or esoteric form of Buddhist practice. It is considered as the tool which ripens or matures (སྨིན་བྱེད་) the mindset of a practitioner for spiritual practice. There are many kinds of wang but one can generally classify them into two. One is called jenang (རྗེས་གནང་), which literally means giving permission. A lama will give jenang as a permission or an authorisation to visualize a deity and chant mantras associated with the deity. It is not because the practice is off limits to people without permission, but it’s mainly to do with doing the practice correctly.
The second type is a proper wang which again has many types. Wang is a full initiation into the Vajrayana path. It is called wang or empowerment because it empowers the disciple to follow the esoteric Vajrayana path, just as a coronation ceremony empowers the prince to be a king. A wang rite usually has three stages. In the first preliminary stage, the guru has to meditate, accumulate the mantra of the associated deity for which the wang is given, bless the ground or venue, exorcise the negative forces and then ask the disciples to make preparations and an offering before requesting the wang.
In the actual stage, the lama bestows the wang after the lama and the disciples visualise themselves as a mandala of deities and invites the Buddhas to immerse in them."
To access the full article, follow this link: https://kuenselonline.com/wang-empowerment/.
Which parts of the terma will we be empowered to practice?
The Tara’s Triple Excellence Terma is unique in that it outlines an entire path, taking Tara as support. It leads practitioners through the three excellences, or stages, of the path:
The Excellence of the Theravada: fundamental ethics and mind training,
The Excellence of the Mahayana: the bodhisattva path to help ourself and others to gain boundless compassion and insight.
The Excellence of the Vajrayana: the tantric path that leads to the realization of the union of emptiness and wisdom.
The Third Excellence, the Excellence of the Vajrayana, starts with the following practices that Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche will empower us to practice.
Outer Tara sadhana
The outer sadhana belongs to the classes of Kriya and Upa tantra, which could be described as sending off a letter requesting an appointment with Tara (Kriya tantra) and receiving an appointment to actually meet her (Upa tantra). There are dietary restrictions connected with doing both practices: no meat, eggs, alcohol, garlic, onions, drugs or intoxicants.
Inner Tara sadhana
The inner sadhana belongs to the lower class of Yoga tantra, which entails the accomplishment stage, during which we meet Tara in person and become one with her. The same dietary restrictions apply when practicing this sadhana.
Secret Tara sadhana
The secret Tara sadhana belongs to the higher tantric yanas.
What is the reason for empowerments in this terma?
The empowerments Rinpoche will bestow upon us are prerequisites to practice the Third Excellence of the Tara’s Triple Excellence Terma.
It is stated in the root text as follows:
The last excellence is the essential extract of Secret Mantra:
Based on development and completion,
Perfect wisdom is engendered
The goodness at the end that is the instructions in the concluding part.
In order to practice these properly,
Obtain empowerments, learn the crucial instructions
And, with totally pure samayas and vows,
Abandon all activities in a secluded place.
What are the different parts of an empowerment?
In Sanskrit, an empowerment is referred to as abhisheka, which means “anoint” or “sprinkle and pour”. “Sprinkle” here indicates receiving the blessings, while “pour” refers to accepting a blessed substance. Chögyam Trungpa (Tibetan master who lived from 1939-1987) further says that: “In an abhisheka ceremony, you are sprinkled and washed with water poured from an abhisheka vase. In that way, you are included in the guru’s world and in the world of the deity, which is saying the same thing in some sense.”
He continues as follows: “An abhisheka is one of the three types of confirmation: lung, wang and tri. The first one, lung, confirms that you have access to the powers of a particular abhisheka. The second one, wang, is the abhisheka itself, which means you not only have access to the powers, but you also have the potential to become a teacher yourself in the future. The third one, tri, is the detailed instructions on how to proceed. […] So with the tri, you receive the actual practice instructions.”
Why should I get these empowerments?
Heidi Koppl, editor in chief of the Tara’s Triple Excellence program suggests that: “Anybody practicing the terma should receive the three empowerments, as soon as possible, regardless of which Excellence they are currently practicing. It would be best even if one begins to practice the terma having received all three.”
What are the prerequisites for taking the Tara empowerments?
The prerequisites for taking the Tara empowerments are having taken refuge and having a sincere interest in practicing the terma. When you receive an empowerment you can decide the degree of commitment you want to adhere to. You can take an empowerment as a blessing with no intention to practice the Sadhana, or you can commit to practice the Sadhana. For the Secret Empowerment, Rinpoche requests that those attending commit to the daily practice of the Third Excellence in the Tara’s Triple Excellence program.
What do empowerments have to do with a guru-disciple relationship?
According to Chögam Trungpa, taking an empowerment creates a powerful samaya bond between the vajra master and the disciple: “The student’s commitment to the vajra master and to the tantric teaching is mirrored by the vajra master’s relentless and compassionate commitment to their students.”
He continues: “The idea of abhisheka is to further bind you and your vajra master together. In abhisheka, you share the utmost sacred and secret of mandala possibilities of principles between you. It is as if the vajra master were you, and you were the vajra master. It is in that sense that the vajra master shows you the innermost secrets of everything. Namely, the vajra master shares with you their attitude towards form, speech, and mind.”