The Gift and the 21 Taras

What you seek is seeking you.”
~ Rumi

Today I spent my day doing one of the things I like the most: I travelled to North Vancouver to facilitate a workshop on emergency preparedness and disaster management to newcomers to Canada who are still learning English. It has always delighted me the attention and interest I see in them, and how easily I feel connected.

View from Lonsdale Quay
View from Lonsdale Quay


On my journey there (one bus/one train/one sea-bus and finally another short bus) I always stop at a little market: Lonsdale Quay: I love watching the sea, hearing the seagulls and having a tea or a coffee (or hot soup on rainy days as today was)

While wondering through one of its colourful stores, I met Deedee, a Tibetan lady with a beautiful smile and a peaceful attitude (if she didn’t tell me, I would have guessed she was a First Nation): with no preambles, she talked about her mom and the 21 Taras…when I asked what they were, she told me a story of a goddess born from Avalokitesvara’s tears: he was crying for the suffering he saw on Earth and Tara promised she would provide and do what was needed when the time comes: Tara, Deedee said, is Mother Earth also known as the mother of the Buddha and her 21 manifestations (all in different colours) represent each a power or a gift to the world: from white (peace) to green (healing) and so on…
Talking to Deedee was so wonderful that I would have spent there all my day, but that was not possible and I had to leave…I can’t believe I spent only ~30 minutes, however Deedee talked about compassion and shared her story as a Tibetan refugee, then the story of Indian and Bangladeshi women working in sweatshops being this “better” than their two other “options”: abused and abandoned by husbands they would choose prostitution or begging on the streets, where they were usually raped and mistreated…she shared her trip to the Tibet in the 80’s, when she was finally allowed to come back and how almost nobody would live there with the exception of very old people who were stripped from their basic means: access to animals for food, clothing and shelter…no children and no youth would be around.


Deedee's gift to me
Deedee’s gift to me

When I was leaving, Deedee run into her cozy store and brought two baskets, making me to choose: I was surprised, why would she want to give me a gift? She told me I reminded her of Tara…and that every morning she would pray to be used as a tool for compassion.
I missed my bus and had to improvise, but still got to the place in time. I delivered the workshop while being fully there, nothing else existed.
In my way back, I stopped at the market again to get my hot soup…I didn’t want to stop at Deedee’s…her stories still burning inside, her precious gift in my jacket’s pocket and our newborn “sisterhood” telling me a story I should have never forgotten: to be used as a tool for compassion.
The problem that faces us is the problem of awakening. What we lack is not an ideology or doctrine that will save the world. What we lack is mindfulness of what we are, of what our situation really is. We need to wake up in order to rediscover our human sovereignty. We are riding a horse that is running out of control. The way of salvation is a new culture in which human beings are encouraged to rediscover their deepest nature.”~ Thích Nhất Hạnh
Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.”
~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

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