Green Tara



Green Tara & Tibetan Tantra


Pilar Jennings

In the Tibetan tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, also known as Tantra, there is a form of meditation offered that touches on the primordial longing for love, maternal care, and interpersonal connection. The practice of Tantra, one quickly finds, is powerfully relational.  In the Tantric tradition, practitioners learn to rely on external images that are considered to be both healing and empty of any external reality. For many, this conundrum of supreme reliability and absolute emptiness can take some time to work out. These symbols are meant to represent manifestations of our own healing nature, our own mind infused with insight, receptivity, love and compassion that require another to jump-start this often untapped internal resource.

In the concept of trikaya, usually translated as triple body, these images are referred to as sambhogakaya, or enjoyment bodies. Having grown out of dharmakaya, or the truth of emptiness that is all-pervasive, they can be utilized to evoke a felt sense of other, both healing and caring, that is always available to be relied upon, even as we seek to understand that such images merely reflect our own internal resource of well-being. Together, we will explore this spiritual method utilizing mindfulness concentration as we bring our attention to the imagined presence of Green Tara, sometimes referred to as “The Mother of all Buddhas,” symbolizing our capacity for swift and compassionate action. For psychoanalysts and their patients, this process can simulate the needed internalization of an idealize-able other that is then experienced as an abiding internal resource of one’s deepest level of awakened mind, or Buddha-nature.

Pilar Jennings, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst in private practice with a focus on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation.  She has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004. She is a Visiting Lecturer at Union Theological Seminary, guest lecturer at Columbia University, and faculty member of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. Her written work has included Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism (Wisdom 2010), and To Heal a Wounded Heart: On the Transformative Power of Buddhism and Psychotherapy in Action (Shambhala 2017).

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