In Tibet, om tare tuttare ture soha is an ancient mantra that is related to Tara, the “Mother of all Buddhas,” & especially lớn her manifestation as Green Tara. In this post you will learn who Green Tara is, what her mantra means, & how to say it in Tibetan.

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*2020 Coronavirus Note: During these uncertain, troubling days, His Holiness the Dalai Lama — when asked for spiritual advice on the pandemic — suggested that chanting the Green Tara mantra could be helpful. (You can hear His Holiness chant the mantra in an audio below, & learn how lớn say it for yourself in a video below.)

Green Tara Mantra, from ‘Praises to lớn the 21 Taras’ by the Federation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition

Tibetans love to lớn pray and recite mantras, & the Green Tara mantra is one of the main three or four mantras that we say to lớn help ourselves và others. (See our posts on om mani padme hum and om muni muni maha muniye soha, two other very popular mantras. And if you are interested in hearing the otherwordly sounds of Tibetan prayers in monasteries in Tibet, you can learn how to lớn visit Tibet here.)

Basically, any mantra is “a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of ‘creating transformation.’”1

To better understand the Green Tara mantra, let’s first talk a little about who Green Tara is, and then look at the deeper meaning of the mantra.

Green Tara: Compassion in Action

As we see in the image above, Green Tara is usually depicted as a compassionate being ready khổng lồ step down from her lotus throne to offer comfort và protection from all of the sufferings we experience in the world.

She is shown “in a posture of ease và readiness for action. While her left leg is folded in the contemplative position, her right leg is outstretched, ready lớn spring into action. Green Tara’s left hand is in the refuge-granting mudra (gesture); her right hand makes the boon-granting gesture. In her hands she also holds closed xanh lotuses (utpalas), which symbolize purity & power.”2

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Reciting the Green Tara Mantra: (His Holiness begins the mantra after about the 40 second mark. )

The First Dalai Lama’s Teachings on Tara

The first Dalai Lama wrote that we can call on her to lớn instantly save us from eight particular dangers, each of which represents a corresponding human mental problem:

lions — pridewild elephants — delusion & ignoranceforest fires — hatredsnakes — jealousyrobbers — wrong views, including fanatical viewsprisons — greed và miserlinessfloods — desire & attachmentdemons — doubts caused by delusion

Ordinary Tibetans pray lớn her when we are sick, when leaving for a long journey, or when we hope for success or wealth. His Holiness’ teaching shows us that this is not actually the true purpose of praying to lớn or reciting mantras khổng lồ Tara.

When we chant the Green Tara mantra, we are not simply asking for Tara’s blessings và help with our lives & our “real world” problems.

Actually, we are also asking to be liberated from the misery of the mental delusions và negative emotions that blind us lớn true freedom, and to achieve the same enlightened body, speech and mind that Tara represents, not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Meaning of the Green Tara Mantra

A 1987 teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche really opens up khổng lồ us the profound meaning và benefits of practicing Tara’s powerful mantra.3

Lama Zopa walks us through the mantra in a long discussion on Tara, which we have excerpted & shortened below:

In short,om tare tuttare ture soha means “I prostrate lớn the Liberator, Mother of all the Victorious Ones.”The Tara mantra is om tare tuttare ture soha. To lớn explain the meaning of tare tuttare ture: tare means liberating from samsara.Tare shows that Mother Tara liberates living beings from samsara, from true suffering, or problems. You can relate this khổng lồ the particular sufferings of human beings: birth, old age, sickness & death; meeting undesirable objects and experiencing aversion; not finding desirable objects or finding them but gaining no satisfaction… All these are the problems of true suffering. If you rely upon Tara by taking refuge in her và doing Tara practices—such as the recitation of mantra or praises — with tare, Tara liberates you from all these true sufferings.The second word, tuttare, liberates you from the eight fears. There are eight fears related khổng lồ external dangers from fire, water, air, earth, và also from such things as thieves & dangerous animals. However, the main dangers come from ignorance, attachment, anger, pride, jealousy, miserliness, doubt and wrong views. These eight disturbing thoughts that you have in your mind are the main dangers… This second word, tuttare, which liberates you from the eight fears, frees you from the true cause of suffering: karma and the all-arising disturbing thoughts.The third word, ture, liberates you from disease. Now, of the Four Noble Truths, ture shows the cessation of suffering, which is the ultimate Dharma. In terms of liberating from disease, the actual disease we have is ignorance not knowing the absolute nature of the I, and all the disturbing thoughts that arise from this ignorance… By liberating us from disease, ture actually liberates us from the true cause, disturbing thoughts, và also the true sufferings.The rough meaning of these three words tare tuttare ture is: “To you, embodiment of all the Buddhas’ actions, I prostrate always — whether I am in happy or unhappy circumstances — with my body, speech and mind.”The final word soha means establishing the root of the path within your heart. In other words, by taking refuge in Tara và doing Tara practice, you receive the blessings of Tara in your own heart. This gives you space to lớn establish the root of the path, signified by tare tuttare ture, in your heart. By establishing the path of the three capable beings within your heart, you purify all impurities of your body, speech và mind, and achieve Tara’s pure vajra holy body, holy speech and holy mind, which are signified by om. Your body, speech and mind are transformed into Tara’s holy body, holy speech & holy mind. This is the rough meaning of om tare tuttare ture soha.

Like om mani padme hum, the Green Tara Mantra is much greater than the sum of its parts, with layers of meaning & benefit that resonate with us beyond what our minds perceive.

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By calling on Tara’s protection from danger and from our fears with a sincere motivation khổng lồ be relieved of our suffering for the benefit of all beings, we can gain the multiple benefits of selfish altruism, và compassionate action, becoming happier ourselves as we help others.