Frequently asked questions:
1. What makes Tara’s Triple Excellence online meditation program different from other meditation programs?
Tara’s Triple Excellence (TTE) is an online meditation program that guides you through all three levels of Buddhism from the Vajrayana (link to Vajrayana page) perspective, the tantric form of Tibetan Buddhism. This program is unique in that it presents an authentic path to full awakening. Faithful to its ancient meditation tradition as practiced in India and Tibet, TTE is a comprehensive program that gradually guides you through the practice and understanding that is necessary for awakening. Tara, a female embodiment of enlightenment is the source of the Triple Excellence teachings and the center of all practices, guiding you from the beginning to the very end of the path.
2. What is the structure of the Tara’s Triple Excellence online meditation program?
1. Waking up practice. This practice is available from a text and audio file and takes about 5 minutes.
2. Morning practice. This practice is available from a video file and takes between 30-45 minutes for the First Excellence.
3. Daily guided contemplation. This practice is available from a video file and takes 30-40 minutes. It also includes mindfulness instruction for the day that reinforce the morning teaching and meditation.
4. Evening practice. This practice is available from a video file. It is similar to the morning practice and ends with reflections on how the morning instructions were applied throughout the day.
5.Sleeping practice. This practice is available from a text and audio file and takes 5-10 minutes.
3. Can I combine TTE with my other practices?
Yes, but according to Lama Tenzin it is important to choose one main practice. It is best if you can make Tara’s Triple Excellence your main practice, your priority.
4. Is this program suitable for beginners?
Yes, Tara’s Triple Excellence is recommended for beginners as well as experienced meditators. TTE takes us through the Buddhist Path in an orderly progression from Sutra all the way to highest Tantra. We all come to it with varying levels of experience and understanding. What you bring to this set of teachings is unique, and what you take away is also yours alone. Don’t worry about what ‘should’ be in your mind and experience. This program gives you daily support and authentic teachings.
5. What is a Guru ?
Guru means heavy, and here carries the connotation of being heavy and loaded with an abundance of good qualities. The Tibetan translation of this term is bla ma (pronounced lama). The Tibetan term, la, refers to being unsurpassable: somebody who possesses all unsurpassable qualities. There is nobody more important and precious. The second syllable, ma, is sometimes explained as referring to “mother”. So a guru is a teacher or master, the most important person in our life.
According to the Vajrayana tradition it is important to receive direct explanations about your practice from a realized master who, in turn, has received oral explanations directly from his or her teacher. This strictly observed and unbroken transmission of teachings is called the mouth-to-ear transmission. It started with the Buddha and has continued to this day. As a student of Tara’s Triple Excellence, you are becoming part of this unbroken lineage by receiving and practicing these teachings.
6. Do I need to have a guru to enroll in Tara’s Triple Excellence?
No, however, a personal teacher is very important in Vajrayana Buddhism. In order to be able to travel on this fast track, we, as the adepts, need to possess or develop devotion to the teacher and the yidam deity. As part of the TTE practice, you will be asked to visualize Tara as inseparable from your own root guru or teacher. The term root teacher, or guru, refers to the teacher who has pointed out the nature of your mind. If you have no root teacher yet, think of “the teacher” as the one who has given you the most inspiring teachings and instructions. When visualizing Tara as indivisible from your teacher, you don’t need to change her form, but merely think that your teacher’s compassionate heart and mind is the same as Tara’s. If you have no teacher, don’t worry, just imagine that Tara is your teacher.
7. Who is Tara?
Tara is a fully enlightened Buddha, who can be understood at both the relative and the ultimate levels.
In Buddhist histories we are told of a king’s daughter, living incalculable ages ago, who had great devotion to the Buddha. When she took her bodhisattva vow she promised to always be reborn in a female form to benefit beings until samsara was emptied. Therefore, she received the name Arya Tara, “noble saviouress.” She promised to help all beings as soon as they called upon her and liberate them from the eight great fears and dangers. Tara is said to come faster than a flash of lightening; the moment that we open our hearts and call upon her, Tara is present before us and assists us in that very instant. Due to the speed of her response, she is known as the Swift One.
Tara is but an expression of the nature of our own minds. She is a mirror to us, reflecting our unrealized, but innate perfection. As soon as our nature is realized exactly as it is, we awaken to what we truly are. Imagine dark clouds covering the sun as being equivalent to confusion obscuring our innate perfection. Once the clouds of confusion dissolve, the sun can freely shine forth. Likewise Tara’s compassionate teachings will swiftly help us uncover our natural great sun like perfection.
8. What is a visualization of a Deity and how do you do a visualization?
In Tibetan Buddhism supplication, visualization, and recitation are all regarded as skillful methods that soften our hearts and bring our minds closer to experiencing our real nature. If you are new to Tibetan Buddhism, you may ask yourself, why there are numerous deities in Tibetan Buddhism if the Buddha denied the existence of a sovereign creator god? These meditation deities, who embody specific enlightened qualities such as wisdom, skillful action, compassion and protection from harm, are not creator gods or absolute divinities, but rather they are considered expressions of our own true radiance. The Vajrayana teaches that all beings are by nature pure and perfect. We are in essence already deities, awakened beings, but we have forgotten our nature. By visualizing an enlightened being filled with loving kindness and wisdom, our heart’s own dormant qualities become unlocked and we again become introduced to what we really are.
The purpose of visualization training is to counteract self-limiting ordinary beliefs and perceptions; the ego-mind and its dualistic perception, which constantly judges and makes our life miserable, always wants something different and better. By practicing visualization we are counteracting our tendency to create a miserable real and solid world. The workings of visualization will be explained in detail during the Third Excellence.t
9. Can I do just one of the two practice sessions a day?
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche has arranged this program so that participants can have enough time and repetition to let each teaching sink into their hearts. This is why there are two similar practice sessions each day.
However, the most important thing is not to feel stressed about the program. We have to somehow find the middle way: not becoming stressed out about our practice, but also not becoming too loose, lax and lazy about it. If on particular days, of if your daily schedule really does not allow you to spend much time on the Triple Excellence, it is recommended to do at least the morning contemplation. Then, throughout your daily activities, be intensely aware of the points that are taught in the mindfulness training at the end of the morning contemplation.
10. What do I do if I miss an evening practice?
You may want to repeat both the morning and evening contemplation of the day you missed. Or if you feel that you have taken the topic reflected upon sincerely to heart simply move on to the next day.
11. Can I repeat sections of TTE?
Yes, when you register for each Excellence, you are given extra time as we anticipate you may want to certain teachings and contemplations more than once. For example, in the First Excellence, you are given about 24 weeks to complete 18 weeks of lessons. If you have completed the entire First Excellence and you are beyond the 24 weeks, you are welcome to repeat the First Excellence again at 75% off. You can download the audio files for free and listen to them anytime. However, for access to all the materials, including the video’s you will need to re-register.
12. Can I take a break from the Tara’s Triple Excellence program?
Yes, many people taking the program have circumstances which obligate them to take a break, such as illness, or changed family circumstances. This is why we incorporate extra time which allows one to take short breaks when practice becomes difficult.
If you have experienced great difficulty, such as sickness or a health emergency or a death in the family, please email Tatiana and we have the option of extending your program time based on your personal circumstances.
13. Can I be registered for all three Excellences at the same time?
It is not possible to be registered for all three Excellences at the same time. When you have completed the First Excellence and your access time has expired, you are welcome to register for the Second Excellence. Upon completing the Second Excellence Part 3 you are required to take a short quiz and an interview prior to registering for the Third Excellence.
14. Why can’t I immediately start with the Second or Third Excellence?
Completing The First Excellence is a requirement to move onto the Second and Third Excellence. Due to the nature of these teachings we are obliged to check carefully every participant who wants to practice the Third Excellence.
15. What if I have challenges with some of the content in the daily contemplations?
Tara’s Triple Excellence includes a moderated forum where you ask questions or seek advice from other seasoned practitioners. You may also contact one of our moderators via email.
16. Where can I find the practice materials?
At the end of Week 1 in The First Excellence you will find key materials for the course including the Chantbook, the Supplication to Tara, the wake up and sleeping practice, and other texts. Throughout other parts of the program you will occasionally receive additional teachings and resources like prayer texts, summaries of the contemplations and images.
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18. Can I share the material with others?
At the request of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, please do not distribute these files to anyone else. These are profound terma teachings that must only be accessed by the individual who received the teachings and practices accordingly. Otherwise the seal of secrecy will be broken, which is harmful to the Dharma, the teacher and the Sangha. All program content – print, video, audio – is meant only for your own personal practice. Rinpoche has made it completely clear that he does NOT wish these files to be copied and/or distributed beyond those who are actually training through this program. Thank you for your understanding and commitment. Please commit to Maintain the Seal of Secrecy.