Delog Dawa Drolma was a great female teacher of Tibet, and the mother of Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. As Chagdud Tulku remembers, his mother was revered throughout Tibet for her extraordinary powers as a lama, but she was more famous for being a delog, one who has crossed the threshold of death and returned to tell about it. Hers was not a visionary or momentary near-death experience. For five full days she lay cold, breathless, and devoid of any vital signs, while her consciousness moved freely into other realms, often escorted by the wisdom goddess White Tara.
She undertook her journey as a delog according to instructions she had received from Tara in visions, but against the wishes of her lamas, who pleaded with her not to take such a risk. It is remarkable that she, a young woman of sixteen, had so much confidence in her meditation that she prevailed over very wise, much older lamas. However, she herself had been recognized as an emanation of White Tara, a powerful force of enlightened mind for the longevity and liberation of all sentient beings.
It is considered that Tara dwells, as Avalokiteshvara, in the pure land of Potala, manifested on Earth by a mountain in Southern India. Nevertheless, a pure land is attributed to Tara. It is a particular domain, called Yulokod (“The Land of Turquoise Leaves”). Those, who pray to and praise Arya Tara with love and devotion, mingling their minds with hers, may reborn in her blissful abode, The Land of Turquoise Leaves.
According to Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, in Arya Tara’s buddha realm, all the living beings are female – the bodhisattvas, the birds, the tigers, everyone. Arya Tara resides at the centre of a magnificent, transparent lapis lazuli palace. She is swift to act, peaceful and resplendent, and is surrounded by buddhas, bodhisattvas and hundreds and thousands of dakinis whose wisdom minds overflow with great love and compassion.
In one of the visions in her journey as delog, Dawa Drolma travelled to the Tara’s pure land and wrote down this amazing experience.
“I came to a place where the entire country was verdant wherever I looked, beautiful and vividly clear, a marvelous enviornment with many extraordinary features. Pavilions of five-coloured rainbow light hovered in the sky. Many kinds of flowers and lotuses grew everywhere. Here there was no concept of summer or winter. The wish granting trees were in full leaf, and from the words of Buddhadharma in the Sanskrit language, such as Namo arya tare mam.
Birds that were emanations of the Noble Lady – sparrows, ducks, peacock, cranes, parrots, grouse, cuckoos, and swans, played everywhere. The land was filled with wealth and prosperity gems. Everywhere were pools of nectar endowed with eight fine qualities and elegantly appointed bathhouses made of precious jewels.
In this realm, there was no concepts of birth, aging, illness or death. All of the inhabitants were born miraculously from the hearts of lotuses. In no future lifetimes would they hear unpleasant or discordant sound. Those dwelling there were bodhisattvas who had attained high levels of realization. This place surpassed the limits of imagination; its size could not be measured. It contained thousands of immeasurable mansions fashioned of the five precious substances.
I arrived at the gateway of the central palace, a vast celestial mansion of magical and marvelous appearance, having the power to liberate beings in four ways. The very moment I entered it, I awoke from deep sleep of ordinary rational consiousness and was free of the veils of ignorance. The inner vision of my prisitine awareness expanded, and I experienced a surge of love and compassion.
I came to a courtyard in which many thousands of goddesses, dressed in green, chanted the praises to the twenty-one forms of Tara in the Sanskrit tongue. Occaisionally, they played small finger cymbals, golden hand drums, and drums made of sandalwood, ebony, “serpents heart” wood, and four kinds of heart wood, as well as cymbals, gongs and flutes. They frequently punctuated their chant with music performed on this inconceivable variety of instruments. Upon hearing them, I felt an unimaginable sense of devotion; I made many offering praises with my mind.
I proceed to the immeasurable central palace, the celestial mansion. I saw that the five layered walls were made of conch shell, gold, coral, emerald, and sapphire, all with friezes of ruby. The pillars and columns were made of red pearl, the main roof beams of quartz crystal, and the rafters were made of gems to illuminate the interior. Atop a cornice of gold was a pediment of coral, supporting a bluish green vault of tourquoise. Melodious music from chimes on the roof top resounded taking away the suffering of those in the lower realms. The fragrant scent of incense of the immeasurable attitudes wafted about. There were fine displays of unimaginably lovely offerings.
In the center of the mansion, on a many-coloured lotus with a thousand petals and a moon disk seat, was the only refuge, the very embodiment of compassion, the sublime mother of all the victorious ones of the three times, the sister of the bodhisattvas, she whom both those in the human world and those in the heavens worship with the crowns of their heads touched to the soles of her feet. The goddess who born from the tears of the Exalted One, the noble Tara herself.
Her body was bluish green, more intensely luminous than a mountains of turquoise fit by a thousand suns. Infinite rays of light shone from her form, which was adorned with major and minor marks of perfection. Her body was that of a youthful maiden sixteen years of age, clad in garments made from the silk of the gods adorned with immeasurably valuable ornaments of precious wish-fufilling gems. Her hair was shiny jet black, half of her tresses bound up in a topknot and with ribbons of blue green silk that fluttered in the breeze. With her left hand in the gesture symbolizing the Three Jewels, she held the stem of a blue lotus, the petals of which bloomed next to her ear. With her right hand she held the gesture of granting refuge. She, Tara, Mother of all Buddha’s sheltered all beings from the limitless fears of this confused world of cyclic existence. She held her two legs half-crossed in the posture of a feminine bodhisattva.
Many noble feminine bodhisattvas were circumbambulating her and there were also many varied manifestations of Tara herself. All were distinctly visible but without the aggregates of flesh and blood. They appeared as illusory forms of pristine awareness, a magical display manifesting in myriad of ways. I saw them in all their scintillating brilliance, like stars and planets reflected in the vast ocean.
At this point, my grasping at ordinary reality spontaneously ceased & I experienced for a time an unimaginable sense of cosmic order.”
Journey to Realms beyond Death by Delog Dawa Drolma;
Living Is Dying by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche;
Tara The Feminine Divine by Bokar Rinpoche;
Image of Green Tara by The Images Of Enlightenment, www.dakiniasart.org.