Tag Archives: 9/11

White Tara

The wild change in the weather brought on a migraine. Not too surprising, but as always, they affect what I can do.

I was having a very difficult time settling my mind and frequently feeling panicky all day, which is not strange for the day, or with recent circumstances, and I could not find a rhythm for tonglen to keep it going for very long. It seemed like only about five or ten minutes. Five or ten minutes seemed like a terribly short period of time when I was thinking about people being trapped under metal and concrete, dying of thirst, burns, and other injuries. How time must have crawled for those people.

I wanted to do recitations with something I both already had memorized and had easily accessible to listen alongside to help me stay focused. What I had available turned out to be White Tara.

White Tara is often approached for longevity, but also during sickness, and she is said to be more compassionate toward our suffering than a mother is toward a beloved child.

Part of the training on compassion throughout Buddhism is that we need to be compassionate toward ourselves, forgiving toward ourselves, accepting of ourselves, and so on, so that we can be those things toward others. I needed to be compassionate toward myself and my limitations, remember that one second of thought for the benefit of other beings is priceless, and accept the efforts I was able to give as good.

This is something that I have constant trouble with.

I did not grow up with a loving mother, so it is very hard for me to imagine Tara’s compassion.

I did not feel well enough to get up to get my mala, but the recording has 108 recitations, and I went through them, drawing my mind when it wandered back to the topic at hand. I visualized a Buddha-field with white lotuses and clear water as an offering.

Something controversial, I think, in Buddhism and some other religions, is that you do not separate some people from who gets included. You do not think to yourself, no, the people who hijacked the planes cannot come to this Buddha-field and receive blessings from Tara, or sit among these lotuses, or listen to this water.

Among Orthodox Christians, it’s common to use the word ‘repose’ instead of ‘dead’ or ‘death.’ Sometimes it seems like a better word.


Tomorrow never stops seeming like a day that has detached itself from the timestream and remains outside of it, one foot aside, leaving a jarring hole like missing a step in the dark — as vertiginous and horrifying, full of animal visions of twisted bones and broken spines.

It “gets better.” The city “moves on.”

Signs about the missing, then PTSD, then sickness, then cancer disappear. Then there are no signs at all, except sometimes you stumble across a mural to a group of people, to firefighters, to all of them.

The victims’ families have become something of an embarrassment: they demand tribute every year to the fallen, demand that something be done, demand that it not get brushed under the rug of tourism and shining up the public perception of the city as Safe again.

It’s going to be in the upper 90s tomorrow, after days of pleasant weather. It’s going to be incredibly oppressive.

I’ll be at home, meditating on peace, making an offering to the dead, and an offering to the spirit and spirits of the city, themselves wounded grievously and much ignored. Maybe I will turn my practice to tonglen, and take their suffering, and give them love, empathy, acknowledgement. I see you.

I hear you.

And I am so very sorry.