Tibetan Goddess of Compassion

tara

Our goddess tour goes to Tibet and China where we find Tara, whose name means “star” in sanskrit. The other meaning is “she who carries us across the waters.” Tara is our spiritual cruise director. She is the Hindu and Buddhist starlet who helps us travel smoothly and safely to our destination. She is complex with multiple personalities depicted by many different colors. Within Tibetan Buddhism,she has twenty-one forms. When Yellow, Blue or Red she is a temperamental diva. When White or Green, Tara is a loving lady.

How to recognize White Tara?

White Tara is gentle, peaceful, patient and nurturing. She expresses maternal compassion and offers healing to those who are hurt or wounded. She focuses on longevity and approaches problems with prayer. Easiest to recognize because she is – well – white. More difficult to recognize in statuary so you have to look for those freakish seven eyes on top of her head, palms of her hands and soles of her feet. This way she can see anyone who needs help in any direction. White Tara holds an open white lotus as a symbol of purity and is said to be as white and radiant as the moon.  She clears away harsh relationships, environments and chemicals. She also protects from loud noise, crowds and violence. She is the goddess for those with an open mind and receptive heart. White Tara spreads joy and happiness.

How to recognize Green Tara?

Green Tara is a no-nonsense gal. She is intense with a loving warrior spirit, a true diva with a reputation for being proactive and making things happen. Green Tara reminds you to delegate and ask for help. She works fast and is excellent in emergencies. She helps you understand situations and relationships. Recognized because she is – green. Green is considered the color that contains all other colors. In statues you must look more closely to see the half open lotus in her hand representing night. Sometimes there are two lotus blossoms. She does not have any extra eyes. Green Tara rescues us by empowering us to save ourselves.

Lotus Blossoms

lotusLotus Blossoms bring balance and moderation in all things. They are an important component to the Buddha statue. Buddha is either seated upon a lotus in full bloom or holding a blossom in his hand. Some images portray him with each foot resting on a separate petal. When Siddhartha declared his Enlightenment and took seven steps it is said that under each step sprang a lotus blossom.

Did you know that the lotus blossom grows in murky swamps? It’s true. With roots buried deep in the mud, the lotus flower rises to the surface. It’s not easy pushing through the muck, which is why the lotus symbolizes that beauty is born from hardship. In Sanskrit and Tibetan, the lotus is called padma and represents purity, joy and perfection. Lotus is cool and Buddha is hot – so it is said to cool Buddha’s fire.

White Lotus – spiritual perfection and total mental purity
Pink Lotus – supreme lotus reserved for the Great Buddha
Red Lotus – love, compassion and other qualities of the heart
Blue Lotus – victory of the spirit over the senses and signifies wisdom

Spirit Houses

spirithouseI discovered Spirit Houses on a bumpy dusty back road in the countryside near Angkor, Cambodia. I noticed these cute little houses in everyone’s yard. It seemed that poor folks had makeshift versions, while rich families had fancier ones. Some were lit up with lights and candles while others had figurines. They all had incense and offerings and it turns out they are very popular throughout Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

No one likes nosy relatives poking around in their affairs and that’s where the Spirit House comes in handy. When a loved one passes onto the spirit world you want to make sure they don’t stick around wreaking havoc in your life. In Asian homes it is not uncommon for families to share the same house for generations. Lurking spirits can be a pesky problem, so the solution is to build them their very own abode and place it outside. A Spirit House is a replica of a tiny dollhouse (think the size of trolls not barbie) perched on a pedestal planted in the ground.

Spirit House Rules:

Paint it. Decorate it. Light incense to send prayers to heaven. And don’t forget to prepare daily offerings. Each Spirit House has its own unique personality and that’s the charm. They can never be tossed out and need to be buried in a Spirit House graveyard or left beneath a banyan tree.

 

 

Rub the Buddha Belly

laughing-buddhaWherever I travel throughout the world Fat Happy Buddha is an iconic image. I always thought he was just another version of Buddha, but I was wrong. He is also called Laughing Buddha and is technically a Budai or Chinese deity. Budhai means “cloth sack” and that’s because he carries his worldly possessions in a sack tossed over his shoulder. He also carries good luck beads and a money gourd aka hulu or wu lou – that brings wealth and prosperity. No wonder he is honored and adored all over Asia. But really, who is he?

History Lesson:

Laughing Buddha aka Po-tai Ho-shang was an eccentric monk who lived between the 6th and 10th century. Neighbors knew him from his fat belly, bald head, robe and prayer beads. He was considered a good man of loving character, poor yet content, discovering the Buddha within himself. He did so many good deeds during his lifetime that when he died he rose to bodhisattva status (deity who attains enlightenment but remains in human form to help others) and was renamed Budai.

How to recognize him?

As opposed to Buddha statues which tend to be thin figured, Laughing Buddha has a fat tummy, bald head and happy grin. Sometimes he carries a bag of wealth. Sometimes he carries your bag of troubles, which he has collected for you. When he was a monk traveling from village to village handing out candy to poor children, he asked only for a penny in return. That is why when you find a Buddha with children climbing all over him, this is very auspicious and means abundance of good fortune coming from heaven. Happy Laughing Buddha is a lovely statue to display when wanting to attract abundance in life. Go ahead and rub the Buddha belly!

Laughing Buddha reminds us of our capacity to achieve happiness and enjoy the good life.

 

Take a Tea Break

tea

Story of Indian Tea

There’s always time for chai. The word chai means tea so if you are ordering what we call chai in the West – it is called masala in India. In India, chai was the only street food I dared try (I figured it is made from boiling water.) There was no set price, just pay whatever you desire. There is a tea component to everything you do from shopping to dining. Between 1660-1857 tea was the main export by the East India Company. Today, India is the second-largest producer of tea. Once I tasted fresh Indian tea, I was hooked.

Know your Indian tea:

Assam – largest tea producing region
Darjeeling – champagne of black teas
Masala – black tea spiced with cardamon and ginger

All the Tea in China

Tea is a Chinese tradition enjoyed throughout the day, but when the Brits arrived in Hong Kong they introduced “afternoon tea” where black tea is served with milk and sugar. One of the most fascinating books that brings clarity to the entire Chinese tea tradition is “For All the Tea in China.” It tells the tale of British horticulturist Robert Fortune and how he was sent undercover in 1848 to China to steal their tea growing secrets and bring cuttings to India for the East India Company.

Inspired Reading

For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose

Rented Charms

amulets

According to Thai tradition, Buddhas or phra phim are never bought or sold, only rented. These little charms encased inside clear boxes or frames caught my attention while getting lost on the back streets of Bangkok. The over stimulation of too many people living life out on the streets, mixed with the yummy smell of sizzling pan fried noodles, almost distracted me from noticing the wizened Thai man and his makeshift card table. Setting up shop on the street, he proudly displayed his spiritual wares. His prized possessions seemed to be phra phim, which I had never seen before. In chopped English he explained that they were passionately traded or “rented” – if the price was right. A person was only the temporary custodian of the each pieces’s magic and I found that detail very interesting. The charms were so intricate and beautiful and when I turned one over, I saw a tiny tolled up scroll set inside. It seemed that each piece contained a sacred script and magical drawing. Apparently, only charms blessed by monks are said to be powerful protection. Sometimes they are used for love – he winked at me. But mostly soldiers, taxi drivers and other high-risk professions are the true believers.

 

Yin & Yang

Yin & Yang

Yin & Yang

Yin and Yang represents the cosmic dance between polar opposites. Yin is passive female. Yang is active male. Yin is dark and quiet. Yang is bright and loud. You need both to live a balanced healthy life. If you look closely you can see that within Yang there is a dot of Yin and within Yin there is a dash of Yang.

How to recognize Yin?

Yin is found in cave-like rooms, low ceilings, decorative patterns and lots of collectibles. Yin can be cozy and comfy, but too much can be stale and stuck like granny’s house.

How to recognize Yang?

Yang is found in large spacious rooms with high ceilings and massive picture windows. Bright sunlight streaming in and vast sweeping staircases can be sexy like a bachelor pad, but can also be icy, cold and overwhelming.

Anita’s lesson:

Two of everything is much better than one, which is why every Yin has its Yang!

Foo Dogs

Foo Dogs - protection

Foo Dogs – protection

Sometimes you need a little protection and that’s where Foo Dogs come in handy. Scaring off evil spirits and negativity aimed at thresholds and entrances, they are protectors of truth and defenders against evil. The name comes from the Chinese word “Fu” meaning luck or prosperity.

Foo Dogs gather near temples, palaces, tombs, government buildings, banks, offices and estates. Are they lions or dogs? They have manes, large paws and sharp teeth. At the time they first appeared in China (208 BC to about 221 AD) by way of the Silk Trade Route, Buddhist artisans had never seen a lion. They had only heard of their reputation so they stylized their faces more friendly than fierce.

What you need to know about Foo Dogs is that they hate to be alone. To be effective they work in pairs. One is male, the other female. The “boy” has a ball under one paw. The “girl” has a pup under hers.

If their mouths are closed, they will keep good spirits in the house. Open mouths scare off demons. They are displayed looking away from each other so they don’t get distracted. As you face the doorway, the male sits on the left while the female sits on the right.

Foo Dog Bulletin:

  • Place outside to guard entrances
  • Mouth closed keeps in good spirits
  • Mouth open scares off demons
  • Should face away from each other
  • Facing door; male on left, female on right
  • They attract good fortune
  • Known as Celestial Dog or Dog of Happiness

Learn more about Foo Dogs in my new book Practical Magical and Household Luck in the Good Karma Shop.

 

Carnelian for creativity & passion

Carnelian crystals

Carnelian crystals

Carnelian is my favorite creative stone. It inspires you to dance, encourages you to design, shines the spotlight when you are on stage, puts pen to paper and supports whatever artistic vision you have. It also promotes positive life choices and can be used to improve relationships between parents and children. Carnelian helps you get to the bottom of what makes you tick, giving you the courage to be your very best!

Carnelian benefits:

  • Tunes daydreamers to reality
  • Grounds and anchors you
  • Replaces evil-eye (jealousy and toxic people) with love
  • Overcomes abuse of any kind
  • Helps with lower back pain
  • Stimulates the 2nd chakra, your sexuality
  • Creative stone for artists and actors

Feng Shui placement:

  1. at your desk
  2. in your creative space

SHOP NOW for Carnelian at my Good Karma Shop. Each piece is chosen by me for its unique color and vibration.