What is White Tara?
Tara is the main female Buddhist deity. Tara's special quality as a Buddhist deity is her swiftness in responding to the prayers of those who invoke her name. Meditating on Tara is said to enable one to quickly achieve liberation from suffering. White Tara is specifically associated with practices designed to overcome threats to health and long life. It is said that meditating on White Tara and saying her mantra can overcome even serious sickness. Her mantra is OM TARE TUTTARE TURE MAMA AYUR PUNIJE JNANA PUSHTIM KURE YE SOHA. White Tara is specifically visualised with seven eyes - a 'third eye' in her forehead the other four on the palms of her hands and soles of her feet. These allow her to see beings in every realm of existence, with clear-sighted wisdom and heartfelt compassion.

What does Chenrezig mean?
Chenrezig (the Tibetan equivalent of the Sanskrit word Avalokiteshvara) is the Buddha of compassion, who holds unlimited compassion for all beings. The Dalai Lama is said to be the manifestation of Chenrezig, which is why he is referred to as 'the living Buddha'. Compassion is the desire for beings to be free from suffering. This means understanding the nature and causes of suffering - our own as well as others - so that our actions are skilful. Great compassion is the desire to free every living being from suffering. In Buddhism, compassion is regarded as the main source of happiness for ourselves and others. By visualising Chenrezig and focusing one's mind on his mantra (OM MANI PADME HUM), we can awaken our own 'good heart' within us.

What is a Buddhist 'empowerment'? Does it mean commitments?
You can take part in the White Tara and Chenrezig events for a blessing or to receive an empowerment or initiation. There are currently no commitments associated with the Chenrezig empowerment in Melbourne and the White Tara long life blessing in Geelong. To understand more about these events you need to know some background about the particular type of Buddhism they arise from. Visit the Description of Events for more details and download even longer explanations of some topics.
Tibetan Buddhism is a type of Buddhism known as Mahayana, which includes the practices of Vajrayana or Tantra. Tantra is the technique of imagining yourself as a deity and your environment as a pure place. The Tantric path is said to lead the practitioner to enlightenment in a relatively short time. However, Tantric practices are very precise and require lifelong commitment - they are treated as 'secret' to safeguard the lineage, and thus practitioners.
The purpose of an empowerment is to ripen one's mindstream for Tantric practice by making a connection with the particular deity. Normally, if you take a Tantric empowerment, you must take vows and/or promise to do certain meditation practices daily. If you do not wish to take the commitments, you can simply take the empowerment as a blessing, thus creating a karmic connection with that particular Tantric deity and practice.