Sadhana of the Two Parts of the Body (Sadhana of Black Tara)
Give yourself some time to feel the inner left part of your body and imagine that it is tuned to wise perception. Next imagine that the inner right side of your body is tuned to auspicious and benevolent activity.
The spleen and stomach (“absorbing” organs) are located on the left side of the body; and the liver and gall bladder (“excreting” organs) are located on the right side.
You are invited to create two images of yourself:
- one which is happy, blissful, and enlightened with higher knowledge and abilities. Place this image on the left.
- the other image of yourself is one that is suffering from the “I”-sense, feeling unprotected, containing all your problems, including your fears and doubts about this practice in particular, and any feeling uncertainty about your performance of this practice. Place this image on the right.
Feel a wave of goodwill, softness and love, a sense of being protected and confident in your Buddha-nature. This wave moves from the left image to the right image. Your body does not make an obstacle or barrier to this movement.
Afterwards you may feel that a wave of gratitude moves from the right image to the direction of the left image.
In case you feel it appropriate, you may see how these two images unite in the reality of your body.
This is connected to Black Tara and her immeasurable feeling of repentance. The correspondent organ is the gallbladder.
To support our repentance we may use the following prayer:
I repent in my evil deeds, words and thoughts .
I repent that my deeds, words and thoughts were not auspicious enough to affect perfection.
I repent in false views and ignorance, which were hiding from me a path to liberation for countless lifetimes.
I repent in lack of good intention, and wisdom of its realization, which are the causes of all the good in this world.
The relationship between the left-and right sides of the body resembles that of the mother – child relationship, where one part is caring ,providing shelter, giving confidence and love. And the other part, while being aware of its own incompetence, is trusting and opening itself to its mother’s loving kindness to take care of it.
We can say that our left and right hands are symbolic expressions of right and left parts of the body.
It is suggested that in sitting meditation women place their left hand on top of their right hand and men place their right hand on top of their left hand. Why is it so?
An explanation may be found in Chinese medicine:
Our left hand is the “yang hand” and our right hand is the “yin hand”. The heart, spleen, liver, lungs, and kidneys are yin organs and are positioned above the hollow organs: bladder, small and large intestine, gallbladder and stomach, which are yang organs. (Organs are considered as full organs when blood transformation takes place in them. Organs are considered as hollow when transformation of nutritious essence and its byproducts takes place in them.) But in women there is what is called a miraculous organ; and it is the uterus. The uterus is a hollow organ where yin is preserved. The uterus supports yang organs. That is why it is more appropriate for women to place their left (yang) hand on top of the right (yin) hand in meditation to create correspondence with the inner reality of their body, where yang is supported by yin, preserved in uterus. In a male body yin is supported by yang, that is why it is recommended for men to place their right hand on top of left hand in meditation.
In addition it would be good to mention that uterus is very tightly connected with gallbladder – both of them have miraculous qualities.
Thus we can see difference in two approaches of left-and-right connections.
In “two parts of the body” sadhana we see that “disposition” of left and right is common for men and women, as it is based on relationship of spleen and stomach absorbing qualities and of liver and gallbladder excreting functions. And it’s no surprise that these organs have similar locations – in men and women.
In sitting meditation, hand placing approach “disposition” of left and right differs in men and women as it is based on yin-yang mutual disposition. And it is different for men and women.
There are many inspiring stories depicting relationship of two parts of our inner reality: the right part (depressed, doubting and despaired) and the left side ( blissful, contented and blessed with higher knowledge and pure vision).
Let’s take for example the story of one of 84 mahasiddhas – Virupa.
Virupa received initiation and empowerment from the dakini Vajravarahi. For 12 years he recited her mantra 20 million times, however had no visible signs of progress. So he decided he had no connection with teaching of Vajrayana and in such despaired state of mind he threw his mala (rosary) into the toilet and stopped his meditations.
However the same night Vajravarahi manifested for him, giving him back his mala with blessings and instructions encouraging Virupa to take up his practice again.
Deeply inspired, he renewed his practice and in 12 years gained the realization of Mahamudra.
Now we may see that Virupa’s “right part”, the disgusted and despaired part, made him throw his mala to the toilet. The Dakini who appeared before him giving him back his mala with words of consolation and instruction was in fact his own enlightened self, his “left part”. (This enlightened part is produced by the own mind and is a product of eager prayers.) The moment Virupa received back his mala from Dakini and was inspired by her instructions these two parts of him reunited (merged).
In a story of Yeshe Tsogyal we have examples of the appearance of her enlightened self in moments of hardship. When she devoted herself to ascetic practices in remote mountains few times she was at the edge of death, but either Guru Padmasambhava appeared to save her in response to her prayers or Red Dakini came in her vision to fill her with power and health.
In Naropa’s story we also trace this phenomenon. Once while he was travelling through a desert a severe life threatening rain of stones started. Naropa sat down in exhaustion and was ready to meet his death but suddenly Tilopa appeared and saved him by stopping this merciless rain.
Is it possible that Guru arrives in his/her physical form to his disciple out of nowhere? Probably not. But it is a Guru who through disciple’s prayers and devotion became intrinsic part of disciple’s inner reality. The Guru manifests and gives to the suffering and incompetent part liberating instructions and consolation, i.e. refuge, in moments of hardship and doubts.
By Ilona Erkin
Translation: Ilona Erkin and Dorey Glenn