Students of Buddhism will know Tara as the Buddhist goddess of compassion and that she manifests in many forms. Twenty-one, to be exact, and author Chandra Easton, a teacher and translator of Tibetan Buddhism, opens them up to Buddhists and non-Buddhists in this new book.

A thirty-page introduction allows the reader to enter deliberately into this aspect of the Tibetan tradition, including meeting Tara as a fully awakened buddha, a teacher of female Buddhist masters, and coming to know Tara as the Great Mother.

A black-and-white illustration of each Tara manifestation graces the pages, and they include Tara the Melodious One, the Treasure of Intelligence, and Tara Who Is Victorious Over War — both of whom we are in great need of today.

Rich in this book are the spiritual practices, including embodiment meditations, visualizations, mantra recitations, and prayers. Here are two examples from the chapter on Tara Who Is Victorious Over War:

“Front Visualization: Imagine that from luminous empty space Tara Vinashini appears in the space in front and slightly above you, dark red in color and semifierce, surrounded by blazing wisdom flames. A multitude of tiny vajras [weapons] radiate out from her open-pronged vajra, each multiplying countless sparkling vajras in all directions. These vajras form an indestructible protective tent of rainbow-colored vajras, protecting beings from war, aggression, and danger. She is surrounded by numerous wisdom beings.”

And this prayer to be recited three times, which appears in all of the chapters: “Noble Tara, the essence of all refuges, you liberate beings from fear and suffering. I take refuge in your vast, loving compassion. In order to bring all sentient beings to the state of enlightenment, I generate the twofold bodhichitta [awakening mind] of aspiration and action.”

Other manifestations have fewer obvious applications to human life, such as Tara the Great Peacock Goddess and Tara of Mountain Retreat, Clothed in Leaves — but reading about these increases our understanding of the beauties of Tibetan Buddhist life and practice, on full display in this beautifully composed work.