Four Layers of Tara's Merits

Yutang Lin

Realizing Sunyata, harmonizing teachings, and complete with attainments,
Staying by the side of each and every sentient being to protect and guide,
Merciful kindness moves many to come for refuge from lands far and wide,
Spreading pure nectar universally all over the world to nourish and moisten.


This morning right before I woke up I received teachings on the four layers of Tara's merits in a dream. The teachings are succinctly described below:

  1. There was someone who has realized Sunyata and fulfilled the trainings that enable one to serve as a patriarch. This person is capable of taking up several kinds of glorious and important responsibilities.
  2. Explanation: Having fulfilled the trainings that enable one to serve as a patriarch means having mastered the harmonization and unification of Buddhist theories, and possessed attainments completely. Being capable of taking up several kinds of glorious and important responsibilities means the ability to transform appropriately for conversion purposes at will, and to convert beings far and wide. These are merits of Tara that are commonly understood; hence they belong to the outer layer.

  3. Nevertheless, the mind of this person was completely free from considerations of position and fame, and was solely preoccupied with the intention to stay by the side of each and every sentient being so as to protect and save all of them.
  4. Explanation: The compassion of Tara is completely impartial and selfless. It is not only universally applicable to all sentient beings but also so profound as to accompany and safeguard each and every sentient being. Such profound compassion is usually difficult to comprehend by ordinary people; hence it belongs to the inner layer.

  5. Due to complete possession of merits as described in the two layers above, this person naturally became a prominent and important patriarch.
  6. Explanation: Even though free from such intentions, due to the attraction of this person's merits, naturally the conversion became far and wide and the fame spread to distant lands. Such is the result of matching merits of both outer and inner layers and their mutual enhancement; hence this belongs to the secret layer.

  7. This person's supernatural power caused pure nectar to spring forth and cover the whole world; consequently all sentient beings obtained nourishment and became moistened with compassion.

    Explanation: Universal soothing of all sentient beings is the function of supernatural powers that originated spontaneously from limitless oneness that is originally pure; hence it belongs to the most secret layer.

With gratitude I have carefully and faithfully recorded the teachings here. Through this public announcement I hope to help promote understanding of Tara's merciful and compassionate merits. In addition, I hope that Buddhists who practice sadhanas on Taras would thereby gain accomplishments sooner and save all beings equally.

Written in Chinese and translated on June 22, 2004
Chinese Duan Wu Festival (lunar May 5)
El Cerrito, California

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