MYTH*ING LINKS
An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions

by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

GEOGRAPHICAL REGIONS:
ASIA


General Buddhism
(Also see Zen Buddhism
and individual Asian countries with sections on "Religion and Philosophy" --
 links are at the bottom of this page)

NOTE: there are a number of broken links on this 2001 page -- that's the nature of websites and it's impossible to keep doing updates. However, since I often quote lengthy passages, there's still much of interest here.  For any links that you especially want to see, try the Wayback Machine's archival site at: http://www.archive.org/web/web.php:  just copy the broken link into their form.  [6 Dec. 2012]

The Buddha
Odilon Redon
[Source tba]

http://www.ciolek.com/WWWVL-Buddhism.html

[From 1998]: This is the site for the overall Buddhist Studies WWW Virtual Library  -- a major site with a chart showing various scholarly areas to which direct links are available.  Each of these sites in turn offers ever-deepening access to intricacies of Buddhism.  There are also more specific WWW Virtual Libraries for Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, and many other schools (see below).
Note: These WWW Virtual Libraries exist for many cultures and traditions and are always rich in resources; they will turn up at many places on Mything Links.
 http://kaladarshan.arts.ohio-state.edu/anu/buddhart.html
[From 1998]:Buddhist Studies -- Art Resources: another excellent site as a part of the overall Buddhist Studies WWW Virtual Library.
http://buddhism.about.com/religion/buddhism/library/weekly/aa092798.htm
This page from Dick Dillon, about.com's Buddhism guide, offers a fine overview of Buddhism's concepts and early history (especially Mahayana).  It's thoughtful, clear, and includes good hypertext links for further exploration.
http://web.archive.org/web/20050415183404/http://www.csupomona.edu/~plin/ews430/buddhism1.html: [27 May 2012Now on Web Archive]
From Cal State University, Pomona, comes an excellent basic page on Buddhism.  Four linked pages cover Historical Background, Tenets, Texts, and Culture.  Each page also offers good hypertext for further delving.
 http://mcel.pacificu.edu/as/students/vb/index.htm
This is "Buddhism in Vietnam" from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon (not to be confused with Pacifica Graduate Institute in California, where I teach).  In a series of pages, it looks not only at Vietnam but also at the larger Buddhist world:
...Our approach is a basic one, to generally describe the practices and major differences in philosophy, as well as look at some of the impacts of the American conflict in Vietnam. We have come to the conclusion that if Buddhism and its culture in Vietnam is left out of curriculum when discussing the war, a serious element of the history is neglected....
The site includes a brief excerpt from a 1995 interview with Thich Nhat Hanh about anger over the Vietnam war and about seeing deeper, beyond the anger:
...Waking up in morning, you can recognize "I'm alive" and that there are twenty-four hours for me to live, to learn how to look at living beings with the eyes of compassion. If you are aware that you are alive, that you have twenty-four hours to create new joy, this would be enough to make yourself happy and the people around you happy. This is a practice of happiness....
 http://august.uwyo.edu/Religionet/er/buddhism/BTIME.HTM
This is an interesting little page on calendar time and worship in Buddhist countries:
...There are few religious festivals in Buddhism that are observed by all buddhists at the same time.  This is due partially to the nature of Buddhism's historical development and partially to the impact of the regions and countries Buddhism entered. On the one hand, because of the differences in the structure of belief among Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana, and among the different schools of Mahayana, there is no one event or person who is understood in the same manner, and thus worshipped in the same manner. So although all forms of Buddhism celebrate the Buddha's life, they do so at different times....
I happen to have personal experience of the complexities of the calendar in Buddhist countries.  When I lived with my father in Hue, South Vietnam, in 1962, we knew there would be a celebration of the Buddha's birthday in early spring, but no one seemed to know when it would be.  I was amazed that the Vietnamese monks had to send to Cambodia to find out the correct date.  We waited and waited.  Only days beforehand, news reached Hue that April 8th was the correct day.  A beautiful nocturnal celebration was hastily arranged and a large square was filled with people, thousands of candles, and countless coffee-tins filled with bright orange flowers.
 http://www.buddhanet.net/mudras.htm
From Buddhanet comes "Hand Mudras - Symbols of Deeper Meaning":
The symbolic gestures of the hands of Buddha images, called Mudras, are picture tools of identification of deeper meaning....
The page offers nice B&W sketches of the mudras and brief explanations of their meanings.

The Lotus Sutra
& The Bodhisattvas

Frontispiece to Chapter Four
Lotus Sutra Scroll, Heiam Period, Japan. 1164 C.E.
(Image #5 from Sarah Fraser's site -- see directly below)
http://blogs.dickinson.edu/buddhistethics/2010/04/08/ethics-and-the-lotus-suutra/
[Added 6 December 2012]: This is "Ethics and the Lotus Sutra" by Peggy Morgan of Westminster College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. She quotes a passage from a practicing Buddhist scholar who explains that, in offering a revealed pathway by which one's life may be wisely lived, the Lotus Sutra is the Buddhist equivalent to the West's Bible.
http://sophia.smith.edu/~jhubbard/lotus/Syllabus/syllabus.htm
[Added 6 December 2012]: Nine interesting lectures from various academic experts on the Lotus Sutra.
 http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/art-history/fraser/b40/Section_WK.6-Lotus_Sutra.html
The "Lotus Sutra" is the source of Mahayana Buddhism's teachings on the bodhisattvas, those who delay their own total fulfillment in order to help suffering beings on earth.  From a course taught by Sarah Fraser in Northwestern University's Art History Department come six frontispieces and other images from very old scrolls of the Lotus Sutra.  The six thumbnails look quite dark and unappealing, but if you click on them, you'll find very large (slow-loading) and stunning images.  Each is fully identified.
 http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/0/0,5716,50200+1+49032,00.html
From the Encyclopaedia Britannica comes this concise little entry on the "Lotus Sutra." From its opening:
Sanskrit SADDHARMAPUNDARIKA-SUTRA ("Lotus of the Good Law [or True Doctrine] Sutra"), one of the earlier Mahayana Buddhist texts venerated as the quintessence of truth by the Japanese Tendai (Chinese T'ien-t'ai) and Nichiren sects. The Lotus Sutra is regarded by many others as a religious classic of great beauty and power and one of the most important and most popular works in the Mahayana tradition, the form of Buddhism predominant in East Asia....
 http://www.sgi-usa.org/buddhism/library/Buddhism/LotusSutra/
This is Burton Watson's excellent 1993 translation of the Lotus Sutra, divided into 28 chapters.  The relevant Bodhisattva chapter is the 25th -- here's a direct link:  http://www.sgi-usa.org/buddhism/library/Buddhism/LotusSutra/text/Chap25.htm

To give you a sense of the material, here's an excerpt on the compassionate shapeshifting abilities of the Bodhisattva:

...If they need a Brahman to be saved, immediately he becomes a Brahman and preaches the Law for them.  If they need a monk, a nun, a layman believer, or a laywoman believer and preaches the Law for them. If they need the wife of a rich man, of a householder, a chief minister, or a Brahman to be saved, immediately he becomes those wives and preaches the Law for them. If they need a young boy or a young girl and preaches the Law for them. If they need a heavenly being, a dragon, a yaksha, a gandharva, an asura, a garuda, a kimnara, a mahoraga, a human or a nonhuman being to be saved, immediately he becomes all of these and preaches the Law for them. If they need a vajra-bearing god and preaches the Law for them....
 http://www5.mediagalaxy.co.jp/kosei/text/books/tls.html
This isn't an online version but, rather, a promotion for another much-praised recent translation: THE THREEFOLD LOTUS SUTRA: The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings, the Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law, and the Sutra of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Universal Virtue, translated by Bunno Kato, Yoshiro Tamura, and Kojiro Miyasaka with revisions by W. E. Soothill, Wilhelm Schiffer, and Pier P. Del Campana.
 http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/lotus/
For comparsion purposes, here's another fine translation from a century earlier by H. Kern (1884); in this version, the sutra is divided into 27 chapters and it's chapter 24 that contains the rich seeds of the Bodhisattva concept.  For a direct link to this pivotal chapter: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/lotus/lot24.htm

Here's an excerpt from a section similar to the one from Watson I used above:

... In some worlds...Avalokitesvara preaches the law to creatures in the shape of a Buddha; in others he does so in the shape of a Bodhisattva. To some beings he shows the law in the shape of a Pratyekabuddha; to others he does so in the shape of a disciple; to others again under that of Brahma, Indra, or a Gandharva. To those who are to be converted by a goblin, he preaches the law assuming the shape of a goblin....

.
Lotus Detail from "Green Tara,"
Painting 239, Tibet Art [See below]

 http://www.lotossutra.at/english/lotosutra.htm
From an Austrian exhibition of a Russian collection of Buddhist manuscripts found along the ancient Silk Road comes this page that includes data on Lotus Sutra manuscripts:
...The Lotus Sutra has played a significant role in the history of Buddhism all over the East. Its tradition, born in India some 2,000 years ago, within no time attracted the attention and love of the peoples of Central Asia and the Far East. Translations into seven Eastern languages are known, five of which are represented in this exhibition in the form of old manuscripts.

The Lotus Sutra is geared toward providing real help to all beings irrespective of their social position.  It brings them inner freedom and indestructible faith in the strong support of the Buddha through the so-called "Buddha vehicle." The sutra proclaims the idea that the Buddha is a personification of the cosmic order and eternal Dharma. He appears on Earth to bring benefit to all who are suffering. This is the reason why the Lotus Sutra has won peoples´ sympathies and universal respect....

The pages have minimal navigation so here's a direct link to the exhibition page (viewing the actual exhibit requires a plug-in so I didn't venture into it; this link has good text, however, on what the exhibit contains): http://www.lotossutra.at/english/start_e.htm


Detail from Frontispiece to Chapter Four
Lotus Sutra Scroll, Heiam Period, Japan. 1164 C.E.
(Image #5 from Sarah Fraser's site -- see above)

 http://cs.smith.edu/~nguyen/Lotus/lotus.html
From Smith College comes a series of six scholarly papers on the Lotus Sutra.  All are available as "rtf" files only -- my computer doesn't recognize rtf files, so I have no idea what's in these.  They come from highly reliable sources, however, and are doubtless excellent.  Since the busy background of this site isn't user-friendly, I'll provide the list of what's here and you can judge for yourself if you wish to explore their rtf-ness: (1) "The Lotus Satra and the Japanese New Religions" by Helen Hardacre, Harvard University; (2) "The Lotus Sutra in Early Japanese Buddhism" by Paul Groner, University of Virginia; (3) "The Lotus in India" by L.O. Gomez, University of Michigan; (4) "The Lotus Sutra as a Vehicle for Teaching Buddhism: Interpretations of the Lotus Sutra in Heian Period Culture" by William E. Deal, Case Western Reserve University; (5) "The Lotus Sutra in China" by Dan Stevenson, University of Kansas; and (6) "'Nichiren' unit of Lotus Sudba Sutra" by Jacquiline Stone, Princeton University.

Male Bodhisattva
Manifestations of Compassion:
Avalokiteshvara (India),
Chenrezig (Tibet)

Chenrezig
(see directly below)
 http://dharma-haven.org/tibetan/chen-re-zig.htm
This is "Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara): Embodiment of Compassion in Tibetan Buddhism," a page on India's Avalokiteshvara under his Tibetan name of Chenrezig.  His origins are both moving and psychologically relevant to many of us who despair over being able to do enough, help enough, be enough:
...According to legend, Chenrezig made a a vow that he would not rest until he had liberated all the beings in all the realms of suffering. After working diligently at this task for a very long time, he looked out and realized the immense number of miserable beings yet to be saved.  Seeing this, he became despondent and his head split into thousands of pieces. Amitabha Buddha put the pieces back together as a body with very many arms and many heads, so that Chenrezig could work with myriad beings all at the same time. Sometimes Chenrezig is visualized with eleven heads, and a thousand arms fanned out around him.

Chenrezig may be the most popular of all Buddhist deities, except for Buddha himself -- he is beloved throughout the Buddhist world. He is known by different names in different lands: as Avalokiteshvara in the ancient Sanskrit language of India, as Kuan-yin in China, as Kannon in Japan....

...Whenever we are compassionate, or feel love for anyone, or for an animal or some part of the natural world, we experience a taste of our own natural connection with Chenrezig. Although we may not be as consistently compassionate as some of the great meditation masters, Tibetan Buddhists believe that we all share, in our basic nature, unconditional compassion and wisdom that is no different from what we see in Chenrezig and in these lamas....
The site has excellent, detailed hypertext links on the mantra, Om mani padme hum, and on prayer wheels.  At the end of the page is a fine list of books and other resources.  It's an impressive site.


Detail of Avalokiteshvara holding a lotus
Tibet, 19th century
Painting 80: Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation (see link below)

...His holding a white lotus flower in his second left hand symbolizes his stainless wisdom that has realized the nature of emptiness. Just as the lotus blossom, although rooted in mud is not soiled by it, his pure wisdom is undefiled by the faults of the world.... [From Quiet Mountain -- see below]
 http://www.tibetart.org/image.cfm/80.html
From Tibet Art comes an explanation of many of the detailed elements in a 19th century Tibetan painting of Avalokiteshvara. You can keep clicking for greater and greater zooms on this marvelous painting.
http://quietmountain.com/links/teachings/chenrezi.htm
This is "An Explanation Of The Name Avalokiteshvara" by Geshe Palden Dakpa.  It offers a philosophical and devotional perspective on this Bodhisattva in Tibetan Buddhism.  It begins with how a person becomes such a superior being:
...How a person becomes superior: Having developed a natural feeling of distaste towards the realms of worldly existence and a desire to gain liberation from cyclic existence, one should actually generate the thought of renunciation.  The real path that liberates beings from worldy existence is the wisdom that realizes the lack of inherent existence of the self. One should first hear or study, then contemplate, and finally meditate upon the meaning of the lack of inherent existence, so that one can first form a concrete idea of the meaning of the words 'lack of inherent existence', then gain a realization of that meaning, and finally enjoy the taste of absorption....
Without getting into the intricacies of Buddhism, the feminist in me would point out that, perhaps, only a male could come up with such a formulation based on "distaste towards the realms of worldly existence and a desire to gain liberation from cyclic existence."  Such a formulation denigrates the role of women who spend nine months, and many years thereafter, birthing and raising such glum males.  Or, as I suddenly heard myself blurt out one day when I was a teaching assistant in an undergraduate Buddhism class, "These men are really saying that a woman who gets nine-months-big with a child is just wasting her time and doing no favor to her kid."  I sympathize with such a viewpoint, and have even shared it myself at times, yet it seems fiercely ungrateful to women and to Mother Earth herself, whose beauties ravish the soul and so often put to flight all feelings of distaste.

In expounding the Buddhist perspective, however, Geshe Palden Dakpa offers some great analogies in cautioning against teaching the "unprepared" (of whom I would surely be one, in his view) about distaste and "emptiness" (i.e., "emptiness of true being," which is to say, lacking "beingness in and of oneself," or, to take it from a positive approach, "emptiness" means we are all interconnected, part of a vast web of being, utterly incapable of existing totally alone; for many Buddhists, this is distasteful, but for many others, such interconnectedness is profoundly numinous):

...in teaching emptiness, there is a great danger that more harm than benefit will result. If one teaches emptiness in the very beginning, without investigating the disciples well, examining whether they are really qualified, the great Nagajuna, has said in his Root (Text on) Wisdom, Mulamadhyamaka,

         If one misconceives emptiness,
         Persons with little wisdom will be ruined.
         Just as a person who mishandles a snake
         Or is unskillful with mantras will suffer.

It is said, for example, when killing a poisonous snake, if one first arouses its anger, all its poison runs into its head and tail. If at that very instant, one is able to cut off the head and tail and get the middle piece, then it will serve as the best medicine against poison. But, on the contrary, if one touches either the head or tail at that moment, then there is great danger of getting poisoned oneself and dying. Similarly, when one practises the so-called Sword Mantra, the practitioner places a sword in front of himself and starts reciting mantras.  Now, when the sword starts moving through the power of the mantras, if the practitioner is able to hold it properly by the handle when the movement is moderate, he can travel wherever he wishes, but if instead he fails to hold it, there is a great danger of the sword swinging towards him and cutting off his head. Similarly, if one teaches emptiness to disciples who are not properly qualified with the essential merits and wisdom, they would misunderstand emptiness as a completion negation and start to believe that everything we study, hear, think and realize are really non-existent and their appearance to us is a mere delusion....

There's much more and I hope you'll explore the page on your own and come up with your own conclusions.

The author also gives a sad, moving, paradoxical explanation of the deer-hide so often shown in Buddhist iconography:

...The skin of the Sil-snyen deer draped over his left breast symbolizes his especially great compassionate heart towards all sentient beings. This particular deer is said to live upon mountains in the margins between the snow and rock. It has incomparable physical strength, but is extremely compassionate by nature. One of the hunters' tactics, is to enter its territory and pretend to fight among themselves with swords. Seeing this, the deer becomes impatient with compassion and emerges to mediate between them, which provides the hunters the opportunity to kill it. Merely touching its skirt with one's feet calms the mind and endows it with bliss. Some scholars assert that for this reason Dipamkara Atisha and other saints always used such a skin as mat. Some scholars have also suggested that the reason skin is draped over the left breast is that the heart, the abode of the mind, is located there....
 http://www.upenn.edu/ARG/asian/asian22.html
This is a very brief page with minimal text about a standing 8th-9th century sculpture of Avalokiteshvara from Nepal.
 http://www.upenn.edu/ARG/asian/asian25.html
This is another brief page with a seated image of Avalokiteshvara from Western Tibet in the 15th-16th centuries.

Female Bodhisattva
Manifestations of Compassion:
Kuan Yin (China),
Kannon (Japan);
White Tara (Tibet),
Green Tara (Tibet),
Red Tara & Others (Tibet)


Kuan Yin (Detail)
Tang Dynasty
(Go to Orientaidedfor full version with its source -- also see directly below)

 http://www.orientaided.com/kuanyin.htm

This is an attractive entry-level page with two gorgeous, large images of Kuan Yin (see above for a small detail of one of them). Text includes a legend connecting Kuan Yin with a special variety of tea (hypertext will take you to more details).  I like the author's careful attention to providing data on books and other sources -- and if you're interested in a wide variety of teas with mythic overtones, this is a great place to browse (also see my China page for more on tea from this website).
 http://123soho.com/art_groups/national_palace/1000/np_4ex1.htm
This page offers further entry-level data on Kuan Yin:
Kuan-yin, also known as Kuan-shih-yin (lit. Beholder of All Sounds) is one of the most important Buddhist figures in Chinese religious life.  Kuan-yin is the Goddess of Mercy in Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, and is a sinified adaptation of the Indian male Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara....
I appreciate the accuracy here -- too often it's said that Kuan Yin hears the sounds of suffering, but, in fact, part of her uniqueness is that she sees, or beholds, those sounds.  This opens up some fascinating realms of perception.

The site also includes three small but intriguing images along with a good discussion of Kuan Yin from the perspective of art history.

 http://mcel.pacificu.edu/as/students/vb/Kaun-yin.htm
From Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon comes another entry-level site offering minimal data (plus hypertext for further basics) on Kuan Yin in China, Tibet, and Vietnam:
...In Vietnam specifically Kuan-Yin is the patron of barren mothers and protects in times of natural disasters. Often the patron of those whose lives depend on the elements, she is often seen in the shrines of farmers and fishermen....
 http://www.shingon.org/deities/jusanbutsu/kannon.html
In Japan, Avalokiteshvara's female form is known as Kannon.  This interesting entry-level page looks at both the male and female manisfestations:
...Generally taking on a gentle female form, Avalokitesvara is understood to protect living beings with loving compassion, but she can also take on a stern faced, fiery and angry appearance such as we find in Hayagrîva (Batô Kannon), the Horse Faced Avalokitesvara, who gives guidance and protection in the animal world. Avalokitesvara can also devote her energies to acts of salvation in the guise of many different faces, such as is found in the Eleven Faced Avalokitesvara; or perform acts of compassion with many hands, such as is done by the Thousand Armed Avalokitesvara....

Kuan Yin
(FYI:  I scanned and negativized this from a painting I've long loved.  When I bought it, I was told that a photographer took a boat-trip on the China Sea and began photographing marvelous clouds.  When he developed the film, this image of Kuan Yin riding on her dragon miraculously appeared.  True or not, it's a lovely story.  In art, of course, Kuan Yin is often shown with the ocean, as the following quote makes clear:)
...Kwan Yin is also popularly depicted with an ocean background.  She is thought to have taken over the role of earlier, ancient sea goddesses in her spread across China....  [From Eva Hochgraf's site: see directly below:]
 http://home.msen.com/~firstuu/min_msg/sermons/KWANYI~1.txt
This is "KWAN YIN: Goddess of Compassion" by Rev. Eva Hochgraf (a Unitarian Universalist minister), a very accessible, thoughtful, satisfyingly long and well-developed sermon on this goddess's role in popular belief and iconography:
...Kwan Yin's appeal is that she responds to the heartfelt needs of ordinary people.  She does not impart any great new philosophical truth, nor lead the initiate into the deep mysteries of meditation.  She is the friend you call upon in times of trouble.  She is the hand that guides.  She understands the longing for children, the fear of pain, the anguish of a lost child or of a lonely parent.  She is familiar and she is family.  It is in this that the strength of Kwan Yin lies--and all this is based upon her basic attribute of compassion.

        She is loved because she is seen as the outpouring or embodiment of the divine feminine. In a world of spirits, devils, demons, ghosts, maverick deities, angry ancestors and the like, she shines like a divine lighthouse, leading home the lost, the bewildered, and the distressed....

A third of the way down, Hochgraf also includes a lively discussion of three various forms of Buddhism: Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.  Then she returns to Kuan Yin by looking at her origins in the Lotus Sutra of India's male deity, Avalokiteshvara:
...The most popular book of Mahayana Buddhism, the Lotus Sutra tells of Avalokitesvara, as a powerful, compassionate being who will answer all prayers and all those who cry out in need.  This is a Sanskrit title which means "The Lord who Regards the Cries of the World".  Yes, you heard right.  I said "Lord."  Avalokitesvara is a masculine form.  Over the course of time, in China he transformed into a female form.....
Hochgraf concludes with a rich re-telling of the legend of China's Princess Miao Shan, the first female manifestation of Avalokiteshvara (for another less detailed version, see my China page).  Her version is eloquent and moving.
 http://www.peckham.demon.co.uk/53feminine.htm
This is "The Feminine Spirit in Buddhism" by June Bianchi, an intelligent overview of the role of the feminine in a generally patriarchal system.  I wish she had developed her themes more fully, but this small essay is still worthwhile.  From her opening:
While the structure and hierarchy within Buddhism is patriarchal (although being non-theistic it does not have a presiding masculine deity), various traditions of Buddhism have within their cosmology inspirational beings and deities who are female. The feminine spirit is inherent in Buddhist scripture and iconography as well as in the practice of both male and female Buddhists in all traditions. The presence of the feminine spirit and its dissemination, often by women teachers of Buddhism, can be a radical and direct means of contacting the heart of Buddhist practice: the heart of wisdom and compassion.

I would like to first look at the historical feminine spirit as it manifests in two Buddhist deities, Tara and Kwan Yin, and then see how it impacts contemporary practice through two women teachers who are actively working with this energy....


Detail of White Tara
Eastern Tibet, 19th century
Painting 542: Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
(see directly below)
 http://www.tibetart.org/image.cfm/542.html
This is a lovely page from Tibet Art on White Tara.  It offers excellent text and a 19th century painting (see zoomed-in detail above) that allows you to endlessly zoom in further and further:
...Tara is a completely enlightened buddha and as a young bodhisattva she promised always to appear in the form of a female bodhisattva and goddess for the benefit of all beings and especially to protect from the eight fears. In this white form she appears specifically for the purpose of bestowing longevity. Practiced in all Schools of Tibetan Buddhism Tara is second in popularity only to Avalokiteshvara.
 http://members.tripod.com/~vortexCD/wtara.htm
From an Australian devotee, Geoff Byng ("Layman Sherab"), comes this page on White Tara -- entry-level but with interesting details [Note: you'll need to "close" the Tripod pop-up ad but the site is worth the extra effort -- on Netscape, just hit alt F4 -- Microsoft probably has something similar]:
...She [White Tara] has seven eyes: the two usual eyes, plus an eye in the centre of her forehead and eyes in her hands and feet. These indicate that she sees all suffering and all cries for help, even in the human world, even in the worlds of pain, using both ordinary and psychic or extraordinary means of perception. She carries day lotuses....
The page has an engaging, fresh quality, especially in its comparisons between White and Green Tara (see elsewhere on my page for more from Byng):
...Some practitioners comment that the energy of the two Taras feels a little different.

Green tara is very immediate and quick. One calls to her for immediate assistance, and also often for help with worldly things like lover, wealth and so on, as well as spiritual things. She feels very close.

White Tara seems to help more with longer-term problems, particularly problems of physical or mental health. It sometimes seems as if she is more distant, harder to contact at first. Then it is as if she sends us healing energies and mystical power and understandings....


Detail of Green Tara
Tibet, 18th century
Painting 239: Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
(see directly below)
 http://www.tibetart.org/image.cfm/239.html
This is "Green Tara of the Sandalwood Forest," an 18th century painting from Tibet Art with good text and endless capacity for zooms:
...Peaceful, smiling and youthful she is adorned with flowing silks of various colours and jewel ornaments, gold tiara and the like; seated with the right leg slightly extended in a relaxed manner and the left drawn up. On a moon disc and multi-coloured lotus seat she sits in the courtyard of a celestial palace in a sandalwood grove in the pure land of Potala on an island in the South Indian sea....


Green Tara
Detail from 1008 Green Taras
Tibet, 18th century
Painting 14: Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation

 http://members.tripod.com/~vortexCD/tarint.htm
This is Geoff Byng's page on "Green Tara," again an entry-level page but very engaging (be patient with the pop-up Tripod ad):
...If you look at the picture of Green Tara, well, firstly, she is green. Green is a colour indicating action.  It also indicates karma. This means quickness of action applied to our relative condition: that is, Green Tara will help us quickly.

If we look at her hand, we see that her left hand is in the posture of meditation, indicating her enlightened wisdom. Her right hand is in a posture called Supreme giving....

...Tara's leg is stepping forward, because she is ready at any moment to jump up and help us. She wears the ornaments of one who has taken the vow to gain Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings. She carries three night-lotuses: bud, half-bloomed, and bloomed. This is to symbolise spiritual unfoldment.

Her face is peaceful. Her eyes are wise and compassionate. Her gaze is like the ocean.

Tara usually takes the form of a sixteen-year old girl. She has a tendency to be somewhat mischievous. She is friendly and joyful. She is extremely beautiful and attractive....


Detail of Red Tara
Central Tibet, 18th century
Painting 331: Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
(see directly below)
 http://www.tibetart.org/image.cfm/331.html
This is another Tara, Red Tara, from Tibet Art.  As with the previous ones, each image is "zoomable" for wonderful details. [Note: the site has many more of these paintings -- plan to spend time here!]
...In the Atisha system all the Taras appear in the same basic posture with equal faces and hands and only differ in the colour of the body and vase held in the right hand of each. Some have a slightly fierce facial expression. Green is the primary colour of Tara, however green is not included in the enumeration of the 21. There are 4 red Taras, 6 white, 3 yellow, 4 orange, 2 red-black and 2 black Taras for a total of 21....
 http://www.snowcrest.net/chagdud/Tthtml/Deities/RedTara.HTM
This is a red and gold Red Tara from the non-profit Chagdud Gonpa Foundation.  (Prints are available in two sizes for $7 and $12, making this graceful print very affordable.)  For another Red Tara, see this site's http://www.tibetantreasures.com/Tthtml/Deities/RedTaranew.htm
http://members.tripod.com/~vortexCD/redt.htm
This is Geoff Byng's page for Red Tara -- there's no text, just a lovely image.   (Be patient with the pop-up Tripod ad.)

Detail from 1008 Taras
Tibet, 18th century
Painting 14: Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation

 http://www.bremen.de/info/nepal/Table1.htm

This is from the Dharmapala Centre in Nepal, a school for handpainting thangkas.  This menu of available thangkas will let you view many exquisite Taras as well as other Bodhisattvas.  Data (historical as well as theological) is excellent and in both English and German.  It's a great place to browse.
 http://members.tripod.com/~vortexCD/21tar.htm
This is Geoff Byng bravely attempting to explain why there are three Taras (Green, White, Red), but also twenty-one Taras.  He gives two lists of the twenty-one and also gives some of their mantras.  An internal link goes to a more scholarly discussion (by an unnamed author) of the many Taras: http://members.tripod.com/~vortexCD/tline.htm
Other hypertext on Byng's page will take you to often lovely images of the deities named.  (Be patient with the pop-up Tripod ad.)
 http://members.tripod.com/~vortexCD/tara1.htm
This is Geoff Byng's Arya Tara page, the portal page for his general Tara sites (be patient with the pop-up ad).  I've given direct links to his White Tara, Green Tara, and 21 Taras pages, but this portal page (with a lovely image) will also take you to his "Homage and Praise" and "Practice Notes" pages.  I especially enjoyed the "Practice Notes" (with an internal link to notes on "Wrong Views").  Who can resist a page from someone who begins like this: <smile>
Here are a few notes about Tara, for those of you that may not have met up with her before.  However these are not the notes or comments of a lama, but only of a foolish and egotistical student who does not attend to what he is told....
 http://www.jeffsutherland.org/tara/index.html
Again on the Taras in general: this is "The Blessed Arya Tara" from Jeff Sutherland, a devotee's site with a mixture of quotes, prayers, images, hypertext (anything fonted in blue, but not underlined!), and many classic, well-chosen books (linked to amazon.com).  The overall design is busy and disjointed, but there's some good data here.  There's also a lovely quote from John Blofeld's 1970 book on Tibetan Mysticism:
"There are moments during life when a startling but marvellous experience leaps into mind as though coming from another world. The magic that calls if forth--as though someone had accidentally whispered the 'open sesame' that rolls the stone back from the hidden treasure--is often so fleeting as to be forgotten in the joy of the experience. It may be a thin cadence of music: a skylark bursting into song, the splash of a wave, a flute played by moonlight. It may be a grand harmony of sound, peaceful or awe-inspiring: the murmurous voices of a summer's afternoon or the fateful shrieking and drumming of a mountain storm. It may be something seen: a lovely smile or the curve of an arm; a single gesture, form or hue of compelling beauty; a familiar scene transformed by an unusual quality of light; a majestic panorama of interweaving colours splashed across sea or sky; a cluster of rocks suggestive of enormous beings imbued with life. Or the spell may be wrought by a sudden exaltation springing directly from the mind and jerking it, so to speak, into an unknown dimension."
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This page created with Netscape Gold 3.01
Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
Copyright ©1998-2012 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
Launched 13 November 1998 with two links only.
All other links, unless noted, date from March-April 2001.

Latest Updates:
19-20 March 2001 (Redesigned + added ungrokked links); 20, 23-25, 27-28 March 2001;
31 March -1 April 2001; 2 April 2001; 14 December 2001 (re-loaded as 1008 Tara images lost in recent host-switch; minor format changes)
***
6 December 2012:  removed 4 broken "ungrokked" links from the bottom of this page
and added the 2 remaining good ones to the Lotus Sutra links.
Also added info at the top of the page on the Wayback Machine so that readers can track down broken links.
Deleted italics on quotes and lightened their font color so that they are easier on the eyes.

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Credits: I cropped the wooden divider-bars from a medieval Tibetan artifact.

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