Green Tara

I took the name for my project from the buddhist deity, Tara or तारा (sanskrit), who is the mother of liberation. There are different colors for Tara. In her green form, she is known as the Buddha of Enlightened Activity. This is what I aspire to, that through my activity (enlightened or not), others may be empowered, liberated. That is the dream that has set me on my journey of one thousand miles. Actually, I don’t know how far it is to India from my little place here in Oakwood Hills, Illinois, but my guess is it is probably over a thousand miles. Dream big or stay home, and I have chosen to dream big.

I leave August 3rd to head to Forbesgunge, Bihar, in a remote northeastern corner of India. Bihar is one of, if not THE, poorest area in India. People there earn just 50 cents a day. Crime is rampant. And Forbesgunge is on a trafficking route that transports kidnapped girls and young women from Nepal to cities such as Mumbai for sex work. An organization was started in the 1990s by Ruchira Gupta called Apne Aap ( whose mission it is to rescue victims of human trafficking and rehabilitate them. It is at their center that I will be spending roughly a month, teaching self defense and karate.

The thought of this journey for me at this moment is stressful. I am trying to get my shots, my anti-malarial pills, get my visa and passport back from processing, get a list of things that will prepare me for the monsoons which will be going on during my stay, decide how best to teach a group of 50 young ladies who may or may not speak English, decide how best to teach on mud floors, decide how best to teach in 90 degree un-airconditioned spaces, decide how best to deal with creepy crawly things at night when I’m sleeping in an un-airconditioned room with temperatures in the 80s, decide how best to protect my personal safety in an area where a murder happens every two hours, and plan for roads to be out and travel generally delayed because of rain, rain, and more rain. It’s a good thing I like a challenge.

And when I start thinking like this, I like to remind myself of the young ladies I will be encountering, remind myself that while for me, my living conditions there might be poor but temporary, but for them, it is an every day occurrence. And then some. And now I am back to sanity.

File:18th century Eastern Tibeten Thanka, with the Green Tara (Samaya Tara Yogini) in the center and the Blue, Red, White and Yellow taras in the corners, Rubin Museum of Art.jpg


  1. Sandykins said,

    July 23, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Very nice, be safe my WGP, mwah

  2. Ed said,

    July 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    A very noble endeavor. Kudos for taking action to make a difference. Best wishes for a safe journey.

  3. Belle said,

    July 25, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Hey, Ed, thanks so much. Really appreciate the encouragement. All the best to you.

  4. Cindy said,

    July 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Wow! This is incredibly moving and inspiring. I had no idea you were on this path! I’m excited to follow your journey. Good luck–you’ll be an awesome teacher.

  5. Steven said,

    July 28, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    There’s nothing you are not ready for, including but not limited to wonder, laughter, and luck. Bring back heart-stopping stories!

  6. Maria said,

    August 2, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    This sounds like an absolutely fantastic endeavor. As a fellow karateka, I’m all the more inspired. I look forward to following your progress! Perhaps I’ll try to follow your example, and maybe even start a service project in this vein at my dojo…

  7. Belle said,

    August 5, 2010 at 3:58 am

    Maria, Thanks for the wishes and so glad you’ve found this inspiring. Great idea for starting a service project – let me know what happens with it. Hey, what kind of karate do you study? All the best!

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