Skillful Grace is a Nyingma text that is a commentary on a terma, or a treasure text revealed by Chokjur Lingpa that involves working with Green Tara and her retinue. The book is sectioned off by levels of expertise. These are: Mahayana Vajrayana, and anutara yoga. The back of the book contains various yogas and mandalas dedicated to Tara. These are not simple practices given to beginners, but are designed for intermediate and advanced training; usually someone who has worked with a lama for quite some time.

The teachings in Skillful Grace are very traditional and deeply rooted in fundamentalism. The instructions are Nyingma which is an ancient and very well respected sect of Tibetan Buddhism. However, for a Western reader who has not studied under a Nyingma lama, the text will be confusing, if not downright frightening, especially when Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche discusses the risks of falling into the lower realms.

Another thing that could discourage a beginning reader is the jargon used. Words such as such as rigpa and stepping stone practice, and even the word terma are perplexing, even for a practitioner of a different sect. I wish Rinpoche had placed a glossary in the back of the book to help clarify meaning.

If Skillful Grace is your first Tara book and you try these practices, the worst thing that could happen is that you’ll get confused, get mixed or no results at all. Keep in mind: Green Tara will never hurt you, but in order to get the full benefit of any meditation session, it is vital you find a qualified teacher to give you the proper empowerments and the instructions on how to do Tara practice.

Recommended for intermediate and advanced practitioners.

~review by Patricia Snodgrass

Authors: Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche
Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2007
184 pages, $15.95