Tara Brach and Radical Acceptance

Tara Brach is a highly skillful meditation teacher who brings 35 years of insight meditation practice to her background as a clinical psychologist. Her book, Radical Acceptance, brought a huge amount of emotional and spiritual healing into my life, and I can’t recommend her enough.

At her website you can find wonderful talks and teachings—both articles you can download and study and talks you can listen to:


You can subscribe via RSS to her audio talks here: http://www.imcw.org/audio/TBPodcasts.xml or you can go to the iTunes store and search for “Tara Brach” in the podcast section.

Tara Brach

Here’s a short excerpt from Radical Acceptance:

“One of my favorite stories of the Buddha shows the power of a wakeful and friendly heart. On the morning of Buddha’s enlightenment Mara, the fearsome demon who symbolizes the shadow-side of human nature, fled in defeat and disarray. In Sanskrit “Mara” means “delusion” – that craving and fear that obscure our enlightened nature.

But it seems that he was only temporarily discouraged. Even after the Buddha had embarked on his teaching career and become a revered figure throughout Indian, Mara continued to make unexpected appearances. Instead of driving him away, however, the Buddha would calmly acknowledge the demon’s presence saying, “I see you, Mara.”

He would then invite him for tea and serve him as an honored guest.

Offering Mara a cushion so that he could sit comfortably, the Buddha would fill two earthen cups with tea and place them on a low table between them. Mara would stay for awhile and then go, but throughout, the Buddha remained free and undisturbed.

You see, when Mara visits us in the form of troubling emotions or fearsome stories, we can say, “I see you Mara,” and clearly recognize the craving and fear that persists in each human heart. The objective is to see what is true and to hold what is seen with kindness….

Our habit of being a fair-weather friend to ourselves – of pushing away or ignoring whatever darkness we can – is deeply entrenched…. We truly befriend ourselves when, rather than resisting our experience, we open our hearts and willingly invite Mara to tea….”


About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

10 Responses to “Tara Brach and Radical Acceptance”

  1. Wonderful–I just listened to her podcast on “Wise Practice” (well, half of it so far), and it’s really helpful. She also started out with a quote from one of the Desert Fathers, who, oddly (?) enough, I’ve just started reading a little about (via Merton).

    Feel better soon, Steve…


  2. I said it before, and I’ll say it again , “Keep ’em coming” Steven. I visualize you reaching into a large steamer trunk magicbox, pulling out a large Santa Clause-like bag, and offering these jewels of insight day in and day out. Xmas can be everyday, thanks to you and the Dharma.

    michael j

    • Thanks dear Michael J! I appreciate it. I’ve been on the frtiz the last few days and I think I owe you and others a few responses, and I know, some visits to your blog and some friends. So, thanks for all you do, too. Steve

  3. Tee hee…I was just, on kind of a whim looking on iTunes for podcasts on Buddhism last night, and I kept seeing Tara’s name. Having no idea whatsoever how to choose between podcasts, I didn’t listen to any of hers. Now that you’ve provided a sample, I will (she’s kinda beautiful too, no?!).

    I’m also really curious about the concept of “Mara,” so I’ll look into that some more, too.

    (Having kind of a much-needed “Buddhist day” today, I guess. I just commented on Michael’s latest post on how I seem to have “figured out” how to meditate and how it led me to write a Christmas card just now to someone against whom I’ve had seething anger for the past 2 years; I’ve been practicing eating mindfully and paying attention to my breathing as a way of getting back to the here and now when I drift into the past and future and useless anger and anxiety, and now this…I think I’ll go to bed even happier than usual tonight!)

    Thanks, as always,


    • Hey Nancy! Those synchronicities keep on rollin’, eh? I think you’ll find a real friend in Tara.

      I’m sure you’ll be led, but I can especially recommend something I’ve been listening to today, “Refuge in Loving Presence,” which is described in iTunes as: 2009-11-18 – Refuge in Loving Presence – There are times when there is so much fear and reactivity, that the first step in moving toward freedom is to connect with some sense of safety and love. This talk explores how an inner pathway to loving presence..”

      Your practice sounds really good and solid — yaaay! — with some real breakthroughs. This encouraging; I’ve been under the weather the last few days, and have been rough on myself for all kinds of reasons. Maybe that’s why this particular Tara talk came my way today.

      Because I’ve been ill, I’ve fallen behind with lots of replies to posters, like dear Michael J, and some others, but I’m doing better today, and hope to get caught up.

      Today is a good day to *practice* — not too hard, not too soft, but just right. 🙂

    • PS – Yes, a beautiful woman….and what comes through in the talks is really wonderful. I’d love to go to a retreat with her some day.


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