Change and Continuity: from “Journey to Enlightenment”

The following is respectfully quoted from “Enlightened Journey: the Life and World of Khyentse Rinpoche” by Matthieu Riccard:

Change and Continuity
The Spiritual Legacy

Transmission and continuity are key points in the Buddhist tradition. The living teachers must not die out; true spiritual realization must be imparted from teacher to disciple. Great Tibetan masters are not isolated mystics. Their wisdom, rooted in the fertile earth of their own confidence and perseverance, has slowly ripened in the sun of their teacher’s blessings and wisdom. There are many ways to please one’s teacher and repay his kindness, but the way considered best of all is to put his teachings into practice until genuine realization dawns in one’s own mind.

Of this way, Khyentse Rinpoche’s life was a perfect example. Besides his two main teachers, he studied with more than fifty outstanding masters from all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Having entirely integrated the teachings into his own being, he could then impart them to thousands of disciples. Among those disciples, a few became true holders of the teachings, his spiritual heirs, and are continuing the lineage today.

Trulshik Rinpoche, born in 1924, is not simply a lineage holder; he is also the principal depository of Khyentse Rinpoche’s “mind treasures,” as specifically predicted in the texts of these treasures. He is also the main bestower of monastic vows in the Nyingma lineages and has ordained several thousand monks.

in the 1960’s, after a pilgrimage to Namo Buddha in Nepal, Khyentse Rinpoche dreamt one night that he was climbing a lofty mountain. At the summit was a small temple. He entered, and inside, side by side, his own former teachers–the three main lamas of Shechen monastery: Shechen Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Shechen Rabjam, and Shechen Kongtrul. Khyentse Rinpoche prostrated himself before them and, singing in sorrowful verse, asked them how they had suffered at the hands of the Chinese (all three of them having perished in Chinese jails in the early sixties). With one voice they replied, also in verse, saying, “For us birth and death are like dreams or illusions. The absolute state knows neither increase nor decline.” Khyentse Rinpoche expressed his wish to join them soon in the buddhafields, since he saw little point in remaining in a world where the teachings were vanishing fast and most teachers were but spurious impostors. At this point, Shechen Kongtrul, gazing at Khyentse Rinpoche with a piercing stare, said, “You must toil to benefit beings and perpetuate the teachings until your last breath. Merging into one, the three of us will come to you as a single incarnation, a helper to fulfill your aims.”

 

Astrology for 9/20/2017

9/20/2017  Wednesday  by Norma

Diplomacy is highlighted today, extend it to everyone you meet.  Be kind, to the point and do not waste time.  Benjamin Franklin said, “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself.  Avoid trifling conversation.”  Work turns into fun today and you’re having a good time with projects that unnerved you earlier. A partner breathes new life into something that has gone cold.   If your job involves sales, attracting people to your cause or precision work, this is your day!

All medical procedures are effective, scheduled activities are satisfying and work goes smoothly.  This is a good day to give pets special attention; add a new diet, buy a new pet bed, clean out the rabbit cage, feed the goldfish or groom your horse.  Don’t have animals?  Enjoy wildlife, watch birds as they fly.  You’ll know why later.

Problems?

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Conceptual Proliferation”

When we see the guru, we don’t look at the guru and say, Well, I like him or her, or, I don’t like him or her. We don’t think like that. That’s not a good reason to take a teacher; and it’s not a good reason to reject a teacher. We accept a teacher based on the clarity that they can show us, and whether they themselves have crossed the ocean of suffering. And so our view of the teacher is based on that.

Now, we find ourselves in a position where we are confused. We really don’t get the big picture. We really are experiencing everything that we experience due to a false assumption and false reaction and false set of conceptualizations that are built on all those erroneous views. How can we untangle this spaghetti kind of phenomena? Well, if we tried to pick out the pieces one by one, we would still be doing it from the point of view of the assumption of self-nature, so it’s never going to be clear. We really must rely on the perception of that one who has crossed the ocean of suffering. We really have to rely on the guidance of our teachers and the teaching of the Buddha. We really must rely on that.

The most important step that any student can make—and any good student will really have to make this at some point—is arriving at the conclusion, or coming to the understanding that you really just don’t know. That you really just don’t have a clue. Many students, when they first come to temple, and when they first begin on the spiritual path, feel a kind of arrogance, a kind of pridefulness. We talked about that the last time that we were together. They really assume that they know something, you know? ‘Well, I’ve had several different teachers and I’ve been on the spiritual path for some time now; and yes, I have a great affinity for spiritual things. And in fact, I myself have taught a few people, in my humble way.’ You know, and they sort of think like that. They come to the temple, and then they think, ‘Yes, well I’ve tried everything so now I think I’ll try some Tibetan Buddhism because you know, it’s like really exotic. Having been everywhere, I guess I’ll try Tibet.’  And so that’s what they think, really, when they come to the path. And really even some of the oldie, goldies over here were like that. Oh, oh, let me tell you. It was pew city for a long time. I actually had many of them come to me and tell me how wonderful they were and how helpful they had been in other people’s spiritual awakening. And all they needed from me was a reading. You don’t think that’s weird? Then you have some work to do. So, anyway, they experienced that, and you may actually be experiencing that. And you may feel just a little itchy under the collar when I talk about this, or a little uncomfortable.

At any rate, there will come a point in any proper student’s life when they might enter in that way. Then, at some point, they simply realize that they don’t know anything. They just haven’t got a clue in the world. And at that point, they finally have entered onto the path, because you cannot enter onto the path any other way. And every religion has a way of telling you that. I’m thinking about Christianity—that you have to enter Jerusalem through the eye of the needle. There is actually a place in Jerusalem, as I understand it, or was—I don’t know if it’s actually still there—where there is a tunnel or rock formation which is quite low, and it’s called the eye of the needle. Camels going into Jerusalem that way actually have to get down on their knees to enter into it. So that analogy is made: That you have to enter by getting down on your knees. You actually have to get off of the arrogance and the spiritual superiority that you have.

This may come as a shock to you; but, in fact, you are not getting messages from Jesus, or Buddha, from the Pleiades star system, or anybody else, as you thought you were every night at 7:00. You actually are not getting the inner directives that you thought you were. You’re just confused! And I’m really sorry about that. I really hate to break this to you, but you’re having a lot of problems. When you get to the point on the path that you can actually realize that, you’re somewhere and you’re in good shape. Until you realize that, believe me—and you’re not going to like my saying this and you might not come back—but you’re nowhere and you’re not in good shape.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

 

 

Astrology for 9/19/2017

9/19/2017  Tuesday by Norma

Submit a project and  it will come back promptly with criticism that is vague, general and unhelpful.  Emperor Joseph II once said of Mozart’s music, “There are simply too many notes, that’s all .  Just cut a few and it will be perfect.” What to do?  First, agree.  Next, step back, wait and avoid furious cutting that demolishes your work. Tomorrow the boss will see things in a different, more favorable light.

The urge to speak sharp words has ended, finally, and a new time is beginning, one with more appreciation for what you’re doing.  What’s good today?  Brilliant, sunny people who are excellent role models, crisp thinking, well-done surgery for things that need extraction, and escape at the end of a long work day.  New people are coming your way, be ready to meet them!

Astrology for 9/18/2017

9/18/2017  Monday by Norma

Work has never been more overwhelming, generating the urge to escape!  Have you suddenly developed multiple health issues, have you decided escapism is the answer to your problems? Both involve the urge to get away from the relentless crush of demands facing you.  But there’s a way out that involves making a list, rank ordering demands in order of importance and doing the big  ones first. When this is done you will decompress like a deflating balloon, problem solved.  A Chinese proverb says, “Settle one difficulty, and you keep a hundred others away.”

Venus, planet of charm, tact and conciliation, continues to be the star of the show nowadays.  As you work very hard, remember to smile at everyone and to treat others with kindness.  If you can’t be nice to people, at least don’t hurt them. You will be remembered as much for your kindness as your contribution.

Beacon of Clarity

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Conceptual Proliferation”

According to the teaching, and according to the recommendations that all of our teachers have given us, those thoughts have no inherent reality other than the reality that we give them in expressing and clinging to the continuum. So if we were to simply let them be what they are, they’re just bubbles, only bubbles, and we can let them go. Our tendency, however, happens to be a very neurotic one. When we see a bubble rise to the surface of the lake of our mind, first of all we don’t even get that our mind is a lake, we’re just in this sea of wavy stuff, just constantly in this big wavy sea. And so when a bubble rises to the surface of the sea of despair that we are involved in, we beat it to a froth. I mean we get our little psychic eggbeater and we just go to town beating it and whipping it up. And pretty soon we have lots and lots of bubbles. And then the next thing we do is say, ‘Oh my God, bubbles!’ And we panic and follow them everywhere they go. And we assume that because those bubbles are there, we are the bubbles. And that is our life.

Now the Buddha teaches us that we don’t have to do that. In fact, that’s really dumb! So the first thing you want to do when you get up in the morning is think, ‘I really don’t know what’s going on here. I’ve been whipping myself into a froth of confusion since who knows when, and I’m really just not getting the big picture.’ That’s when it’s possible to accomplish some view, because the view comes in where you can look at the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and you can look at your guru or teacher as being the representative and administrator of those three and the embodiment of those three, and you can think, ‘Well, in my confusion even I can see that the Buddha was different than me. Not in his nature, because he taught that in the nature we are the same; but in his perception he was different.’ The Buddha said, about himself, “I am awake.” That means when a bubble rose to the lake of his mind, he knew what to do with it, or what not to do with it. He didn’t panic and beat it into a froth. His mind wasn’t filled with the samsaric, conditioned response and conceptual proliferation that ours is. His mind was very much like a lake. He wasn’t filled with the same kind of confusion that we are, so he could see clearly. And when the Buddha tells you that your nature is not like that and that you can let it go and that you can meditate on emptiness and arrive at accomplishing wisdom and compassion, then you can believe that that’s true. And you can believe it more than you can believe actually what your own two eyes and your own mind tells you. Now that’s scary for Westerners, because we’ve been taught, ‘Think for yourself!’ Well, try to remember what thinking for yourself actually means. You’ve been doing it since you were born and what good has it done you so far. I mean think about it. You’ve been whipping yourself into a froth since time out of mind, and wandering in samsara and confusion.

So when we look to the Buddha, we look at someone who has crossed that ocean, who has seen, who has had the mist taken from his view, his eyes, you see, and he can see more clearly. He does not assume the idea of self-nature as being inherently real. He has accomplished the understanding of his own true nature, which is that primordial wisdom state. So he’s clear, you see? Not like us. He does not do duality. He does not do attraction and repulsion. He does not do hope and fear. And he does not do super-structuring, or conceptual proliferation. When you think about the Dharma, you think that is actually the teaching that the Buddha has brought to the world. And he brought to the world a means, or a way, by which each one of us can accomplish that kind of clarity. When we think of the Sangha, we think of the Sangha as the religious community, or spiritual community, that engages in the practice and upholds the practice and makes it available to us. When we think of the lama, we think of the lama as being all those three wrapped into one, because the lama gives us the Buddha’s teaching, has accomplished the teaching as well, provides a means by which we can receive the teaching, and keeps the teaching safe and available to us. And so the lama, then, is like the doctor or the nurse who actually gives us the medicine.

Therefore, the view becomes this: I have been wandering in samsara since time out of mind. I cannot see straight. I’m wandering kind of helplessly because I have this false assumption and all kinds of false contrivance that arise from that, and confusion that arises from that. Therefore, I take refuge in that which is clarity, in what which is the primordial wisdom, in that which is the very display of innate wakefulness without confusion. I take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and especially in the lama as being all three. And so the view becomes that: The lama is seen as that which is a beacon of clear light in a world where we are wandering in confusion. And we hold that view. That is one way in which we should most assuredly view the guru. That is the understanding.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 9/17/2017

9/17/2017  Sunday by Norma

Emotional happiness is the gift of this day.  Bright things and sunny places are satisfying and put a new spin on life.  Be out and about, engage in sports, attend parades, parties and special functions.

An inspiring person sends you in a different direction if you’re willing to try something new and avoid the herd mentality.  “This is what I’ve always done and I’m sticking with it !” is an attitude that doesn’t work today.  Be accepting if  you are asked to fill an important role: you’ve earned it and you’re up to the job. Others will work with you or back you up, whichever is required.   Winston Churchill said, “One mark of a great person is the power of making  lasting impressions on people you meet.” Put your best qualities on display today.  Help others, inspire them and see the good in them!  Also, have fun.

 

The Nature of Self

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Conceptual Proliferation”

The Buddha approaches it at the level of understanding our true nature. The Buddha teaches us that our nature is the pristine primordial wisdom nature, which is free of any contrivance and free of any discrimination or delusion; that that nature is spacious and innately wakeful and free of any kind of limitation. The Buddha teaches us that we are also samsaric beings, which means that while we have that nature, we somehow throughout time have arrived at the acceptance of the idea of self-nature as being inherently real. Now the nature that the Buddha talks about is a nature which is free of the contrivance of self. That nature is free of that thought or idea or confinement, I should say. Yet, at the same time, while our nature is free of that contrivance of the idea of self-nature, somehow we have arrived at the false assumption of self-nature, and we have the habit of a continuum experienced as self.

Now in that continuum experienced as self, we have engaged since time out of mind, because the assumption of self-nature didn’t only come at this birth, according to the Buddha’s teaching. It didn’t even come at the previous birth. We have been assuming the identity of self-nature since time out of mind, since literally beginningless time, a time that is untraceable. The Buddha teaches us that we have been born many, many times; that we are continuing on a wheel of death and rebirth, death and rebirth, death and rebirth. That continuum actually continues because of the assumption of self-nature as being inherently real and therefore the desire that arises from that assumption. The Buddha teaches us that we actually continue as we do, wandering in samsara, or cyclic death and rebirth, due to desire based on the assumption of self -nature as being inherently real, because it is the self that desires.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 9/16/2017

9/16/2017  Saturday by Norma

This is an excellent day to learn something:  mental agility, precision, and speed have never been better. You can solve equations, balance your accounts and sum up problems in a nutshell.  Ask someone for advice and you’ll receive the most helpful information you’ve ever heard. Avoid giving others a piece of your mind, however,  it’ll bounce back on you in an unpleasant way.  You’ve got grievances?  Others do too!  Virgo was born to solve problems, not to tell others what’s wrong with them.  Winston Churchill said, “It is better to be an actor than a critic.” Venus continues to be the star of the show,  bringing happiness, confidence and good nature into situations that could otherwise involve too much detail and too much work!  Do the job and have fun today.

 

Cultivating View

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Conceptual Proliferation”

This conceptual proliferation has a lot to do with view. Incorrect view results from the idea of self-nature being inherently real. There’s no way that we can exist in samsara without incorrect view resulting. Now on the path of Vajrayana, the most important directive that we are given is to attain pure view through devotion. That is extremely important. In that way we will awaken the wisdom sense, or the wisdom mind, and move closer to realization. We’re given many different ways to do that. One of the ways that we’re given is to meditate on emptiness; and in meditating on emptiness we do not instantly assume self-nature to be inherently real. We also are given the directive to meditate on compassion, and to practice compassion, so that we remove the clinging to self-nature, and the desire and grasping that comes from the belief in self-nature.

One thing that we might also do is to challenge our own conceptual proliferation. We might actually challenge our view as it is. Here’s something that’s an interesting thought, and we can think about this every day. And it’s a scary thought too. You are now engaging in conceptual proliferation because you have ideas about what you’re seeing and hearing. These ideas tell you something about your environment; something about me, who you think to be separate from you; and something about you, who you think to be separate from me. So all of these things are going on. And basically you’re in a process right now, even as we speak, of super-structuring. You’re building a structure and then building a structure on top of that and another one on top of that and another one on top of that. And your life, your continuum, actually exists in that super-structure; it is that super-structure. That is your experience. But if you trace it down, the conceptual proliferation can be traced to hope and fear; can be traced to attraction and repulsion; can be traced to duality; can be traced to ego identification or the assumption of self-nature as being inherently real. The Buddha teaches us that from the get-go, from the beginning, this is all tainted and all wrong.

We walk around all day long feeling angry and justified because we’re angry. And if we are not justified, we try to find justification; and we will, given enough time. We spend the rest of our day, when we’re not angry, feeling self-righteous, good or bad about ourselves, guilty, morose, elated, blissful, happy, victorious, like failures—all these things; and often we can feel both victorious and a failure within the same five minute time span. We just walk around with this kind of continuum going on. That is the experience of our lives; and it is our continuum.

Based on that, we act. We act a certain way because we’re angry. We act a certain way because we’re sad. We act a certain way because we’re happy. We act a certain way because of all the feelings that we feel. And then we react to the response that we get because of the way we acted. Where does it stop? Well, it doesn’t until we die. And then we get reborn again. That is the experience of continuum.

It can all be traced back to the idea of self-nature being inherently real; and the Buddha teaches us that that is a false assumption, because our nature does not contrive in such a way. Our nature is the fully accomplished, spontaneously liberated primordial wisdom view. But if instead we are having all this other stuff go on, the first thing that you can say to yourself every day, and the thing that you can say to yourself every moment of every day, is that I don’t know what the heck is going on here. And that should be the first thing that you do every day. Rather than assume self-nature to be inherently real, the first thing you should assume is that you do not know your derriere from a hole in the wall. Did I say that nicely enough? This is, after all, a temple. You can safely assume that you don’t know what’s going on.

So perhaps you can challenge yourself by taking a moment to just breathe, just be. The Buddha teaches us a meditation in which we watch thoughts and think of them as coming to the surface of the mind like bubbles that come from the bottom. You can think of your mind as a lake; and you can think of thoughts that simply rise to the surface. Now if a bubble rises to the surface of a lake, where will it go when you pop it? It simply pops. Now supposing we were to think of thoughts in the same way. Whatever conceptual proliferation that rises to the surface of the lake of your mind, supposing you weren’t to follow it. Supposing you were to simply let it go. Let it pop. Look at it square in the eye and say, ‘Oh that’s another one of those conceptual proliferation things.’ What if you didn’t let it dictate your life?

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