Astrology for 7/22/2017

7/22/2017 Saturday by Norma

Discuss your deepest feelings with others and you will be shot down. It’s best to remain in quiet, neutral territory. “Nice day, isn’t it?” Is a good response to, “How is your problem going?” A parade or display of importance should not be dismissed, congratulate a winner and compliment good behavior. Be as sensitive to others’ pride as you are to your own today. Frank A. Clark said, “Gossip needn’t be false to be evil-there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around.” This is an excellent day to go for a drive, a picnic or a family reunion. If you’ve been under the weather or feeling weak, your strength returns. Time spent outdoors is excellent and conversation, letters, emails, texts and phone calls bring happiness. Reach out to those who matter to you!

The Tether of Bodhicitta

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Love Now, Dzogchen Later”

I have the great pleasure of watching the aviary building being built from my deck. How carefully these skilled workers laid the foundation. How carefully they smoothed the ground. How carefully they measured, so exacting, so perfectly, looking through instruments and laying strings and then putting in wood to mark the way, and then, you know, stage by stage, one bit of strength after the other. How skillfully, and now the walls are coming up. And these are very heavy walls made of concrete, but they are all built up to the top, and I think to myself, ‘If that firm foundation had not been built, since that land slopes right there and it is screaming wet all the time, guess what?  That little building would just slide right off the edge; but not the way it’s built.’

And we find ourselves in the same position. I regret to tell you that I have seen time and time again students who have taken the Dzogchen teaching but have not accomplished Vajra qualities. They have not given rise to the bodhicitta. They may have put on the garb of renunciates, but they are not renunciates. They have not renounced the grasping of samsara. They have not stabilized their mind. So it’s like they are traveling the great ship of Dharma and even though the ship itself is fairly stable, it is on an ocean and it is going to rock and roll a little bit, you know?  And it is like you’re the practitioner on roller skates who’s not holding on on top of a sheet of ice on the boat. It’s not going to work. You’re going to go overboard. And they do. They get thrown off. Whereas if we had taken time to practice properly with depth, not so superficially, taking responsibility for the accomplishment that you know in your heart has always been required of a proper disciple… And it’s not like it’s news to you. I’ve been yapping about this for years. So, in that case, maybe you would be more seaworthy. You’d have your sea legs. I’m pretty sure of it. You would be hanging onto a rail. You’d be properly equipped to travel this ship of Dharma to the other shore. And that would be like the seed of Dzogchen being planted in a field that is rich and fertile and moist.

So having given rise to the Bodhicitta, we would be different than we are. How would we be different?  Would we look funny?  I don’t know.  We look funny now sometimes. I look funny. You should see me in the morning. That’s all silly stuff. How would you be different?  I think better. To accomplish excellent qualities, to establish virtue in the mind stream, to give rise to the Bodhicitta?  A lot better.

So the point is that you find yourself in a particular situation where you can go to New York every summer, and you can study, and you can sit down and practice for the rest of the year. But we do not find ourselves in the perfect situation where we are in a monastic environment constantly where the reality of Dharma is constantly reflected to us, where the method of Dharma is constantly reminded to us. where the way is constantly pointed out, and where our limited capabilities, you know, are constantly guided. It would be like a child growing up without the advice of a parent. It is not very effective. And the reason why I’m telling you this is not so you can go, ‘Oh bummer! Here I’ve had Dzogchen and now I find out it’s not happening,’ or something.  That’s not what I’m saying. I hope you understand that. Dzogchen is the very nectar of Dharma. It is the distilled substance that is empty of substance-ness. It is awakening. It is the way to move towards realization. It is the way to give rise to one’s best capabilities. It is the way to accomplish the Buddha nature. But like any other method, if you do not accomplish the steps that lead to strengthen that method, you’ve missed out.

Lineage in the West

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Love Now, Dzogchen Later”

Well, today I’d actually like to tell you a story. And I think it is seasonal in one way in that this time of year we generally think about what we want or what we want to give or how, or maybe family relationships and what needs to improve in our lives. And a lot of times at the end of the year during this holiday season and at the beginning of the next upcoming year, we kind of reassess ourselves;. reassess our lives, and kind of take stock. And I would like to tell you this story to help you take stock a little bit, and to give you some motivation, you know, some perspective. Because I think that if you come to this temple and you practice, you may not necessarily understand or know what’s going on in the greater Dharma community. Some people travel around but some people don’t. Some people stay here down on the farm with me. And so you might need to be exposed to some context in the Dharma community.

When I first met His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, that was quite a while ago, almost twenty years. I met him the first time that he came to the United States. And one of the reasons actually that he came to the United States, besides being invited, was that he heard that there was this American woman over there and he heard stories about me. And he knew in his mind that this was someone that he had been looking for for a long time. I came to find out later on that when he was a very young monk the first time he held the kapala, or the skull cup, of the first Ahkön Lhamo, it was before the Chinese invasion, and so it was whole, in one piece.  First time he held that cup, he said, “Oh.”  He made prayers:  “If there is any way I can find this dakini in this lifetime, I would like to do that.” He set his goal that way. And so of course with a mind such as his, when the goal is set, the deed is done. When he heard my name, and heard something about me, he knew immediately. But of course he didn’t tell me immediately. All I knew was that this lama was coming to my house. He’d never been to America before, and I really did not know what a lama actually was. I thought, “Guy sitting on rug. Guy wearing sheet.” I really didn’t know. I mean I had a great deal of respect for Buddhist thought and it was coming to my mind naturally. In fact, I was teaching meditation that I later found out to be based on Mahayana Buddhism. So, it was pretty interesting that this all came about so naturally. But then when he came to the house, we didn’t know protocol. We didn’t know respect. We didn’t know nothing. I knew how to barbeque, that’s what I knew. And so we had a barbecue and we moved my two sons to another room, and put Penor Rinpoche and Lobsang in the same room; and Lobsang’s like, “Oh God!  Save me!  Don’t you have another room?”  “Well, why? Is it crowded in there?”  “But you don’t understand.”

But you know, they were very nice. And then they asked for some tea. So, I thought, “These are Buddhists. They want to be calm.”  What did I know? So, I made chamomile tea, and I gave the teapot to Lobsang to give to His Holiness on a tray nicely set up. and His Holiness sent back a message, “What is that?  Bugs floating on top?”  You know how the little flowers float? “No.”  “Don’t you have some other kind of tea?”  “We have regular tea.”  “Oh yeah, we want regular tea.”  I thought, you know, Buddhists like to be peaceful. I thought.

And then the worst, the worst. He was so gracious and so kind. He never put himself up in any way or, you know, was anything less than the most humble of monks. I mean he never indicated that he was such a spectacular lama. And besides I didn’t even understand what the term meant—high lama, you know, lineage holder. I mean, I could understand the English words, but I didn’t have any way to put them all together. So, we had this barbeque and I served him a plate of hotdogs. And you know just the old America food, which he was pretty interested in actually. He sort of liked it. You know, he ate it. But then I remember plopping down right next to him and saying, “So, what’s Tibet really like?” or something like that, you know. You know him now. He’s such a righteous, orthodox, holy kind a guy. Can you imagine?  Can you imagine this Injee twit comes and plops down next to him and says, “So, how’s it going?”

I was used to Southern hospitality. So, I made another big meal (and I was a pretty good cook back then) and had some friends bring some stuff too. We sat him at the head of the table and said to His Holiness, “Please, help yourself to everything we have.”  He gets served. I didn’t know that. And so Lobsang’s going,… Lobsang was a lot younger then. “No, I’ll do it, I’ll do it.”  Well, that was back in the day and the reason why I’m telling you this funny story is because things have changed so much since then.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 7/21/2017

7/21/2017 Friday by Norma

Attention turns to domestic matters, shopping, cooking, home maintenance and organization. Sentimentality drives the agenda today. Careful thinking and planning lead to excellent decisions. This is a good day to broaden your perspective and to think outside your usual guidelines. Federico Fellini said, ” If ours is an apocalyptic time, it may promise a new beginning, rather than an end. A season of change does not mean the collapse of civilization.” Listen carefully to everyone’s ideas, let go of your cherished opinions, cook, eat and tell happy stories. This is a great day to gather with friends and to look your best.

The Technology of Dharma

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Art of Dispelling Anger”

I know we’re getting older, but in truth, if you want to rush through Dharma, I have to say there is no hurry. Not that we should be at ease and think, ‘No need to accomplish Dharma now. I’m going to live forever,’ but rather think first things first. If you cannot handle your poisons, it is not time to move on yet. And I’m not saying either that you should use your poisons as a personal excuse not to go any further on the path,. because I notice that some of us cowboys like to do that. But the truth of the matter is that in order to accomplish Dharma, one has to change. For instance, the basis of Dharma, we are told, is method. Why is that?  Because method is meant to promote change. It’s a technology. And the Buddadharma supplies technology.

Let’s see, how can I explain? Let’s compare it to playing an instrument. You can learn to play an instrument sort of academically, intellectually. You can learn to read music. You can learn the ins and outs of your instrument. You can learn how to blow or pluck it or strum it effectively, whatever your instrument is. But it’s another kind of artistic capacity or another kind of depth with the music that causes the musician to be an artist. They don’t just go dah, dah, dah, dah. They use moderation in the hand. You know what I am saying?There is delicacy; there is heart in it. You can feel itYou can’t have an ego to accomplish that kind of artistry. You have to let go of that kind of egotism to allow the music to be realer to you than your own stupid ego. So Dharma compares to that, really, in the sense that it’s not so hard to learn step one, step two, step three. And you can go through the whole course. We can put the shedra up, and you can go through the whole course. And we hope to do this. But if we do that in an unthinking way, we’re never going to be an artist regarding Dharma. And who cares about that? Most of all, we’ll never really accomplish it. We’ll never really accomplish what Dharma is meant to do.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 7/20/2017

7/20/2017 Thursday by Norma

Happiness is on the menu today, along with a cheerful mindset that helps offset the out-of-control tendencies of those in charge- who are incapable of restraining their own behavior. Wait out an explosion and take cheer in the fact that the baby has one final tantrum before slamming the door on the way out. Whew! A new stability comes as the day progresses and dignified, admirable behavior is noteworthy. It’s time to hold up the mirror to yourself: hold yourself accountable, behave your best, uplift any environment you’re in and take your eyes off other people. H.H.The Dalai Lama said, “To be aware of a single shortcoming within oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in somebody else.” Yes! You are in the spotlight now, not somebody else. Behave!

The Most Important Practice

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Habit of Bodhicitta”

The traditional fundamental ideas of all sentient beings as being equal—the realization that all sentient beings are suffering equally, that it is unacceptable to see their suffering, that all sentient beings are interrelated with us—these fundamental thoughts are really important. But go on from that and practice the mechanics of changing habitual tendency. It is not enough to be theoretical. The biggest fault that I find in Buddhist practitioners is that they keep it academic. I do not myself like academic Buddhist students. I would rather you knew nothing about the academics of practice and a heck of a lot about changing the habitual tendency of self-absorption through a real practice. Because academics is not going to get you anywhere but between your ears. On the other hand, giving rise to the bodhicitta and pure view and changing habitual tendencies will lead to profound realization, to the perfect awakening. Not only that, but it will lead to a better world.

So for my money, I feel like the best thing you can do is to begin to practice in a small and simple way. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to do that either. And you don’t have to be a high falutin’ practitioner to do that either. You don’t have to wear the robes, or walk the walk or dance the dance or talk the talk, or even have a nifty mala which seems to be the highest priority when we first become a Buddhist. Big deal! The highest priority should be loving kindness and you should begin in whatever small way that you can, making no conclusions, other than the fact that you have a pattern and that you can change it. Remember the idea of the scales. That’s really important. Remember the idea of applying the method today. Now. Remember the idea of confession and restitution immediately after any breakage. How potent. What an incredibly potent way to live! Can you imagine living without the burden of guilt or the burden of the false assumption that you are a bad person?  You’d have so much spare time on your hands. You wouldn’t know what to do. Because all the things you do to prove yourself you wouldn’t have to do anymore. Isn’t that true?

Do yourself a favor. Live simply in that way. It’s the best and highest practice. In the Vajrayana tradition we are given many things that we can do. We practice Ngöndro, preliminary practice. We meditate on the Thoughts that Turn the Mind.We practice generational stage practice, completion stage practice. We visualize ourselves as the meditational deity and pronounce mantra. All of those things are meant to put more in this pile. The most important practice is that of loving kindness, that of viewing others as equal. Don’t view them as worse than you, no matter what they look like and that way there won’t be anybody better than you.  All of this has been taught by the Buddha and is absolutely true.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 7/19/2017

7/19/2017 Wednesday

Resist the urge to contact someone from your past and complain about bad treatment. Cancer is still nursing its wounds and time or distance is no object. Consider whether your current life is triggering this walk down memory lane: Handle a problem now and watch the negative rumination end. Do your best to maintain an upbeat attitude. Winston Churchill said, “Everything tends toward catastrophe and collapse. I am interested, geared up and happy.” A friendly, chatty atmosphere dials down the negative emotions and the determination to set a new standard with your speech changes your future.
Something you plan today will continue longer than you ever dreamed, so plan well.

The Buddhist Way

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Art of Dispelling Anger”

And then, of course, you can do it the Buddhist way. And the Buddhist way is:Wait a minute. Where is this anger?  Show me the anger. OK. It’s coming out of my mouth, but I can’t quite hold it. Where is it?  Take time and play with it. Is this anger solid?   Well, who is the person I’m angry at?  I’m angry at her or him or somebody. Let’s see. I’m angry at her.  (This is a pretend person I’m pointing at.) I’m angry at her. OK. Where exactly is her?  I’m going to go through the Buddhist teaching: Where is the ‘I’ in her?  Where is the part that is actually her?  Is it the ear?  Is it the mouth?  What part of the mouth?  The teeth?  The tongue?  Is it the brain?  Slice the brain and find her.

Do yourself a favor. Take yourself off the track of hatred and work the method, because the more you let that go,… You think you feel better after you’ve had a rage thing because it’s addictive. It’s like alcohol. The more you drink, the more you want. The thing to do is to keep yourself from that by stepping back, taking a breath and examining what you are doing. Just examine the basis of it. Just take a minute and examine the basis of it. It will be very hard to do at first, very hard to stop yourself, first of all. But you must practice and you must learn. And the first time you are successful at it, yes!  And the second time you are successful at it, yes again; and the third time it’s a little easier. And you begin to start noticing things. It’s a step upon step upon step sort of building process of awareness that is actually happening, because in fact, there is no enemy, there is no self, there is no anger. And we just need to wake up to that.

Our nature is the pure primordial luminosity—that spontaneous nature which is utterly empty and absolutely complete, that emptiness which is not empty within which is all phenomena, all potential . So that emptiness is our living, dynamic nature. Having forgotten it, we are asleep. Being asleep, we act like criminals, while we should be acting like the celestial deities with the vajra pride that we visualize, giving rise to those good qualities of helpfulness.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Warrior of Virtue

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Art of Dispelling Anger”

For myself, I have that commitment. I made it a long time ago. There’s no backing out now. Every time I try, my commitments are made. It’s a done deal. I’ve always known that. My aspiration is to leave the footprint of bodhicitta every time I incarnate, to leave it so it is undeniable , and to help others so that they can leave that same footprint. And I don’t intend for that to ever stop until all sentient beings are free. Now why is that?  It is because I am such a great kid? I am  such a doll? Iam such a wonderful person?  That may all be true, but that’s not why. It’s because I cannot be truly free without you. There are many gurus of different kinds who are self-realizers. They realize mastery of self. But that is not our gig here. That is not what we do in Buddhism. At least not Vajrayana. We don’t do that in Vajrayana. In Vajrayana, our goal is to understand and give rise to the primordial nature in display, which is the great bodhicitta. End of story. And so I will not abandon you. I cannot abandon you, because you are me and I am you and I cannot be free without you.

That’s the understanding we should all aspire to. In our selfishness and our self absorption, we forget and we commit this abomination of even fighting with each other when if we could only truly look in each other’s eyes, if we could truly see,… We are the same, we are the same, we are the same taste. And so, this is why we need to break our habitual tendencies, train ourselves thoroughly, look at ourselves honestly and most of all, if any of you are in that childbearing age, anyone who is listening, please, raise your children right. Raise your children right. Teach them responsibility for what they do. The ‘I help with the household chores’ is one thing. Teach them to clean up their own messes. Teach them that pencils were made with erasers for reasons—so that we can correct ourselves. We can erase our mistakes and correct them and make better. Teach them ethics. Teach them the ethics of liberation.

The reason why we have so much difficulty teaching people proper values and how to stick with the beginning stages of the Buddhadharma, which is about virtue and conduct, the reason why that is so hard is that most of weren’t raised up. We were kind of dragged up. You know? We weren’t raised up with thoughtfulness and regard and respect. Many of us were just kind of fed and watered and whatever. When you raise a child, you must teach the child to be a good citizen in the world and to leave the world better than they found it.

So that’s my hope for you and that’s my hope for anybody’s children and that’s my hope for all sentient beings. Just think if we could really just get that message across. Forget the big practices and the bells. Just think. The most fundamental of the Buddhist teachings allows one to be whatever faith they wish, but teaches us how to live with good qualities.

So take up your sword, take up your shield and beat the crap out of your bad qualities, lest I have to do it for you. That wasn’t a threat. I am a nice person.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

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