A Higher Power

Guru Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “AA & Buddhism”

The next step, in both the Buddhadharma and in addiction, is to take refuge in a higher power. Now, in alcohol addiction, as I understand it, one takes refuge, in a sense, in one’s sponsor, who is no longer under the influence of the drug and who has been the same route, as the Buddha has done (although I don’t think most of them are Buddhas to tell you the truth), but as the Buddha has done, crossed the ocean of suffering in a boat that works. That’s the relationship. And that’s how we see our gurus. Basically it’s not a personality cult. They have crossed the ocean of suffering in a boat that works. It’s the same thing with your sponsor in alcoholism. They have crossed that ocean of suffering in a boat that works. So you take refuge in them, and you take refuge in the system, or the teaching. And that’s what you do. You also in Alcoholics Anonymous would take refuge in God, if you believed in God; or Jesus if you felt yourself to be a Christian; or again, if you’re a Buddhist, you would take refuge in the Buddha’s enlightened mind and in your guru. So it’s like that. And there, they are very, very similar.

And then the rebuilding starts to come from that. The recognition of the fault of cyclic existence, the fault of your addiction, the recognition of the horrible bottomed-out condition that we find ourselves in both applying to samsara and to the addiction; and the taking refuge and then day-by-day working it through in a very real, hands-on, cut-to-the-bone way. That’s really basically, and of course this is the cereal box-top version, but that is basically the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha’s teaching is about giving you a workable model or a workable vehicle that you can work through and actually get from one place to another. It’s very real and it’s very not flaky or pie-in-the-sky. One of my biggest arguments with a lot of religious systems that I’ve seen is that there’s no way to make it work. There’s no applicable technology, and it’s too esoteric, too pie-in-the-sky. Now certainly in Buddhism, there is definitely esoteric philosophy. There is definitely the more profound view that one has. But the basis of the practice is, in fact, working through—applying the technology to solve the problem. And it is that: It is a model, a technology, that solves the problem.

The good news is that you can get somewhere with it. You can actually accomplish something that you may not have been able to accomplish before. Isn’t it scary that there are so many things in our lives that we can actually be caught up in and not be able to accomplish? And that has happened to us, hasn’t it? I mean, how many people amongst us,… Yourselves, think about yourselves. Have you been addicted to anger? That constant anger that accompanies us when we constantly have hostility, anger, hatred really. Do you have anger every day? Then you’re an anger addict. Have you ever decided you’re not going to be angry anymore? Have you tried that? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Wasn’t that a funny day! So you’re an anger addict and you find yourself in the same position. And when your anger gets just ugly enough and you begin to see the playback from it, maybe, maybe, you’ll find yourself in a position where you can change something. What about your lust and grasping? Do you have lust and grasping every day? Then you’re a lust and grasping addict. That’s the truth! I didn’t make this up.  You’re a lust and grasping addict. Are you needy? Are you needy? Then you’re a needy addict! It’s not different. You have to think like that.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 8/21/2017

8/21/2017 Monday by Norma

It’s ECLIPSE DAY!  The solar eclipse is perfect at 2:30 pm Eastern time and 11:30 am Pacific time.  This is an excellent day to do spiritual practice and gain the multiplier effect, but you must wait one, two, three days before expecting the effects of the eclipse to begin manifesting in your life.

A sense of solidarity exists between men and women generating a feeling of strength and confidence. This bond allows you to accomplish anything you wish in the future. Make plans now but do not initiate anything until September 6 when Mercury goes direct. Instead, go out to dinner, attend a pageant, a parade, or an important function. Groups assemble, showing willingness to follow a hard working leader who merits support. Joseph Addison said, “Tis not in mortals to command success, but we’ll do more. We’ll deserve it.” What’s good today? Food, emotional satisfaction, and gathering supporters who will make a successful push for an achievable goal. It’s a great time to explain things to others, in depth. Details are fun today, the more the better.
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Facing Helplessness

Drunk_06

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “AA and Buddhism”

The idea that I’m trying to present is that you have to be at that place of total honesty. Now, in Alcoholics Anonymous, when you get to that place of total honesty, basically your life is broken down. In Buddhadharma, when you get to that place of total honesty, you take apart your life. You break it down yourself. Because if you wait for samsara to totally break you down… First of all, who wants to wait? It takes too long. It just takes too long. Plus you have been broken down before. According to the Buddha’s teaching, you have died and been reborn uncountable times under very unfortunate circumstances. And noodniks that we are, we still haven’t gotten it. We just can’t get a grip!

For some reason, the way that samsara is constructed, it’s very much like a narcotic. It’s like being under the influence of the drug, or under the influence of alcohol. While you’re really loaded, you really just don’t know your behind from a table. You just can’t find anything. You just can’t figure it out because the drug is in your system. The whole time we are revolving in samsara, in a sense, that drug is in our system, because we always view, don’t we, through the experience of continuum. And we always view with the assumption of self-nature being inherently real.  So we are fueled by this alcohol of the desire of continuum in a certain way to experience as ego. We can’t see clearly.

Now that happens to the alcoholic too. And so, one of the steps… And again I don’t know the program well enough to know which step is which or what comes first. I’m relying mostly on the Buddhadharma to tell me what to do. But once you have discerned the faults of cyclic existence… And you really have to spend some bone-crushing time on that one, and that is not your favorite part of the practice. I mean get this: It’s not the part you’re going to enjoy. And it isn’t the one where you can sit on a high mountain in the Himalayas with your hands just right and your feet in a lotus position and think of yourself as very holy while you’re doing it. You’re not going to get a lot of gratification at that point. Same with the alcoholic. When they decide that they are really bottomed out, that is not a gratifying time. I mean, am I right? That is the worst, most horrible time that one can possibly imagine. But in practice one has to do that also. And you feel a little bit like you’re going crazy because you have to dismantle everything you held to be sacred. You have to really look, and you’re helpless unless you do.

So the next step, as I understand it in the Buddhadharma, is to decide that in samsara (and this is one of the faults of samsara as it is one of the faults of drug addiction or alcohol abuse) we are in this condition, helpless to change. Now, boy we hate that, America! Man, this is the worst! Because in America we’re very democratic. We like to think that everybody’s got power. We can all vote so that makes us happy. Although I don’t know what good it’s actually doing us. But anyway, we feel in America that we are really, really, really democratic in our thinking. We want to really, really think that we have something very powerful. But, in fact, you have to get to the point where you can’t stop. You’re helpless. You’re helpless.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 8/20/2017

8/20/2017 Sunday by Norma

A diplomatic gesture is successful and offers a solution to a difficult situation. People you never thought would be reasonable show themselves to be reasonable. Don’t insult them by expressing your previous opinion of them. Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Self expression is rewarded today, as is good will, delicious food and cleaning up matters from the past. Dress well and smile at everyone you meet.
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Compassion? Maybe Later?

Busy-people-problem-with-weight

The following is an excerpt from a teaching called “The Antidote to Suffering” by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

The basic beliefs are the foundational viewpoint that will encourage you to keep practicing, most especially the idea of compassion. I don’t think that there is ever a time on your path when this becomes no longer necessary. In fact I think that as you go on, further and further, on whatever path you choose, and specifically on the Buddhist path, you will meet with challenges that will cause you to want to get into your stuff. Invariably you will meet up with obstacles that will make you feel tired, unwilling to go on. You will feel the pressures that one feels living here in the material world, specifically living here in the West where we are so busy. Here it is really a push, a stretch to be a Buddhist and to be a person committed to a spiritual path, whether it is the Buddhist path or not. It is a stretch because most of us have to earn a living. Most of us have to raise our families. Most of us have to do all those things that are very time consuming.

So it is very easy to sort of fall back and say, ‘I will wait till later. I will wait till I’m older.’ I just turned 39. I can’t say that too much longer. But we do say that. We say, ‘I’ll wait till I am older, more settled. Or when things are less busy.’ And I find that here at 39, things are more busy than they ever were at any time ever, ever, ever. So I think that it is kind of fruitless to wait for that. Or you might say, ‘I’ll wait. I’ll just wait.’ You don’t even have any reason. You just say, ‘Later I’ll do this.’

So it is good to have these foundational teachings. It’s good to think in the ways that we are going to think in this class. And you shouldn’t think that because you’ve been a long-time Dharma student that you are beyond all this. If you think that, really, I tell you from my heart, you have a problem because I don’t think that. I don’t know of any teacher who thinks that. Every teacher that I have ever spoken to has said to me, ‘Teach first compassion. Teach first the foundational teachings and keep on that and on that throughout your whole involvement with the Buddhist path.’

So I feel that that is important. I feel that it is important to beginners and I feel that it is important to long-time Dharma students. So for that reason it is important for you to come. It is important for new people to come. It is important for us to come together in this common ground, and this common ground has to be based on commitment and recommitment. It is a very important aspect of what we have to do together.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 8/19/2017

8/19/2017 Saturday by Norma

“If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!” goes the song, and today you’re clapping. An emotional surprise is over quickly. A sense of resilience is apparent in all you do, and the wish that difficulties would end is replaced by the knowledge that you can withstand anything that comes your way. Confidence is a nice thing to have, and it’s here now. This is a wonderful time to engage in sports, to have parties, to hold important events, all of which must have been planned previously. Emotional satisfaction is on the table and a surprising breakthrough is on the way, the direct result of your hard work.
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What We All Have in Common

Shakyamuni Altar

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Antidote to Suffering”

The precepts that the Buddha lays down are precepts that are real and workable for everyone. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to hold to those precepts—the precepts of being compassionate and the realization that all sentient beings want to be happy, yet don’t have the skills or knowledge as to how to be happy. Because of that ineptness at capturing happiness, we often make ourselves stress out.In fact, the Buddha teaches us that all sentient beings are suffering because we don’t know how to attain happiness. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to notice that these things are true. You don’t have to be a Buddhist if you are willing to look with courageous eyes and see that these are so. Also, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to use the antidote.

The antidote is purity in conduct. The antidote is purity in practice, whatever your practice might be. The antidote is the realization of compassion. It certainly should be the core of one’s life. Of course, the Buddha’s teaching is more involved than that but still one doesn’t have to be a Buddhist to hold to those teachings. I think they are very universal. So the idea is to have these classes as a way for everyone to participate in what is happening here at KPC. For those of you who may not know, we also maintain a 24-hour prayer vigil here and have been doing that since 1985. There is never a moment in this place when there is not prayer being done. The prayer is specifically dedicated to the end of suffering in all its forms. Our original intention was to keep up this prayer vigil until none of us are here anymore or there is the end of suffering on this planet, the end of war on this planet specifically. Anyone can join in the vigil and you don’t have to be a Buddhist to join in. And if you understand that you have the capacity to apply the antidote to suffering and you can do that through sincere practice, through dedication, through compassion and through prayer, then there is no way for you to feel separate from what is happening here. So the original thought about this class would be to present some of the more foundational Buddhist teachings in a way that anyone could apply them and understand them.

The tricky thing about it is that we have both Buddhists and non-Buddhists here in this room. In a way it would seem tricky because if you have been studying here for some time and you’ve gone on to deeper teachings, specifically to the technology of Buddhism, you’ve gone on to the method. If you’ve gone on to the method, you tend to think that you no longer need to remind yourself why you are here in the first place. You tend to think that you have learned already the Buddha’s basic teaching that all sentient beings are suffering, that there is an antidote to suffering; already learned that all sentient beings are trying to be happy and that one needs to apply and to live a compassionate viewpoint. But that is not true. That is why you see several of the ordained Buddhist Sangha here and why it is good, even for a long time Buddhist practitioner, even one who has studied in really extensive ways, to come to a teaching like this.

I myself have decided very firmly that no matter how long I teach personally, and no matter whom I teach, whether the people whom I teach are brand new to anything metaphysical or whether they have gone on twenty year retreats, I will continue to teach the basics. I don’t know if anyone like that is going to show up here, but even if I had someone like that here in this class I would still always first and foremost speak of the root reasons why you should practice.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 8/18/2017

8/18/2017 Friday by Norma

A family member or loved one makes a conciliatory gesture that solves a problem. It’s tempting to refuse a reconciliation, to stand on your pride (which has been damaged in this instance), but don’t bother. The benefits outweigh the drawbacks here, go ahead and drop it. A new door opens today, one that seems to exist only in your dreams but is real. Health improves in subtle and unexpected ways, and a broader sense of healing takes place. Related to the forgiveness? You decide. A proverb says, “The best doctors are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet, and Dr. Merryman.” Spend time with a partner today, and be aware that the future lies in the strength of your current relationships.
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Astrology for 8/17/2017

8/17/2017 Thursday by Norma

Still eating? At a certain moment you will wonder why, and this represents a turning point. Examine the underlying situation and the eating will stop. Something has triggered a surge of emotion: people and things from the past flood your mind, bringing all the joy and sorrow of life back for review. Retrograde Mercury is doing the job! Fix things that need fixing, skip things that don’t, and then move on with your life. Christina Rosetti said, “Better by far you should forget and smile, than that you should remember and be sad.” A major push is underway and parties, celebrations and friends are in the mix. Participate, talk and express yourself.
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