Astrology for 6/29/2017

6/29/2017 Thursday by Norma

Avoid confronting authority figures or anyone you don’t understand, you won’t realize you are in the
weaker position until it is too late. A powerful entity is unswayed by emotional appeals and rules against them. It’s an odd time, where people believe that if they really, really want something it should be given – the two year old’s approach to life. The adult doesn’t agree and no tantrum changes that. Fortunately, a third party can mediate and explain things in such a way that everyone goes away if not happy, at least with a better understanding of the issues involved. Nadia Boulanger said, “Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims.” Work goes well early in the day so jump right in and finish your tasks before the late afternoon slowdown. Home is important, spend as much time there as possible and you’ll be happy.

Compassion as Antidote

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

There’s a funny thing about the human mind that we don’t realize. Do you know how in your mind you think you’re concentrating on a million things at once? Some of you can chew gum, watch TV, listen to the radio and write in a book at the same time. I’ve seen people do this. It’s amazing. I have a son, oh, my god, you can’t believe this son. It looks like he can watch TV, listen to the radio, talk and really carry on a conversation, dance while he’s talking, and if he knew how to fry an egg, he could probably do that at the same time. I mean, talk about a Mongolian juggler. Each of us feels likewe can do so many things at one time; but what we don’t realize about the human mind is that’s not true. It can only do one thing at a time. But what happens is that we do these things in such rapid succession, that if we think about ten things at once, it feels like what is actually happening is that we are thinking about this, switch to this, switch to this, switch to this, very quickly; and our minds actually become inflamed and agitated with the switching from one picture to the other. That’s why it becomes valuable and precious to meditate on bodhicitta and to practice bodhicitta. Because while you are practicing bodhicitta, putting your mind in this pile, while you are doing that, no matter how simplistic it is, even if it’s just opening the door for somebody, while you’re doing that, you aren’t doing the other thing. And the great thing about the human continuum is that if you aren’t continuing it, it doesn’t continue.

The funny thing about continuum is that it loses its definition, its essence, if it’s not being continued. So we are taught to practice kindness and to begin where we can and to increase it moment by moment. Because while you are doing that, you can’t be doing the other. But believe me, when you are not doing that, you are doing the other. You are doing the other. So the bodhicitta becomes now not a great mystical attribute that we all hope we are going to get, it becomes a remedy. It becomes a method. It becomes an antidote. And you should see compassion as an antidote. There is no excuse, none, for you not to start right now. And you can’t get into what is kind of like the diet syndrome with bodhicitta. I don’t know how many of you have actually been on a diet, but if you’re on a diet, you’re like this: You go through, ok, a thousand calories a day. So you’re making your little chart and you’re eating your boiled egg or whatever it is, celery and ice or, whatever horrible thing they are making you eat. And then at one point during the day, you just can’t stand it and you go back to the old habit and think, ‘Ok, I’ve eaten celery all day, now I’m going to eat a piece of chocolate cake.’ What happens in our minds is that we think, ‘Now I’m off my diet. And it doesn’t matter.’ Well, you can’t have that kind of diet mentality with your bodhicitta. For instance, if you practice bodhicitta for a good period of time and suddenly you blow it, not only blow it, blow it big time, you know, I mean, big time, you really blow it, then you think, ‘I’m not a compassionate person. I’m not good, I’m bad. It’s gone for today. I’ll try maybe next week sometime. I’m hopeless. I’m helpless. I’ve blown my bodhicitta diet.’ You begin to form all these exaggerated conclusions based on what has just happened.

If you could approach yourself in a relaxed way, moment by moment, and you did practice bodhicitta for a certain period of time, then when you really, really blow it, there would be no inner tension to prevent you from simply going back to the bodhicitta. What you’ve done is expressed both of your habits, your new one, which is difficult, and your old one, which is easy and you can fall into it any time you don’t practice your new one. It doesn’t mean anything. It only means that you’re expressing both habits and at every given moment you have a choice. You can practice bodhicitta the very next moment right after you’ve blown it. And you should, because the best way to prevent blowing it again is to climb right back on that horse and make restitution. That’s the best way, to get right back on it. If you don’t’ do that, you carry a tremendous burden as a spiritual person, the burden of hypocrisy. You feel like a hypocrite. You feel like you’ve really messed up. You have this idea that you’ve been kind and then this monster in you comes out and then you’re faking it again. You can’t think like that. You can’t think in terms of good and bad, high or low. Think in terms of habitual tendency. Give yourself a break. You have both. Accept it now. Accept it now. And this way, no matter what happens, you’re not going to have to think something vile about yourself. And you have the freedom to make a choice at any moment.

My recommendation is that should you begin to practice bodhicitta and find it extremely difficult, do not form conclusions about it. Only continue. The only conclusion you should form really is the one that I’m giving you: That’s my habit. I understand that about myself. I accept. And I accept that I can change it, little by little. And it’s hard. It’s all right if it’s hard. One day at a time, you know?

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Understanding the Opportunity

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Decision Time”

I want to say a few words, if I may. How many of you, I wonder, feel that you have absorbed enough of the teachings over the years to have a good enough idea of the pointing out instructions that Lord Buddha and many teachers over time have given us?  How many of us, I wonder, have really taken the time to contemplate the teachings in such a way that they really become a part of our inner gyroscope?  How many of us have taken to heart teachings that were given generously and kindly over the years in order to help us to see our way through?

I think about, in the beginning, how many times I taught that life is like going through a dark room with lots of furniture. And, of course, you have free will, lucky you. You can choose to go through that room in the darkness with the furniture right there, taking your chances. And, of course, we know what happens if you are operating in perfect darkness with lots of furniture in your room, or obstacles or past karma ripening, which we all have, or being in samsara, which we all are. How many of us have even taken that first step, I wonder, to make that decision to say, ‘I will not go through this room in darkness, I will not go through this life in darkness’? Why would someone teach you that?  Why would someone say that life is like a dark room and there is so much furniture and so many things that, without being able to see or negotiate or understand without any wisdom, without a map, without any instruction,. you’re likely to have difficulty. Why would one’s teacher teach that? Because it’s true.  This is not a made up agenda. These are the teachings of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas and the gurus throughout time.

We have this incredible stubbornness though, a terrible inner stubbornness that for some reason doesn’t want to take that teaching to heart. For some reason, we want to risk it, having the idea that we are strong or that it will work out or that maybe the teaching wasn’t true. Or because we didn’t actually take it to heart or never even learned it in the first place. I don’t know what the reason is, but we still have this kind of stubbornness that says to us, ‘You can do it, kid. Find your own way.’ Well, nobody is arguing that we can do it, but find your own way you will not,. not across the ocean of samsara. Will you make it through that room in the dark not knowing what’s in there?  Not bloody likely, is it?  Well, it is bloody likely if you think about it. You’ll probably get awfully bloody doing it.

Since time out of mind, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas have been coming to us, and not through their own need to experience or to come for fun or to come for torture or whatever. Buddhas and bodhisattvas appear in the world. They come for us; and they come to give us these teachings. And yet we are somehow so continuing in our delusion and habitual in this stubborn clinging to the idea that my ego has the answers, we still feel that way after all these years.

That is a teaching that is taught to you out of kindness, not out of a wish to push you around. If one cannot take at face value a teaching of that merit, that you must rely on the root guru, that you must rely on the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, have we somehow not put out the effort that it takes to come to terms with such a powerful truth as that?  It reminds me of alcoholism. It reminds me of the place where you say, ‘I can control my drinking.’ It reminds me of the place where you say, ‘I’m really on top of this. It hasn’t gotten me. Samsara hasn’t gotten me somehow.’ Or the idea that maybe the Buddha was lying or maybe he had his own agenda, or maybe Guru Rinpochewas just a phony. Maybe he was just on some sort of crazy power trip.

Why would somebody warn us of the suffering of samsara, of the danger of samsara? Because the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas are different than ordinary beings. They are different in one way: They have awakened. That’s the main difference—awakened to where the delusional phenomena of samara is simply that. Its dreamlike state is understood. Its seduction is also understood. To be human is to know that. But you have to decide once and for all, who is your guru? I’m asking you another question. How much time have you spent studying, reasoning out any of the teachings you have received so far? The Buddha’s teachings. Not that I am the Buddha, but my teachers have been saying all this time I’ve been teaching Dharma all these years. So I’m not making this up.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 6/28/2017

6/28/2017 Wednesday by Norma

People who are working hard and struggling to keep things on an even keel receive major assistance from others today. An army of willing workers – or one – appears ready and able to solve every problem and wash the car to boot! Accept help and watch yourself relax. If you find yourself engaging in verbal sniping, consider the other demands you face and relax until you feel better. Edith Sitwell said,
“My person hobbies are reading, listening to music and silence.” This is a great day to wrap up leftover tasks, to engage in exercise or drive somewhere, and to plan and consume a special meal.’

Grasping for Happiness: The Root of Ignorance

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

In closing, I wish to say this one thing. I talked to someone recently  who was schooled in a meditation that could create a feeling that was kind of blissy. This kind of meditation had bliss-like qualities. It would make you feel that you were kind of drunk, a kind of high feeling, a bliss-like quality. When I asked where the teaching came from, she said she got it from her teacher who had an experience of revelation and developed this teaching from that experience. I asked what the source of revelation was. She said they don’t think of it as a source, but this person had a revelation. This person had developed a technique with breathing and things like that. When I heard what the technique was, I was amazed. I remember thinking that you can horse yourself into a hyper-excited emotional state that is very much like a blissy kind of an experience. You can jerk yourself around psychically, using breath, using visualization, using certain kinds of thoughts and physical and non-physical techniques in which you can feel a certain kind of bliss. But I don’t know why a person would want to waste their time with that. I don’t know why a person would engage in such activity. It seems to me that all they are doing is exchanging one kind of phenomena for another.

The feeling that you have right now is just that. It is a feeling. It is like dew on the grass. When you examine it and even understand that the self that produced the feeling is empty of self-nature and is only the primordial wisdom state, that feeling that you have right now will vaporize. And who is producing this bliss that you can horse yourself into? This bliss, when examined, is produced by that same one. Not understanding the emptiness of self nature, not understanding and awakening to the primordial wisdom state through purifying hatred, greed and ignorance, not understanding this, you can jerk yourself around and experience bliss. And you can think happy thoughts for an hour and you will feel pretty good about yourself; but who is producing that thought the same way and it will vaporize the same way. Why exchange one kind of phenomena for another?

In the Vajrayana view, it is very plain and actually best put in a very stark verbiage. In the Vajrayana view, it is very clear: Chocolate and shit are the same. They are both brown and they are both phenomena. Now, of course, it is the you that would rather it be chocolate, but the you is not inherently real as you understand it. It is empty of self-nature. And it is only in your understanding of yourself, in the way that you do understand, and your clinging to that self, that you crave chocolate as you do and you are repelled by shit.

But phenomena is phenomena and you must understand that in order to practice the ultimate bodhicitta, you must practice the supreme path that does not create just another kind of phenomena. It doesn’t just create another kind of high, but in fact absolutely pacifies, once and for all, all of the building blocks of cyclic existence, all of the grasping, hatred, greed and ignorance, pride, jealousy, all of these things, that will produce this terrible suffering. These must be pacified once and for all. That is the ultimate act of love. There is a technology by which this can be accomplished. You cannot think it away because always  who is doing the thinking will be you.

So the game is then to become awake—to awaken to the primordial wisdom nature, to awaken to that Buddha nature, the ultimate kindness.

That is our teaching today. I hope that it is useful. Please make use of the teaching.

 

The Habit of Love

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

Basically what we have to do is, day by day in a gradual way, reinforce, develop and make larger the habit of loving. It is so mechanical,. You wouldn’t believe how mechanical it is. It’s like this: This hand is self absorption, listing severely to the right. Little by little, it, gets heavier on the other hand, the loving side. At some point,…  And who knows when that day will be? It’s not for you to judge. It’s not for you to know. Not for you to even care about. At some point, the balance will go in the loving direction  and you will really give rise to the bodhichitta. And there will be a time when the loving habit that you develop so outweighs anything else that there is a funny, magical thing that happens. The self absorption becomes invisible.

You won’t believe that in the beginning, especially when you first start trying the habit of true compassion, because it just seems as though the weight of self absorption keeps pulling you back and it just seems overwhelming. But you have to remember: It’s kind of like a rubber band, it’s kind of like a rubber band. It’s so hard, and the agony of feeling yourself go back to that same posture is going to be very difficult at first. But never mind, never mind. Keep putting more and more in the habit of loving kindness. You are going to break it eventually. It has to happen. It’s kind of like a spiritual law of physics, if you can imagine such a thing. Eventually one will outweigh the other. It’s just like that.

In fact, if you would spend a lot less time evaluating yourself and judging yourself and a lot more time just putting pebbles in that loving pile, you’d feel a lot better. In fact, if you take your eyes off  this self-absorption pile entirely, and move towards the loving  pile, you’d feel better still. It’s almost that once you begin to gather some weight in the area of proper virtuous habitual tendency, by magic, this thing starts to disappear. You’re not looking at it anymore.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 6/27/2017

6/27/2017 Tuesday by Norma

First you did too much, now you’re going to say too much! Avoid the urge to tell others exactly how you feel, instead tell them what you dream of and wish for. A dream that turns into reality is highlighted today. Raymond Inman said, “If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a person who goes for a walk.” Appearance matters for leaders, so show up looking great and your followers will be inspired anew. It’s not really a good time for financial decisions so conserve your resources right now. What’s good? Being in light, bright places, going outside, dressing well and tending to long term projects. Watch for the interesting person who pops up with enthusiasm that brightens your day.

Astrology for 6/26/2017

6/26/2017 Monday by Norma

Medical treatments go well today and healing is progressing well. Real estate or development projects are favorable, and it’s a good time to fix up the house. Listen to people who want to talk about the past and share your own memories, it’s part of the bonding process that’s taking place now. Maya Angelou said, “The most called-upon prerequisite of a friend is an accessible ear.” Follow your hunches about everything now, you can use reason later. Be sure to dress well and smile at everyone today.

Astrology for 6/25/2017

6/25/2017 Sunday by Norma

Focus on the qualities you appreciate in people and things today, not on the negative. Avoid bringing a partner into a difficult situation, it’s better to go it alone and use your own intuition to work things out. Be sure that you yourself are in a stable place before addressing others. Carlos Santana said, “If you want to be successful, just meditate, man. Meditation will tell you what people need.” This is a good day to formulate goals for the future, go for a swim or a sail, and renew old relationships that you’ve neglected.

The Middle Way: From a Commentary on the Bodhisattva Vow by HH Penor Rinpoche

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The following is adapted from an oral commentary given by His Holiness in conjunction with a ceremony wherein he bestowed the bodhisattva vow upon a gathering of disciples at Namdroling in Bozeman, Montana, November 1999:

This leads to the third stage concerning the aspect of adjusting one’s intention [which is the first of four aspects of the preliminaries to the ritual for receiving the vow]: transcending the two extremes of samsara and enlightenment by vowing to maintain the middle way. The practice of the enlightened mind, bodhicitta, involves two levels, the aspirational and the practical. Maybe you’re thinking, “If we reject the suffering of the three realms of existence and avoid attraction to the quiescence of the hearers and solitary realizers, what is there for us to obtain?” What we are to obtain is the state of bodhisattvahood, which is dependent on bodhicitta cultivated for the sake of self and others. It is only bodhicitta that leads beings from the suffering of existence to the state of fully enlightened buddhahood. We must avoid the two extremes: the quiescence of ordinary nirvana and the endless cycle of samsara. It is only through cultivating bodhicitta that we can truly follow the middle way.

Through cultivating bodhicitta you will purify all nonvirtue accumulated in the past, present, and future, and compassion and all noble qualities, including the ability to meditate in samadhi, will blossom in your mind. As you dedicate yourself to the welfare of others, the [strength of your] vow will increase to the point where are you are truly able to help sentient beings as limitless as space. You will be able to bring limitless beings to enlightenment, until the ocean of existence is emptied. The Buddha taught that without the cultivation of the precious bodhicitta, there is no chance to achieve the state of fully enlightened buddhahood. Therefore, for the purpose of all other living beings, with great enthusiastic joy you should give rise to the precious bodhicitta and engage in the actual practice.

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