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What Is Bodhicitta?

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Your Treasure is Heart”

Bodhicitta is the one subject that is taught from the first moment that one enters onto the path until the last moment before one really engages in completion stage practice. It is a primary and necessary fundamental foundational meditation, an absorption that one should remain in from the first moment upon hearing the Dharma to the last moment before one actually enters into nirvana.  There should never be a moment when the the idea of Bodhicitta is not part of your life and part of your heart.

So what is Bodhicitta?  Bodhicitta means the “great awakening,” and it has to do with the awakening mind.  The Bodhisattva, one who is engaged in the practice of Bodhicitta, is one who is an awakening being. The Bodhisattvas take a vow by which they do not actually go into Buddhahood.  They move further and further along what are called the bhumis, or steps, further and further into this precious state of awakening. Upon taking the Bodhisattva Vow, remaining fully absorbed in that vow, and beginning to accomplish that vow, one then begins to enter the first bhumi which is a very major step, a very major accomplishment. Then from the first bhumi one goes to the second, third, fourth, fifth, and so on, and at the tenth bhumi one is then able to step very easily into full Buddhahood.  However, the Bodhisattva who is on the tenth bhumi holds back and does not take that final step in order to remain in the world for the sake of sentient beings: appearing in a form that is of benefit to sentient beings, and being able to teach and guide them.

So we are practicing and studying this Bodhicitta which is so precious and so important.  Many of the religions in the world have the idea of compassion.  That idea of compassion is stated in various ways, but in the Buddhadharma, it is not only one of the teachings, it is considered to be one of the two main legs of the path of the Buddhadharma.  There is the wisdom and the Bodhicitta, wisdom and compassion.  So these are the two legs of the path. It is considered that if one cannot accomplish compassion, if one cannot accomplish the Bodhicitta, then whatever else one is doing on the path amounts to very little.  Bodhicitta is the cornerstone, the key. It is the essence of development. The Bodhicitta  is the practice of compassion, when it is seen in a relative environment, such as this earth, filled with materialistic view and material phenomena.  In this world of duality and relativity, when we think of Bodhicitta, we think of it as a practice in order to attain.  But actually in truth, Bodhicitta is the very display or essence, the nature of the ground of our being.

Buddha is not just a historical man that lived a long time ago.  Buddhas are not just the little statues, some of them fat little guys and some of them fancy guys.  Buddha is our nature and can be considered the primordial ground of being.  It is that essence, suchness, which is very difficult to describe.  In fact, once one describes the nature of Buddhahood, then one has actually left the nature of Buddhahood.  It cannot be described in such a way that one remains stable in the view of Buddhahood because once conceptualization and discrimination actually occur, then the meaning of Buddhahood is changed.  So, ultimately, Buddhahood can only be understood in one’s meditation practice.

The closest we can come is to describe Buddhahood as being the fundamental ground of being.  It is neither empty nor full. It is both and it is neither.  It is neither silent nor filled with sound.  It is both and it is neither.  It is neither form nor formless. It is both, and yet neither.  Buddhahood is that ultimate mystery that cannot be described in terminology that we understand because our terminology requires duality. It requires us to separate ourselves from that which we describe as though we were an audience.  It requires us to discriminate and conceptualize.  Discrimination and conceptualization are not in accordance with a true view of Buddhahood, because when one realizes and gives rise to that precious awakened state called Buddhahood, one cannot detect any separation.  One cannot determine definition.  One cannot judge where one thing ends and another thing begins. If we were to view from the fully awakened state that the Buddha was in when he described himself as being awake, we would not be able to determine where one being ended and another being began.  That whole concept would be lost in the state of Buddhahood.

We think of Bodhicitta as the practice of compassion that we should attain to. We only have that idea because we are in a fundamentally deluded state, in a separated state, believing that self and other are in fact separate, believing that relative view and the view of Buddhahood are somehow separate.  So that’s how we view Bodhicitta, as some thing that we do, some thing that we practice, but in fact the Bodhicitta is the very breath, or first movement or display or dance of the Buddha nature.  If the Buddha nature is like the sun, radiant in every conceivable way, then the Bodhicitta can be considered like the rays of the sun.  The rays of the sun cannot occur without the sun in the same way that Bodhicitta cannot occur without Buddhahood.  In the same way, the sun does not occur without its rays; therefore Buddhahood does not occur without Bodhicitta.  These two are inseparable.  They cannot be determined as separate in any way, shape, manner or form other than through the dialogue of confusion, which is how we talk—language based on separation and delusion.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 2/6/2016

2/6/2016 Saturday by Norma

A conversation with a good-hearted person is important, and your thinking has never been better. Informed decisions, excellent work opportunities and clear judgment prevail today. Actively seek out the information you need and let it guide you in your choices. Rudyard Kipling said. “I have six honest serving men. They taught me all I know. Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.” The only way to go wrong is to rely on your own judgment, ignoring outside input. Judges, lawyers, clergy, counselors and physicians are right on the money, and your secret friend is right about everything else.

The astrology post affects everyone differently, depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see where this message affects your life.

From the Great Lotus


An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Dakini Workshop

When the Buddha’s activities are accomplished in the world, through our lack of understanding, we will see lots of different things.  For instance, in this temple, we may see the need for fundraising, and we may see the intensive effort that is supposed to go into that.  We may see the need for expansion and how intensive the effort for that can be and we may see the extent of our own effort, which seems to be awesome.  Yet, every bit of that perception is only based on the belief in self-nature as being inherently real.  There is no one to struggle if the belief in self-nature is not clung to.  It is that clinging that is the basis for the struggle.

From the point of view of enlightened intention, one can understand that from a tiny event that seemed in our continuum to take place 2,500 years ago and then continued on with a thread of different experiences and different incarnations, it may seem that that tiny event gave birth to the oddest things in the oddest of places in Poolesville, Maryland where the Dharma is born.  Then we think about all of the things in India and we think about all the things in Tibet and we think about all the things that are happening around the world concerning the Buddha’s activity.   From the point of view of the intention of that one life, that is a very small piece of effort.  But from our point of view, of course, we are seeing the great effortfulness and it seems to be continuing endlessly, especially within the context of our lives.  We seem to think that it is continuing endlessly.

One must understand, however, that even thinking that all of this came from one small life, even that is an outrageous delusion.  It is a contrivance that we make to satisfy ourselves.  One must understand that from the point of view of enlightenment, from the unborn vast expanse of emptiness, of blissful emptiness, within that sphere of truth that we call the great mother, all potency spontaneously arises and is born, demonstrates itself or dances or moves in as many displays, forms, formlessnesses as we can possibly imagine and beyond what we can imagine.  And even as it is born, even as it moves, it is inherently and therefore immediately complete.  That means that all sentient beings have within them the inherent Buddha nature and therefore will achieve enlightenment, but that is our confusion.  In fact, we have never been separate from the sphere of truth.  We have never been anywhere else but born and completed in the great lotus of the great mother.  Anything else is complete fabrication.

We have never left the space of emptiness and we have never lost the scent of emptiness.  From the point of view of enlightenment we have never beheld or looked at anything other than emptiness.  We have never seen anything other than our own face.  We have never lost a moment’s time.

Yet, here we are trying to understand the nature of the dakini, like trying to be seduced back into remembering our own face, straining to hear the sound of our own name.  From the point of view of the enlightened activity that is consistent with the dakini nature, there is no loss.  There is no distinction.  There is no separation.  There is no need for struggle.  Yet it is clear that we remain fixed on the idea of separation between self and other.  We remain hooked with concepts such as the distinction between dirty and clean.  We remain addicted to the idea of hatred, greed and ignorance and seem to be unable to let them go so that they can simply do what they do naturally so that all phenomena, the moment that it naturally arises, is immediately completed.

From the point of view of enlightenment, no phenomenon continues itself.  No piece of what we experience, whether we wish to experience or do not wish to experience, by its nature continues or completes itself.  The experience of continuation that we have is only due to our own continuing it, our own determination to continue it.  No phenomenon is exempt.  All things arise from the sphere of truth.  They are spontaneously born and instantly complete.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved


Astrology for 2/5/2016

2/5/2016 Friday by Norma

A magnetic leader or man is helpful in terms of offering information and friendship. If you accept what’s proffered you will move forward, but it’s your choice. In a different area, you have a small opportunity to get something you want, but act quickly before the door closes leaving you with something you don’t want. Agnes de Mille said, “No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made; destiny is made known silently.” This is a day for decisions and for obsessive affection. Something you really love is nearby. Clear thinking and good judgment is your ace in the hole today.

The astrology post affects everyone differently, based on individual horoscopes. Look to see where this message affects your life.

Cessation of Suffering


An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “How Buddhists Think”

The Buddha’s next teaching is that there exists a cessation of suffering, which is the same as the cessation of desire.  This cessation is called Enlightenment, and it is the only true cessation of suffering.

In a very poor society, people focus on basic survival.  But what happens in a society like ours, in which survival is not a main concern?  (If nothing else works, we can go on welfare.)  Since we don’t need to focus on survival, we have time to be neurotic.  The more we seem to satisfy our needs, the more needs we develop.

In cyclic existence, there is no way to solve all our needs.  Everything constantly changes.  And temporary happiness is almost a mixed blessing:  it always ends, and in the meantime, we are preoccupied with it.  The problem is that we haven’t done anything about viewing our true Nature.  It’s almost as if we keep ourselves satisfied by eating the icing off the cake; never really obtaining genuine nourishment.

When the Buddha taught that there is an end to suffering, it was a major revelation.  Why?  Although the great yogis and gurus at that time taught that one could achieve God-consciousness, cosmic consciousness, the Buddha superseded that.  Due to the ripening of his great generosity in past lives, he was able to come to a level of meditation in which he realized the cessation of fixation––fixation on godliness and even fixation on the consciousness of self.  He attained a level of realization that was simply “Awake.”  No consciousness, no sameness, no union.  Simply pure luminosity: “I am Awake.”

At that moment, all the cause-and-effect building blocks accumulated throughout time out of mind, all the building blocks from endless involvement with subject-object fixation, all the fixation on ego as real––all of this was pacified.  The Buddha realized the sameness and indivisibility of subject and object, the inseparability of action and stillness, the sameness, the “Suchness” of all that is.  All was dispelled in clear, uncontrived, luminous awareness. This non-specific awareness is the pure view of one’s own true Nature.  It is simply being awake.  The Buddha teaches that this is the end of all suffering, because it is the end of what you make suffering with.  It is the end of cause-and-effect relationships––and therefore, according to Buddhism, the end of karma.

Copyright ©  Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 2/4/2016

2/4/2016 Thursday by Norma

Fortunately, the inflammatory aspects of the day are balanced by thoughtful wisdom, and it’s a good idea to remember this as you go about your day. Men are more vulnerable than women to the trouble stirred up by the Sun travelling in a negative aspect to Mars. Beware of impetuous actions, risky driving and sudden irritations. Ignore people who goad you: don’t take the bait! Doug Larson said, “The real secret of patience is to find something to do in the meantime.” What’s good today? Special time with a friend, good connection with a group, stable relationships with those you love, and an improvement in your reputation. Study and learning are also favored along with every form of philosophy.

The astrology post affects everyone differently, depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this message impacts your life!

The River

The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

I went to the river. Once again dry, but for the tears in my eyes there was none for me to drink. I need to drink.

When water runs dry… We wait, the fish wait, the animals wait all of us wait. It cannot be found.

Later I saw the river again. Willows had grown, sucking up water. Since there was food for the Moose, I do not cry.

The Moose is so hungry, but the willows, they cry…will the water return by and by? The Raven sighs.

Once I brought three lotus to the river. Not one could stay. I cried, and walked away. Alone.

The scent lingers. The willows continue their thirsty way. Moose grows fat.

Someone must bring the rain. Soon we will all be gone. The feast of sweetness abandoned.

Here is a Lotus in my window. I pray the fragrance is pure. Here is a candle shining. Here is a hope.

Soon I must bring a Lotus to the river with joy. But I do not know if it will float downstream. They often do.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 2/3/2016

2/3/2016 Wednesday by Norma

A very wise decision is made today that helps stabilize an inflammatory situation. Keep the decision in mind as you go through the day. Spend time on domestic matters, with women, children and family and you’ll be happy. Avoid troublemakers. Ask permission from the person in authority before taking action and check your sources and information with care. It’s possible to be pulled off course by impetuous action, and caution is required. Doug Larson said, “Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from getting into situations where you need it.” A surprisingly happy time is possible in travel, discussion and social activities. Spend time with friends who share your values, avoid trouble and it’s a great day.

The astrology post affects everyone differently, based on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this
message affects your life!

How Buddhists Think


By Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

An excerpt from a teaching called “How Buddhists Think”

Some years ago, His Holiness the Dalai Lama took part in an interfaith discussion at a cathedral in Washington, D.C.  The Episcopalian ministers and Catholic priests repeatedly stressed the sameness at the core of all religions.  His Holiness stood up and said that in some respects we are all the same: we all wish for peace on Earth, we wish for the benefit of beings, we wish for the end of suffering, we wish to attain a level of consciousness in which we are unified with our optimum goal, whatever that might be.  “But,” he said, “between your religion and my religion there are fundamental differences.  And that has to be okay.  There has to be unity in diversity.”

Although I would certainly never speak for the Dalai Lama, I assume that the “fundamental differences” to which he referred have to do with Buddhism’s lack of an external God.  This is generally not understood by Westerners.  The Buddha’s teachings do not advocate the attainment of oneness with a God, with anything external.  Instead, the Buddha teaches the essential sameness of all phenomena, pointing out that in the beginning there was no distinction.  The Buddha tells us that such a distinction exists only in our mind, which is fixated on self-nature as being inherently real.

In truth, our Nature is all-pervasive.  There is no separation.  There is no distinction.  When Realization is achieved, it is a non-specific awareness, a luminosity, an innate wakefulness.  The process of fixation, of contrivance and distinction, is pacified.  That is not the same as attaining oneness with anything external.  The Buddha leads us to pacify the delusion that causes fixation on duality.

There is no optimum state one has to create, no supreme being towards whom to move.  For a Buddhist, the goal is awakening.  It is an awakening to the Nature that cannot be nearer, or stronger, or better than it is now.  It can never be tainted, pushed away, destroyed.  It remains stable and unchanging.  It is simply “Suchness.”

Copyright ©  Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 2/2/2016

2/2/2016 Tuesday by Norma

A secret is revealed and hidden things are discovered, introducing the question, “How should this be handled?” This is what everyone is asking. Two modes are possible: justice or vengeance, and each has supporters. If you find yourself inclined to join a possee, consider the situation carefully, no good will come of it. Wait until anger has passed to make a decision and you’ll choose wisely. Colin Powell said, “Get mad, then get over it.” It’s a good day to shine in public, to invest money conservatively and to express devotion to your favorite cause. It’s a bad day to strike out against someone, to go it alone or rile people up. Stay in the middle of the peace pack.

The astrology post affects everyone differently, depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see where this message affects your life!

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