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Becoming Stable on the Path

Becoming Stable on the Path

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Commitment to the Path”

There are many different ways to practice Dharma according to our individual needs.  For that reason, it behooves us to kind of sit back and get the lay of the land before we start frothing at the mouth and […]

Astrology for 9/28/2016

9/28/2016 Wednesday by Norma

Zip around organizing and categorizing things, a place for everything and everything in its place! Fix what’s broken and take medicine for what ails you. Virgo urges you to be well fed, well groomed and well dressed in all your activities. Employees’work is excellent, honor them! Investments prosper […]

The Nature of the Path

The Nature of the Path

The following is an excerpt form a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Commitment to the Path”

I like to see students start off kind of smallish and grow bigger in their practice, because I think that is more realistic.  The best way to start out our practice is to understand what Dharma is trying to […]

Astrology for 9/27/2016

9/27/2016 Tuesday by Norma

Mars moves into Capricorn today stabilizing political and philosophical posturing and getting down to the real work at hand. Plan your strategy carefully and take each step in turn for the success that is the result of realistic planning. Don’t know where you’re going? Figure it out and you’ll […]

Becoming Stable on the Path

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Commitment to the Path”

There are many different ways to practice Dharma according to our individual needs.  For that reason, it behooves us to kind of sit back and get the lay of the land before we start frothing at the mouth and chomping at the bit.

The tendency is to come in here and say, “Oh, great.  Well, first thing I’d like to do is start wearing robes.  The second thing I’d like to do is have me at least four or five interesting malas of all different colors.”  And we like to have the books. And we’d like to have a shawl, you know, a zen.  Only a real one, like them [the monks and nuns].  So we have all these ideas.  We think, I really want to get this where you sit on a bench.  It’s such a noble thing to do.  You sit there and you practice.

When we first come to the path, we have all kinds of funny, cute, but childish ideas, almost like a child viewing the world for the first time and trying to make sense out of it.  But then eventually there is a certain kind of relaxation that happens when the newness wears off. And then we are able to make some intelligent choices.

When we first start in our Dharma practice, we always think we are going to be great practitioners.  A couple of years later, we’re still hoping we’re going to be great practitioners. We find that it’s really taken this long to get the lay of the land, to really understand what is the relationship with the Three Precious Jewels.  What is the relationship with one’s teacher?  What is this about view?  Why are we here?  What’s this on my foot?  (I told you we’re going to have fun.)

So what are some of the fundamental ideas that we have to really accomplish and become at peace with in order to make intelligent choices on the path, in order to make choices that are lasting and commitments that are real? When we first enter onto the path, we might be filled with – I’ve seen this happen so much –with a kind of excitement, maybe even a feeling of passion.  But these feelings are emotional feelings, and emotional feelings come and go every 10 minutes or so.  You know how up and down our emotional condition is.  So those feelings, while stimulating and exciting at first, will not last and cannot be relied on.

So the best thing to do when you approach the path, is to approach it, not critically, but intelligently.  Look at the path and really become bonded with it in the way that it’s almost like— well, maybe women can relate to this more—but it’s like buying a really extraordinary new outfit.  I don’t know about you, but if I buy a new outfit, it has to hang outside of my closet for a little while so I can look at it and grok it in fullness.  Then and only then can I actually put it on my body.  So in a way, Dharma should be like that.  We should really examine how’s it going to lay, how’s it going to fold.  What is going to happen here?  It’s like we have to look at it. Examine, examine, examine. Because once we put on the clothing of Dharma and engage in our practice, we should try very hard at that point to remain stable. That’s important.  Once we engage in this close relationship with our own root gurus—when we meet the guru on the path and that hook is set and the connection is made, and we have found the potential for our liberation—then that has to remain stable.  That is not the time to vacillate.  So we should hang out a bit. Examine intelligently. Examine the qualities of our teacher, examine the qualities of our Vajra brothers and sisters. Then once we realize that this is our teacher and this is the place that we will practice, at that point, we are required to become stable.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo All Rights Reserved

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9/28/2016 Wednesday by Norma

Zip around organizing and categorizing things, a place for everything and everything in its place! Fix what’s broken and take medicine for what ails you. Virgo urges you to be well fed, well groomed and well dressed in all your activities. Employees’work is excellent, honor them! Investments prosper and gifts are well received, plus a possible legacy or inheritance comes your way. Need to remodel or refinance something? Now is the time! William H. Johnson said, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
This is a hard-working day, and the only obstacle is the jovial person who wants to have fun and distract you from your tasks! Balance is everything today: work, have fun, work, have fun.

The astrology post affects each person differently, depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this message reflects your life today!

The Nature of the Path

The following is an excerpt form a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Commitment to the Path”

I like to see students start off kind of smallish and grow bigger in their practice, because I think that is more realistic.  The best way to start out our practice is to understand what Dharma is trying to accomplish—what are the faults of cyclic existence and what are the results of practicing Dharma—to get a clear idea of that so that we can see for ourselves that this is a beneficial thing, so that we don’t have to argue with ourselves further down the path when it’s not appropriate any more.

So these teachings that I would like to give you are designed to get you to progress.  They are made to get you somewhere.  You are not meant to stay where you are on the path.   One progresses and that means change.  You know, that scary word.  So we have to ask ourselves then: What is Dharma engineered to do?  How does that change take place?  What does it look like?  What does it mean?

Well, first of all, look at something that is not Dharma.  Look at whatever sense of spirituality or religion you have that is not Dharma.  If we look at the ideas that we have generally as a culture about spirituality, spirituality is like salt.  It’s a condiment, a little ketchup on the hot dog of life.  It’s a flavor, but it’s not nourishment.  It doesn’t give you what you need every moment of every day necessarily, unless you yourself find a way to relate to that faith so strongly.

With Dharma, it’s a different story.  You don’t ever have to feel your way around.  You are never walking around in gray zone.  You can do practice.  You were taught how to increase your knowledge and your wisdom. You go from one practice to another to another to another through the different levels.  You can move through them according to your habitual tendency and your karmic propensity.  So there is something exacting, something like a method.

The reason why is that Dharma is not meant to act as a barbiturate, to calm you.  It’s not Valium.  It’s not meant to soothe you and make you feel more comfortable.  It’s more like if you could imagine your life as being a dark room, like any other room—filled with furniture. And it’s very dark.  You can’t see a thing.  This is kind of your life as a sentient being, because we really don’t come into this world understanding anything about cause and effect or how to make ourselves happy.  We come into this world unknowing, with only habitual tendencies.  That’s all we come in with, deep habitual tendencies from previous experiences.

So in a way, our lives are like this dark room, filled with obstacles. By now, now that we’re getting a little long in the tooth, we know there are obstacles. We’ve had them.  Some of them, anyway.  Doubtless there are more to come.  So we think of our life like this room with furniture in it and you’re supposed to get from the birth door to the death door successfully and make some progress in the meantime.  Well, if it’s pitch black and there are all these things in the room, the chances that you are going to walk through without knocking yourself into oblivion are pretty slim.  So the way that Dharma works is it forces you to turn on the lights.  You have to look at obstacles.  You have to look at what is in that room.  With another kind of faith you might think that the best thing to do is think positive and be positive and plaster good thoughts on your head. You know, just try to be kind of upbeat and make the best of everything.  All good ideas. But when you are stumbling through a pitch black room and there is a lot of furniture in there, you are going to trip.  And no amount of positive thinking is going to get you through that room successfully.  No amount of positive thinking is going to keep you from entering that last door.  Nobody has done it yet through positive thinking.

So Dharma’s tendency, rather than act like a soother or a barbiturate or something that is calming, Dharma turns on the light.  Dharma says, “Look folks, here is what’s happening.”  You are born, but you don’t remember how you got here.  There are uncountable cause and effect relationships since time out of mind that have formed into habitual tendencies and karmic propensities. And here you are born as a child.  How did you get those parents?  How did you get in this world?  How did this happen?  That’s what I said when I woke up as a kid.  What’s wrong with this picture?

So we find ourselves here and we’re kind of helpless.  That’s one of the teachings that the Buddha gives us. That in truth, we are all the same and in our nature we are exactly the same; but in our ordinary appearance as sentient beings, we are in a state of confusion.  We do not understand cause and effect relationships, because we can only see this present lifespan. We have had so many lifespans to give rise to causes in an amazing amount of time, since time out of mind.  So we have no understanding of this.

Dharma teaches us that all sentient beings, while we are the same, and while we are wandering in confusion, have one thing in common and all of our activity is geared towards that.  And if you think about it, you know that it is true.  Even when we are doing for others, until we really have given rise to compassion, we’re always trying to be happy.  It’s natural.  The organism wishes to be balanced and at peace, happy.  But we don’t understand what balanced and at peace is.  So we keep grabbing for stuff.  Yet Lord Buddha teaches us all that we are suffering due to desire.  It’s not that you don’t have something that makes you suffer, but your reaction to the not having it…that is most of the suffering.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo All Rights Reserved

 

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9/27/2016 Tuesday by Norma

Mars moves into Capricorn today stabilizing political and philosophical posturing and getting down to the real work at hand. Plan your strategy carefully and take each step in turn for the success that is the result of realistic planning. Don’t know where you’re going? Figure it out and you’ll get there. An inherent conflict exists between two prevailing energies, social and ambitious. Ambition can disrupt friendships. Do not combine the two: no trying to use a friend to further your goals unless the person understands and consents. Likewise don’t agree to help a friend’s cause if you’re not on board. Francisco Guicciardino said, “Ambition is not in itself an evil, nor is he to be condemned whose spirit prompts him to seek success by worthy and honorable ways.”

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

Viewing the Guru

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo on October 18, 1995

This teaching is meant to help us correct our view and deepening in Guru Yoga.  We will be thinking about how to deepen in our practice and how to practice with a deeper and more profound sense of view.  Remember that the antidote that we are trying to apply now is the one that addresses our superficiality.

As materialists, modern people, and sentient beings in general, our minds are very superficial.  In fact, our superficiality is literally invisible to us simply because we have no sense of what anything other than superficiality might be.  As you listen to this, you should listen with your “doors” open.  That means, don’t just listen lightly the way most people do. Most people, when they listen to either conversation or teaching, listen to it just skimming the surface, picking out the main points.  In this case, you don’t want to use that technique.  That’s okay for ordinary listening, but in this case you want to not only hear everything that is actually said, but at the same time, you also want to try to understand the concept that’s being presented in a deeper way.  It’s as though you want to receive the totality of the idea, not just the top of it.  You don’t want to try now to determine what are the most important parts.  In other words, accept the entire teaching, and then, later on, as you begin to digest it, you’ll be able to determine what the important parts are more readily.

 

Generally, when we walk around in our normal waking consciousness, we think that we are with the Guru only when we are praying or doing our practice. We visualize the Guru in front of us.  We think, “Oh, now the Guru must be here by the force of my devotion.”  That’s appropriate, that’s what I’ve taught you.  Then we think also that we are with the Guru whenever we see the Guru’s face.  We think that when the Guru is actually in the room and we see the face, we see the form, and we think that we are with the Guru.  If we see a picture of the Guru, maybe we have a moment of devotion, and perhaps we feel a connection because of our past practice.  We think, “Oh, now we are with the Guru.”  In fact, if we are really to examine the way that we are thinking at that point, it is extremely superficial.  There’s no view in that at all.  It’s superficial.  It’s completely inaccurate.  If we think in that way, it goes to show us that we have not accomplished pure view.  We have not accomplished a deeper view.  So this would give us a lead as to how to practice more deeply.

When we think about when we are with the Guru, we have to try to understand the meaning of our relationship with the Guru in the deepest possible sense.  We try, hopefully, to move past our perception of the Guru as an individual person.  This is our goal.  This is what we’re trying to do, generally speaking, in our devotional yoga.  We are trying to see past the personality, past the superficiality, into a more profound understanding, a more profound view.

Let’s go back to that question that we might have answered differently while we were thinking more superficially: when is it that we are with the Guru?

We are with the Guru every moment that we have the Buddha nature.  We are with the Guru so long as we appear in the world but still have within us the Buddha seed.  What that actually means is that the Guru represents for us all sources of refuge: all Lamas, all Buddhas, all Bodhisattvas, these three that arise from the primordial nature.  The Lama represents for us the Dharma: all of the Dharma, every word that was ever uttered of Dharma teaching.  The Lama represents for us as well the entire Sangha: every monk, every nun, every Lama that has ever taken robes, that has ever practiced the Dharma.  The Lama represents as well all the meditational deities with all their qualities and all their particular incarnations and all of their activities.  The Lama represents as well all of the dakinis and all of the Dharma protectors.  So when we think of the Lama, we think that everything that arises from the fundamental Buddha nature, from the pure primordial nature, that which is our Buddha nature is represented by the Lama.  Everything that the Lama represents arises from the Mind of Enlightenment.

Conversely, the Lama does not represent those things that are present in samsara.  The Lama does not represent those things that increase our five poisons, that increase our delusions.  The Lama, therefore, cannot cause suffering.  The Lama cannot cause an increase in ignorance.  In a natural way, the Lama is not capable of giving rise to more suffering and more delusion.  If somehow within the relationship that we have with our Lama there is some suffering, then we have to look to ourselves as having impure perception, as having incorrect view, incomplete understanding and the tendency to project outward what is actually happening within our own minds.  The reason why we know that the Lama cannot increase our suffering or increase our poisons, or harm us in any way, is that the Lama actually appears as a display arising from the very Mind of Enlightenment and within the Mind of Enlightenment there is no cause for suffering.  There is actually no cause for suffering, so the seed is not there.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

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9/26/2016 Monday by Norma

Accept every invitation that comes your way, your presence honors others. Someone who has been struggling needs your support and your presence transforms the situation. Remember you must be present to help, so show up! Good humor is all-pervasive and diplomacy is crucial today. The Bible says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” Most of the planets are in public signs today and this highlights worldly, not private, activity. Attend public functions, stay in bright places and honor everyone with your presence.

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

What's the Point?

TK-254_Saga Dawa_6-9-09-25-M

Actually these teachings on the Four Noble Truths are the lessons that we are trying to implement here in this temple.  One of the goals that I have personally invested a great deal in is to try to create in this temple an opportunity for sentient beings to invest their effort, their kindness, their resources in whatever way in order to bring benefit to others. I feel that this is a beneficial practice. According to the Buddha’s teachings, this is one way to create the perfect interdependent cause and effect arising in order to create the kind of happiness that we wish. The efforts that we engage in here don’t seem to bring much result at this time, in this way.

Right now, for instance, we are holding a twenty-four hour a day prayer vigil. There’s always someone in that room behind the staircase, the shrine room, who’s praying for the welfare of sentient beings. There are 12 two-hour shifts a day and we go round the clock twenty four hours a day. Now what is that producing for us now? Nothing, absolutely nothing. We lose sleep, we get irritable, we’re tired. Sometimes we don’t want to get up and do this thing. Sometimes we do everything that we can to trade shifts so that we don’t have to be there on Saturday morning. But somebody gets stuck with it, I guarantee you. Where’s the payoff? Why would we want to do that?

Let’s talk about some of the other things that we do. Right now we’re building a stupa park with eight stupas in it. In the past we’ve built the stupa that is out on the grounds toward the parking lot. When we built that stupa out there, we had weather such as we’ve had in the last couple of days. For some reason, every time we build stupas this happens. I don’t know why, but it seems to be in the high nineties, if not a hundred or over, with humidity just under pouring. You know somewhere around ninety-nine point nine. It’s just beastly weather and it’s very difficult. We get out there and we work very hard and we sweat very much. And it seems as though the effort will never end. It’s very, very hard because we do everything ourselves. Sometimes we lose weekends for a whole summer. Sometimes we lose evenings for months. We don’t get much rest; we work very, very hard.

Why do we do this? What’s the benefit? What are we experiencing right now in building this stupa park that’s so wonderful, besides backaches and sore limbs.  It seems as though nothing. It seems as though we’re just working very hard for no good reason. But actually what we are doing here is we are implementing the Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha teaches us that whatever we can do to benefit beings, to bring happiness and well-being to sentient beings, will bring us happiness and well-being as well. The Buddha teaches us that the point of our practice, the point of our lives, is to actually engage in meritorious, generous, wholesome and virtuous activity that will be of benefit to sentient beings. And the Buddha teaches us specifically that the only lasting permanent true cessation of suffering, and therefore benefit to sentient beings, is enlightenment. The true cessation of suffering is the state of enlightenment.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

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9/25/2016 Sunday by Norma

Today begins tentatively but stabilizes in time. If you don’t know what to do, wait and you’ll find out. You prefer to stay home but your presence is required elsewhere. It’s crucial to dress well and put your best foot forward today, people are watching! Ignore a snub, it is accidental and your presence is a boon to others. Determine who and what matters most to you and throw your support 100% in that direction. Best friend tells a bad joke? Laugh uproariously. Boss makes a mistake? Fix it pronto. Tennessee Williams said, “High station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.” The Sun travels with Jupiter making life fun and bringing out the best in everyone.

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

24th Anniversary of the Enthronement of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo


The lowing of the conch shell sounded from various points on the temple grounds like a soft foghorn. It overlaid the patter of hammers as stupa construction continued. Sometimes the sound wavered and spluttered out, and Jetsunma would laugh, lowering the conch. She was practicing for the enthronement ceremony the following day and had been told at the last minute that she would have to blow the conch. She never had before, at least not in this lifetime. She wiped her mouth and joked to her students, “I’m never going to get this down.”

She gamely tried again, continuing her gradual circumambulation of the temple. The sound came out clear and strong and hung in the air. After a moment of stillness, the students cheered.

On September 24, 1988, the temple filled with cameras and mics angled in every direction. Jetsunma sat quietly humble on the throne, and straightened the brocades draped over her shoulders, blinking at the lights. The temple had never been so brightly lit. To the blare of Tibetan horns and ringing bells, NBC filmed while His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, Throne Holder to the Palyul Lineage of the Nyingma School of Vajrayana Buddhism, formally enthroned Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo as a tulku, or reincarnate teacher.
According to tradition, ceremonial items were carried from H.H. Penor Rinpoche to Jetsunma, empowering her to teach and formally represent the Palyul Lineage. When the time came for her to blow the conch on camera, the sound came clear and then wavered. Not as good as the night before. She shared a wry smile with her students, tipping her head, Oh well. Then one of the monks had to blow the conch. His Holiness chuckled and Gyaltrul Rinpoche translated his comment, “They should have had Jetsunma do it.”

The news spread via Associated Press, and world newspapers printed photos of the spectacle of a western woman with long dark hair on a Tibetan throne. Her enthronement came at a time when Vajrayana Buddhism was relatively unknown in the US. The year before, an obscure Tibetan monk, H.H. the Dalai Lama, spoke at the National Cathedral to a scattered audience of about a hundred. At Buddhist temples in the late 1980s, teachers were universally Asian.

It was openly questioned whether westerners could accomplish this eastern religion.

H.H. Penor Rinpoche, who never shirked what was needed, answered with a resounding yes. As he enthroned her, he said, “People have asked me why there are no American tulkus. And people have asked me why there are no female Lamas. Now you have both. So you should be very happy.”

“This is for you,” Jetsunma said later to her students. “It’s for all of us really. This is your own enthronement, your own future accomplishment that you’re seeing.” She explained that the enthronement meant that not only can Dharma be accomplished, it can be accomplished by westerners, even in this day and age. “Yes, even you.” And she wrinkled her nose impishly at her students, and laughed.

Post written by Michelle Grissom

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9/24/2016 Saturday by Norma

Food and family are highlighted today. Be prepared to attend a social function with a casserole or snack in hand. Plutarch said, “It is a hard matter, my fellow citizens, to argue with the belly, since it has no ears.” Dine well for happiness. Household improvements are satisfying and small details result in big changes. Today you can paint or fix something and transform the environment, switch pet food and have a “whole new dog,” change medications and feel much better. Happiness is on the table, and a secret admirer is revealed.

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