Recent Posts

Logic and Relative View

Logic and Relative View

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

The Buddha never really bothered to address cosmological questions. It is true that in the Vajrayana tradition there is a cosmological history that is given, but to my understanding that history does not teach us how the original assumption came [...]

Astrology for 9/2/2014

9/2/2014 Tuesday

By mid-day people will have achieved success on the job, insulted a hard working person with a tactless remark, and offered something with uncommon generosity. After lunch, a brilliant idea changes the game. A new diplomatic strategy is introduced and diplomacy is afoot. “After you,” “No, after you,” people say to each other. [...]

"Can Do" - Looking Deeper at Hope and Fear

“Can Do” – Looking Deeper at Hope and Fear

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Mindfulness of Cyclic Existence”

As a Westerner, in a subtle and also in an overt way, we have a certain attitude that we should present ourselves in a certain way. In our culture, it is considered to be an excellent [...]

Astrology for 9/1/2014

9/1/2014 Monday by Norma

A leader continues to perform semi-miracles; stand back and watch the fun. Or else step up and perform a few yourself. Success comes as a direct result of careful planning, research and attention to detail. It’s not possible to bluff your way through, so don’t try- the unprepared are sent to [...]

Logic and Relative View

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

The Buddha never really bothered to address cosmological questions.   It is true that in the Vajrayana tradition there is a cosmological history that is given, but to my understanding that history does not teach us how the original assumption came about.  This cosmology speaks of the absolute void, and it says that from the void came movement.  In the way that it is spoken of, one understands that the void is the totality of form and formless as one. They are the same. They must both be contained in the void because form came from the void.  Emptiness and fullness are the same taste, the same essence, and the nature is pregnant with all potential.  In the state that is called the void there is non-distinction. Form and formless are not distinguishable from one another; they are the same. They are the same taste.

However, we do not perceive form and formless to be the same. Neither do we experience the clear luminous nature that is our own true nature and is also the nature of all phenomena.  Why don’t we experience that?

We don’t experience that because we are involved in consciousness. We are involved in taste; we are involved in feeling; we are involved in subtle and gross perception. And this process, this entire process of elaboration and exaggeration that extends from every single perception that we have, is so elaborate it extends, seemingly, forever.  We are so involved and so tremendously tripped up by and so compelled to compute instantly, because consciousness deals with relativity and specific perception and specific computation. We are compelled to be involved in that. We do not, then, perceive the true nature.

When you compute in the way that I have described, as quickly and as compulsively as you do, while you are utilizing these experiences which are a function of the assumption of self, there is no space to perceive that nature.The nature hasn’t gone away, nor has the void disappeared. The void isn’t something that used to be back there in time out of mind and now it’s not here anymore because everything developed.  This is how we think, isn’t it?  We think in terms of relativity.  That space, that emptiness, that voidness is the same. It remains.  It is steadfast.  It is unchanging. It is as close as it has ever been and as far as it can ever be. Close because voidness is the nature.  Far away because we cannot see it, not even for an instant, due to the functions which are based on an assumption of self-nature.

What conclusions can we draw from this?  Perhaps we can think that there is a tremendous amount of intelligence and logic in the Buddha’s teaching when he taught that the relative view, the relative world view, does, in fact, exist.  You, in fact, exist. The world exists.  Relative view exists.  Yet, the nature that is your nature, that is the nature of all phenomena, that is the nature of the world, that is the same nature of both form and formless, that nature is the true nature.  One cannot say that because you perceive yourself to be real and your experiences to be real that one can then deny the truth of your primordial wisdom nature, the nature that is really you.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 9/2/2014

9/2/2014 Tuesday

By mid-day people will have achieved success on the job, insulted a hard working person with a tactless remark, and offered something with uncommon generosity. After lunch, a brilliant idea changes the game. A new diplomatic strategy is introduced and diplomacy is afoot. “After you,” “No, after you,” people say to each other. Look for ways to compliment others, and be sincere. A time of relentless critical commentary has drawn to a close and people are tired of nit-picking. Do, however, pay attention to your surroundings and get out of the way of hard working people. The image of someone chatting obliviously in the path of a large bulldozer describes the possibility of trouble. Norman Cousins said, “Wisdom
consists of the anticipation of consequences.” In spite of all the progress, this remains a tricky time and danger lurks just below the surface. Pay attention and you’ll be safe.

The daily astrology post affects everyone. Because individual charts vary, the circumstances outlined in the post will affect people differently. Some will feel this energy in the personal arena, some in finances, some with family or children, some in work, and so forth. There are many departments of life. Look to see where the dynamic affects you!

“Can Do” – Looking Deeper at Hope and Fear

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Mindfulness of Cyclic Existence”

As a Westerner, in a subtle and also in an overt way, we have a certain attitude that we should present ourselves in a certain way. In our culture, it is considered to be an excellent indication of our status, our development and our maturity, if we have a noble, very obvious and very positive sense of hope. This is normal for us. We must have a good attitude about things. We must think positively or seem to be positive.. We must think with a “can do” attitude. That’s a big thing in America. We really think like that. All our movies glorify that attitude. If you don’t believe me, check out some movies from the video store. I can probably give you some titles. Go home and look at the movies that really honor the American “can do” ideal. We have very strongly in our minds and in our culture this idea of positive-ness, that we can do what we want to do, that we should hold to certain ideals in a very enduring way, and that we should just go onward up the hill—Charge!—that kind of thing. We may not realize it, but this particular and peculiar American ideal,is very wrapped up in the concept of hope and fear.

According to Buddhist tradition, not only is this not advisable, but it also creates a certain instability to the mind. In fact, where we consider it an admirable quality, in Buddhist philosophy it is considered a symptom of imbalance, a symptom of a lack of the realization of the primordial wisdom state, a symptom, in fact, of the lack of the realization of the emptiness or the illusory quality of all phenomena.

In Buddhist philosophy we are cautioned not to engage in the two extremes of hope and fear. We are taught that hope and fear are essentially the same. In the same way that the balancing parts of a scale are part of the same apparatus, or in the same way that both sides of the coin are essentially the same coin, hope and fear are exactly the same and are based on several presuppositions. First of all, they are based on the solidity or reality of self-nature as we understand it with all of its ramifications and conceptualizations. They are also based on the belief in the solidity and reality of all phenomena, and in the belief in the separation of all phenomena. They are based on dividing all that you see—self is here and phenomena are there—the belief in separation. They are also symptomatic of the tendency to consider that happiness can be won or gotten by running after it, that happiness is an external phenomenon. We feel inside that happiness is out there. That it’s something that we can go towards, something we can grasp; or that there is something that we can manipulate to get happy.

According to Buddhist philosophy, all of these concepts are erroneous. Basically, the Buddhists teach that true enlightenment, or true realization, occurs when one realizes the primordial wisdom state. The primordial wisdom state is actually considered to be free of conceptualization of any kind. It is a state that is innately wakeful.  It is wakeful, and yet it is not aware of some “thing”. So it is, if we can imagine such a thing, aware but not specifically aware. It is simply awake.

Buddhist philosophy also teaches in terms of realizing the emptiness of self-nature.  Now, that sounds really strange. Every time Americans, as a materialistic society, hear “emptiness,” we get extremely nervous, because we don’t understand what that means.  The emptiness of self-nature actually means that one doesn’t perceive self according to the concepts that are popular. In other words, one might perceive the primordial wisdom nature, one’s own true nature, or one might perceive self as being separate from others. In truth, the only way one can describe self is as being separate from something else, but self does not exist in that way. What Buddhist philosophy denies, or pushes aside, is the idea that self-nature exists according to the concepts that we put upon it. It does not deny pure perception. It does not deny the perception of the true nature that is one’s inherent reality.  But it does deny the concepts that surround the idea of self.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 9/1/2014

9/1/2014 Monday by Norma

A leader continues to perform semi-miracles; stand back and watch the fun. Or else step up and perform a few yourself. Success comes as a direct result of careful planning, research and attention to detail. It’s not possible to bluff your way through, so don’t try- the unprepared are sent to the back of the line. Once the job is finished a serious time turns silly, providing relief. Relax and enjoy the fun, but don’t lose sight of your goal. Under no circumstances should you jump the gun and celebrate before the job is done! A Zen proverb says, “When your reach the top, keep climbing.” Good things today include an agenda that is succeeding, self confidence that won’t quit, an indomitable will to move forward, and a goofy sense of fun!

The daily astrology post affects everyone. Because individual charts vary, the circumstances outlined in the post will affect people differently. Some will feel this energy in the personal arena, some in finances, some with family or children, some in work, and so forth. There are many departments of life. Look to see where the dynamic affects you!

Perception and Consciousness

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

Think of the experiences that constitute our lives and then single them out.  For instance, we certainly have the experience of form, and we have the experience of that which is formless.  We have the experience of touch.  We have the experience of taste.  We have the experience of hearing.  We have the experience of sight.  We have the experience of smell.  We have the experience of consciousness.  We have the experience of the perception that one computes, such as the perception of time and space, as well as the perception of sense, such as internal sense.  We have the perception of immediacy and distance, on both an emotional and a physical level.  We have many gross and subtle perceptual avenues.  Perception of some kind is an experience that we live with constantly.

Each one of these experiences is extremely compelling.  It is compelling beyond what can be easily described.  What I mean by compelling is not in the gross sense that we think of, like, for instance, an alcoholic might be compelled to drink alcohol or a really thirsty person might be compelled to drink water.  It isn’t that kind of compelling.  It’s more subtle, but it’s extreme, it’s very strong.  For instance, if I pick up this object I am compelled to compute it.  I can’t not compute it.  I have to compute it. I pick it up, and I immediately have the experience of how big it is, of how hard it is compared to my hand, of how hot or cold it is compared to my body, compared to my temperature, my own body temperature.  The sense of color compared to what?  Compared to my own color.  All phenomena are relative to my perception of self.  It’s extremely compelling.  The moment I have this kind of contact I immediately compute it in this most compelling way, and I can’t help myself.  I can’t come between myself and that computation.  The inability to come between yourself and that computation is the lack of spaciousness that is the karma of our minds.  There is no space.  There is the immediate fixation, compulsive computation of the relativity factor, the relativity between self and other.

Now, when I have any kind of awareness, subtle or gross, when I have any sense of time and space -such as I have a sense of being in this chair, being so far from you, of being halfway through my talk, it’s nighttime, these things – this kind of perception is actually a conglomeration of many different factors that have come together.  It takes a tremendous amount of computation to have this kind of perception.  It’s tremendously complicated.  Usually, all of the senses are used.   The air feels different. Not only is it dark but things sound differently. Things happen differently at night; usually you don’t come here this way during the day.  Many different things must take place to compose – and I mean the word “compose “– the experience that I’m having.

There’s also a general awareness of a process of distinction, or a process of differentiation, that constantly occurs.  You could call that process, that awareness, consciousness.  Consciousness, as we understand it, is a specific consciousness.  This consciousness that we have is a very specific function.  You cannot have consciousness without, on some level, computing relativity because consciousness is specific awareness. By the way, you really should not use the word consciousness when you talk about the nature of mind.  That’s done commonly, and it really is not correct.  You should not think you want to move into Buddha consciousness or that you want to have primordial consciousness.  Consciousness is specific, and the state that we speak of when we speak of the primordial wisdom state or when we think of the Buddha nature or when we think of an awareness that is non-specific, is pure and undifferentiated. It is free from any such contrivance as specific “-ness”.

Even when you have experience in your meditation that feels like it’s very vast and you’re congratulating yourself on how vast that experience just was and you’re so impressed with the vastness of your experience and you think that you’ve surely attained cosmic consciousness or something like that, under those conditions – probably especially under those conditions – the consciousness is extremely specific and computes relativity.  Consciousness means that I am conscious. I am having this experience.  To be able to have this experience requires consciousness.

So what is this consciousness a function of?  This consciousness is a function of the assumption of self.  One cannot have consciousness, or taste, or feeling, or any kind of subtle or gross perception, without the assumption of self.  The assumption of self comes first. The main thing that’s confusing about this point is that you want to know, well, who is having this assumption? Who is having this consciousness?  Who is having this taste?  I am.  I am conscious.  I have feeling.

Anybody want to test feeling?  We’ll give them the old Ahkön Lhamo test for feeling. If you think that you are beyond feeling, I have a pin somewhere on my undergarment that I can take out very quickly and there you go!  I will show you that you have feeling.

So what is your answer?  Who has consciousness?  Who’s conscious?  Who’s having this feeling?  Your answer has to be, although you’re terrified to say it: I am.  You are, aren’t you?  Can you doubt that?  Can you say that you can’t see?  Only if you close your eyes, but they have to be your eyes that you close.  You are conscious.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 8/31/2014

8/31/2014 Sunday by Norma

Difficult news brings a choice, a fork in the road. Your response provides a snapshot of how you will negotiate the times to come. Respond with anger and depression, and the road will be difficult. Respond with determination and commitment, and things will go easier. Will you be a warrior or a wuss? Attitude is everything now! John McDonald said, “When Fortune empties her chamber pot on your head, smile and say, ‘We are going to have a summer shower.’” Careful attention to detail gives all the information you need. Set aside feelings and use your head. Others will tell you what to do, if you ask. What’s good today? A leader pulls out all the stops and performs a semi-miracle, self confidence is through the roof, and a dreamer comes up with a brilliant plan.

The daily astrology post affects everyone. Because individual charts vary, the circumstances outlined in the post will affect people differently. Some will feel this energy in the personal arena, some in finances, some with family or children, some in work, and so forth. There are many departments of life. Look to see where the dynamic affects you!

What Causes Happiness?

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Faults of Cyclic Existence”

In order to understand what to do, we have to understand the definition of the cessation of suffering. The cessation of suffering doesn’t happen when everything external gets all right. Can you learn this?  Can we all learn this, please?  If we learn this, it will change your life!  The solving of this problem occurs when we are able to cut off the causes of suffering at the root. And the causes of suffering have to do with desire and the experience of duality.

So now we have to find a solution that is not anywhere in samsara. How in the world are you going to fix this? Well, you’re not… in the world. Where in the world is your solution?  Guess what?  Nowhere. Then we have to find something else. And what is that something else?  Well, now we are looking to understand that desire and this original ideation is the cause for all suffering. So the way to cut that would be to cut it off at the root. We have to move beyond the realm of cyclic existence in order to get any satisfaction, in order to get an answer, in order to understand, literally in order to prevent the causes from manifesting. In order to cut them off at the root, we have to move outside of the realm of samsara.,  So we look to see if everything we’ve known and experienced arises from the idea of self-nature being inherently real. What is outside of samsara?  Well, it is the one thing that, as samsaric beings, we cannot perceive. It is our own Buddha nature, the primordial wisdom nature that is the innately wakeful , sheer luminosity called Buddha.

While we are revolving in the realm of duality, we cannot see this nature.  Yet it is this very nature that is the cessation of the causes of suffering.. In order to cut off suffering at the root, one would have to cut off the connection to the potency of the desire realm. We, as samsaric beings, are desire beings. We are motivated solely by desire. and  the Buddha teaches us that this is the very cause of suffering. So what we’re hearing here is that everything we know, everything we call “me”, every habitual tendency, everything that has come together to knit the tapestry of our lives, is of that cause for suffering.

What monumental effort should happen in order to reach beyond that? How to even define what is beyond that when, by definition, we are the samsaric beings whose first assumption is that of self-nature being inherently real? This is where the power and the majesty and the potency of the practice of refuge comes into play. Because when we look at the appearance of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha in the world, and the inner and secret refuges as well, we can see that that which we call Buddha nature, that which we call Buddha, does not originate from the desire realm. It is that ground—uncontrived, innately wakeful luminosity—that is the underlying primordial wisdom state, suchness, from which all display, all emanation actually comes.

This that we are caught in and experiencing is simply some offshoot, some manifestation in a way, whereas the fundamental all-pervasive truth of our nature, is to us unseen. Yet it is that nature, that which we are naturally, which we must strive toward in order to be awakened, That is the clue; that is the key. In our natural state as Buddha, as that sheer luminosity, there is no distinction, no distortion, no conceptualization, no idea that self is separate from other, no understanding that it could even occur that way. No distinction. Only suchness, one taste, that nature which is conditionless. As we are now we cannot even imagine a conditionless state, a conditionless nature, and yet this is our nature.

So when we practice refuge, we do it in stages. The ultimate refuge is when we understand and awaken to our own face, our own true nature. But in the beginning we practice by conceptually isolating that which is without conception. We have to. On an ordinary level, let’s say the goal was physical fitness and strength. Well, that’s an abstract concept. How do you get that?  You can’t buy that. You can’t hold that in your hand, but you can do the exercises, you see?  Same thing. Buddhahood. We can’t buy it, we can’t hold it in our hand, but we can establish the method.

The method begins with the recognition of the Buddha which is the primordial, uncontrived nature that happens to have appeared in cyclic existence at this time, during this aeon, as a man. But the man is not the thing. Lord Buddha is the display of that nature. We use his image and his teachings as a way to understand because he speaks directly from that nature. But we understand that we are awakening, awakening, awakening. That’s the understanding of refuge. We are looking for that which is not composed of the causes of suffering. And here while we are suffering and revolving endlessly, and watching others revolve endlessly, here while this occurs, we are that, in truth, which is the cessation of suffering, Buddhahood.

 Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 8/30/2014

8/30/2014 Saturday

Return to earth! Good sense and a shrewd assessment of reality characterize this day. Confidence appears where uncertainty was previously. Men and women are in harmony. A suggestion offers the way out of a stalemate. Inspiration and a medical cure can come today. Look deeply into your current situation: you can understand things that eluded you before. Work is king, but the urge to have fun is also here. Take turns: work, then play. Don’t let either dominate and don’t mix the two. Debt is an issue and you must confront it. Pay your bills! Flip Wilson said, “If you think nobody cares if you’re alive or dead, try missing a couple of car payments.” Three planets in Scorpio will not let you ignore what you owe. What’s good? An unusual combination of joyfulness and realistic thinking keep you happy as you do what must be done.

The daily astrology post affects everyone. Because individual charts vary, the circumstances outlined in the post will affect people differently. Some will feel this energy in the personal arena, some in finances, some with family or children, some in work, and so forth. There are many departments of life. Look to see where the dynamic affects you!

Who Needs Refuge?

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Faults of Cyclic Existence”

How is the understanding of compassion a clarifying thought as well as a motivating thought?  How is it a clarifying thought?  Now here is where the profound connection with refuge comes into play.  Not only does the compassion motivate us to take refuge, but it makes us think it through very clearly.   If we utilize it, it does.

When we enter onto the path of the Buddhadharma, we take refuge in the outer refuge of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, the inner refuge of lama, yidam, khandro, and the secret refuge of the channels, winds and fluids.  When we actually enter into this refuge, which for our purposes now are the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, Triple Gem refuge, we must define why it must be arranged the way it is.  Why is it organized the way it is?  For instance, if it’s true that all sentient beings are suffering but they wish to be happy and they are mostly suffering due to desire and the confusion about issues concerning desire, if that’s what the Buddha said, then why don’t we just kind of sit down and have a therapeutic session of insight so that we can isolate for ourselves what it is that we actually want.And maybe then we can go and get it.  If all sentient beings are really suffering and we’re really unhappy and we’re trying to be happy, why don’t we just have an insight of some kind and go for it!? Why don’t we do that?  Well, because you’ve done that before.  You’ve done that before.  You do it all the time to greater or lesser degree, according to your capacity and your habitual tendency.  In fact, we do that all of the time.  We feel a need.  We feel desire.  We feel something.  Something is moving that locomotive down the track.  What is it?  So we sit down and we try to center ourselves or we get busy and allow thoughts to come up.  Each one of us has a characteristic way to deal with things.  Maybe we’ll do a little journaling, we’ll do a little art, we’ll do a little music, we’ll do a little whatever, take a walk and try to center ourselves, and figure out what’s going on.  Well, we’ll come up with something.  You always come up with something

Now we’re going to figure out, “Oh ,  if I don’t get with the great love of my life pretty soon…, That’s what it is, I know that’s what it is.”  So now you’re on to the next adventure. Or you may ask yourself,“What is it that’s troubling me?  What is it that’s troubling me?” And you sit down and you’re reaching inside and using all this psychological technique and you’re going, “Oh it’s my mother!!!  My mother didn’t love me!!”  Each of these are valid. I’m not saying that these are not issues in your life.  I’m not saying that these are not valid things to think about, but I am saying that there is some confusion there in that you are looking at the superficial causes for discomfort, but not the deeper ones.

If we were to look more deeply,, we would discover that the underlying cause of all suffering is desire, and that we’re real, real, real confused about this whole issue.  So we examine the path and examine the teachings a little bit further. And we find that the Buddha has taught us that samsara is actually made up of the things that potentially make us suffer.  That is to say that the first step or connection with samsara, that is the wheel of death and rebirth, is based on the idea, the first gossamer thin assumption or idea, of self-nature as being inherently real.  Why does that happen?  That happens because it can. End of subject.  It’s one of the potentials in the great ground of primordial nature which contains within it all potentials.  So this has happened.  We have considered ourselves separate.

In order to consider one’s self as self nature separate, other has to be external.  In order for other to be external, it has to be determined.  In order for it to be determined, we have to react toward it.  There has to be a reaction  toward it with acceptance or rejection.  You cannot see something without registering acceptance or rejection, or the combination of the two, which is neutrality.  Neutrality is not lack of reaction.  It is a combination of reactions.  So we cannot experience anything as outside ourselves without some sort of reaction. And once that has happened, we react toward everything with hope and fear.

So everything in samsara is then built from that original structure of the idea of self nature being inherently real and at this point one’s self is determined, and other becomes external.  We split into subjective-objective reality.  Everything in samsara, every kind of perception with the senses, anything that we take in with our eyes, our ears, our tongues, anything that senses, comes from, at the root, that original construct, that original assumption of self-nature as being inherently real.  So everything in samsara is built of that.  That is to say that nothing that we experience now, nothing that we have ever experienced, is separate from the realm of desire.  So literally, everything within samsara is potentially cause for more suffering.

 Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 8/29/2014

8/29/2014 Friday by Norma

A man or authority figure is either confused or under the weather. Help this person, and reinforce reality. (“Today is Friday and you are in Los Angeles.”) If you are the out-of-sorts person, relax and avoid demanding situations. Confusing medical situations can appear. Fortunately, people who love you are nearby offering help and assurance that you have not lost your mind, which is a fear today. A partner is a godsend and pulls you in the right direction. Two can accomplish what a single person cannot! An amusing situation gives perspective. Mel Brooks said, “Tragedy is what happens to me; comedy is what happens to you.” What’s good today? Irrepressible good humor, a helpful partner, and the willingness to be humble in the face of confusion. It’ll work out!

The daily astrology post affects everyone. Because individual charts vary, the circumstances outlined in the post will affect people differently. Some will feel this energy in the personal arena, some in finances, some with family or children, some in work, and so forth. There are many departments of life. Look to see where the dynamic affects you!

My Great Web page