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Take Yourself to Task

Take Yourself to Task

An excerpt from the Mindfulness workshop given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo in 1999

Most of us were trained from early childhood that you’re wrong when you get caught. A lot of times when our parents schooled us and disciplined us, they didn’t really relate to any profound level regarding the development of our consciousness. […]

Astrology for 8/27/2015

8/27/2015 Thursday by Norma

Groups are highlighted as is partnership today. Find a buddy and everything you do goes well. Friendly people strike up conversations and decide to do things together, signifying a new beginning where you thought you’d gone stale. Arnold Glasow said, “The future is the past returning through another gate.” Cheerful conversation, […]

Developing the Heart of Practice

Developing the Heart of Practice

An excerpt from the Mindfulness workshop given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo in 1999

In practicing mindfulness within the context of guru devotion, one elevates the object of devotion. One elevates that appearance which is in accordance with the Buddha’s miraculous and compassionate intention, as being different than ordinary phenomena. What we are trying to […]

Astrology for 8/26/2015

8/26/2015 Wednesday by Norma

A disruptive situation upsets your sense of decorum, but pay attention! Disregard the manner of delivery and listen to the message. The image of a distraught person yelling at a 911 operator is appropriate. Don’t demand courtesy: ask how you can help, take prompt action and things turn out well. John […]

Take Yourself to Task

An excerpt from the Mindfulness workshop given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo in 1999

Most of us were trained from early childhood that you’re wrong when you get caught.  A lot of times when our parents schooled us and disciplined us, they didn’t really relate to any profound level regarding the development of our consciousness.  Very few parents walked up to their children and said, “You know, you’re not developing good inner qualities.”  Mostly we were told, “You didn’t wash the dishes!”  So we learned that it is the visible things that really count, and it’s when we get caught that life really takes a downward turn.  That’s what we’re told, and that’s what we really understand to this day.  It’s very hard for us to make that leap from thinking with this get-away-with-it mentality, with this as-long-as-you-hide-it-it’s-OK mentality, into a deeper level of practice where you require of yourself that you do more than look ‘as if.’  That’s a step that only you can take.

My personal experience has been that when we take that kind of step and become inwardly responsible for giving rise to a state of recognition, then at that point our path becomes potent, empowered, and deeper than we thought possible.  But then you could say that about any avenue of life.  So as long as we’re faking it in any avenue of life, so long as we’re simply trying to hold the image that we think is appropriate, we are missing a lot.  So why wouldn’t it apply to Dharma activity also?  It is particularly important where the state of awakening, as opposed to being in this narcotic, samsaric mind state is at stake.  How much more so, then, in Dharma practice is it to be aware of one’s own mind state and to take oneself to task?  If you find that you’re just fulfilling the form of the practice and you’re just acting as if you have reverence, or acting as if you can have some kind of spiritual discrimination or recognition, only you can say to yourself, “W-w-w-wait a minute, go back and do that again.”  Only you can sit there doing Seven-line Prayer, and realize you don’t even remember what you’re doing.  Things are coming out of your mouth you don’t even know and the mind is all askew and you don’t know where you are and if you didn’t have the beads, you really couldn’t count, you’re so far gone.  So when that happens, do you stop, pull yourself together again, and focus?  Maybe you even lose a few of the Seven-line Prayers on your little bead thing, and go back and say, “Wait a minute, I think I’ve been gone for about 10 minutes.  Only you can do that.  I know it sounds silly; it sounds like much ado about nothing, but that is the power that you have.  Don’t take it lightly.  The potency that we have on our path comes from that kind of mindfulness, that kind of discrimination.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 8/27/2015

8/27/2015 Thursday by Norma

Groups are highlighted as is partnership today. Find a buddy and everything you do goes well. Friendly people strike up conversations and decide to do things together, signifying a new beginning where you thought you’d gone stale. Arnold Glasow said, “The future is the past returning through
another gate.” Cheerful conversation, supportive encouragement and expanding opportunities appear today. Be gracious to someone who wants to take center stage; offer applause and compliments and watch your own mood expand. What’s good today? Travel, attention to detail, happy people and diplomatic interactions with others.

The daily astrology post affects everyone. Because individual charts vary, the circumstances outlined in the post will impact 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!

Developing the Heart of Practice

An excerpt from the Mindfulness workshop given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo in 1999

In practicing mindfulness within the context of guru devotion, one elevates the object of devotion.  One elevates that appearance which is in accordance with the Buddha’s miraculous and compassionate intention, as being different than ordinary phenomena.  What we are trying to do is overcome the condition of non-recognition. In this condition of non-recognition or dullness, where our mind becomes very flat-line, the mind is actually filled with so many defilements of non-recognition that the mind becomes disabled.  The consciousness becomes unable to discriminate what is extraordinary from what is ordinary.  We literally are not able to see that which arises from the Buddha nature and are not able to discriminate between that and what is ordinary appearance.  So we practice Guru Yoga for the purpose of being able to make that kind of discrimination.

When we hold an object of refuge in reverence, we should not bring it into the realm of the ordinary.  In order to bring it into the realm of the ordinary, you have to think the way you ordinarily do.  You would basically be saying, “Okay, now, this is me, the student, acting like that in front of the object of reverence, of refuge.  This is me acting like that.  I put myself in that posture because that’s what I’m supposed to do as a good Buddhist.” Having the opportunity to discriminate, to give rise to a state of recognition or awakeness, yet remaining in the realm of the ordinary is simply throwing away the opportunity.  We’re bringing it into the realm of ordinary context.  We’re saying, “This is here and that’s there.” and we’re practicing the sense of division, the sense of duality, while not truly making any kind of distinction.  In that particular kind of thinking, you, the ego, you, the self, are still the star on that stage.  You are bowing.  You are in a posture of being reverent.  Don’t you look good!  That kind of attitude is different from what I’m talking about.  What I’m talking about is a true, honest, delusion-free recognition of that which is extraordinary.  So the practice has to go accordingly, and only you can know.  Only you really can measure the subtleties of your own mind and your own perception to see honestly and truly how this is going.

To go through one’s career as a Buddhist and practice in such a way that we only look as if we are holding up what is precious, practicing only the posture and the demeanor of reverence without really having the inner discrimination and mindfulness, has very little result.  In fact, you can have a negative result, because still and all, this solid self-nature, this ego that we cling to, is the star on the stage.  When you are practicing refuge and doing all the right movements without the inner discrimination, what you’re really doing is performing.  We’re onstage, and that means that the ego, or the idea of a solid self-nature, is held in much higher regard and we are much more deeply aware of that than the object of refuge.

Therefore, we have to be careful and mindful.  Here is where we have to practice true discrimination.  If I were to treat a Dharma book in a certain way, for instance, saying, “Oh, now everybody’s watching me because I’m up high on the throne, so, when I put my Dharma book over there, I’d better do it very gracefully.”  Well, it might look like I was being mindful, but it wasn’t true mindfulness because, in thinking like that, the ego is the star.  In thinking, “Oh, I’d better do this just right. I’d better follow the rules, better be a good girl,” without any inner recognition that these are the Buddha’s teachings, without any inner recognition that what comes from this Dharma book is not the same as what comes from a dime store novel, there is no discrimination.  Only you can be responsible for that kind of inner recognition.  In a way, that is the great strength, as well as the great difficulty, of practice.

The great strength of practice is that you have the jewel in your hand.  Use it or not, you have the jewel in your hand.  You can determine the depth of your practice.  You can practice as deeply as you wish.  We should be aware that only we could practice in such a way as to actually deepen in our level of understanding, or our level of wisdom.  Only we can practice in such a way as to give rise to recognition, but we have to stop just going through the motions.  It is so important to really develop the heart of practice.  But your inner posture can really only be sensed by yourself, and perhaps maybe the intuition of your teacher.  Only you know what’s going on.  That’s the pitfall also.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 8/26/2015

8/26/2015 Wednesday by Norma

A disruptive situation upsets your sense of decorum, but pay attention! Disregard the manner of delivery and listen to the message. The image of a distraught person yelling at a 911 operator is appropriate. Don’t demand courtesy: ask how you can help, take prompt action and things turn
out well. John Updike said, “Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right.” Men are cheerful, women serious, and together they work well as a team. What’s good today? Enthusiasm, love, diligent work, improving health and an increasingly bright future on the horizon.

The daily astrology post affects everyone. Because individual charts vary, the circumstances outlined in the post will impact 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!

Spiritually Alive

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called Coming Alive

In your practice and in your mind and in your heart, keep yourself innocent and keep yourself alive.  If you think that spiritually you know everything, enough to tell others, then believe me, you know nothing.  Refresh yourself and practice as though you were a living practitioner.  Live in your heart.  Live in your mind.  Live in your purpose.  It’s not too late.  It can be done.  For those of you who have gone brain dead on your path, it can be done.  For those of you who are just starting, if you hear these words and you are inspired, please practice them just the way I’ve given them to you, always.  While you have breath in your body, make your spiritual practice, your spiritual contact, and a true one. Every prayer is the potential for the miraculous, because it is according to your intention. Intention is everything.

If you can pray by ripping your heart open, if tears come to your eyes, if you are moved to the depth of your being, if you can beg for the cause of sentient beings, then please do so, and do it without ceasing.  Never let yourself get so sophisticated that you come to the point that you are satisfied with your practice. Never let yourself become so immune that you can say a prayer in passing, without having something catch in your throat.  I’m asking you to be there with your purpose.  Go into your cave.  Meet with the core or root mindstream that is your being, your nature.  Whatever that is that you’re looking for when you look into the eyes of your root guru and you’re hungry for something, whatever it is that you want, that made you come here to the path, keep it open.  Approach the core of your being with that prayer. The only way that you can do that is by ripping it open and letting it be.  Be alive spiritually.

I’ve had those experiences.  I know the difference, and I want to convey to you that you are both in trouble and free.  You’re in danger of losing that every single minute!  And yet you are free to go that deep and that pure and that innocent every single minute.

I have had the sickening experience of watching myself pray because one of my children was in danger. There was a time when my older son had Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and they were not able to diagnose it.  He was dying.  His brain was swelling.  His eyes were going out of focus.  He was gritting his teeth so much that his teeth were starting to crack.  His organs were swelling inside his body.  You could palpitate his liver. Yet they didn’t know why he was dying.  You never heard prayer like mine before!  It was before I met Buddhism so I didn’t know about prostrations, but I was on the floor–up and down begging and pleading, exchanging my life over and over again. I vowed that I would do nothing but benefit sentient beings. I asked that I be transformed into whatever it was that was necessary for my son to live.  Oh, I prayed unbelievably. When the medicine came, it was a simple medicine.  It was tetracycline I think.  When the healing started and his eyes could focus and I could put a spoon into his mouth without him breaking his teeth on it, I remember giving thanks.  It was like a new day.  I’d been born all over again.  Unbelievable.

How was it then, that a month later, when my son was eating hot dogs and running around and had gained some of the weight back and was looking normal, that when I prayed I didn’t feel that same magic?  I didn’t cry.  I didn’t beg. How was it that I could watch myself pray from that point of rawness and then a month later pray like a politician?  How is that possible? It’s possible for all of us, don’t you see?  I’m sharing this with you so that you’ll understand.  It is your natural tendency, and there is a way out of it.  And only you can do this.  I can’t do it for you.  No one can do it for you.  Don’t wait until life’s misfortunes force you.  You can be taught it in a passive and beautiful and beneficial way, or you can be taught it by life, which is a lot harder.

Please learn how to pray.  Learn how to practice.  Take yourself off the path of familiarity and complacency and put yourself on the path of Dharma as it is really practiced and has always been practiced by the great Vajra masters of our tradition and the great Bodhisattvas who are responsible for our salvation today.

This is my message for you.  I hope that you can hear it with your whole heart and give birth to yourself again. Now it is up to you.  I wish I could do it for you!  I wish I had that power, but I don’t have that power and neither does anyone else besides you.  You’re in charge here and the ball is in your court that you can be alive spiritually.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 8/25/2015

8/25/2015 Tuesday by Norma

Working too hard? Obsessed with result? Break your goal into small increments and perform each task; this will satisfy your need for accomplishment and bring a sense of peace where none was before. The more you work the happier you feel today! Robert Nathan said, “There is no distance on this earth
as far away as yesterday.” A problem is receding, and happiness is on the horizon. Face forward. Engage in sports, in ceremonial activities and dress your best. Careful thinking and cheerful diligence make this an excellent day.

em>The daily astrology post affects everyone. Because individual charts vary, the circumstances outlined in the post will impact 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!

Approach Your Path With a Noble Heart

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called Coming Alive

To those of you who are new on the path, this is your opportunity to remain a child.  That might not sound like a good idea, because we’re all told that it’s really cool to grow up and be sophisticated and make sense of every opportunity.  I’m not sure that I agree.   I’m not sure making sense is the best idea.  I think what is really precious and really important is to remain innocent, with a pure and noble heart.  And if you go before the stupa or go before any of these altars and offer one rose, one flower from your heart and say, “For the sake of all sentient beings, make of me whatever is necessary so that all suffering might end,” this is an empowerment.

I have seen students who have been shaken in their lives, perhaps by realizing the immediacy of their death or by being afflicted with AIDS or by having to go through some remarkable, horrible trauma or life-changing situations that have left them panting and not knowing how to go on.  You have to understand that these are times of empowerment. You have to look at them as an opportunity and a gift.  When that one stands before the altar and prays, “I now understand suffering.  I now know fear, and knowing that, I realize that all sentient beings are afflicted with the same condition now or later. Therefore, transform my life and help me to live long enough to be of benefit to others so that I might serve as an example or as a benefactor in some way.  Please erase this suffering from the world.”  That kind of heartfelt prayer makes results.

If you pray like that in front of an object of refuge, whether it is your teacher or a stupa or a statue or a crystal that you can consider to be symbolic of the absolute nature, or whether you face the four directions and pray–whatever it is that you do–if you pray with that kind of heart, you are heard.  I know that this is true because I have received the most extraordinary teachings and empowerments from my root teacher.  I have had my teacher open his heart to me and give me blessings that no one has ever received.  I have had my teacher hold me up in front of the Western world in a way that he doesn’t even hold his other tulkus up, because he had that much confidence in me.  Although I have had that kind of empowerment and every blessing, what has made me a practitioner, given me confidence, made me honor myself and made me qualified to teach you, are the times that I have gone naked and alone to my own personal mountaintop–whether it’s that cave or a sweat lodge or my room, or my altar. It was those moments of begging and pleading for the cause of sentient beings, of ripping my heart open and not caring whether it was comfortable or safe, not caring whether I could own something or not own it, or whether any happiness was going to come to me as a result of those prayers.

I also knew that I would have to deliver, that if I prayed for the blessing to be able to benefit sentient beings, I would be required to live it.  Trust me, once you’re in the water, you will swim. And I’ve lived and experienced it long enough to know that this is true. If you make the offering, you’re going to have to live with it, but it will be your joy. On the other hand, if you pray like a fat cat, you’re also going to live with that, and, believe me, it will be your suffering.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 8/24/2014

8/24/2015 Monday by Norma

One person decides to fly to the moon, and someone else says the rocket can’t do it- offering helpful ways to correct the situation. Swallow your pride, follow directions and you’ll succeed. This awareness creates a conundrum: would you rather be right or be successful? This is the choice today and it applies to everyone. Emily Post said, “The most difficult thing is the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else doing it wrong, without commenting.” Which role are you playing? This is an excellent day to make progress on a project, to engage in happy interaction with loved ones, and to improve a tricky situation.

The daily astrology post affects everyone. Because individual charts vary, the circumstances outlined in the post will impact 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!

Prayer – Potential for the Miraculous

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called Coming Alive

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced student–if you are a good student, you are innocent and you are pure, and when you practice, you taste and feel and open your heart. You meditate on purpose.  You give rise to new and fresh longing, almost like re-opening an old wound.  How marvelous if you realize, really, the finiteness of life. How marvelous because then you are empowered to pray as you have not prayed before.

There have been times when my temple was in danger. There have been times when I had the experience of teaching a class in which I realized hardly any of the people in the class had the capacity at that moment to really hear my teaching on compassion. At these times I went to my altar, threw myself down and did repeated prostrations saying, “Please, I gather together all of my virtue in the three times–past, present and future–and I offer it to these students, that their capacity to hear Dharma may be ripened.” Afterwards, I would go back into the same group and give the same teachings, and they were changed.  Their faces were changed.  They were alive.  They were hearing it.  I know the power of praying like that.

I also know there have been times when my children have been in danger. Do you want me to really pray?  Scare me with my children being in danger.  I’m not only talking about my physical children, but also my spiritual children. I have seen amazing life-changing experiences happen through that.  And I have also felt the suffering of praying by rote, I’m sorry to say.  But I will never have that feeling again if I can help it.  If a prayer comes out of my mouth, I’m going to be there with it.  And I would suggest that you do the same.  However you pray, whatever you do, pray as though it were the last time you had that opportunity.  Pray as though you were in front of the miraculous.  You know, that old joke about climbing to the top of the Himalayas to see that guy sitting on the rug so that you can ask him what is the meaning of life?  Pray like that.  Pray as though you had just climbed the mountain and you were looking at the old guy on the rug and he could tell you the meaning of life.  Pray as though it were your last moment to pray, as though you were going to lose your tongue after that.  Pray as though everything depended on it, because it does.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 8/23/2015

Sunday by Norma

A confusing moment comes early in the day, and something must be corrected. The old joke says, “When God gave out noses, you thought he said roses, and ordered a big red one.” Cancel the order and enjoy the rest of the day. Fire and heat are your friend: resolve every issue by offering inspiration and warmth. Encounter a gloomy person? Give assistance in the form of good cheer. Health and
work are improving fast, and love enters the picture. A new energy is electrifying, positive and invigorating- watch for it. An unexpected player in the game of life appears and changes everything-
just in the nick of time!

The daily astrology post affects everyone. Because individual charts vary, the circumstances outlined in the post will impact 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!

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