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Cultivating a Good Heart

Cultivating a Good Heart

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo during a “Good Heart Retreat”

Seriously, I do feel that there’s something wrong with the way we’re practicing religion. I really do feel that it is the job of spiritual people, who have as a centerpiece in their religion the idea of […]

Commitment: From "The Way of The Bodhisattva" by Shantideva

Commitment: From “The Way of The Bodhisattva” by Shantideva

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva as translated by the Padmakara Translation Group and published by Shambhala:

Commitment

1. With joy I celebrate The virtue that relieves all beings From the sorrows of the states of loss, And places those who languish in the realms of bliss.

[…]

Astrology for 3/26/2015

3/26/2015 Thursday by Norma

Have fun talking or driving around early in the day because nothing significant happens until later on, when the energy changes and emotional or familial matters come to the forefront. You must be quite careful to neither give nor take offense today. Remember the big picture, think of what you are […]

Let's Get Practical

Let’s Get Practical

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a “Good Heart Retreat”

How can we possibly move in the direction of encouraging spiritual centers, churches, whatever, to take responsibility for the community around them without prejudice and without distinction? Let’s say, as Buddhists, we would be interested in […]

Cultivating a Good Heart

Eat At Joes

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo during a “Good Heart Retreat”

Seriously, I do feel that there’s something wrong with the way we’re practicing religion. I really do feel that it is the job of spiritual people, who have as a centerpiece in their religion the idea of compassion, to really move forward towards ending suffering. A great first step is a good, hot meal for someone who’s hungry; some nice warm clothes for someone that doesn’t have enough; to know for sure that there is no child in your community who doesn’t get a Christmas present, a good one, not just left over crap, a good one.

Last year I remember when I was doing a little Christmas shopping, I think it was at Borders Bookstore, that I had this great, terrific little plan. I like to buy my daughter a lot of books. She’s a big reader and they keep her really quiet, when she’s not listening to Alanis Morrisette. So anyway, I buy her a lot of books and she’s very much a lover of books. When I went in there to buy a stack of books for her Christmas present, there was this great idea. It was a Christmas tree, and the Christmas tree had kids’ names on it and what grade they were in, what sex they were. You could pick one of the ornaments with the kids’ names off of the tree and you could buy them a book right there. I bought about ten books that day. How much more trouble is it to make it 11 or 12? It was a great idea. It was just a great idea. If we really started to brainstorm and think like that, we would come up with similar ideas.

Most of the lack that we experience, most of the poverty that we profess to have is merely conceptual. You know, it kind of goes like this: You say, ‘Gee, you know, it’s Sunday night and I’d really like to go out to eat, but I already went out to eat on Friday night and my budget only let’s me go out to eat once a week. So I can’t go out to eat tonight, but I’d really like to. Well, maybe I’ll just kind of mosey on over to a very cheap place, and I’ll get a very cheap thing.’ So you go to “Eat at Joe’s” or something, and it may not be the best food in the whole world, but you’re getting to eat out tonight. That means no dishes, so this is great. So you sit down at this place and you think, ‘All right now, I’m sticking to my budget, so I’d better get a cheap thing.’ You look at the cheap things and you go, ‘Well, you know, for just $2 more I could have a nice thing. And for $1 more than that I could have a salad too.’ So pretty soon, you kind of warm up to the idea that $2 or $3 extra’s not so bad. You know? Well, that kind of thinking can be encouraged in other ways also, because that extra $2 or $3 or that thing that you did by going out to eat and treating yourself is not going to break the bank. You have a concept that it’s going to break the bank, but it’s not going to break the bank.

So what if we were able to think that way ourselves. Like for instance, what about when we go grocery shopping? Supposing when we go grocery shopping, we have to spend $150, some families $200. Hey it happens, right? When was the last time you walked out of the grocery store with less than $100 worth of food? So, let’s say we walk in there and we think to ourselves, ‘Well, I’m going in to buy $100 worth of food, $150 worth of food.’ Would it really kill us if it cost us an extra 10% this time? Maybe $15 worth of canned goods or some food that we could share with our community. How painful is that? How painful is that when we see ourselves going up and down the Keeblers little elves aisle thinking which one of these gizmos do I want, because I can have them all. Or we go by the deli and think, ‘What deli thing must I have today?’ You know, we are an affluent society and we do that. And that’s fine, that’s fine. But supposing while we’re doing that, we could also buy some food that we could share with the community.

It’s not so unimaginable. Okay, maybe you don’t have that extra 10%, or don’t think you do. Start with 5%; start with one can. Start by asking somebody else if they have a can to lend you. But start, anywhere. I mean this is something that’s just easy to do. No one in our community has to go hungry. Even if we’re living here in Montgomery County and there’s not so much hunger here. If we can’t find any here, cross the line folks. There’s plenty in D.C.. What’s wrong with that? How hard is it? It’s not hard at all. So maybe this week you get Bartlett pears rather than exotic pears, and with that extra money you can buy a can of soup for somebody. That’s okay. You’ll live.

What I’m asking you to do now is to begin to formulate how as a community we are going to move into the world. As I explained earlier in the retreat, we are to some degree following a monastic format that was presented to us in Tibet. We have our ordained community. We have our lay community. But it’s never going to fly in that format here. In Tibet, the monasteries were isolated and separate. They experienced a whole different world which did not interface with the community very much. That’s not going to work here. The majority of Buddhists are probably not going to be ordained. So Buddhists have to get involved with the lives of householders. That has to be part of the Buddhist community in as respected and as strong a way as the ordained Sangha. So it would seem to me that while we are searching for a way to express the Buddha’s teachings in our society without fear and hesitation, with compassion and equanimity, let’s also toy with the idea of, as a Sangha, as a spiritual family, as a community, being a visible presence in our world. There should be a place to go to, and someone you can count on, but mostly a good heart in our community.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Commitment: From “The Way of The Bodhisattva” by Shantideva

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva as translated by the Padmakara Translation Group and published by Shambhala:

Commitment

1.
With joy I celebrate
The virtue that relieves all beings
From the sorrows of the states of loss,
And places those who languish in the realms of bliss.

2.
And I rejoice in virtue that creates the cause
Of gaining the enlightened state,
And celebrate the freedom won
By living beings from the round of pain.

3.
And in the buddhahood of the protectors I delight
And in the stages of the buddha’s offspring.

4.
The intention, ocean of great good,
That seeks to place all beings in the state of bliss,
And every action for the benefit of all:
Such is my delight and all my joy.

5.
And so I join my hands and pray
The buddhas who reside in every quarter:
Kindle now the Dharma’s light
For those who grope, bewildered in the dark of suffering!

6.
I join my hands, beseeching the enlightened ones
Who wish to pass beyond the bonds of sorrow:
Do not leave us in our ignorance;
Remain among us for unnumbered ages!

7.
And through these actions now performed,
By all the virtue I have just amassed,
May all the pain of every living being
Be wholly scattered and destroyed!

8.
For all those ailing in the world,
Until their every sickness has been healed,
May I myself become for them
The doctor, nurse, the medicine itself.

9.
Raining down a flood of food and drink,
May I dispel the ills of thirst and famine.
And in the ages marked by scarcity and want,
May I myself appear as drink and sustenance.

10.
For sentient beings, poor and destitute,
May I become a treasure ever plentiful,
And lie before them closely in their reach,
A varied source of all that they might need.

11.
My body, thus, and all my good besides,
And all my merits gained and to be gained,
I give them all away withholding nothing
To bring about the benefit of beings.

12.
Nirvāna is attained by giving all,
Nirvāna the objective of my striving.
Everything therefore must be abandoned,
And it is best to give it all to others.

13.
This body I have given up
To serve the pleasure of all living beings.
Let them kill and beat and slander it,
And do to it whatever they desire.

14.
And though they treat it like a toy,
Or make of it the butt of every mockery,
My body has been given up to them–
There’s no use, now, to make so much of it.

15.
And so let beings do to me
Whatever does not bring them injury.
Whenever they catch sight of me,
Let his not fail to bring them benefit.

16.
If those who see me entertain
A thought of anger or devotion,
May these states supply the cause
Whereby their good and wishes are fulfilled.

17.
All those who slight me to my face,
Or do me any other evil,
Even if they blame or slander me,
May they attain the fortune of enlightenment!

18.
May I be a guard for those who are protector less,
A guide for those who journey on the road.
For those who wish to go across water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.

19.
May I be an isle for those who yearn for landfall,
And a lamp for those who long for light;
For those who need a resting place, a bed;
For all who need a servant, may I be their slave.

20.
May I be the wishing jewel, the vase of plenty,
A word of power and the supreme healing;
May I be the tree of miracles,
And for every being the abundant cow.

21.
Like the earth and the pervading elements,
Enduring as the sky itself endures,
For boundless multitudes of living beings,
May I be their ground and sustenance.

22.
Thus for everything that lives,
As far as are the limits of the sky,
May I provide their livelihood and nourishment
Until they pass beyond the bonds of suffering.

23.
Just as all the buddhas of the past
Embraced the awakened attitude of mind,
And in the precepts of the bodhisattvas
Step by step abode and trained,

24.
Just so, and for the benefit of beings,
I will also have this attitude of mind,
And in those precepts, step by step,
I will abide and train myself.

25.
That this the most pure and spotless state of mind
Might be embraced and constantly increase,
The prudent who have cultivated it
Should praise it highly in such words as these:

26.
“Today my life has given fruit.
This human state has now been well assumed.
Today I take my birth in Buddha’s line,
And have become the buddhas’ child and heir.

27.
“In every way, then, I will undertake
Activities befitting such a rank.
And I will do no act to mar
Or compromise this high and faultless lineage.

28.
“For I am like a blind man who has found
A precious gem within a mound of filth.
Exactly so, as if by some strange chance,
The enlightened mind has come to birth in me.

29.
“This is the draft of immortality,
That slays the Lord of Death, the slaughterer of beings,
The rich unfailing treasure-mine
To heal the poverty of wanderers.

30.
“It is the sovereign remedy,
That perfectly allays all maladies.
It is the wishing tree bestowing rest
On those who wander wearily the pathways of existence.

31.
“It is the universal vehicle that saves
All wandering beings from the states of loss–
The rising moon of the enlightened mind
That soothes the sorrows born of the afflictions.

32.
“It is a mighty sun that utterly dispels
The gloom and ignorance of wandering beings,
The creamy butter, rich and full,
All churned from milk of holy Teaching.

33.
“Living beings! Wayfarers upon life’s paths,
Who wish to taste the riches of contentment,
Here before you is the supreme bliss–
Here, O ceaseless wanderers, is your fulfillment!

34.
“And so, within the sight of all protectors,
I summon every being, calling them to buddhahood–
And till that state is reached, to every earthly joy!
May gods and demigods, and all the rest, rejoice!”

 

Astrology for 3/26/2015

3/26/2015 Thursday by Norma

Have fun talking or driving around early in the day because nothing significant happens until later on, when the energy changes and emotional or familial matters come to the forefront. You must be quite careful to neither give nor take offense today. Remember the big picture, think of what you are trying to create and you will avoid trouble. Are you forging an alliance, working to stabilize a relationship? Offer goodwill first, don’t wait to receive it. Be proactive in what you do for the best outcome. Assume the cheerful position that everything is your fault and you’ll be happy today! Apologize for the sun rising, for breathing, for global warming, for the declining population of bees. (“Yes, it’s my fault: I’m sorry and I won’t do it again”) Emotional situations are deflected and everyone is satisfied, including you- you’ve learned to be a bigger person.

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!

Let’s Get Practical

christmasshopping

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a “Good Heart Retreat”

How can we possibly move in the direction of encouraging spiritual centers, churches, whatever, to take responsibility for the community around them without prejudice and without distinction? Let’s say, as Buddhists, we would be interested in the welfare of the Baptists in Poolesville, or the Catholics or the Jews, or anybody, or the people that don’t have religion. What kind of plan would it take? What would we have to implement to encourage that? What kind of power could you wield to get the attention of other spiritual organizations to ask them to join you in participating? Relatively speaking, we’re the new kids on the block. I mean who’s going to listen to us? If they were going to listen to anybody, they’d probably listen to the big religious names in this country, whatever they are. So why would they listen to us? Well, actually, I think about the worst thing that we could do is preach about it. I think that if we do that we’ll never be able to accomplish our goal. It seems to me that the best way to try something like that is quietly and humbly, and maybe even invisibly. Slowly, slowly, slowly. Simply finding ways to take care of your community.

I found out a couple of years ago that there was a family in Poolesville, just two people that one of my sons told me about, a mother and a son; and they had nothing to share with each other for Christmas. They were the kind of family where they have money for the electric bill and a certain amount for groceries, a certain amount for rent; and beyond that there is no discretionary income. So there was no way to save up for Christmas, which here is so abundant. You know, we’re not even Christians and we’re so abundant with Christmas. We love it. We think it’s a beautiful holiday, and we love the spirit of it, and we give each other gifts, and that sort of thing. But here were people who couldn’t even celebrate their own religious holiday, except in a spiritual way, I guess, for they had literally nothing to give one another. And so, actually, I’m not saying this to pin any medals on myself, but the reason why I’m telling you this is because it was easy for me to do. It was like no big deal. I had a bunch of stuff. One thing I’ve got a lot of is stuff. Stuff comes to me. I don’t know how stuff comes to me, but it comes to me a lot. Particularly, the little crystal candy dishes. For some reason, for years and years and years, my Sangha would give me crystal candy dishes. I have enough crystal candy dishes to supply an entire crystal store. So I have stuff, and I’m deeply appreciative of all the gifts that I get and I say thank you very much, put it away for somebody else, because someday I’m able to share some of that with others. It doesn’t mean you don’t get the merit. You all still get the merit, don’t worry. In fact, you get more merit.

So I put together a package of stuff for this family, and I was able to share some of the gifts that we had that we didn’t really need. And it just also so happens that this woman was the same size as I am, so I gave her a lot of clothes. So that was really great, and what happened was these people came and they spent some time with us. The karma’s not there for them to become Buddhist, but I was never expecting that. I don’t care. What I do care about was for them to be touched by a little bit of love and to look at our community and say, ‘Wow!’ Now that’s something, isn’t it? That’s something—to take care of a family in your community because they don’t have something and you do. That’s a powerful statement. You don’t have to talk about it. You certainly don’t have to preach about it. You simply have to do it.

Not all of us have a lot of stuff like me. You may not have that glorious karma that invites all those candy dishes or ducks into your house. I used to get ducks a lot, too. One of my teachers used to call me Duckie. So I got ducks you wouldn’t believe. All kinds of ducks. You may not be fortunate enough to have stuff like that, but supposing you knew how to get it. Supposing you had friends that had stuff. Or supposing you had connections with stuff. Or supposing you had an abundance of courage to where you could walk around to people that have more and say, ‘Would you share with the people that have less? Would you help us with this? We’d like you to know that your neighbor a few doors away is not having such an easy time. Would you help us with this?’ Just a simple request, yes or no. All they have to say is no if they don’t want to do it. What if we thought that way as a community? And what if we made no secret of the fact that we intend to take care of this piece of the world? You know, we could start a trend. It’s interesting to me that if you look at the media now and you look at films, you look at books, you look at what’s in the news, what’s noteworthy, Buddhism actually has become quite a fad. Who’d a thunk it! It’s become quite popular. The movie stars and the musicians are liking it now. You know what that means! We’re in.

What if this idea became a trend? It’s not so unthinkable that this could happen. Being not at all practical, being a little dumb about how things work in the world, I don’t see any reason why not. Don’t bust my bubble. I don’t want to hear that ‘no way to get there from here’ crap. What if our community could be a visible presence, like a visible good heart, that all could partake of? We’re talking about overcoming the poisons in our own mind-stream. We’re talking about demonstrating the Buddha’s teachings, the Buddha’s statement of the equality of all that lives, of the need for all beings to be happy, of their difficulty in attaining happiness. What would be so tragic about walking our talk? Why couldn’t we do this?

It seems to me that people of another faith might not be interested in giving to a Buddhist temple. Why should they? They’re doing their thing, and we’re doing our thing. Everybody’s so separate. Wouldn’t it be something if a number of community churches and temples could gather together and make some kind of non-profit organization through which funds could be funneled to mutually benefit and blanket the entire community without regard to race or religion? I don’t think it’s so impossible. The thing is there have already been studies that have shown us that in this country alone, there’s enough money to feed the world. Poverty doesn’t have to exist. We have the power now, immediately. What if the Buddhists in this country became available, really available to their community? And what if it started a trend? And what if it continued and grew?

I’d like to see that happen. And what I would like to do is to have some of you who are inclined to perhaps think of some different plans, ways to work stuff like this out. Let’s start toying with the idea. Let’s start playing with it a little bit, just to see what we can come up with. Let’s find ways that we can be available to our community without discrimination, and without ever requiring of anyone that they change their religion or anything like that. Let’s just think that as a spiritual people, as a spiritual community, the buck stops here. To me that is one of the most outrageous and gorgeous dreams that we could aspire to together. I think it’s really cool. If there’s any reason why it can’t be done, please don’t tell me, because I want to fly just like the bumblebee. I don’t want to hear it.

So let’s start tossing that idea around as a spiritual community. We have smart people here. How many of you are professional smart people in this group? Come on, don’t be shy. Okay, so you professional smart people, I’m kind of dumb. I don’t know anything very much. I don’t know too much about this world, so you’re going to have to find a way for dumb little old me to express this dream. You people who know about organizing stuff, which if any of you looked at my closets, you know I don’t know anything about it. You know about organizing stuff and you know about making foundations and you know about talking to other people, and you know about what kinds of formats we could use to spread this idea. So as part of your good heart effort on a communal level, why don’t we start thinking like this? Start pushing this idea around; start playing with it a little bit. Let’s build a big fantasy about this, and let’s do it. What could happen except we go broke? We’ve been broke for so long we wouldn’t even notice. Hey, I’ll sell my candy dishes. But I’m just dumb enough to not know why we can’t do this. And so I think that, as usual, I have the dumb, impractical, unrealistic idea and you get to make it happen.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 3/25/2015

3/25/2015 Wednesday by Norma

A brilliant idea expressed by a brilliant person opens a door in your mind. Good information is everywhere provided you stop talking long enough to hear it. Walk, run, drive, work on machines and stay active all day for good results. In the afternoon something creates confusion. Avoid murky situations and carefully examine anything that becomes more confusing the more you look at it; it’s not an accident, someone may be doing it on purpose. Best result is that a simple mistake has been made; back up and make it right. John Wayne said, “Life is tough, but it’s tougher when you’re stupid.” Elsewhere, a stable leader is here to fix everything. This person will not steer you in the wrong direction, provided you’ve checked the credentials. Happiness prevails and life is exciting.

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!

Offering the Miraculous

PL-029-20 HHPR, JAL, Muksong-ed-M

The following is an excerpt from a teaching given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo during a “Good Heart Retreat

There are some that may criticize the building of the Migyur Dorje stupa. I understand that it cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars. You might say, ‘Well, gee, if you’re going to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars, why don’t you feed the poor?’ Well, I feel like I am. I feel like that’s the point of the stupa. I begged and begged His Holiness for these relics and the ability to build the stupa because in this country there’s no place to go when you have no hope. There’s simply no place to go when all the doctors have told you they can’t help you. There’s no place to go when you’re at your last moments and maybe even the karma for this life has run out and you know that you haven’t really attended to your spiritual life. You know that you haven’t practiced very much. Or when your life is such that you got the ‘can’t fix-its’; don’t know how to put it back together again.

I know that in other places, in other lands, there are deeply inspiring religious pilgrimage places. I know that in Tibet almost all of the Tibetans, at one time or another, take some sort of major pilgrimage; and it’s a life changer. There are so many stories of pilgrimages turning out to be major healings. Where people will go to these holy places in which they have tremendous faith, where there are extraordinary relics there that are left by extraordinary Lamas, and healings take place that are miraculous.

I also knew that in this country there is AIDS which has been growing incrementally, cancer which is killing so many, and people constantly dying from all sorts of diseases that seem to be the afflictions of this day and time. There are so many diseases that we haven’t found any cures for, including simple mental unhappiness. Because of all this, I really wanted to offer this stupa to our community. What we have built here is, yes, at great expense, yes, at great effort; but also done with great joy. We have been able to gather together enough money, enough energy, and enough time to make this dream a reality. And now we have something here which over time, hopefully by word of mouth, hopefully by your good works and your good faith, the word will spread out that we have this amazing stupa here. Now anyone at any time, no matter what they have experienced as their spiritual path, if they’re ever down and out and without hope, can come here and make prayers. There is a potency to that pilgrimage. I’m hoping that it will become known that these same relics from Terton Migyur Dorje, these relics, of which there are pieces in different places of the world, not too many, but particularly in Tibet, have brought about amazing cures. I want people to know about this. I want them to come and feel better. To me, it’s like the ultimate soup kitchen, you know? You can offer this nourishment, this food, to your community.

So we went through the effort of building this thing, and thank you all for everything that you’ve done to make it possible—the work and the money, all of it—and now we have this tremendous gift to offer the community. To my way of thinking, this is one such group or community effort that we have made together in order to provide for and to nourish the community and make our hopes for the world more visible and more heard. That’s one way to do it. But I think at this point it’s time to move even beyond that.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 3/24/2015

3/24/2015 Tuesday by Norma

Talk- everyone wants to! You and others chatter away until, boom, you are silenced firmly and unpleasantly. Silence yourself first and avoid embarrassment. The wrong person hears you saying something regrettable, and that person will not forget -so be cautious. A large piece of tape over your mouth might be the best option today. John Steinbeck said, “Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.” An important person mediates a dispute successfully, and everyone walks away happy. In fact it’s a great time, which makes it hard to follow the previous advice. A new venture is being constructed slowly and steadily. What’s good today? Intelligent advice from one who knows, and interactions with wise people. Someone tells you a secret that unlocks the mystery of your life, then keep on going. Listen and learn.

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!

Transforming Vision Into Reality

Prayer Vigil sign up

The following is an excerpt from a teaching offered by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo during a “Good Heart Retreat”

I’m going to tell you this crazy vision I had. The reason why I feel okay telling you this crazy vision I had is because I’ve had a couple of others and they came true, oddly. They were so outrageous when I had them that I thought this would never happen; but I was hoping that it would. The first one I’m talking about is a case in point, and a perfect example.

Before I met my teacher and I was simply practicing meditation, I would go to work. On the way home, I would look for someplace quiet where I could meditate before I got home to my kids. As any parent knows, once you get home to your kids, meditation stops, or at least it’s stalled for a while. So before I got home to my kids, I wanted to do some practice and meditation. In the warm weather, it was easy. I could find a tree. Most people can find a tree. I noticed that when the weather was inclement or too cool, that in this amazing state of North Carolina where there are more churches than gas stations, I could not find one sanctuary, one holy place that still needed to be holy all week long. I could not find one place to go and sit and meditate. Apparently, whatever spiritual function was supposed to happen wasn’t supposed to happen during the middle of the week. What occurred to me is that this is a real difficulty and a real lack. So my vision, my hope, and my intention was to someday have a place of meditation that would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So that no matter where people were, if they got up at 4:00 in the morning and really felt that this was their time to experience meditation, felt that calling, felt that need, that there would be some place that we could go that was peaceful away from our homes and our nests, and someplace that we could all call our own. So I had this idea. Wouldn’t it be great if I could make a place of meditation that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and always have prayer going on? Nah, it’ll never happen. Years later, here we are, and it has happened.

Now, I will tell you about my other vision. I had this wacky, crazy thought. I haven’t done the math for this, and I wish one of you cerebral types would do it for me. I’d love to have the math done. I’m thinking that we have a huge population in this country, an overwhelming amount of people. As I understand it, we also have an overwhelming amount of churches. Even the smallest towns have some kind of little church. I wouldn’t care whether it was a Christian church, whether it was a Catholic church, Protestant church, Jewish synagogue, Islamic mosque, anything, Hindu temple, Buddhist temple. If we could somehow, as spiritual organizations, consider ourselves to have one purpose and one mind, regardless of the differences in our religions, or the differences in our spiritual books. It seems to me that it would be possible, with all of the churches and temples that we have, if we put our differences aside and each church and each temple supported their community and ministered to their community in, let’s say, a ten block radius, ten mile radius. Could we work it out so that a spiritual center would help families or people in that area and support the community in such a way that in their area, there would be no hunger? Because the churches would take responsibility for this. Also, there would be no homeless that wanted a home. There would be friendship, counseling and whatever was needed available to families that are in trouble when a crisis arises; such as when there is alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse or spousal abuse, or any mistreatment of people by one another. What if each and every church and synagogue, temple, whatever, took responsibility for a certain area? That’s where the math would come in. We’d have to figure out how we divide ourselves up.

What if it didn’t matter to each one of those churches and temples what religion the people around them were? For instance, the Presbyterians wouldn’t only minister to the Presbyterians in their area. The Jews wouldn’t only minister to the Jews in their area. The Catholics wouldn’t only minister to the Catholics in their area, and the Buddhists the same thing. I have this crazy, wacky dream. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if instead of this fixation that most churches have on getting as much money as they can, supposing we had another idea? Supposing we create a tremendous flow of energy and abundance through taking on this responsibility that we cannot afford to take on, and creating a flow in the community centered around the churches where if those people, if the people in their community really wish to give to charity, or really wish to help the poor, that would be a grass roots, right away, no-delay-way to do it. If you were giving some money to this certain church, then you would know that it was being used to care for your community. It simply wouldn’t matter what religion any of us were. The spirit of the thing would be spiritual people taking care of their community.

It would take a tremendous leap because the way it is now, we only want to help our own kind. This would not be a popular idea. Those that would go for it the least are the ones that could afford to do it the best. What if we as churches took the blame if somebody in our community was hungry? What if we finally could figure out where to point a finger when somebody in our community is not able to get by? What if the buck stopped here? Wouldn’t that be a revolutionary idea? Wouldn’t that be incredible?

I know what we’re all thinking. We’re all thinking, ‘This will never work.’ However, I didn’t know we were going to do this either. I hoped, I hoped that there would be a place where 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we could pray for all sentient beings; but gee to really get people to do it… Wow, that’s something else. But my problem is that I am not at all practical or realistic. Those of you who manage my money know this. I just don’t get it. It’s all the same to me. And so I don’t get any reasons why this wouldn’t be possible. It’s a little like the bumblebee. Scientists say bumblebees can’t fly because they’re not aerodynamically correct. They should not be able to fly. But the good thing is that nobody told the bees because they’re still flying. So I was thinking: Wouldn’t it be great if we could be like those bees? What if we were too stupid to know that in our society in this day and age, it simply isn’t the done thing? What if we were simple-minded? What if we were so dumb we didn’t get the practical reasons why a spiritual community shouldn’t be responsible for the people around it? Wouldn’t that be really wacky, weird, ridiculous? But that’s what I think should happen. We could somehow make a gathering, or council, of religious people, or spiritual centers of all types, and agree to chip away at this. We could agree to divide the communities up. I really feel that it would be great if we did this to the best of our ability, and went into it with the same kind of energy we have when we fundraise for ourselves. We’re always fundraising. Turn on the TV. You always see them calling for more money. Well, what if we did that with the same energy, but instead of using it in some way to gratify ourselves, supposing we turned it around and spent it on the community?

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 3/23/2015

3/23/2015 Monday by Norma

Get an early start on the day and take advantage of the favorable aspects; shopping, creativity and interactions with the boss go well. You understand things that were previously concealed, and what you understand can be solved. Men and people in powerful positions are hard-charging and ready for action. Step aside if you are in the path of a motivated mover! At the same time, the recent eclipse in Pisces highlights medical matters and healing, along with creativity and, sadly, sneaky behavior. Keep a careful eye on your surroundings and possessions and you’ll be fine. If you are the sneaky one, be aware that what you do will definitely blow back on you. GIGO in computer terms signifies “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” and it is applicable everywhere. What’s good today? Medicine, increasing health and energy, forward action and shopping. Love is wonderful.

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!

The Way Out

Four_Noble_Truths

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

According to the Buddha’s teaching, the only end to the sufferings of cyclic existence in a permanent way is the cessation of cyclic existence. There is no intermediate or impermanent means that can accomplish the end of suffering that we experience in cyclic existence. Only the termination of the causes by which we are reborn in cyclic existence actually produces the end of suffering.

So the fault of cyclic existence is that there is suffering, and even happiness is impermanent; that it is unpredictable, and that its causes and effects are so interdependent that it is inescapable. The means by which one can escape cyclic existence is the miraculous intention of the enlightened mind, kind of penetrating into cyclic existence as a light being would penetrate into a tunnel and give us the means to go out of the tunnel. There is nothing about the tunnel, or the darkness in the tunnel that brings about the end of the tunnel. It is the light at the end of tunnel that brings about the end; and it is toward that light that we walk. In the same way, it is the practicing of a pure path, such as the Buddhadharma that brings about the cessation of the causes of being entrapped in cyclic existence. That is the cessation of desire, the cessation of the belief in self nature as being inherently real through meditation and practice. These things are actually the ones that bring about the end of the tunnel, or the end of cyclic existence and its sufferings.

It is necessary for us to examine the faults of cyclic existence. I believe that. Even if our intention is so kind, even if we have extreme kindness, even if we are so completely tuned into the suffering of the world that we are willing, at least initially, to practice til the end of our lives until we accomplish Dharma for the sake of sentient beings. And we should hold to that practice. I have taught again and again and again that our hearts need to be on fire with that love. I have tried to describe that fire as being the only allowable passion, the one that should warm you and should sustain you in every way. Still we must also discipline ourselves, really, or cause ourselves, or allow ourselves to experience what the faults of cyclic existence truly are. We must have an understanding of that in order to gain a firm foundation in our practice.

If we do not understand that all the joys of cyclic existence are impermanent, as well as the sufferings, that all of the circumstances are constantly changing and unpredictable, and if we do not understand that cause and effect are never ending and inescapable, we may not understand that nothing that we do in an intermediate way will really help the situation. And we will continue to do what we are doing now which is to try to solve our problems by moving things around a lot.

You know how we manipulate the circumstances of our lives. We will change our job, or we will find a new loved one or find a new boyfriend or girlfriend, and have another baby, or take ourselves out or go on vacation. These things are great. You should do them all. I don’t care. Have ten million babies. Have a hundred thousand lovers. Do whatever you want to. I don’t mean any of that. You will find out that ultimately all of these are very impermanent; and at that point we have to understand that it doesn’t matter how we manipulate the circumstances of our lives. Ultimately we have to understand that cause and effect relationships continue to cause cause and effect that continues and perpetuates cyclic existence. That’s it. The only way to really end suffering, to really bring about the cessation of suffering, is through accomplishing enlightenment. Nothing intermediate can work. In fact it tends to bring about more disappointment.

Haven’t you ever understood or seen yourself when you experience great happiness? Say you do have the boyfriend or girlfriend, and say you do have that new baby, and you do find yourself on vacation, almost afraid to experience how happy you are at that moment because you know that pretty soon that happiness will be terminated. There is almost a superstition that we have that if we are too happy right now that pretty soon that happiness will wear off real quick. And you know there is something to that in that if we think of that happiness as the end of suffering, we will be disappointed. You should allow yourself to be happy. Every moment that you can have a moment of happiness, by golly, be happy. Don’t worry, be happy just like the song says. One of my favorite songs. However, while you are not worrying and while you are being happy, please understand the faults of cyclic existence. Please understand that in order to accomplish the end of suffering truly and completely and permanently, and in order to be in a place and to be at a level of wisdom and understanding that you yourself can actually bring about the end of suffering for all sentient beings, that you yourself can experience the competency and the qualities necessary to bring about the end of suffering for all sentient beings, in order for that to occur, you must understand the faults of cyclic existence.

There is nothing in cyclic existence that brings about the end of suffering. It is the cessation of desire and of all causes that trap us in cyclic existence. These things brought to an end will bring about the end of suffering. And the name of the end of suffering is enlightenment. It is the only name of the end of suffering. There is no other way to look at it. Anything else is impermanent. It is okay, but it is merely phenomena. The end of suffering is enlightenment.

Please hold that in your mind as you catch yourself manipulating your life. Use that manipulation as you catch yourself trying to make yourself happy through intermediate ways or through holding on to instant gratification or doing all the things that we do so habitually. I don’t expect that we will change overnight, but use those situations as a catalyst to motivate yourself, to really hold on to and accomplish a true path. Use these things as a means to make your understanding move in the direction of a true path so that you can begin to establish a firm foundation or motivation in order to accomplish enlightenment. This is really the end of suffering, and in fact the only one.

So I hope that you will take these things to heart and use them. They are no good if you don’t use them. It doesn’t do you a bit of good if you just come here to listen. You really have to use these insights and try to develop for yourself a way to bring about your own enlightenment.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

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