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The Peaceful Deities

The Peaceful Deities

The following is an excerpt from a teaching offered by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo during a Phowa retreat:

On the third day Ratnasambhava Buddha appears with yellow light. Again, same scenario: too brilliant, scary. At the same time, the blue light of the world of humankind is also manifested, and you will feel very familiar […]

Astrology for 12/27/2014

12/27/2014 Saturday by Norma

A communication from a loving person makes your day! Kind words and sensitive interactions are a godsend for people who are working hard to keep everything going in the face of divisive forces. Speak up, and offer a good dose of encouragement. Surprisingly effective medical advances are possible, and good news […]

Vajrasattva in the Bardo

Vajrasattva in the Bardo

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a Phowa retreat:

On the second day, here they’re saying Vajrasattva Buddha appears. This is Vajrasattva, the very same one that you are practicing in your Ngöndro. Think how ready you will be for him! The minute he shows up […]

Astrology for 12/26/2014

————————————— 12/26/2014 Friday by Norma

A sensitive person with a compassionate outlook plays a crucial role in today’s events. A unifying force appears: you, perhaps? Someone understands the situation, and things change in miraculous ways. A magician appears, waves a wand, and happiness ensues. Remember that others actually want things to work out, and […]

Preparing for the Journey

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a Phowa retreat:

When they are unreachable during this three and a half [days] period time, according to traditional teachings, it says, “Care should be exercised not to touch the body for at least three days. That is the optimum. But certainly not while the event of death is occurring.” Remember what I told you about that yesterday. Certainly you must not do that. The best case scenario—and this is what the lamas all ask for—is that the body should not be touched at all, other than perhaps up here [crown] while they are dying, for three days. Many lamas arrange for that to happen. You have the right to arrange for that to happen as well, but you have to write it down legally. You have to have it notarized; it has to be legal. You have to register that with someone. You have to give that to someone who is interested in protecting you and who will fight for you at that time, because the relatives that do not understand, the friends that do not understand, will want things differently, you see. They will not accept. So you have to make your wishes known; and your wishes will be respected if they are legally written down. You should prepare for your death in that way.

It is considered that actual death starts when the external breathing ceases, but it’s only final at the moment of the black path. It is during the event of the black path that the internal wind ceases. That’s when the white tigle and the red tigle have joined and the black path ensues. At the moment when the mind falls into unconsciousness, the cessation of the internal winds then occurs. And in the case of accidental death, all of these things that happen very gradually must happen very much more quickly. So although some people pray to be hit by a truck and have it over and done with quickly, do not pray for that, do not ask for that. If you want to pray for anything, pray for a slow and knowledgeable death—one that you know and understand, and can track and relate to, and be the captain of. That’s what you should ask for. It’s so different from the way we think ordinarily. We think, ‘get out of here quick,’ you know, make it easy. But again, that’s like trying to go through your life with all the lights off, trying to go through your death with all the lights off. It isn’t wise. It will not bring a good result, and you will be afraid.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 12/22/2014

12/22/2014 Monday by Norma

Five planets in Capricorn signify the seriousness and dignity of this day. Do your duty, honor those who matter to you, and fulfill you obligations. Today your life is about performing tasks, representing your station in the world, and following the rules. Of course, you’d rather be doing something other than standing in lines and filling out forms, but so would everybody else! Smile, be friendly, and remember you could be on tv. (If you’re shopping, you probably are!) Today everyone is a mother, father, a child, friend, employer, employee, etc, and must act the part. Other people’s security depends on what you do today. Thomas A Kempis said, “At the day of judgment we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done.” This is a great day to visit aging relatives, contact old friends, tell people you love them, and be happy.

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!

Devotion in the Bardo

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a Phowa retreat:

Now we’ll speak about the bardo of becoming. I forgot to mention to you that I’ve had many opportunities to practice Phowa on other people, and I’ve noticed that in every case, even if the person had been something of a practitioner or had tried to meditate, or had minimal experience, in every case, if you were not there exactly at the moment of death to facilitate the person at that time, there would always be a period of about three, three and a half days where the person was unreachable. Where you could literally practice Phowa for them and it would do no good whatsoever. You cannot rouse them out of the deep slumber or death-like sleep that they have once they do not recognize that clear light. You cannot rouse them at that time. You have to wait until they come to the bardo of becoming. Then the lama will appear to them or try to reach them and guide them out of the bardo.

How well is that done? There are two situations upon which how well that works out are dependent. One of them is, of course, the qualities of the lama—whether the lama has awakened, whether the lama is capable, whether the lama has realization in their practice. That is, of course, one of the conditions. The other one is, of course, the degree to which the student or the person who has died has any connection, even if it’s only a residual connection, with devotion. If the person has no connection with the practice of devotion, if the person has never practiced devotion or has no capacity for devotion, the best of lamas will not be able to reach them in the bardo. It is not possible. They may be able to afford some blessing for them, but they will not be able to rescue them. They may be able to guide them in a better rather than less good direction, but they cannot prevent them from going through the bardo of becoming.

Generally, you have to rely on the student’s connection with devotion.If the student has a great deal of devotion, the lama will be able to appear clearly as their spiritual guide during the bardo of becoming. The lama will be recognizable. The student will have faith in the lama; they will go toward the lama without fear. The force of their devotion will propel them toward the lama. They will enter into the lama’s heart, and they will experience the wisdom that the lama has to afford them. They will be rescued from the bardo and liberated in the state of becoming. So sharpen up that devotion, you guys.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 12/21/2014

12/21/2014 Sunday by Norma

Bipartisan thinking characterizes today. You and others agree on what to do, and you do it! A zippy, cheery spirit permeates the environment. Spend time with people you love whose energy lifts you up. Someone is very happy for your company, be nice! A group endeavor is heading in a successful direction, go along with their aims. Things change as the day progresses, and more serious matters demand your attention. Four planets in Capricorn place the focus on duty, standing in the world,
and climbing the ladder of success. Dress conservatively, be nice to everyone and smile when your picture is taken! Older folks are happy and loving, don’t forget them. Anonymous said, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who come into a room and say, “Here I am!” and those who come in and say , “Ah , there you are!” Be the latter. Be the person who welcomes others, and notice how happy you become.

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 Faint

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching offered by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo during a Phowa retreat:

Now I want to refer back to this book [Death and the Art of Dying by Bokar Rinpoche] to give you a couple of statements that I think may be helpful. When we last were together we spoke about the white path or the white bindu that dropped from the top of the head to the heart, and we spoke about the white light that is shown. The white method would be to move toward and expect and recognize that white light; that would be the white method. According to this book, the white method or the white path results in the body of emanation or the nirmanakaya form. It is considered that when a tulku appears in the world that a tulku is a nirmanakaya form of the Buddha. So recognition of the white path results in the body of emanation and the nirmanakaya form. Recognition of the red path results in the body of perfect experience or the sambogakaya, also called the bliss form. And recognition of the black path, which is also the clear light that we spoke about, results in the absolute body or the dharmakaya. Now it is considered, actually, that of these, the black path or the clear path, the one that we spoke of last, the recognition of the dharmata, the recognition of the clear light is the most difficult of all of the recognitions. It’s considered that the black path or the clear path is usually available only to those who have practiced mahamudra, which you are learning to practice even as we speak.

I wanted to read to you exactly how this lama put it, but I’m not seeing it. Well, then I’ll explain it to you in my own words, which may not be quite as dramatic but the meaning will be there. It is considered that the great vast majority—that is to say, 99.999 percent—of sentient beings who experience death, and remember, they all do, will not be able to recognize either the white, or the red, or the clear, or black, method. They will not be able to recognize any of those three stages. This is really, really interesting. During each of the times that the lights appear—first the white light, the red light, and the clear light—after those events are finished and you have not recognized any of those lights (and it is very likely that that will happen), it is at that time that you continue on into the bardo. It is then that you actually slip into the bardo of becoming.

If you do not recognize the white light, if you do not recognize the red light, and then if at the end the fundamental clear light is not recognized, then the lama says here, “The mind slips into a deep state of unconsciousness of variable duration, which is generally said to last three and a half days.” Now I have had the experience and the good fortune to have the opportunity to do phowa for a number of other beings. The clear or dark light is, in fact, the appearance of one’s true buddha nature, appearing just so. Just as it is. It is the true face of the primordial Buddha, but those of us who have no training to be able to witness the face of the primordial Buddha literally will not see it. It will be much like going to some sort of desert tribe that has never seen a picture of a boat or large body of water. If you show them a picture of a boat and a large body of water, they won’t be able to recognize it. They do not have the brain pathways or something that will help them to recognize that. And in our case, even though the very face of our true nature, which to a practitioner would be as recognizable as the mother is to the infant or to the child, for a non-practitioner it would be, again, like the child who was adopted out right at birth and never saw the face of their mother. They would not be able to recognize their mother; they would not be able to connect. They would not be able to have the force of surety in conviction to be able to move toward and direct themselves with their own inner force to be able to move toward that reality. They will not be able to slip into meditation on that nature. They will not be able to slip into that non-dual state, even though all of their distracting elements will be dissolved at that point. Literally, if you were a meditator and had that experience, that would be the time, ironically, during the course of your whole life and death experience, where you would be able to meditate the best. If you had experience. But 99.999 percent of the people go to sleep at that time. They have a faint, or sleep, because it looks like darkness to them, rather than light clarity. Their mind is not awake in their meditation. Not awake. When that happens there is no choice and nothing for it, but that we have to go on into the bardo of becoming.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 12/20/2014

12/20/2014 Saturday by Norma

A strong emotional pull conflicts with a desire for freedom: you want to stay with a loved one and you want to run away! Fortunately, two open doors appear today. The first leads to philosophical thinking and travel, the second goes in the direction of groups. Join your friends, be steadfast in your goals, and you’ll be fine. If you try to push a personal, individual agenda, something designed to improve your own stature, trouble ensues. An authority figure makes demands which you must go along with. How you behave in public is extremely important just now, so watch yourself. Robert Frost said, “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self confidence.” What’s good today? Quick thinking, good friends, travel, and inventiveness.

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!

Astrology for 12/19/2014

12/19/2014 Friday by Norma

A serious conversation or meeting with a worried person comes early today. News of a loss is possible, after which the mood changes and people become giddy with good will. Definitely go outside and enjoy the environment; happiness is available in the world as opposed to in seclusion. A fortunate meeting takes place between you and someone who has needed your company, without realizing it. Frank Crane said, “Your sole contribution to the sum of things is yourself.” Groups and friends continue to make demands, go with them now! This is a wonderful day for scientists, mathematical thinkers, and inventors. You can come up with a whole new way of doing things, so do something off the wall and watch what happens.

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 Choice

 

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a Phowa retreat:

What makes this practice of Phowa different from all of that slip sliding and unpredictability, and unclear cause and effect connections, and lack of understanding as to where things come from and why things are a certain way? And what makes this practice of Phowa different from—forgive my French—the bullshit we feed ourselves? Literally the lies that we feed ourselves when we tell ourselves how we’re doing and how long we’re going to last, and all of the ideas we have about how we should leave ourselves alone and not try ourselves too hard. These kinds of ideas are separate from the bardo idea because in life, situations are so confused that you can play that game. It’s not clear. There are so many different ways that you can go. It’s just not clear. There’s plenty of space and time and ability to fool yourself. And we do fool ourselves. We fool ourselves every day. For instance, we pretend to believe that virtuous conduct will lead us closer to enlightenment. We pretend to believe that, but in our lives most of our conduct is in fact non-virtuous. We are slothful. We are lacking in commitment. We are unkind to others. We are not aggressive in our desire to benefit sentient beings. We are self-absorbed. We allow ourselves to wallow in our neuroses, rather than pulling ourselves up, kicking ourselves in the butt, and causing ourselves to just get ourselves together. And we do have that capacity, you know.

So what is the difference between that kind of thing and bardo, and the eventuality of bardo and the idea of Phowa? The difference is that no matter how you slice it or how you bullshit yourself or how you are in denial, no matter how many of Cleopatra’s outfits you try on every day, no matter what you do or what you think, you cannot deny that you will die. This is one eventuality that we all share; and without exception, to the man and woman, we must prepare for this event, because we’re going to go through it. And we’re going to go through it one of two ways: blindly, driven by the forces of karma, and helpless; or we’re going to go through it safe, prepared, aware, and able. Those are the only two choices. Whether we will go through this event, there is literally no choice. Think about that. You have to think about that. I know you have the capacity to think about this, although you say, “Well, I just can’t think about that, can’t think about that. It scares me too much, scares me too much.” But I know you have the capacity to think about that. I know that you do. And you have the capacity to experience the fear. Do not suppress it. Acknowledge that you have that fear. Let it be; and then explain to yourself that we will overcome this fear together through training. Through accomplishing method. The only way to overcome fear is to accomplish method. It’s the only possible way. But remember—about going through this, we have no choice.

We have incredible degrees of choice about how to go through. Just as we have a choice as to how to live, we also have a choice of how to die. And the thing that I would encourage is that, even if you are the rascal of rascals in this lifetime, even if you are so naughty that if I knew I would spank your bottoms! Even if you were just that naughty! Even if you are so naughty that you are childish and you let yourself get away with everything,…  You don’t practice even though you have the method, you just haven’t had the time, you won’t make the time, and blah, blah, blah, all these other things, and then you come up to me and you say, “Oh, it’s because my mind is so unstable, that’s why I can’t practice [hic] practice [hic] practice [hic] practice.” And of course, the answer is the reason why your mind is so unstable is because you haven’t practiced practiced practiced. That is the antidote. That’s what you do when your mind is unstable. But people come and tell me, literally, that they cannot practice because their minds are too unstable. Well, well, well, whatever. So, even if you are that kind of person, remember, you don’t have to practice. I can’t make you practice, I can’t force you to do it. Guru Rinpoche can’t force you to do it. Lord Buddha can’t force you to do it. Neither can Lord Buddha force you to walk through the door of enlightenment. Neither can Guru Rinpoche force you to walk through the door of enlightenment. Certainly neither can I. But the one thing that you will have to do, once again, is to die. You have no escape from that. It is written in stone.

And so what you have to think about is this: Will you die nobly and well? You do have to die, and for the person who is not a good practitioner or who is born with the kinds of mental or physical afflictions that truly prevent them from practicing in a deep and profound way, this is the method. Phowa is what you have left. I don’t see many of you packing your bags to go stay in a cave in Nepal and practice until you achieve supreme enlightenment. I don’t see any of you heading for a seat under the Bodhi tree, planning to sit there and practice austerities, or whatever, just to see how that goes. I don’t see any of you rushing off in some other direction. I see you in your lives, deeply enmeshed in your lives, dealing with the choices and opportunities of your lives. You have many choices.  And you’re right—some of you have less time than others. Definitely you will not have the time that it takes to practice to the degree that you will end up achieving liberation or the rainbow body before your death. Because that takes a commitment that none of us have made yet, that none of us has made within the context of our lives here. We literally cannot do it; we’re not ‘going there’ now. It isn’t the karma of the situation.

So what do you have left? Definitely you have two methods that will help you to die well. Because if liberation is not possible during the course of this lifetime—even though theoretically it is—if for you it is not, then definitely you should understand liberation is possible in the bardo. Even for you, even if you have not practiced well during the course of your life. And that’s truly the biggest piece of candy that I know on this path. It is a big piece of candy, because I know of no other method that can allow for this.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 12/18/2014

12/18/2014 Thursday by Norma

The group wants to meet and you want privacy, making things tricky. Or else you want company and others refuse. A fundamental conflict occurs that is best resolved by direct communication: say where and when you are available and hold your ground. Financial and business matters are pressing, and they require your attention. Do not tell others your business, even if asked. People offer advice and they are unqualified or misinformed, so be careful. Voltaire said, “Think for yourselves and let others
enjoy the right to do the same.” What’s good today? Solid connections with people you love. The opportunity to repay a kindness. Happiness that exists for its own sake, requiring nothing.

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!

Generation Stage Practice and the Bardo

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a Phowa retreat:

There is one way that you can help yourself to prepare for the bardo state. As I begin to explain the bardo of becoming now, which is the next stage in the bardo, and a very important one, you will see how important it will be to you if you can successfully practice generating yourself as the deity. That’s called generation stage practice. That is a practice that is available for you to learn right now, even before practicing your Ngöndro. It is permissible, acceptable and desirable for each of you to practice, first of all, the Shower of Blessings, which is the generation of Guru Rinpoche—not oneself as Guru Rinpoche, but a generation of Guru Rinpoche in front of oneself giving blessings. That brings about a definite firming and developing of one’s relationship with Guru Rinpoche—one’s relationship with the appearance—the nirmanakaya form of all the Buddhas, in fact, because it gives us a relationship with the appearance form of that which is actually enlightenment itself. So there is that. There is also, even before Ngöndro, the opportunity to practice generating oneself as Chenrezig. Chenrezig is considered to be one of the main bodhisattvas who can block rebirth in the lower realms.

Phenomena is not solid and concrete the way we think it is. So we find that in generation stage practice we have the wonderful opportunity to be able to meditate on our true nature, allowing ourselves to dissolve into emptiness. Subtly we dissolve into emptiness and remain meditating on emptiness just momentarily, meditating on the emptiness or illusory quality of our own nature. Then we give rise to our self as the deity, and that takes different forms. Generally, it starts with a seed syllable which is symbolic of the qualities and mind state of the deity. Then after that, we begin to actually give rise to our self as the deity. But the deity is understood to be only as solid as, say, a bubble, or as gossamer thin, if you will, as a whisper. It has all of the solidity of dew, just before the sun dries it up. We generate ourselves as that deity and we are subtly meditating on a dis-attachment to the heaviness of our own consideration of what we are.  We’re also seeing ourselves in a completely different way.

Now why does generation stage practice prepare us for the bardo? First of all, it gives us enough spaciousness in our mind to have another idea besides ‘I am, and I want,’ which is probably the only idea we ever have, if you boil it all down—‘I am, I want, I think.’ So here we are in the bardo able to take a step back from that, and perhaps that will give us the spaciousness, the moment of space, that we need. Somewhere inside that knee jerk reaction tendency, we need to have a moment of space where we can consider where we are and what to do about it. And the lightening up that we have in generation stage practice will help with that. Furthermore, and most importantly, we will begin to recognize these displays, these many displays of the Buddha nature that appear as the meditational deities. These are forms, these are display forms which are actually pictures of, or movements that express, or dances that show, or colors that display or indicate, the qualities of enlightenment. That’s actually what the meditational deities are, if you think about it. They are enlightenment in display or emanation form. What they are holding in their hands, what they’re doing, indicates to us those particular qualities that are being isolated and demonstrated at that time. So we become familiar with the many different ways in which our Buddha nature is demonstrated, is displayed, and that prepares us for the bardo of becoming, because it is in the bardo of becoming that the BBuddhas actually come to meet us.  We will see them, and we can have liberation through recognition. It is actually the easiest form of liberation in the bardo. That is liberation through recognition. For most of us, that will be the easiest form.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

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