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Accepting the Offering of the Buddhas

Accepting the Offering of the Buddhas

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Lama Never Leaves”

I have seen amazing things. My own students do amazing things. When they weren’t healthy or when they weren’t fit they would do amazing things and they would benefit the stupa and create the causes for continued [...]

Astrology for 11/30/2014

10/30/2014 Thursday by Norma

A passing difficulty mars this happy time. A loving relationship is going very well indeed, yet group demands intrude, throwing a monkey wrench into things. Privacy is impossible with others around, obviously. Don’t try to mix group situations with those that require privacy: do not bring your ten best friends along [...]

Utilizing the Antidote

Utilizing the Antidote

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Lama Never Leaves”

Now it’s also said that the stupa has a mandala of enlightened activity around it the same as a living Buddha does. That is to say, that a stupa that is powerfully consecrated with relics, and consecrated [...]

Astrology for 10/29/2014

10/29/2014 Wednesday by Norma

A Pollyanna annoys others with chirpy platitudes. “Don’t worry, be happy,” isn’t the right thing to say in the face of an accounting mistake, organizational blunder or emergency. Stifle yourself, and start looking for solutions. Down to earth measures are required these days. Make a realistic plan, and stick to it; [...]

Right in Front of You

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Lama Never Leaves”

What I would like to talk about today is our opportunity right here.  We have a tremendous opportunity.  Whenever lamas come to this temple, they say, “This is a living jewel in America.”  That’s what they say.  They say that this temple is a living jewel; that it’s the real thing. They use phrases like that.  This is really Dharma; this is the right stuff. They also say that we have all the objects of support here.  We don’t really know what that means, but we’re glad we have it.  So I’ll tell you.

We have these visible objects of support, meaning that, for instance, right in front of us, we have the cosmological display of the mind of enlightenment.  That is the sand mandala that remains there.  His Holiness [Penor Rinpoche] allowed it to remain so that we can have with us that display and take refuge and meditate and be mindful of that and to learn.  It is the very display of the mind of enlightenment.  Each object in the mandala has specific meaning and so we are delighted to have this.

Then we also have beautiful statues.  The statues are not specifically the objects of refuge, but they are physical supports for the objects of refuge.  In other words, our eyes are allowed to rest on these objects. Our eyes are allowed to, for instance, study the hand positions, the objects that are being held and to learn from them the meaning of the objects, because each of the objects that any of the statues hold has to do with a quality of the Enlightened Buddha.  So each and every object that is held has to do with quality or maybe in some cases activity, like in the case of, statue of Mahakala that may hold a great lasso. He lassoes the negativity and pacifies itSo it has to do with the qualities and the activities of the enlightened mind.  We ourselves use the same images in our practice so that we can practice these very qualities and these very activities.  For instance, if we generate ourselves as Manjushri, we then are holding the sword that cuts the darkness of ignorance.

Then we have an altar where we can make many offerings.  We try to make the offerings as extensive and as beautiful and as exceptional as possible.  Maybe we wouldn’t think to have so many flowers in our own home.  Maybe we wouldn’t think to offer so many bowls of rice. Why would you want to have so much rice or so much water or so many candles? Why would you put so many sweets and delicacies and things on the cabinets like that?  You wouldn’t do that in your own home.  And that reminds you that here we are in this amazing temple with these objects of refuge and we are making many offerings.  It reminds us that these are offerings; and we again, in some subtle way, offer them when we see them being offered that way.  So that is a condition by which we can practice virtue and gather merit.  Anytime we make an offering to an altar, there is a great deal of merit in that, and our minds become more purified and more virtuous.  And so that is a cause for happiness.

Here are the statues. They’re not just ordinary statues, that is to say, lumps that are formed to look like the Buddha.  Each of them has been empowered, and there are specific mantras that are within each one of them. Usually there are mantras that are general and there are mantras that are specific to the deity.  Inside there is a central channel, as though it were a living deity where the central channel is the beginning emanation of the deity’s form.  Inside each and every one of them is a  a copper tube, or maybe it can be wood, like the spine of the deity.  And so in every single one, there are profound prayers and many offerings.  Some of them have relics in them.  Some of them have jewels, no really fabulous diamonds, so there’s no sense stealing any of them.  We actually had somebody in Poolesville steal a ring from the stupa once and he lost his finger—the finger with the ring on it— so he returned the ring.  You don’t want to do thatYou want to think of whatever offerings are in there as being the very jewel of enlightenment and that that is something precious.

By the lama’s power, each and every statue is empowered; that is to say, the lama generates the deity and invites the deity to remain.  And so the deity actually remains as this statue.  That doesn’t mean Guru Rinpoche is here and not there, or there and not here.  It doesn’t mean that, but it does mean that these statues should be treated like living Buddhas.  And that is the cause for great merit.  There are many practices that are done, particularly during Losar [Tibetan new year], where we take a statue of the Buddha and we carefully wash it and say many prayers. We say, “Although the Buddha does not need washing, by this washing may all sentient beings be cleansed of the suffering of non-virtue.” And so the cleansing of the Buddha is a tremendous virtuous offering to make, you know, to cleanse the Buddha with saffron water and to offer the Buddha a cloak.  Although the Buddha is never cold, one would offer that cloak in the hopes that, “By this offering may all sentient beings be free of the suffering of want, of nakedness or of cold, or of not having any clothing, and may they be clothed eventually with the gorgeous array of Dharma.”  So we make these kinds of wishing prayers.

When we make these wishing prayers for others, we are making them for ourselves, as well.  In fact, there’s almost no need to include ourselves in those prayers, although we certainly may, and many of the prayers have words like that, “May I and all beings…,” or “May all beings and myself included…,” like that.  But whenever we make prayers for the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings, for the end of their suffering, for their continued advance upon the path, then surely you must know that by the merit of that, we also are accumulating a great deal of merit to do that very same thing. So that merit is ours as well.   In fact, when you accomplish something meritorious, by dedicating that merit, the minute you dedicate it, you can no longer burn it up in an adverse way.  It’s like you put it in the bank.  You can’t spend it anymore.  And even though it goes to benefit all sentient beings, it’s still in your bank.  It’s awful we have to explain it that way, but ours is a materialistic society, and that’s how we understand things.

So whenever we commit some kind of virtuous act, we should immediately think, “This I dedicate to the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings.”  Whenever we go round and round the stupas—even trying to relieve our own suffering, which many of us do and should really, because we have had cures around the Stupas—we have had amazing turn-arounds in people’s mental states, their habitual tendencies, even mental illness.  We’ve had amazing events come about through circumambulating the stupas and making many prayers.  The minute we do that, we should absolutely dedicate that to the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings.

When we pray for our own health, we should not do so without praying for the health of others as well.  When we pray for our own happiness, we should think, “Oh, here I am in this land of great fortune; and here I am securely, hopefully, upon the path, and here I am in front of the objects of refuge and yet I can be so miserable. If this is possible, then how much more miserable than I am must other sentient beings be—those who have no food, who have no home, who are in war, who experience earth changes or tsunami or terrible events.  Here I am in comfort and I am suffering, then therefore I pray that their suffering will cease also.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 10/25/2014

10/25/2014 Saturday by Norma

A woman needs attention. She is on her own, without resources, and feels that every option has dried up. Step in decisively, offer what you can. It’s a critical moment. Once this passes, the day is lovely. Happiness is in the picture and change is coming. Mercury turns around late today and you are able to plan for the future. Something gets fixed, resolving a matter that has dragged on for too long. A surgical chop neatly frees you of a problem, with happy results. A Zen saying, “How refreshing, the whinny of a pack-horse unloaded of everything!” sums up the situation. A last minute burst of zealotry is surprising but fear not, it’ll be gone tomorrow. What’s good today? Loving relationships, relaxation, renewed energy. Healing in an area that seemed hopeless. A magician pulls another rabbit out of a hat!

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!

ation, renewed enthusiasm for the future. Healing in an area that had lost hope.

Cause and Effect and the Antidote to Unhappiness

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Lama Never Leaves”

Lord Buddha’s teachings are always reasonable and logical.  He teaches us that, for instance, if we are lonely and unhappy, we should look to find the causes of that.  He teaches us that causes are never outside.  They seem to be, but they are never outside because actually we are living with our own karmic habitual tendencies and propensities.  So if we are lonely and unhappy, we should look to the deeper causes.  The deeper causes may be that in the past, whether in this lifetime or in some previous lifetime, we allowed the others around us to be unsupported and lonely and unhappy.  Or perhaps we committed some profound non-virtue with our minds and so now, in our mind, we have the habit or the result of loneliness and unhappiness.  Perhaps in the past, we caused someone mental suffering or mental affliction, and so now in the present, we find ourselves feeling that same mental affliction. But we can only remember since the time of our birth, or somewhat after that, and we don’t know what the cause was really.  It’s hard to see.  We have to go by the Buddha’s teachings because Lord Buddha is that state of enlightenment which has the wisdom to see causes and results.  So we are taught if we have certain results within our life, such as unhappiness and loneliness, we should look for deep causes If we can’t find some reason in this lifetime for our loneliness and unhappiness, that is to say, that we ourselves have not brought about similar loneliness and unhappiness to others, then we should think that probably the cause has been in the deep past.  So we must assume that in the past, we have caused some unhappiness to others.

Now, here we are on the path, and we are told to apply the antidote. I shouldn’t leave that part out.  And the antidote, of course, would be to do one’s best to uphold the Bodhisattva Vow and to benefit others as strongly and as purposefully as we possibly can.  Of course, as monks and nuns, we will do that within the context of Dharma activities. As lay people, hopefully, we will do that within the context of Dharma activities as well. Yet we also have many opportunities in our lives to be of benefit to others in ordinary but very special ways. Some of us are doctors or nurses or counselors or those who help others.  So there are human ways to help others and there are extraordinary Dharma ways to help others, and we should apply that antidote.

One thing that not only I have noticed but practically every pop-psychologist that has arms to write a book with nowadays will tell you is that in doing for others, one becomes happy.  Self-absorption and ego cherishing, only thinking about what you want and what you don’t have, leads to further unhappiness and selfishness.  So it’s doing for others that actually brings up the spirit, and I personally know that this is true.  I know that this is true.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 10/24/2014

10/24/2014 Friday by Norma

There’s a new sheriff in town and this one means business! Secret negotiations with powerful figures resolve issues. Large institutions step in and do their job! Everything tightens up into purposeful activity now that realistic thinking has entered the picture. At the same time, happiness blossoms in an area that was devoid of happiness. Something is ending, which permits something new to begin. Four planets in Scorpio cheerfully dispose of old business in an efficient manner. It’s a relief. Sylvia Stone said, “I would draw an ugly house on a piece of paper, and then erase the house and turn it into a beautiful one.” This is what’s happening. What’s good today? Romance! Close contact with your
dearest ones, and a rebirth of purpose and enthusiasm.

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!

Mind Creates Form: Khenpo Tenzin Norgay

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Khenpo Tenzin Norgay given at Kunzang Palyul Choling called “The Six Paramitas”

We are always concerned about our mind.  We have the body, speech and mind, and according to our Buddhist teachings, we say that our mind is more powerful than our body and speech.  It is the main controller.  Once we have our mind controlled, then our body becomes naturally controlled, and then our speech is also perfected.  So that’s why, instead of making our body perfect, what we are doing is making our mind perfect.

The mind is given more importance in our teachings.  According to our teachings, our mind can create a physical object, not the other way around—a physical object creating our mind.  So this is one of the main teachings. If we are able to understand that, then the law of karma, or incarnation, can be better understood.

So here, when we say our mind can create physical objects or all these projections—it is in the Abhidharma teachings—we are talking about how we have three realms of existence: the formless realm, the form realm and the desire realm.  Even in the Sutrayana teachings, when talking about, the formation of these three realms or cyclic existence, like when earth or some physical formation is there, it’s saying that it starts from below and then goes upward—having this sphere and space and the sphere of water and all gradually stacking upward.  Then when talking about the formation of the beings abiding there, the inhabitants, it’s talking about stepping downward.  First we can say we have this formless realm where there is only consciousness.  The person born in the formless realm is, in one way of saying,  less distracted and has a great degree of meditation but without Vipassana or Right View.  If we don’t have Right View, then when our meditational power becomes exhausted, we can be born in the form realm.  In the form realm, our teachings say, there is no physical body of flesh and bones, but not exactly the rainbow-like body. So there is sort of like a physical body there which is not really made of flesh and bones. But it’s saying because of our attachment to the physical form, there is some solid form of physical appearances in the form realm.  When this becomes stronger, we call it the desire realm.  So that’s where we are, in this desire realm.  And here, our desire to objects is stronger, so we have this flesh and bones and this brain.

What I’m trying to say is our mind can exist freely without relying upon the chemicals in our brain.  If it were just a chemical process, then once the brain died, everything would be dead.  So it seems this is not our teaching.  Our teaching is that our mind creates the brain, not the brain creates our mind.

 

Proper Conduct: Understanding the Source of Happiness

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Lama Never Leaves”

Whenever we are on the path and we have a spiritual friend in the form of a teacher, whether it is on the earlier path of Theravadin Buddhism or whether we have a spiritual guru who is from the Vajrayana point of view, a very profound friend who one can expect will mingle with our lives and hopefully mingle with our mindstreams, and give us the appropriate information in order to practice the path, there is one set of instructions that is almost always given in one way or another.  And so I’d like to give these instructions.  They are about gathering and accomplishing “merit”…or meritorious activity.

Here in our society, we are taught in a materialistic way.  We are taught that of course if we get education we will make money.  If we make money, we will get things.  If we get things, we will be happy and we can pass those things on to our children who hopefully will be happy also.  And that’s the idea that we have in this society about material things.

Very rarely do our parents teach us about profitable conduct.  We’re taught about how to live profitably.  Hopefully, if we had good parenting, they taught us about how to keep a bank account and all of those passages of adulthood that we learn about.  But nowadays, it has become much less popular, unfortunately, for parents to teach us profitable conduct; in other words, how to act, how to present oneself, how to hold oneself, what deeds to act upon and so forth, that will bring us happiness and joy.  We in fact, in growing up, we are not really taught that acting in a certain way will bring us happiness or joy; or making offerings in a certain way, or certain kinds of conduct.  Generally what happens is the child imitates the parent.  Many times the parent, like any other samsaric being, is neurotic and we see them acting neurotically in their relationships, and we see that it’s like a roll of the dice.  According to how we act, half the time it produces happiness, and half the time it doesn’t.  And sometimes when we’re in a real spiral…that means the downward kind…we can experience a great deal of neuroses and our children will watch that habitual patterning and they will pattern themselves after it.  It’s natural.  It’s hard-wired in children to do that.  And of course in this day and age, it seems like we have lost touch with what it is that actually creates happiness.  We are so confused in our minds…we’re in such turmoil…we’re always grasping and grabbing and trying and often we’re working very hard at it.  It’s not that we’re lazy.  We don’t just lay around all day.  We’re often working very hard at things that ultimately produce no good result.  Pursuing endless distractions, the Buddhas have called it.

And so, we turn to the people of authority in our lives and we look to them for guidance.  Well, we look to the government and the government says, “Let’s cut down on social services, screw the poor people, we’ll go to war!”  So maybe that’s not so good.

So then we look at our parents…and let’s see, parent’s are on maybe second or third marriage, and they’re very much trying to be happy but they don’t know how to be happy and the parents are in as much turmoil as perhaps the child is.

And then the child turns to the teachers and even religious figures.  And if the religious figure is not enlightened, often times they are lead down horrible paths; perhaps even abusive paths where they are taught some strict dogma that has no relationship to anything really; or in the worst case scenario, they are used and abused by a religious figure of authority.

So where do we actually go to understand what it is the Buddha taught about cause and result…because this is where the Buddha really shone…showed his immense wisdom, his immense capacity.  …Is that not only Shakyamuni Buddha, himself, but every teacher and lama that has studied his teachings, followed his ways and accomplished.  And all the teachers yet to come that revealed Terma, including Guru Rinpoche and those that were Treasure Revealers later on, each in their own way, taught us Proper Conduct.

Proper Conduct is actually part of our Ngondro practice in which we learn to turn the mind toward Dharma.  And that doesn’t mean…what do you call it when somebody…a person that sings the rap of a certain company and…public relations, right.  It’s not like that.  Our teachers actually indicate to us how we should live and actually that’s one of the signs of the Buddha is that the Buddha comes to the earth and shows us how to live because we are living in confusion.  We have not been taught of cause and effect.  And this is one thing that Lord Buddha really taught about was cause and result.  And he said that, if spiritual thinking isn’t reasonable and logical, that is, if one cannot think it through first before one decides to really open the heart in faith, then we should think again.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 10/23/2014

10/23/2014 Thursday by Norma

People get serious and go underground to make policy. Don’t chase anyone who has disappeared from the scene, you’ll regret it. A decision has been made that generates new conviction, and the waffling has ended. Old issues are still being resolved, but with a different attitude. Things will be solved now, at last. Quiet, definitive statements come that outline the situation, pay attention! This is how it’s going to be from now on. Oddly, a feeling of peace comes with the new certainty. Indecision has been
driving people nuts. Jack Kornfield said, “We do not need more knowledge but more wisdom. Wisdom comes from our own attention.” What’s good today? Decisiveness that generates happiness, confidence in your own wisdom and the company of loved ones.

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 10/22/2014

10/22/2014 Wednesday by Norma

A last ditch diplomatic appeal comes today, and then things change. The attitude until now has been “it’s not a problem,” but tomorrow it’s different. Indecision is the major contributor, yours and other people’s. Widespread dissemination of information is critical to success. Tell everyone what is going on! A surprising defection occurs: someone you thought was with you, isn’t. This has been coming for a while; you misread or ignored the signals. Fortunately, the confidence to move ahead is present, kind people are here, and a choice about a past action can be made. Jack Kornfield said, “The only way to bring peace to the earth is to learn to make our own life peaceful.” This is the job for
today.

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!

Non-Duality

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Tools to Deepen in Your Practice”

We think that bodhichitta is something that we must practice, and yes, in order to build proper habitual tendency, that’s what we should do.  That is the basis and foundation for the next level of practice.  But this level of practice requires going beyond simple human kindness, or even extraordinary kindness where we practice from life to death, you know, in order to practice medicine or give out food, or make some phenomenal contribution.

But here in the Vajrayana path, we must understand that you cannot create the bodhichitta.  You cannot establish it, nor can you tear it down or destroy it.  All you can do is deny that you are that; and you can do that from now ‘til kingdom come, whenever that is.  But you cannot deny the understanding that when we seethe fundamental picture we see again and again and again in Vajrayana of the Lama and Consort in union, this is emptiness and method, emptiness and compassioninseparable, functional as one.  We can take them apart to discuss or to understand them, but in truth the bodhichitta cannot be separated from emptiness.  And the true awakening to the bodhichitta comes from the fundamental view of understanding the emptiness of all nature.

In Vajrayana, we are asked to accomplish many things.  One thing we are asked to accomplish is, of course, the realization of emptiness, the understanding of emptiness.  We are asked to understand the arising of compassion as being consistent with the understanding of emptiness.  What we can’t do is change that or build it or control it, or anything.  By simply letting go of the idea of duality, the display of truth must surely arise, and that display is the bodhichitta.

 Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 10/21/2014

10/21/2014 Tuesday by Norma

Four planets in Libra reflect the prevailing social urge. Have a party, get together with others! Do lunch, brunch, or at least check in with your buds. Happiness comes from togetherness. Men are loving, and women and children are on board too. Expect intense activity, and also expect to keep solving old business. A rift or loss can be recouped, with an adjustment. The champion of the times is Jupiter in Leo, out there lending confidence to everything he touches. Use this good energy to plow through situations that have stymied you. Yes problems exist, but you have the power to fix them now. Steve Jobs said, “Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.”
Good things today: complimenting others, saying kind words that offer encouragement, complete confidence, and a “go for it” attitude that won’t quit.

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!

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