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Astrology for 9/22/2014

9/22/2014 Monday by Norma

Fussbudgets unite! Today is your last day to find fault with everything! If you don’t complain today, you won’t feel like complaining tomorrow! This is also your day to finish a job, to wrap up a project. A dependable schedule with people you enjoy enhances the day. Work on health matters, [...]

The Four Noble Truths - An Introduction

The Four Noble Truths – An Introduction

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Keeping Heart Samaya”

One of the things that I have learned since I met with my teacher is to follow the fundamental thoughts as taught by the Buddha very carefully, starting with the thought that all sentient beings are suffering, and [...]

Astrology for 9/21/2014

9/21/2014 Sunday by Norma

Your wish to “get on with it,” to make something happen, feels blocked. Work is interrupted by unexpected incidents and frustration ensues. The problem is the number of small tasks involved. Step back, get the big picture, and you’ll know what you need to do. Instead of clipping every blade of [...]

Astrology for 9/20/2014

9/20/2014 Saturday by Norma

An early rebuff comes, and once it’s over things go really well. The problem is that you were too confident and irritated the wrong person. Being a showoff is unsuccessful, but careful work is goes very well today. Absolutely keep your nose to the grindstone because you can wrap up a [...]

Unconditional Love

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Keeping Heart Samaya”

When we consider the student’s relationship with the teacher on this path, we are talking about very high stakes.  We are not talking about a student-teacher relationship in order to get through a six week course.  We are not talking about a student-teacher relationship with which to graduate with so many credits from college.  We are talking about a student-teacher relationship wherein the end result is the ultimate fruit or jewel, the crown of cyclic existence, that is, the potential or capacity to enter into the door of liberation and be free of suffering at last.  These are enormous stakes.

So both parties in the student-teacher relationship have to take that relationship very seriously, very seriously.  I know for a fact that the teachers regard the students with great seriousness.  Their love for the students is unconditional.  Once that student-teacher relationship has taken place, the teacher has become, for the student, Guru Rinpoche’s appearance in the world, Lord Buddha’s appearance in the world.  Once that happens, there is a love there or a bonding that cannot be undone by anything in the world.  There is nothing in the world that can take Lord Buddha’s blessing, Guru Rinpoche’s blessing out of your heart.  Nothing can do that.

Even if the students themselves were to act in a very inappropriate way, breaking the samaya bond, acting out of accordance with what the teacher has taught, even committing really negative actions like harming the teacher in some way, it is always the truth that if the student were to make restitution, were to turn their face towards Dharma again and truly wish to accomplish Dharma, and wish to separate themselves from their previous non-virtuous acts, the teacher would immediately respond to that.  There is no question.

As parents we do that with our children, don’t we?  Sometimes children will do pretty bad things, throw baseballs through windows, knock the cookie jars over, and really much worse things. So even though these acts may occur, the parent will always accept the child again.  The parent will not stop loving the child.  It may be true that there is a difficulty there, a burden, a strain, a suffering, but that is your child.  A good parent would never turn their face away from their child just because their child made a mistake.  Parents know that children are immature with very little discrimination.  They are learning, and it’s the parents’ job to teach them.  Exactly the same with the student and the teacher.

The teacher knows that students are sentient beings.  According to the Buddha’s teaching, all sentient beings are suffering.  They all wish to be happy, but they do not know how to make the causes of happiness occur.  They don’t understand cause-and-effect relationships.  So isn’t it to be expected that mistakes will be made?  Of course mistakes will be made. It’s only reasonable and logical.  So the teacher would never hold it against the student.  That relationship is like the Buddha’s compassion, all pervasive, beginningless, conditionless, without end.  That is the nature of that love.

So when we look to the student’s commitment, or samaya, to the teacher, we should look to see the same depth, the same bonding, the same beauty in that commitment as well.  And that commitment should be a joy on both parts.  Less the flavor of duty and responsibility than the flavor of love.  The love between the student and teacher is like the Buddha’s compassion.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 9/17/2014

9/17/2014 Wednesday by Norma

A day with more potential for emotional upset cannot be fathomed, nor a day with more opportunity! Tread carefully because emotions drive action; get a grip on yours. How you handle things makes all the difference. A shock is best solved by working on the problem rather than venting. A tactless comment is best solved by saying, “That’s not what he/she meant.” A negative response to a request is best solved by asking, “How can I make this work?” Humility opens doors. Think, and things work out well, emote and problems multiply! Confucius said, “Ask yourself constantly, ‘What is the right thing to do?'” What’s good today? Generosity of spirit, happiness that transcends emotion, excellent cures and simple pleasures. Garden, take a walk, balance your checkbook, brush your teeth and feel virtuous!

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!

Flower of Gods: From “Sutra of the Wise and Foolish”

The following is respectfully quoted from “Sutra of the Wise and Foolish” by Stanley Frye 

Flower of the Gods

Thus have I heard at one time: the Enlightened One was residing in the sity of Śrāvastī at Jetavana monastery in Añathapindika’s park together with an assembly of one-thousand two-hundred and fifty monks. At that time, in that country, when a handsome and comely son was born to the wife of a householder of the highest caste, a shower of flowers of the gods fell from the sky and filled the house, and the boy was named Flower of the Gods. When he had come of age, he went to the Buddha, and seeing the Lord’s body endowed with the incomparable signs, rejoiced greatly and thought: “I have been born into this world where I have met the Supreme Among the Noble Ones, I shall invite the Lord and his assembly”, and said: “Lord, tomorrow I shall prepare alms-food in my home. In order to lay the foundation for Enligthenment, I beseech the Lord and his Sangha to deign to come”. The Buddha, seeing the boy’s pure and firm intention, said: “We accept your invitation”.

Thereupon the boy called Flower of the Gods returned to his home and in his mansion caused a great throne of jewels to magically appear along with many other seats, and adorned the dwelling with various kinds of decorations.

Upon the morrow the Enlightened One and his Sangha came, and when each had taken his seat according to seniority, the boy though: “Now I shall offer various kinds of food,” and, because of his virtue many different kinds of food appeared by themselves and these he offered to the Lord and Sangha.

When the Buddha had taught the boy the Dharma, the house became filled with flowers of the gods and the boy requested permission of his parents to become a monk. When his parents consented, he went to the Buddha, bowed his head at his feet, and said: “Lord, I request ordination”, and when the Buddha said: “Welcome, monk”, his hair and beard fell away by themselves and he was dressed in the red robes. Exerting himself in the word of the Buddha, he became an arhat.

When Ānanda saw what had taken place, he knelt and said: “Lord, this monk Flower of the Gods–by reason of performing what former good deeds did a shower of flowers descend and jeweled thrones and various kinds of good appear? I beg the Lord to explain the reason for this.”

The Buddha said: “Ānanda, if you wish to hear this, listen carefully. In aeons long past, when the Buddha Kāśyapa was in the world and was visiting the cities for the weal of beings, a householder of the highest caste honored and made offerings to the Sangha. When a poverty-stricken beggar saw the Noble Sangha, great faith was born in him and he thought: ‘I have nothing with which to make an offering to the Sangha’. He gathered various kinds of grasses and flowers and with a mind of faith showered them on the monks, bowed, and venerated the Sangha. Ānanda, this monk Flower of the Gods was that beggar who at the time made offerings of flowers. Because he sought Enlightenment with a mind of firm faith and gathered flowers and showered the Sangha with them, for sixty aeons, wherever he was born he was always handsome and comely and endowed with whatever he wished to eat and drink. As a result of that merit he has attained bliss. Therefore, Ānanda, one must not think that there is no merit when one gives, even if it is very little. As was the case with the boy Flower of the Gods, the fruits will come by themselves.”

Thereupon Ānanda and the assembly believed what the Lord had taught and rejoiced.

 

Astrology for 9/16/2014

9/16/2014 Tuesday by Norma

A hunch or emotion gives a hint about what you should do today, follow it! Intuition is strong, and so is the comfort received from food. What you eat makes a difference today, and who you dine with also matters. Health issues are directly affected by emotions right now. A partner offers a suggestion that pulls you in the right direction. An old love still draws you, and a siren call is affecting your work. Pay attention! Distraction is an issue, and it is possible to misunderstand and rush off to solve the wrong problem! A sudden benevolent gesture corrects something. The Bible says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men.” You could be the one to offer the benevolent gesture.

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!

Why Enlightenment Matters

Shakyamuni Buddha

After practicing Aspirational Bodhicitta, you will move into Practical Bodhicitta. Practical Bodhicitta is where one actually attempts and begins actually to develop the technology or method by which the cessation of suffering can be brought about.

Again, back to the foundational teachings of the Buddha: The Buddha teaches us that the sufferings that we see and think we understand the causes for are only symptomatic of a deeper suffering; and that deeper suffering is actually the faults of cyclic existence. These are the real sufferings: Impermanence; the fact that cyclic existence has nothing inherent within it that leads to the end of suffering. These things are the faults of cyclic existence.

Having understood the faults of cyclic existence, we must then think what the Buddha has told us: Only enlightenment brings about the cessation of suffering. And to carry that further, only an enlightened being, and ultimately a supremely realized being, can truly bring about the end of suffering. So you have to consider Practical Bodhicitta in more than one way. You must actually consider that you wish to accomplish whatever means will bring about the cessation of suffering for all sentient beings: whatever practices will bring about the end of suffering; whatever methods. You have to employ these methods; but you must also think that your own enlightenment then becomes significant. Even if you are thinking only of sentient beings—and that is the proper motivation—even if you are thinking only of motherly sentient beings and their suffering and not thinking of your own suffering so much, if you have come to that profound level of Aspiration Bodhicitta because of entering into the phase of Practical Bodhicitta and the need for you to accomplish enlightenment in order to lead other beings to enlightenment, then one’s own enlightenment becomes significant. And that is the real reason why one’s own enlightenment becomes significant. Yes, it’s true that each of us wishes to be free of suffering. But from the point of view of Bodhicitta, the proper motivation for practice then is the cessation of suffering for all sentient beings.

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Bodhicitta”

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The First and Only Constructed Wetlands In Maryland

Wetlands Planting

Did you know that since 1988, KPC has processed all of its wastewater (5 million gallons!) through a groundbreaking Constructed Wetlands Project, the first of its kind in the Chesapeake Bay estuary? Built by the monks and nuns and members themselves, we haven’t used a drop of chemicals, nor released an ounce of sewage in over 25 years.

Wow.

We are very proud of our commitment to environmental responsibility and the example we set and the experience we bring to the community, as evidenced by this little-known environmental victory.

The system has run successfully for over 25 years and now it needs some maintenance. Solids have built up that need to be removed, and invasive plant species are crowding out the aquatic plants we’ve planted and maintained to clarify the wastewater before release. It’s going to be costly ($33,000) and it needs to be done before the frost hits, so there is an urgency.

We have launched a campaign on Indiegogo, called Get your s**t together: Brown Is The New Green, to raise money for the maintenance. The success of the campaign relies on spreading the word about this innovative and environmentally responsible project to the widest possible audience. Please follow the link. Read the message. And then pass it on to everyone you ever knew. Like it, share it, forward it, tweet it, blog it, text it, post it, stand on the corner and hand out leaflets. However you can, spread the word. That is how we will succeed.

Thank you for your help with this very important project.

John Darrin on behalf of KPC

Astrology for 9/15/2014

9/15/2014 Monday by Norma

A message or conversation tells you what you need to know. A partner’s input is valuable. Take prompt action and you’ll be happy, wait around and you will be buried in criticism or distracted by other work. Men and women see things differently today, so stick with those who agree with you. Clive James said, “You can never get a woman to sit down and listen to a drum solo.” What are you trying to get someone to do? Tread carefully; they don’t want to do it. An inspiring project runs into lack of funding, or you need the money for something else. What goes well today? A partner’s suggestion is right on! Work is satisfying, health matters go well, small projects are successful, and people are 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!

The Mystical Bond

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Keeping Heart Samaya”

The Lama, being the condensed essence of all three objects of refuge, is also considered to be inseparable from the Dharma.  The Buddha is like the Lama’s mind in this case.  The Dharma is like the Lama’s speech.  So as a student, together with one’s Lama, one takes on the responsibility of learning Dharma.  It really isn’t enough to go around and say, “I have a Buddhist teacher!  Oh, I have a Buddhist teacher!  This is very good!”  And feel really happy about that.  That is great.  I hope you do feel happy about it, but it is not enough to do that and no more because it really isn’t that valuable to have met with your teacher, which is really very precious, if you do not follow the Buddha’s teaching, which is the Dharma.  Otherwise, what you are doing is coming to the temple to be entertained once a week for roughly an hour and a half, or longer, if you engage in other activities.  So a relationship where only entertainment occurs is really not that valuable.  You can get that from Blockbuster.  You don’t need a Buddhist teacher for that.

What you need a Buddhist teacher for is to connect you to the method, the Dharma, which is the Buddha’s speech.  You need a teacher so that you can travel on this path in order to accomplish the supreme result of liberation.  So the second commitment that the student must make to the teacher is to practice and learn Dharma, to maintain a healthy spiritual interest in Dharma and that means, once again, reflecting on the Buddha’s foundational teachings–realizing the faults or flaws of cyclic existence.  Then we practice a kind of renunciation that makes us eager to drink the nectar of the Buddha’s teaching for our self and for all sentient beings.  We begin to develop the mind of compassion.  For our self and for all sentient beings this Dharma practice represents the end of suffering, so we are eager and pleased to learn Dharma, to learn to think like a Dharma practitioner.  That is the second commitment.

The Lama, as the condensed essence of all three objects of refuge, is also considered to be the Sangha.  The mystical relationship between the Lama and the Sangha is quite profound, quite beautiful.  The Sangha is like the Lama’s body in that the Sangha has the samaya, or the responsibility, of holding or anchoring the Buddha’s teachings in the world in the same way that the Lama’s body, or appearance or presence, establishes the Buddha’s teachings right here, in the world.  Teachings are here in the world, being conferred here in the world.  The Sangha becomes an extension of that appearance.

Here in this Sangha for instance, primarily the ordained, but other Sangha members as well are trained as umdzes, or chant leaders.  We have the chopön, who handles ritual objects during the puja.  The Sangha are all well-trained, and all of them have different jobs.  We have archivists who keep our books in good, healthy order and keep them in a respectable and clean place.  There are many, many different functions, and these are all considered extensions of the Lama’s body.  This is the Lama’s wheel of activity.  The entire Dharma community then is the Lama’s extended body or wheel of Dharma activity.  So the mystical bond between the Lama and the student is closer than one’s own breath, more essential than one’s own essence, more relevant than one’s own mind, speech, body, anything.

As the Lama’s body, the Sangha also has a certain responsibility to one another, and this responsibility is a very important part of the samaya or commitment to the Lama,.  Remember, there is the responsibility to uphold and propagate the Buddha’s teachings, to follow and learn more about Dharma, the responsibility to uphold and protect the Sangha, and the responsibility of the Sangha to be the extension of the Lama’s activity.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 9/14/2014

9/14/2014 Sunday by Norma

Silent affection works miracles today. Love something, and the world burst into streamers and star showers! Attempt to put your feelings into words, and you will miss the mark and possibly offend the object of your affection. Words cause confusion today: it’s “foot in mouth” time! Express yourself in other ways. Keep a vigilant eye on a zealot, this person may or may not be supportive. People you do not understand, people from different backgrounds, feel very strongly about their issues. Be respectful, and stick to the here and now. Mundane matters require your attention. John Rich said, “If everybody contemplates the infinite instead of fixing the drains, many of us will die of cholera.” Stay on task today. What’s good? Happiness, love, the support of hidden forces, and work.

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!

Navigating the Darkness

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Keeping Heart Samaya”

As sentient beings revolving in samsara, trying to go through life in the ordinary ways that sentient beings go through life, we are unable to see some of the conditions of samsara.  For instance, the Buddha teaches us that there are six realms of cyclic existence, six different realms, only one of which is human.  There are the hellish realms, the hungry ghost realms, the animal realms, the human realms, the jealous god realms, the long life god realms.

The Buddha teaches us about those different realms.  Well, I haven’t seen all of them, and most everybody I know hasn’t seen all of them, at least not that they can remember.  I know for sure there are animals. I know for sure there are humans. But how can any of us know about these other realms?  We have to rely, therefore, on the Buddha’s enlightened perception that is born from the profound realization that the Buddha accomplished and described when he said simply, “I am awake.  I am awake.”

So we rely on that perception, and from that perception the Buddha has taught us many things.  One of the things that Buddha has taught us is that all sentient beings are suffering.  Suffering is all pervasive, and – sorry to ruin your perfect day – you need to learn the reality of cyclic existence.  It is a little bit like needing to walk through a room full of furniture and obstacles and room dividers and shelves and sofas and rugs, and all kinds of things. Unfortunately because our vision is so obscured, it is as though that room were dark and the shades drawn and there were no lights on.

The Buddha teaches us that to learn about cyclic existence would be like turning the light on in that room.  If you are unaware of the condition of cyclic existence, it is kind of like trying to get through a room full of obstacles with no help, with no vision, no way to decide how to get through that room.  So you are going to stumble over things; you are going to fall over things.  There will be many, many hurtful and painful obstacles.  Instead, the Buddha recommends turn the lights on.  Be aware of the condition of cyclic existence.  Know what you are up against.  Strategize your path through life intelligently rather than living carelessly and haphazardly, stumbling over everything, having every obstacle that could take you down, in fact, take you down.

Many of us have experienced painful life situations that could have been prevented by the generation of some merit or kind acts that produce virtue within the mind stream.  So the Buddha teaches us to know carefully what samsara actually is.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

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