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What Drives You to Practice?

What Drives You to Practice?

An excerpt from a teaching called Bodhicitta by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Some of you show up for practice because you think your teacher will get mad at you if you don’t. So you make yourself visible. Some of you show up for practice because you’ve got to get it in today. When do you [...]

Astrology for 7/24/2014

7/24/2014 Thursday

Feeling indecisive? Can’t make up your mind? Want to do something but not sure what to do? Relax, the planet of action is going through the sign of indecision. In two days you will be 100% certain about what you must do. This is a feel good time- happiness abounds. Sophocles said “Happiness [...]

Those With Hopes of Us

Those With Hopes of Us

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Antidoting the Mantra of Samsara”

The Buddha teaches us that there are literally so many sentient beings that, not all the great Bodhisattvas and lamas have connections with all of them. That’s how many sentient beings there are. We don’t have [...]

Astrology for 7/23/2014

7/23/2014 Wednesday

A sudden realization or awareness gives insight into an ongoing problem. You can solve it, now that you know the facts. Act promptly and change what needs to be changed. A difficult time has ended and a new time has begun. A brighter future is here. Dress up, sparkle, be happy! Men are [...]

Time To Practice

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Antidoting the Mantra of Samsara”

New students keep saying “Well this is amazing. I’ve been looking for something that’s that deep and that profound and this sounds really good, and as soon as I have time, you know, I’ll get into it. But right now I have children, and I have wife and I have a job and I have a car to support and all these things. So you know, I’m really for you and I hope lots of people become Buddhists and do all this. But right now for me I have to wait. I have to wait for a while. I have to wait ‘til my kids grow up. I have to wait ‘til my car is paid for. Right before I get the next one. And I have to wait for…, I just have to wait, you know, because waiting is what I do.”  And so the thought that we have when we’re waiting is that somehow this is all going to work out well. We’ll be exposed to the Buddha’s teachings and we’ll hear something. It’s that magical thinking: It’ll just sort of come together eventually.

Actually, if you really think about it, the Buddha’s teachings are so extensive, so developed, so profound, so deep that they take time to contemplate, to understand, to prepare for, to even build the foundation that causes you to practice foundational preliminary teachings. It takes time. Why? Because you have to change in the process!  We’re not in the business of applying bandaids here. It takes time for you to change. Some of you change faster than others. And it takes time to do the practice. The practice is extensive. So, I’m looking around the room now and I’m seeing that most of us are not under 10 years old. Therefore, whether we’re 20, 25, 35, 45, 55, 75 or however old we are, and it seems like there’s a mixture here, you need to start right now. Because there’s not much time.

There are two reasons: First of all the Buddha taught that there is no guarantee as to how long any of us are going to live, and you can’t understand this. For some reason it is beyond human capacity to understand this kind of thing, unless you yourself have been struck with a terrible illness or a terrible accident where you could have died or may still, or unless you’ve seen someone near you just kick off. Once you’ve had that experience you may understand, but before that, it’s very hard to understand what the Buddha has taught. There is no guarantee that you’re going to wake up tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year.

The second reason is the cause and effect relationships that constantly engage our own sea of karma. That sea of karma that is already hooked up and functional within our mindstream is very fluid and it’s constantly being catalyzed by other events. Each one of you most likely has the karma to live for a very long time and also the karma to die quickly. Which one will ripen?  Well, that’s up to you, according to how you practice, according to how you live, according to how you determine your mind state because everything you do, everything you think, everything you engage in is an additional cause and effect relationship and an additional catalyst. Everything you do is important.

So for each and every one of us the wisest thing to do is to begin to practice now. You know yourself very well. You know when you tighten up. You know what you need. You know when you get scared. You know when you do your best. You like to think you don’t know and you kind of get limp and act like you need guidance for everything, but in fact you do know. You do know how to take care of yourself if you stop and think about it and engage in some self-honesty. So do whatever it takes to mother yourself through, to nurture yourself through, to get to the point where you can actually practice.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 7/19/2014

7/19/2014 Saturday

Stability is here and it’s great. An early happy meal or experience sets the tone for the day. Cooks flavor every morsel with good wishes and food tastes delicious. If you are the cook, outdo yourself. Food equals love today. A purchase solves a medical matter. Need the right pillow or aspirin? You’ll find it today. An intermediary spreads good news among people, and a hidden matter is drawn into public awareness in a favorable way. Give gifts to those you care for. A small trinket gets a wonderful response. Elsewhere, antagonistic forces vie for power. Step away and look away from people who are interested in stirring up trouble, no good comes from this. Jawaharla’l Nehru said “Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.”

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 7/18/2014

7/18/2014 Friday

Emotional matters vie with personal wishes today. It’s a question of what “I” want, versus what’s good for family. Add an insistent partner to the mix and an overload of demands will definitely come today. The good news is that you are just bursting with confidence. “I can handle it,” is your attitude, and you’re right! Don’t question this crazy confidence, use it to roll through the day. Wear the brightest colors you can find. Laugh at messes, chuckle at setbacks. The boss is upset, people are volatile, so what? A feeling of emotional happiness combines with an intuitive awareness of what to do, and you can overcome pretty much anything. E. James Rohan said, “If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.”

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!

Using the Enemy as Guru

An excerpt from a teaching called The Dharma of Technology by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Think about the people in your life.  Is there one person that you just can’t stand? I know that you’re a Buddhist, however, there is probably one person in your life that gets your goat every time.   If you think there is no such person that you can’t stand, then you don’t know yourself at all.  Think about all of the people in of your life and think about whether you can sincerely wish that each one of them gets ahead, has all the happiness, all the approval, all the food, all the money, all the goods, all the joy, all the accomplishment that they could possibly have.

Think about all the people in your life. There is somebody in your life, probably more than one person, who when they get praise or that good old pat on the back from the authority that you’d like to have approval from, you’re not happy about it.

You want all sentient beings to be happy.  You want everyone to get ahead.  You want everyone to have a new car, lots of food, a great house to live in, everything they could possibly want and then you want them under those circumstances to reach enlightenment even without trying.  That’s what you want for all sentient beings.  But if you examine yourself, there is at least one person in your life that you really would like to see work for it.  And you wouldn’t mind if this person got disciplined heartily along the way.  You’d like to see this person get what they really deserve.  It may be somebody that you flat out hate.  There is always somebody like that.

Take that person and then think of that person next to the person that you love the most in the world, the person whose qualities you think are the purest, the one you’d most like to be like, the person that you really love.  Maybe a child or a mate or a teacher or a friend who has given you so much, somebody that has been so kind to you and someone you really feel like you couldn’t make it in this life without. There must be somebody in your life who is such a treasure to you.

Your job, in order to fully accomplish Dharma, is to make that person that drives you crazy the same in your mind as the person who is the real treasure in your life.  They have to be the same.  And in fact, if the person who drives you crazy to the point that you can’t live with being crazy like that any more, and through the Buddha’s teaching you are able to accomplish loving that person equally with the jewel in your life, then that person is more valuable to you than the one you love easily.  That person is your real guru. You have to think about the one person in your life that you would never, under any circumstances, call your guru.  That’s the one you use, the one person that you would be embarrassed to have the world know that was teaching you anything.  That’s the one you use.

Somehow you have to develop a sense of stability of mind and that is only done through compassion where you understand the equality of those two, because they are equal.  They are exactly the same.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 7/17/2014

7/17/2014 Thursday

Impulsiveness gets you into trouble early in the day, and you’ll receive feedback on your behavior from family and the world. You’re so sure you are not only right, but also wonderful, that censure rolls directly off your back. Yes, you’re confident, but have some prudence. Avoid aggravating authority figures, those who have power over you, but have fun bouncing back from everyone else’s comments. It’s great. Use your energy to engage in matters dear to your heart. A disagreement appears with partners over domestic matters. Someone is too insistent on what others should do. Back away with a smile on your face. Bono said, “Whenever you see darkness, there is extraordinary opportunity for the light to burn brighter.” You are that light. A subtle conversation gives a solid hint about a problem. Follow this hint, and you’ll succeed. Start buying bright colors for your wardrobe, you are ready to shine!

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 Karma of a Cup of Water

An excerpt from a teaching called Perception and Karma by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, July 19, 1989

I’d like to illustrate some very basic teachings on the six realms of cyclic existence by looking at a cup of water.  In the human realm, this is a cup of water and it has lemon in it.  I know that it’s water because it smells like water.  It tastes like water with lemon.  I know what that tastes like.  I can tell the difference between tastes.  I know that water is good for me; I know that it will quench my thirst.  The reason why I’m having this experience is because of my karma.  In the animal realm, a dog would also experience that.   Let’s say a dog or some kind of lion or tiger or bear would experience that as water, also.  They wouldn’t know what the lemon was, they would think there was something funny in there, but they would experience it as water.  They don’t taste very much.  They know the water by smell.  They can’t taste the difference between city water and country water.  They might be able to smell a difference. But they know it to be water, and they instinctively drink it when they are thirsty.  They don’t think much about whether it will do this or that for them.  They don’t think about how much they need.  So their experience with water is similar, but different.

In the hungry ghost realm, beings are horribly thirsty and horribly hungry, and their mouths are very, very tiny, so they’re not able to take in food.  Someone from the hungry ghost realm would experience that as a cup of pus and would not be able to drink it because their experience is that it’s pus, it’s horrible and it isn’t drinkable, it isn’t water.  It smells foul and is foul.  It is not something you would drink.  So, they do not drink and they continue to be extremely  thirsty.  This is my cup of water, I know that it’s not pus but in the hungry ghost realm it would be experienced as pus and they would be terribly thirsty.

Why do they experience it that way?  Are they jinxed?  Did some magician go to the hungry ghost realm and transform all the water?  Is someone out to get them?  Had they just not looked in the right places? Should they keep on checking around? Should they think positive? What would happen if they could get it down?  Would it act like water?  No, it would act like pus, right?  Even if they could drink it, the water would act like pus to them.  No matter what they do, it remains pus and they remain thirsty.  That’s really disgusting, isn’t it?  Why does that happen?  It happens because of the karma of their mind.  Their perceptual experience that they have, the construction that they abide within has that reality or that quality because it is an emanation of their mind.  It is the karma of their mind.  It’s as real and as solid to them as the fact that this is water to me.

What about someone from the hell realm?  Depending on which hell realm it is, it would be either a cup of fire or a cup of ice.  Unfortunately, it would be a cup of fire if they were in the hot realms and it would be a cup of ice if they were in the cold realms. The difficulty is that if they held their nose and said, “I really think this is probably water.” They would drink fire and be burned. It’s very real, very real to them.  Why is that the case?  It is the case because that is the karma of their mind.

On the other hand, if this were experienced in the god realm, it would be experienced as a cup of elixir, the nectar of long life, or the elixir of infinite power, or the nectar of infinite beauty.  The gods would drink it and live a long time, anyway.  Nothing is forever in the god realm.  They would take it and it would be like an elixir that would put them into a state of absolute bliss for a while.

Well, I drank that water.  I drink lots of water, and so far, no bliss.  So it isn’t happening to me.  That’s because the gods have the karma of their minds and that’s how it works out for them.  Each one of these different beings that I have described arises from emptiness.  They are the same as emptiness; they are inseparable from emptiness.  Each cup in those different realms, no matter what was in it, arises from emptiness, it is the same as emptiness, it is inseparable from emptiness, and yet the experiences are totally different.  The experiences are different due to the karma of our minds.

Everything that you have ever experienced is completely relative, completely artificially constructed and totally experiential. Everything that you have experienced is like that, and yet what do we do?

Let’s think about the poor old guy in the hungry ghost realm with a cup of pus.  That’s really disgusting, isn’t it? Let’s say that he picks it up and he sees that it’s pus, and he puts it back down. Now what is the next thing he does?  He sits there and he feels really miserable.  He feels agonizingly miserable and thirsty.  Then he thinks, “Why does this happen to me?”  Then he thinks, “Everywhere I go, there’s this stuff.”  He thinks, “There’s no relief.”  He goes on and on and on and continues with the experience.  The experience does not stop when he decides not to drink it.  He continues with the experience.  He reacts to the experience.  The karma is that he experiences pus.  He’s in the hungry ghost realm and he’s experiencing phenomena as he experiences it, which is pretty disgusting, and he’s experiencing also this great longing for nourishment and help and respite from his suffering.

Then, after he doesn’t drink it, he continues with this process of saying, “Why doesn’t anybody love me and give me something to drink?  Why do I have to suffer this way?”  And then goes on with, “I’m so hungry, I’m so thirsty, I’m so ugly” and so on. What I have just described is an elaboration process that branches from the original karmic occurrence.  That elaboration is a very important factor and a very important thing for us to look at and understand.  It is the process of exaggeration.  Now, it sounds really far fetched to talk about this guy in the hungry ghost realm, but I use that example because it’s so solid, you can really understand how that might happen.

What about us?  Let’s use for example the experience that we have when we lose our job. We lose our job, and it’s not the first time we’ve lost our job.  The karma of that particular relationship that you had in order to have the job, ended. Maybe it just ran out because it was time.  Maybe it ended because you ended it but the karma of that particular relationship ran out.  What happens after you’re fired, though, is a process that continues and becomes more a part of you than the actual firing or even the job ever was.  That process is the process of exaggeration and elaboration.  You begin to elaborate on the process.

The first thing that happens is you begin to make an entire scenario about what really happened.  What really happened has a certain flavor.  You have perceived it in a certain way.  You have lost your job and you have the perception that your boss was kind about it, or your boss was mean about it, or it happened in this way, it happened at midday, it happened at night, it happened in the morning, it happened when it was a good time for you, it happened when it was a bad time for you, it happened before your car payment, it happened after your car payment.  You have your own kind of perception about it.

Spinning off from that, you have your determination, which is a more subtle process, about what the real story is. In other words, you’re always going to decide for yourself whether you should have been fired, whether that was righteous, whether you should be treated meanly or whether you should be treated nicely.  You’re always going to decide for yourself whether things happen as they do for good reasons, and then you’re going to make up a whole story about how it should have happened.  Probably you spend the next few days, weeks or months reworking the entire thing, and imagining what you might have said to your boss under different circumstances.  You have your own particular belief about how things should have happened.  From that you continue to elaborate and exaggerate situations, working it into the roots of your being, thinking ultimately, after you really work it down the pike, I’m a failure.  “Nobody loves me. My mother didn’t love me.  My father didn’t love me.  I’m destined to be poor and I am deeply flawed.” You know what you do.  I don’t have to tell you. You go into the entire scenario of all the different things that you feel are absolutely true.  So the experience doesn’t end with the cessation of a certain job opportunity, it continues with an elaboration process and that process is as real as the actual experience.  The exaggeration process usually is the one that sticks with you, longer that the experience itself, often longer than the job itself.  That is the experience that sticks with you.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 7/16/2014

7/16/2014 Wednesday

A more emotionally satisfying morning could not be invented, so relax and enjoy! Going with the flow has never been better. Have fun, because as the day progresses the mood changes and a jokester hurts your feelings and pops your bubble. Ouch! Don’t forget that a new found confidence and fire has entered the scene. Leaders have the flash and dash to inspire followers, and light and enthusiasm replace morose prognostications. You’ll wonder what you ate, but as the days pass and cheerfulness pervades everything, you’ll grow accustomed to the new normal. Look around and notice what changed: happiness is here. Mother Theresa said, “Once filled with joy preaches without preaching.” Of course, you still must deal with the matters of life, but it’s a lot easier when you’re feeling cheerful.

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!

Be Careful

An excerpt from a teaching called Perception and Karma by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, July 19, 1989

The subject of perception – how perception relates to the nature of emptiness, how perception occurs, and the antidote to impure perception – is very difficult to understand.  In truth, it can’t really be taught effectively.  When it is taught, it is communicated in such a way that one has a taste of it.  However, in order to truly understand something about the perceptual process, that all phenomena, all experience, all feeling, as well as all sense of self, is merely an artificial construction and experiential phenomena, one must have something of an understanding of emptiness.

When you hear these kinds of teachings, you should know that at worst what you’re getting is no understanding whatsoever – like a bowl turned over where the water hits and it bounces off. On an intermediate level you may hear the teaching and have some intellectual or theoretical understanding.  Since we have not practiced on the most profound levels, the best that could happen under these conditions is that we will hear the teachings, have something of an understanding intellectually, and through one’s contemplation, develop a sense of insightfulness as to what this might mean.  The best thing that could happen is that in one’s practice one might have a moment of space or a moment in the generation process or perhaps in the dissolution process, where there might be a recognition of what I’m talking about, or a feeling that maybe you stood on the ground floor of that understanding and somehow you have a broader view of it, that you have ascended into a more profound level of understanding.

However from hearing these kinds of teachings, we do not understand the nature of emptiness.  We do not understand phenomena.  We do not get that the experience that we have of phenomena is that it is a perceptual process.  We do not stop relating to “thing” as thing, we do not stop relating to “self” as self.  You should not make the mistake that many practitioners have made, of thinking that hearing teachings like this, you have come to understand emptiness.   You should not, and this is the worst possible scenario, take these teachings and think that you have a profound understanding, and then act like you do. That’s the worst thing that you can do with the teaching.  There is nothing worse than that.  It is also the most common, unfortunately.

In acting as though you understand what these teachings are about, you might fall into the trap of reinforcing your sense of self, reinforcing the ego-clinging and ideation, as well as the clinging to phenomena as being real.  Ultimately, these ideas are phenomena, just as all things are phenomena.  When realization is attained, even the most profound teachings, even the deepest dharma is understood to be merely phenomena, and also empty.

You should be very careful. You should watch your mind and watch how you assimilate these teachings.  Be very, very watchful of yourself, and be certain that you literally understand that no understanding will come without sincere effort and contemplation.

The best way to increase one’s understanding of these kinds of teachings is to practice Guru Yoga.  When you practice Guru Yoga you increase your connection with Guru Rinpoche.  You increase your awareness of his teachings.  You begin to develop a sense of union and therefore the ability to receive the empowerment of his enlightened intention.  You are able then to hear teachings from your own teachers better.  All of the auspicious conditions that can occur will occur when you practice Guru Yoga.  If there’s any teaching being given out that is profound and worthwhile, then perhaps the best thing to do in order to increase your understanding is to practice Guru Yoga, and that includes the Seven-Line Prayer.  Practice in any way that will increase devotion.  Devotion is like a golden highway that connects your heart with Guru Rinpoche’s heart, your mind with Guru Rinpoche’s mind.  It allows his enlightened intention to bring forth empowerment, and that is the same with our own root teachers.  In practicing Guru Yoga, in practicing all practices that have anything to do with devotion, the connection with our root teachers is established. The connection is established and one realizes one’s root teacher to be inseparable from Guru Rinpoche, and therefore inseparable from the nature of emptiness itself.

These are some of the methods that you might use so that you can have a deeper understanding. I, also, wanted to give you some insight as to how not to hear these teachings and how not to accept these teachings.  This is of the utmost importance.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 7/15/2014

7/15/2014 Tuesday

A dream or premonition kicks off the day and puts you into a sensitive state. Move slowly until you are fully awake, which will happen after you’ve been up and about for awhile. Medical matters go well; pay special attention to your body and spend time visualizing health in every body part. Those involved in creative professions-music, cinema and the arts-are amazingly productive and professionally successful. George Lois said, “Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality. overcomes everything.” Water is important today. Spend time near it, drinking it, swimming in it or thinking about it. Avoid angry people at all costs, and if this describes you, avoid others. Something that bothers you today won’t matter tomorrow. Eat up! Tomorrow you’ll have better things to do than think about food for comfort. Conversation is great and even better, sorrows are healed. A failure or betrayal is rectified. A broken heart is mended, opening the door to renewed courage and enthusiasm for life.

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 7/14/2014

7/14/2014 Monday

An exciting event involving a woman provides zip to the day. Love is in the picture, and good news comes from a happy source. Travel, read, learn or involve yourself with technology. Enjoyable conversation and an enthusiastic state of mind cause you to float through the day on a cloud. Stay in your mind, and avoid dropping into emotional states for the greatest success today. If you stop
to wonder how you feel, you’ll kill the buzz. Be especially careful not to say “Well, when this happened in the past, it led to…” Memories get you into trouble. Bill Vaughn said, “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old world leaves.” Be an optimist today and you won’t be sorry. Eat as much as you can for the next two days, after which losing weight will be easier than any time in the past year.

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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