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

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

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


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


Astrology for 3/26/2015

3/26/2015 Thursday by Norma

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

Let's Get Practical

Let’s Get Practical

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

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

Astrology for 3/25/2015

3/25/2015 Wednesday by Norma

A brilliant idea expressed by a brilliant person opens a door in your mind. Good information is everywhere provided you stop talking long enough to hear it. Walk, run, drive, work on machines and stay active all day for good results. In the afternoon something creates confusion. Avoid murky situations and […]

Meditation Instruction: Tonglen


The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

I would like to show you one more technique that you can use. This is a very common technique. It’s a sending and receiving, but with a slight variation.

The first time that I met His Holiness Penor Rinpoche,  this was the first thing he told me to do. His Holiness asked me, “Do you wish there to be no more suffering?”

“Of course! Of course, this is my only wish.”

Then he said, “As a Bodhisattva, will you take on the suffering of others, if you have the opportunity?”

I said, “Of course!”

And then he said, “Do you think if you do, that it will harm you?”

I said, “No, of course not. How can love harm somebody? That’s ridiculous!”

And he said, “Well, I’ll tell you, when you have faith in the Three Precious Jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and you align yourself with the great purpose of the Bodhisattvas, then you have nothing to fear.” And he said, “In that case, let me teach you how to practice.” He said, “Every breath that you take, every moment that you walk around, your breath is a cycle of OM, AH, HUNG.”

OM. We take in the suffering, no matter what it is, of all sentient beings, no matter who they are. We breathe it in. OM.

AH —is the space between the inhale and the exhale. AH is an immediate meditation on non-duality with the Three Precious Jewels, an immediate meditation on the nature as it is—inseparable, indivisible, free of concept. So there’s that meditation. AH.

And then, HUNG. Breathe out all of the virtue and merit that you and all practitioners have accomplished in the past, in the present and in the future. (This is like a spiritual credit card deal. You get to borrow on what you hope you’re going to do later).

So it’s OM, I take in the suffering of all sentient beings. I’m not separate. AH, I rely on the Three Precious Jewels. I am inseparable from the Three Precious Jewels. I rely on the strength of the Three Precious Jewels. And I am that. HUNG, I offer all of my virtue and merit, all the good I have ever accomplished in the past, present, and future, for the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings, every breath.

To walk past poor people, different colored people, people of different religions, and breathe in their suffering, breathe it in, really breathe it in. Hold your place, hold the line. Hold your place as a representative of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on this earth with confidence, vajra courage. Then breathe out to them all of the virtue and merit that you have accomplished in the three times. Every breath of your life. It’s very, very hard to do at first because you get a little obsessive. OM-AH-HUNG, OM-AH-HUNG. People that have practiced watching the breath realize that once you start watching the breath, the breath starts acting weird. But little by little, you practice and you get through that. It becomes a very natural, sincere and very deep intention. Freely, I take on. Spontaneously, I abide naturally. Freely, I offer what I have. In a way, you become like a circle, inseparable from all that is, inseparable from others. You have the sense, eventually, of breathing for them, of inhaling and exhaling for them, of carrying them, of being completely inseparable from them. In that meditation, you find yourself just singing, ‘I love you.’. Is it okay for a Buddhist to say something, oh I don’t know, gushy? Yes it is. Because although the Buddha used different words, like compassion, in the west we are more familiar with the word ‘love.’ And so, to hold ‘all that is’ within you and from that place of mystical awareness, instead of painting a picture, ‘I love you,’or an affirmation, ‘I love you,’ to know from the depth of your being, ’I love you,’ it will change your life. And it will change our community if we begin to practice in that way.

Here we are asking for recognition. Not just saying the words. Not just doing the practice. But recognition. This is a different step. If we are going to be potent in our spiritual lives, and if Buddhism is going to be a potent force in this world, that’s where it has to start. And the great thing about spiritual practice is that there is no time better to start it than right this minute. I’d like to invite you to participate in that.

Now you know my everlasting practice. This is what I do all the time, because my teacher told me to, and I wish to repay his kindness. So I’m doing that all the time. I also find that when I meditate in a mystical way, and experience, accept and awaken to the inseparability and non-duality of all that lives—the sameness, the equality of all that lives—I’m always inspired, because there’s nothing else but to offer all that I have—my feet, my legs, my torso, my arms, my neck, my head, everything—for the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings. This is how to be moved by your practice, to be deep in your practice. This is why you’re wearing the robes, because you are ministers. It’s hard for us to understand because of the cultural change, but you are ministers. Make circumambulation around the Stupa. Pray to Guru Rinpoche as sincerely as you can that this pact that you have made is sealed. Pray that you will accomplish this. Pray that you will be a spiritual voice in a world that is longing to hear such a voice.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved


Astrology for 3/21/2015

3/21/2015 Saturday by Norma

If your life isn’t rocketing along at the speed of light, get moving! Activity of every sort is favored; whatever you’re doing, do with all your heart. The forcefulness of the times allows you to push through obstacles that were impenetrable in the past. Martial energy is highlighted, for you and for others. Be prepared to uphold your position wherever you go. If you live in a dangerous area, be careful; don’t go out unless you’re prepared for what’s there. Beware of me-centered thinking.
Grand daughter said, “You have a cute notebook, why don’t I have one too?” (Hint, hint.) It’s a happy, boisterous time; people dancing on tables, shooting off rockets, etc. And a great time to shop.

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!

Inescapable Cause and Effect: The Importance of Buddhist Teaching


The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Inescapable Cause and Effect”

Each of us has really difficult karma, tremendous obstacles, and each of us also has the karma for tremendous bliss. We cannot ripen them all in one lifetime. However, when one leaves this lifetime it is up for grabs what ripens in the next incarnation; and there are many factors that are a catalyst for the ripening in the next incarnation. Some of them are the condition under which you die;  the thoughts that are in your mind as you die; the mind state that you have as you die; the ability to be able to negotiate the consciousness after the death state; the ability to remain aware, to not faint, to remain aware and with it during the after-death state, which almost no one has. The desire that you have experienced in this lifetime will act as a catalyst to ripen the events for the next lifetime. Everything that you have done in this lifetime will act as a catalyst to ripen the events for the next lifetime and in all future lifetimes. So according to the Buddha’s teachings, it is not necessarily a linear progression in that it is not possible to account for all the ripening karma in the course of one lifetime, and even in the course of the next lifetime and the next lifetime.

So you can actually be reborn under any circumstances. This is one of the main faults of cyclic existence. Even though we have a circumstance here that seems relatively bearable in that we are not very hungry, we are not very ugly, we are not very sick, and we are okay, still we will experience death in order to take rebirth at another time. Not knowing what the conditions of that rebirth will be can be considered an unbearable circumstance. I want to know where I am going. I find it unbearable to think that I wouldn’t know where my next incarnation would be: To not have the option to prepare for the next incarnation; to not be able to know that I would not be reborn in some other life form that is offensive to me or that is ugly to me or is not at all pleasing to me; or to be reborn as a human being where I would experience intense suffering. These things I find not bearable. So if we understand that cyclic existence is structured in that way, or seems to occur in that way, we might find that even the idea that we might take rebirth becomes something that we can use as a motivation to practice.

The thing about cyclic existence is that it is unpredictable. You must know this by now; and this should give you a clue as to how we hide these things from ourselves. But I know that you know this by now because all of you have had experiences, I have certainly, where, , things will be going along just fine in a way that looks like everything is under control and it looks as though you have what you need. You have the relationships that you need, the money that you need; you are doing okay. It looks like things are progressing nicely. And then suddenly something will hit you right out of the blue, whether it is a terrible mood or whether it is a circumstance or whether it is a death, somebody that you know, or a loss of some kind, some experience that will seem as though it came from nowhere. And if only this hadn’t happened everything would be just fine. We have at least a million of, ‘Oh, if this only hadn’t happened,’ in our lives and we don’t see where they come from. And so cyclic existence is extremely unpredictable and there are always things that can ripen in an instant way and bring about change that is unbearable to us.

Another fault of cyclic existence is that there is nothing in cyclic existence that brings about the end of cyclic existence. That is hard to understand. And if you examine it yourself, you will find that you think that if you just keep playing along with it eventually it will work itself out. We think that if we just kind of live through our lives it will just sort of guide its way through or naturally flow in such a way that we will reach a threshold of wisdom, and suddenly all of our problems will be solved. This is Western thought. This is what we are brought up to believe. We are taught, however, by the Buddha, who has experienced both cyclic existence and also the awakening called supreme enlightenment, that this is not true. There is nothing inherent in cyclic existence that will bring about its end. Cyclic existence is simply that, cyclic.

In cyclic existence there are the root causes such as the belief in self nature as being inherently real and the clinging to ego that bring the perception of self and other and the constant compulsion to reinforce the perception of self and other, that bring about desire. And desire is the root cause of all suffering. But from those root causes are begun the next level of root causes which are hatred, greed and ignorance. And hatred, greed and ignorance, we constantly experience to some degree or another. We constantly need to reinforce ourselves by putting down someone else or experiencing a negative feeling toward someone else. We need to judge something in some way in order to understand our own nature. We constantly have the experience of not realizing the profound nature of enlightenment or the nature of primordial wisdom, and that we call ignorance. We constantly experience greed and we constantly need to define ourselves by what we have. We constantly need that and from these points come the other forms that continue cause and effect relationships, continually experiencing one cause begetting an effect, begetting another cause and begetting an effect. We experience that constantly and consistently. According to the Buddha’s teaching, whenever we experience a moment of hatred or whenever we experience a moment of anger…. Anger. Who among you has not experienced anger? How many times a day?  According to the Buddha’s teaching, even when we experience even a moment of anger it has within it the potential for worlds of karmic interaction.

One cause continually creates, always and always. There is never any exception. Cause will create effect. There is no cause that does not create effect; and effect will actually act as another cause. If someone, for instance, strikes you, that must have a cause. You may not know what the cause for that is, but it didn’t just happen. It has a cause. And if you get angry when that person strikes you, then that continues and that is an effect from the striking, but it is also another cause and it will begin new circumstances. This relationship of cause and effect constantly perpetuating itself is called interdependent origination. It is such an interdependence it is almost like the weaving of a fabric; and cyclic existence is actually made of this fabric that is woven together, a constant cause and effect. There is no circumstance within cyclic existence that brings about the end of cyclic existence.

The exception to that—it isn’t really an exception—is that within cyclic existence one can begin to strive to purify the mind. One can begin to strive to practice in such a way that one’s own pure nature is realized. One can begin, very importantly, to accomplish compassionate activity to purify the mind through kindness, to begin to experience loving kindness and compassion. And through that, cause and effect will happen so that one can meet a pure path; and a pure path is the means by which one can exit cyclic existence. There is nothing within cyclic existence itself that will naturally begin the end of cyclic existence, that will actually bring about the end of cyclic existence. But in fact one can actually begin to purify the mind in such a way that you can meet with a pure path. And the pure path is actually considered an emanation, the miraculous intention of the Buddha, or the mind of enlightenment. It intersects with cyclic existence in such a way that one can practice this pure path, and having practiced this pure path can thereby exit cyclic existence and accomplish enlightenment.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved


Astrology for 3/20/2015

3/20/2015 Friday by Norma

Quick action is excellent and well-timed: run to the store, buy what you need and discover there’s a shortage of that product two days later. A change of direction occurs today so wrap up old stuff and be open to the new. Self-pity is a slight problem, for you and for others. Be prepared to listen; express sympathy and know that it will pass. As the day progresses, dominant people enter the picture and a strong response is necessary. It’s surprisingly fun after the inward activity, to be charging around making things happen. Try to fit some exercise into the day, as you’ll get cranky if you don’t.
Do your best to include others in your plans, mindful of the strong emphasis on “me, what I want.” Lao Tsu said, “Fail to honor people and they fail to honor you.” Honor people by taking their wishes into consideration. What’s good today? Shopping! Love, happiness and relaxation after a hard day of work and accomplishment.

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!

You’ve Got the Power to Make a Better World

The following is a video teaching recorded live at Kunzang Palyul Choling:

Video streaming by Ustream

Astrology for 3/19/2015

3/19/2015 Thursday by Norma

The quieter and more thoughtful you are today, the better. The urge to run around is powerful, but true progress lies in health measures, quiet contemplation, artistic creativity and behind-the-scenes activity. People involved in film, maritime or aquatic ventures, and all medical pursuits are in their element. What you visualize or imagine is now possible for today and for the future. At the same time criminal activity is highlighted, as well as all forms of escapism; don’t fall for it, or if you do get away fast. Lock your doors and don’t speak to strangers who are selling things or “need help.” ( They will help themselves to your wallet). An English proverb says, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” What’s good today? Stable love relationships, sensitive interactions with people, swimming, movie-going and healing.

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 Great Mother

Dornogov -- Shambhala -- First Anniversary -- Old Woman in Purple Worshiping Texts -- WS

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Dakini Workshop

According to the Buddha’s teachings the great expanse of unborn voidness is the great mother, or the spirit of truth.  All potential and all potency, all movement and all display arise from the unborn sphere of truth.  According to the Buddha’s teachings, all display, all movement, all potency and all emanation, and in fact, all phenomena of any kind not only arise from the unborn sphere of truth but are inseparable from emptiness, are the same taste as emptiness and therefore are the same nature as emptiness.  We should meditate in that way.

The great foundation, the ground, the great basis is the unborn and yet spontaneously complete sphere of truth.  Everything that can be seen, touched, felt, tasted, smelled, rises from the sphere of truth.  Therefore all conclusions drawn from any such observance also arise from the sphere of truth.  The basis of every thought, of every feeling, of every sensation is the same essence as the unborn sphere of truth – inseparable, indistinguishable.  Therefore it is undeniable that all phenomena are empty of self-nature.  We should meditate like that.

Therefore, when we take refuge, we take refuge in the great mother.  For those of us that practice the path, in order to achieve supreme realization, practice to achieve that view.  When we take refuge, we take refuge in the understanding that the basis of that refuge is the seed nature, the Buddha nature, which is inseparable from and arises indistinguishable from the unborn sphere of truth.  We should meditate like that.

We take refuge on the basis that the ground nature is the Buddha nature.  We take refuge as well in the path, which is the display of that foundational nature and we take refuge as well in the outcome, or the fruition, which is enlightenment itself.  Although we hold these concepts in our mind as distinguishable concepts they are in fact indistinguishable and inseparable from, and the same as, the foundational nature.

Knowing these things to be true, we can try to understand the many ways in which our practice occurs.  Our practice occurs through a certain systematic representation of enlightened images. Most of you recognize this systematic representation as being primarily the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and then, in a more inward way, the Lama, the Yidam (meditational deity), the Khandro and the Dharmapalas.  And of course, in the most secret way, we understand the ultimate objects to be the channels, winds and fluids that are the displays of our own enlightened nature.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 3/18/2015

3/18/2015 Wednesday by Norma

Pull in as far as possible today. It’s a tender time, and it’s important to think and feel your way through issues before taking action. Medical matters are being handled, though an early fear comes your way: relax, your issue will end well. Conversations and words hold special power today. Listen to what is said, and also listen to the subtext beneath the words. If the two differ, go with the subtext. Anonymous said, “We are all reading each other’s minds and pretending that we aren’t.” This has special significance today; beware of a smiling individual with a hidden agenda. Scammers are running amok; don’t be too trusting. Elsewhere, love is in bloom, artists are creating, and water is an important element of the day. Ignore the urge to “GO!” Instead, relax and enjoy the day.

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 Suffering of Cyclic Existence


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

So this is not particularly a pleasant subject.  Every part of you will resist talking about it; every part of you will resist internalizing it. But at this point you have to exert a little discipline. You have to begin to use discipline by examining, really, whether or not the things that you have done to attain happiness have ever really lasted. You should examine whether positive thinking or any of the things that you have done, or falling in love, the things that have made us happy, whether the happiness has carried through into the rest of our lives, and whether it has lasted for our whole lives so far. You can really look at it that way. And then maybe from that point of view, you may be able to gradually introduce yourself or discipline yourself into thinking about the faults of cyclic existence.

The faults of cyclic existence are obvious in some ways. According to the Buddha’s teaching everything in cyclic existence, every experience—life, death, joy, pain, happiness, unhappiness, poverty and wealth, having and not having, all the different experiences that we experience—all of them are impermanent no matter what the particular experience that you have is. Whether it is blissful and wonderful; whether, as in the Breck commercial, you are experiencing one of those love affairs where you bound across the field at each other every day, and it is always sunny and flowers in the field; and you catch each other rapturously in each other’s arms and smouchy, smouchy and all that kind of stuff. Even that is impermanent. Especially that is impermanent. That is most certainly impermanent, even if you are extremely beautiful, so beautiful that you could remain happy if you just got up and looked at yourself in the mirror because you are so beautiful. There are some people who are that beautiful. I haven’t met too many and I am not saying whether anybody here is that beautiful. But anyway there are people who are that beautiful, that all you have to do is look at yourself and you just go ahhhh!  Even that is impermanent. Especially that is impermanent. And defying the law of Estee Lauder, eventually it will go away.

The joy of having children: It is such an incredibly joyful experience to know that you can have a child, and to have a child sleeping peacefully in your arms and looking up at you with those beautiful little eyes, and tiny little rosebud mouths with a little trickle of milk coming down the side. So blissful. And then they become teenagers. That is impermanent. All of the things that you can experience… There is my teenage son over there. I am saying this for his sake. All of these things are very blissful and very wonderful, but extremely impermanent. Also suffering is extremely impermanent. ‘This too shall pass’ philosophy works. It works because everything is impermanent. It also works for happiness. That is the problem. Both the happiness and the suffering are impermanent.

Any pain that you feel, any suffering that you feel, any longing that you feel, even lifelong poverty is impermanent, because at the end of that life of poverty one will die. And after dying maybe you will be reborn rich. Who knows?  But your particular circumstance, whatever it is, is always impermanent. That is the only thing that is consistent about cyclic existence, impermanence. According to the Buddha’s teaching.

Each of the six realms of cyclic existence… (If you are interested in hearing what those realms are you can purchase tapes that we recorded here. There was a workshop recently given in which I described the six realms of cyclic existence according to the Buddha’s teachings.)   Anyway, in each of the six realms, there is a particular kind of suffering that is associated with that realm; and it has to do with the particular karma that it takes to be reborn in that realm. Each of these realms is different and unique, and they all have impermanence in common. They all have their cyclic nature in common. They arise from cause and effect and the cause and effect is continual and begets the next cause and effect. One begets the other. It is a constant begetting of more and more cause and effect. So they have that in common. But each particular realm has its own form of discomfort and suffering.

According to the Buddha’s teaching, you experience rebirth because of desire. Because of desire you are born into one of the six realms. Rebirth is experienced because of desire due to the belief in self-nature being inherently real. Now that is Buddhist lingo for ego. Actually due to the grasping of ego as being inherently solid, due to that grasping and perceiving phenomena as being external because of that grasping to ego as being inherently real, due to the belief in the division or distinction between self and other because of the belief in ego as being inherently real, due to that kind of faulty perception, one revolves in an illusory state, a state that seems to us very, very real. And that illusory state is cyclic existence.

Due to the desire that is associated with the belief in self-nature as being inherently real, we continually achieve or experience rebirth. According to the Buddha’s teaching, it is not necessarily a linear experience. We comfort ourselves with a very current idea that one progresses in a linear way. You should understand that this is a very new philosophy. This is not what the older religions, the ones that are more established, the ones that actually give the accomplishment of enlightenment, necessarily teach. Any form of Buddhism that has appeared in the world has taught that one experiences rebirth because of the karma of the mind and not necessarily in a linear progression. The idea of linear progression is new. If you think that is the only way in which birth is achieved, you should at least give yourself the opportunity of examining some alternative philosophies. The new idea associated with linear progression seems to be: Now that I am a human being, I will always be a human being or better; that I have come to this point and this is the level that I am at and I will always be at that point or better. So I am doing good. I am okay.

This is faulty reasoning. You are not taking into account that you have lived countless lifetimes. Countless lifetimes. You can’t name the time when it started. We are talking about aeons and aeons of cyclic existence. Such a long time that you have experienced rebirth that you have had many, many different lifetimes in many, many different forms. It is impossible to experience the ripening of all of your karmic causes, of all of the karma that you have accumulated over a period of time. It is impossible to experience all of those ripenings in one lifetime. Impossible. It is simply not dense enough. It is not possible. It would be like trying to put an ocean full of cause and effect relationships into a cup. It is simply not possible. So that being the case, you have lots and lots of latent karmic causes that have not ripened and cannot ripen, will not ripen, in this lifetime. So according to that thinking, all of us actually have the karma for being reborn in the lowest, hellish realm. And we also, all of us, have the karma for being reborn in the highest god realms.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 3/17/2015

3/17/2015 Tuesday by Norma

A snappy intuitive action moves things forward, and women are especially helpful. Groups and friends have your back these days, give them anything they want! A disruptive force that has engendered problems and setbacks for several years is tiptoeing out of the picture, but give it time to leave before bursting into cheers. Hurt feelings linger in the air; do nothing and they will dissipate. Toni Morrison said, “When something that has died comes back to life, it hurts.” Something is indeed coming back to life. This is a great day to rest, relax and go shopping. Things you buy today will give you pleasure for years to come.

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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