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About Self

About Self

A teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Vow of Love Series

What is the root cause that goes underneath and beyond the thinking and reckoning of the human mind? What is so ancient that it has existed for time out of mind, even before you could think? What is so old that you […]

Astrology for 10/4/2015

10/4/2015 Sunday by Norma

People feel moody and petulant, especially with those who are trying to please them; the nicer you are the crankier they get. Pass out creative jobs or detail-oriented work and watch the smiles! (“Please help me assemble a chair, collate papers, prepare dinner.”) Sitting around doesn’t cut it today, get busy! […]

Go Deeper

Go Deeper

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the The Vow of Love series

In Buddhism, we explore the idea of suffering first. In that regard, Buddhism has been given a bad rap here in America. Many of the New Age philosophies support the idea that one should think only positive thoughts, […]

Astrology for 10/3/2015

10/3/2015 Saturday by Norma

Talk! Everybody has something to say about everything and the news is generally cheerful. This is the right day to ask for a favor or propose a partnership- provided you considered it in the past. Smile at everyone you see; your smile can change a life and go a long way […]

Cars, Sunrays, and Choicelessness

An excerpt from a teaching called Intimacy with the Path by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

The path of Buddhadharma can only bring about the result that is consistent with and the same as, the seed or its essence.  We’re looking at essence, we’re looking at movement and we’re looking at result.  Try to imagine how we see things ordinarily.  When we are doing what seems right, moving through linear time, isn’t it the case where if something happens to you—let’s say, your car breaks down—that’s it.  The car broke down.  It’s out there. It’s isolated.  It has no connection with anything else.  Did the car break down because you forgot to put oil into it?  No, no.  It just broke down.  Did the car break down because you never gave it a checkup or a tune up?  No, no, no.  It just broke down.  It just happened that way.  Did the car stop because it had no gas in it?  No, no.  It just stopped.  It’s that kind of thing.  When we see events in our lives, we see them like that.  They happen out there.

Now as time passes, often there are these connecting things that happen to the events in our lives.  Maybe a year after the car broke down, several things might have happened.  You might have learned something about how to take care of a car.  Let’s say your husband or wife yelled at you for not taking care of the car and you learned because they yelled real, real loud!  Or, let’s say a year after the car broke down, a series of events happened in which you were challenged, and you put in some overtime so that you could make some more money so you could get a new car.  And so, a couple of years down the road, when you think about the day that car broke down, it’s no longer an isolated situation.  The car didn’t just break down!  It didn’t just happen.  There is meaning and importance that is somehow connected with all of that.

You can see a movement from even before the car broke down, because by that time you have enough distance from the chaos of your mind to be willing to look at things that you weren’t looking at before.  You can see that the car broke down, but you also know, in hindsight that in fact you didn’t take care of the car very well.  But now you see this as a total learning process.  It isn’t just that the car broke and you’re living with that horrible reality.  You’re not seeing this isolated, neurotic situation.  You’re seeing a trend, a movement.  You didn’t know how to take care of the car.  You didn’t do such a good job.  The car broke down.  Certain events happened by which you became naturally empowered to get another car, but that natural empowerment only happened because your first car disappeared.  It broke.

So now, in retrospect, you’re seeing this slow, beautiful movement, which started with your incompetence and led to your empowerment.  In retrospect, you can see the wholeness of it.  Doesn’t that give you a clue as to how we think?

We have this kind of an ignorance that plagues us, a kind of short-sightedness.  It’s not being able to understand whole pictures or abstract conceptualizations or how to see around things.  I don’t know how better to describe it.  So we only see something right in front of us and this is a kind of manic little posture we put ourselves in.

The path is like that also.  From the point of view of Buddhahood, one can see the primordial basis, the ground, which is uncontrived, beginningless, endless, unfounded and perfectly complete – Buddha nature, the primordial wisdom state.  We see that.  We see a dance or a movement, which is very much like having the same relationship with the ground as the rays of the sun have with the sun.  You can’t really say where the sun ends and the rays begin.  There’s no real way to say that.  There’s only a matter of opinion as to where one ends and the other begins.  And so we understand that sun’s rays are the same reality as the sun itself.

In the same way, the BuddhaDharma is understood as this radiance or display, which is inseparable from the source.  You can’t have sunlight without the sun.  It doesn’t exist.  They are married in the most intimate fashion.  There’s no separation.  This is seen from the point of view of Buddhahood.  We see the primordial wisdom state.  We see display as being inseparable from the natural resting state and we see this from the point of view of result, which is completely dependent on and based on the ground, the primordial wisdom state.  In other words, if we did not have this primordial wisdom state, which is Buddhahood, there could be no result of Buddhahood.  How would you accomplish it?  You couldn’t build it out of sticks and stones.  There would be no result.

So from the point of view of Buddhahood, this is seen as a three-legged stool or something that has three facets that are completely inseparable from one another.  The idea of whether or not one should practice, of whether one should be spiritual today or not, the idea of becoming stagnant on the path would not be possible if we didn’t see the path as being something separate from us in such an essential way that it becomes something we either walk on or put on.  Should one approach this particular problem in a spiritual way or do we simply let ourselves get away with it?

If we were to understand something of our own primordial nature, if we were to understand that the method is not separate from the result, then the hunger that we feel that brings us to the path would also sustain us.  There is a hunger that brings us to the path.  Something that makes us reach out, throughout the course of our lives. There is some kind of urging towards a natural, open, awakened state of wisdom and poise, a state that is free of the components of suffering.  We know that there is something.  We can feel it.  There is a natural urge and yet, even with all that urging and all that crying out in our hearts which we all do in some way or another, why is it that we are not able to sustain ourselves on the path?

What I’m describing is a very strong and powerful need to have our understanding of our spiritual life be so natural, so connected, so married, with every primal impulse that we have towards spiritual growth that we move past the point of making a choice.  That’s where you want to go on the spiritual path.  You want to get past the point of needing to make that choice again and again, because so long as you have to re-choose and reaffirm your path, you’re going somewhere that isn’t you.  You’re doing something you feel is separate from your nature.  You’re doing something still that is unnatural and so all these dilemmas come into play.

We become impotent upon the path then and we get to the point where we need to be inspired on a regular basis, because when you’re traveling a journey that is separate from you, inspiration is necessary.  On the other hand, do you need to be inspired to continue living, generally speaking?  Do you need to be inspired to take your next breath?  It’s true that sometimes we can fall into a confusion that is so thick and so deep that we don’t even understand whether we want to live anymore.  That happens.  There are people that commit suicide, but generally speaking most of us understand intuitively that life itself is simply a display of our nature.  On some level we’re beginning to understand that in order to continue living we’ve got to engage in the method of breathing and moving through our lives.

If we could only do that with the path, if it could be seen as natural for us and as inseparable from us as our own breath, then practicing the Dharma would be much more potent, much more natural for us, much easier.  Not easier in that you’d practice it in a schlocky way, or you would practice it without really caring how well you do.   Easy in the sense that it becomes as natural as scratching an itch or as natural as the intuitive knowledge that if you want to get out of bed in the morning you’ve got to swing your legs over the edge. It’s such a natural movement.

But that’s not how we practice Dharma.  We practice Dharma like it’s a big issue, something we have to do that is not us, a girdle that we have to put on, a thing that we have to suffer through, a ritual that we have to impress somebody with, something we have to set aside time for.  And ultimately, we lose touch with and have no sense of what it actually is to to live in spirit, to live a sacred life.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo,

Astrology for 9/29/2015

9/29/2015 Tuesday by Norma

Wake up happy today and start the day with a smile on your face! A new sense of energetic purpose is all-pervasive. The tasks at hand haven’t changed but a hard-charging willingness makes life easier to navigate. Your enthusiasm and positivity bring your game to a new level. Mr. Rogers said, “If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of.” Individual initiative elevates something that had fallen and gets it going again. Hard work is fun, partnership is expanding, and a move in the right direction is stabilizing. Yes you’re dealing with matters from the past and yes certain avenues are blocked, but the current energy makes it possible to find a different route, one that has been there all along unnoticed.

The daily astrology post affects everyone differently, based on individual horoscopes. Look to see where this message resonates in your life.

Who’s the Captain of Your Ship?

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Essence of Devotion”

The reasons for practice of refuge are known if you understand anything about the horror of cyclic existence.  You look outside and see the suffering.  You look at the way you are conducting yourself and the way your life is set up and the cause and effect relationships you’ve got going here, and you realize it’s just dumb, fruitless, pointless.  There is no future in this.  It’s a dead end.  At that point the mind turns.  That turning is the first step of practicing refuge.  What does it turn toward?  What does it actually turn toward?

Again, you’ve just looked out the window and you’ve looked at yourself, and the first realization is something like, “I don’t know what to do now.  I don’t really know what to do.  I know that something is terribly wrong, but I don’t know how to get out of this.  I don’t know how to leave the party.”  There is a piece of you that understands that you must leave the party.  Part of you still wants to be there.  Part of you likes to play.  Part of you likes to dress up.  Part of you likes to be unconscious of the eventuality of your own discomfort—suffering, death, old age, those things—and of the suffering of others.  We want to be kind of barefoot and ignorant.  Part of us wants that sleep, but another part of us, a stronger part of us, a more certain part of us, understands, “…not enough.  It is not enough.  I’m hungry.  They are hungry.  This is stupid.”  Part of us gets that.

That first turning is the first indication, the first movement, that is required in practicing refuge.  We have to stay kind of absorbed in that turning.  That turning should be practiced every day.  These very thoughts, these very leaving the party thoughts, should be practiced every day.  That’s called turning the mind toward Dharma.

Now we have to look for a way out.  How to leave the party?  The clue is, once again, the first thing we’ve noticed—the suffering and the trickiness and the seductiveness of samsaric existence, or the cycle of death and rebirth.  The cycle of death and rebirth must be addressed.  That’s where the suffering is.  How do we get out of that?  We look at the others suffering.  We look at ourselves suffering.  We look at how foolish we can be and we think, “What is the method?”

Ah ha!  That is the answer!  We need a method.  The answer to that is to look toward those who have actually found the way out of cyclic existence.  In other words, if you want to cross an ocean (and we’re talking about the ocean of suffering, the ocean of death and rebirth, the ocean of samsaric existence),,if you want to cross the ocean of suffering, of course you want to look for a boat.  The boat is the method, isn’t it?  The boat is the method.  Well, wouldn’t you look for a boat?  You’re about to cross an ocean.  There are no planes.  We don’t have planes.  You want to look for a boat, right?  You’re not going to try to swim it, are you?  Swimming it is like saying, “I’d like to be spiritual so I’m just going to be spiritual in my own way and I’ll do my own thing because I’m a really cool guy and I know how to do my own thing.” That’s like saying, “Oh great!  I’m going to cross the ocean of suffering.  Here I go!”  Dive in.  How long do you think you’re going to last?  A little while, but not very long.  Not very long, and the problem with that method is that you often don’t even realize when you’re drowning.

So what we need to do is we need to look for a boat.  No, not a boat. We need to look for a ship.  In fact, if you’re like me, you’re practical and you really want to protect your hide.  You do not wish to cross the ocean of suffering in a rowboat, something weak and puny.  Neither do you wish to cross the ocean of suffering in a boat that has not been proven seaworthy—a very important fact, really an important fact.  If I were to cross an ocean I would want to know that the boat I am in has crossed an ocean many times and is in good repair. And it’s pure, just in the way it was when it was originally capable of crossing an ocean.  We want to know that it’s made it back and forth.  This is proven.  We know we can make it.  Also, if you knew that you were crossing an ocean of suffering with, let’s say, the engineer of the boat, or, let’s say, the guy that swabs the decks…  Wouldn’t you be a little nervous?  I’d be real nervous!  I want to cross the ocean of suffering with the most experienced captain, the one who has crossed the ocean of suffering many times successfully, and returned for me.  That’s who I want to cross with.  I want the big ship.  I want the best ship.  I want to know that the captain has crossed.

So in this way we look for the most excellent method, that has proven again and again and again, to produce enlightenment, to produce realization.  Not an imaginary enlightenment or realization but the one with appropriate signs, the signs that are repeatable, reportable and visible.  Such as the signs that our teachers give us at the times of their death, proof of their realization, and even the signs they give us in their activities during the time of their life.  Only enlightened minds can provide enlightened compassionate results.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved


Astrology for 9/28/2015

9/28/2015 Monday by Norma

People clamor for their rights and expect you to do something to help them! But what? Understanding is in order today and the words you speak will have far-reaching ramifications. Be as generous as possible in your evaluation of others, and think carefully before making a request of your own. Pat Riley said, “Don’t let other people tell you what you want.” What do you want, by the way? This is the big question today. A complex blockage is taking place and the solution to everything is discussion, compassion and sympathy. You may not be able to solve everyone’s problem, but you can give a snack, a smile and good wishes.

The daily astrology post affects people differently, based on where it fall in individual horoscopes. Look to see where this message affects your life!

Astrology for 9/27/2015

9/27/2015 Sunday by Norma

The Pisces moon brings lazy, sleepy times early today so have no expectation of vigorous activity. You’ll notice the minute the sign change occurs, suddenly you’re on your feet proclaiming, “Let’s get this show on the road!” It’s the perfect moment to put your plan into action, and not before. Step aside if someone else is moving fast. Today is a day of opposites. You must rest and take action, work and dream, go it alone and accommodate a partner, be high and be low. Move back and forth between modes all day for best result. David Mahmet said, “Before you can steal fire from the Gods you gotta be able to get coffee for the director.” Be aware that chatterboxes are blowing off steam from a stressful time and listen, don’t say anything, just listen! What’s good today? Confidence in yourself, love that puts a smile on your face and the awareness that you are steadily growing into an excellent position. Progress is being made.

the Astrology post affets people differently, based on where it falls in individual horoscopes. Look to see where this message impacts your life!

Eat the Feast

An excerpt from a teaching called Vajrayana’s Final Hour by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

How amazing it is to have everything line up: to come to the path, to have a teacher that you can relate to, a teacher who can give you the path and provide the necessary components of the path and its blessings; to have a path that can bring the auspicious result.

We would all be fools not to take full advantage. In this time when it is almost too late, this is the time when we should take advantage. There is no better time than this, particularly to meet with this Vajrayana path which has some specific element that is meant for this time.

How many times have you found yourself during the course of your life being faced with some bountiful feast and you take the posture of being a peasant who takes only the crumbs of that feast? You missed out because you did not know how to take hold. You found yourself dancing on the sidelines, holding back.  Isn’t that what’s happening now? Aren’t we in the midst of a bountiful feast, holding a precious jewel that takes endless lifetimes to find, and we just don’t know what to do. We sort of look around. We can’t help ourselves.

So take hold of it, use it. You’re standing at the threshold of the door of liberation, looking at the very mind of liberation, the face of Guru Rinpoche. Every day Guru Rinpoche is touching your life; Lord Buddha is touching your life. That Nature is revealed to you, but you cannot see it because you have the habit of being a beggar at a feast. You have to stop that now. Sit at the table like the king or queen that you are and eat the feast. It doesn’t get any better than this, or any easier. Take advantage of it.

When I say something like this to you it is with concern for the well-being of sentient beings, and for you. Accomplish ultimate compassion by becoming Bodhisattvas or Buddhas so that you can return again and again for the others. I and other lamas cannot find the way to speak to the others that do not have the karma to hear about the Path. But someday you will. In some future life those that you have karma with will come to that moment and you will be their only hope. They will have hopes of you. Will you be ready, or will you have missed the brass ring? I’m trying to make you hear this for their sake. Begin now before it’s too late.

Astrology for 9/26/2015

9/26/2015 Saturday by Norma

Excellent news; a slow moving person has had a change of heart and is willing to participate-at a glacial pace, of course. Speed comes with time, so be patient. Re-doing is the theme nowadays be a good sport about backtracking as old matters cycle around (again!) for review. Be aware that people feel sorry for themselves and consider themselves victimized by the circumstances they face. Understand this and you’ll meet complaints with a tolerant attitude, misunderstand-do a bit of finger-pointing-and you’ll be in trouble. Gretta Palmer said, “Happiness is a by-product of an effort to make someone else happy.” Dreams are powerful, pay attention to them and look for recurring themes. Conversation, discussion, airing of concerns does a world of good. If all you do is listen, you’ve done a your good deed today! Health matters improve, work is satisfying and invigorating, and a new sense of partnership is in the air.

The daily astrology post affects people differently, based on where it falls in individual horoscopes.Look to see where this message impacts your life!

Do What Makes Sense

An excerpt from a teaching called True Motivation for Kindness by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Let’s take a look at compassion. The Buddha teaches us that in cyclic existence suffering is all-pervasive and that there is one thing we have in common: we all equally wish to be happy. We are all working so hard to be happy.

The Buddha teaches us as well, that in our nature we are the same. Every sentient being that you see has within them the Buddha seed or the potential to be Buddha. Many have attained Buddhahood. And when you consider that each one of us has that same innate potential, you must follow logically and understand that, at some point, each one of us will be a Buddha. And at that point, who is to say who or what is better than any other? How interesting!

According to the Buddha, we all weigh the same in terms of importance, significance and value. That means men and women are the same, blacks and whites are the same, rich and poor are the same, people of different nationalities, different religions are the same, caterpillars and humans are the same. Yes! They all have the same nature. That’s a prejudice you don’t want to give up, isn’t it? But, according to the Buddha, all sentient beings are equal, and we are especially equal in that all wish to attain happiness.

Now, imagine what it would accomplish to think only of our own happiness. Not only are we the same, but we are, in our nature, indistinguishable from one another. If we were to look at each other from the enlightened perspective, we could not determine where it is that you end and I begin. These lines are drawn up by ignorant minds. In truth, Buddha nature is all-pervasive. So it doesn’t pay to think of my benefit and not yours. What would I accomplish? Only the reinforcement of my ego. I would tell myself that I am somebody important and separate. It would not accomplish enlightenment.

Logically, the Buddha tells us we should work endlessly for the benefit of all sentient beings until they are free of suffering. Logic tells me that there are many more of you than there are of me, that collectively you weigh more than I do. Therefore, I should dedicate my life to your well-being, not to my own. That’s logic. That’s the only thing that makes sense.

Kindness is not such that we’re doing anybody a favor by practicing it. Do you realize that? People will say, “You know, I understand this idea of practicing compassion, but I don’t feel particularly kind. I just don’t have it in me. I’m selfish a lot.” My answer is always the same: “Welcome to the world. Do you think you’re different from anyone else?” We’re all like that. It is this habitual tendency. Where you begin to change this habitual tendency is the intellectual examination of this information and the creation of a new activity pattern based upon it.  When you come to the realization that kindness isn’t a favor you’re doing anyone, or something you do when you want to be a good person, you will understand that kindness is the only thing that makes sense. At this point your habits will begin to change, and little by little you will begin to act in a compassionate manner.

You’ll know you have it when you don’t remember whether you’ve been compassionate or not, when someone says to you, “That was so nice of you, you were so kind” and you can only think, “What else would I have done? That was the only thing to do.”

© copyright Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo all rights reserved

Astrology for 9/25/2015

9/25/2015 Friday by Norma

The God of War has entered the sign of detail and if you aren’t working hard you’ll feel upset, so work! Do not, however, attempt to change the guidelines or laws of a larger entity for your own benefit. (“It’s ok to violate rules or regulations I don’t agree with.”) No, it isn’t. You will be denied, voted down or jailed, so save your energy. Irrational thinking combines with aggression to create a tricky atmosphere today. Avoid trouble if possible. Frank Borman said, “A superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skills.” Elsewhere, a humble worker is carefully constructing a perfect vehicle for success, one step at a time. Look for the person who is quiet, hard-working and dependable. This person will make your dreams come true! What’s good today? Love, sports, children and dressing up as you avoid controversial situations.

The astrology post affects everyone, depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see where this message touches your life..

In the Posture of Honesty

An excerpt from a teaching called the Seven Limb Puja:  Viewing the Guru by Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo on October 18, 1995

We should always be in the posture of confession.  We love confession, don’t we?  It’s so Catholic!  Well, no, we do it differently here.  In Buddhism confession need not be heard by any other person.  When we first got into the teachings about confession, there was a line of people waiting to come to confess to me.  I thought I was going to have to build one of those booths! Now you know that confession need not be done in front of anyone else.  We’re talking about spiritual confession. It need not be done in front of anyone else, but one should always be in the posture of confession.  Why is that so?

First of all, we know that since beginningless time until now when we have received the teachings, we have tried to be happy but we have not known how to be happy.  Isn’t that right?  That means there’s a pretty good chance we have blown it, big time.  And judging from the fact that we are still suffering in samsara, we know that it’s true.  We know that at least 50% of the time, we have committed non-virtuous acts: at least 50% of the time, just by the law of chance.

Suppose you came to see the Guru but you didn’t change your clothes.  And you had shit all over you, really stinky.  You walked through mud and you had mud all over you, and maybe you even shit in your pants.  That’s what we did until we got here.  We just shit in our pants.  We didn’t care.  We didn’t know.  So you=ve got a load, like a kid with a slung-low diaper.  We’re walking in like that!  And we stink and we’re nasty.  If you were going to see Guru Rinpoche, don’t you think you would clean up a bit?  Do you think you might clean up a bit?

Think of confession in the same, exact way.  Think that you’re always in the face of the Guru, that you are always in the presence of that primordial nature.  Yet you know that to simply fake it and put on a quasi-pseudo spiritual face is not going to cut it because you’re not looking at a being, you’re not looking at something samsaric that wouldn’t know the difference.  You are in the presence of the primordial wisdom nature.  All things are revealed.

Being in a posture of confession doesn’t mean that you’re constantly repeating verbal confessions in your head.  That would make you nuts, especially if you’re trying to offer and pay homage at the same time!  But the posture of confession is a little bit different, and here we’re talking about subtleties.  For those of you that love to be black and white, this is going to take some cooking on the back burner for a while.  We’re talking here about a subtleness, a posture of confession.  That means that for the first time in our samsaric lives we are not trying to hide our non-virtue, and play the game of acting spiritual on top of that.  There is a natural to-the-bone honesty of realizing that you are a being wandering lost in samsara, realizing what it took to get that wandering and that lost in samsara, and realizing that that’s what you’re holding here.  With that kind of awareness, there is the profound wish for all such causes of suffering, all such non-virtue, to be purified.  So that would be a posture of confession:  I know that I have engaged in non-virtuous conduct of all kinds.  I have no illusions and I do not try to pretend or shut it down or make nicey-nice with with my superficial face.  I do not pretend that none of this has happened.  I am truly, within the deepest part of my heart, a penitent person.  I am constantly in that posture.  I am realizing that I have performed non-virtue and in the face of the Guru I wish to hold that up as though dewdrops were being held up in the sun.  And that sun has the same capacity that the sun has naturally: that by the light of midday those dewdrops will all be gone — if we don’t hide them under a rock, pretend they don’t exist and put them away somewhere.  Instead, we hold them up in the act of penitence and compassion and honesty. With complete confidence that this non-dual emptiness and luminosity, like the sun, will burn away all such poison.

Rather than being somebody who is doing shuck and jive, trying to dance, trying to pretend that we’re all goody two-shoes, rather than committing that horrible non-virtue, instead, we are in a posture of honesty.  And in that posture of honesty, the heart is relaxed and the mind is opened.  The non-virtue, in that posture, begins to evaporate like the dewdrops do.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

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