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The Emanation of Primordial Wisdom

The following is a teaching given live by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo at Kunzang Palyul Choling in Poolesville, Maryland on May 22, 2016

 

Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo gives a pith teaching on how Primordial Wisdom displays to us. She concludes with stories about the bear that’s tearing up the fence.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo All Rights Reserved

Astrology for 5/26/2016

5/26/2016 Thursday by Norma

Go slowly in the early morning hours as nothing significant occurs until the moon changes signs, after which friends or groups will require your attention. You’ll know it has happened by the zippy action that transpires. Life is fun as an intermediary eases the lack of consensus between two […]

Incense Offering

Incense Offering

The following is a prayer from the Namchö Daily Practice Book from Palyul Ling International:

TSUL TRIM DRI DEN PÖ CHOG DAM PA DI
This pure supreme incense, which bears the scent of pure moral self-discipline,

TING DZIN NGAG DANG CHAG JYAI JYIN LAB KYI
By the blessings of mantra, mudra and samadhi

SANG GYÉ SHING DU PÖ DRI NGED […]

Astrology for 5/25/2016

5/25/2016 Wednesday by Norma

A sensitive conversation sets things right. Avoid brooding today: deal with what’s in front of you, move on and don’t look back. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Life is a great bundle of little things.” A good natured leader is beset by issues on multiple fronts, help if possible and […]

Ten Virtuous Activities

An excerpt from a teaching called How Buddhists Think by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

You should think of the Buddha’s teaching as a philosophy that you can follow according to your capability.  You don’t need to look or act a certain way.  Basically, what you’re learning is cause and effect.  You learn that there are ten virtuous activities that bring about Realization, if they are done frequently and consistently.  These are:  1.) Composition––the creation of prayers or stories which increase others’ faith.  2.) Offering––even a simple butterlamp, offered daily to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha creates causes for Buddhahood at some future time.  3.) Generosity and kindness to others, even at the expense of your own comfort; you are one, and they are many.  4.) Attentiveness to the teachings––sometimes difficult when you want to go outside or fall asleep.  5.) Recitation––of prayers, practices, and mantras.  6.) Memorization––of the teachings and instructions for practice.  7.) Teaching––appropriate to do only when we are ready.  8.) Praying.  9.) Contemplation––of the teachings you receive.  10.) Meditation.

First we receive training about how to perform these activities; then we practice them the best we can.  Some people will spend a whole week contemplating the teaching I’m now giving; others won’t think about it until they come back for another teaching.  But they come back!  And there is virtue in that.

The ball is in your court.  Your progress will depend on how hard you work, how well you take hold of your mind, how much you demand of yourself, how courageous and honest you are, and how much true generosity you develop.  Accordingly, you will pacify the obstacles that keep you from achieving the Awakening to your own primordial Wisdom Nature.

Until you do this, you will wander helplessly in the six realms of cyclic existence.  It would take weeks to give a thorough traditional teaching on these realms, but the purpose here is only to explain how Buddhists think.

 

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

To download the complete teaching, click here and scroll down to How Buddhists Think

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5/21/2016 Saturday by Norma

A happy person is responding to a message you can’t see, be aware of this as you interact with others. Secrets abound. Men are chatterboxes today and women are strangely quiet. Wait it out, you’ll learn in time what’s going on. The tendency to disagree with others is powerful and should be approached tactfully; you may be right, but you may harm a friendship. Mercury and Jupiter remain in good aspect: speak kindly, think big and give others the benefit of the doubt. Edward R. Murrow said, “People say
conversation is a lost art; how often I have wished it were.” Listen patiently and congratulate yourself on your good manners. Oh, you may just learn something too!

The astrology post affects everyone differently, depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this message is reflected in your life today!

The Foundation of Dharma

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Commitment to the Path”

Today I would like to begin to lay the foundation by which we will practice. Even for those of us that have been practicing for some time, if we lose the foundation or if the foundation, like in the analogy of a house, becomes weak or compromised in any way, it’s not long, then, before the house will topple or the house will lean or become unstable.  It’s like that with our practice.  If certain fundamental thoughts are not stable in such a way as to hold up the rest of our practice and support us on the path, then eventually our path, our practice, will decay, decline in some way.

Although practice, like life itself, is often cyclic, sometimes we feel we are in a position to do more practice and other times we are in a position to do less practice.  Still in all, we have to make sure that we’re able to make slow and steady progress. The reason I say slow and steady progress is because oftentimes new students will trip themselves up by trying to go too fast without the depth of understanding.  It’s exactly like building your house on sand.  It’s exactly like that.  We want to go into the neater stuff; we want to go into the cooler stuff.  We want to learn the stuff that makes us look exotic when we practice, but none of us will really be practicing in truth if we don’t have certain foundational ideas and if we don’t constantly review them over time and constantly make them part of our contemplative life.

Of course those thoughts are engineered to turn the mind toward Dharma.  In order to turn the mind toward Dharma, we have to have our eyes opened.  We can’t be lightweights; we can’t be bliss ninnies.  We just can’t say, “Oh, it’s so cool to practice Dharma.  Let’s go on.”  We have to understand why we are practicing Dharma, because Dharma is a path and a lifestyle and a method that one has to use throughout the course of one’s life.  We have to be consistent.  We have to be persistent.  It can’t be the kind of faith that you have only on Sunday mornings or only on liturgical holidays.  It’s a walking-through-your-life kind of thing, and it requires you to make enormous changes. Behavior and ideas that may have been acceptable before will gradually become unacceptable – not in a way that you should be filled with guilt or shame.  It’s not like that.  It’s more like when you really understand the Buddhadharma and you understand what samsaric existence is, and what the display of one’s nature is, it will become more natural to practice the bodhicitta and to give rise to compassion, to caring for all sentient beings.

In order to proceed effectively on this path that challenges us every moment of every day, we have to remain focused, remain mindful in ways we never thought we could or we’d ever have to.  And the reason why again is that Dharma does not simply come from magical thinking.  It does not come from the stars.  It does not just descend upon us on some lucky day for no apparent reason.  Dharma is the awareness of cause and effect relationships.

Now for me, that’s why Dharma makes so much sense.  I know when I first introduced some of the ideas of Dharma to my students, they were, you might say, a little resistant.  They would think things like “You mean, like path?  Like you have to do something every day?  Like you have to change the way you think and the way you act?  I mean, couldn’t we just like get salvation?”  And that’s the idea.  We’ve been raised with the idea that religion is like a condiment on the plate of life.  You know, something to sweeten it up with or salt it up with.  A little oregano on the pasta.

But in fact, we find out that we have to learn something different.  Dharma becomes our heart.  Dharma becomes enthroned on the mind and heart.  And the reason why is that Dharma has to accomplish something that is very breathtaking.  Dharma has to accomplish something that is enormous, that seems almost inconceivable.  It has to take our perception of ordinary samsaric cyclic existence, which is a state of delusion, a state of non-recognition, and it has to transform our capacity to be able to recognize our own innate nature.  Yet, everything about us is geared to function in duality.  Two eyes, two nostrils.  All of our senses are extensions of our ego, so they always work to function in duality.  So how can this thing happen?  We ask ourselves, what in the world, what kind of experience, what kind of event could turn us around to where our perception could become so clear that we could be like the Buddha, awake to our primordial wisdom nature.

Well, what is it that Dharma is supposed to do, exactly, and how does it do it?  The idea is to have a path on Dharma that is exacting and is a method that takes you to a to b to c to d, and also is flexible.  You can go from a to d to m to t.  Dharma is suitable for all sentient beings, because there is some element of Dharma that is compatible with one’s own karma.  So it’s not a general here’s-the-true-label for everybody.  There are teachings that the Buddha gives that are incontrovertible.  They will never change.  They are about the nature of samsaric existence.  Yet the path is individualized.  For instance, I really like to practice Guru Yoga.  That’s my thing.  That’s what I do.  And somebody else might really like to practice Vajrakilaya.  Ultimately it’s the same practice.  One is a peaceful practice, one is a wrathful practice. One is based on deepening the connection with the root guru.  The other is also based on that, and is also based on very actively manifesting one’s compassion.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo All Rights Reserved

 

 

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5/20/2016 Friday by Norma

Someone presents an opposing point of view to yours and it’s a winner. Actually, the combination of the two ideas is the winner. Integrate the new into your strategy and watch your productivity expand. Insist on your way or cave in to somebody else’s way and it’s wasted. This is an important day take what you’ve learned to the boss; you could just provide the open door that’s been missing. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” What’s good today? Shopping, mental expansion, investing and creativity. Continue to avoid discussions that are aggravating, politics and naysayers. Avoid those who say it can’t be done.

The astrology post affects everyone differently, depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this message is reflected in your life!

Don't Wait to Practice: Offering In Everyday Life - YouTube Video

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5/19/2016 Thursday by Norma

Cheerful thinking continues, and a shrewd, intuitive person is putting the good energy to work. You perhaps? Look beneath the surface in every situation today: what is actually going on, behind the scenes, in your environment? You’ll see it if you look, and when you have clarity you’ll know what to do. The ability to establish balance where needed is here, and the new perspective is the key. Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.” This is a great day to invest, invent, to help and make others happy.

The astrology post affects everyone differently, depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this message is reflected in your life today!

Five Demons or Dakinis

From The Spiritual Path:  A Compilation of Teachings by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

How do phenomena express themselves as they do? Each sentient being, within its own nature and even within the form in which it arises, contains an essential seed or drop that is the nature of mind itself. Just as all things emanate from Nature and can be understood as the spontaneous arising of that Nature—all phenomena that you as an individual perceive, including your individuality, can be considered the emanation or activity arising from that same mind-drop or essential seed.

Correct view describes that natural drop as being neither small nor big but both and neither. Since this Nature is indivisible, the only difference must be in perception. Literally everything you see is a reflection of your karma as it formulates itself into the perceptions of the five senses. The more you try to contrive understanding with the five senses, the more you try to “nail down” your perceptions, the more confused your perception will be. Data that are based on a system of logic organized by the five senses—cannot give you true wisdom of the realization of the uncontrived Nature.

Since the five senses will always support the ego, they can be considered demonic in their influence. In their enlightened state, however, they can be considered the five celestial wisdoms: they are the components of the activities and qualities of the Buddha Nature itself. They are the five underlying blissful expanses, completely one with emptiness. They are the celestial opportunities, the celestial messengers by which miraculous activity can enter into the world of samsara in order to benefit beings. They are five goddesses or dakinis even though, used as they are, they are five whores.

Within each of us is blissful mind expanse. All spontaneous activity occurs directly and inseparably from that expanse. The dakinis are depicted as distributors, upholders of the fruit of one’s karma. Does this mean that there are dakinis who are separate from you, who are doing something to you? No. It is through the perceptions of the five senses in their unenlightened state that one’s punishments are meted out. There is no one outside of you who causes your suffering.

Karma is completely implemented through the perceptions of the five senses, which survive in some form from life to life. Even though your nose, ears, and brain are gone, the underlying karmic pattern remains to reactivate itself in other incarnations. However, you now feel a totally self-contained involvement with everything you experience. You honestly feel that you suffer because you are too tired, because you have insufficient food or money, because your body hurts. The five senses create these incorrect perceptions.

“How,” you may ask, “can I free myself of these demons, these witches who cause me suffering?” You must want to be free. Unfortunately, you do not. Oh yes, all sentient beings want to be happy, and you are trying to be happy. But you compulsively believe that you can be happy by resolving the scenarios presented by these five senses. These scenarios are not measured and apportioned. Their essential form is not something that can be balanced. The only recourse is to strive to perceive True Nature, renounce the affliction of these five witches, and take refuge in the five celestial wisdoms and the five-natured blissful expanse of emptiness.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

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5/18/2016 Wednesday by Norma

A surprise comes early in the day; someone has a different plan and you must make adjustments. The rest of the day is a downhill slope, where you effortlessly go through the motions. The nicest aspect involves Mercury backing into a trine with Jupiter; intelligence combines with humor and generosity, a recipe for success. Think, expand your plans and have fun. Henry R. Elliot said, “If it’s sanity you’re after, There’s no recipe like Laughter. Laugh it off.” As you relax and enjoy your situation you may well discover the magic elixir you’ve been seeking.

The astrology post affects everyone differently, depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this message is reflected in your life today!

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5/17/2016 Tuesday by Norma

Venus continues to hold the winning cards, suggesting your best mode of action is tact and diplomacy, kindness and good will towards others. This attitude helps enormously as you’ll be required to constantly re-work, adjust and change what you’re doing, giving the feeling that the harder you work the farther behind you fall. Not true! Be gracious in the face of change and you’ll be happy today; think you’re finished and you’ll feel less happy. Your choice. Thomas La Mance said, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” What’s good today? Partnership, good will, diplomacy and re-working plans for success.

The astrology post affects everyone differently, depending on individual horoscopes. Look how this message reflects your life today!

Living the Path

An excerpt from Marrying Spiritual Life with Western Cultureby Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

It’s interesting to realize that when we come to the temple, we’re already interested in Dharma.  Why are we interested in Dharma?  There are lots of different reasons.  We like the look of it:  it’s interesting and exotic.  The statues are really cool.  The colors are nice.  We have a feeling, a concept of what Buddhism looks like.  It looks like people who are sitting very straight in those wonderful positions that I wish I could get myself into, and the Buddha’s eyes look out into space.  We see ourselves doing this, and we think, “Wow that is so cool!”  We have no idea what’s going on inside, but from the outside we’re looking at this going, “Oh man that is so cool.”

So when we come to this path, we already have an idea of what it’s supposed to look like, and we play into that.  Then we hear the foundational thoughts about Buddhism and the thoughts that turn the mind.  Here’s the important part, “Oh, yeah, those are good reasons to do what I wanted to do already, which is to sit there like this, or to be involved in this really exotic thing, or just to be the coolest kid o the block because I read all those Buddhist books.  We all have reasons.  We feel a certain affinity to it, whatever it is.  I’m making it goofy so that it’s fun, but you can see and adapt what I’m saying to your own personal situation.

This is not the way it is in other cultures.  The thoughts that turn the mind have to do with understanding cause and effect relationships, understanding impermanence, understanding that virtuous conduct brings excellent results of happiness and prosperity, nonvirtuous conduct brings bad results of either unhappiness or being reborn in lower realms and so forth.  Once we come here we think, “These are things to learn, and they are good reasons to stay on this path.  So I am going to memorize them.”

But in a society where people grow up seeing children born and their elders die before they are even able to understand the words of these teachings that turn the mind toward Dharma, where their movement through time occurs naturally (Nobody has a facelift in Tibet.  The wrinkles just pile on, unbelievable amounts of them, because there’s no Estee Lauder.  This is why I don’t live there!), a person approaches Dharma because it does not seem reasonable to walk from birth to death with nothing in your heart, with nothing to work with.  It doesn’t seem reasonable that this should be the main weight of your experience; that this is what you should take refuge in.  Why would you do that?  It’s like taking refuge in a car wreck.  It’s going to hurt and it’s going to get worse.

But in our society, because we are technologically and intellectually advanced, we are not connected to the rhythms of life.  So when this person who is connected to the rhythms of life, and has seen it even as a child, is told everything is impermanent in their life, this is not a big piece of information.  This is not a missing piece of the puzzle.  It simply organizes the thoughts for a person who has been exposed to a more natural environment, and puts words to a conceptual understanding that they already have about life.  They can see there is some fun in life, some good in it, but they can also see its faults much more easily than we can in our society.

On the other hand, when we hear those thoughts that turn the mind, we have so much time invested in staying young, keeping it easy, keeping it light, making it pretty, collecting everything we’re supposed to collect, that we really have to keep that information outside of us.  We can’t really let it come into us.  For instance, in our society identifying with and understanding the teachings on old age sickness and death is terrifying, because in our society the loss of youth is the loss of love.  We don’t even value the wisdom that is gained in maturity enough to have it even bear mentioning.

But in other cultures people have gone through these incredible experiences in a very natural way.  They have a maturity of wisdom at the end of their life because they have seen themselves age.  They have seen the beginning, the promise, the beauty, and the joy.  They have seen how it matures, and they have seen that you can’t take anything with you.  In our society that isn’t valued.  In fact, it’s recommended that we think forever young.

Now that I’m maturing I feel, “Why would you want to do that!  Young people don’t think.  So to ‘think forever young,’ that’s like ‘military intelligence!’  In my experience teaching students, I find that this is the single most dominating factor in their own dissatisfaction with their path.  Why is that?  Again, in our society, we learn a bunch of rules.  These rules are connected to our fundamental material attitude, that collector’s attitude.  In our society we feel separated, alienated, isolated.  There is a feeling of inner deadness.  If you don’t know that inner deadness in yourself, then it’s deader than you think, because you can look in the eyes of anyone you know and you can see there is an inner deadness.

Now if we approach our spiritual life in the same way – by following these rules that are external because the Buddha said they’re out there, without ever viewing them in an intuitive and intimate way, we are going to go dead on our path.  The path which is so precious and so unique – that amazing reality that does not arise in samsara but in fact arises from the mind of enlightenment and therefore results in the mind of enlightenment – this precious inimitable thing – becomes only one more set of external rules, like a girdle that you have to wear in order to be successful, to be part of our environment.

When the path becomes bigger, which it has to do, it has to be part of your life.  It isn’t something you do only twice a week.  These are practices that you do every day.  These are ethical situations, moral situations that you have to evaluate and look at for yourself. There is a coming to grips, a connecting with, that has to occur every minute of every day.  It’s a way of life.  It’s not really a church thing.  Once the path becomes big like that, you find that it must influence everything about you – from offering your food before you eat it, to closing your altar before you go to bed at night, to doing your daily practice, to thinking about everything that you do and re-evaluating it.  Should I kill bugs?  Should I actively work towards benefitting others?  Where is prejudice in my life?  These are some of the issues that you have to re-evaluate.

At some point, if the path is external and you have not come into intimate touch with it, when these things start coming up, they are going to be “stuff” you have to do.  They are not going to be the love of your life.  They are not going to excite you.  Let’s say as part of your path you have to examine one of the Buddha’s teachings, “All sentient beings are equal.”  That means you have to get rid of cultural, racial, religious, gender, even species bias.  All sentient beings are equal.  What could be a more exciting and dynamic process than that?  Wow!!  Think about it!  What if you really did it right, if you went inside yourself and found that place where all sentient beings are equal?  What if you made it your job to really know that?  What if it was something that became so moving and overwhelming that it changed every aspect of your life?  What an exciting and dynamic process!  How changed you would be!  How much more luminous, beautiful, noble your life would be from just that one little thought.

But that’s not what we do with the Buddha’s teachings.  We say, “All sentient beings are equal.  Okay, I’ll memorize that.  I guess that means I can’t kill anything.  I guess that means that I really have to try to consider all things as equal.  I guess it means I’m supposed to think that cockroaches and human beings are fundamentally equal in their nature.  I really don’t think that way, but it means that I have to remember that as being one of the rules.”  Rules that are outside, that you don’t take responsibility for, that you don’t connect with, are deadening.  They will kill you.  They are bad.  Rules that you take in as pieces of information, explore deeply and know for yourself, are empowering.  They give you a sense of living for the first time.

I remember I went through a process quite naturally, even before I found Buddhism.  I was sitting in front of a stream meditating, and I meditated very deeply on my essential nature – this nature that is without discrimination, beginningless and yet completely fulfilled – was both empty and full, beyond any kind of discrimination whatsoever.  I meditated very deeply on that.  Then I found that I couldn’t tell where I ended and where the water began.  It was almost a psychological “Ah ha!” but so much deeper, like “I am that also.”  Well, you can’t even call it “I.”  It’s suchness, and it’s everywhere.  Then I started expanding that to other living things – people and bugs and any phenomenal reality that appears external.  I knew the nature that I am is just as easily that.  I knew blacks and whites are the same, that my culture and your culture are the same, that this and that is the same.

Memorizing that kind of understanding is a deadening experience, because something inside of you is hidden and unchanged and unmoved, and something outside of you has been laid on top of it – bash-to-fit, paint-to-match religion.  That’s what that is.

We do a lot of that with religion.  I don’t believe it’s the fault of religion.  I think if you listen to the original teachers of almost any religion, it’s good stuff.  We are the ones who do not know how to practice religion.  If we understand the Buddha’s teaching, which is such a living dynamic eternal present thing, it is as alive in the world today as it was when it was first brought into this world.  But if we practice it today – not with the energy of recognition of intimate association, not happening in this present moment – but happening 2,500 years ago, it’s not going to work.  It has to be living for you today.  It has to be alive for you today.  Otherwise you’ll say, “That religion was brought into the world 2,500 years ago.  Things are different now.”  Well, yes, so?  Liberation is not different now.  The faults of cyclic existence are not different now.  Nothing that matters is different now.  All the rules still apply.  It’s just that we don’t understand them on a deep level, because we haven’t invested in feeling and knowing in intimate association with these truths. We are simply playing church.

Copyright © 1996 Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved