How Will You Respond?

Sound_Wave_by_vladstudio

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Experiencing the Hook of Compassion”

Sometimes we sort of wimp out. We want to be right. We want to have an issue. We want to be safe, without changing. We don’t want to change. So difficult to do. And meanwhile, all the teacher is really doing is calling the student from afar, sounding that note that is so like the student’s mind that it begins to bring forth this response that is in the student’s mind. And what they see is their own face, layer upon layer of their own face. Ultimately, if they practice devotion, they will see their true face, which is their nature. Now they’re only seeing the dust that is covering it. Now they’re only seeing the stuff that is on top of it. But all the teacher really does is sound the sound of their nature.

And something begins to happen. That sound is some kind of thing that you can’t even hear with your own ears, you know? You can’t even hear it. But it’s so powerful it can change the life of a student like that. Like instantly!  And it can sustain that change. And it’s also so powerful that it can change an entire area. It can change a community. It can change the world. But it’s so subtle that you probably couldn’t even hear it with your own ears.

What is that? It is the greatest and the most gossamer force that there is, and that is the force of compassion— the bodhicitta. In practice the bodhicitta is compassion; it is kindness as we understand it. But its ultimate nature is the ultimate truth. It is the ultimate Buddha nature. And that is the sound that is being sounded, vibrationally cloaked to suit the students for whom the teacher has appeared. And it is for those students that the teacher has returned, that the teacher has appeared.

So it is like you. It is like you, and you should be strong. You should take responsibility for what comes up in your mind. You should know that this is your time, and you should respond through practice. Not through agreeing with yourself and saying that it’s okay to do this. It’s okay to have this hatred; it’s okay to be angry; it’s okay to be vengeful; it’s okay to be resentful; it’s okay to grieve; it’s okay to whatever. Why is that okay when you could be moving closer to your greatest hope?

So each student must have strength and understand what is happening to them.  Do you, you who are responding, do you know what is happening to you? Do you really understand it? Do you really see its importance? And when the stuff comes up that comes up, and I know it comes up—the discursive thought, you know, the anger, the disagreement, the ‘well, I don’t know if I agree with that,’ you know, all these different kinds of thoughts—when that comes up in your mind, do you have the courage to get ahold of yourself? To take ahold of yourself and understand what is happening to you? That you are, in fact, seeing your own face. This is your resentment. This is your anger. This is your sadness. This is your needing to be independent. These are reflections; these are images of your mind. And in truth, so long as they keep you from pure practice and perfect surrender, from truly seeing with the help of your teacher, your own primordial face, these in fact are only obstacles to your practice that are coming up, and these are the form that they are coming up in.

So you can begin by giving thanks that they come up in such an easy-to-deal-with way. I mean you could have met your teacher and then got run over by a truck!  That could have happened. That could have been a big obstacle. Well that was nice!  But it didn’t happen, you’re still here!  And you can right now begin to develop the courage to move forward without any hesitation.

Students respond with hope and fear. And sometimes, there is a lot of fear, isn’t there? Hope and fear, with anger, with restraint, with judgment, with discursive thought. They respond that way because it is their nature to do so. That is the nature of samsara, that is the nature of cyclic existence, and that is the nature of all sentient things. We have developed this habitual tendency of response in that way. Why should we suddenly change? Of course we’re still responding that way. We always do. Always.

The important difference is that suddenly now we have a choice. We can begin. We can respond through mindfulness. We can respond through practice. We can respond by recognizing, through courage, that this is our response due to our habitual nature. We can stand outside of this whole deeply reactive scenario, and instead of reacting with the hatred, instead of reacting with grief, instead of reacting at all, we can know, we can understand: This is my mind. That is my teacher. The only thing to do is to walk forward and to continue, to walk through the door. So simple. And yet, due to our strong reactions, so difficult.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

When Karma Ripens

woman-feeling-sick

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Experiencing the Hook of Compassion”

When the student first responds, generally there are obstacles that come up. Sometimes, and this is odd, when the student first finds the Path, they’ll be sick at first, physically sick. They’ll suddenly come down with everything you can possibly imagine. They’ll have the virus; they’ll have the flu; they’ll get ingrown toenails, you know. I mean all kinds of amazing weird things will happen, and sometimes, worse. Sometimes worse. But hopefully, if they can really work on the devotion and really solve that problem, really purify the connection between themselves and the teacher, whatever obstacle arises will ripen benignly. But it depends on how they can really purify  that obstacle through practicing pure devotion and through practicing purely, just in general, in compassion and in that method. If they can really get with the program and get with it purely, often even the worst obstacles will ripen benignly, including things like brain tumors, and then lesser things, chronic illness of some kind. Sometimes they will actually ripen benignly, meaning that they will either go away, or not be a burden, not be a problem.

When the student begins to respond in a different way, sometimes with anger, they must understand that suddenly this piece of anger and hatred didn’t come from somewhere else. Where did it come from? Didn’t it come from the student’s mind? Wasn’t it within them? Could they be feeling it if it weren’t within them? I mean, who’s running this show, anyway? If the student feels anger, hatred, it must have been in their mind. So perhaps what happens is that obstacle of hatred, that actual obstacle, ripens and it comes to the surface, kind of like a bubble coming to the surface of a pond. Now you have an opportunity to live and breathe, and hold on to that stink, you know, of hatred. Or you have the opportunity through your practice—through practicing the antidote which is pure devotion, which is compassion, which is pure mindfulness—you have the opportunity to do what bubbles do. Come to the surface of the lake and simply pop!  Simply pop. What is a bubble once it is popped? Gone. Gone. And the first breath of kindness and compassion can surely blow it away.

The student always has that obstacle. But instead, what the student generally does is say, ‘I’m right, here. I have a reason to be angry. I have a reason to be resentful. Let’s see. Let me find the reasons. Hmmmmm…’  And then you’ll find them. Of course you’ll find them. You’re going to make them up if you don’t find them. You’re going to pretend them. You’re going to take little signs and you’re going to write your own script. If you’re intent on finding reasons for justifying your hatred and your anger…  We’re all champs at that!  We’re so good at that!  We’re like the Steven Spielbergs of samara. We can make a movie you wouldn’t believe. So that will happen.

But if instead you realize that what is coming to the surface is an obstacle to your practice, that it has no more power than you give it, that you are capable of simply letting go, of surrendering, of practicing devotion, of using the method, in order to overcome the obstacle… You know it’s almost like I want to say to the student sometime… If they’re men, and even if they’re women, it seems like the only appropriate phrase. I want to say, ‘Are you man enough to do this? Can you stand outside yourself and really look at it? Can you see that this is the phenomena of your mind and just blow it off? Can you do that? Are you man enough? Are you human enough? Are you strong enough?’

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

The “Feeling”

yeshe-tsogyal-sergey-noskov

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Experiencing the Hook of Compassion”

That hook doesn’t happen because the teacher is manipulative. The hook happens because you have seen your face; and the karma in your mind is such that you have responded in a way that you never could have predicted. The student might be very conventional, not ever been religious before in their life. The student might be very unconventional, and never thought that they would deal with a conventional religion, like Buddhism. And they might be really ticked off about it. They just didn’t want any of these things to happen. And suddenly… Hooked! And the student can sometimes respond with anger, literally. Sometimes the student can feel that they’re too young to die. How did this happen? Suddenly I’m surrendering, and I didn’t want to surrender. I wanted to have more fun; I wanted to rock and roll. I wanted to continue to be a free agent, you know. I wanted to be footloose and fancy free. Let me go where I want to go, and do what I want to do. Don’t chain me down. Oh yeah. And they’re singing all these songs.

Suddenly they’ve got lead feet. They can’t move, and they just can’t go. They’re incapable of movement. What are they going to do?  And they grieve. They start to grieve. They grieve like someone died. And sometimes the students have to go through a period of time where they must be permitted to grieve. You can’t rush them. They have to grieve. Something died. Yes, something died. The part of their life where they were not hooked just died. And they can hear that velcro, you know. It can be a really uncomfortable position to be in. And sometimes they feel all kinds of different responses that are just unbelievable. I mean it’s just unbelievable to watch some of the responses the students have when they first meet their root guru and feel that feeling, that response. It’s just amazing. Sometimes the student will wonder what kind of demon they have turned into. ‘I used to think I was a good spiritual person and suddenly I’m acting like a complete turkey.’  And it often happens because the student has simply met their guru and they are responding to this feeling that they have never known before in their lives in a very human way.

But the teacher continues in what seems to the student like a relentless way, to send out this call, this call, this call. You can’t resist something that is like your mind. And the teacher is set up, due to their compassionate intention, karmically set up, really without any choice, to sound like and to respond to the student’s mind. The teacher will be like them vibrationally; sometimes like them situationally. Sometimes the student can look at the teacher and see themselves quite clearly. Sometimes they can simply hear the words, and it’s so much like the way they are. So funny. So strange. And  really all you’re seeing when you see that is you’re seeing compassion. That’s all that is to be understood. You should never think that you’re understanding the teacher by determining how much the teacher is like you. All you’re understanding is yourself.

The teacher is only acting from the point of view of compassion. That is if it’s a qualified and realized teacher. If it is someone who, you know, is considered to be a bodhisattva or an incarnation, a tulku, then what you’re seeing really is the display of compassion and what you’re seeing is your own face. If anger comes up, that’s your face too. That’s what you’re seeing. If resentment comes up, that’s what you’re seeing too. Sometimes resentment comes up, and that’s the hardest one, because the student will think they’re kind of spiritual, you know. They almost think of themselves as kind of a little guru, you know. Like a junior guru. You know, ‘I have some answers, and I’ve got some methods, and yes, I have some worldly wisdom here, and I’m sort of slick in my own way. And I’m king or queen of my little mountain.’ Of course my mountain is very, very small. But suddenly I move into a bigger place, and there’s another king or queen. And there’s a guru that is, you have to face it, far superior. And so you look at that and you feel kind of resentful, because you’ve been dethroned!  That’s painful!  That can be really painful, and first what might come up is a kind of resentment. A resentment also that the different kind of situations that you’ve engaged in during your life were not the holy, high, far-flung things that you thought they were. And it took this superior teacher to show you that. And there might be some resentment there.

But all that is happening… Can you really understand this? Can you really hear this? All that is happening is that there is a sound that is being sounded that on some level you are capable of hearing due to the karma of your mind. What is happening is happening because of you. Not because of anyone else. This is your mind. This is your karma. This is your face that you are seeing. Your response is your own response.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Method of Dakini Activity

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

On a more superficial level, let us describe the method of dakini activity, and how it actually can appear in the world.  Well, you cannot do that in one afternoon.  You cannot do that in one lifetime.  There are as many different ways that the Buddha nature can dance or move or generate activity as there are ways to be infinite.  It cannot be described.  Yet for our purposes, we can make some useful points about the method of Dakini activity.

First of all, anything having to do with the appearance of the Buddha’s activity in the world, that is to say, enlightened activity or compassionate activity should be understood as being inseparable from the dakini nature and should be understood as being dakini activity.  It should be understood that the movement or dance or display of the Buddha’s activity is always pure, not because of the phenomena that one sees, but because of the purity of the Buddha nature.  We like to evaluate phenomena that we see and that is where we run into trouble.  That is the mistake.  That is the cosmic mistake.  You cannot know the nature by evaluating phenomena as you see it, because you are seeing your own confusion, period.

When you see the display of the Buddha’s activity in the world, that which brings you closer to enlightenment, that which propagates the Dharma, that which contributes compassion to the world in some form or another that should be understood as pure activity.  You should see the purity. The purity is judged by understanding that the source of that activity is, and always has been and always will be, the enlightened nature.

That activity which is consistent with the nature of the dakini should be understood to be effortless in this way.  Typically and characteristically it is not born of the struggle to confirm self-nature.  It is born of spacious non-specific luminosity, the very nature of emptiness and having been born from that, all that appears as effortless and consistent with that nature, will eventually have the result of that nature.

While we have the habit of looking at an event midstream and seeing the middle of the picture, not the beginning, not the end, but the middle, we see certain things as if through a peephole. What appears to us is a very small picture and we do not understand the whole picture.  But if we could see that activity having its beginning, having its middle and having its end, we could see that activity in its completeness and then we would understand that it will always result in enlightenment, even while in the beginning there may be friction and in the middle there may be struggle, it will always result in enlightenment.   This is because the seed is the same as the fruit, always.  If the activity is born of the sphere of truth and is inseparable from the sphere of truth, if it is consistent with the Buddha nature, if it is the enlightened activity of the Buddha nature, it will always result in the Buddha nature.  That is always the case and that is the basis of devotion and faith.

Again, it is not based on what you see.  It is based on the purity of the Buddha nature.  Think about when the Buddha taught. The Buddha had no great teachers, really, that taught him on a physical level.  He had achieved a very great level of awareness through his previous compassionate and virtuous acts.  At the time of being the Buddha, he was able through his great effort to sit down and achieve realization.  But once he began to teach, he taught effortlessly.  It is said that people who spoke very different languages could sit down in front of him and they would hear the teaching in their own language.  It is also said that he would be able to teach any student on his/her own level.  He would be able to reach out and touch them exactly where they had a place to be touched.  He would be able to give to some students a teaching that to another student would seem superficial, but for that student, was the key to enlightenment.  And he could give to another student a teaching that would seem so profound to that student as to kick them into enlightenment very quickly, but to another student who might hear that teaching, if they were to hear that teaching in the same way, it would be blah, blah, blah.  Nothing.  Useless to them, like banana peels. You have to throw it out.  No good.  But the Buddha did not teach in that way.  The Buddha taught each person the nature of their own mind by showing them their poison, by ripening in their mind their potential for enlightenment, by shoving down their throat their own garbage, by giving them teaching that touched them in their language.

Now, if we were to do that, we would have to go to school to learn many different languages and learn all the different levels of the Buddha’s teaching in order to be able to do that.  And then we would have to have some kind of computer to be able to shoot this teaching to this one and that teaching to that one. We would have to be thinking about this all the time so that we could get it right.  Not so with the mind of enlightenment.  The mind of enlightenment can appear in whatever way necessary in order to teach and can speak to that person in the language that that person requires in an effortless way, completely effortlessly.

Of course, we have no real understanding of that, because of our confusion and our delusion.  We still continue to cling and to see what floats on the surface of our mind, like shit.  We see shit.  Yet, the method that is employed with enlightened activity is a method that will lead to enlightenment in an effortless way.  It is typical of the activity of the dakini to hit where it hurts, to get you where you live, to create for you a method by which you can try to run, but the road in front of you is turned around so that you can only run in a circle right back and it is as tricky and convoluted and sneaky as your own mind.  It will rub your face in your shit.  It will make you eat your own poison. But eventually, with faith and devotion, you will come out of it enlightened.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

The Hook

veclro

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Experiencing the Hook of Compassion”

The teacher actually appears in the world, and hopefully the teacher is a bodhisattva. Because if the teacher is not a bodhisattva, you might as well throw that one out the window. You have made another mistake. You don’t want to go to school and learn from Betty Crocker, or something like that. You really want to know that you are getting teaching from someone who’s equipped to give you the method, to give you the Path. So if the teacher’s a bodhisattva, if the teacher is an incarnation who has achieved some realization, and therefore has returned solely to benefit beings, there is some design. Different tulkus will appear in different ways, but there is some design in the tulku’s method. The tulku will have a sense of purpose from a very young age, a sense of purpose, and it will be the cornerstone of that tulku’s life. Everything will be built around that. It’s almost like everything that arises, all of the circumstances that arise in the bodhisattva’s life, in the tulku’s life, will arise from that intention. Everything is centered on that intention; that intention is the center. It’s like if you’re building a house, and there’s one post that holds up the whole house somewhere in the middle. Although I don’t think houses are really built like that, and I’m sure the carpenters are getting angry at me just for saying that. But anyway, the cornerstone, if you will, of the structure is the tulku’s, the bodhisattva’s, pure intention-—the intention to be of some benefit. So the things that hold it up, that’s what they are—that compassion, that loving kindness.

As the tulku moves toward their time, and that happens differently with each one, there is a sense of calling. The tulku will call the students. Now sometimes, I can say to you from what I’ve heard and what I know, it isn’t really like the teacher will know the name of a certain student and just be necessarily finding that student. You know going to that student’s house and knocking on the door and saying, ‘Hey, guess what?  I’m your teacher.’  Terrible things would probably happen if teachers did things that way, and it just isn’t the way that it’s done. It’s not what really happens.

What begins to happen is that there is a quality of intention, of loving kindness, of compassion that begins to ripen in the teacher’s mind. And it’s like it sets up a vibrational quality almost like a sound, almost like a sound. A song, maybe. A sound, a note that begins to sound in a certain way. It’s not accidental that certain students appear at that time, simply because the karma of the situation is such that the teacher who appears in the world has a certain relationship with certain students; and that’s already established because the karma’s already such. The karma is already established. That karma will begin to actualize itself in that the teacher will set up a quality, a vibrational field or a sound, or something that will be appropriate, that will reach out and touch certain particular students, and their minds will respond to it. Their minds will respond to it and they will be called. Students will appear from literally nowhere.

I don’t consider myself a great teacher in any regard. I consider myself the humblest of the humble. Believe me, I do consider myself thus. But I do know my own small experience has been just that. I never, until Penor Rinpoche recognized me, I never represented myself in any way. I never hung out a shingle and said this or that is what I am, or who I am.  Never did that happen. But students came when I became ready. And I know that this happens with other teachers. There is a vibration that goes out, a sound that goes out that’s like a hook. It’s a hook, you know, just like velcro.  One piece of velcro doesn’t attach itself to a smooth surface. If the student doesn’t have the responding piece in them, it won’t connect, you see.  It will just smooth right over. You see what I’m saying?  It’ll just slick right over. But if the student has that other piece, they’ll be tight. You can’t separate them. To separate them literally sounds like velcro. It sounds like your heart is being torn out. There’s something there that is so fantastic that cannot be explained in ordinary terms.

So this amazing fantastic thing happens. And from the lama’s point of view, there is simply the display of that intention. That’s all that happens. And the student from literally nowhere, the student could be a coarse and crude construction worker. The student could be a ballerina, you know; the student could be a disco dancer They could be all sorts of weird things. You never know. And suddenly something begins to happen. And they don’t really change from being weird things, they just show up.

So this amazing thing happens; and this response begins to happen. And often the student will come up and they’ll go, ‘What am I doing here? How did I get in this?  What is this?’ One student that I remember: The first time she came to me for a consultation, she was so prim and proper. She wore this little proper camel suit, you know, and she was very business-y and very here-I-am, very business-y, very professional sort of woman. She comes in click, click, click, little high heels, sits down and goes, “Well, I’d like to have a reading.”  So, we talk, and we talk, and we talk, and about three or four hours later, she’s in tears, and she feels like her life has just fallen apart. She’s just left one train, and entered onto another, and all these weird things begin to happen to her. She’s crying, and she doesn’t know what’s happening to her. She feels like she’s going crazy. She just doesn’t know what this is. And really, there’s no monkey business happening on the part of the teacher. The teacher isn’t saying, ‘Hey, let me see how I can mess up this person.’  It isn’t like that at all. There is simply this call, this sound that is going out, and the student, if the hook is there, suddenly becomes velcroed, literally velcroed. Sometimes there is  anger at first, because you didn’t want to be velcroed, you know.  You didn’t ask for this. You wanted to be free and independent. You know? You don’t want to be stuck to something. And suddenly you can’t get away. You’re hooked.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

The Trouble With Samsara

burning house

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Experiencing the Hook of Compassion”

When a student calls the teacher in their mind, when they begin to make their mind and their heart like a bowl, there are several different things that are happening. First of all, there is some fantastic auspicious karma that is ripening. In order for a student to even make that step, the student must have accumulated a tremendous amount of merit, of virtue, somewhere in the past. A non-virtuous mind cannot call the teacher with devotion. It cannot happen. They will not be able to experience that devotion, that gentling, that softening. So the student must know that about themselves: If they are responding with devotion, if they are really calling the lama, if they are really experiencing surrender, then there is some virtue in the student’s mind. The student should be happy and pleased with that.

When the student calls the lama, when the student practices that kind of devotion, it’s because the student has realized certain kinds of things; and the only way that real devotion can be practiced is if these things have been realized. First of all, the student has looked around and has seen that cyclic existence, or ordinary life, is flawed. It is faulted. The student has looked around—and sometimes it’s the older students that really in some ways, unfortunately, are able to do this, because they have seen their lives pass—and they look around and they say, ‘What have I done? I’ve worked so hard for maybe 55, 60 years. I’ve worked so hard, and what have I really accomplished?  What am I going to take with me?  What is this that I’ve done?  What will happen when this time has passed?’

So sometimes older students are truly prepared to understand the faults of cyclic existence. Younger students have a much more difficult time with that, because younger students are still trekking along, you know. They’re still thinking, ‘Oh yeah, I can do this, and I can do this,’ and they’re still steamed up, puffed up with that ‘I can, I can do’ kind of thing. Too many exciting threads to pull. Too many different ways to move. Our juices are flowing, and we’re moving ahead. And it hooks us; it hooks us into this delusion.

The student that is prepared to call the teacher has been awakened, stimulated, has understood that so much time has passed. And what has happened during that time?  Not much. Not much that we can really account for. We’ve had some fun. We’ve had some big fun, some of us. And we’ve had some big suffering. And we’ve had some big excitement. We’ve had some big letdowns. And it’s up and down, and up and down. And we’re all going to experience old age if we live that long. We’re all going to experience death; and we’ve all experienced sickness. And it just goes round and round and round, doesn’t it?

At some point we look at that and we see it, and we ask ourselves, ‘Isn’t there something more? Isn’t there something?  There must be something.’  We begin to move in that direction. And then we see someone who can give us a path. Not only just thoughts about the path, not only just ideas that are popular in the New Age. Not just some theories. But a technology, a method, a method that is succinct and exacting, and has shown itself to give results that have been repeated and proven over time.

So this student looks at that and thinks, ‘Wow! This is something!’ And the student is in the position of experiencing themselves sort of like in a burning house, and suddenly they’ve seen a door. They’ve seen a way out. They’ve seen something that doesn’t have the danger in it that cyclic existence has, that doesn‘t have the fault in it that cyclic existence has. Maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s something that we can do. And the student looks at that and says, ‘Oh,’ and they gather themselves together; and they are hopeful and they’re joyous. And somethng’s going on. Suddenly they’re excited. Then the student begins to want to call that, to bring that closer to them.  That’s a beautiful, precious, and exciting moment.  But that moment can only happen due to the virtue of the student’s previous practice. That really only happens due to virtue.

So the student begins to call the teacher.  And the student has lots of different experiences while that happens. Sometimes the student doesn’t know how to measure what the relationship with the teacher is. Sometimes there’s some initial confusion. There are all sorts of interesting and different things that happen during that time. But still, the student with the kind of virtue that is necessary to really do this will remain firm, will continue, will move forward, and continue to call the teacher, continue to invoke that presence in their lives and really come to the point, due to the virtue of their practice, where they will do anything, they will do anything, because they know their time is short. They know that they’ve tried everything, and nothing’s worked so far. Nothing has produced permanent happiness.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

American Dharma – The Prayer Vigil

Kunzang Palyul Choling has maintained a 24 hour Prayer Vigil since 1985. In this video Jetsunma describes how engaging in the Prayer Vigil is a way to stand up against the suffering in the world today. Making that commitment and dedicating the effort to bringing an end to war, or peace to beings, is a powerful way to practice the Dharma. She talks about how every visiting Lama, including His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, all comment how precious and rare this vigil is, that it happens nowhere else. Jetsunma talks about how it is part of integrating traditional Dharma Practice into our American, modern lives.

Calling the Lama From Afar

Guru Padmasambhava

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Experiencing the Hook of Compassion”

In our tradition, in preliminary practice, we practice this “Calling the Lama from Afar,” and it’s a haunting practice. It will bring tears to one’s eyes if one practices it with a full heart and really does one’s best. When that begins to happen, there is a change in the student. There is truly a change. Often that is when the lama, the teacher, first begins to notice the student. That is when the lama takes an awareness of the student. That is when the student comes into the lama’s mind and the lama comes into the student’s mind. That is when this tremendous bridge, this perfect bridge, is formed that is everything, really everything, on the Path. Without it there is only dressing up in Dharma clothing like a peacock, you know. There is nothing without that. So that is necessary.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Meeting with the Vajrayana Path: His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok

The following is an excerpt from a public talk given by His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok:

This vehicle of secret mantra, Vajrayana, is the principal vehicle of Buddhism that is practiced in Tibet, and now we find it spreading throughout America and other countries.  There are many Dharma centers that have been established in America, primarily by Tibetan lamas who are upholders of the Vajrayana tradition.  This means that many of the American disciples are now becoming practitioners and upholders of this tradition.  In fact, throughout this world, Vajrayana Buddhism is already firmly established in some 32 countries.

Within the secret mantra vehicle, the ultimate, absolute pinnacle, the enlightened mind of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas condensed into one essence, the heart blood of all the Dakinis, is the quintessential path known as the Clear Light Great Perfection, or Ati Yoga.  This Doctrine of the Great Perfection is dependent upon the receiving of what is termed pointing out instructions or pith essential instructions which can be passed from teacher to disciple in the form of just a word or two.  In fact, if everything is auspicious according to the way that the Clear Light Great Perfection is actually transmitted, it is taught that if those essential instructions are given in the evening, by sunrise one will be enlightened.  If they are given at sunrise, by evening one will be enlightened.  So this is considered to be the most expedient path to liberation.

To meet with the Clear Light Great Perfection is something that is so precious and rare that it is taught that just to hear the words of the Dzogchen teaching, the teachings on the level of Ati Yoga, closes the door to rebirth in the three lower realms and puts one safely and directly on the path to liberation as a Buddha.  So it is a Dharma that has the power to liberate just by contact, just by sight, just by recollection.  Even to recall the words of the Dzogchen teachings is something that is so precious and profound that it is likened to having a wish-fulfilling jewel in the palms of your hands.  It is not a Dharma that is filled with elaborations and complexities that takes a lot of time to accomplish or establish.  It is a Dharma that, if it meets with the right individual or the perfect aspirant, is something that is easy to practice and that can be applied to every aspect of life in a very simple way producing very direct results.  However, this Dharma, this Doctrine, must only fall into the hands of those disciples who have the karmic affinity for it which is something that must be established due to karmic connections.  Otherwise it is a Dharma that is meant to be kept secret or to be guarded from any other type of situation.

When we think about Tibet and how the Dharma came into Tibet originally, it was due to the kindness of the great Orgyen Rinpoche, Guru Padmasambhava, and Vimalamitra. In fact, there have never been two teachers of the likes of these two who have ever come since then.  They are so great and profound.  Guru Rinpoche and Vimalamitra only gave the Dzogchen teachings to their closest heart disciples and only after a tremendous kind of karmic affinity had been established.  It is not something that is just given in any other circumstances.  In Tibet there exists to the present day the eight great chariots of traditions and teachings of practice which are very sublime and extraordinary.  However, amongst them it is only in the tradition of the secret Nyingmapa that these Dzogchen teachings are found, and they are unequalled by any other.

Now I have a personal feeling about this, and I mentioned it a little bit in San Francisco. Since I’ve come to America I have seen that there is a very strong connection here for the Dzogchen teachings.  I have also had an opportunity while I’ve been in the United States to give Dharma teachings on different subjects, but I find when I teach on the subject of Dzogchen, which is the Tibetan term for this Clear Light Great Perfection, this Ati Yoga category, that I find that people become much more enthusiastic and the faith wells up inside of them in a different kind of way.  I liken this to the situation in this country at this time where the country itself is very powerful and there is much material prosperity, but also everyone is extremely busy and people don’t have too much of a chance to practice elaborate forms of religious or spiritual instructions.  So in noticing all of these coincidences coming together, I truly have seen that Americans have a strong connection with the Dzogchen doctrine and that this is probably the most important doctrine to propagate here at this time.  Therefore I have a very strong hope that each and every one of you will have an opportunity to meet with the Dzogchen doctrine and put it into practice in your lives.

If you practice the Dzogchen in this life alone, you will immediately receive the benefits of good health and mental contentment.  That’s why you can use someone like Gyaltrul Rinpoche as an example.  Even though he’s old now, much older than most of you, he’s still very happy.  His mind is filled with content and his body is still healthy too.  This is because of the point I just brought out.  I think it also might be true for Ahkön Lhamo as well.

Friends and Enemies: Excerpt from “The Heart of Compassion…” commentary by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from “The Heart of Compassion: Thirty Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva”:

On a practical level, however, the mere fact that you feel compassion
for them is of no use whatsoever to all those beings. So, what can you
do to actually help them? You now have a human existence with all its
freedoms and advantages, and especially the immense fortune of having
encountered and started to practice the supreme Dharma. You have met
an authentic spiritual teacher and are in the process of receiving
teachings that will enable you to reach buddhahood in a single
lifetime. To make full use of this precious opportunity, you must not
only listen to the teachings but also put them into practice. That way
your feelings of compassion can be put to work, to the point that you
will eventually be able to bring all living beings to enlightenment.
As things are at present, however strongly you may want to help
others, you are a beginner and lack the capacity to do anything much
for them. The first step you need to take toward being really useful
to others, therefore, is to perfect yourself, by training and
transforming your mind.

The way you are now, your mind is powerfully influenced by the
clinging attachment you have to friends, relatives, and anyone who
brings you satisfaction, and by your hostile feelings toward whoever
seems to go against your wishes and toward all those who prevent you
from acquiring wealth, comfort, and pleasure and whom you therefore
regard with aversion as enemies. ln your delusion, you do whatever you
can to benefit yourself and those you like, and try to overcome and
eliminate all those you consider enemies with such aversion that you
can hardly bear even to hear their names. Over countless lifetimes you
have been dragged into samsara, this vicious ocean of existence, and
carried away by these strong currents of attachment and aversion.
Attachment and aversion are the very cause of samsara, the very reason
for our endless wandering in the circle of existence.

Consider carefully what you mean by friends and enemies. When you look
into it, it is obvious that there are no such things as permanent.
enduring friends or enemies. Those you think of as friends have not
always been so. Indeed, they may well have been your enemies in the
past, or they could become your enemies in the future. There is
nothing certain about it. Why should you be so compulsively attached
to particular people? Are not all your relationships temporary? In the
end, whatever may happen during your life, the time will come for you
to die. Then you will have no choice but to part from everyone,
regardless of whether you feel attachment or aversion for them. But
everything you have done in your lifetime, all those actions motivated
by attachment and aversion, will have created within you a force that
will then propel you to the next life, in which you will experience
their result.

So, if you want to travel the path to buddhahood, give up attachment
to friends and relatives, and hatred for enemies. Regard all beings
with impartial equanimity. If people now seem to be either friends or
enemies, it is just the result of past connections and actions. To
ascribe any solid reality to those  feelings of attachment and
aversion, arising as they do from mistaken and confused perceptions,
is just delusion. It is like mistaking a rope, lying in your path in
the twilight, for a snake-you might feel afraid, but that does not
mean your fear has any real basis. The rope never was a snake.

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