The Seed and the Fruit

fruit

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Art of Dispelling Anger”

The fruit of potential and method is the awakening.  But in Buddhism we see all three as the same and it is taught that all three are the same. And in truth, there is no realization without understanding the sameness of these three,. It is easy to think that we are evolving in a step by step way; and it is easy to think that we’re on the ladder. See, I am up here and somebody else is down there and some of the people are over here. And we get into that view, and that’s not what the Buddha taught. The Buddha did not teach that someone is higher and someone is lower. The Buddha taught that we should recognize the appearance of the Buddha nature in the world as our root gurus. The root guru gives us the method, and therefore we have the result. But nobody is better than anybody else. That is a different religion or a different idea, or something else. I don’t know what that is, but we don’t have that here.

Ridding ourselves of hatred is based on that kind of thinking, that kind of view.  Really understanding the Buddha’s teaching that there is the foundation, the method and the fruition, and that is the path. Succinct, boom, right here. This is it. And we understand that, again, according to the Buddha’s teachings we are all suffering. We are all in the same place. Here we are. Even the people that are not in this room, we are in samsara together. They want to be happy like you do.  You struggle for happiness, don’t you? Come on, don’t you?  Every day. Every day. And we do it sometimes rightly or wrongly. It’s a mixed bag because we lack understanding. But the method is to recognize that all beings wish to be happy. If there are three people sitting in front of you, and two or three of them are unhappy, you come out of yourself and try to help. Efforts like that are what move us along on the path. Not just doing the fancy practices and knowing the fancy words.

Of course, we do not achieve realization by deeds alone. That is a long and difficult path. We have the Dzogchen path, which is so remarkable. It not only gives us method and the opportunity to give rise to the bodhicitta, but we also are given the wisdom to understand the empty nature of phenomena. Through that method we can understand that in samsara we are in a bit of a bubble, or an echo chamber. It’s kind of like that. Unfortunately, it’s also the nature of samsara to be somewhat blinded to that. Again, we are still asleep. It’s like a dream. It has a dream-like quality. You know how in dreams crazy things happen? And it’s OK. It makes sense somehow. Like you could be somewhere and then you are somewhere else, and it makes sense. But that dream-like quality exists right here and right now. We literally do not understand that when we gossip about a fellow vajra brother or sister, or any sentient being of any quality, or put them down, at the same time, we create that energy, that cause. Somewhere in samsara, the result is also being born. Right then. Something will change because of that hatred. Now we often don’t see it immediately, but it comes back to us; and the way it comes back to us is according to our conceptual belief. We believe in relative phenomena being solid as it is until we become practitioners, hopefully. So when somebody sends a negative energy at us, like their anger, we think, ‘Oh, it’s coming from them. Everybody hates me.’ But in fact, what has happened is that you have sent out hatred. It echoes back and it will come through somebody else’s mouth. Do you know why it’s nobody else’s fault?. Because there is nobody else. Bingo. There is nobody else. And how you can sit there and say you are practicing trekchod and togyal and you don’t know that yet, I can’t figure out.

We must take responsibility for our experiences. How will we ever awaken if we don’t understand the unhappiness that comes to us is of our own making? It may have been in the past, the past in some past life. It may have been recent. I see you guys creating the causes of suffering all of the time. And so, get back to the basics. Follow the Buddha’s teachings. To antidote hatred,… And I know, hatred is my big one today, OK? We’ll do greed and ignorance some other time and the other ones as well. To antidote hatred, the antidote has to be very strong, because hatred is such a strong energy that it brings about war in places where there is a lot of emotional, egocentric agitation that has hatred as part of it. Any time there is emotional, egocentric agitation, there will be hatred. Places like that often have a lot of earth movement and strange weather and that sort of thing. And war.  Who would have guessed it?.

And so, we have to understand that we want to awaken, but we don’t want to take responsibility. We want to awaken, but we don’t want to stop dreaming. We want to awaken, but we don’t want to go through that effort of bringing ourselves into truer awareness, something that is more profound and deeper and more real than our own simple habitual tendencies.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Without Bodhicitta, There Is No Path: from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche on Mediation, reprinted with permission from Palyul Ling International:

Many of you are interested and have asked, “Please give us the Dzogchen teachings.” But even I myself don’t know what is Dzogchen and I don’t have anything to teach you!

Anyway, as I explained to you earlier, if one practices the Bodhicitta, that kind of pure intention to really benefit all other sentient beings, and then the samatha meditation practices to establish one’s mind in full concentration, then of course there will be the Great Perfection (“Dzogchen”) meditations.

But if one cannot cultivate the Bodhicitta within one’s mind, the path to Enlightenment is already broken. Without Bodhicitta, there is no real path. Bodhicitta is that which is without any partiality. The pure intention of Bodhicitta, the thought to benefit all sentient beings without any exception, can be understood by realizing that in one or another lifetime, each being has been one’s parent. If we understand this and think of how dearly they have taken care of us, then we will feel grateful to all the parently beings and we can generate Bodhicitta to all of them.

This present body of ours is here because of our parents. If we did not have parents, there is no possibility that we could have these bodies. And if we don’t have this physical body, then we cannot accomplish any kind of worldly or Dharma activity. So our mothers are indeed very kind and we should be grateful.

Of course, there are many kinds of parent-child relationships in this world, but we should remember that whether or not we are close to our parents is based on our own desires and our own thoughts. Beyond that sort of thing, the main meaning here is that without our parents, we could not have this body, and because of this we should understand and be grateful for their kindness. So first one really concentrates on generating Bodhicitta based on one’s gratefulness to this life’s mother, and from that one can extend this Bodhicitta to all sentient beings equally.

So the most important points are to have faith and devotion in the Dharma, then meditating and contemplating on Bodhicitta and compassion. Then one can apply these into practice through the meditations on emptiness.

In the Dharma practice one should not think, “Oh, I am doing all this practice for the benefit of this lama or for these Buddhas.” Never think in this way. The Dharma practice is for yourself. Each and every one of you as individuals has to liberate yourself from Samsara. You are attaining Enlightenment for yourself. You are attaining Buddhahood for yourself. By your practice, your lama is not going to attain Enlightenment nor is Buddha going to attain Enlightenment! Buddha has already achieved Buddhahood! And if you cannot attend to Dharma practice in the proper way, then it is yourself who will fall down into the three lower realms. It is not the lama or the Buddha who will fall into the lower realms!

So, though it is important to think spiritually of one’s own benefit and how one can attain Enlightenment, still the achievement of that kind of liberation is by the path of benefiting all other sentient beings. Without that kind of Bodhicitta one cannot attain complete Enlightenment.

The Bodhicitta we can generate right now, however vast, is beneficial. In the future, when one attains Enlightenment, according to the vastness of that Bodhicitta, that many sentient beings can benefit and liberate themselves from the sufferings of Samsara. Right now we cannot really perceive all that fruition, but if we continue to practice, then in the future we will realize it as a direct perception.

The Roots of Anger

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Art of Dispelling Anger”

For most of us, when we are wrathful or angry, it’s not wrathful. It’s not righteous wrath, you know, in order to help that person. The only time I can see where it would be useful for an ordinary person to be wrathful would be to maybe encourage somebody else to stand on their own two feet or to be less dependent or something like that. Now look, I really want you to do that, and you can talk sternly. But otherwise, where in your life should hatred be?  Hatred is one of the three things that binds you to this world of samsara in which you will get old, you will get sick and you will die. And so we are taught that we must handle this hatred.

So when we approach hatred and look at it, we have to really examine our habitual tendencies. We can’t just say, you know, ‘I’m not going to hate anybody,’ or it’s kind of like a recovering alcoholic. It’s difficult, very difficult, to just say, ‘I’m not going to drink anymore. I’m going to use will power and I’m not going to drink anymore.’ You know, they say some people can do that, but most people can’t. And why is that?  Because you have to learn about yourself. Because there is a reason why you drank in the first place. Because you have to learn to look inside of yourself and see what’s in there and you have to work it. What do they say in the program?  ‘It works if you work it.’ What do I say about Buddhism?  ‘It works if you work it.’ It’s the same deal. We are addicted to our habitual tendencies like a bunch of alcoholics. That’s why I love recovering alcoholics, because I feel such a kinship with them. And it’s beautiful that it’s so obvious to them that they are recovering addicts. Those of us who maybe have a little shot every now and then or whatever, a little wine every now and then or we’re teetotalers, we think, ‘Oh well, I’m not an addict. Oh, I’m pure, because I take vitamins and I eat bananas,’ and whatever.

But I tell you what. It’s that recognition that from the point of view of recovering from the addiction to the five poisons and from that awakening to Buddhahood, most of us are still at the stage where we are living like bag ladies and men under the bridge, because we ain’t recovered yet. We still have our hatreds; we still have our resentments. And we practice them.

When a Buddhist approaches ridding themselves of hatred, it can’t be done through willpower. It must be done through understanding, through practicing and ultimately through attaining view. Understanding means looking within oneself with honesty. None of us have been perfect. We’ve hurt others. We’ve killed bugs, people; I don’t know what, swatted flies, whatever. None of us has been perfect. And when we approach that, we need to look at that without excuses, bald-faced, you know?  Where have I fallen down here?

Now we don’t want to look at in a harsh and miserable way.  When I say take oneself to task, I mean have a long, sobering talk with oneself. I don’t mean self-hatred. That is useless and I don’t like it. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to talk about it; and I will slap you next week if I see it, because you are just as worthy as anyone else, and that’s just a game. When we get into self-hatred, it’s because we have bad qualities and we don’t want to deal with them. So I say, accomplish those qualities and your image of yourself will rise up like a mountain.

Most people that have poor self-image are stuck in a kind of fearful narcissism where they do not respect or understand what is outside. They do not respect or understand what is inside. They can’t tell the difference between outside and inside. And they are so internally focused, focused on their own needs, wants and dramas, particularly dramas, that it is really very difficult for these people to step out of their shell, their shell of narcissism, and begin to truly try to be of benefit to others.  This narcissism, this kind of fearful self-absorption, often is one of the causes of a kind of hatred. If you are fearful and self-absorbed in your own drama, it’s really, ultimately when you trace it down, pretty much all about you. You know? If you have that kind of thing, there is never the opportunity to understand the nature of phenomena. There is never the opportunity to understand the primordial naturally luminous wisdom state that is our nature because of the drama. And there is even a posture with that. Forthe people who have that kind of thing, as they grow older, their body tends to go like that. It caves in like that. And it’s the protecting that we’re doing of something that we feel is inherently real–ego.

When you think, ‘Oh, what can I do about this? I’m so fearful. Of course she’s saying I’m narcissistic, but it’s really that I am afraid.’ Well, what can we do about that?  I think one step is to notice that are there are other people who are afraid, also. Notice that everybody is afraid. Notice that there is a humanity that we share of brother-sisterhood, a humanness that we share, human experiences that we will all have together. We will grow old. We will be sick. We will die. This is the condition that humanity shares in samsara. So learn to recognize in others that connection, even if it’s a sad one, that we all suffer the same; and we have the same wants, too. That narcissistic self-absorbed person who is very fearful wants desperately to be happy but doesn’t know how. And so in order to make themselves better, they stay frozen. They have hatreds and fears toward everybody else. And that’s the reaction.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

The “How To” of the Method

LeavingTibet

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Art of Dispelling Anger”

There is no confusion regarding Dharma. It’s spelled out that conduct is everything, that working with one’s poisons is everything. And there are no modifications on not killing. Not killing is all pervasive. It means bugs. It means worms. It means enemies. In fact, we are the only ones that I know of who are taught to raise our enemies in loving concern higher than ourselves. Not that we do a personality cult thing, you know. We don’t do the wave every time we see our enemies. It’s not like that. But if our enemies are harming us, then they must be harming themselves also. So our compassion for them should be even greater. Tibetans were thrown out of their own country. They were killed; they saw their lamas abused; they saw their lamas murdered; they saw their texts being walked on by Chinese boots, their precious Dharma texts, and then many destroyed, as Palyul was destroyed. And yet because their culture is so different, rather than going to war or hating, from the Dalai Lama on down, they all say, “The Chinese are our gurus.  They taught us that we must have had some fault or we wouldn’t have been thrown out of Tibet, or there wouldn’t have been this huge problem.”  That’s the way Tibetans think. They think, “Oh, now maybe the problem is that we kept our faith to ourselves and we were happy just in our country, Shambala,.” And so the lamas said, “Go out and teach others. This is what we must do.”  And now they are grateful for that happening, although of course we want Tibet back. No doubt about that. But they are grateful for what happened there, for what they learned, for what they taught. It is no less a travesty. It is no less genocide than it was when it happened, yet this speaks to the quality of our faith. This speaks to the quality of our practitioners and our lamas. And so, now that we see it, we see that, in fact, it was the Chinese that sent Buddhist lamas around the world. And so we find out there are never any exceptions.

There were powerful practitioners at that time whose blessing was so strong (and I’ve heard stories about this from other lamas), whose powers were so strong that they would go out when the Chinese were shooting and they would stand in front of people with their robes held out to protect them. And then they would come inside and shake the bullets out because the blessing was so strong, their power was so strong; but they never fought. They died, but they never fought. There were many lamas who knew when the Chinese were coming, and it was hopeless. They simply did phowa and left. They didn’t wait. They knew the Chinese would kill them.  So rather than allow the Chinese to take on that non-virtue, they did phowa. And phat! they left their bodies. What was the year when the Chinese came into Tibet?  ’49?  I was born in ’49. So that’s what happened there. But there was never the thought of revenge. Never the thought of hatred or barbarism, because this is not our way. And what is great is that we can teach our children there are no exceptions. It’s black and white. That’s what is really great. Never kill. Each sentient being values its life just as much as you do. I really like that about our faith.

I see a problem in people who are trying to defeat their own poisons in this lifetime, even you guys whose faces and hearts I know so well. We tried this. We’ve given a lot to be Buddhists,  on the one hand. Yet we’ve gained a lot more by being Buddhists, on the other hand. And we’re very much involved; and each person is as committed as they can be to their path. So I know that the willingness is there. I think the caring is there, but there is so much confusion. How in the world are we supposed to defeat our poisons when it is not clear to us how we should live?

For instance, we are told in Buddhism that we must conquer hatred, greed and ignorance, and let’s see, lust and competitiveness, or warlike behavior. Let’s see. What else? Did I say sloth?  Well, that one, too.  So, we are supposed to conquer all of these things; and yet we’re not even clear what hatred is. We’re not even clear on that, because of how we were brought up.   If we acted out ,you know, few of us had parents that would sit down and say, ‘This is why this isn’t working.’  Most of us had a backhand or time out, or go away, or watch TV, or something like that; but there is never any clarity, because we ourselves don’t understand. So when we look at abolishing hatred in our mind stream, which we must do, which we’ve committed to do for the sake of sentient beings, where do we even start?  It’s so confusing. And not only where do we start? What are the perimeters?  . What does that mean, not hating?  Ok. I don’t hate you outright, but you know, if we mush with that a little bit and fool around and dance a little a bit, there’s a lot of leeway in there according to the way ordinary people think. But, in fact, that’s not true, because if you just look at the one poison, which is hatred, it’s much more widespread than you think, my poor little lambs. You know, when you go ballistic sometimes, because somebody let you down or somebody was rude to you or whatever the particular thing is?  That’s hatred. You can say it’s not because you don’t hate the person, but the rage, the thing that comes out of you is the same energy, just a little tweaked to fit our culture. It’s that same thing when you go off on somebody, . Or when you gossip. Like when you gossip to put another person down, you indicate that their qualities are down: They are not a good practitioner, they are not a good person, they are mean, they are mean to me, they are just bad. You have that kind of gossip, you know. Somebody looks at you cross-eyed and you’re going to hold a grudge for the rest of your life. That kind of thing. And every chance you get, you’re going to tell somebody how bad that person is. Or maybe you are a lightweight gossiper. You just do it with a smile on your face,  ‘She never practices.’

However you do it, whether you smile, or whether its grudge-oriented or whether you do it because there is nothing in your head but gossip, well, it’s still hatred. Now here’s where we get lost, because we think, ‘I’m not hating.’ But still, we are putting others down in order to raise ourselves up in our mind. Now there are a couple of unfortunate things that are happening there. First, the hatred. Any time that you need to raise yourself up at the expense of anyone else, that is about as far away from Buddhadharma as you can get. The instructions from Buddhadharma are that we should gain so much compassion from giving rise to the bodhicitta. And when is that going to happen?  When it feels right?   No. You have to practice. You have to make it happen, even if you’ve got to grit your teeth. One step at a time, you give rise to the bodhicitta. And eventually, hopefully, you lose the habit of putting someone else down in order to climb on top of them, because the bodhicitta requires that we understand this: We are one being. Out there is everybody else, so it seems, in relative phenomenal reality. That being the case, there are more of them than there is of me. They are therefore more important. That is what the Dharma teaches.

The basis for that is not martyrdom.  We’re not going to go to the heaven of 87 virgins or whatever. Not that I would be interested in that. Anyway, I think it was only for men. You know, that’s not going to happen to us. We don’t think of it in terms of martyrdom. We think of it in terms of view. According to what the Buddha teaches, the idea of duality, the idea that we are separate, the idea that time and space are separate, the idea that mind is separate from time and space, these are all the confusions that we live with. And so, because of that, it looks like there are so many of us out there and me over here. But in truth, if I were to meditate the way the Buddhas and bodhisattvas meditate, with pure Dzogchen view, I literally could not find a place where I end and you begin. And so I am you. I look into your eyes and I see Guru Rinpoche. How much do I love Guru Rinpoche?  That’s how much I love you. Like that.

And so sometimes, I have the occasion to speak very harshly to my students. On occasion, I’ve had to, figuratively speaking, slap them around. I mean really. Here is half of a piece of rice. You must know there there is not even that much hatred in that, none whatsoever. When I come to the point that I feel like a student needs a spanking, it’s because they are at a probability point. It could go this way or it could go that way, and I like to whap them over them that way. And that’s my job—to keep my eye on those probability points.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

A Prayer by Which We Recognize Our Own Faults and Remember the Objects of Refuge by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche


The following is from “The Lamp of Liberation: A Collection of Prayers, Advice and Aspirations”

Homage to the Guru!

Conqueror Shakyamuni, supreme guide of the universe during this fortunate aeon,
Heirs of the Conqueror, assembly of noble Bodhisattvas who
educate beings,
Revered Guru, unsurpassed protector of creatures in this degenerate time,
Together with the Three Roots, the oath-bound, and the Dharma protectors,
With yearning devotion, one-pointedly remembering you from
the depths of our hearts,
We pray again and again to invoke your attention:
Hold us with loving kindness, and by the power of your compassion,
Please bless us to accomplish our thoughts and intentions in
accord with the Dharma.
Due to former actions, by no means weak, we obtained this precious human body,
Due to merit, by no means small, we met with holy Dharma;
Accepted by the Guru, we received empowerments, blessings
and pith instructions–
Such are the jewels we hold in our hands right now!
Yet our minds, like frivolous monkeys,
Succumb to negative, deceptive demons of distraction,
And we have no ability to utilize the wealth which is our very
own.
Thus, all the instructions about the freedoms and endowments
have simply been wasted.
We are now at a crucial turning-point:
Whatever we requested, whatever we received, has all become like some kind of story;
Though our bodies appear in the posture of Dharma and we
consider ourselves as Dharma practitioners,
Our minds have not actualized the truth of Dharma.
Not knowing even a whiff of human values, let alone the view of Buddhadharma,
Having only a vague notion of the sixteen rules of proper human
conduct,
We are without conscience when we observe our bad deeds,
And our dread of being ashamed is smaller than the rear of a tail-less mouse.
Really unable to understand the ten virtuous actions of
Buddhadharma,
Full of sectarian bias, though all the doctrines come from the one Teacher,
We criticize the teachings and the sages and so accumulate bad
karma;
Thus, though relying on Dharma, we carry a great weight of sin.
Hearing a lot of teachings, our pride increases
But our mental analysis does not fathom the depth of their meaning.
Even though we think we keep the discipline of the Pratimoksha,
The four dharmas of a practitioner have been lost without a
trace.
Even though we think we possess the precious training of the
Bodhisattva,
The Four Immeasurables are only like an image of a lamp.
Even though we think we keep the samayas of the secret
Mantrayana,
The first root downfall is not guarded against and (so the rest) are
eventually discarded.
Even though we know how to voice explanations about the Four
Reflections that Reverse the Mind,
Our attachment to the appearances of this life shows there has
been no actual renunciation.
Even though we rely on a guru, our respect and devotion
gradually diminish,
And instead of having pure perception, we consider ourselves as
his equal and thus develop wrong views.
Respect, love and kindness toward our vajra brothers and sisters
decline;
Unable to tolerate a few bad words from them, we shower them
with curses.
The love and compassion generated by recognizing all beings in the six realms as our parents
Vanishes like mist when we do not practices from the depths of
Bodhicitta.
We act as though we have experienced the Development and
Completion stages,
Yet we have found no alternative to being submerged in ordinary
confusion.
We recognize that Emptiness is the ultimate teaching of both
Sutra and Tantra,
But without a decisive understanding of it our mind-streams
become hard as horns.
We are not capable of abiding in the Original Nature,
But we pay lip service to that view and throw cause and effect to
the wind.
Outwardly, we appear disciplined and well behaved, yet
inwardly, attachment, craving, desire and greed burn like fire.
Even if we keep our bodies secluded in the mountains,
Our minds stray ceaselessly, day and night, to the cities.
Not having gained confidence in ourselves in our experience and
practice,
Trying to guide others to accomplishment is like a fairy tale.
It is impossible to be cheated by the compassion of the Three
Jewels,
Yet due to a failure of devotion, we are worried and cheat
ourselves.
In this way, towards the Guru and holy Dharma,
Although we are free from the wrong views that arise from a lack
of trust,
Yet due to these difficult times, sentient beings act negatively and
remain unfulfilled,
Understanding and realization having fallen under the power of
destructive impulses;
Not having protected mindfulness and introspection, we
suffered a great loss.
The time has come to examine ourselves!
All our actions have merely added to our confusion,
All our thoughts were tainted by emotional afflictions;
Without seeing that even our virtuous activities were always
adulterated by sin,
Where is there to end up ultimately but in the lower realms?
Recalling them now, we become despondent;
Looking towards others just increases our sadness
Since we can find no beneficial friends to assuage our distress.
If we do not look after ourselves now,
Then when caught by the messengers of the Lord of Death
No one will be able to help us, and all hope will be lost.
Waiting with such empty hopes, is this not cheating ourselves?
Whatever transgressions, faults, downfalls and degeneration of the Dharma have occurred,
We will not keep secret now nor conceal them in the future,
before those who possess the yes of wisdom.
We confess from the depths of our hearts: With your compassion,
please forgive us.
Protect us from the terror of the precipice of the wrong path,
Inspire us so that we may follow the utterly pure path of
liberation.
We spent a life busy doing this and accomplishing that,
Yet we are empty-handed, without so much as a single result.
Abandoning now the path of knowing many things but
experiencing just suffering,
Why shouldn’t we enter the path of knowing the one thing that liberates everything?
Unfailing true benefactor, our sole hope and reliance,
Root Guru, who encompasses all refuges,
Praying to you with one-pointed devotion,
Most kind and revered supreme refuge, please hold us with your compassion:
Bless us to see our own faults.
Bless us to have no desire to examine the faults of others.
Bless us to pacify all turbulent, cruel and disturbing thoughts.
Bless us to have good thoughts arise from deep within.
Bless us to reduce craving and to increase contentment.
Bless us to remember that the time of death is uncertain.
Bless us to have no concerns at the moment of death.
Bless us to generate great confidence in the Dharma.
Bless us to practice impartial pure perception.
Bless us to develop uncontrived respect and devotion.
Bless us to reduce mental activity about unobtainable things.
Bless us to establish the Dharma in the depths of our minds.
Bless us to go with diligence to the depths of Dharma practice.
Bless us to liberate our mind-streams, which is the ultimate goal
of practice.
Bless us to be free of obstacles in our practice.
Bless us to have the results of our practice ripen immediately.
Bless us so that our contacts with others may be meaningful and
beneficial.
Bless us to destroy the duality of hope and fear.
Bless us to see the non-dual primordial wisdom.
Bless us to recognize the self-face of our own primordial
wisdom.
Bless us to abide in the secure place within ourselves.
Bless us to gain the great certainty without effort.
With the vast vajra weapon of primordial wisdom, which has
been present from the very beginning,
May the hollow existence of samsara and nirvana be cut in one instant.
In the ceaseless great bliss of Nyema’s celebration,
May we always enjoy the activity which is beyond union and
separation.
In the expanse of the all pervading equalness even the name
of suffering does not exist,
So who could there be still searching for happiness?
Where happiness and suffering have the same taste and grasping
is self-liberated
Is the Kingdom of Samantabhadra: May we attain it in this very life!

The Challenge of Self Honesty

buddhists-prostrating-outside-the-temple

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Art of Dispelling Anger”

We must take ourselves to task more. I don’t want to speak harshly because harshness doesn’t help, but I want to say succinctly and directly, we have to take ourselves to task regarding our faults and our poisons.   When I think of the Tibetan culture, that’s a lot easier because there isn’t that attachment to materialism.  Even in terms of the roots of the culture itself without religion, they were a nomadic people and they had things, but you couldn’t carry much.  You had your yaks and your yurts and that was it.There wasn’t that much variety in food; there wasn’t that much variety in clothing.  It’s true that the aristocratic Tibetans used to collect jewelry—some of the strangest looking jewelry.  It was intense jewelry, and that was considered a status thing. But for the most part, culturally, a Tibetan Buddhist would not have a hard time understanding that hatred, greed and ignorance and particularly desire, as the Buddha taught, keep us revolving endlessly in samsara.  We, unfortunately, are programmed quite differently.

I know in my household and in those of many people that I’ve talked to, there was confusion.  My mother was sort of a lox and bagel Jew and my father was a twice a year Catholic; and we were supposed to somehow dance in the middle. So when mama won we were going one way and when daddy won we were going the other way. I think that this happens with a lot of people.  They are raised with a lot of confusion around religion.  And even when they are taught that faith and religion should be a part of their life, and even when they are given the Western ten commandments, still there is so much confusion because we seem to find ways around that.

Thou shalt not kill.  But you can kill bugs, animals and enemies.  So who are you not supposed to kill?  I will not kill you.  That will do it.  So there is tremendous confusion around that.  How does one venerate these absolute laws that have to do with a moral and ethical human when there is so much confusion around them?  I mean, thou shall not kill but go to war.  How does that make sense to a child?   And so, as we grow up with religion, even though we have been founded in religion, or have some foundation in it, the information that we’re given is very confusing.  Thou shalt not commit adultery.  Whose family hasn’t had a little bit of that? You know, it’s just crazy.

And so, first of all, we’ve learned to be a little bit hypocritical; but most of all, we’ve learned that these laws don’t really matter, and that’s really sad.  So when we become Buddhist, we hear that there is a Vinaya and there are certain things that we must not do. And that if we take a life,  we understand that we will be giving our lives someday from having taken a life because karma works like that. Karma is exacting. When the cause arises, the results arise independently and simultaneously.  It’s our misjudgment through having the mind of duality that makes it seem like time stretches out. So even though you may not have the result of that bad karma until later on in life or even some future life, definitely we know from studying, at least. And every once in a while we get blessed with a little instant karma, so we have sometimes the opportunity to learn; but still that confusion is rampant, really rampant.

We want to practice Buddhism, so we take the teachings. We get to all the retreats; we see the right teachers; we try to do the practices. Yet we don’t really change ourselves.  It is an amazing thing to me that students can be on the path for so long and even try to go to the completion stage practices,  the tsa lung and the trekchod and togyal, and go to those levels and practice them with some part of their mind, and yet the rest of them is somehow remaining the same.  To me that is probably the worst tragedy on the path.  It’s the one that makes me not like to teach, but that’s the battle I fight with myself, you know. I’m just being honest.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Warriorship on the Path

mindfulness-istock-prv

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Art of Dispelling Anger”

The theme that we will work on today is working through one’s five poisons. I think it’s an important one. And I think what we should do is take our time and pick through it.  That doesn’t mean working through one’s five poisons.  That means getting rid of them.  In a sense when we take to the path, we think that, ‘Oh, I am going to be like the picture of the Buddhist where I get to sit on top of the Himalayan Mountains somewhere all by myself, and eventually people will climb up and ask me profound questions.’  But it really doesn’t work out like that.  When we enter upon the path we want to go forward with the most exotic practices and wear the most exotic robes and collect all the implements and learn how to use them.  I know there is the tendency to want to get into the customs and trappings and surroundings of Dharma. But really the first thing that should be done when we enter onto the path is to take hold of and begin to think of ourselves as a warrior regarding our own poisons.

Now when we say “warrior” everybody thinks they can’t be very Buddhist, because Buddhists are peaceful.  Well, Buddhists are peaceful.  We’ve never had a war that I know of.  We’ve been attacked, but we’ve never had a war.  There is no other religion that can say that.  Every other religion has brought about war and that has never happened in Buddhism. Yet we are warriors. And we consider ourselves warriors in the sense that we must take to task that which prevents us from attaining liberation, because the goals here are very different.  In other religions, there are lots of materialistic ideas about possessions, like how much land a certain religion should have or how many pieces of gold they should collect.  There is a certain materialism in it.  But with Buddhism, there is really no materialism.  In truth, students will give their last dime to make an offering to the three precious jewels.  There are many stories of practitioners whose generosity and unthinking faith—no, not unthinking, more like spontaneous faith—is so strong that they would offer even their last garment at the altar to give to the three precious jewels knowing that it is so much more important to gather the merit of making that kind of offering. That it is important to have done it.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

First, Study the Preliminaries: from “Enlightened Courage” by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The following is respectfully quoted from “Enlightened Courage” by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:

First study the preliminaries.

Consider all phenomena as a dream.
Analyse the unborn nature of awareness.
The antidote will vanish of itself.
The nature of the path rests in the alaya.
In post-meditation, consider phenomena as illusory.
Train to give and take alternately;
Mount them both upon your breath.
Three objects, three poisons and three roots of virtue.
In all your actions, train yourself with maxims.
Begin the training sequence with yourself.
When all the world is filled with evils,
Place all setbacks on the path of liberation.
Lay the blame for everyone on one.
Reflect upon the kindness of beings.
Voidness is the unsurpassed protection;
Thereby illusory appearance is seen as the four kayas.
The best of methods is to have four practices.
To bring the unexpected to the path,
Begin to train immediately.
The pith instructions briefly summarized:
Put the five stages into practice.
On how to die, the Mahayana teaches
These five strengths. It matters how you act.

All Dharma has a single goal.
Rely upon the better of two witnesses.
Always be sustained by cheerfulness.
With experience you can practice even when distracted.

Always train in three common points.
Change your attitude and maintain it firmly.
Do not discuss infirmities.
Do not have opinions on other people’s actions.
Work on the strongest of your defilements first.
Give up hoping for results.
Give up poisoned food.
Do not be hidebound by a sense of duty.
Do not meet abuse with abuse.
Do not wait in ambush.
Do not strike at weaknesses.
Do not lay the dzo’s burden on the ox’s back.
Do not praise with hidden motives.
Do not misuse the remedy.
Do not bring a god down to the level of a demon.
Do not take advantage of suffering.

Do everything with one intention.
Apply one remedy in all adversity.
Two things to be done, at the start and at the finish.
Bear whichever of the two occurs.
Even if it costs you your life, defend the two.
Train yourself in three hard disciplines.
Have recourse to three essential factors.
Meditate on three things that must not deteriorate.
Three things maintain inseparably.
Train impartially in every field;
Your training must be deep and all-pervading.
Always meditate on what is unavoidable.
Do not be dependent on external factors.
This time, do what is important.
Do not make mistakes.
Be consistent in your practice.
Be zealous in your training.
Free yourself by analysis and testing.
Don’t take what you do too seriously.
Do not be bad tempered.
Do not be temperamental.
Do not expect to be rewarded.

This distilled essence of instruction,
Which transmutes the upsurge of the five degenerations
Into the path of enlightenment,
Was handed down by Serlingpa.
Having roused the karma of past training,
And feeling powerfully inspired,
I disregarded suffering and censure
And sought out the instructions to subdue my ego-clinging;
Though I may die, I shall now have no regret.

Step by Step

StepByStep

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Reclaiming Our Merit”

Based on the eightfold path of the contemplations on the meditations, and so forth, that are prescribed, we start to build the wisdom, which is more than knowledge. Let’s say we find an ordinary person who is 70 years old. with general and average sensibilities, a person as honest as Woody Allen, who said that he never gained any wisdom his whole life.. I think that’s strange, but anyway, coming back to reality here. A 70 year old person is going to have to experience some of the cycles of life, the passages and changes that we negotiate through that change us, make grownups out of us. Somebody much younger may have the same capacity, but they have not had that repeated experience. So that’s the kind of wisdom: The way a 70 year old person would have calmer view, a better wisdom, a better grip, a bigger understanding, perhaps, of how the world works, than say, a 20 year old.

In the same way, we build our practice carefully, step by step in the way you have to live year by year. You can’t skip years if you want to do that with our practice. And don’t even dare to think to go on to the higher practices until you’ve accomplished what was before that. Really, back in the old days, that’s how it was. A teacher gave you a teaching. You climbed back down the mountain and didn’t go up again to visit your teacher until you accomplished it. And it was not, ‘I did this many mantras.’  You accomplished it. And back in those days, teachers weren’t worried about lawsuits. They would throw you down the mountain if you didn’t do it right. But nowadays we’re worried.

So these are dark times and there are reasons why we should get together more. There is a universe of reasons why we should get together and practice our art. We have the robes. We have the teachings. And I pray that we have the pure intentions, the willingness to experience a little bit of discomfort, inconvenience—oh, perish the thought—so we can actually contribute.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

The Foundation

EightFoldPath

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Reclaiming Our Merit”

Lord Buddha built the path sequentially.   First what did he teach?  That all sentient beings are suffering, that suffering is all pervasive,. that the cause of that suffering is desire and greed. None of which we, by the way, have bothered to get rid of. But he also taught that there was an end to suffering, and he taught that as the eightfold path. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten so ahead of ourselves, thinking that we are Dzogchen practitioners that we haven’t bothered to have right mind, right concentration, right meditation, right work, … (I have a list somewhere. I’ve forgotten them all.) But all of the eightfold path, all of those different qualities, they have to be looked at one at a time. Right speech: That means cut out the gossip; that means you cut out the bullshit and the bad words you have toward each other. Right contemplation:. Ok, what is wrong contemplation?   Wrong contemplation is watching phenomena dance around you and just buying in, dancing with it. Right contemplation would be taking the Buddha’s teachings one by one and studying them carefully. Have any of you practiced the eightfold path?  No. No. Then the Buddha came along, and he took the eightfold path and he sort of condensed it into the Mahayana view, which is wisdom and compassion.

The thing is, that when we have wisdom and compassion, we think, ‘Oh, that’s much easier.’ So we leave behind the eightfold path and we go right to the wisdom and compassion; and really we do ourselves a disservice by faking our way through it. Wisdom is something that arrives through practice, through service to fulfilling the ideas that Lord Buddha presented before. In other words, wisdom and compassion are not considered separate or different or above the eightfold path. You still have to accomplish the eightfold path, you see. And when you have fulfilled that, then you have the capacity to give rise to wisdom and compassion. And then you find out that the reason why the eightfold path was taught first, and Mahayana second, , is that it’s almost impossible to keep your commitment as a bodhisattva and to practice the way of the bodhisattvas for even one hour.

And so we have to rely on all that we’ve learned before this to build this house of Dharma. We have to make sure it’s all standing correctly, and we’re all here in line, and the foundation is good. Then you can start to build a house. That’s your wisdom and your compassion. And you have to ask yourself, has it come yet? We’re waiting for compassion to come likeHappy Birthday, you know, some sort of thing that is coming from a wave from the sky. Suddenly you’ll be good. But in order to really give rise to compassion like that, you have to have your foundation; and then as you begin to give rise to the bodhicitta, you have to base it on what you learned before.

What did you learn before?  All sentient beings are suffering. That in samsara, suffering is so pervasive that our perception is askew. We don’t know up and down. We’re running so fast to get away from discomfort and pain; we really don’t have ourselves in order. This is what the Buddha taught. And so you look at the situation of sentient beings.  If you did that right contemplation and you did it right, you really spent some time on it. And you open your eyes. You don’t close them and say, ‘I hate this stuff. I can’t look.’ You open your eyes and see it, and be willing to shoulder the burden of noticing that what Lord Buddha taught was right: That there is nothing but suffering, really, and we’re causing it ourselves through our being asleep and our lack of understanding.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

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