The Ticking Clock

feast

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Why We Suffer”

The next piece of information that you really have to take in is that not only are you responsible for being where you are now, and not only are you responsible for what’s going to happen next, but you don’t have much time. This precious human rebirth goes by as quickly as a waterfall falling down rocks. Depending on how old you are, you’ll know that. You partially know that already. I’m forty-one and I think to myself constantly how it was only yesterday that I was eighteen, nineteen, twenty.  Only yesterday. In my mind I feel like a child; I’m not fully grown yet. I feel like I’m not grown up, not mature yet. And I’m halfway through this bugger. Now that’s true of all of us; and some of us are further along than others. We don’t have much time. It’s going by very quickly. If you don’t take a hold of this opportunity now, you will not be able to utilize it.

Please understand that you are deeply involved in a habitual reactive process. The mind is tight, and it is tightly ingrained in its compulsive habitual tendencies. That you will be able to take advantage of one small moment of spaciousness, that you will be able to really absorb the nectar and really able to use it, according to the teachings, is really as unlikely as a sea turtle surfacing in a great ocean and coming up through a round circle that is afloat on the ocean. How rare is that? So please do what you can to make this opportunity as auspicious as possible. Please accept the fact that even though you’re hearing the teachings, and you’re hearing them as well as you can, you’re only hearing a little bit of them. The mind is hard. Soften the mind. Go for the nectar of the teaching that leads to enlightenment as though you were a starving and thirsty being on a desert where there is no other water to be found. Generate that thirst. Generate that thirst as though your throat were parched, as though there were nothing else. And then aim truly. Try not to make up your own religion. Actually, we’ve been doing that for eons and eons in cyclic existence. We have been making up the religion of self. This is the religion of ego. We have a religion, it’s true. Time to convert. Now we need to follow the method that leads to enlightenment, not the one that leads to further self-absorption and more suffering. Remember that all the experiences that you’ve had are phenomena; that they are direct displays of your own habitual tendency, and, therefore, as meaningless, really; that the meaningful truth about you is the most glorious truth and the one that you keep forgetting. In your nature, you are the Buddha; and it is possible to awaken, and therefore to be free from cyclic death and rebirth and from samsaric suffering. It is possible. But it will not happen without great effort. And it will not happen if you don’t begin now.

So please do utilize the opportunity. Do utilize the teaching. If you go away from this and you change in some way… And, of course, the idea is to change. If you didn’t want to change, you probably wouldn’t be here. If you go away from this and change in some way, change sufficiently to where the mind becomes more relaxed, the heart becomes more receptive… If these things begin to happen and you actually begin to practice, begin to make wishing prayers, begin to make kindness the cornerstone, the backbone, of your incarnation, of your life, then this day has been worth something. But if you just wanted to sample the wares here, your mind probably is like a bowl turned over and the nectar, once again, has escaped you. Please take a hold of yourself. Please utilize this precious human rebirth. Please understand the nature of cyclic existence and its faults. And please understand the beautiful and bountiful feast that awaits you upon awakening.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo all rights reserved

Only You Can Do It

Taxi Cab

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Why We Suffer”

 

 

Sentient beings have an interesting preoccupation. And that preoccupation is with self; Is with perceiving its solidity; is with holding to it in a grasping and clinging way. And due to that preoccupation, we feel that we actually perceive all things in a dualistic fashion. That means that whatever is the content of our mindstream, we will actually see it flashed out there somewhere and it will take the form of our lives. And to the degree that we believe ourselves to be solid and real, and very, very kind of written in stone and unsurpassably solid, to that degree our environment feels exactly the same. Now, I’m not suggesting that you walk out in front of a taxi and say, ‘Hey you’re not really here. See if you can run over me.’ Because it will. Surely it will. You should practice a little more before you try something like that. Lots and lots of meditation. Like, maybe, lots and lots of meditation. I’ll give you the go when it’s time to stand in front of a taxi. You notice I never stand in front of taxies. But anyway, what we have to begin to do now is on a very subtle level. We have to understand that our experience is the revelation or display of our own mindstream. We have to begin with the very subtle characteristics. That’s as hard to do, believe it or not, as walking in front of a taxi is. Maybe harder. You walk in front of a taxi, boom, it’s over. You start to be a Buddhist and you look at your life and you realize that this is the content of your mindstream; and your suffering has just begun because our lives are tough. And this is very hard to realize.

You know, sentient beings, all of them, are fantastic creatures, everyone from human beings to cockroaches to non-physical beings, the ones that we can see and the ones that we can’t see. We are fantastic creatures. Our innate nature is the Buddha nature. In our essence we are the enlightened mind, the basis of all our experience. Everything that we have ever experienced is the great primordial emptiness. We are fantastic creatures. That is our nature. In our teaching it says over and over again, in our nature we are the all-pervasive, foundational bodhicitta, the all-pervasive compassion. We are the very Lord in our nature. That’s what it says in all the teachings.

But we are so deeply caught up in the habit of self-absorption, so deeply and compulsively caught up in the belief and solidity of self that the great lamas, the great Buddhas, the great boddhisattvas, they can all come to the earth and say, ‘This is what you are; this is what it is; and this is what you should do.’ And it seems that we have so little capacity to take this nectar and really utilize it, really turn around the content of our experience.

How many times have lamas said to us, ‘This is the great truth. This is the great meditation. This is the nature. This is our nature. And this is the method by which we can accomplish the awakening through that nature.’ And how little has been our regard for that nourishment. It’s as though nectar were being poured down from the skies and we have tiny, tiny, tiny little mouths unable to open and great big stomachs full of hunger pang. We can’t seem to pick it up. But occasionally, very rarely, as rare as finding a precious jewel by sifting through garbage, occasionally some virtue that we have accumulated in the past—who knows what it was—from feeding a child to accidentally walking around a stupa because you didn’t know what direction you were walking in; some virtue that might have to do with helping someone and might have to do with accidentally doing something that is of benefit to someone in some way that you never could have imagined,… Somehow these unpredictable and wonderful events have lined up in such a rare way as to create one moment, one tiny window. And believe me, in the amount of time that we have been sentient beings, this whole lifetime is a very tiny window. Somehow things have lined up into this tiny window that we call a precious human rebirth. And even within this precious human rebirth, somehow miraculously there is this incredible lineup.Who could have predicted it? Who could have known how it could happen? There’s no way that you can force this to happen. It just happens because cause and effect relationships are like the wind and you never know which way they’re going to blow. And suddenly they blow in the right direction and here’s this window and you can hear the Buddha’s teaching. And somehow magically in the space of that, you are moved enough to hear it well enough to step out of the compulsive, habitual tendency that has your mind as tight as a rubberband and come up with the brilliant idea: I can change. I can turn this around. I can plant a new seed. I can accept that these are my habitual tendencies, and I can begin to work to apply the antidote.

You cannot imagine how rare such a thing is. Even if it’s possible for all of us to come here and hear teachings every day for the next three hundred years and within those next three hundred years that you would have one such moment, one moment like that, when you say, ‘Yes, enough. Let’s change. Let’s do it now. Let’s apply the teaching.’ And then you really apply the teaching. For those circumstances to line up like that is so rare. It should be considered like the preciousness of a jewel and as rare as though you had found it by sifting through garbage. Strangely, it’s your own garbage and it’s also your own jewel. It’s the finding that’s the hard part.

But Here’s what you should do. If you have the opportunity to have been born in a precious human rebirth, and you have, then you should play on that immediately by lining up your intention and beginning to make wishing prayers that you will be able to make use of this time. Make them all the time, constantly. Never stop making wishing prayers. Couple those wishing prayers by accumulating the merit and beginning the process of actually being of benefit to others by making wishing prayers that others will also find the precious human rebirth and that they too will find the auspicious circumstances. Begin to work on that a little bit. Line it up. Take hold of it. Don’t let it slide by you. You’re not a Barbie doll like those little kids were holding. You don’t have to sit in class like this, or like this. Barbie doll is like this. You don’t have to do that. And you don’t have to do that in your mind either. Begin to line up the circumstances. Begin to play on it. Begin to make it happen for you. Come to the teachings. Then when you hear the teachings, listen to the teachings. Listen to them well. Line your mind up. Take a hold of yourself. Take a hold yourself. You do have that power.

If you think that the blessing of enlightenment is going to come from outside; if you think that you have no control; if you think that you are good because your parents made you good, or you’re bad because your parents made you bad; if you think like that, forget it. You’re not going to do anything. You’re going to wait. You know what waiting produces? Waiting. That’s what waiting produces. It produces waiting. It’s like a little baby. Was drooling before, drooling after. If you continue to wait, you continue to drool. There’s logic in there somewhere. I know you can’t think about that right now, but truly, waiting is not going to help. But to take a hold of yourself and not let the experience of this precious and auspicious opportunity simply slide by you; to open your mind; to make your mind like a bowl; to practice as though nectar were being poured into you, and to really practice; to line it up and to do it. Honestly and truly. You have that opportunity, but only you can line it up and make it happen. Only you can do that.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo all rights reserved

Our Predicament

gautama-buddha

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Mixing the Mind with the Guru” 

What I would like to talk about in the adult portion of our teaching is the particular situation, the predicament actually, that sentient beings find themselves in. Sentient beings are in a situation that is something of a struggle, in that for sentient beings often they have problems and not much understanding in the way of being able to solve their problems because they do not understand how their problems have arisen. They do not understand that they must apply an antidote. And often in their efforts to alleviate their own suffering, they perpetuate their problems. So I’d like to explain something of the Buddhist idea as to how that actually comes about. The Buddhist idea as to how our suffering comes about may differ somewhat from what we ordinarily consider the sources and reasons of our problems; and certainly I would think that the Buddhist idea of how to solve the problem will differ from what we have been taught in our society. So I hope that you will listen patiently and really give it a shot, give it a chance. Give it an opportunity to settle into your mind. What I will try to explain, then, is the format or the backbone of some Buddhist ideas.

According to the way we ordinarily view things, we feel or perceive ourselves to be a real and solid object stuck kind of in the center of an environment; and we feel ourselves to be interacting with our environment. From our perspective, it seems as though, from what our parents told us, one fine day we were born. We don’t actually remember that, but we’ve been told that that’s the case; and some of us have birth certificates and pictures to prove it. It seems as though we appeared within this environment. We were born, and from that point on, it seems as though circumstances have acted upon us to cause us to form in a certain way. That is a very popular idea. It is the idea of the day. Whenever one wishes to go into some kind of deeper study, or deeper awareness according to the potential and fad, actually, of our society, generally if we are not deeply religious people, even if we are moderately religious people, we will be guided into an understanding of the psychological makeup of an individual and how it interacts with its environment. And expecting the fact that the individual is what it seems to be exactly, no more, no less, we will begin to study what seems to be the cause and effect relationships between an individual and its environment.

For instance, we have the idea that if we grow up with kindness that probably we will be more healthy psychologically, that we will be more stable. And we have the idea that if we grow up with suffering, such as deprivation or even abuse, that we will be not kind, really, not caring and very insecure and very unhappy people. The idea is that if one grows up with abuse and neglect that one will certainly give abuse and neglect to others. We have the idea that if we grow up with poverty that we will grow up with characteristics that are natural to the impoverished person, whatever those characteristics are thought to be. But there are certain expectant results that we have from the way that we grow up. And actually people in our society spend, comparatively speaking, a fair amount of time looking at the way that they interact with their environment, looking at the characteristics that they have, the qualities that they have, and actually trying to trace them back to things that happened in their early childhood. These are things that we are taught to do. And this is the fashion, actually, of our time in this particular cultural environment.

Buddhist philosophy differs from that greatly, actually. The reason why Buddhist philosophy differs so much is that there are certain foundational expectancies that I’ve just listed that are so ordinary, so normal in our society that we wouldn’t even think to question them. For instance, we would not think to question that our experience begins at the time of our birth; and we would not think to question that our experience is completely controlled by the input of our environment and our parents. We would never think to question that. While we might accept the idea that we have come into this life with certain genetic predisposition, we don’t really understand that genetic predisposition. We think of it as kind of a chemical thing. And yet, even though we have this certain genetic predisposition, we think that for the most part our habitual tendencies, our ideas, our qualities have more to do with the way that we respond to the catalysts that are contained within our early life. That’s how we think.

The Buddha thinks differently about all of that. The philosophy that’s presented is actually quite different in that the Buddha teaches us that this is not the first incarnation or birth that we have ever taken; that as sentient beings we have been involved in a great many birth and death experiences; that we are actually locked into what is called cyclic existence or samsara, which is a cyclic death and rebirth experience. We are actually taught that this birth and death process has taken place many times. In fact, if you are a human and you can even hear the word Buddha, or can hear the teaching that will bring you closer to enlightenment in any way, shape, manner or form, then that should be considered proof that you have lived many times, because it takes many lifetimes of accumulated virtue and merit in order for you to be in this position. One does not happen to be in the position just because in the same way that apples happen to fall from trees. One has to have accumulated a great deal of virtue and merit in order to be in the position of even considering to practice the path of enlightenment. So you’ve had to have had a lot of experience as a sentient being. Oh, it doesn’t mean that you’re at the point where your future is assured. It doesn’t mean that you’re in such good shape that you really don’t have worry about it. It doesn’t mean that it’s downhill from here. It means that you still have a lot to do, because until we achieve enlightenment, actually, we really aren’t safe. We are still sentient beings and we are still revolving in cyclic existence; and we still have the same conditions and situations associated with being a sentient being. But the Buddha teaches us that we must have lived many lifetimes before.

So when we come into this life, we are actually an appearance, or a re-birth, of one who has with them a whole conglomeration of cause and effect relationships already instituted—already begun, already in action, already arising. Some in seed form and some arising in a very obvious and blatant way. If a sentient being has revolved in cyclic existence for some time, they have accumulated many habitual tendencies. They have begun many different causes and experienced many different effects. For some great long time, they have assumed that self-nature, their own self-nature as well as the nature of all phenomena is inherently real, and they, for a very long time, acted accordingly. According to Buddhist philosophy, that continuation, that stream of continuing assumption can be called a mindstream. A continued push, a movement of dynamic occurrence, all of which is based on the assumption of self-nature as being inherently real and the constant need to hold to self-nature and to define it.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Commentary on the Bodhisattva Vow: HH Penor Rinpoche God Realm

 

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The following is adapted from an oral commentary given by His Holiness in conjunction with a ceremony wherein he bestowed the bodhisattva vow upon a gathering of disciples at Namdroling in Bozeman, Montana, November 1999:

Next, consider the gold realm. Gods remain in their realm where they experience immeasurable bliss and happiness for long periods of time. They all have their own palace and gardens, wish-granting trees, and celestial food; everything in their external environment is inconceivably wonderful. Internally they experience only happiness and bliss throughout the entire course of their life. Eventually they exhaust their karma for that rebirth. Prior to that, the dying clairvoyant gods see the place of their future rebirth, which in most cases happens in the hell realm. They take such a rebirth due to having exhausted all tainted virtue that brought them rebirth in the god realm, and then nothing remains for them except an abundance of weighty negative karma. The vast storehouse of merit they once possessed is spent, and they have nowhere to go but to the lowest hell realm. Seeing the irreversible fate that awaits them, and knowing it is too late to reverse that, they experience tremendous suffering. They are powerless to reverse their karma of having to fall from the celestial realm of the gods to the lowest realms in existence.

Buddha therefore taught that there is not even a needle point’s worth of true happiness in samsara. Now you can understand the meaning of that teaching. Even if there is happiness, it always changes because it is impermanent. Happiness in samsara occurs as the result of the karma produced to cause it. Once that cause and result are exhausted, that happiness becomes something else, which is why the term cyclic existence is used to express the nature of life in the six realms. Sentient beings pass from rebirth to rebirth, revolving on this endless wheel of changing realms in dependence on their own karmic accumulations.

If your hair were suddenly to catch fire, you would immediately, without hesitation, try to put out that fire. Likewise, by understanding that cyclic existence is by nature permeated with suffering, and by understanding that it can never be anything other than that, you should immediately, without hesitation, focus on putting out the fire of cyclic existence. Focus totally on effort to extract yourself from this endless suffering of cyclic existence, so that you can achieve the state of permanent bliss and happiness, the state of fully enlightened buddhahood.

Thus it is taught that in order to be successful in reversing strong attraction and attachment to cyclic existence, we must practice dharma. Through the practice of dharma we can reverse attachment to existence and gain more momentum toward liberation, to the point where we realize the state of permanent bliss and cease to return to samsara.

How to Uphold the Opportunity

bee in jar

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru is Your Diamond”

We revolve in samsara likes bees in a jar. At some point, bees that know each other meet up. And when that happens and it happens to be one’s guru, this is the connection that is most precious. We should understand that if we feel that connection and that it is heartfelt, that is like a diamond that you should invest. To hold onto it and to keep it stagnant is not the way; not to say, ‘I’ve got this connection, therefore I’m in like flint.’  One has to take that connection and build on it. You have to use it for investment. You use that connection to create more virtue through learning the Buddhadharma and practicing accordingly; through going to the teacher for guidance and advice, and then practicing that accordingly. There’s no use going to the teacher for guidance and advice if you don’t practice accordingly. Then you’re simply cashing in that diamond for nothing. You’re throwing it out the window, and it’s too precious to waste. Instead, again, you should invest on it, build on it. That’s cash. That’s money in the bank. That’s the most precious thing you own in this lifetime, no matter how wealthy you are.

And so you go to that teacher for guidance, for advice. You allow that teacher and ask for that teacher to open and prepare your mind and to deepen the mind and to mature the mind; and you depend on that teacher similarly to… Let’s say you had somehow a cash cow in the bank, you know a diamond or some fabulous thing that could be earning interest. In the same way that that diamond might be the nugget and maybe you’re living off the interest, you think like that [about the  teacher]. You’re always making the moves and doing the things that never harm the principal and only increase the interest. See what I’m saying? I’m using a funny money analogy here, but it’s like that.

That diamond must be kept in a sacred place, enthroned upon the lotus of one’s heart where it cannot be harmed. And if you find that that diamond is somehow misplaced and it’s in your mouth and you’re talking about it in a non-virtuous way, get it back down there again. Do your practice. Recite The Seven Line Prayer. Reestablish that connection. Think that it lives in you, as it does.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Rocketship

rocketship

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru Is Your Diamond”

Many people, when they come to the Path, they do feel the connection with some particular deity. I know of one person who felt a very strong connection to Manjushri, with his great sword cutting through ignorance. And yet that person did not practice proper Guru Yoga and understand that the nature that is Manjushri with the sword is the very nature that is our root guru; and that sword could be a word, a look, a piece of advice, some heart teaching, anything that cuts through the darkness of ignorance. Some of us can understand that and then others of us want to have our particular deity. You hear the pride in that, don’t you?  ‘I’m into Manjushri!  He’s the guy with the big sword. What a guy.’  And yet, every Buddha that we can visualize, all of the peaceful and wrathful deities that naturally appear in the bardo and are part of our own nature and can be recognized, each one of them has the complete and perfect qualities of all the Buddhas.

So, while it’s an amazing thing if you are attracted to some particular Buddha, like maybe Amitabha or Chenrezig or Tara, you might say, ‘Oh, I really love that deity.’  That’s good. Cultivate that. But do not miss the step that Guru Rinpoche gave to us when he said, “This nature, the nature of one’s teacher is unsurpassed by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions.”  Why did he say that?  To create confusion so that everyone in all our different places could look at our own particular root guru and say that’s the best one?   No, that’s crazy. That’s just more ordinary thinking. But instead, by implication, we understand that what we must do is to recognize the intrinsic nature that appears as our root guru, the promise of Guru Rinpoche fulfilled. And if Guru Rinpoche said this was going to work, well it’s going to work.

So, Guru Yoga is like a rocketship. We depend on the accomplishment, the qualities and the nature that appears as our own root guru. Early on in the relationship with our root teacher, we should practice thoughtful discrimination. That is to say, we should ask ourselves: Has this teacher really given rise to the great Bodhichitta?  Do we see that Bodhichitta is present here?  Ok. Check that box. Got that one. Ok. Do we see that this teacher has the capacity to ripen my mind?  Do I hear Dharma from this teacher?  Check that one. Is this teacher considered qualified by peers of her lineage/his lineage/their lineage, whichever?  Is this teacher properly recognized and considered properly an authority and a throne holder?  Does this teacher have good qualities? Does this teacher have the ability to communicate?  Let’s see. What else? Does this teacher have an unbroken chain that connects us to the source of the blessing, which is Guru Rinpoche?  You betcha!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We think through these things. And at that time if you decide this teacher is not for me, then there is no harm in saying, ‘I’ll keep looking.’  Maybe the connection is not quite right. So that’s when you do your discriminating and your thinking. But once you’ve decided—check boxes are all full, looks good to me and I have that feeling, I feel that connection, something is wiggling in my little heart chakra… So when we come to that place, after that point, you must put yourself on a diet, because after that point, there’s no more judgment.

 

Once we make the judgment and discrimination necessary and have that undeniable sense that one has entered the Path and met one’s root guru, after that point, judgment should be put aside. Then the ball is in your court. Not that the teacher doesn’t have a responsibility. I promise you, the teacher knows their responsibility, if they are worth their weight in salt. And that teacher not only knows their responsibility but also knows their students. A good teacher will be willing to say to a student keep looking. Go see this lama here or that lama there. See what you think. Once the teacher has accepted the student, and the student has accepted the teacher, then that bond becomes more intimate than any marriage, any mother and child relationship, any friendship. It’s hard to understand that because we think, ‘Oh, teacher. I only see you every so often, but I see my spouse and my children every day. Therefore, it must be more intimate.’

 

However, I will tell you that in order for you to be here, to be accepted as my student and to accept me as well, for that karma to mesh in that particular way, we must have known each other many times, many times. The relationship between student and teacher is not a relationship that ends in one lifetime. If we take vows together, I am responsible for you always. And so long as you remain in the world and have not yet accomplished liberation, I must appear again in samsara in order to liberate you. I must. Even if there’s only one, just you, your teacher will return for you. Under any conditions.

Problems?

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Conceptual Proliferation”

When we see the guru, we don’t look at the guru and say, Well, I like him or her, or, I don’t like him or her. We don’t think like that. That’s not a good reason to take a teacher; and it’s not a good reason to reject a teacher. We accept a teacher based on the clarity that they can show us, and whether they themselves have crossed the ocean of suffering. And so our view of the teacher is based on that.

Now, we find ourselves in a position where we are confused. We really don’t get the big picture. We really are experiencing everything that we experience due to a false assumption and false reaction and false set of conceptualizations that are built on all those erroneous views. How can we untangle this spaghetti kind of phenomena? Well, if we tried to pick out the pieces one by one, we would still be doing it from the point of view of the assumption of self-nature, so it’s never going to be clear. We really must rely on the perception of that one who has crossed the ocean of suffering. We really have to rely on the guidance of our teachers and the teaching of the Buddha. We really must rely on that.

The most important step that any student can make—and any good student will really have to make this at some point—is arriving at the conclusion, or coming to the understanding that you really just don’t know. That you really just don’t have a clue. Many students, when they first come to temple, and when they first begin on the spiritual path, feel a kind of arrogance, a kind of pridefulness. We talked about that the last time that we were together. They really assume that they know something, you know? ‘Well, I’ve had several different teachers and I’ve been on the spiritual path for some time now; and yes, I have a great affinity for spiritual things. And in fact, I myself have taught a few people, in my humble way.’ You know, and they sort of think like that. They come to the temple, and then they think, ‘Yes, well I’ve tried everything so now I think I’ll try some Tibetan Buddhism because you know, it’s like really exotic. Having been everywhere, I guess I’ll try Tibet.’  And so that’s what they think, really, when they come to the path. And really even some of the oldie, goldies over here were like that. Oh, oh, let me tell you. It was pew city for a long time. I actually had many of them come to me and tell me how wonderful they were and how helpful they had been in other people’s spiritual awakening. And all they needed from me was a reading. You don’t think that’s weird? Then you have some work to do. So, anyway, they experienced that, and you may actually be experiencing that. And you may feel just a little itchy under the collar when I talk about this, or a little uncomfortable.

At any rate, there will come a point in any proper student’s life when they might enter in that way. Then, at some point, they simply realize that they don’t know anything. They just haven’t got a clue in the world. And at that point, they finally have entered onto the path, because you cannot enter onto the path any other way. And every religion has a way of telling you that. I’m thinking about Christianity—that you have to enter Jerusalem through the eye of the needle. There is actually a place in Jerusalem, as I understand it, or was—I don’t know if it’s actually still there—where there is a tunnel or rock formation which is quite low, and it’s called the eye of the needle. Camels going into Jerusalem that way actually have to get down on their knees to enter into it. So that analogy is made: That you have to enter by getting down on your knees. You actually have to get off of the arrogance and the spiritual superiority that you have.

This may come as a shock to you; but, in fact, you are not getting messages from Jesus, or Buddha, from the Pleiades star system, or anybody else, as you thought you were every night at 7:00. You actually are not getting the inner directives that you thought you were. You’re just confused! And I’m really sorry about that. I really hate to break this to you, but you’re having a lot of problems. When you get to the point on the path that you can actually realize that, you’re somewhere and you’re in good shape. Until you realize that, believe me—and you’re not going to like my saying this and you might not come back—but you’re nowhere and you’re not in good shape.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

 

 

Conceptual Proliferation

When-should-I-report-a-car-accident-to-the-insurance-company-2

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Conceptual Proliferation”

In our ongoing continuum of trying to understand correct view from many different angles, I would like to talk about the conceptual proliferation that we continually engage in and how that actually occurs. If any of you have had any familiarity with any kind of psychotherapy or counseling, or with any kind of inner work at all, one of the things that you might have noticed during your work is that dependent on how you accept information and how you react to it, under those conditions you’ll have a certain kind of experience. And that certain kind of experience really depends on how you accept things, on how you hear things. How many of you have noticed that? That it isn’t what happens to you; it’s how you hear it or how you accept it. Are there any of you who haven’t noticed that? Some of you didn’t raise your hands. I was just checking. You haven’t noticed that. OK. Here’s what I’m saying: Whatever happens to you isn’t always what determines how you feel. It’s how you accept what’s happening to you. Do you agree with that? OK. Because one thing can happen to two different people and they can have two totally different experiences. Isn’t that true? That’s true.

Let’s say two different people have a car accident. Buddha forbid. Two different people have a car accident. One of them tends to be a heavy breather, you know, and they’re just going through the tragedy, and the shame of it, and the anger of it, or whatever it is that their particular habit—and habit may be the operative word there—happens to be. But another person tends to accept things like that kind of like water rolling off a duck’s back. It goes down easier somehow. It’s just their temperament and their personality. They both had the same experience, and maybe they both walked away without injury and had their cars totalled, or both broke a leg, heaven forbid, or whatever; but they might still have totally different experiences even though they had the same kind of situation. So basically that’s what I’m talking about.

So you all have seen that, I’m sure. Even in your own lives you’ve seen that. And a lot of time during the course of counseling, you don’t really engage in trying to change the facts of your life, the things that you cannot change; but you more often engage in changing how you respond to certain things and how you understand them. Well, if this is true in something as relatively simplistic as human psychology or psychotherapy, as we know it,… And I say relatively simplistic because the Buddha’s understanding of what our nature actually is is much more profound, or much deeper, than a psychologist’s understanding of what our nature is. Even if we understand that phenomena on a very simplistic level—and it seems to be an accepted fact these days that we understand that our perception really dictates our experience—how much more so must it be at the level that the Buddha approaches it from.

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

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