Beacon of Clarity

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

According to the teaching, and according to the recommendations that all of our teachers have given us, those thoughts have no inherent reality other than the reality that we give them in expressing and clinging to the continuum. So if we were to simply let them be what they are, they’re just bubbles, only bubbles, and we can let them go. Our tendency, however, happens to be a very neurotic one. When we see a bubble rise to the surface of the lake of our mind, first of all we don’t even get that our mind is a lake, we’re just in this sea of wavy stuff, just constantly in this big wavy sea. And so when a bubble rises to the surface of the sea of despair that we are involved in, we beat it to a froth. I mean we get our little psychic eggbeater and we just go to town beating it and whipping it up. And pretty soon we have lots and lots of bubbles. And then the next thing we do is say, ‘Oh my God, bubbles!’ And we panic and follow them everywhere they go. And we assume that because those bubbles are there, we are the bubbles. And that is our life.

Now the Buddha teaches us that we don’t have to do that. In fact, that’s really dumb! So the first thing you want to do when you get up in the morning is think, ‘I really don’t know what’s going on here. I’ve been whipping myself into a froth of confusion since who knows when, and I’m really just not getting the big picture.’ That’s when it’s possible to accomplish some view, because the view comes in where you can look at the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and you can look at your guru or teacher as being the representative and administrator of those three and the embodiment of those three, and you can think, ‘Well, in my confusion even I can see that the Buddha was different than me. Not in his nature, because he taught that in the nature we are the same; but in his perception he was different.’ The Buddha said, about himself, “I am awake.” That means when a bubble rose to the lake of his mind, he knew what to do with it, or what not to do with it. He didn’t panic and beat it into a froth. His mind wasn’t filled with the samsaric, conditioned response and conceptual proliferation that ours is. His mind was very much like a lake. He wasn’t filled with the same kind of confusion that we are, so he could see clearly. And when the Buddha tells you that your nature is not like that and that you can let it go and that you can meditate on emptiness and arrive at accomplishing wisdom and compassion, then you can believe that that’s true. And you can believe it more than you can believe actually what your own two eyes and your own mind tells you. Now that’s scary for Westerners, because we’ve been taught, ‘Think for yourself!’ Well, try to remember what thinking for yourself actually means. You’ve been doing it since you were born and what good has it done you so far. I mean think about it. You’ve been whipping yourself into a froth since time out of mind, and wandering in samsara and confusion.

So when we look to the Buddha, we look at someone who has crossed that ocean, who has seen, who has had the mist taken from his view, his eyes, you see, and he can see more clearly. He does not assume the idea of self-nature as being inherently real. He has accomplished the understanding of his own true nature, which is that primordial wisdom state. So he’s clear, you see? Not like us. He does not do duality. He does not do attraction and repulsion. He does not do hope and fear. And he does not do super-structuring, or conceptual proliferation. When you think about the Dharma, you think that is actually the teaching that the Buddha has brought to the world. And he brought to the world a means, or a way, by which each one of us can accomplish that kind of clarity. When we think of the Sangha, we think of the Sangha as the religious community, or spiritual community, that engages in the practice and upholds the practice and makes it available to us. When we think of the lama, we think of the lama as being all those three wrapped into one, because the lama gives us the Buddha’s teaching, has accomplished the teaching as well, provides a means by which we can receive the teaching, and keeps the teaching safe and available to us. And so the lama, then, is like the doctor or the nurse who actually gives us the medicine.

Therefore, the view becomes this: I have been wandering in samsara since time out of mind. I cannot see straight. I’m wandering kind of helplessly because I have this false assumption and all kinds of false contrivance that arise from that, and confusion that arises from that. Therefore, I take refuge in that which is clarity, in what which is the primordial wisdom, in that which is the very display of innate wakefulness without confusion. I take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and especially in the lama as being all three. And so the view becomes that: The lama is seen as that which is a beacon of clear light in a world where we are wandering in confusion. And we hold that view. That is one way in which we should most assuredly view the guru. That is the understanding.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Finding Safety

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

I’m reminded again and again of that wonderful story that we hear in our tradition of the father who had many children in a house, children that he loved very dearly. The father came home to his house and he saw these children were playing in the house, but that the house was on fire. And so he called out to his children. He said, “Come out! Come out quickly! The house is on fire!”  He couldn’t really get in to help them, so he’s calling, “Come, come. Please come! Come out quickly! “ And the children were playing. They were happy playing. You know how children are. You know how children are. They were happy playing; and they were busy, being very important in their house. Very, very important in their house. So they were busy in the house playing important games. Aren’t we all playing important games? They’re very important games. So we’re playing important games in our house. And those children are in there; and they’re playing, and they’re intent. They’re concentrating. Aren’t we concentrating on our lives? We’re so concentrated. We concentrate so hard! And so the children are playing. And no matter how hard the father calls, and how loud, the children cannot come out. They cannot hear. They can’t get themselves together. Have you ever seen children, how they do that? They just can’t pull themselves away. Have you ever noticed how children do that?  Big children too! So anyway, that’s happening and happening. And suddenly the father thinks, ‘How can I?’ he’s crying. ‘How can I get my students [sic] out?’

So he sounds the sound that the children need to hear. He said, “I have chariots for you. I have umbrellas for you. I have big elephants to pull you. I have toys for you to play with. I have everything you need out here. Come! Come!”  And seductively, the teacher calls the student. The father calls his children. (Freud, your slip is showing!) The father calls the children. So the father’s calling the children. And suddenly the children go, “Toys? Toys? Umbrellas? Elephants? Chariots? Yeah! That’s what I want!”  And then they come out, and the father says, “Really, I don’t have anything for you. It’s just that the house was on fire, and I had to get you out. But I have for you something precious. I have for you your freedom. Now you’re free and you can live. And you weren’t consumed. You weren’t consumed and helpless by yourselves.”

So the story’s kind of like that. I’m paraphrasing it, but it’s kind of like that. And it really is the story of the teacher and the student, isn’t it? It really is the story of the teacher and the student. All that is done is that the student is being called. Everything else that happens happens in your mind. All you are truly seeing when you meet your root guru is the compassionate extension of the Buddha’s miraculous activity. The rest is up to you.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Outside the Reaction

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Remember, when you are angry at your teacher, which really is useless to be, when you are resentful, when you are anxious, when you are going through all the gamut of human experience, which you do, when you do everything from wanting to belt your teacher right in the snoot to falling desperately in love with your teacher… When any of those things happen, remember that this is a reflection of your mind. This is your nature. This is your habitual tendency rather; and as you go deeper into your practice with your teacher, you will eventually also see your nature. In the way that you saw your habitual tendency, you will also see your nature.

Stand outside of that reaction. It is only that. It has no real importance. It’s not a big deal. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t blame yourself; don’t make yourself right. It’s neither one. It’s just a reaction. They come and they go. No big deal. Just walk through the door of liberation. That is all your teacher wishes you to do. That is all the guru really wishes you to do, just walk. That’s all. Just move forward.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

How Will You Respond?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

When Karma Ripens

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

Hold Fast to What You Know Is True

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching called “This Time Is Radical”

Some of you know that we were born together at this time because something tremendous was going to unfold. And those of you who remember those teachings from long ago that I haven’t spoken about for a long time, we’re still on. The game is still rolling. It’s time to get your waders on and jump in. You people with the robes, you are my heart’s love. You are my heart’s love. If we lose one of you, it is unbearable. To have more of you come forward and say, ‘Take me. Sign me up,’ it’s beautiful. And I look forward to the day when we can show the world what Buddhist compassion is all about. Any of you with me on that?  Sometimes I don’t know because they just look at me, and then I get scared.

I will try to speak to people in the way they understand. This is going to be a very intense time, a very beautiful time, but I’m not afraid. I get a little freaked out every now and then, but I’m not afraid. And I can say that in my very lowest possible voice, “I’m not afraid.”  So let’s go. It’s time to practice hard. It’s time to keep your vows. It’s time to stay straight on the path. It’s time to move through the door of liberation. Do not lose your focus now because it is possible. It’s possible. This is a very wiggly time as karma goes. Hold fast to what you know is true, and live your truth. Walk it every day. And that truth is Dharma.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Passion for Compassion

Migyur Dorje Stupa

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “This Time Is Radical”

Why is it more practice now?  Because it is needed; because there is so much suffering. And this is your opportunity in this very lifetime, not only to enter onto the path of Dharma and practice, but to give rise to the great Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is not just a word. It is awakening. It is awakening to the nature that is the primordial wisdom Buddha nature, and that nature is not different from Bodhicitta. They are the same, the same light, the same essence. They cannot be separated. Anytime we practice Bodhicitta and offer simple kindness, and simple mindfulness to the people around us in order to be kind, this is a great work. I’ve been screaming about this for years, but now it’s so much more important than ever because there is so little of this nectar of kindness in the world. This very country used to have altruistic ideals, and now it’s all run by companies. It’s crazy.

And so while the darkness is coming to us thicker and thicker all the time, and the holy places in the world… When you think about what is happening for instance in Nepal in Katmandu:  Stupas and relics and important Buddhist monuments are being threatened. And so where will the Dharma be safe?

I know where. Right here. Right there [pointing at her heart]. That’s where the Dharma is going to be safe. And for every stupa that someone knocks down, I will build another one. That’s the way I feel about that. And in this time of darkness when more and more people hate, and more and more people that have karma to practice the path even leave the path because their delusion has grown so thick, in this time we have to get our shoulder against the darkness and push. Now I know that’s not very Zen, but we’re not practicing Zen here. We’re practicing rough, tough Buddhism from Brooklyn. And what I’m telling you is that we do need to hold the darkness at bay, and each one of us has the capacity to help with that. When we practice and we generate the deity, there is the deity and you should have confidence with that. When we practice and make offerings, there is great merit accumulated.

Here in this place, we’ve set it up.  There is every opportunity to gather merit, and to offer that merit to end the suffering of sentient beings. It is set up so well here. We have stupas.  We can offer gold paint every year. We can offer circumambulation. Nowhere else in America is there so much of this. We have to get behind this, and we have to be impassioned.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Gathering the Courage to Care

Guru Dragpo

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “This Time is Radical”

I’ve been watching my own patterns, and I’m going to share with you my great ‘Aha!’  I realized recently in my own practice that for the past few years, unbeknownst  to myself (although maybe on some intuitive level, I understood. Yeah I did. But not in my brain, not where it registers. You know what I’m talking about?),  I realized that I have been making myself stronger; and I have been gathering my courage. Things have happened to me in the last few years that I wouldn’t dare the infinite, but when life changes and experiences come that would have terrified my little jellyfish heart before, they don’t phase me at all now. Things that used to scare me half to death, don’t scare me at all now. And I realized that I’ve been gathering my courage.

I started practicing more deeply about a year and a half ago. Not that I didn’t practice before that, but when I started to practice more deeply, just going in, going into my practice, everything outward changed, quite naturally without any effort. ‘Aha.’

There’s an understanding. If you’re mind is right and if you practice accordingly, and if you walk the path appropriately, you don’t have to worry about the outside stuff so much. It tends to take care of itself. Not if you are going, ‘Ah!’ the whole time. You’ve got to have the mind of Dharma. That’s not the mind of Dharma. If you practice four hours a day even, and the rest of the time you’re going ‘Ah,’ that’s not the mind of Dharma. If you are really into it, if you are really deep, honest, and in touch with your practice and it is a relationship in your life, more important than any other, it fills a category that nothing else can fill; and it prepares you for anything, which is good, because anything is just about to happen.

I’ve been gathering my courage and causing myself to change in ways that I never thought I could have. And though I wouldn’t want to do it over again, it’s okay. It’s always okay because it is for the benefit of sentient beings, and in my mind decisions have already been made. Whatever I can do to benefit sentient beings, I will do. I will do it. No matter what I think about it or whether I like it, or whether I feel like it, I will do it. And that’s what I have been preparing myself for, that kind of certainty.

I knew there was a time when I’d have to look samsara in the eye and say, ‘This is enough.’  And this is that time. I feel that for each and every one of us, this must be a time of courage. If we can’t gather our courage together at this time, it will be very hard to gather it together later. Right now at this time, we have a certain leisure to practice. For those of you who have full time jobs and are practicing on the go, you may say, ‘I beg to differ.’  But let me tell you the old proverb, ‘It could always get worse.’  And if in some way we end up with obstacles that cause us to have to live differently, or to scramble for existence the way much of the world has to do, then we’ll find a way to practice then too, but now’s the time to be strong. And this is the time when we can really commit to being an active Dharma presence in the world. The thing that I have come to understand is that this is no time for us to hang out in our comfort zones. And I am just about to leave mine, like Monday actually. Some of you know what I’m talking about. I think that in this time, we’ve got to give it all we’ve got. If you can give renunciation, if you can really do that, do it. This is it. Everything in samsara is falling apart, and it is time to be what you can be.

I feel that we all should take a posture of Dharma warriors. Not a warrior to harm anyone but a warrior for the path, a warrior who cares for the path, who guards the path. This is when we generate the deity. When we generate the different buddhas and bodhisattvas, we realize that each of them has qualities and activities; and it is just as important to establish their activities in the world as it is for us individually to engage in their qualities. The activity aspect of the Buddha nature is not method. It is something. So we prefer to sit on our cushions and say, ‘Ti-do-ti-do-ti-do. I’m practicing, and I look stunning doing it.’  But really we should also be active. We should not only be engaging in the extraordinary kindness of practice, but also in the ordinary human kindness of everyday caring for those around us, caring for the world at large, caring for beings who are suffering—animals, people, whatever, anything that lives—doing all that we can to end suffering. To engage in that kind of practice in this world today is very, very powerful practice.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

No Treading Water Now

watching news

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “This Time is Radical”

When I see patterns repeat themselves and when they come to no good, I wonder what’s going on. And when I see patterns externally repeat themselves and display themselves, then I say, “Oh, this is the dance of phenomena, and there’s something to be looked at here.”  And when I look at this display of phenomena, it seems to me that if we read the paper, listen to news, if we have our antenna up at all, and if we are managing not to remain so self-absorbed that we are not aware of the outside world, we may have come to understand that the world is changing very rapidly, very quickly; and that many things that groups and people who cared about social justice and about the environment and about things that us tree-hugging liberals, or some of us tree-hugging liberals care about, these warnings have come full circle and have come to be true.

I find us now in a country where our liberty has been pretty smacked around and our potency as a society is like a castle built on sand. The sand is rushing away from under us. It’s as though whatever foundation kept the people together, even in just a materialistic and commercial way, is dissipating. I see good work for good honest people going overseas. I see Americans left with shit labor. And I see people cross the border to try to make their families wealthy or make their families eat. And there’s so much hatred that we can’t understand why it is that people would want to do that. Of course to me, it is very understandable why a person would wish to feed their family.

And I also think long before lines were drawn, the people were still there; and they moved back and forth any way they wanted to. So when we draw lines, we have to have a little bit of respect for what is natural, what has always been, and what is true. Even on a less important level, the way that we insist upon thinking these days, even animals can’t cross into their own habitats; and many of their habitats are being destroyed just for the sake of boxing ourselves in. And then after we do that, we send all of our jobs overseas. That’s just America. Check out the rest of the world. As things go, it’s not too bad here yet.

Why am I talking about this ordinary stuff from the throne on ten million day?  It’s to make a point. I wish I could yell it loud enough so that you would really hear me with your whole heart and whole mind and whole being when I tell you that this time is radical. This is a time of extraordinary change. And if you think change is happening now, wait till you see what the next ten years brings. Remarkable change.

Will the change be for the better?  When I look at the causes, I have to say no. I would like to believe that something would come to us from the sky, and wipe it all away, but I really don’t think so. I think we’ve done damage to the planet. We’ve done damage to the people. And this country is not what it was. Although I love it with my heart’s essence, I am not as proud to be an American as I once was. We started a war that we just wanted to, and the American people went along with it. And lots of things have changed since then. So much has changed since then.

When I embrace the world in my heart, and I’m just telling you this from my own practice, hatred has been multiplied by some gazillion amount that I don’t even know the number. I don’t know how to call that number. There is so much hatred in the world. And in places where people had learned to get along because they had a long history together, hatred has increased beyond all measure. Brutality has increased. And while on the one hand, half of our human species, who are women were coming out, on the other hand they were being killed. Like for instance in Darfur, and in Africa, there are places where women are raped and tortured and used as sex objects, and so forth.

I feel that this time of Kaliyuga is sickening. It has come to pass that in each of our lives it matters very much. Right now, right at this time, this blue moon, this second moon, it is an amazing, important time collectively and individually. You can look at it from an astrological point of view. You can look at it from a tallying up point of view in terms of merit or non-virtue that has been accumulated. You can look at it from an intuitive point of view and really see how the world is, and you can get it for yourself. Individually, it’s the same thing. We are all at a turning point. ‘How can that be so?’ you must be asking yourself. How can it be so that everyone in this room is literally at some sort of turning point?  Because it’s true. That’s how I can say it. I’ve got some stars and planets to back me up, but beyond that, experience and perhaps a dash of wisdom. But I see the change, and I see what’s happening with people. Even those who have been on the path for a long time, as well as those who are just starting. It’s become very dramatic suddenly. The problem is you’re either in or you’re out. It’s kind of like that.

I find that while Dharma can bring great result now, it’s more difficult to follow. And if you are not actively pursuing and in love with… I don’t mean that in a romantic sense you understand, but a passionate sense, in an appropriately blissful and joyful sense. If you are not after your practice, then your practice is falling away. I can guarantee it. Because right now is one of those times where if you are not walking ahead, if you are not moving ahead, you are going backwards. You cannot afford to tread water now. There was a time when you could, maybe, for a little while, but I really feel like karma has come to ripen individually, as a group, as a nation, and as a world to the point where it is serious, and we are going to reap the rewards of what we have sewn.

For those of you who have been diligently following your practice, and of course there are the dry periods and the wet periods, the juicy periods and whatever, but practice is practice. And one thing I’ve learned about the path is that ‘path’ is a verb. You’ve got to walk it. You’ve got to live it. If you don’t live it, you’re just dressing up and you’re walking backwards.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Who Will Save You?

FourNobleTruths

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “AA & Buddhism”

In our program, remorse and confession are really important. Now in AA, are you supposed to confess so that you could feel like a real jerk? That really isn’t the point, is it? No, it isn’t. And it’s the same thing in Buddhadharma. The point of confession is not so that you can beat yourself or wear a hair shirt or something like that. You know, mea culpa, or whatever. It isn’t like that. It really isn’t like that. The point of confession and remorse is truth. The point of confession and remorse is that you can’t go forward while you’re hiding something. And that’s true in our practice. We can’t. Those of you who find yourself stuck in your practice, don’t you know that that’s why? You can’t go forward while you’re hiding something. We do hide things. We pretend that we are Miss Nun Goodbar, something like that. I’m trying to think of an appropriate terminology. Miss Little Angelic Nun or Mr. Wonderful Monk. None of the monks are here, that’s scary. Where are they?  Well, I guess they’re not such angels, are they?

Anyway, you pretend that you’re Miss Wonderful-I’ve-Got-It-Together Practitioner; and that’s when you stop practicing. That’s when you’re finished. Spiritually, you are finished then. You might as well dig a hole and jump in. And it’s the same with addiction, isn’t it? The minute you decide that you don’t have a problem…, and that happens to addicts actually. They’ll go through the program and they’ll sober up; and they’ll get there for a while and suddenly they’ll say, ‘Well, really I’m pretty good now. I don’t think I have a problem anymore.’ The minute you decide you don’t have a problem anymore, you’ve got a big problem because you’re about to start drinking again. You’re going to do something that’s going to find you in the same hole. Isn’t that true? Isn’t that true?

Well, it’s the same with our practice. It’s the same with our practice. So, we’re constantly involved in confession and remorse. That’s constantly a part of our practice. We’re constantly involved in dismantling cyclic existence and looking at its faults. We are constantly involved in seeing the truth. Is an addict’s life easy? Is recovery easy? No. That’s why we have to do it one day at a time. And it’s the same with our practice. One day at a time. Because it’s not easy. But the thing about it that really makes you realize you’ve got to do it is that if being a recovered alcoholic is not easy, then being a drunk is much harder, because it’s awful. It’s not acceptable. It’s simply not acceptable. Do you agree? It’s not acceptable. You can’t live like that. And it’s the same thing with samsara. To work through samsara as a proper Buddhist practitioner, to catch that boat and take it to the other side, is not easy. Honesty is required. But it makes you potent. That honesty potentizes your practice. It makes it possible. The alternative of just drifting and wandering aimlessly through samsara like a person who is blind trying to get through a room of obstacles is simply not acceptable. Experiencing death and rebirth and coming out of it with only your habitual tendency every time since time out of mind is not acceptable.

Once we have achieved a state of happiness (and that can only happen when samsara is completely dismantled), then we consider that we are moving toward enlightenment. The good news about all this is that even in Alcoholics Anonymous you never are actually totally recovered; and you never stop thinking of yourself as an addict who has to think in a certain way. The one thing that the Buddha has taught that we have to consider that takes it one step further, and that as an addict we should all consider, is that there is an end to suffering. And that end to suffering is called enlightenment. That it’s going to be hard work maybe isn’t the best news you’ve ever heard. We all want to say I want a religion in which you just call on somebody and they just save you. Everybody wants that. But that’s like an addict saying I want a drug that’s just going to feel good forever. It’s never going to happen. It’s never going to happen like that. I wish it would. I’d like to give that to you. But it’s not.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

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