The Power of Ngondro

The following is respectfully quoted from “Natural Liberation” by Padmasambhava:

OM VARJASATTVA SAMAYAM ANUPĀLAYA VAJRASATTVA TVENOPATISTHA DRDHO ME BHAVA SUTOSYO ME BHAVA SUPOSYO ME BHAVA ANURAKTO ME BHAVA SARVA SIDDHIM ME PRAYACCHA SARVA KARMASU CA ME CITTAM ŚRĪYAM KURU HŪM HA HA HA HA HOH BHAGAVAN SARVATATHĀGATA VAJRA MĀ ME MUŃCA VAJRA BHAVA MAHĀSAMAYA SATTVA ĀH

This is an extremely important practice. It’s dealt with quite concisely here, but more more elaborate instruction can be found in other teachings on the preliminary practices. This practice is of very tangible benefit. There are other teachings on Atiyoga and so forth that we may consider more esoteric or advanced, but it’s questionable how deeply benefited we can be by those and how much we can truly enter into experience of the Great Perfection. Here, though, is something of practical benefit. If you are familiar with this practice, it’s good to share it with others who may be beginners. By such a practice as this, the two types of obscurations can be purified. Once all of your obscurations have been completely purified, you are a buddha; and that means you have realized the Great Perfection.

Due to ignorance, delusion and stupidity,
I have transgressed my samayas, and they have degenerated.
O spiritual mentor, protector, protect me!
Glorious Lord Vajradhara,
Merciful being of great compassion,
Lord of the world, protect us!
Please cleanse and purify the whole mass
Of sins, obscurations, faults, downfalls, and taints.
By this virtue, may I now
Swiftly actualize Vajrasattva
And quickly bring every sentient being
Without exception to that state.
O Vajrasattva, may we become exactly
Like your form, with your retinue, life span, pure realm,
And with your supreme , excellent signs.

OFFERING THE MANDALA

Once you have begun purifying the two types of obscurations, there is the task of accumulating the two collections of merit and of knowledge for one’s own benefit and the benefit of others. The welfare of others is accomplished in the realization of the Rūpakāya, or form embodiment, of the Buddha; and it is toward accomplishing that end that one offers the mandala.

OM VAJRA BHŪMI ĀH HUM
The basis becomes the powerful golden ground.
OM VAJRA REKHE ĀH HŪM
On the periphery is a surrounding jeweled iron fence.
In the center is the supreme king of mountains,
Majestic in its composition from the five kinds of precious substances.
Lovely in shape, beautiful, and delightful to behold,
Seven golden mountains are surrounded by seven concentric seas.
In the east is the continent Videha, in the south, Jambudvipa,
The west is adorned by Godàniya,
And in the north is the great Uttarakuru;
With the eight sub-continents of Deha and Videha,
Cāmara and Aparacāmara,
Śāthā and Uttaramantrina,
Kurava and Kaurava,
The sun, moon, Rāhu and kālāgni,
And this bounty of wealth and enjoyments of gods and humans
I offer to the precious spiritual mentor and his retinue.
Out of compassion, please accept this for the sake of the world.

Short Confession: From Nam Chö Vajrasattva Ngondro

Vajrasattva-single

The following is a Short Confession found in the Nam Chö Ngondro practice of Vajrasattva revealed by Tertön Migyur Dorje:

In the View, I confess all commitments broken through mental activity,
Knowing the View is the all-pervasive foundational Bodhicitta;
Realizing that the View exists in non-existence,
And practicing meditation that is non-existent,
Realizing activity is neither existent nor non-existent,
The Bodhicitta is without expectation or disappointment.
All root and auxiliary committments,
Breaches and failure to uphold them, are unborn, ungenerated,
And liberated in the indivisibility of the object to confess and the confession itself.

Prayer to the Root Guru

Padmasambhava

The following prayer is from the Nam Chö Ngondro by Tertön Migyur Dorje:

Alas

Glorious condensed essence of the miraculous activity of the Buddhas of all directions and times,

Great Lotus Guru (Padmasambhava) of loving kindness,

Myself and those like me who are without a protector and tormented by suffering,

Look upon us with your loving compassion and grant us your blessings!

In this time of extreme degeneration of this aeon, when demonic forces, corruption, incurable disease and perverted prayers are increasing,

During this terrifying time of armies and weapons in the four directions, grant us the breath to breathe fearlessly, like a vajra.

Impure sentient being’s hearts are confused and their intellects distorted. So as not to follow our ingrained habitual instincts, tame us in whatever skill means are necessary by actually arising in the Rupakaya.

Lead us upon the path to the realm of Great Bliss.

Concerning myself and all others on the path to Awakening, by pacifying our obstacles and non-conducive circumstances and greatly increasing our life span and endowments,

May our vital airs and mind be controlled to realize the common and supreme spiritual attainments.

May we never be separate from our root Lama!

…repeat this prayer with intense fervent devotion (until one’s tears uncontrollably well up from within) after which repeat the essence prayer, the Vajra Guru mantra OM AH HUNG BENZAR GURU PEDMA SIDDHI HUNG.

Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind

wheel of life 2

The following is an excerpt from “Buddha in the Palm of the Hand” Nam Chö Ngondro revealed by Terton Migyur Dorje:

PAL KUNTUZANGPO LA CHAG TSAL LO
I prostrate to the glorious Samantabhadra

DAL JOR DI NI SHIN TU NYED PAR KA
This precious human birth is extremely difficult to obtain.

CHI DANG CHI LA KYE KYANG MI TAG CHI
All things born are impermanent and must die

GE WA CHÖ LA BED NA SANGYE GYU
If one perseveres in virtuous Dharma, this is the cause for becoming Buddha.

DIG PA GANG CHE DE TA’I RIG DRUG KHYAM
Whatever negativity is produced will cause one to wander in the six realms.

YI DAG TRE KOM DÜD DRO LUN PO DANG
Hungry spirits suffer from hunger and thirst, animals from stupidity,

NYAL WA TSHA DRANG MIKYE GE NA CHI
Hell beings from heat and cold, humans from birth, old age, sickness and death,

LHA MIN THAB TSÖD LHA YI DUD NGAL YÖD
Jealous gods from warfare, and even gods (Devas) also have their own suffering.

The Meditation Upon the Four Immeasurable

meditation

The following is respectfully quoted from “Buddha in the Palm of the Hand” Nam Chö Terma Revelation by Terton Migyur Dorje:

MA NAM KHA DANG NYAM PAI SEM CHEN THAM CHED
May all motherly sentient beings equal to space

DEWA DANG DEWAI GYU DANG DEN PAR GYUR CHIG
Achieve happiness and the causes of happiness

DUG NGAL DANG DUG NGAL GYI GYU DANG DRAL WAR GYUR CHIG
May they be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

DUG NGAL MED PAI DEWA DAM PA DANG MI DRAL WAR GYUR CHIG
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrowless

NYER RING CHAG DANG DANG TRAL WAI TANG NYOM CHEN POI NGANG LA
And free from the partiality of attachment and aversion. May they live believing in

NEI PAR GYUR CHIG
The equality of all that lives.

Sending and Receiving:

While exhaling from both nostrils, consider that all of one’s merit and the root of all virtue

Is sent forth to all parent sentient beings who equally receive it. Meditate that all sentient beings

Experience immeasurable happiness.

Commentary on the Bodhisattva Vow: HH Penor Rinpoche – Our Kind Parents

mother and child

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:

[The second way to adjust one’s intention in order to be in harmony with the special feature of this instruction is through] developing attraction to enlightenment. According to this tradition, what leads one to develop an attraction to enlightenment is the cultivation of love for all beings, which begins by contemplating the suffering of cyclic existence and then cultivating repulsion and weariness [toward that existence].

Think about all living beings that at some time or another, throughout the course of innumerable past lifetimes, have been your own kind father or mother. Consider how a mother will anything for her child–even give her own life, without hesitation. Consider how all living beings have been that kind to you at some time in the past–not just once, but countless times, in countless different circumstances and situations over the course of countless lifetimes since beginningless time. Consider also that to not think carefully about repaying this kindness, and thereby to go through your life without the intention to truly benefit parent sentient beings, and so to actually ignore them, is truly shameless.

Many people in the West may think, “Wait a minute! My parents were not very kind to me. In fact, we are not even close, and I don’t even like them, so why should I feel that I need to repay their kindness now?” If that is what you think, then take a moment to think about how you acquired your body. Is it not due to the kindness of your parents that you have your precious human body? From the time your consciousness entered the union of your father’s seed and your mother’s egg, your mother carried you in her own body. Her body nurtured you as you grew within it. Then with pain and difficulty she gave birth to you. Her kindness did not just stop there: for many years she cared for you and lovingly fed, cleaned, clothed, and wiped you; she provided shelter and cared for you when you were sick, and thus she protected you and looked out for you constantly. If you think you don’t need to repay the kindness of your parents, just remind yourself of those events, which you were the recipient of time and time again.

If that still does not change your attitude, so that you still do not understand the kindness your parents showed you, then think about your body, the gift of your body, which is who you are; your parents gave you that. Because your parents showed you the great kindness of giving you your body, your precious life, here you are. Sure you had the causes for your precious human rebirth, but without parents you wouldn’t have your body. And if you didn’t have your body, you wouldn’t be able to receive these vows.

In our present state of ignorance, we have an inability to recognize that all beings have been our parents in the past, and we certainly don’t know what the particular situations and circumstances of those lifetimes were. Nonetheless, it is certain that we have had countless sentient beings as our parents over and over again in countless past lives. The truth is, at the present time we just do not recognize that.

Imagine you are on the bank of a river with your mother and suddenly she falls in and is being carried away by the rushing water. There you stand on the bank, watching that happen. What would you do? Would you do something to try to save her, such as throw out a rope? Or would your turn your back and walk away rather than risk your own life? Would you be concerned for her, or would your concern be only for yourself? The intention of hearers and solitary realizers can be likened to the later case, while the intention of Mahayana practitioners can be likened to the former. While it is important to develop attraction toward peace, you should never, for any reason, be attracted to the quiescence of the hearers and solitary realizers.

Transforming Appearances Into Dharma

Longchen_Rabjam

The following is respectfully quoted from “Drops of Nectar” as translated by Rigzod Editorial Committee of the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute:

Chapter II
Transforming Appearances into the Dharma

Again at this time, having brought forth strong renunciation and disenchantment with my own and other’s perceptions and the activities of this present life, I sing this song of the points of training.

On the great plane of the ground of all experience, which has no beginning and end,
An ignorant person wanders about with the feet of grasping and fixation,
Oppressed by the suffering of boundless samsara.
Mistaken one, to you I now offer this advice!

Without contemplating the suffering of cyclic existence,
Renunciation and disenchantment with it will have no time to develop;
Without contemplating the difficulty of achieving the freedoms and favors,
There will be no time for joy and inspiration in the sacred Dharma to come forth.

If you do not constantly contemplate death,
Heartfelt Dharma practice will never occur.
If you do not regard the benefits of liberation,
There will be no time of achieving unsurpassed enlightenment.

Without contemplating the causes and effects of virtue and evil,
the white and the black,
You’ll have no time to grasp what to adopt and what to abandon, what is Dharma and what is not.
Without casting off the activities of this life,
You’ll have no time to accomplish the sacred Dharma for the life to come.

If heartfelt renunciation is not born within your mind-stream
There will never be time to give up distractions and diversions.
Without toppling, down to its foundation stone, the wall of amicable relationships,
There will be no time for the mind that is too attached to others to end.

Without leaving behind all deluded activities at one go,
Although you’re busy day and night, you’ll never have time to recognize.
If you don’t always keep humbly a low position,
You’ll never have time to tame your unwholesome mindstream.

Please pursue this excellent permanent aim from today!

The first virtue is to develop the mind of renunciation and weariness,
The second virtue is to abandon concerns for this present life,
The third virtue is to maintain the examples of the holy masters.
This is upholding the permanent domain of Dharmakaya, the permanent domain of the Victorious Ones!

From the Vajra Song of Instructions for Rousing Myself (Longchen Rabjam), this completes the second chapter of transforming appearances into the Dharma. 

Chöd: by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

Vajrayogini

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche offered during retreat at Palyul Ling in New York:

His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

Heart Teaching HT22

About Guru Yoga 

In the beginning of the practice, try to watch your mind and thoughts.  If you have any afflictive emotions or negative thoughts, try to abandon them.  Then try to give rise to virtuous thoughts, such as devotion, faith and inclination; and in that way try to have the right intention.

Guru Yoga practice is something that we need to carry through until we attain enlightenment.  Some think that we just need to do the Guru Yoga practice during Ngӧndro and the Four Foundations practice, but other than that, we don’t need it.  We should not think that way.  To attain complete enlightenment, Buddhahood, we have to completely depend upon the Guru’s instructions, and rely on the Guru.  As we apply that instruction and teaching into practice, then we could have that fruition.  That is why the Guru Yoga practice is important.  So, without fabrication in one’s mind, abide in the great unelaborated empty nature, and carry through with the supplication prayers.

About Chӧd – Cutting through thoughts and afflictive emotions 

In Ngӧndro, there actually is a Chӧd practice.  Before we didn’t have enough conditions to really do it.  In general, you do the practice with damarus and bells.  Evening is a good time to do some of the Chӧd practices.  At that hour the chant master and other lamas do the Chӧd practices.  As you do the Chӧd, follow along and chant the tunes together.  And when you use your big damarus and bells, follow together as a group in sync, instead of some doing it this way and some doing it that way, which sounds very strange.  Doing it haphazardly like that is a joke.  So always try to do the practice together with everything working together.

The Chӧd practice in the Namchö is only one page, so it is easy and good in that way.  The Tibetan word, “Chӧd,” means cutting through all the afflictive emotions and thoughts, and then establishing the nature of emptiness.  In the Chӧd visualization, as one chants with faith, everything is cut through in the nature of emptiness.

When you say the second Phet, your consciousness shoots out onto the ground as Vajravarahi (Dorje Phagmo), the size of a pea.  When you say Phet again, then Vajravarahi becomes about the size of a finger.  After that when you say Phet, then you visualize Vajravarahi about the size of a cubit.  After that when you say Phet, Vajravarahi becomes huge, filling all space.

In her right hand, Vajravarahi holds a curved knife and in her left hand, she holds a skull cup.  She has all the bone ornaments.  Your consciousness is manifested or transformed into Vajravarahi, and your body is like a corpse.  When you say Phet again, Vajravarahi takes the curved knife and with just one motion your skull becomes a skull cup in front.  Then Vajravarahi with the curved knife places your corpse inside the skull cup.  Then dualistic mind and negative thoughts in the form of bubbles are purified, and everything transforms into the five nectars and five meats, which is very pure substance.  The skull cup becomes as huge as three thousand myriads of universes.  The nectar is whitish with a radiant reddish hue.  Steam rises from the nectar, which symbolizes the five desirable objects of the five senses.  Underneath that skull cup, there are three skull cups, two dry and one wet, which symbolize the dharmakaya, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya.    Beneath that, wisdom fire burns. As it burns, everything within the skull cup heats up, purifying all the afflictive emotions and dualistic mind and impure substances, transforming everything into wisdom nectar that fills three thousand myriads of universes.

Then after saying two Phets, instantly Vajravarahi, holds a golden spoon in her right hand and a skull cup in her left.  Then from that skull cup she ladles nectar and pours it, making offerings first to the lamas, and then to the meditational deities, and then the dakinis, and so forth.  After that when one says Phet, Vajravarahi makes offerings to all the local beings and the owners of the land, and so forth.  And then after saying another Phet, Vajravarahi makes offerings to all sentient beings of the six realms.

As one makes all these offerings, one can purify all the debts and loans and negativities from past lifetimes.  After making offerings to all those beings that are owners of sickness, demonic forces, creators of obstacles and negative forces, they are completely satisfied and pleased.  In that way by making offerings to all the gurus and meditational deities and dakinis, one could have complete accomplishment and receive all the blessings.  And by making offerings to all the negative forces and all other evil beings, they are completely satisfied and pleased. One feels as though all karmic debts have been repaid, and everything is purified.

At the end when one says Phet, then all the offerings, the objects of the offerings, and the offeror, all three, cease to exist and dissolve into emptiness.  After that one can do all the dedication and aspiration prayers.

 

Hells?

Hell realm z.about.com

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Why P’howa?”

According to the Buddha’s teaching, there are six realms of cyclic existence, and I will begin with what is called the lowest of the realms.  Now generally, when Westerners hear about the different realms, oh, we love the high realms.  Those are our favorites.  But the lower realms scare us a bit.  Westerners don’t want to hear about the lower realms, because they are associated with something archaic that their mothers told them, or that their old preachers told them sometime in the past.  Every world religion has a story about a result that will occur if one engages in a lifelong non-virtue, or even in temporary periods of non-virtue, every single world religion that has the kind of strength to have lasted through fads and trends and teachers that say they have it, and then they drop dead just like everybody else and there is no good result.  Every world religion has a teaching about this result from non-virtuous behavior so for those of you that are uncomfortable about this, I’m sorry.  Here’s what you need to do.  Get out of it.  Get out of cyclic existence.  That’s the point.  That’s why we’re having this teaching.  If you don’t like the idea of the result of your non-virtue, don’t commit it.  If you don’t like the idea of sinking to a lower realm or experiencing any of those lower realms, create the causes for not sinking to a lower realm.  First let’s learn about the realms.

Again, we’re walking through a room with the lights turned on.  You want the lights on so that you can get around it.  The difference with the Buddha’s teaching is that we are taught a method to avoid this [experiencing a lower realm].  We are taught a method to purify the causes.  There is method.  There is long-term method that is geared for a certain result, like the ability to turn the light on.

Of the six realms, the realm that we will speak of first is the rebirth in the hell realm.  There are many sentient beings that are now, even as we speak, revolving helplessly in the hell realms.  I guess the Christian idea of hell is a place under the earth where things are burning.  That is not the idea that we have here.  The hell realms are varied.  They are varied in their condition.  There are, in fact, extremely hot hell realms and there are Dharma texts in our bookstore [that tell about them]. I don’t feel the need to go into that at any great length at this time because that isn’t technically what we are about at this time; I’m going into this in a condensed form, but there are the hot hell realms, and the hot hell realms are all results that are associated with the cause of hatred, extreme hatred, the kind of virulent hatred and attitudinal hatred that many people allow to remain in their mind.

A perfect example of that kind of hatred would be the Ku Klux Klan kind of mentality you see, or the Hitler kind of mentality, the kind of mentality in which hatred simply pours out of the pores.  There is such a strong habitual tendency of hatred that simply is unconditional negative hatred instead of unconditional positive regard.  It is habitual.  It is constant.  It is simply an outpouring of hatred.  This is associated with the cause of truly torturing and hurting others. There have been many throughout time who have tortured and mutilated the bodies and lives of others in a horrible way that we, living  middle America lives, really can’t imagine except through what we’ve read.  There are, of course, other certain heinous sins that also result in the rebirth in the most difficult of the hells. Those heinous things are the murdering or killing of one’s mother and father, the murdering or killing or harming of one’s Guru, the murdering or killing or harming or drawing blood of a Bodhisattva.  That is not to say that if you were taking a blood sample for the health of the Bodhisattva, … Well, people would not exactly be standing in line for that job would they!  No, but that would not be intentional harm, like really harming a Bodhisattva, someone who could bring enlightenment to others. Harming or taking that one out of the world is considered to be a heinous crime because it actually literally changes the future of the world.  It changes the world in a negative way.  It prevents the world from moving forward in its evolution, in its continuum.

For extraordinary non-virtue, for those really extraordinary sins, there are the hell realms consisting of the extremely hot hell realms and the extremely cold hell realms. Characteristic of both the hot and cold hell realms is that there is no respite from the suffering.  There is no respite from the suffering.  Literally, when one takes rebirth in the cold realms, one will be reborn in inconceivable cold with no protective clothing.  What will happen to oneself will be the experience of what we think would happen to ourselves if we were to be suddenly now naked in an extremely cold realm.  That is to say, the skin would freeze, crack open.  Things would happen strangely to our bodies and you would think that that would be the end of it.  But in these very cold hell realms, until the non-virtuous karma is exhausted, one continues to reappear even after death from cold has occurred, and that is the same with the hot realms.  Continuously apparent, there is no respite.

There are other forms.  There are the individual hells; and I can tell you for a fact that I know, through my own perception, that this is true.  I have seen this sort of thing and this is the kind of thing that people mistake as being ghosts.  Often you go to a house and at a certain time of night you will hear footsteps or you’ll hear a door creaking or you’ll hear chains rattling, whatever it is that people hear, that sort of thing.  Probably what has happened there, although not exclusively, but probably what has happened there is that there is a sentient being stuck in an individual hell realm.  This is the hell realm that is individual to the person’s experience, whatever their expected experience is. It’s according to the content of the mindstream, their consciousness, their habitual tendency.  Write that word down somewhere in your notes, or remember it—habitual tendency. That will come up again and again during the course of your practice as a Buddhist. Due to the force of their habitual tendency, they will remain and this kind of hell realm is the result of again, extreme non-virtue, but it is also a non-virtue that is mixed with ignorance and a determination to remain ignorant.

Think about that, because you have done this.  Think about this now.  The determination to remain ignorant is the one where you make a decision to go away from pursuing wisdom and pursuing your method, your path.  And you just go, “It’s too hard.  I don’t like this.  It’s not easy for me, I don’t want it.  Hard.  And I’m just a little kid and I have to play some more.”  When you do that, you are actually turning your mind away from Dharma and you are committing a very strong non-virtue. The other one is, “I don’t have to learn that.  I know enough to get by.  I’ll just read…, Who was that one that wrote about death and dying?  A non-Buddhist.  They wrote that you see a tunnel and you see a white light.  Do you remember who that is?  I’ll just read Ross’ book and I’ll be fine.  Maybe I’ll read it, if I have time, but I really like to read other books better.”  And this kind of thing.  You have this kind of idea.

Sometimes, I’ll see a person in class with ‘attitude’ written all over their heads, and have no idea why they’re here.  Why did they come?  I don’t know, but they have attitude written all over their head; and the attitude is actually like putting yourself in chains because you are absolutely setting up that you are not going to have a positive rebirth, that you can sit in the presence of what could possibly be your own root guru, or at least a guru, a teacher, and just simply turn your mind away.  Literally, what you would be doing there is to make your mind like a bowl filled with poison so that the milk that pours in there is tainted, and then you are responsible for tainting the milk within your own mind.  So that kind of thing is the kind of thing that leads to rebirth in the individual hells.  That kind of ignorance.  That is an ignorant move to make.  It is born of ignorance.

The individual hells are very strange, very unusual.  I can describe a couple that I know of personally.  One good example would be of an individual who perceives themselves to be stuck in the opening and closing of the door. Of course this is all relative and it is all a deluded perception.    This is the kind of person that perhaps would remain stagnant within the course of their lives, locked themselves in, did not grow, wouldn’t grow, would not challenge themselves to go the extra mile and be kind towards others, remained extremely self-absorbed.  They literally shut their eyes during the course of life.  Again, that sounds pretty mild in terms of a sin.  You could commit worse sins, but we are talking about sins against one’s own nature and those are important.  Those are very important.   So this person would be stuck in the opening and closing of the door and would experience the door being closed on them and would experience the door being opened again. They would experience it as though their bodies were literally stuck in that, again and again.

I have also seen sentient beings that are literally stuck walking up and down a hall.  That’s it, walking up and down a hall.  They are stuck calling, calling, calling for someone.  Literally they go through bardo—and this will make sense for those of you that have taken the teachings. They will go through the bardo state: They will go through the experience of the white Bodhicitta, the experience of the red Bodhicitta.  They will go through the experience of the appearance of the Dharmadhatu that is experienced as blackness.  They will go through the re-awakening of the perception of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.  They will go through the reawakening of the perception of the wrathful deities. Then they will enter into the bardo of becoming, and in the bardo of becoming they will immediately experience rebirth. It will be very disconcerting because suddenly they will be walking up and down a hall, trying to reach the others that they were so attached to.  Those of you that have very strong attachments on a human level, try to imagine what this would feel like.  They will continually try to reach out for the others and they will sort of see them, but sort of not see them because they are not really there.  Try to imagine seeking the safety of a loved one, and it changes all the time.  You don’t understand.  That’s the kind of experience of someone in an individual bardo. They experience walking up and down the hall, literally, almost seeing safety and then feeling all of the feelings that would go with doing that endlessly.  So that is the kind of experience that one might experience if one were to engage in a non-virtuous life and not practice Dharma. And it happens.

Now what we’re talking about today, once again, is the antidote.  The purpose of talking about the disease is so that we can explore the antidote.  The antidote should not be taken without an understanding of the disease.  These kinds of life forms will also be registered.  From our point of view they will seem like repetitive ghosts doing the same kinds of things again and again and again.

There are many different kinds of hell.  There are hells of entrapment.  There are hells of destruction in which one is literally cut up and then reassembled and all kinds of things, and they go according to the level of non-virtue that one has committed.  Compared to the amount of sentient beings that are now physical as humans, the amount of sentient beings locked in those hells is inconceivably more.  We cannot understand how many more beings are locked there than are now approaching awakening on the physical human level listening to Dharma.  We cannot imagine how many of those there are.

Sometimes as one finishes the karma that has brought them to a lower hell realm, they will then go on to a higher hell realm which is less uncomfortable.  What we are talking about is a playing out the grosser and heavier non-virtue and then cleaning up the more subtle and more lightweight non-virtue.  One may graduate from one experience in the hells to another.

You may think, “Well this is inconceivable to me.  I can’t understand that.  Being stuck in a doorjamb? No way.  Hell no!  Frozen?  No.  Hell no!  Frozen, burned up?  Come on, that stuff doesn’t sound realistic to me.  I can’t believe in that.”  Well, let me ask you if you’ve ever had a nightmare?  Who has had a nightmare?  Will you raise your hand if you have ever in your life had a nightmare.  Just pretty much everybody.  That means that your mind has the capacity to manufacture a hell.  So for you to say that there is no such thing and you will never end up there, after you’ve had a nightmare, it goes to show that you’re not thinking. Because if you can manufacture a nightmare, that is not different from manufacturing a hell realm.  It is the same thing.  The seed, the content, the potential is within the mindstream and it is due to non-virtue.  That’s what it is.

So you know that that’s possible.  You have been there in a very small way.  When you have a nightmare you literally are, in a subtle way, reborn from the bardo of dreaming into this bardo of experience, which is also part of the bardo of dreaming. You are kind of reborn from one subtle element, one subtle level, to another.  And this is the very same thing that happens in a much grosser and denser level for that person who is unprepared for death, which fortunately is not going to be you.  Right?  Good.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

The Nature of the Guru

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

The Lama gives us not only a way to have single-pointed concentration, but the Lama also offers their own accomplishment.  When one practices the Guru Yoga really deeply, whether it be in the Guru Yoga in Ngndro, or Shower of Blessings, or in any of the pujas that have Guru Rinpoche as the main focal point or Guru Rinpoche and consort as the main focal point, we should think thatthis is the way to practice Guru Yoga.  And in each one of those practices, whichever it is, we understand nondual nature.  That’s what we’re working on.

We see the arising from the nature of emptiness appearing in a real, but insubstantial gossamer-like light form, first as the seed syllable, and then as the Guru.  We are telling ourselves our own story, because it is we also who have arisen from emptiness.  It is our nature that is indeed also the seed syllable. Ultimately we are the same nature as the Guru.  By the power of the Guru’s accomplishment, through their many lifetimes of amazing practice, many lifetimes of looking out after sentient beings and accomplishing the needs of sentient beings and liberating sentient beings, they offer themselves and their accomplishment in that way to be the very door to liberation.  And so we should think of our teachers in that way—that we are in a burning house, no other way to get out except that one door.  Boy, would you ever be devoted to that door.  That door would be on your mind if your house were burning, and there were no other way to get out, wouldn’t it?  And that’s how we should think. We should think that here we are in samsara. This is indeed the time of Kaliyuga.  We have, at best, as many habitual tendencies guaranteed to bring us suffering as we do to bring us happiness.  At best.  50/50.  And that is so unusual.  We tend to make ourselves more unhappy than we do happy.  So we are in this burning house and we look to the teacher to provide the door to liberation.

So when we give rise to that devotion, it’s not to the person Guru.  It’s not to that person.  It doesn’t matter if you like what they’re wearing or how they smell or what they look like or how they walk or anything like that.  It doesn’t matter.  That’s just the stuff you do in regular life.  So you can just sweep it over. Instead you think, “This one has appeared and will appear throughout time out of mind until all suffering has ended, until samsara is emptied, as the door to liberation.  What kind of dope am I that I wouldn’t walk through it?”  It’s that kind of fervent regard.  Think of it that way—more than like-dislike, that kind of judgment, but rather, fervent regard.

We rely on the accomplishment of our teachers. If our teachers had not accomplished any Dharma, how would they be of any use to us?  So we expect it of them and we rely on them to guide us in the way of Dharma.  Sometimes it pisses us off.  We’d rather go on vacation.  We’d rather have a little more fun.  I mean, it’s Sunday afternoon, isn’t it?  And we have all kinds of reasons why we should maybe do something else.  But we come back.  There is my friend.

If this teacher can bother to appear again and again for no reason other than to liberate sentient beings as my Guru has, then I can at least be here. I can at least come half way, come full with devotion.  When we are in the presence of our own Root Guru and we have that connection and we have the history and karma of the Guru having ripened our mind in some way in the past, that ripening will surely come again.  With faith and devotion and practice, it will surely come again.  And so we have that kind of faith.  We know in our hearts and our minds that we can rely on this one for that kind of help.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

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