Avoiding the Path to Happiness

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

Now, many of us also are not very happy. We just don’t seem to be able to master happiness. We are filled with longing, filled sometimes with anguish of different kinds—you know, loneliness, unhappiness, anger. Anger seems to be our constant companion. Just can’t seem to shake it, you know. It comes back again, again and again. Loneliness comes back again and again and again. So we don’t feel that we are particularly happy. Even in this beautiful country and these beautiful places that we find ourselves sitting in, we still find that we are terribly unhappy. And then what to think about those who are in different places, different countries, different life forms that are miserably unhappy?

Happy or unhappy, we know that life is impermanent. We know that it is brought about by habitual tendency, which is scary. Have you looked at your habitual tendencies lately? Doesn’t that make you just a little squeamish? I mean if you think about it. So if life is brought about by habitual tendency, and cause and effect is definitely what’s happening here, we have to really sit down and study what we call in the Buddhadharma the faults of cyclic existence. Now it’s considered in Dharma teaching and in Buddhist thought that without thoroughly examining the faults of cyclic existence, honestly and courageously…  And I have to underline the word courageously because this is where most people fade out. So don’t! Have courage here! You have to examine yourself honestly and courageously the way an addict does. You have to see your habitual tendencies. You have to see your pride. You have to see your anger and hatred. You have to come to terms with your clinging and grasping. You must be able to look at it and recognize it in the same way an addict does. Because according to the Buddha’s teaching, until we do that we are going nowhere.

I’m telling you that this is true. I know it is because I have many well-meaning students come here to study. And when they come here to study their idea is well, you know, I’ve been the spiritual route, and I’ve even taught a few things. And I’ve done this and I’ve done that. And I’ve read Maha somebody and blah-blah who-who. And I’ve been through it all. And I’ve even sat at the feet of Big Chief Somebody-or-Other. And we all think that because of that, you know, we’re coming in here and we’re just listening to this lady in the yellow jacket, and ‘I’m just not that impressed.’ So, come on, I can read minds. Doesn’t it just scare you? Anyway, let’s say that happens.  There are students who come to just about every kind of spiritual gathering in that way, with that kind of arrogant posture, completely avoiding the issue that it would be useful, beneficial, and just logical, when you’re in any situation like that, to pick up a mirror and really, honestly look at yourself. Really, honestly look at yourself. That would be the normal thing to do, if you consider normal healthy. That would be the healthy thing to do. Maybe that’s not the normal thing to do, but it would be the healthy thing to do. It would be the right thing to do. But instead we seem to hold ourselves in a posture that makes everything that we’re all about kind of up there in an unreachable place. You can’t talk about it. You can’t think about it. You can’t argue with it. You just basically can’t do anything with it.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Offering the Miraculous

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo during a “Good Heart Retreat

There are some that may criticize the building of the Migyur Dorje stupa. I understand that it cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars. You might say, ‘Well, gee, if you’re going to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars, why don’t you feed the poor?’ Well, I feel like I am. I feel like that’s the point of the stupa. I begged and begged His Holiness for these relics and the ability to build the stupa because in this country there’s no place to go when you have no hope. There’s simply no place to go when all the doctors have told you they can’t help you. There’s no place to go when you’re at your last moments and maybe even the karma for this life has run out and you know that you haven’t really attended to your spiritual life. You know that you haven’t practiced very much. Or when your life is such that you got the ‘can’t fix-its’; don’t know how to put it back together again.

I know that in other places, in other lands, there are deeply inspiring religious pilgrimage places. I know that in Tibet almost all of the Tibetans, at one time or another, take some sort of major pilgrimage; and it’s a life changer. There are so many stories of pilgrimages turning out to be major healings. Where people will go to these holy places in which they have tremendous faith, where there are extraordinary relics there that are left by extraordinary Lamas, and healings take place that are miraculous.

I also knew that in this country there is AIDS which has been growing incrementally, cancer which is killing so many, and people constantly dying from all sorts of diseases that seem to be the afflictions of this day and time. There are so many diseases that we haven’t found any cures for, including simple mental unhappiness. Because of all this, I really wanted to offer this stupa to our community. What we have built here is, yes, at great expense, yes, at great effort; but also done with great joy. We have been able to gather together enough money, enough energy, and enough time to make this dream a reality. And now we have something here which over time, hopefully by word of mouth, hopefully by your good works and your good faith, the word will spread out that we have this amazing stupa here. Now anyone at any time, no matter what they have experienced as their spiritual path, if they’re ever down and out and without hope, can come here and make prayers. There is a potency to that pilgrimage. I’m hoping that it will become known that these same relics from Terton Migyur Dorje, these relics, of which there are pieces in different places of the world, not too many, but particularly in Tibet, have brought about amazing cures. I want people to know about this. I want them to come and feel better. To me, it’s like the ultimate soup kitchen, you know? You can offer this nourishment, this food, to your community.

So we went through the effort of building this thing, and thank you all for everything that you’ve done to make it possible—the work and the money, all of it—and now we have this tremendous gift to offer the community. To my way of thinking, this is one such group or community effort that we have made together in order to provide for and to nourish the community and make our hopes for the world more visible and more heard. That’s one way to do it. But I think at this point it’s time to move even beyond that.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Transforming Vision Into Reality

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching offered by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo during a “Good Heart Retreat”

I’m going to tell you this crazy vision I had. The reason why I feel okay telling you this crazy vision I had is because I’ve had a couple of others and they came true, oddly. They were so outrageous when I had them that I thought this would never happen; but I was hoping that it would. The first one I’m talking about is a case in point, and a perfect example.

Before I met my teacher and I was simply practicing meditation, I would go to work. On the way home, I would look for someplace quiet where I could meditate before I got home to my kids. As any parent knows, once you get home to your kids, meditation stops, or at least it’s stalled for a while. So before I got home to my kids, I wanted to do some practice and meditation. In the warm weather, it was easy. I could find a tree. Most people can find a tree. I noticed that when the weather was inclement or too cool, that in this amazing state of North Carolina where there are more churches than gas stations, I could not find one sanctuary, one holy place that still needed to be holy all week long. I could not find one place to go and sit and meditate. Apparently, whatever spiritual function was supposed to happen wasn’t supposed to happen during the middle of the week. What occurred to me is that this is a real difficulty and a real lack. So my vision, my hope, and my intention was to someday have a place of meditation that would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So that no matter where people were, if they got up at 4:00 in the morning and really felt that this was their time to experience meditation, felt that calling, felt that need, that there would be some place that we could go that was peaceful away from our homes and our nests, and someplace that we could all call our own. So I had this idea. Wouldn’t it be great if I could make a place of meditation that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and always have prayer going on? Nah, it’ll never happen. Years later, here we are, and it has happened.

Now, I will tell you about my other vision. I had this wacky, crazy thought. I haven’t done the math for this, and I wish one of you cerebral types would do it for me. I’d love to have the math done. I’m thinking that we have a huge population in this country, an overwhelming amount of people. As I understand it, we also have an overwhelming amount of churches. Even the smallest towns have some kind of little church. I wouldn’t care whether it was a Christian church, whether it was a Catholic church, Protestant church, Jewish synagogue, Islamic mosque, anything, Hindu temple, Buddhist temple. If we could somehow, as spiritual organizations, consider ourselves to have one purpose and one mind, regardless of the differences in our religions, or the differences in our spiritual books. It seems to me that it would be possible, with all of the churches and temples that we have, if we put our differences aside and each church and each temple supported their community and ministered to their community in, let’s say, a ten block radius, ten mile radius. Could we work it out so that a spiritual center would help families or people in that area and support the community in such a way that in their area, there would be no hunger? Because the churches would take responsibility for this. Also, there would be no homeless that wanted a home. There would be friendship, counseling and whatever was needed available to families that are in trouble when a crisis arises; such as when there is alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse or spousal abuse, or any mistreatment of people by one another. What if each and every church and synagogue, temple, whatever, took responsibility for a certain area? That’s where the math would come in. We’d have to figure out how we divide ourselves up.

What if it didn’t matter to each one of those churches and temples what religion the people around them were? For instance, the Presbyterians wouldn’t only minister to the Presbyterians in their area. The Jews wouldn’t only minister to the Jews in their area. The Catholics wouldn’t only minister to the Catholics in their area, and the Buddhists the same thing. I have this crazy, wacky dream. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if instead of this fixation that most churches have on getting as much money as they can, supposing we had another idea? Supposing we create a tremendous flow of energy and abundance through taking on this responsibility that we cannot afford to take on, and creating a flow in the community centered around the churches where if those people, if the people in their community really wish to give to charity, or really wish to help the poor, that would be a grass roots, right away, no-delay-way to do it. If you were giving some money to this certain church, then you would know that it was being used to care for your community. It simply wouldn’t matter what religion any of us were. The spirit of the thing would be spiritual people taking care of their community.

It would take a tremendous leap because the way it is now, we only want to help our own kind. This would not be a popular idea. Those that would go for it the least are the ones that could afford to do it the best. What if we as churches took the blame if somebody in our community was hungry? What if we finally could figure out where to point a finger when somebody in our community is not able to get by? What if the buck stopped here? Wouldn’t that be a revolutionary idea? Wouldn’t that be incredible?

I know what we’re all thinking. We’re all thinking, ‘This will never work.’ However, I didn’t know we were going to do this either. I hoped, I hoped that there would be a place where 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we could pray for all sentient beings; but gee to really get people to do it… Wow, that’s something else. But my problem is that I am not at all practical or realistic. Those of you who manage my money know this. I just don’t get it. It’s all the same to me. And so I don’t get any reasons why this wouldn’t be possible. It’s a little like the bumblebee. Scientists say bumblebees can’t fly because they’re not aerodynamically correct. They should not be able to fly. But the good thing is that nobody told the bees because they’re still flying. So I was thinking: Wouldn’t it be great if we could be like those bees? What if we were too stupid to know that in our society in this day and age, it simply isn’t the done thing? What if we were simple-minded? What if we were so dumb we didn’t get the practical reasons why a spiritual community shouldn’t be responsible for the people around it? Wouldn’t that be really wacky, weird, ridiculous? But that’s what I think should happen. We could somehow make a gathering, or council, of religious people, or spiritual centers of all types, and agree to chip away at this. We could agree to divide the communities up. I really feel that it would be great if we did this to the best of our ability, and went into it with the same kind of energy we have when we fundraise for ourselves. We’re always fundraising. Turn on the TV. You always see them calling for more money. Well, what if we did that with the same energy, but instead of using it in some way to gratify ourselves, supposing we turned it around and spent it on the community?

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

The Great Mother

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

According to the Buddha’s teachings the great expanse of unborn voidness is the great mother, or the spirit of truth.  All potential and all potency, all movement and all display arise from the unborn sphere of truth.  According to the Buddha’s teachings, all display, all movement, all potency and all emanation, and in fact, all phenomena of any kind not only arise from the unborn sphere of truth but are inseparable from emptiness, are the same taste as emptiness and therefore are the same nature as emptiness.  We should meditate in that way.

The great foundation, the ground, the great basis is the unborn and yet spontaneously complete sphere of truth.  Everything that can be seen, touched, felt, tasted, smelled, rises from the sphere of truth.  Therefore all conclusions drawn from any such observance also arise from the sphere of truth.  The basis of every thought, of every feeling, of every sensation is the same essence as the unborn sphere of truth – inseparable, indistinguishable.  Therefore it is undeniable that all phenomena are empty of self-nature.  We should meditate like that.

Therefore, when we take refuge, we take refuge in the great mother.  For those of us that practice the path, in order to achieve supreme realization, practice to achieve that view.  When we take refuge, we take refuge in the understanding that the basis of that refuge is the seed nature, the Buddha nature, which is inseparable from and arises indistinguishable from the unborn sphere of truth.  We should meditate like that.

We take refuge on the basis that the ground nature is the Buddha nature.  We take refuge as well in the path, which is the display of that foundational nature and we take refuge as well in the outcome, or the fruition, which is enlightenment itself.  Although we hold these concepts in our mind as distinguishable concepts they are in fact indistinguishable and inseparable from, and the same as, the foundational nature.

Knowing these things to be true, we can try to understand the many ways in which our practice occurs.  Our practice occurs through a certain systematic representation of enlightened images. Most of you recognize this systematic representation as being primarily the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and then, in a more inward way, the Lama, the Yidam (meditational deity), the Khandro and the Dharmapalas.  And of course, in the most secret way, we understand the ultimate objects to be the channels, winds and fluids that are the displays of our own enlightened nature.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Suffering of Cyclic Existence

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Faults of Cyclic Existence”

So this is not particularly a pleasant subject.  Every part of you will resist talking about it; every part of you will resist internalizing it. But at this point you have to exert a little discipline. You have to begin to use discipline by examining, really, whether or not the things that you have done to attain happiness have ever really lasted. You should examine whether positive thinking or any of the things that you have done, or falling in love, the things that have made us happy, whether the happiness has carried through into the rest of our lives, and whether it has lasted for our whole lives so far. You can really look at it that way. And then maybe from that point of view, you may be able to gradually introduce yourself or discipline yourself into thinking about the faults of cyclic existence.

The faults of cyclic existence are obvious in some ways. According to the Buddha’s teaching everything in cyclic existence, every experience—life, death, joy, pain, happiness, unhappiness, poverty and wealth, having and not having, all the different experiences that we experience—all of them are impermanent no matter what the particular experience that you have is. Whether it is blissful and wonderful; whether, as in the Breck commercial, you are experiencing one of those love affairs where you bound across the field at each other every day, and it is always sunny and flowers in the field; and you catch each other rapturously in each other’s arms and smouchy, smouchy and all that kind of stuff. Even that is impermanent. Especially that is impermanent. That is most certainly impermanent, even if you are extremely beautiful, so beautiful that you could remain happy if you just got up and looked at yourself in the mirror because you are so beautiful. There are some people who are that beautiful. I haven’t met too many and I am not saying whether anybody here is that beautiful. But anyway there are people who are that beautiful, that all you have to do is look at yourself and you just go ahhhh!  Even that is impermanent. Especially that is impermanent. And defying the law of Estee Lauder, eventually it will go away.

The joy of having children: It is such an incredibly joyful experience to know that you can have a child, and to have a child sleeping peacefully in your arms and looking up at you with those beautiful little eyes, and tiny little rosebud mouths with a little trickle of milk coming down the side. So blissful. And then they become teenagers. That is impermanent. All of the things that you can experience… There is my teenage son over there. I am saying this for his sake. All of these things are very blissful and very wonderful, but extremely impermanent. Also suffering is extremely impermanent. ‘This too shall pass’ philosophy works. It works because everything is impermanent. It also works for happiness. That is the problem. Both the happiness and the suffering are impermanent.

Any pain that you feel, any suffering that you feel, any longing that you feel, even lifelong poverty is impermanent, because at the end of that life of poverty one will die. And after dying maybe you will be reborn rich. Who knows?  But your particular circumstance, whatever it is, is always impermanent. That is the only thing that is consistent about cyclic existence, impermanence. According to the Buddha’s teaching.

Each of the six realms of cyclic existence… (If you are interested in hearing what those realms are you can purchase tapes that we recorded here. There was a workshop recently given in which I described the six realms of cyclic existence according to the Buddha’s teachings.)   Anyway, in each of the six realms, there is a particular kind of suffering that is associated with that realm; and it has to do with the particular karma that it takes to be reborn in that realm. Each of these realms is different and unique, and they all have impermanence in common. They all have their cyclic nature in common. They arise from cause and effect and the cause and effect is continual and begets the next cause and effect. One begets the other. It is a constant begetting of more and more cause and effect. So they have that in common. But each particular realm has its own form of discomfort and suffering.

According to the Buddha’s teaching, you experience rebirth because of desire. Because of desire you are born into one of the six realms. Rebirth is experienced because of desire due to the belief in self-nature being inherently real. Now that is Buddhist lingo for ego. Actually due to the grasping of ego as being inherently solid, due to that grasping and perceiving phenomena as being external because of that grasping to ego as being inherently real, due to the belief in the division or distinction between self and other because of the belief in ego as being inherently real, due to that kind of faulty perception, one revolves in an illusory state, a state that seems to us very, very real. And that illusory state is cyclic existence.

Due to the desire that is associated with the belief in self-nature as being inherently real, we continually achieve or experience rebirth. According to the Buddha’s teaching, it is not necessarily a linear experience. We comfort ourselves with a very current idea that one progresses in a linear way. You should understand that this is a very new philosophy. This is not what the older religions, the ones that are more established, the ones that actually give the accomplishment of enlightenment, necessarily teach. Any form of Buddhism that has appeared in the world has taught that one experiences rebirth because of the karma of the mind and not necessarily in a linear progression. The idea of linear progression is new. If you think that is the only way in which birth is achieved, you should at least give yourself the opportunity of examining some alternative philosophies. The new idea associated with linear progression seems to be: Now that I am a human being, I will always be a human being or better; that I have come to this point and this is the level that I am at and I will always be at that point or better. So I am doing good. I am okay.

This is faulty reasoning. You are not taking into account that you have lived countless lifetimes. Countless lifetimes. You can’t name the time when it started. We are talking about aeons and aeons of cyclic existence. Such a long time that you have experienced rebirth that you have had many, many different lifetimes in many, many different forms. It is impossible to experience the ripening of all of your karmic causes, of all of the karma that you have accumulated over a period of time. It is impossible to experience all of those ripenings in one lifetime. Impossible. It is simply not dense enough. It is not possible. It would be like trying to put an ocean full of cause and effect relationships into a cup. It is simply not possible. So that being the case, you have lots and lots of latent karmic causes that have not ripened and cannot ripen, will not ripen, in this lifetime. So according to that thinking, all of us actually have the karma for being reborn in the lowest, hellish realm. And we also, all of us, have the karma for being reborn in the highest god realms.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

The Power of Intention

[Adapted from an oral commentary given by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche in conjunction with a ceremony wherein he bestowed the bodhisattva vow upon a gathering of disciples at Namdroling in Bozeman, Montana, November 1999. —Ed.]

Sometimes, although you are maintaining the bodhisattva vow internally and your intention is purely to benefit others, externally it may appear through [your] conduct or speech that you are breaking the vow. Although it may seem that a failure is occurring, if your actions and speech are motivated by bodhicitta, then no failure is occurring. That is referred to as a “reflection of failure.” For example, if it is necessary to commit a nonvirtue of the body or speech for the sake of benefiting others, that is permissible. In fact, not to do so could constitute a breakage of the bodhisattva vow. The motivation must be very clear. Whether your actions constitute a failure or not is determined by your own mind’s motivation. Here it is crucial to be careful, since losing the vow means taking lower rebirth.

From “THE PATH of the Bodhisattva: A Collection of the Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and Related Prayers” with a commentary by Kyabje Pema Norbu Rinpoche on the Prayer for Excellent Conduct

Compiled under the direction of Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche Vimala Publishing 2008

Addicted to Happiness

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Faults of Cyclic Existence”

I would like to take a moment to look at that. You should understand your own psychology enough to really look at yourself and see that mostly everything that you do is an attempt to be happy. If you look at the way we dress, the way we eat, the way we play, the way we work, all of these are meant to fulfill in some way the need to experience happiness and stability. All sentient beings have as their primary, motivating focus the urge to be happy. That is common in all of us. That is part of our basic psychology. You are not bad if you are trying to be happy. This is normal. No one is bad if they are trying to be happy. Every form of life, every bit of cyclic existence experiences that urge to be happy. In fact that can be seen as a brotherhood among us. It can be seen as a way to understand that we are absolutely kin, even in terms of understanding one another’s behavior.

You may not understand the behavior of someone who is very rough and gruff and insensitive. You may not understand the behavior of someone who is a thief. You may not understand the behavior of someone who is very needy and whiny. You may not understand the behavior of someone who is very boasting and gregarious. Whatever your particular personality is like, you won’t understand the other one. Trust me. Whatever yours is like, the other one is not very easily understood. But you can come to understand anyone if you come to understand that each of us, in our own weird way, is trying to be happy. Even the thief is trying to be happy. He thinks that is how he is going to be happy. The misunderstanding is that he thinks that is how he is going to be happy. The whiny kind of needy person is trying to be happy. They think they will get what they need if they continue that behavior. The boastful and gregarious person is trying to be happy. They think that they will be approved of or they will get what they need if they continue in that way.

All of us, equally, are trying to be happy. That is what makes us brother and sisters, if nothing else, because that is our psychology. And because we do not want to be unhappy. we wish to be happy, we resist examining the faults of cyclic existence. It is a downer. There is no getting around it. It is not what you want to think about because if you think about that you kind of get the icky-stickys. It’s just not what you want to think about. It’s just not so pleasant. However, if you think about love, or if you think about beauty, or if you think about positive thoughts, or if you just examine rainbows or do all these wonderful things that you have found make you happy, you think that is the answer. That is what I want to do. It will make me happy for a little while. And we are happiness addicts; we are stimulation addicts; we are instant gratification addicts. We want to have that little hit of happiness; and we don’t really care who we have to steal it from, much like a thief.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Motivated by Kindness

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Faults of Cyclic Existence”

We have been brought up to understand that we are the most powerful country in the world. And we are, of course, the most enlightened people in the world; and we are, of course, the most advanced people in the world; and we are, of course, because we have Estee Lauder, the most beautiful people in the world. We are brought up with all these different beliefs. And whether we swallow them consciously or not, subconsciously they are in there somewhere rattling around, and we have this faith in our way of life. One thing that we can do is to think of ourselves as able to help others. One thing that is very popular in our society is the idea that it is a beneficial thing and a good thing and a virtuous thing and a fulfilling thing to help others. We are always looking for fulfillment.  So the idea of compassion is a way to move ourselves into a foundation for meditation and practice. In my own experience (and I don’t claim to be such an experienced teacher), but in my own experience I have found that if I go to a new place that has never heard about the Buddha’s teaching, or if I go to a place that has heard a little bit and wants to hear more, or even if I have gone to students that have studied Buddhism for some time, if I want to touch them or refresh them so that they can continue in a determined way in their practice, or have them open up to the potential of practice and be stabilized to the extent that they can begin to practice earnestly, I can always rely on the idea of compassion to do that.

Westerners are excited by the idea that they might be able to benefit others. They are aware to some extent that the rest of the world is suffering. We don’t like to think about it, but to some extent we are aware that poverty exists, and hunger and sickness. I have found that Westerners are kind people. We are kind people. We want very much to end suffering; we very much want to help others. And there are many people who will practice if they really understand that this meditation will help them bring about the end of suffering for other people, will help them be a helper to others. They will practice for that reason. But strangely they will not practice to end their own suffering. They will continue to try to manipulate the circumstances in their life, or change things around, or try this or try that; but they will not really develop a firm foundation of practice because they themselves are suffering. They are not sufficiently motivated by their own suffering. It is a strangeness in our culture. It is not found in other cultures. But we will practice to benefit others.

This group, the core group of people who have been practicing in this temple for some time, came together because the people of earth were suffering, and the group wished to maintain a 24-hour a day prayer vigil. That is a dynamic of this organization. It came about so quickly and in such a stable way because the people here were greatly moved by the suffering of sentient beings. They knew that this kind of practice—the practice that brings about the end of desire and brings about supreme enlightenment—is ultimately the way to bring about the end of all suffering. For this reason, this family, or group of people, actually came together to practice.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Sustainable Foundation

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Faults of Cyclic Existence”

I have found that after a certain point, if compassion is the main motivation to practice, it will sustain you; but it constantly requires inspirationbecause we sort of become drawn back into ourselves. You know how you do that. You sort of wake up in the morning and think, ‘Today I am going to live a spiritual life, and I am going to help everyone, and I am going to be nice.  I am going to be good and that is it. That is the kind of day I am going to have.’ And somewhere around 4:00 (or at least it is 4:00 for me), you need a little inspiration. Well, we are like that with our lives. We have moments of touching, moments of experience of spiritual point of view. We have precious moments; and in those moments we think, ‘This life is only important if I accomplish meditation or if I accomplish enlightenment. This is very important. This is really the meaning of life; and I have a sense of the meaning of life; and I have a sense that kindness and love are the core elements in life; and that is what it is really all about. And I am changing my life starting now.’

Two weeks after that point, maybe three days, we start to wear down a little bit. I have found that in practicing the Buddhadharma, even if in the beginning we are on fire—your heart is just on fire with compassion, and you feel so strongly the sense to benefit all sentient beings—unless inspiration is constantly experienced or given, or had in some way, that that will wear thin. At that point, even Westerners must begin to understand the foundational concepts associated with the Buddhist thinking. That foundational concept I will entitle “The Faults of Cyclic Existence.”  If a real competency in understanding the faults of cyclic existence is not adapted at this time, the foundation is incomplete. Because it is not sufficient only to practice in order to benefit beings and for compassion if one does not really understand the faults of cyclic existence. So I would like to go into that.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

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