The “Feeling”

yeshe-tsogyal-sergey-noskov

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

That hook doesn’t happen because the teacher is manipulative. The hook happens because you have seen your face; and the karma in your mind is such that you have responded in a way that you never could have predicted. The student might be very conventional, not ever been religious before in their life. The student might be very unconventional, and never thought that they would deal with a conventional religion, like Buddhism. And they might be really ticked off about it. They just didn’t want any of these things to happen. And suddenly… Hooked! And the student can sometimes respond with anger, literally. Sometimes the student can feel that they’re too young to die. How did this happen? Suddenly I’m surrendering, and I didn’t want to surrender. I wanted to have more fun; I wanted to rock and roll. I wanted to continue to be a free agent, you know. I wanted to be footloose and fancy free. Let me go where I want to go, and do what I want to do. Don’t chain me down. Oh yeah. And they’re singing all these songs.

Suddenly they’ve got lead feet. They can’t move, and they just can’t go. They’re incapable of movement. What are they going to do?  And they grieve. They start to grieve. They grieve like someone died. And sometimes the students have to go through a period of time where they must be permitted to grieve. You can’t rush them. They have to grieve. Something died. Yes, something died. The part of their life where they were not hooked just died. And they can hear that velcro, you know. It can be a really uncomfortable position to be in. And sometimes they feel all kinds of different responses that are just unbelievable. I mean it’s just unbelievable to watch some of the responses the students have when they first meet their root guru and feel that feeling, that response. It’s just amazing. Sometimes the student will wonder what kind of demon they have turned into. ‘I used to think I was a good spiritual person and suddenly I’m acting like a complete turkey.’  And it often happens because the student has simply met their guru and they are responding to this feeling that they have never known before in their lives in a very human way.

But the teacher continues in what seems to the student like a relentless way, to send out this call, this call, this call. You can’t resist something that is like your mind. And the teacher is set up, due to their compassionate intention, karmically set up, really without any choice, to sound like and to respond to the student’s mind. The teacher will be like them vibrationally; sometimes like them situationally. Sometimes the student can look at the teacher and see themselves quite clearly. Sometimes they can simply hear the words, and it’s so much like the way they are. So funny. So strange. And  really all you’re seeing when you see that is you’re seeing compassion. That’s all that is to be understood. You should never think that you’re understanding the teacher by determining how much the teacher is like you. All you’re understanding is yourself.

The teacher is only acting from the point of view of compassion. That is if it’s a qualified and realized teacher. If it is someone who, you know, is considered to be a bodhisattva or an incarnation, a tulku, then what you’re seeing really is the display of compassion and what you’re seeing is your own face. If anger comes up, that’s your face too. That’s what you’re seeing. If resentment comes up, that’s what you’re seeing too. Sometimes resentment comes up, and that’s the hardest one, because the student will think they’re kind of spiritual, you know. They almost think of themselves as kind of a little guru, you know. Like a junior guru. You know, ‘I have some answers, and I’ve got some methods, and yes, I have some worldly wisdom here, and I’m sort of slick in my own way. And I’m king or queen of my little mountain.’ Of course my mountain is very, very small. But suddenly I move into a bigger place, and there’s another king or queen. And there’s a guru that is, you have to face it, far superior. And so you look at that and you feel kind of resentful, because you’ve been dethroned!  That’s painful!  That can be really painful, and first what might come up is a kind of resentment. A resentment also that the different kind of situations that you’ve engaged in during your life were not the holy, high, far-flung things that you thought they were. And it took this superior teacher to show you that. And there might be some resentment there.

But all that is happening… Can you really understand this? Can you really hear this? All that is happening is that there is a sound that is being sounded that on some level you are capable of hearing due to the karma of your mind. What is happening is happening because of you. Not because of anyone else. This is your mind. This is your karma. This is your face that you are seeing. Your response is your own response.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Method of Dakini Activity

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

On a more superficial level, let us describe the method of dakini activity, and how it actually can appear in the world.  Well, you cannot do that in one afternoon.  You cannot do that in one lifetime.  There are as many different ways that the Buddha nature can dance or move or generate activity as there are ways to be infinite.  It cannot be described.  Yet for our purposes, we can make some useful points about the method of Dakini activity.

First of all, anything having to do with the appearance of the Buddha’s activity in the world, that is to say, enlightened activity or compassionate activity should be understood as being inseparable from the dakini nature and should be understood as being dakini activity.  It should be understood that the movement or dance or display of the Buddha’s activity is always pure, not because of the phenomena that one sees, but because of the purity of the Buddha nature.  We like to evaluate phenomena that we see and that is where we run into trouble.  That is the mistake.  That is the cosmic mistake.  You cannot know the nature by evaluating phenomena as you see it, because you are seeing your own confusion, period.

When you see the display of the Buddha’s activity in the world, that which brings you closer to enlightenment, that which propagates the Dharma, that which contributes compassion to the world in some form or another that should be understood as pure activity.  You should see the purity. The purity is judged by understanding that the source of that activity is, and always has been and always will be, the enlightened nature.

That activity which is consistent with the nature of the dakini should be understood to be effortless in this way.  Typically and characteristically it is not born of the struggle to confirm self-nature.  It is born of spacious non-specific luminosity, the very nature of emptiness and having been born from that, all that appears as effortless and consistent with that nature, will eventually have the result of that nature.

While we have the habit of looking at an event midstream and seeing the middle of the picture, not the beginning, not the end, but the middle, we see certain things as if through a peephole. What appears to us is a very small picture and we do not understand the whole picture.  But if we could see that activity having its beginning, having its middle and having its end, we could see that activity in its completeness and then we would understand that it will always result in enlightenment, even while in the beginning there may be friction and in the middle there may be struggle, it will always result in enlightenment.   This is because the seed is the same as the fruit, always.  If the activity is born of the sphere of truth and is inseparable from the sphere of truth, if it is consistent with the Buddha nature, if it is the enlightened activity of the Buddha nature, it will always result in the Buddha nature.  That is always the case and that is the basis of devotion and faith.

Again, it is not based on what you see.  It is based on the purity of the Buddha nature.  Think about when the Buddha taught. The Buddha had no great teachers, really, that taught him on a physical level.  He had achieved a very great level of awareness through his previous compassionate and virtuous acts.  At the time of being the Buddha, he was able through his great effort to sit down and achieve realization.  But once he began to teach, he taught effortlessly.  It is said that people who spoke very different languages could sit down in front of him and they would hear the teaching in their own language.  It is also said that he would be able to teach any student on his/her own level.  He would be able to reach out and touch them exactly where they had a place to be touched.  He would be able to give to some students a teaching that to another student would seem superficial, but for that student, was the key to enlightenment.  And he could give to another student a teaching that would seem so profound to that student as to kick them into enlightenment very quickly, but to another student who might hear that teaching, if they were to hear that teaching in the same way, it would be blah, blah, blah.  Nothing.  Useless to them, like banana peels. You have to throw it out.  No good.  But the Buddha did not teach in that way.  The Buddha taught each person the nature of their own mind by showing them their poison, by ripening in their mind their potential for enlightenment, by shoving down their throat their own garbage, by giving them teaching that touched them in their language.

Now, if we were to do that, we would have to go to school to learn many different languages and learn all the different levels of the Buddha’s teaching in order to be able to do that.  And then we would have to have some kind of computer to be able to shoot this teaching to this one and that teaching to that one. We would have to be thinking about this all the time so that we could get it right.  Not so with the mind of enlightenment.  The mind of enlightenment can appear in whatever way necessary in order to teach and can speak to that person in the language that that person requires in an effortless way, completely effortlessly.

Of course, we have no real understanding of that, because of our confusion and our delusion.  We still continue to cling and to see what floats on the surface of our mind, like shit.  We see shit.  Yet, the method that is employed with enlightened activity is a method that will lead to enlightenment in an effortless way.  It is typical of the activity of the dakini to hit where it hurts, to get you where you live, to create for you a method by which you can try to run, but the road in front of you is turned around so that you can only run in a circle right back and it is as tricky and convoluted and sneaky as your own mind.  It will rub your face in your shit.  It will make you eat your own poison. But eventually, with faith and devotion, you will come out of it enlightened.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

The Hook

veclro

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

The teacher actually appears in the world, and hopefully the teacher is a bodhisattva. Because if the teacher is not a bodhisattva, you might as well throw that one out the window. You have made another mistake. You don’t want to go to school and learn from Betty Crocker, or something like that. You really want to know that you are getting teaching from someone who’s equipped to give you the method, to give you the Path. So if the teacher’s a bodhisattva, if the teacher is an incarnation who has achieved some realization, and therefore has returned solely to benefit beings, there is some design. Different tulkus will appear in different ways, but there is some design in the tulku’s method. The tulku will have a sense of purpose from a very young age, a sense of purpose, and it will be the cornerstone of that tulku’s life. Everything will be built around that. It’s almost like everything that arises, all of the circumstances that arise in the bodhisattva’s life, in the tulku’s life, will arise from that intention. Everything is centered on that intention; that intention is the center. It’s like if you’re building a house, and there’s one post that holds up the whole house somewhere in the middle. Although I don’t think houses are really built like that, and I’m sure the carpenters are getting angry at me just for saying that. But anyway, the cornerstone, if you will, of the structure is the tulku’s, the bodhisattva’s, pure intention-—the intention to be of some benefit. So the things that hold it up, that’s what they are—that compassion, that loving kindness.

As the tulku moves toward their time, and that happens differently with each one, there is a sense of calling. The tulku will call the students. Now sometimes, I can say to you from what I’ve heard and what I know, it isn’t really like the teacher will know the name of a certain student and just be necessarily finding that student. You know going to that student’s house and knocking on the door and saying, ‘Hey, guess what?  I’m your teacher.’  Terrible things would probably happen if teachers did things that way, and it just isn’t the way that it’s done. It’s not what really happens.

What begins to happen is that there is a quality of intention, of loving kindness, of compassion that begins to ripen in the teacher’s mind. And it’s like it sets up a vibrational quality almost like a sound, almost like a sound. A song, maybe. A sound, a note that begins to sound in a certain way. It’s not accidental that certain students appear at that time, simply because the karma of the situation is such that the teacher who appears in the world has a certain relationship with certain students; and that’s already established because the karma’s already such. The karma is already established. That karma will begin to actualize itself in that the teacher will set up a quality, a vibrational field or a sound, or something that will be appropriate, that will reach out and touch certain particular students, and their minds will respond to it. Their minds will respond to it and they will be called. Students will appear from literally nowhere.

I don’t consider myself a great teacher in any regard. I consider myself the humblest of the humble. Believe me, I do consider myself thus. But I do know my own small experience has been just that. I never, until Penor Rinpoche recognized me, I never represented myself in any way. I never hung out a shingle and said this or that is what I am, or who I am.  Never did that happen. But students came when I became ready. And I know that this happens with other teachers. There is a vibration that goes out, a sound that goes out that’s like a hook. It’s a hook, you know, just like velcro.  One piece of velcro doesn’t attach itself to a smooth surface. If the student doesn’t have the responding piece in them, it won’t connect, you see.  It will just smooth right over. You see what I’m saying?  It’ll just slick right over. But if the student has that other piece, they’ll be tight. You can’t separate them. To separate them literally sounds like velcro. It sounds like your heart is being torn out. There’s something there that is so fantastic that cannot be explained in ordinary terms.

So this amazing fantastic thing happens. And from the lama’s point of view, there is simply the display of that intention. That’s all that happens. And the student from literally nowhere, the student could be a coarse and crude construction worker. The student could be a ballerina, you know; the student could be a disco dancer They could be all sorts of weird things. You never know. And suddenly something begins to happen. And they don’t really change from being weird things, they just show up.

So this amazing thing happens; and this response begins to happen. And often the student will come up and they’ll go, ‘What am I doing here? How did I get in this?  What is this?’ One student that I remember: The first time she came to me for a consultation, she was so prim and proper. She wore this little proper camel suit, you know, and she was very business-y and very here-I-am, very business-y, very professional sort of woman. She comes in click, click, click, little high heels, sits down and goes, “Well, I’d like to have a reading.”  So, we talk, and we talk, and we talk, and about three or four hours later, she’s in tears, and she feels like her life has just fallen apart. She’s just left one train, and entered onto another, and all these weird things begin to happen to her. She’s crying, and she doesn’t know what’s happening to her. She feels like she’s going crazy. She just doesn’t know what this is. And really, there’s no monkey business happening on the part of the teacher. The teacher isn’t saying, ‘Hey, let me see how I can mess up this person.’  It isn’t like that at all. There is simply this call, this sound that is going out, and the student, if the hook is there, suddenly becomes velcroed, literally velcroed. Sometimes there is  anger at first, because you didn’t want to be velcroed, you know.  You didn’t ask for this. You wanted to be free and independent. You know? You don’t want to be stuck to something. And suddenly you can’t get away. You’re hooked.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

The Trouble With Samsara

burning house

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

When a student calls the teacher in their mind, when they begin to make their mind and their heart like a bowl, there are several different things that are happening. First of all, there is some fantastic auspicious karma that is ripening. In order for a student to even make that step, the student must have accumulated a tremendous amount of merit, of virtue, somewhere in the past. A non-virtuous mind cannot call the teacher with devotion. It cannot happen. They will not be able to experience that devotion, that gentling, that softening. So the student must know that about themselves: If they are responding with devotion, if they are really calling the lama, if they are really experiencing surrender, then there is some virtue in the student’s mind. The student should be happy and pleased with that.

When the student calls the lama, when the student practices that kind of devotion, it’s because the student has realized certain kinds of things; and the only way that real devotion can be practiced is if these things have been realized. First of all, the student has looked around and has seen that cyclic existence, or ordinary life, is flawed. It is faulted. The student has looked around—and sometimes it’s the older students that really in some ways, unfortunately, are able to do this, because they have seen their lives pass—and they look around and they say, ‘What have I done? I’ve worked so hard for maybe 55, 60 years. I’ve worked so hard, and what have I really accomplished?  What am I going to take with me?  What is this that I’ve done?  What will happen when this time has passed?’

So sometimes older students are truly prepared to understand the faults of cyclic existence. Younger students have a much more difficult time with that, because younger students are still trekking along, you know. They’re still thinking, ‘Oh yeah, I can do this, and I can do this,’ and they’re still steamed up, puffed up with that ‘I can, I can do’ kind of thing. Too many exciting threads to pull. Too many different ways to move. Our juices are flowing, and we’re moving ahead. And it hooks us; it hooks us into this delusion.

The student that is prepared to call the teacher has been awakened, stimulated, has understood that so much time has passed. And what has happened during that time?  Not much. Not much that we can really account for. We’ve had some fun. We’ve had some big fun, some of us. And we’ve had some big suffering. And we’ve had some big excitement. We’ve had some big letdowns. And it’s up and down, and up and down. And we’re all going to experience old age if we live that long. We’re all going to experience death; and we’ve all experienced sickness. And it just goes round and round and round, doesn’t it?

At some point we look at that and we see it, and we ask ourselves, ‘Isn’t there something more? Isn’t there something?  There must be something.’  We begin to move in that direction. And then we see someone who can give us a path. Not only just thoughts about the path, not only just ideas that are popular in the New Age. Not just some theories. But a technology, a method, a method that is succinct and exacting, and has shown itself to give results that have been repeated and proven over time.

So this student looks at that and thinks, ‘Wow! This is something!’ And the student is in the position of experiencing themselves sort of like in a burning house, and suddenly they’ve seen a door. They’ve seen a way out. They’ve seen something that doesn’t have the danger in it that cyclic existence has, that doesn‘t have the fault in it that cyclic existence has. Maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s something that we can do. And the student looks at that and says, ‘Oh,’ and they gather themselves together; and they are hopeful and they’re joyous. And somethng’s going on. Suddenly they’re excited. Then the student begins to want to call that, to bring that closer to them.  That’s a beautiful, precious, and exciting moment.  But that moment can only happen due to the virtue of the student’s previous practice. That really only happens due to virtue.

So the student begins to call the teacher.  And the student has lots of different experiences while that happens. Sometimes the student doesn’t know how to measure what the relationship with the teacher is. Sometimes there’s some initial confusion. There are all sorts of interesting and different things that happen during that time. But still, the student with the kind of virtue that is necessary to really do this will remain firm, will continue, will move forward, and continue to call the teacher, continue to invoke that presence in their lives and really come to the point, due to the virtue of their practice, where they will do anything, they will do anything, because they know their time is short. They know that they’ve tried everything, and nothing’s worked so far. Nothing has produced permanent happiness.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

American Dharma – The Prayer Vigil

Kunzang Palyul Choling has maintained a 24 hour Prayer Vigil since 1985. In this video Jetsunma describes how engaging in the Prayer Vigil is a way to stand up against the suffering in the world today. Making that commitment and dedicating the effort to bringing an end to war, or peace to beings, is a powerful way to practice the Dharma. She talks about how every visiting Lama, including His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, all comment how precious and rare this vigil is, that it happens nowhere else. Jetsunma talks about how it is part of integrating traditional Dharma Practice into our American, modern lives.

Calling the Lama From Afar

Guru Padmasambhava

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

In our tradition, in preliminary practice, we practice this “Calling the Lama from Afar,” and it’s a haunting practice. It will bring tears to one’s eyes if one practices it with a full heart and really does one’s best. When that begins to happen, there is a change in the student. There is truly a change. Often that is when the lama, the teacher, first begins to notice the student. That is when the lama takes an awareness of the student. That is when the student comes into the lama’s mind and the lama comes into the student’s mind. That is when this tremendous bridge, this perfect bridge, is formed that is everything, really everything, on the Path. Without it there is only dressing up in Dharma clothing like a peacock, you know. There is nothing without that. So that is necessary.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Friends and Enemies: Excerpt from “The Heart of Compassion…” commentary by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from “The Heart of Compassion: Thirty Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva”:

On a practical level, however, the mere fact that you feel compassion
for them is of no use whatsoever to all those beings. So, what can you
do to actually help them? You now have a human existence with all its
freedoms and advantages, and especially the immense fortune of having
encountered and started to practice the supreme Dharma. You have met
an authentic spiritual teacher and are in the process of receiving
teachings that will enable you to reach buddhahood in a single
lifetime. To make full use of this precious opportunity, you must not
only listen to the teachings but also put them into practice. That way
your feelings of compassion can be put to work, to the point that you
will eventually be able to bring all living beings to enlightenment.
As things are at present, however strongly you may want to help
others, you are a beginner and lack the capacity to do anything much
for them. The first step you need to take toward being really useful
to others, therefore, is to perfect yourself, by training and
transforming your mind.

The way you are now, your mind is powerfully influenced by the
clinging attachment you have to friends, relatives, and anyone who
brings you satisfaction, and by your hostile feelings toward whoever
seems to go against your wishes and toward all those who prevent you
from acquiring wealth, comfort, and pleasure and whom you therefore
regard with aversion as enemies. ln your delusion, you do whatever you
can to benefit yourself and those you like, and try to overcome and
eliminate all those you consider enemies with such aversion that you
can hardly bear even to hear their names. Over countless lifetimes you
have been dragged into samsara, this vicious ocean of existence, and
carried away by these strong currents of attachment and aversion.
Attachment and aversion are the very cause of samsara, the very reason
for our endless wandering in the circle of existence.

Consider carefully what you mean by friends and enemies. When you look
into it, it is obvious that there are no such things as permanent.
enduring friends or enemies. Those you think of as friends have not
always been so. Indeed, they may well have been your enemies in the
past, or they could become your enemies in the future. There is
nothing certain about it. Why should you be so compulsively attached
to particular people? Are not all your relationships temporary? In the
end, whatever may happen during your life, the time will come for you
to die. Then you will have no choice but to part from everyone,
regardless of whether you feel attachment or aversion for them. But
everything you have done in your lifetime, all those actions motivated
by attachment and aversion, will have created within you a force that
will then propel you to the next life, in which you will experience
their result.

So, if you want to travel the path to buddhahood, give up attachment
to friends and relatives, and hatred for enemies. Regard all beings
with impartial equanimity. If people now seem to be either friends or
enemies, it is just the result of past connections and actions. To
ascribe any solid reality to those  feelings of attachment and
aversion, arising as they do from mistaken and confused perceptions,
is just delusion. It is like mistaking a rope, lying in your path in
the twilight, for a snake-you might feel afraid, but that does not
mean your fear has any real basis. The rope never was a snake.

The Foundation of Devotion

Guru Rinpoche

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

Now I’m going to dive into the adult portion of our teaching, but you might have gotten something out of the children’s portion even though we’re adults, and some of us are even past 38. It looks like maybe some of us might be, and we’ve already learned some bad habits. Don’t we still move through whole passages in our lives when we just forget that we can be of benefit? We just move through and live in a way that’s relatively meaningless. We simply move through time, marking time by births, deaths, and anniversaries and summer reruns, and all kinds of things that are really pretty insignificant. We too can take hold of our lives and really become firm-, really practice accordingly.

So in the Buddhist tradition, particularly in Vajrayana, there is a kind of practice that is called devotional practice, and devotional practice has many components. But one particularly meaningful and important component is that one develops a relationship of pure devotion with one’s guru, with one’s teacher. In the Vajrayana tradition, the teacher is considered to be like the door of liberation because, even though there has been a Buddha on the earth and there has been the Buddhist teaching, even though the teaching is written in the books, even though there are many ways in which you can approach the Buddhadharma, it’s really, according to Vajrayana tradition, just about impossible to enter into the Path, into the meat of the Path, into the thick of the Path without the blessing of the teacher.

The lama is considered to be the blessing that is inherent in the Path. The lama is necessary for empowerment; the lama is necessary for transmission; the lama is necessary for teaching; the lama is necessary to make a bridge. Almost like the lama is the nurse that administers the medicine. The doctor might prescribe, the doctor might be considered the Buddha; but the lama is considered to be the nurse that actually administers the medicine while we ourselves may be too weak or too unaware to be able to hold onto the medicine or take it into our own mouths without some help. In Vajrayana tradition, from the very most preliminary practice to the very most superior practice, there is a devotional aspect to every practice that is done; and that is considered to be the vehicle or the means by which the blessing is actually transmitted.

In preliminary practice, there is actually a section of devotional yoga, guru yoga. This is something that is widespread not only in our particular tradition, but is widespread across all the traditions in Vajrayana Buddhism— the tradition of calling the lama, beseeching the lama, of invoking the lama’s blessing. Now in our particular Ngöndro, we have a beautiful passage, a beautiful song of invocation, called “Calling the Lama from Afar.” It has a very haunting melody and it’s done with one’s heart. Actually the recommendation is that one should do it until tears arise in one’s eyes. One should do that in order to soften the ego, in order to soften the mind and to make the mind like a bowl that is turned up, not turned over, hard, you know, and unable to receive any blessing; but a bowl that is turned up that doesn’t have any poison or dirt in the bottom of it, that’s kept purely; so that when the nectar comes in, it won’t be mixed with the poison or dirt. And it isn’t cracked, cracked through the distraction that we all feel when we can’t really keep our minds on any kind of devotional practice and our minds wander too much. That kind of bowl could not hold the blessing, could not hold the nectar. And, of course, if our minds are hard and filled with anger and hatred, and that anger surfaces, the bowl is turned over and the nectar simply runs off so there is no blessing to be had. We might fool ourselves thinking that we have a blessing, but in fact, no blessing has been received.

So we practice this devotional yoga; we practice it very sincerely. The benefit of this practice is immeasurable in that it softens the mind. It’s almost like planting a field of grain, you know? One has to plow the field; then one has to harrow it or disc it, turn it over. One has to soften it and rake it and work the soil so that it’s capable of receiving the seed. Otherwise if the soil were not ready, and the seed were thrown out, it would just bounce, like on a hard surface. It would not do much good. Any of you who have planted things know the truth of that. So devotional yoga is a cultivator. It’s considered to make one ready. Without devotional yoga, there is no possibility, really, of the blessing being fully received.

The devotional yoga is meant to benefit the student. It never benefits the teacher. If the teacher needs devotional yoga, the teacher is inadequate and impure; the teacher is without value. So the devotional yoga is purely for the benefit of the student. The teacher is not pleased by the devotional yoga. The teacher is pleased by the movement and the softening and the gentling and the change that occurs within the student, and that‘s because the teacher wishes to benefit the student. It isn’t because the teacher requires any kind of devotional yoga, or any kind of notice, really, at all.

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

 

Confession and Remorse

avoiding buyers remorse

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

Now with alcohol or drugs, the nature of the beast is that you’re going to hit bottom. At some point, things are really going to fall apart. One of the additional problems with samsara is that we can be angry every day, we can be needy every day, we can be miserable beyond belief every day, but we may not bottom out until we die. And right before we die we look back at our lives and go, ‘Gee, you know I’ve been miserable and angry and needy just about every day here. And now I’m dying.’ What are you going to do about it then? You know, think about it. You’re going toes up into the bardo. And you’re going to be faced with the nature, with your mind, with your habitual tendencies.

So, the problem with samsara is even more acute. I think samsara is even more a drug than heroin. Even more a damaging substance, or damaging condition, than addiction to alcohol. And the reason why I think that is because in samsara, the way it plays out, even though things have fallen apart, even though we have bottomed out, even though we are utterly miserable, we often can’t see it because we’ve been taught that that’s simply the way it is. That’s simply the way it is.

So like an addict that changes bars in order to solve his unhappiness… And it happens, doesn’t it? You go from one kind of social scene to another kind of social scene thinking that it’ll help. Like that, we go from day to day trying to solve the problem of samsara by bending the elbow a little more. And that’s kind of how it goes. Now the situation that we find ourselves in is very similar to that. And in terms of being addicted to samsara, we have to really dismantle the delusion of samsara. We have to see the faults of it. Now, according to the Buddha’s teaching, there are certain pre-written faults of samsara that you can rely on; but I really recommend that you look very carefully at your own condition in a courageous way.

I don’t think that that can happen very easily on your own, because you’re going to miss some things, a lot of things. It is remarkable to me… For instance, let’s use a hypothetical situation that I ran into just recently. Let’s say you have a friend (and probably you’ve seen this), who has a habitual tendency of terribly destructive relationships. Do you know anybody like that? How about yourself? Terribly destructive relationships in which it never happens that your friend walks out of a relationship unscathed. They always come out of it damaged in some way. Terribly destructive relationships. It seems to be a big item here in samsara. It’s like a big seller. It’s right up there with T-shirts. Big seller. So we’re in  terribly, terribly addictive relationships. And then you see this person go into another terribly destructive relationship. The woman looks different. She smells different. She sounds different. How is it possible that she’s exactly the same as all the other ones he’s had? And you want to say to your friend, whap, whap, wham! ‘Don’t you see that you’re doing it again?’ And they don’t! They have not a clue, nary a clue. Now has that ever happened to you? Not a clue! Have you ever seen your friend do that? Have you ever seen yourself do that? It’s the same song again and again and again. So you may need to get with someone who’s a little bit more advanced at this than you are, or at least someone you can talk to, someone you can trust.

I actually recommend that for my students. I set up a system where they can do partnering with each other. And it’s a useful thing, because we can look at each other’s patterns; and we can look at where each other’s thinking has just sort of slid over a few very important facts. And we can point it out and really help each other to stay honest, because we don’t have the habit of honesty. We have the habit of patching things up and putting band-aids on them. That is our habit. We’re trying to slick by, Jack! And that’s what we’re doing. So what we need to do is to try to find a way to cut to the bone, and you may need a friend to do that with.

Now if any of you wish to engage, those of you who are my students, and those of you who are thinking of becoming students, to engage in such a practice of really dismantling your habitual tendencies, to really look at the faults of cyclic existence and to really get with that, I heartily suggest that you do so. And certainly any of you are welcome to call on any of my students, those who have been with me for some time and have some of those skills; and I’m sure they would be willing to help you. We’re set up to do that. We’re like that. And there’s nothing to be shy about. The one thing I have to tell you about this is that whatever you’ve done, I know these people, they’re worse. There’s not a rose amongst them. Although they’re looking pretty sweet these days. There’s not a rose amongst them, believe me. There’s not one amongst them that probably hasn’t done worse. So there’s nothing to be afraid of. The deal is, and here’s something that’s really important, in both Alcoholics Anonymous and in the Buddhadharma, confession and remorse are essential components.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

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