Turning the Mind

zakurdayev-framed-mirrors

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “How Buddhists Think”

In the preliminary stages of this path, we must engage in a practice called “turning the mind.” What does that mean?  Our minds are fixated on gratification and self-satisfaction, on the idea that “if I dance fast enough, I’m going to get happy somehow.”  The Buddha teaches us to turn our minds to face the facts, rather than continuing this chronic, habitual fixation on delusion.  We must see that cyclic existence is an impermanent, changing process that results in death and rebirth.  And the rebirth takes a form we cannot foresee, a form determined by our karma.  Once we understand this, we must act accordingly.  Realizing that we have a choice, we can act intelligently.

The Buddha has made clear that all our suffering occurs due to habitual fixation on self-nature as inherently real, and the resultant desire.  He also gives us a way to antidote that desire: a clear look at cyclic existence and its faults.  We can see what the faults of cyclic existence are, and we can use this as a medicine, applying it till the end of our incarnation.  Then we can look back on our lives, perhaps at age eighty, and say: “I have spent that time well.”

If we remain fixated on material things (a chicken in our pot, our boat, our color TV), dancing really fast, we may still reach the age of eighty before we die.  But not even a sesame seed, as the teaching says, can we take with us.

If we choose wisely, we will reap the benefits of applying the antidote the Buddha prescribes.  These benefits will come from purifying our mindstream and thereby pacifying our habitual compulsive tendencies.

According to the Buddha’s teaching, every bit of experience you now have is the result of your karma.  Would you like to have a full-life reading about your past lives? Well, let me tell you how you can get one.  Look at yourself now.  Look at your cravings, your selfishness, your sadness.  Look at your happiness, your generosity.  Look deeply at yourself, with honesty and courage.  Look at your appearance, at how you act.  Everything about you is a reflection of your past actions, of cause-and-effect relationships.  So you don’t need to pay someone a hundred dollars to give you a fancy life reading.  Just look in the mirror.

Copyright ©  Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Fasten Your Seatbelts: The Vajrayana Path

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

I would like to say good morning to everyone. I’m pleased to see you all here and very honored to be here again.  This is the beginning of a new trend at KPC where I will be coming here a lot more often and ultimately my plan is to spend up to six months a year here.  We may grow into it in steps and jumps, but that’s my plan.  It feels very good to be here, and in Lama talk, that means that my students have been practicing. That means that there has been some effort in the way of determining what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected, and what is precious, and what is worth one’s endeavor.  And so that kind of discrimination must be coming to pass in many of my students.  If that’s coming to pass, then the teacher will definitely come.  There is no doubt of that.

Now on the path of Vajrayana, we are given something like a rocketship rather than a slow boat to cross the ocean of samsara.  When Lord Buddha first came to the planet and taught, when he was here as Shakyamuni, he gave teachings that were absolutely necessary for that time.  During that time, we were not in Kaliyuga, which is a more degenerate age.  During that time, it was easier to practice. It was easier even to speak Dharma; and peoples’ minds were more spacious and more expanded so that if one were to accomplish Dharma, it would be easierto accomplish Dharma during that time.  And yet, there was a difficulty.  And the difficulty was that during that time, because there was more space in the mind, there was also more relaxation, maybe more joyfulness, less reason to feel compelled to exit samsara.  So there are good and bad things in both times.

True that this is Kaliyuga; true that this is the time of degeneration. There are many false teachers and many false paths and sometimes delusion rises up like a tsunami flood. It is a difficult time.  We look to the people that even guide this country, and you wonder where is the clarity, where is the morality.  So it’s difficult.  Even this country that was once the prince of countries, and can still be—the peacemaker, the one who guards the little guy—instead now we’ve changed.  So these are all indicative of this time of delusion.

And yet at the same time, we are so pressed because not only our delusion thickens and deepens, but because of our delusion, our neuroses (which means an inappropriate response to something that is not understood well anyway), our neuroses also thickens and deepens.  And with that comes an increase in pain.  Fundamental pain.  Maybe not even a particular pain about something; but rather an all-pervasive sense of suffering that we are more unhappy, Now when things are happening faster and materialism is in some ways more attainable, in many ways more attainable, still we have become more and more unhappy and continually create the causes for unhappiness.  So this pushes us to find a solution.  For some people, we look to psychology or psychiatry. For other people, we look towards creating the causes for happiness through walking the path of spirituality.  But many of us are seeking, and that’s important.  That is something that is useful and to be treasured during this time.

Many of us will think what drives us to seek is this pain, this angst, this modern angst that we all seem to carry around.  That pain, on the one hand, seems sometimes unbearable; and then other times, just there. We are uncomfortable and we can’t say exactly why.  We feel wobbly, unguided, unknowing and we really can’t understand why that is.  That suffering of course, even though painful, can ultimately become part of the blessing that brings us to the Path.  Maybe we didn’t even come here thinking, “What I need is a good Path.”  Maybe we came here for some other reason—because we heard about this place, or we’ve heard a little bit or we’ve read some books about Dharma, or maybe His Holiness the Dalai Lama has given us some wonderful teaching through his books, and something has just hooked us a little bit.  Maybe we heard about the crystals.  That brings people!  Whatever it is, it’s that sense of things not being wholesome or right.  It’s that sense of fundamental unhappiness that drives us forward.

And so, in the beginning, that’s how it feels.  It can be a very poignant kind of search and we feel deeply moved by it.  So when we begin to examine the Path of Vajrayana, we find that rather than being the gentle ship that crosses a relatively gentle ocean, as was in the time of Lord Buddha’s physical life, now we have a different situation.  We are propelled by the depth of our feeling, by our discomfort, and we’re looking for something. We seem, in this time,  to connect with something that is more potent, maybe a little fiercer in a certain way, definitely more condensed than the original teachings of Lord Buddha.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Taking Responsibility for Our Path

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Neurotic Interaction to Guru Yoga” 

Today we are going to continue the process of looking at two main and fundamental foundational teachings associated with the Buddhadharma. We have examined and re-examined the Bodhicitta, which is one of the main foundational attitudes and practices and accomplishments that one should gather on the path, and now we are moving towards the Guru Yoga.  There are many areas in which these two subjects connect, and one has to develop the foundational thoughts, as I’ve indicated many times before, the thoughts that turn the mind towards Dharma. Also one has to develop the thoughts that make one understand the condition of sentient beings and the failings of samsara, or the sufferings of samsara.  If one were to understand these in a logical and realistic way, and go through the effort of contemplating them so that a real understanding is arrived at, and take responsibility for that, then it’s easy, or at least easier, to move into a deeper practice of the Guru Yoga, a deeper understanding of Bodhicitta, the twofold accomplishment of wisdom and knowledge.  These things are much more easily arrived at when one studies the foundational teachings. So try to remember that.  No matter what stage you’re at in practicing the path, one has to reorient oneself all the time.  It’s similar to, let’s say, you’re forty years old and you’ve had the experience of living for forty years so you have certain things about living that you’re comfortable with, that you’re certain about.  You know by this time the sun is most likely going to rise and set.

We find that if we are to continue to keep ourselves spiritually on the mark to where we feel satisfied about our spiritual practice, we find that periodically we have to reorient ourselves, and for some of us it might take different forms.  Many of us have realized by now that we need a certain amount of time spent alone in contemplation.  Many of us realize now that we need to reorient ourselves with nature—that one should align oneself with the cycles of life, the cycles of night and day, the cycles of the seasons, the natural directions and natural occurrences that occur in our world—and that is useful and good too.

When it comes to Dharma this is certainly the case, but the need here is more specific.  Yes, you may find that you do need a certain amount of time alone.  I think really that all people do. That you do need a certain amount of time out in nature and you do need a certain amount of meditation time and so forth and so on. But beyond that, particularly and specifically with Dharma, one needs to reorient oneself on the path by discovering and rediscovering again the faults of cyclic existence—the thoughts that turn the mind, the linking cause and effect conditions that we find in samsara.  Turning the mind—this is something that one needs to accomplish on a regular basis. There never is a time when you are actually finished with that.

So this is something that I speak about constantly. I know that you feel that you’ve already heard this.  I agree that you may have already had it meet with your ears, but the hearing part, well that’s a different story.  We don’t know if that’s actually happened yet or not, because the level of personal responsibility that I’m talking about is absolutely essential.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Self-absorption Leads to Unhappiness

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray by Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

The Buddhist path is not a selfish trip. It’s not a self-absorbed trip. In fact, as Buddhist practitioners, we strive to become less and less self-absorbed. Being self-absorbed is the exact opposite of prayer–180 degrees away from it.  But most of us, unfortunately, have the habit of self-absorption, and so we spend most of our lives holding a prayer that is based on samsara. That has no good result. Without exception, self-absorbed people are the unhappiest people on the face of this earth, whether they have money or they don’t. Whether they have a home and a car or they don’t. Whether they live in a simple thatched hut or they live in a mansion, the people that are self absorbed and locked up in their own inner phenomena are the unhappiest people on the face of this earth.

The tragedy is that in our culture we are taught to think more about ourselves than about others. We are taught that if we buy cars and other stuff and maybe line up a few parties and relationships and line up a few fun retreats, we will be happy. That is simply not the case. Happiness never comes from self-absorption. It comes from being concerned about the welfare of other sentient beings.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

The Guru’s Three-Part Empowerment

The most important part of the practice of Guru Yoga is when we receive the threefold empowerment from the guru. We receive the white light from the Guru’s head to our head to purify our body. We receive the red light from the Guru’s throat to our throat to purify and empower our speech. We receive the blue light from the Guru’s heart to our heart to purify and empower our mind. We should be receiving these empowerments 24 hours a day. Every time our mind has a little space, we should train ourselves to remember to receive the nectar of the Guru’s blessing. Instead, we walk around saying, “I’m lonely. I need my space. I need to go out and do stuff. I need to spend some money.” And we whine and carry on in samsara. And yet every minute this amazing phenomenal connection is available.

We should develop the habit of constantly keeping that connection. Whenever we have a moment, we should recite the Seven Line Prayer and ask for the guru’s blessing. And then we have it –boom, boom, boom—because when we ask, it is always given. There is never a time that when we ask, that it is not given. It may happen that we can’t receive the blessing sometimes. But we just keep trying. It’s simply our habit, and habits can change.

This is prayer without ceasing. This is constant prayer. This is a personal version of what we’re trying to do here at KPC by having our 24-hour prayer vigil, with someone practicing all the time. It is developing a constant awareness of our non-duality with the guru.

As we practice, the experience deepens. When we do our sit-down practice, the empowerments become easier to receive. We will find that we can go deeper and deeper and deeper. Then when we receive that three-part empowerment, our mind will be mixed with the guru and all the blessings will be present.  But be careful: Pride will stop the blessing.

So we wire up. We take refuge and are anchored in our confidence. We know, “This is my guru; I am unshaken.  This is the method; I am unbroken.  This is the result that I am going toward.” We maintain that connection constantly. Any time we have a moment, we recall our root guru appearing as Guru Rinpoche and receive the empowerments, mixing our mind with the guru’s mind. That’s the way to awaken to non-duality. That’s the way to awaken to our nature. When we mix our mind with the guru’s, we are deeply empowered with the bodhicitta. We can hear the calls of the suffering ones. They will fill our ears.

When we take this empowerment and we mix our mind with the nectar of the Three Precious Jewels, then we can pray. We can see ourselves as the same as the guru in nature, not in a prideful sense. Having received the blessing of the guru and of all the masters of the lineage, we are now able to pray.  We can ease the suffering of sentient beings.  Why?  Because we have the merit of our lineage. Now we can take within us the suffering of sentient beings because we can handle it. We have the power of the vajra masters.  That is our joy, our bliss, our ecstasy. We are never separate from them.

So prayer comes when we are in a state of awakening–when the bodhicitta that is the nectar of the guru’s mind is mixed inseparably with our own mind. Then we can pray: we can speak with the authority of the bodhicitta, in the way of the bodhicitta.

Do you hear the sense of potency I am trying to describe?  It is a sense of being fully mixed with the nectar of bodhicitta, fully aware that our nature is the bodhicitta. It is the bodhicitta that benefits sentient beings. When we are aware that we are the bodhicitta, it is this that we send to others. That is the power of the bodhisattvas and the Buddhas.

When we are that bodhicitta, we can awaken the bodhicitta in others just by looking at them. I know from experience that when His Holiness Penor Rinpoche looked at my heart, my heart was his and it opened. He recognized the bodhicitta in me, and I practiced to mix my mind with his. And therefore it was done. And that’s the potency of prayer. Now I can pray.

There is no room for pride in prayer—just simple gratitude for receiving the blessing of the guru in a humble way, with confidence in that blessing. Because of that blessing, we can pray. Now we have the bodhicitta; now we are the bodhicitta. And that is the potency and power upon which we rely.

The Buddhadharma is with us every minute. It’s a path, a way of life. And it is the true method to achieve the precious awakening. When we know that other beings are suffering so terribly, and we have found this jewel and it is in our hands and this nectar is given freely, I ask you: Why not learn to pray?

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Experiencing Bodhicitta through the Guru Yoga

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray by Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

We must practice guru yoga. Without guru yoga, we will never learn to pray properly. Guru yoga is the nest in which our prayers are developed. In guru yoga we see the lama as the embodiment of all the fields of refuge—all of the excellent, extraordinary displays of Buddha nature that did not arise in samsara, that are pure and untainted.

The lama is our boat across the ocean of suffering. A proper lama, from an unbroken lineage who is free of suffering and delusion and motivated by compassion, has made that trip before and knows how to get across. If we practice the Dharma correctly, we will see that lama in a way we’ve never seen anyone else before. We can then approach the lama like a child, without judgment. We can ask kindly and without fear, “Will you help me?”

Now, of course, judgments will rise up in our mind because that is our habitual tendency. But that then becomes our battleground. That is where we take a stand and draw the line. Once we’ve put our trust in the lama, we say, “I know that you have been taught by the great lamas that have been taught by the great lamas that have been taught by the great lamas, and all of them in an unbroken lineage have achieved enlightenment.” We realize that the lama is the door to liberation, and we do whatever it takes to walk through that door—whether it’s getting down on our knees, challenging our habitual tendencies or changing.

We have to be willing to change. Dharma cuts like a knife. It’s supposed to; it’s doing a big job. And we have a lot of work to do because most of our life we’ve spent chanting the mantra of samsara, the mantra of self-absorption. So we look to the teacher. We look to the Buddha. We look to the Dharma. We look to the Sangha. We look with determination, strength and courage or vajra pride.

Vajra pride, the courage to say, “I’m going through the door of liberation,” does not come from the ego. It is not ordinary pride. Instead it is steadfastness and determination to change utterly and completely. Do you know what prayer is?  Prayer is this (makes a cutting motion and rips open her chest). That’s prayer.

Through the practice of Guru Yoga, we become absolutely non-dual with the guru. That is the wish and the hope. That is also the method and the way. We mix our mindstream with the guru like mixing milk with water. And they can mix perfectly and constantly.

We practice the ngundro Guru Yoga and we practice the Shower of Blessings, and that’s a wonderful place to start, but how many minutes do we miss? How much time do we miss playing around in ordinary puddles—ordinary reality—when the ocean of wisdom is within reach?

The lama is not a separate person who we only get to see every now and then. When we see the lama, we are looking at the Nirmanakaya form of the Buddha. Guru Rinpoche himself said, “I will be there in the form of your root guru.  When you call out to me, I will be there.”

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

The Brilliance of the Great Bodhicitta

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray by Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

As we realize that others need our help, we begin to heed their calls. We begin to turn to what is real, what is profound—the brilliance of the great bodhicitta. The great bodhicitta is the first movement from the void—from the absolute, uncontrived, undifferentiated spontaneously complete emptiness. Bodhicitta is the arising of the Buddha nature in a gossamer-thin, seemingly phenomenal, form. Bodhicitta contains all potential. It is the big “yes.”  Separate from nothing, containing all potential and all accomplishment, the great bodhicitta is the first movement of the absolute. Bodhicitta is also called compassion. Compassion is our nature.

We have deprived ourselves of the deliciousness, the comfort and the happiness of compassion for so long that the bodhicitta seems like something we have to work on—like an outsider that we have to bring into our home.  How sad, because compassion is our nature. When we are self-absorbed, we are denying ourselves the nectar that is the first movement of our very nature. And so if the great bodhicitta is really the first appearance of any kind of phenomena, if it is the underlying reality of any phenomenon, then compassion is also our nature. In fact, compassion is the nature of the meanest little bug in the world. It is the nature of spiders and lions and tigers and bears—and everyone else too.

All sentient beings have that nature and yet they live in a state of sleeping. We, on the other hand, are practicing to be awake. We wonder, “How do I see the bodhicitta? How do I develop the unconstricted, uncontrived, non-dramatic, undecorated view?

© copyright Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo all rights reserved

Getting Connected

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray by Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

How do we pray?  How do we rely on the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and the Lama who is the embodiment of all three?  First of all, we have to get connected. We have to get wired up. And the way we get wired up is to practice refuge.

We have to view the Three Precious Jewels as though we were hanging over a giant abyss with crocodiles at the bottom, and the only rope to safety is held by the Three Precious Jewels. The rope is Guru Rinpoche—it is the Lama—and we hold on and start climbing. In other words, we sincerely take refuge, deeply in the most profound way that we can.

Most of the time we take refuge in ordinary things. We take refuge in our television programs, in our computer, in our social life or whatever it is that we like to do. We go to them to be happy. That’s 180 degrees away from prayer. Instead, we should realize that here we are asleep, living in a dream state, and that we must rely completely on the awakened ones and their teachings in order to wake up. We can’t rely on the teachings of someone who is also sleeping. That would be the blind leading the blind.

Lord Buddha was called the Perfect One because in every appearance and in everything that he did, he demonstrated that state of pure awakening and enlightenment. The Dharma, the method that we are using, has come from that awakened state.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

How to Pray by Being

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A teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo given in the wake of the Tsunami in 2004

In order to pray, first we have to understand that we are Uncontrived Primordial View – Suchness.  The Uncontrived Primordial View is every potential in its essential uncontrived form.  Our nature is that which is unborn, absolutely complete and perfect in every detail.  It isn’t made, it isn’t grown, and it can’t become stronger or weaker.  It is conditionless.  So we practice VIEW to allow the “boxes” of our mind to fall away so we can recognize that conditionless state and awaken to it, at last.  Our prayers have to be like this as well.

Because we haven’t really awakened to that conditionless state yet and we are unable to disentangle or to let the boxes down so that our view opens and we are in a state of recognition, then we should rely on the Three Precious Jewels of Refuge. Sincerely take Refuge deeply in the most profound way that you can. Rely completely and unwaveringly on the Three Precious Jewels and the Lama who embodies all three.

How do we do this? First we have to get connected – wired up.  The way we get wired up and connected is to practice Refuge.  Realize we are in this dream state and so we rely completely on the Awakened One.  Take Refuge Deeply.

In order to really pray we must let go of pride, our clinging to self.  The one that says, “Look at me, I’m praying.  Maybe if I recite this mantra, it will go over there to that person.” That’s not very awakened, is it?  Rather, this is dualistic.  The most important element in learning to pray is to let go of pride, the idea that I am a practitioner, I am praying, I am doing this, I must be good at it. Me, Me, I, I.

Our pridefulness and doubt are the two main obstacles to true prayer. Haughtiness and pride lead to anger.  Pride precedes anger because you think you are right.

With prideful thoughts, we are clinging to self-nature as being inherently real and we are always in a state of judgment.  If we are high, others are low.  Develop awareness that we are the same nature.  All of us are expressions of the infinite possibility of the Primordial Uncontrived Wisdom State…. Like white light going into a crystal and the colors are all broken up into different shades and beautiful reflections.

So instead of pridefulness when we get ready to pray, we should get down on our knees and pray and say:  “These are my brothers and sisters, some of them swept off the face of the earth by this giant wave, some of them are hungry, they’ve lost their families, many of them are in the bardo….”  So we think with that kind of compassion and consider the situation of other sentient beings rather than worrying so much about ourselves.  Simply consider their suffering.  Keep one’s ears open to their calls, to their suffering and to recognize that they are the same.  Not higher, not lower…. the same.  They are the same in their Nature.

Adopt the posture of a  “clear hearing” of the calls of sentient beings. “I hear you.  I am not separate from you”.  We have to hear the cries of sentient beings and then remember they are the same as us.   Have the posture of  “It is a privilege to honor that which you are”.

Untangle your pride.  Its like a constricting force on your heart.  It keeps you from opening up.  It keeps you separate.  It keeps you miserable and it affirms samsara every day. You are praying for suffering when you pray with pridefulness.  Lose the prideful stance and connect, wire-up to the Three Precious Jewels.  Pridefulness is the opposite of prayer.

“So, as we realize that others need our help and we begin to heed their call, we turn to what is real, what is profound.  From the Great Void…. from the absolute uncontrived undifferentiated spontaneously complete emptiness, is the brilliance of the Great Bodhicitta.  The Great Bodhicitta is the first movement, like the first word, the first movement.  It’s the arising of the Buddha Nature in a gossamer seemingly phenomenal form.  The Bodhicitta, the first movement of emptiness contains all potential…the Big YES.  Separate from nothing, containing all potential, containing all accomplishment…the Great Bodhicitta is the first movement of the Absolute, and that is also called Compassion.”

Compassion is your nature. You have deprived yourself of the deliciousness, the comfort and the happiness of true compassion, of the Bodhicitta for so long that the Bodhicitta seems to you like something you have to work on, like an outsider that you have to bring into your home.  How sad.  Because it is your nature.

How do we develop the unconstricted, uncontrived view?  First we practice Guru Yoga.  Guru Yoga is the nest in which prayers are developed.  In Guru Yoga we see the Lama as the embodiment of all the fields of refuge, all of the excellent extraordinary displays of Buddha nature that did not arise in samsara, that are pure and untainted.  Through your practice, you become absolutely non-dual with the Guru.  You mix your mind stream with the Guru like milk with water.

Train yourself to remember to receive the Three Light Empowerment of body, speech and mind 24 hours a day.  Receive the nectar, the blessing every minute of every day.  Receive this amazing phenomena of connection.  Develop the habit of constantly keeping that connection.  This is prayer without ceasing.  When we receive that empowerment, our mind is mixed with the Guru and the blessings are all-present.  Mix your mind with the Guru’s mind. Awaken to the non-duality. The Nature that is your Nature.

We have to be willing to change.  It takes getting down on our knees and challenging our habitual tendencies.  Dharma cuts like a knife.  It’s supposed to.  It’s doing a big job.  We have to do a lot of work because most of our life we spend chanting, “Om samsara Hung.” So we look to the teacher, we look to the Buddha, we look to the Dharma, and we look to the sangha with determination and strength.  It takes steadfast Vajra Courage.

Prayer is when you are in a state of awakening; when the Bodhicitta that is the nectar of the Guru’s mind is mixed with your own mind, and the nectar becomes inseparable.  That nectar is the Bodhicitta.  It is being fully aware that your nature is the Bodhicitta and it is the Bodhicitta that benefits sentient beings.  When you are aware that you are that, it is that that you send to others.  Being confident, not prideful, confident in that blessing; and therefore you can pray.  Now you have the Bodhicitta.  Now you ARE the Bodhicitta.  And that is the potency and power that you rely on.

It’s every minute.  It’s a path.  It’s a way of life.  And it is the true method to achieve the precious awakening.  When you know that other beings are suffering so terribly and we have found this “Jewel” and it is in our hands, and this nectar is given freely, then I ask you “Why not learn to pray?”

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Relying on the Three Precious Jewels

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray by Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Truth be told, we haven’t really awakened to the conditionless state yet.  Maybe we’ve had a few experiences in our meditation, a little taste of emptiness if we really go deeply into our practice, but it’s only for a second.

For most of us, we are unable to let the boxes down so that our view opens and we are in a state of recognition. Because of that, we are taught that we should rely upon the Three Precious Jewels—the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and mostly especially the Lama, as the embodiment of all three.

In other words, when we see the lama, we are seeing the Nirmanakaya or body form of the Buddha—a projection of the Buddha nature in phenomena. The Nirmanakaya has appearance and characteristics, but these are gossamer thin. These are insubstantial, like dew on a hot morning. And so we rely on our teacher as the representation of the primordial wisdom nature.

We rely on the Buddha because the Buddha is the doctor who gives us teachings—tells us what is wrong with us and how to fix it.

We rely on the Dharma, which is the medicine—the tried-and-true method that practitioners have used for thousands of years to escape the suffering of samsara.

We rely on the Sangha who care for us, like a nursemaid, until we are awake. It’s as if we are in a coma, and there’s nobody to take care of us but these nurses. The nurses bring us the medicine. They support us. And so we love and respect the sangha.

© copyright Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo all rights reserved

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