Recycling in Worldly Existence

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche on Meditation, reprinted here with permission from Palyul Ling International:

In this world, as we were born as human beings, we need to have something beneficial that we can do. In general, we have some kind of activity by which to earn our livelihood, just to have something to eat and drink. Of course, not only human beings, but also animals know how to live their lives in this way. As we were born human, we can talk and understand language and meaning. That is the specific characteristic of a human being. So based on that we need to have some ultimate benefit that we can achieve within this lifetime.

Generally speaking, two main activity categories we can engage in: our normal worldly activities and then the Dharma activities. But the majority of the world’s people become very busy with worldly activities rather than following some kind of spiritual practice. These worldly works or activities are based on one’s capabilities and power and skill, and of these there are many different levels – some have more or better and some have less.

However, whatever worldly activities that we complete, whether or not they are good or meaningful, they will only endure for a few months or years. There is not anything within these activities that we can ultimately rely on. For example, from young childhood we pursue educational training, from first grade until graduation. For almost fifteen or twenty years we work very hard and study so that we can get a specific job. Then if through one’s job one becomes more successful, then possibly in twenty or thirty years we consider that we have a better or happier life. And if during all that time, if we have a very pure and sincere mind in all these works, then of course there is some benefit which is known as virtuous action. But there are also those that have the qualifications to do these activities but who have so much ego or arrogance or pride that their works, even if completed, are not really beneficial in this lifetime.

So many human beings consider the benefit for their individual selves as the most important thing. The result is we are all re-cycled over and over in what is called Samsara or the cyclic existence.

We cannot really establish or find out how long we have been drifting about in Samsara or cyclic existence. No one can know for certain how many lives we have taken in this world – one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand, perhaps one million lifetimes. We cannot calculate the countless aeons of times we have been reborn in this world, in this Samsara.

Sometimes we were able to fulfill some of our wishes and sometimes we could not. For this life, from the time we have taken birth from our mother’s womb until now, whatever our ages, we have been constantly thinking about our own benefit and how we can be more happy people. All of our education and financial developments are all just for one’s own benefit. There is not anything left out that one has not thought of for one’s own benefit.

However, whatever we do, fulfill or complete in this lifetime is mainly based on our Karma, the action, of what we have done in our many past lifetimes. One cannot complete one’s every wish immediately because of the Law of Karma. Because have never developed their spiritual side, they mainly have deluded minds. So they are not able to understand the causes and conditions based on the Law of Karma. They can only think of what is happening today, and have no idea what is really going on. They don’t have a deeper level of understanding of these spiritual practices and so they don’t understand what is involved in past lifetimes and future lifetimes. It is because of their obscurations or ignorance that they don’t have any clear understanding about the causes and conditions. They really don’t know anything about the Law of Karma.

His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche

Change Your Mind

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Vow of Love series

In order to cure the symptom of suffering you might decide to manipulate the circumstances, or the environment. If you see people who are hungry, you give them food. If you decide you want to feed them for the rest of their lives so that they are never hungry, then you have to feed them three times a day, every day, for the rest of their lives, or teach them how to feed themselves. What are you going to do when they get sick? They will get sick. What are you going to do when they get old? They will get old. What are you going to do when they get lonely? What are you going to do when all the different kinds of discomfort pop up? What does it matter if you help a few people? What about the other 5.9 billion on the planet? What about the animals? Where will you start? What will you do, if your intention is merely to manipulate the environment so that the discomfort that you see is finished? Even if you have worked every moment selflessly and have given away all your money, and then have gotten money from other people to help, doing everything that you could to make these things happen, you wouldn’t put a dent in it, not even the tiniest dent. Why? Because you are trying to manipulate something that is very superficial.

This apparent reality that we are viewing isn’t that deep. It’s nothing. It’s a ghost. It’s a puff-ball. We can’t move it, because wherever we move it, it will appear somewhere else. We cannot manipulate our environment. We cannot manipulate phenomena and achieve any real lasting success. We can achieve temporary success. We can have the satisfaction of seeing someone fed who has been hungry, and that person can feel the satisfaction of a meal. If we fed people on a grand scale, it might be a grand satisfaction. But it is not permanent, it is not a solution, and the reason, according to the Buddha’s teaching, is that hunger and poverty and loneliness are not the causes of suffering. They are the results or the symptoms of something else. According to the Buddha’s teaching, the root causes of suffering are hatred, greed and ignorance.

We might take issue with that statement. Say we think about a hungry Indian child, or a hungry American child, or a hungry Ethiopian child. Sure, all of them probably do hate because they’re hungry; and they probably are ignorant because they’ve never gone to school; and they probably are greedy. Boy, if you handed one a biscuit, he’d just grab it and run because he’s so hungry. But we have to probe more deeply. We are only looking at a set of symptoms. According to the Buddha’s teaching there is an underlying cause that makes phenomena appear as it does in any given situation, and that cause is karmic. The Buddha’s teaching is that all phenomena arises from a cause, and that everything that is seen, felt, and heard is actually the emanation or the result of one’s own mind. The mind itself produces all visible phenomena. I hope you can really hear that. To change suffering as it appears in the world can never be permanent. It can never do much good. What has to be done is to change the karmic background or cause and effect scenario of one’s own mind. In doing so, you can hopefully come to a place where you can also be of benefit to others.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Cut the Cause of Suffering

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Vow of Love series

How does one cultivate the selfless goal of wanting to benefit all beings and not fall unconsciously into the trap of wanting to be a kind person? A good way to begin is to open our eyes and truly understand the nature of suffering. Why is there suffering in the world? Why is there suffering in the worlds unseen? If we don’t examine this idea, we might take what we see at face value. We might look at people in poor parts of town and say, “Oh they’re suffering because they’re poor.” We might look at people in different countries around the world and say, “Oh, they’re suffering because they’re hungry.” We might look at people in different situations and think we understand the nature of their suffering. But we’re looking at the symptom of their suffering. We’re looking at the fact that they are suffering, but we still do not understand why.

If we see that they are suffering – that some people are poor, some people are hungry, some people are old, some people are sick, and some people are dying — and do not probe to understand the reason for their suffering, we might fall into the trap of trying to do something about those apparent issues. There’s nothing wrong with doing something about those issues. In fact I hope you do, because human kindness – exemplary and virtuous human kindness – has to be part of this world, it has to be part of the activity that you, as Bodhisattvas, are involved in. But if you stop there, you will never succeed, because if you try to cure the symptom of suffering without going to the cause, it’s impossible. The suffering will simply pop up in new and different ways.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

It Really Works: Creating the Causes for Happiness

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

We are really happiest when we are completely surrendering—letting that love, that concern for the welfare of others, that Bodhichitta—be the captain of our ship, instead of that nasty little manipulative self-serving ego that’s running around trying to control everything and making everybody, including ourselves, crazy.  We will find that the level of neuroses in our lives begins to go down. And we will find that, lo and behold, just like the Buddha taught, we have really begun to create the causes for happiness.  It really works.

There are changes that you’ll go through, changes that I go through constantly, even still.  You may find that happiness does not take the form you thought it was going to take, but let me tell you something.  I’m forty-six years old.  If you have come anywhere near my aged self and haven’t figured out that life is not going to do what you thought it was going to do anyway, then you have been asleep at the wheel!  Why not make it work for you? Because nothing is going to take the form you thought it was going to, no matter what you do.  Most particularly, if you spend your time trying to control and manipulate others, and if you live a life completely concerned with ego-cherishing, then life really won’t deliver.  But hey, figuring that out is all part of growing up.  We see that.  Your five-year plans, your ten-year plans, forget it.  I guess about some aspects of your life you can do that, but you will find that as the Bodhichitta begins to truly manifest in your life, it requires true surrender. And your life will not take the form that you thought it was going to, because this Bodhichitta cannot be controlled.  It is not a toy for you to make only you happy.  It is the display of that nature that is our ground of being and to which we are all equally entitled and ultimately responsible for.  As you begin to taste that nectar, you realize that in all the world, sentient beings are suffering. And in worlds and worlds that we cannot see, sentient beings are suffering; and that we have in our hands, like a precious jewel or a golden key, the means by which some understanding or some help can come to them. So let us now commit our lives and remain absorbed in that kindness, and transform this present life and every future life into a vehicle by which the end of suffering will be brought about and all sentient beings will be liberated.

So this is the teaching, and this is our wish. And I hope from the depth of my heart that each one of you will consider it very carefully and then make the choice for transformation.  We hate that word.  Transformation is a scary key word.  We sort of like it in theory—it sounds so dynamic and powerful. But when, let’s say for instance astrologically, someone says to you, “Well, you know you’re about to go through a major transformation,” we are terrified.  Quick, batten down the hatches.  Don’t let anything change.  But, if you live long enough, you’ll find out that life is going to transform you one way or the other.  You will go through transformations.  You will go through things.  So go through that which will benefit you and all sentient beings.

Do not leave this continent of precious jewels empty handed.  When you go into your next life, I hope from the depth of my heart that you have somehow managed to take the nectar from this life and truly internalize it, and enter into your next life nurtured by the power of Bodhichitta.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Thinking in Full Equations

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

It is very important to understand why we practice the Bodhichitta.  First, we must examine the Buddha’s four noble truths:  All sentient beings are suffering; they are suffering due to desire; there is a cessation of suffering; and the method for the cessation of suffering is presented in the eight-fold path, or as in our tradition, condensed into the path of wisdom and compassion.  So we engage in the method for those reasons.  Do you see the logic in that?  All sentient beings are suffering.  They are suffering from desire.  However, there is an end to suffering, and this is the method.   Characteristic of the Buddha’s teachings. it is logical, because in the Buddhadharma we’re not asked to do anything on blind faith.  We’re asked to think it through. Once it seems reasonable, logical and true to us, then we are able to practice because that kind of logical activity is appealing. It seems realistic, and it makes sense to us.

So then the next thing we have to do is examine the thoughts that turn the mind toward Dharma. These thoughts that turn the mind toward Dharma are contemplations. They are interesting, thought-provoking, profound and deep sets of concepts and ideas, that help us to examine the six realms of cyclic existence and all their faults.  It is extremely important that we examine them closely so that we can see that cyclic existence is a bit like a drug. We can therefore feel for ourselves how narcotic cyclic existence actually is.  We begin to understand that cause and effect is absolutely true in every way within our lives.  Literally every experience that we have, or have ever had, has been brought about by a cause that we ourselves created.

Actually, cause and effect relationships arise interdependently.  They arise, not separately, but as one. Arising interdependently means that if we have created a cause, then just as surely as anything can be sure, we will live through the effect.  Trust me on this.  The effect can be modified. It can be delayed. It can be subdued. It can be dealt with effectively through certain kinds of practice, but we will still realize the effect of any cause that we have produced.  If you really examine that particular teaching you will learn that virtuous activity, for instance, brings about happiness and good results. Non-virtuous activity, no matter how it looks at first, always brings about unhappiness and suffering.  For example, if you stole a car, at first you might have a great time riding around in it, but eventually that event would ruin your life. If not this life, then surely in the future, it would bring about suffering and unhappiness for you, but you wouldn’t know that. Unless you have the training that cause and effect relationships are actually related, you won’t make the connection

Another thing that we learn on the Buddhist path by practicing this is the great skill of thinking in full equations.  Do you know that most of the suffering in our life is because we cannot think in full equations?  We think like chickens, “Over here this is happening, I’ll do this.  Over there that is happening, I’ll do that.”  It’s as disconnected as “whatever” to us.  We just don’t get it.  But the Buddhadharma teaches us to think in full equations.

So now we’re thinking in full equations and we’re turning our minds toward Dharma. This is a necessary step because we have to realize cause and effect relationships in order to really give rise to the Bodhichitta.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

What Is Real?

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

In science we have learned that objects, indeed, people are mostly space. We have atoms and molecules, and between them is empty space. So it is the case as Buddhism states. The primordial ground of being is the self-originating empty luminous state – space.

All appearances are due to the five senses, which are the five grasping skandas. We perceive by these senses all phenomena. The senses are themselves empty of self-nature.

So what is real? That empty, luminous uncompromised ground nature, and even THAT is empty if it is attached to conceptualization. It is natural vibrational attraction, magnetism so subtle that holds “view” together. We can also say that habitual tendencies, KARMA, cause and effect that rules view and condition; phenomenal display. In short we see what we are and according to habit from birth AND before. A cat is a born predator. A rabbit is born prey. Thus it is taught that every thought and action are important as they create every future, and result.

If we intentionally direct our minds toward harm, we ourselves will see the result. Cause and result. If not in this life, then soon. We are dancing in vibrationally-tuned luminosity. Every cause has result. And this is the Karma we bring into our future lives.

Try hard, indeed, accomplish virtue and view. And steer clear of harming others and causing suffering. This is what Lord Buddha taught. Eh Ma Ho.

In the end we will ALL suffer if we harm others. If we cultivate virtue (not just for show) we can benefit beings and know true bliss! Om Ah Hung Benzar Guru Pema Siddhi Hung

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

About Self

A teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Vow of Love Series

What is the root cause that goes underneath and beyond the thinking and reckoning of the human mind? What is so ancient that it has existed for time out of mind, even before you could think? What is so old that you were born with the certainty you too will die? In order to uncover these mysteries, you need to examine the idea of suffering. Once you can answer these questions, you are free to explore the path of enlightenment.  According to the Buddha’s teaching, the real cause for suffering is the belief in, and clinging to, self-nature as being inherently real. And here is a little bit that is so embarrassingly superficial, you could call it the Kellogg’s cereal box-top version of the nature of mind. Anyway, having made my apology and legal disclaimers, I will continue!

For the very idea of self to arise there has to be a division in which there appears to be a separation between self and other. In other words, the mind arises in such a way that it becomes divided at that time. In order for that division to exist in any form, even the most subtle form, that which considers itself to be self, with the impetus to divide, must begin to gather data around itself. In order to be a self, self has to be distinguishable from other. Different discriminating thoughts begin to form, and self begins to clothe itself.

Once self begins to clothe itself, a tension arises. There is a need to maintain self in order to distinguish self from other, because if at any moment self drops the conceptualizations that surround it, self becomes indistinguishable from other, and there is only suchness. Therefore, the idea of survival becomes important. With survival comes the idea of clinging. With clinging, comes desire. If there is self, then, there is other, and there must be cause and effect. It is at this level that cause and effect arises. In the natural state, the uncontrived state, there is no cause and effect.

The moment there is the consideration of self-nature, the reality of cause and effect, or karma begins immediately to appear in the most profound way. From that point on, karma is very, very real. We should not kid ourselves, thinking that we can talk our way out of cause and effect. It is real. Self then, in order to become distinguishable from other, must have a kind of inter-reactive relationship. In order to maintain the idea of self, there has to be the distinction of self. There has to be an idea to formulate self more and more firmly, to form ideas around self. The only way to do that is to react for or against other. Self has to have something to bounce off of. That is the way the idea of self is formed.

Copyright ©  Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Basis for Practice is the Bodhicitta: Dilgo Khyentse

The following is respectfully quoted from “Enlightened Courage” by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:

As a preliminary to this teaching, we must consider three things: the preciousness of being born a human being, the fact of impermanence and the problem of samsaric existence.

Human Birth

We are at the moment in possession of a precious human existence endowed with eighteen characteristics which are very difficult to obtain. If the teachings of the Buddha are practiced correctly, then it is as the saying goes:

Used well, this body is a ship to liberation,
Otherwise it is an anchor in samsara.
This body is the agent of all good and evil.

From the point of view of one who seeks enlightenment, it is far better to be a human being than to be born even in the heavens of the gods, where there is nectar to live an and all wishes are granted by the wish-fulfilling tree; where there is neither fatigue nor difficulty, neither sickness or old age. It is as humans, possessed of the eight freedoms and ten endowments, and not as gods, that every one of the thousand Buddhas of this age has attained, or will attain, enlightenment. This human existence, moreover, is not to be achieved by force or mere chance; it is the result of positive actions. And because it is rare for beings to accomplish positive actions, a precious human existence is indeed difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, we have now managed to be born into such a state; we have encountered the Buddhadharma, have entered the path and are now receiving teachings. But if we are unable to practice them, simply listening to the teachings will not in itself liberate us from samsara, and will be of no help to us when we are confronted by the hardships of birth, disease, old age and death. If we do not follow the doctor’s prescription when we are sick, then if if the doctor sits constantly by our side, the pain will not go away.


As we have just said, if we neglect to practice the teachings, they will be of no use to us. Moreover our lives are fragile and impermanent, and because death and its causes are uncertain, we may succumb at any moment. We may think, “Oh, I will practice when I am older, but now while I am young, I will live an ordinary life, making money, getting the better of my rivals, helping my friends and so on.’ But the fact is we might not live to be very old. Just think for example of people who were born at the same time as ourselves. Some might have died as children, some as adults, at their work and so on. Our own lives might not be very long either.

Furthermore, a human existence, in comparison with that of an animal, seems almost impossible to achieve. If you examine a clod of earth in summer, you might find more creatures in it than the population of the whole of France! That is why we say that, in terms of numbers alone, a human birth is difficult to obtain. So we should make up our minds that we will practice the Dharma instead of throwing our lives away in meaningless activities.

To use our human lives to accomplish the Buddhadharma, is like crossing the ocean in search of costly jewels and afterwards returning home with every kind of precious thing; the difficulties of the trip will have been well rewarded. It would be a shame to come back empty-handed! We are now in possession of a precious human form and have discovered the Teachings of the Buddha. Through the blessings and kindness of teachers it is now possible for us to receive, study and practice the Doctrine. But if we are preoccupied only with the worldly activities of this life: business, farming, prevailing over enemies, helping friends, hoping for an important position and so on–and we die before we have made time for spiritual practice, it would be just like coming home empty-handed from the isle of jewels. What an incredible waste! Therefore we should think to ourselves, ‘I am not going to miss my chance. While I have this precious opportunity, I will practice the Dharma.’ Of course, the best thing would be to practice for the whole of our lives; but at least we should take refuge properly, for this is the essence of the Buddhadharma and closes the door to the lower realms. It is the universal antidote that can be applied in any kind of difficulty, and to practice it is therefore most important.

Although, for the moment, you do not understand me, due to the difference of our languages, you are all aware that I am giving you some instruction. After I have gone, everything will be translated for you and perhaps you will think, ‘That Lama taught us something important; I must put it into practice.’ If you really do so, in your lives from day to day, then my explanation will have had some point to it. So please take it to heart.

The defects of samsara

The experience of happiness and suffering comes about as the result of positive and negative actions; therefore evil should be abandoned and virtue cultivated as much as possible.

Even the tiniest insect living in the grass wishes to be happy. But it does not know how to gather the causes of happiness, namely positive actions, nor how to avoid the cause of suffering, which is evil behavior. When animals kill and eat each other, they instinctively commit negative actions. They wish for happiness, but all they do is to create the causes of their misery and experience nothing but suffering. This is the measure of their ignorance and delusion. But if the truth were really shown to them, then without a care even for their lives, they would accomplish that very virtue which they would recognize as the source of their own happiness. The essence of the Buddha’s teaching is to understand clearly what behavior is to be adopted and what is to be rejected.

Abandon evil-doing,
Practice virtue well,
Subdue your mind:
This is the Buddha’s teaching.

At the moment, we are all caught in the state of delusion, and so we should acknowledge all the negative actions we have perpetrated throughout our many lives until the present time. And from now on, we should turn away from all such actions big or small, just as we would avoid getting thorns in our eyes. We should constantly be checking what we do: any negative action should be confessed immediately, and all positive actions dedicated to others. To the best of our ability, we should abandon wrongdoing and try to accumulate goodness.




Actions and Their Consequences: From “Naked Awareness” by Karma Chagme

The following is respectfully quoted from “Naked Awareness” by Karma Chagme with commentary by Gyaltrul Rinpoche:

Homage to Avalokitesvara!

A rough explanation of actions and their consequences has been presented in the preliminaries to the instructions on the profound practical teachings of Avalokitesvara, but it is difficult to gain from that more than a practical understanding. Precise comprehension of actions and their consequences is not achieved until one has accomplished great single-pointedness. Until there arises the realization of the “one taste appearing in numerous ways,” the subtlety of actions and their consequences is not discerned. Thus, the Kagyu masters of the past prayed, “Bless me that I may discern the subtlety of actions and their consequences.” For us, all felicity and adversity and all joys and sorrows of birth and death and so forth are dominated by our karma.

–“Great single pointedness” is the state of samadhi that arises due to investigating the nature of awareness, rigpa. The “one taste appearing in numerous ways” is a specific realization which is also called the “realization of the sole bindhu.” What is this one taste that appears in numerous ways? It is the single nature of all samsara and nirvana. It is seeing all phenomena simultaneously as being of one taste and one nature.

Spiritual success and mundane success all really stem from the merit you have accumulated in the past due to virtuous activity. Without merit, even if you give tens of millions of dollars towards a particular end, you won’t have the success you are aiming for. It really comes down to your own previous actions. So it’s important not to blame our lack of success on someone else when we experience failure or disappointment. Rather we must recognize that if we want to have success, we need to plant the seeds of virtue. If we want to avoid misfortune, then we need to avoid the source, which is nonvirtue. In the meantime, instead of blaming others for our failures, we must identify our own limitations and shortcomings and dispel them.–

The Chapter on the Cycle of Existence of Birth and Death states:

Wherever one is born in the three realms,
That birth is dominated by karma.
Karma, too, is something committed in the past.
Death as well is dominated by karma.
When the time comes for birth and death,
The gods gradually fall from the heavens.
Despite their great miraculous powers, they are powerless to remain.

–You can’t give someone else either good karma or bad karma, any more than you can give them virtue or nonvirtue. These are things that we accumulate and commit for ourselves. Whether we die in the womb, have a short life or a long life, these are the result of our karma.

Even great gods, such as Indra and Brahma, with their extraordinary powers, are powerless when the karma that propelled them into their present existence is exhausted. The reason for the precept not take refuge in mundane gods such as these is that they, like ourselves, are still entrapped in this cycle of existence. Since they have not liberated themselves, it would be difficult for them to liberate anyone else, so they are not suitable objects of ultimate refuge. Moreover, if you take refuge in, or absolutely entrust yourself to, other beings who are subject to the five poisons, you really have a problem, because they can’t release you from something they are not free of themselves. So this precept is truly for your own sake.

Some mundane gods may actually be great bodhisattvas, or even emanations of the buddhas appearing in the form of Indra, Brahma, and so forth. Nevertheless, it is generally good counsel not to take ultimate refuge in any of them, for it is difficult to discern which ones are actually bodhisattvas or emanations of Buddhas. In a way, we don’t really need to worry about this. we don’t have much, if any, direct contact with such gods anyway.–

Examining Cause and Effect in Real Life

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Bringing Virtue Into Life”

You may have been born rich, or perhaps during the course of your life it has been relatively easy for you to make money, gain riches. Or perhaps during the course of your life, at some point you have inherited riches. And you wonder to yourself, “How is it that I hear about the starving poor and yet I, who wasn’t even hungry in the first place, have inherited this money, or I have this money? How is it?  It would seem as though I am completely undeserving.  How has that happened?”  You wonder about that.  “Why is it easy for me to make money?”  Well, the reason why it is easy for you to inherit that money or to make that money is because some time in the past you have earned it; and the way that you have earned it is by engaging in virtuous activity concerned with generosity toward others.   If you have given food to others, in this life you always have enough to eat, and more.  In fact, the problem is not eating too much.

So then, if you have a lot of money and things have been pretty comfortable for you, then sometime in the past you must have been very generous toward others, and your big problem in this lifetime is not how to make money but how to spend it, or not spend it.  In that case, you deserve everything that you get.  You deserve all of it.

Now, in this lifetime, if you just take that money and express through it no acts of generosity,… Let’s say maybe you keep it in your family to make sure that your children are provided for.  Well, that’s a kind of generosity.  You did give some to your children, but that isn’t real generosity, because children are kind of like an extension of our own ego.  We think of them as part of us.  We don’t think of them as being separate from us. We like our children to be rich because it’s a good reflection on us and it makes us die happy.

But let’s say in this lifetime, although you have lots of money, you haven’t really given any to benefit others.  You haven’t helped others not to be hungry.  You haven’t given it to children that don’t get any toys as Christmas.  You haven’t made any offerings to the temple where you receive all your spiritual benefit.  You haven’t done anything with your money.  If you think then that you’re going to somehow be able to legally make it happen that they’ll find you in your next incarnation and give you back that money,… Au contraire, monsieur.  You can’t take it with you.  It’s not going to appear again in your next life.  Forget it!  It’s not going to happen.  But in your next life you will probably be born much poorer because, even though you had the money before, you were not very generous.

So it’s very, very clear that cause and effect are interconnected.  In fact, the Buddha teaches us that they arise interdependently: When the cause arises, the effect arises at the same time, but in seed form.  Think about that.  Think about that the next time you have non-virtuous behavior.  One of the reasons why it’s so easy to be non-virtuous is because you think, “Well, O.K., I’m being non-virtuous now, but I don’t see the effect rising yet.  So maybe they…(Who are they anyway? We don’t know.) they’ll forget about it. “ You know, the guys with the x’s and the checks. They’re up there.  They’re sitting on the throne. You know, the guy with long beard.  Maybe he’ll forget about it by then.  But in fact the Buddha teaches that, number one, there is nobody with a book up there, or a beard. And number two, when you give rise to the cause, the effect is already born, and you will experience it.  You will experience it.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

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