Calling to the Guru – Yeshe Tsogyal

The following is an excerpt from Mother of Knowledge translated by Tarthang Tulku

Yeshe Tsogyal is calling out to Guru Rinpoche as he prepares to leave Tibet to tame the land of savages:

The sun that warms the land of Tibet,
shining over both gods and men, has set.
Now who will warm us, who are totally naked?
The luckless Tibetans have lost their eyes.
Now who will lead us, who are blind and alone?
Our hearts have been torn from our breasts.
Now who will guide the mindless corpses?
You came here to benefit beings.
Why couldn’t you stay just a little while longer?

Kye Hud! Orgyan Rinpoche!
A time of thick darkness has come to Tibet:
A time when hermitages are empty;
a time when the Dharma throne is vacant;
a time when vase initiations are no more.
Now we can only guess as to the nature of the teachings;
now we must look to books for teachings;
now we can only visualize the lama;
now we must use images as his substitute;
now we must rely on dreams and visions;
now a grievous time has come!

 

Devotion in the Bardo

MG-0002-JAl Rigzin Pema-L

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a Phowa retreat:

Now we’ll speak about the bardo of becoming. I forgot to mention to you that I’ve had many opportunities to practice Phowa on other people, and I’ve noticed that in every case, even if the person had been something of a practitioner or had tried to meditate, or had minimal experience, in every case, if you were not there exactly at the moment of death to facilitate the person at that time, there would always be a period of about three, three and a half days where the person was unreachable. Where you could literally practice Phowa for them and it would do no good whatsoever. You cannot rouse them out of the deep slumber or death-like sleep that they have once they do not recognize that clear light. You cannot rouse them at that time. You have to wait until they come to the bardo of becoming. Then the lama will appear to them or try to reach them and guide them out of the bardo.

How well is that done? There are two situations upon which how well that works out are dependent. One of them is, of course, the qualities of the lama—whether the lama has awakened, whether the lama is capable, whether the lama has realization in their practice. That is, of course, one of the conditions. The other one is, of course, the degree to which the student or the person who has died has any connection, even if it’s only a residual connection, with devotion. If the person has no connection with the practice of devotion, if the person has never practiced devotion or has no capacity for devotion, the best of lamas will not be able to reach them in the bardo. It is not possible. They may be able to afford some blessing for them, but they will not be able to rescue them. They may be able to guide them in a better rather than less good direction, but they cannot prevent them from going through the bardo of becoming.

Generally, you have to rely on the student’s connection with devotion.If the student has a great deal of devotion, the lama will be able to appear clearly as their spiritual guide during the bardo of becoming. The lama will be recognizable. The student will have faith in the lama; they will go toward the lama without fear. The force of their devotion will propel them toward the lama. They will enter into the lama’s heart, and they will experience the wisdom that the lama has to afford them. They will be rescued from the bardo and liberated in the state of becoming. So sharpen up that devotion, you guys.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Accepting the Offering of the Buddhas

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Lama Never Leaves”

I have seen amazing things.  My own students do amazing things. When they weren’t healthy or when they weren’t fit they would do amazing things and they would benefit the stupa and create the causes for continued accomplishment.  I’ve seen them do amazing things.  I saw once one nun who was determined to get to one of my teachings.  Her knees were so bad she couldn’t walk.  I saw her crawling, crawling.  And I immediately dedicated that merit to her swift enlightenment.  And you know, I didn’t think to myself, “Oh, look at that, she’s crawling to see me.”  I thought to myself, “Eh ma ho. How beautiful. How beautiful.”

So we have to stop thinking in such an ordinary way.  We have to start thinking in the way of Dharma, in the way of practitioners.  You can’t wear robes and live an ordinary life.  You have to do for the sentient beings.  You have to maintain this garden of refuge across the street for their sake as well as your own.  You have to do for the Sangha.  It’s just as much merit to do for the Sangha, to make offerings to the stupas, to make offerings to the Lamas. This is extraordinary.  To make offerings even to the Sangha. I know the wonderful Chang family has been offering food for myself and also for the Sangha here.  What a tremendous, tremendous gathering of virtue that is.  What an awesome family.  What values to teach your children.  My goodness.  What an extraordinary wealth to pass on to your young.  Sure you could pass on a few dollars, but what is that?  To pass on the wealth of how to be happy…  My goodness.

Yet we just kind of trudge around in our habitual tendencies without seeing the beauty of it all, the wonder of it all—that here in this place lives Lord Buddha himself, Guru Rinpoche himself, without doubt in Nirmanakaya form, and we can always go to pray.  You know, we might say, “Oh, I can’t practice right now, because my practice is not going very well.”  Well, that’s when you practice.   That’s when you crawl across the street to the stupa if you have to and you recite prayers to the stupa. You say, “Please, I’m begging you with tears in my eyes.  Help me in my practice.  Come to me as wisdom.  Clear my self-absorption so that I can benefit sentient beings and before I die let me do something meaningful other than to hang out with my own distorted phenomena.  Let me make this world a place with less suffering.  Please, I’ll do anything.”

You lay down your pride, you lay down your thoughts, you lay down your body, you lay down your efforts, you lay down your offerings and you rise up a practitioner.  The way of Dharma is to turn our minds from ordinary things—those things that are so relentlessly stupid as to take up all of our time and all of our effort and give us zero, zilch, nothing in return—and to pick up and accept and cherish that which is here for us, that which holds out its arms to us, like our own primordial mother, and says “Come, I’m here for you.  Bring the others.  I’m here.”

Do not turn a blind eye to these offerings that I and other lamas have given you.  They are for you.  These stupas, what we have here, is only for you.  And so I ask you to accept once again.  I ask you not to be beggars under the table lapping up crumbs, but to come to the feast.  Come to the feast at last.

That’s our Dharma talk for today.  I hope it is of some benefit to you.  And I really sincerely mean for this to result in activity.

Let me make one more mention.  We talk about creating the causes for bringing the lama back, so we maintain the house for the lama.  If the lama has a habit of putting a wrap on their legs when they’re by their chair, the wrap should be by the chair.  The lama’s slippers should be by his bed.  The lama’s favorite cup should be out on the counter.  The lama’s altar should be opened every day.  If you really want to create the causes for the lama’s return, that’s how you do it.  The lama never leaves.

When the lama is not here, the lama’s picture should be on the throne.  And we should think like that.  The lama has never left.  And that’s our practice.  That’s our guru yoga.  And we have the visible means of support using the stupas that way as well.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Discerning the Extraordinary

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Lama Never Leaves”

Now, we have these amazing stupas.  How amazing!  Even when the lamas are not here, we have this occurrence of the living Buddha here on this property.  The living Buddha remains on this property.  The problem is that our mind is so deluded and so lacking in wisdom that we don’t see that.  We let the Buddha sit there with no company. Not that they need company, but we need them.  Rarely do we go and visit the Buddhas. Rarely do we make them offerings. Rarely do we offer them a little cleaning, you know, to take a little cloth and say, ”Even though the Buddha doesn’t need to be cleaned, may I offer you this. May I take this dirt from you.  And by that merit, may all sentient beings be free of suffering.”  We don’t do that because we’ve forgotten. Because we go to sleep in our minds whenever our living lama is not around to shake us awake.

The teaching that I want to give to you today is how to avoid that.  First of all, let me tell you the way that Asian cultures, particularly Tibetans (I can speak for them), that have stupas, chortens, available in their land, normally incorporate them into their lives. Usually once a year, around the time of New Years, Losar, there are certain days when one does religious activity and that religious activity is increased by 100,000 or 10,000. And of course, we have our 10,000,000 days where we look to accomplish a great deal of practice.  Tibetans always think of times like that as a very joyful occasion, particularly during Losar, a time to celebrate.  They all get out and the wealthier patrons (by the way, that’s how they get to be wealthy) buy the gold wash or the white wash or whatever color they are going to repaint the stupas with. They clean the stupas and give them a fresh coat of gold or white wash.  And that’s a very joyful thing because they realize how much merit they are accomplishing, and they are already, because of their confidence, enjoying the fruits of that.  Because of their confidence!

We’re saying, “Boy, when’s it gonna happen?”  And they’re saying, “I rejoice in my future merit.  By this merit, there will be plenty of clothing, I will be warm and comfortable. All sentient beings will be pleased and this is tremendous.  I am so happy about that.”  And so with the simplicity of just the joyful accomplishment, they are able to experience the happiness right away.  It’s like a festival.  After they finish doing that, there’s always a lovely dinner; and maybe the great patrons will offer a beautiful dinner for the Sangha. And there is always a beautiful tsog offered to the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas. It’s a gathering of the Sangha and the Lamas and all the people that is extremely joyful.  Because we all say, “By this merit, may we never be separated,”  it becomes a very joyful event.  And so, of course then, the stupas are living Buddhas that are brought into the occasion because they are washed, they are cared for. We offer great offerings to them—of course the eight auspicious offerings of water to drink, water to bathe in, all the different offerings and their different meanings.  We make offerings of food and butter lamps or candles. Sometimes Tibetans will make Mani rocks—write the Mani mantra on rocks and offer many of those.  So there are many things that the Tibetans do during that time to celebrate and to incorporate the stupas as living beings in their lives.

Plus, the Tibetans that care for stupas would not think of letting the sun rise without offerings being present on the stupas.  To let the sun rise without these offerings would be unthinkable.  That would be, in the way Tibetans have been taught, in the way that they teach us, that would be like if your Root Guru had spent the night outside and was cold and hungry and needed her attendants or his attendants to come and no one brought him any tea to warm him.  It would be like that.  Would you do that to your Root Guru?  Even before you took your own coffee in the morning, wouldn’t you bring your Guru his tea?  I certainly would.  I certainly would.

What does that say if we have our own coffee in the morning before we make an offering to the Buddha. That says ‘my ego is more important.’ That says, ‘I take refuge in me’ or ‘I take refuge in my coffee,’ which I know is not hard to do.  Of course, we don’t all of us live with the stupas, and so each in our own way, in our homes, maintain altars and, hopefully, we make offerings to the Buddhas before we take any offering ourselves.

Traditionally, lamas have a little cup. It looks like a protector cup but it’s not exactly.  It’s a little tiny cup, and it has a removable top that you can turn over. A lot of times the lamas will take their first tea of the morning and offer it in the little top and put it up on the altar for the Buddhas.  Such a simple gesture but so beautiful.  And so profound.  To do that every day of one’s life is quite beautiful.  Some have the custom that whenever a family gathers for a big meal, the Buddha always gets the first portion. Perhaps for the Sunday meal here at the temple, we can make the first portion and give it to the stupa outside.  Or in a home family situation, the householder family can celebrate their lives together as Buddhists by creating a meal, whether it’s an ordinary family meal or whether it’s Hanukkah or whether it’s Easter or whether it’s Christmas and offering the first portion to the Buddhas.  That’s the way that a householder practices.

We should always think of the objects of refuge as being so sacred to us that we care for them very mindfully, so mindfully that we, through thought, word, and deed,  indicate to ourselves in our own practice and also to all sentient beings, that our caring is such that our eyes are opened. Spiritually our eyes are open and we see the preciousness and the value of the objects of refuge.  We recognize their exquisiteness and extraordinariness and how much more important they are than our own phenomena.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Heart Samaya

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

We’ve talked about the commitment made by the teacher when accepting a new student. What about the commitment by the student to the teacher, the samaya between the student and the teacher?  What is that all about?  There must be some kind of reciprocal relationship.  Obviously the teacher cannot insist on the student’s progress without the student’s willingness.  The student has to be willing to follow Lord Buddha’s teachings, has to be willing to accept the objects of refuge as their true refuge from the sufferings of samsara.  So there is a reciprocal commitment that is required.

It is extremely important that the teacher maintain their ethical and moral responsibility to the student.  That is to say, the teacher honors the student and thinks of the student with such high regard and such respect that actually it is said that a pure teacher will consider the student to be worth more than their own safety or comfort.  In a sense, they hold the student up in the same way that a parent holds up their child, not necessarily as superior, but as vitally important and cared for.  Any of you who have been parents know that in a dangerous situation, before you think of your own safety, if you have that bonding and love with your child, you’ll think about the safety of the child first. That is always the case.  And when the mother hears the cry of her baby child for food, she doesn’t say, “I am not ready to feed you now.  It’s not convenient for me to feed you now.  I have no wish to feed you now.” Instead, the mother wants to answer the child’s call as though the mother were filled with milk and the child were very hungry.  It is very instinctive and very natural.

So the relationship occurs in that way on the teacher’s side of the fence.  Now what about the student, what is the student’s part in the equation?

Well, there are certain teachings and certain rules that one must follow, but I don’t like to think of them as merely following dogmatic rules.  I like to think of this samaya, or this commitment, as a samaya of the heart.  Something that is deep and profound,  instead of like a cheap and gaudy display. It doesn’t burn hot like paper, quick and then gone.  It burns deep and slow like good strong hardwood or even better, good strong coal-something that burns hot for a long time, steadily without interruption.  This is how the relationship between the Guru and disciple should be.

When the student learns about the samaya they are keeping with the teacher, they should hold that samaya not so much as a duty and responsibility but more as a jewel, just as the teacher holds the student as a jewel.  So that relationship then is considered precious, valuable, from the heart.  Not a methodical thing, not a thing done by rote, not a thing done blindly without any understanding, but a deep and pervasive samaya or commitment that is a heart connection that ultimately enhances the practice and the level of accomplishment that comes from practicing Guru Yoga.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Every Experience Is a Blessing

We’re all sleeping until we reach supreme enlightenment, but most are really sleeping in a very profound way.  In that coma, they are not even able to say, “I want”.  They merely act out, and they act out in different ways.

While we are still asleep and until we achieve supreme realization, the fact that you are here listening to teachings is the evidence to know that you have felt that longing.  You should find it and relate to it purely.  You should encourage it in that it is a dynamo of energy by which to really touch the nature that you are seeking, that the bliss that you want, the union between the student and the teacher.

But you are so ashamed to feel that feeling directly, because you’re so macho, you’re so tough, or you’re so cool or you’re so advanced.  You are so ashamed to feel that feeling that you want to say, “Oh, the longing for the Teacher is only me longing for my own nature”.  Well, yes, it is that, but you should face directly the longing for the teacher on the deepest level.  You should not be ashamed of that.  You were ashamed of it as a child and you were taught not to feel it and this longing created a lot of mistakes for you.  You should not be ashamed of that now.

I have that longing.  I have it, it is the strongest longing, I cannot imagine another longing like it.  I live with that longing constantly.  I use that longing to provide the means by which I can accomplish Dharma, or I can accomplish kindness for all sentient beings.  I realize that the true longing is the longing for the Guru, it’s the longing for my Teacher, for the Guru on all of the different levels, on the apparent level as well as the deepest, most primordial level.  And I realize that I will only find that longing satisfied so long as I try to live the qualities that are my Guru.

So, if I were to turn away from students and say, “Oh, I don’t want to do this anymore, I’m tired,” or, “I’m lonely doing this.  I don’t want to do this anymore.”  If I were to do that, I would never find my Guru.  I would never be with my Guru, because those are the qualities of my Guru.  My Guru never leaves me.  He cannot turn his face from me.  And so, that being the case, if I were to turn my face away from anyone that had hopes of me, it would be hopeless.  I would never find the Guru.  The longing would never be satisfied, because I would have turned my face away.

You must begin to practice in such a way that the face of the Teacher is understood in everything that you do.  No matter what you experience, whether it is loss or whether it is having, whether it is joy or whether it is sadness, whether it is life or it is death, whether it is sickness or health, poverty or wealth, whatever you experience, you should think that everything you experience is a blessing from the root Guru.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Finding Our Way Home

 

By the time you have grown and begun to find your path, you have already lost yourself somewhere.  You don’t understand yourself any more.  You have already done things for which you do not forgive yourself.  You have already substituted something else for the longing that you felt.  You have already substituted something else for your Teacher.  In having done that, it is difficult to find your way home.  It is difficult to reach what was originally very pure in your mind.  It is difficult to rebirth what was very pure and tender inside of you.

And now, you can’t just say, “Oh, I found it at last.  The longing is finished.  I found what I’m looking for.  I found my path, but in the meantime, I’ve been promiscuous and I don’t forgive myself or I’ve become tough, or numb or I’ve become materialistic.”

What happens is that because you see what’s in front of you, it’s so precious and it’s just what you’ve been waiting for, instead of being able to just grab it and eat it, what we do, then, is try to deal instead with the numbness or the hardness or the promiscuity or the materialism.  Because we have become used to this feeling of longing, the longing remains, and we are not able to truly be one with the path and with a Teacher.

We’ve forgotten how to satisfy ourselves.  We’ve forgotten how to do anything except blame ourselves and be angry.  We make lots of mistakes, compulsively make mistakes.  We do not follow the path purely and with a full heart.  You have to ask yourself: Is the person who says I’ve got to get my Three Roots practice done today,  is that the same person, who, as a child, was waiting for something, was just hungry for something?  It’s not the same person.  We feel differently now than we did back then and we don’t know how to get back to that original place of purity.  We feel something is amiss when we think we’ve found our path because we feel anger, guilt and we feel dirty.  We feel different, impure.  Then we try to approach the Teacher and the teaching and the path itself in an impure way, because we believe that we are somehow impure.

Having longed for the taste of our own nature for such a long time, now when we look at the Teacher and the teaching, we see it as something altogether different.  We see the Teacher as a human being, and we try to get close to a human being.  Why do we do that?  We do that because we spent our whole lives trying to fit that longing into an acceptable picture, and now we’re trying to do the same thing.

We are afraid to long.  We are afraid to experience the depth of that longing and instead, we try to get close to the person.  We are afraid to experience the bliss of the union between the meditator, the meditating mind and the nature that is meditated on.  The bliss of that union is so strong and we are afraid to experience it. So instead, we long for some kind of union with the person who is our Teacher at this time.  It is even common to feel a strong sexual urging for our Teacher.  It doesn’t matter if the Teacher is the same sex.  Students can have dreams and they will have strong sexual urgings for the Teacher.  If you think of the Teacher as a mother or father figure, or an authority figure, or a therapist that you come to with your ordinary stuff, there will never be satisfaction, because that isn’t the truth.  That is not the nature of the Teacher.  That longing has once again been diverted into a way that you understand.  It becomes a perpetuation of the suffering that you had as a child where the longing was not understood, where it was diverted and where it could not be satisfied.

So, the feeling of longing is mistaken.  The longing is for union, not for sexual behavior.  It is misunderstood. And what generally happens is a feeling of rejection, because the Teacher does not comply with our wishes.  There is a feeling of guilt.  There is a feeling of wondering what’s wrong with you.  There’s a feeling of a lack of acceptance of yourself.  There’s a feeling of a lack of confidence, a feeling that you are somehow impure in your motivation.  The longing sometimes becomes so strong that one is unable to practice.

You want the Teacher to hold you and love you, or you want the Teacher to be with you as a friend.  You are unable to practice because you are so busy watching how your Teacher acts towards you.  Does he or she smile at me?  Does he or she hold my hand when I’m lonely?  Does he or she notice when I’m ailing?  Does he or she come after me when I’ve strayed?  You’re so busy noticing that that you do not practice.  The practice is the caring for you.  The practicing is the coming after you when you have strayed.  The practice is the taking you home into that acceptance and awakening to that nature.  The teachings that you receive are the relationship with the Teacher.  They are the fruits the Teacher brings to you.  If you are longing for union with the Teacher, when the Teacher teaches you from his or her mind, and offers you the essence of what they know, that is the union, far more so than any physical friendship could ever be.  There is nothing more intimate than that.

Yet, we continue to not understand.  We continue to divert the longing, not accept ourselves and blame ourselves.  We continue to create a bad relationship with our Teacher.  If we understood what was happening, we would run to the teacher, run to the path, run to the experience of being on the path and of practicing in order to achieve enlightenment with open arms and with an open heart.  But instead, we are doing these other things that do not accomplish the awakening that we wish.

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Longing for the Guru”

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Devotional Yoga

An excerpt from a the teaching, When the Teacher Calls, by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

In Buddhist tradition and particularly in Vajrayana Buddhism, there is a kind of practice called devotional practice. One of its most meaningful and foundational aspects is developing a relationship of pure devotion with one’s lama or teacher. In Vajrayana, the teacher is considered to be the door to liberation because even though the Buddha was once on the earth and even though the Buddha’s teachings are written in books, it is just about impossible to enter onto the Path without the blessings of the teacher. The lama, who is necessary for empowerment, transmission and teaching, is considered to be the blessing that is inherent in the Path.

In the Vajrayana tradition there is a devotional aspect to every practice that is done,from the most preliminary to the most superior practice, and it is considered to be the means by which blessing is actually transmitted. In the Nam Chö Ngöndro, the preliminary practice accomplished at this temple, there is a beautiful song of invoking the lama’s blessing called “Calling the Lama from Afar.” It has haunting melody, and it is done from one’s heart in order to soften the ego and make the mind like a bowl ready to receive any blessing.

This type of practice functions like a cultivator. Think of planting a field of grain.  One has to plow the field and work the soil so that it’s capable of receiving the seed.  Otherwise, if the soil were not ready, when seed was thrown out it would just bounce, as on a hard surface. Likewise, devotional practice is considered to make one ready. Its benefit is immeasurable. Without it there is no possibility of the blessing being fully received.

Devotional yoga is meant to benefit the student. The teacher is not “pleased” by devotional yoga. Rather, the teacher is pleased by movement and the softening, the gentling and the change that occurs within the student.  In the  same way as the student calls the lama from afar in traditional practice by putting one’s heart in a position of surrender, we may talk about what the lama experiences when the lama calls the student from afar and the student responds to that call.

When a student calls the teacher, with his or her mind and heart like a bowl, many things are happening. First, there is fantastic auspicious karma ripening. In order for a student even to make that step, he or she must have accumulated a tremendous amount of merit or virtue in the past. A nonvirtuous mind cannot call the teacher with devotion.

When the student calls the lama, it’s because the student has realized certain things. First of all, they have looked around and have seen that cyclic existence or ordinary life is flawed or faulted. Sometimes it’s older students who, in some ways, are able to do this more readily because they’ve seen their lives pass, and they have looked around and said, “What have I done? I’ve worked so hard my entire life, and what have I really accomplished? What am I going to take with me?”

At any rate, the student that is prepared to call the teacher has been awakened, stimulated, has understood that much time has passed and that very little can be really accounted for. There has been some fun. It’s been up and down. We’ve all experienced getting older; we’ve all experienced sickness, and we will certainly experience death. At some point we look at all of this and ask ourselves, “Isn’t there something more? There must be something!”  We begin to think in this way, and then we see someone who can give us a path, not just thoughts about the path, not just ideas that are popular in the New Age, but a technology that is succinct and exacting, a method that has shown itself to give repeatable results. When students see this they become hopeful and joyous. Suddenly they’re excited, and they begin to want to come in closer to this experience. It’s a beautiful, precious moment, but that moment can only happen due to the virtue of the student’s previous practice.

Eventually students will come to the point, due to the virtue of their practice, where they will do anything because they know their time is short. They know that they’ve tried everything and nothing has worked. Nothing has produced permanent happiness, so they are looking at the door to liberation, and in part, that is how the teacher is considered. They want to walk through that door.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Extraordinary Relationship

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

If we rely purely on an emotional level, not much will come of the path.  If we do not challenge ourselves to truly understand all of the thoughts that turn the mind (and you’ve been taught them many, many times.  You can go back and re-listen to the teachings if you aren’t sure what they are), if we do not require of ourselves to really recognize this precious opportunity, we won’t get very far.  And now the recognition has to go even deeper than that. Number one, understanding that the teacher is a spiritual ally, a spiritual friend—someone on whom you can depend as a spiritual guide or a spiritual friend—is a really important first realization.  Secondarily, you must understand that this reality that you are looking at when you see your teacher, when you see the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, is to be considered separate from ordinary samsaric cause and effect conditions, or separate from the wheel of death and rebirth,  because this is all the result of the Buddha’s teaching which arises from the mind of enlightenment and, like a seed, it must always create a fruit that is appropriate to that seed.  So if this reality rises from the mind of enlightenment, it results in enlightenment as well.  The seed and the fruit are always consistent.

That being the case, this is understood as something different.  Now, if you wish you can, like that Tibetan man with His Holiness Penor Rinpoche regarding his opinion on my enthronement (this student did not agree with His Holiness Penor Rinpoche’s recognition of Jetsunma) waste the opportunity by just playing out your little intellectual ‘here’s my idea, what’s your idea.  I’ll see you as something equal to my common ordinary intellectual mind in the world.  You know, I’ll see you as that.’  Or you can play the game where “O.K., you’re the Guru, so I’m going to call you the real thing, but in my heart, in my mind, I’m pretty much just going to keep doing exactly what I’m doing, but I’ll have a teacher,”  rather than gathering oneself together in order to understand something about this primordial wisdom nature, rather than trying to move further on the path of accomplishing pure view, rather than utilizing the teacher as a way to untangle some of our neuroses and actually seeing the condition of our mind and how different that is from what the Buddha described when the Buddha said simply, “I am awake.”  The Buddha didn’t say, “I’m different from you.”  The Buddha didn’t say “I am better than you.”  The Buddha said “I am awake.”  Awake to that nature that is also your nature.

Now supposing that you could use the relationship with the teacher to puzzle that out, to work that out.  It’s such a fine line how to you give rise to or at least, shall I say not suppress, not give rise to, conflicting thoughts that you may have.  How can you not suppress them and still utilize the teacher faithfully in the best possible way? Not as something common and ordinary that is equal to your own conceptual proliferation because then you could do that with anything.  We do that with all of our relationships.  We do that with all of the areas in life that we work with.  We have preconceived ideas that we play out in our lives.  Why would the teacher be different then?  Why would it be precious?  What’s the value then of having a teacher?

So it becomes the student’s responsibility to harness their mind.  It isn’t about going brain dead.  It isn’t about suppressing your ideas and your thoughts and your feelings.  It’s about recognition between what is ordinary, habitual, definitely part of birth and death cyclic existence, that which arises from ordinary cyclic existence, and always therefore results in more ordinary cyclic existence, or that which arises from the precious primordial awakened state that is also your nature, and therefore always results in that precious primordial state that is also your nature—enlightenment.  You are the one that must make the distinction.

So the Buddha recommends this:  Take a long time determining your relationship with your teacher.  If at first you have an emotional reaction, that’s fine.  You don’t just suppress that either, but don’t stop there.  It’s a big mistake just to stop there, because otherwise you just stay in some kind of wacko bliss thing.  You could get that wacko over a cute little puppy or something, or a new car, or a new honey.  You gets lots more wacko about a new honey, don’t you?  Way more wacko about that!  So your responsibility then becomes the responsibility of recognition.  You have determined that this teacher has the necessary qualities to give you what you need.  You can travel on the path now.  You can understand very clearly.  The teacher has a way of explaining to you and you can understand.  You can hear it.  You mind is opening.  It is ripening.  It’s deepening.  Your compassion is increasing.  Something is happening here and you are able to determine that this is not ordinary because this didn’t come from ordinary experience.

You’re travelling the path of Dharma and this is precious.  This teacher has hooked you onto the path of Dharma, placed your feet there, deepened and ripened your mind, provided for you all of the necessary accoutrements. Therefore this is precious.  You then must determine that this is different for you.  You see, it’s not up to the teacher to provide proof for you.  It’s not up to the teacher to convince you.  It’s up to you to determine for yourself. Take your time, do it right, move through all the foundational teachings and decide for yourself: Is this precious to me?  Then if it is, treat it like it is.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

Responsibility Begins With Recognition

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

Responsibility begins with recognition.  Simply that.  Recognition.  There are some fundamental truths that must be recognized here in order to stop the game of projecting your own neuroses onto yet another external object.  Because that is not the practice of Dharma.  That is not going to lead you to liberation.  That will continue to lead you to more and more neuroses.  So you must play the game correctly.  The first thing that happens is recognition.  It begins with the recognition of the fundamental foundational truth that we call turning the mind toward Dharma—the faults of cyclic existence, cause and effect relationships, impermanence, these kinds of thoughts, and then the realization that in all the six realms of cyclic existence there is suffering.  Then the recognition that there is the appearance of the Buddha, which brings the element of enlightenment and supreme realization and the visage or face of our own primordial wisdom nature, and  puts that into the world.  That’s the Buddha, the Dharma, which is the Buddha’s method, inseparable from the Buddha like the rays are inseparable from the sun, and the result, which is enlightenment, also inseparable from the Buddha.  You begin to recognize that this has in fact happened.

In the world there is the Buddha.  There is the Dharma.  There is the Sangha, and there is the Lama as the condensed essence of all three.  That recognition alone puts you into position where you have to choose between continuing in samsara and neurotic redundancy which is what samsara really is.  Isn’t that a great term?  Neurotic redundancy.  Don’t you just love that?  Neurotic redundancy,.Or you can choose Buddha, and Dharma, and Sangha—this three-legged stool, or chariot we should say, by which we travel through the door of liberation into enlightenment, into realization, the precious awakened state that the Buddha named.

So we’re in a position now where we make that choice.  That choice is based on this recognition.  You can’t make that choice on an emotional level.  Big mistake!  And some people try to do that.  They come to the temple and they say, “I like this stuff!  It’s all weird.  I like the colors.  I like the shape.  I like the material over there.  Look how they built that up there.  Isn’t that cute?  Those books… You know, I like that they don’t turn this way.  I like that they turn this way.  It’s so exotic.  I think it’s really cool, don’t you?  And then all the statues and crystals!  Look at this!  This is really cool to be with the crystals!” Really I’m describing a silly mindstate, but many students, when they first begin, will come here and say, “Oh this stuff is so cool.  I really want to do this.  O.K., you’re my teacher.”  So on that emotional level, really not much has happened.  Or they might come in and have an emotional reaction.  I’ve seen that happen too.

In fact, this is another story that you’ll be amazed at.  This is an amazing story. A woman once walked into the bookstore.  I happened to be there, checking out the earrings as usual!  So I was in the bookstore and she turned around.  She got immediately who I was.  She had never been around Dharma before, knew nothing about Dharma, knew nothing about anything like that and she just was entranced.  She was transfixed.  She looked at me and then she did three perfect prostrations. Then when she got up she said “I don’t know what that is.  I don’t know what I just did.”  No idea what happened there, no idea.  And then I never saw her again.  And she was crying, crying, just like “My teacher.  My teacher at last!  My teacher!”  Crying.  Big emotional thing, and I never saw her again.

What happened there was unfortunate.  I would call that an obstacle to her practice.  She obviously had enough inner purity to remember a former relationship with her teacher.  Something bled through and yet the obstacle was that she could only, in that moment of meeting, relate on a purely emotional level.  She could not lay down the foundation.  She could not make any connecting thought.  Really, as beautiful as that story is, it broke my heart that she never came back.  It really did.  I love you all, but I have to tell you I have many stories about the ones that got away!  You see, she could have been very close to me and it broke my heart that she didn’t come back.  But what you’re seeing there is just purely an obstacle.  She was only able to relate on this emotional level, and really, it’s not that much different from what you see your dog do when your dog barks to go out or sits there looking at the door.  It is an immediate emotional hit that you’re just overwhelmed with.  It’s not that different from what animals do.  But animals can’t practice Dharma, because what’s needed here is to make these connecting thoughts, these cause and effect thoughts, by creating the kinds of awareness and thinking that causes you to move into a deeper level on the path, and causes you to get the lay of the land, to really get what’s going on here.

This is what’s necessary.  She was not able to, at that time, to think of the faults of cyclic existence, to think of impermanence and that this opportunity might not come again.  She was not able to think “Now that I’ve found my teacher, I have found a way to travel the path of Dharma and pass through the door of liberation.”  Just not able to think like that.  This is a big obstacle that arose in her path at the same time as the blessing of meeting with her teacher again.  So this is the difficulty that we all have, but now we are here and we are in a learning and teaching situation.  We’re in a situation where we have time to think.  We have the leisure to think.  We have the ability to put two and two together, and this is how we have to approach the path.  This is how we have to do this.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

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