Does Desire End?

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Desire Blocks Happiness”

What is the end of it? Where does it end? It ends when you take yourself in hand and begin to practice stabilizing the mind. The Buddha teaches us that the cause of all suffering, every part of it, no matter what it is, if you trace it down to its root, is desire. How can you kick desire? Everybody’s got desire. You have the desire for life itself, don’t you? I mean, you don’t want to die or anything. You have the desire to be happy. All sentient beings have the desire to be happy. That’s one thing we all share. Do you realize that? We share with every life form that there is. All sentient beings have their common familyhood, brother- and sisterhood. They all wish to be happy. They’re all doing it in different ways, but we all wish to be happy. We have that desire, and we are inflamed with it.

How can we reduce that inflammation? It’s like we have to step off the conveyor belt. You know what I’m saying? We have to step off the merry-go-round that just makes us want and fulfill and want and keep trying to fulfill, and keep doing that round and round and round and round endlessly. It’s like you just have to stop for a minute. Step off of it and look at what you’re doing. Look at the habit pattern. Look at the pattern. Just look at it.  This is sometimes more difficult for younger people to do, because they just honestly haven’t lived long enough to see their patterns. For people who have reached maturity, it’s much easier to see the quality of the relationships and friendships that you’ve had. It’s much easier to see the level of fulfillment that you’ve had from material goods. It’s much easier to understand that you have been going through the same thing since you can remember. For younger people, it’s more difficult. But for older people, it’s very obvious. And the people that it’s easiest for are the people who are coming to the end of their life who have reached an advanced age, or an elderly age. And at that point, they’re carrying, perhaps hidden inside of them, a disappointment. There are things that we become very disappointed about. Things that have just not come together that we always assumed would. We always thought that they would.

When we come to that fantastic point, where the old gig, the old game doesn’t work for us anymore, we become disillusioned. It’s a heart-breaking time in one way, isn’t it? It’s really heart-breaking. It’s hard to bear, hard to face. But you know something? It’s the best time for you, the best time that you have ever experienced. Until you have come to that moment, you really haven’t been born yet. You’re like an egg, you know, just revolving around in your little shell, kind of a big yolk. Ha, ha. Hey, that was pretty good. You have to admit. A little levity there to cheer you up in the middle of your suffering. But anyway, revolving around inside your shell, and not getting anywhere. The moment that you become dissatisfied and panicky because your gig isn’t working any more, terrified because it may never work, uptight because you don’t know what to do next, grieving because nothing’s ever worked… At that moment, when you feel like you’re about to have a nervous breakdown, you’re on your way, kid. It’s probably the best and most mature moment of your life because you have to come to that moment to get anywhere. You can’t do this while you’re on the merry-go-round. You can’t do this unless you fall apart a little bit. You can’t get the big picture. You have to see the faults of cyclic existence. You have to look at it square on.

You must see. You must look cause and effect relationship in the eye. And you’ve got to really face one very sad fact about cyclic existence: No matter what we accumulate during the course of our lives, we can’t take even so much as a sesame seed with us. None of it. We can’t take relationships with us. We can’t take objects with us. We can’t take even ideas with us, those things that we spend so much time building up. We certainly can’t take emotions with us. And how much time do we spend watching our emotions and reacting to them? We can’t take any of that with us. We take one thing with us: the condition of our mindstreams, our own habitual tendencies. And if we have the habit of grasping, trying to satisfy ourselves, to the exclusion of virtuous living, and then being disappointed, that is the habit, that is the content of our mindstreams that we will take with us into the intermediate state, and into our next rebirth. The habits of our mindstream—that is what we take with us.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Who Will Save You?

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

In our program, remorse and confession are really important. Now in AA, are you supposed to confess so that you could feel like a real jerk? That really isn’t the point, is it? No, it isn’t. And it’s the same thing in Buddhadharma. The point of confession is not so that you can beat yourself or wear a hair shirt or something like that. You know, mea culpa, or whatever. It isn’t like that. It really isn’t like that. The point of confession and remorse is truth. The point of confession and remorse is that you can’t go forward while you’re hiding something. And that’s true in our practice. We can’t. Those of you who find yourself stuck in your practice, don’t you know that that’s why? You can’t go forward while you’re hiding something. We do hide things. We pretend that we are Miss Nun Goodbar, something like that. I’m trying to think of an appropriate terminology. Miss Little Angelic Nun or Mr. Wonderful Monk. None of the monks are here, that’s scary. Where are they?  Well, I guess they’re not such angels, are they?

Anyway, you pretend that you’re Miss Wonderful-I’ve-Got-It-Together Practitioner; and that’s when you stop practicing. That’s when you’re finished. Spiritually, you are finished then. You might as well dig a hole and jump in. And it’s the same with addiction, isn’t it? The minute you decide that you don’t have a problem…, and that happens to addicts actually. They’ll go through the program and they’ll sober up; and they’ll get there for a while and suddenly they’ll say, ‘Well, really I’m pretty good now. I don’t think I have a problem anymore.’ The minute you decide you don’t have a problem anymore, you’ve got a big problem because you’re about to start drinking again. You’re going to do something that’s going to find you in the same hole. Isn’t that true? Isn’t that true?

Well, it’s the same with our practice. It’s the same with our practice. So, we’re constantly involved in confession and remorse. That’s constantly a part of our practice. We’re constantly involved in dismantling cyclic existence and looking at its faults. We are constantly involved in seeing the truth. Is an addict’s life easy? Is recovery easy? No. That’s why we have to do it one day at a time. And it’s the same with our practice. One day at a time. Because it’s not easy. But the thing about it that really makes you realize you’ve got to do it is that if being a recovered alcoholic is not easy, then being a drunk is much harder, because it’s awful. It’s not acceptable. It’s simply not acceptable. Do you agree? It’s not acceptable. You can’t live like that. And it’s the same thing with samsara. To work through samsara as a proper Buddhist practitioner, to catch that boat and take it to the other side, is not easy. Honesty is required. But it makes you potent. That honesty potentizes your practice. It makes it possible. The alternative of just drifting and wandering aimlessly through samsara like a person who is blind trying to get through a room of obstacles is simply not acceptable. Experiencing death and rebirth and coming out of it with only your habitual tendency every time since time out of mind is not acceptable.

Once we have achieved a state of happiness (and that can only happen when samsara is completely dismantled), then we consider that we are moving toward enlightenment. The good news about all this is that even in Alcoholics Anonymous you never are actually totally recovered; and you never stop thinking of yourself as an addict who has to think in a certain way. The one thing that the Buddha has taught that we have to consider that takes it one step further, and that as an addict we should all consider, is that there is an end to suffering. And that end to suffering is called enlightenment. That it’s going to be hard work maybe isn’t the best news you’ve ever heard. We all want to say I want a religion in which you just call on somebody and they just save you. Everybody wants that. But that’s like an addict saying I want a drug that’s just going to feel good forever. It’s never going to happen. It’s never going to happen like that. I wish it would. I’d like to give that to you. But it’s not.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

A Higher Power

Guru Rinpoche

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

The next step, in both the Buddhadharma and in addiction, is to take refuge in a higher power. Now, in alcohol addiction, as I understand it, one takes refuge, in a sense, in one’s sponsor, who is no longer under the influence of the drug and who has been the same route, as the Buddha has done (although I don’t think most of them are Buddhas to tell you the truth), but as the Buddha has done, crossed the ocean of suffering in a boat that works. That’s the relationship. And that’s how we see our gurus. Basically it’s not a personality cult. They have crossed the ocean of suffering in a boat that works. It’s the same thing with your sponsor in alcoholism. They have crossed that ocean of suffering in a boat that works. So you take refuge in them, and you take refuge in the system, or the teaching. And that’s what you do. You also in Alcoholics Anonymous would take refuge in God, if you believed in God; or Jesus if you felt yourself to be a Christian; or again, if you’re a Buddhist, you would take refuge in the Buddha’s enlightened mind and in your guru. So it’s like that. And there, they are very, very similar.

And then the rebuilding starts to come from that. The recognition of the fault of cyclic existence, the fault of your addiction, the recognition of the horrible bottomed-out condition that we find ourselves in both applying to samsara and to the addiction; and the taking refuge and then day-by-day working it through in a very real, hands-on, cut-to-the-bone way. That’s really basically, and of course this is the cereal box-top version, but that is basically the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha’s teaching is about giving you a workable model or a workable vehicle that you can work through and actually get from one place to another. It’s very real and it’s very not flaky or pie-in-the-sky. One of my biggest arguments with a lot of religious systems that I’ve seen is that there’s no way to make it work. There’s no applicable technology, and it’s too esoteric, too pie-in-the-sky. Now certainly in Buddhism, there is definitely esoteric philosophy. There is definitely the more profound view that one has. But the basis of the practice is, in fact, working through—applying the technology to solve the problem. And it is that: It is a model, a technology, that solves the problem.

The good news is that you can get somewhere with it. You can actually accomplish something that you may not have been able to accomplish before. Isn’t it scary that there are so many things in our lives that we can actually be caught up in and not be able to accomplish? And that has happened to us, hasn’t it? I mean, how many people amongst us,… Yourselves, think about yourselves. Have you been addicted to anger? That constant anger that accompanies us when we constantly have hostility, anger, hatred really. Do you have anger every day? Then you’re an anger addict. Have you ever decided you’re not going to be angry anymore? Have you tried that? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Wasn’t that a funny day! So you’re an anger addict and you find yourself in the same position. And when your anger gets just ugly enough and you begin to see the playback from it, maybe, maybe, you’ll find yourself in a position where you can change something. What about your lust and grasping? Do you have lust and grasping every day? Then you’re a lust and grasping addict. That’s the truth! I didn’t make this up.  You’re a lust and grasping addict. Are you needy? Are you needy? Then you’re a needy addict! It’s not different. You have to think like that.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Facing Helplessness

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

The idea that I’m trying to present is that you have to be at that place of total honesty. Now, in Alcoholics Anonymous, when you get to that place of total honesty, basically your life is broken down. In Buddhadharma, when you get to that place of total honesty, you take apart your life. You break it down yourself. Because if you wait for samsara to totally break you down… First of all, who wants to wait? It takes too long. It just takes too long. Plus you have been broken down before. According to the Buddha’s teaching, you have died and been reborn uncountable times under very unfortunate circumstances. And noodniks that we are, we still haven’t gotten it. We just can’t get a grip!

For some reason, the way that samsara is constructed, it’s very much like a narcotic. It’s like being under the influence of the drug, or under the influence of alcohol. While you’re really loaded, you really just don’t know your behind from a table. You just can’t find anything. You just can’t figure it out because the drug is in your system. The whole time we are revolving in samsara, in a sense, that drug is in our system, because we always view, don’t we, through the experience of continuum. And we always view with the assumption of self-nature being inherently real.  So we are fueled by this alcohol of the desire of continuum in a certain way to experience as ego. We can’t see clearly.

Now that happens to the alcoholic too. And so, one of the steps… And again I don’t know the program well enough to know which step is which or what comes first. I’m relying mostly on the Buddhadharma to tell me what to do. But once you have discerned the faults of cyclic existence… And you really have to spend some bone-crushing time on that one, and that is not your favorite part of the practice. I mean get this: It’s not the part you’re going to enjoy. And it isn’t the one where you can sit on a high mountain in the Himalayas with your hands just right and your feet in a lotus position and think of yourself as very holy while you’re doing it. You’re not going to get a lot of gratification at that point. Same with the alcoholic. When they decide that they are really bottomed out, that is not a gratifying time. I mean, am I right? That is the worst, most horrible time that one can possibly imagine. But in practice one has to do that also. And you feel a little bit like you’re going crazy because you have to dismantle everything you held to be sacred. You have to really look, and you’re helpless unless you do.

So the next step, as I understand it in the Buddhadharma, is to decide that in samsara (and this is one of the faults of samsara as it is one of the faults of drug addiction or alcohol abuse) we are in this condition, helpless to change. Now, boy we hate that, America! Man, this is the worst! Because in America we’re very democratic. We like to think that everybody’s got power. We can all vote so that makes us happy. Although I don’t know what good it’s actually doing us. But anyway, we feel in America that we are really, really, really democratic in our thinking. We want to really, really think that we have something very powerful. But, in fact, you have to get to the point where you can’t stop. You’re helpless. You’re helpless.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

The Suffering of Cyclic Existence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Addicted to Happiness

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Sustainable Foundation

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

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

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

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Why Is This Rebirth Precious?

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Commitment to the Path”

When we practice the Buddhadharma, one of the first things that we have to do is to examine the faults of cyclic existence.  Nobody likes to do that.  That is not fun.  But what is interesting is you can really tell the more experienced, more sophisticated person.  Nobody wants to hear that cyclic existence is faulted and flawed and that it is impermanent and that it is pervaded with suffering.  Nobody wants to hear that.  But when you talk to somebody who is experienced and sophisticated enough in their own lives to see that: “Sometimes I’ve tried my best and life still goes off the tracks.  You know, sometimes I try my best and some dreadful disease will pop up.  Sometimes I try my best and somebody else I love will just leave or be sick or die,” There is no way to prevent these things from happening.  And if we are old enough and mature enough, we’ve had enough experience to know there is clearly something else in the driver’s seat here besides what “I want.”  We’re getting it.

Then, of course, sometimes when students first approach the path, they don’t have that sophistication yet.  Maybe they are young or young at heart or young in head. Who knows? But they haven’t had the kind of experience that is actually ultimately a blessing, that will bring them to a kind of sobriety, sort of like recovering alcoholics.  They get to a place where it becomes unbearable.  You have to stop.  You’ve got to grow up.  People who have had the experiences that come with ordinary samsaric existence and have seen them, and are not putting on blindfolds, are for the most part ready to hear this information.  And if you still have any doubt, pick up a newspaper.  Watch TV.  It’s all there.

So once we do hear that there are faults in cyclic existence, then it’s our job to begin to examine them.  Again, here, also it’s not so comfortable, because we don’t like to think about it.  Especially when you have to go every six weeks and have your hair dyed.  I mean, you look in the mirror and everything is turning gray and it’s all heading south, and you realize that something is happening that is not changeable.  It’s just going to happen.  It’s going happen right underneath your head.,and there’s not a thing you can do about it. You can work at it, but it’s going to work on you.  Eventually gravity wins.  Once you start to realize that, you realize that it doesn’t pay to put everything we have into this basket that is going to abandon us.

So now we come to examine the faults of cyclic existence.  Lord Buddha said that one of the things that we should understand about cyclic existence is that what we are in right now is called the “precious human rebirth.”  The reason why it is so precious is because it is so rare.  We’re sort of locked into a closed circuit TV system, if you can imagine such a thing.  We’re only mindful of our own kind of creatures.  We can see people.  We can see animals.  That’s pretty much it— the occasional ghost for those of us who are a little strange—but for the most part that’s it.  It’s people and it’s animals.  Those are the ones that we can see.  Those are vibrationally on our channel, so we can see them.  But Lord Buddha teaches us that there are other realms of cyclic existence: There are hell realms, all kinds of hell realms;  there are hungry ghost realms;  there are animal realms; there are human realms; there are jealous god realms; there are long life god realms.  So there are all these different kinds of realms and they are invisible. Even within each realm, while some are totally invisible to us, they are still within the form and formless realms.

The teachings of Lord Buddha about this precious human rebirth are that human beings are the only beings that have the kind of consciousness that can hear this teaching and then go practice and contemplate,.  The amount of human beings that are birthed now in samsara are like the amount of grains of sand that would fit on one’s fingernail, while the amount of sentient beings that are wandering in other places in samsara are like the grains of sand on all the earth, all the beaches, every square inch of it. The traditional teaching tells us by using the image that being reborn as a human being is as rare as a turtle surfacing in the ocean and putting its head through a circle, like a floating circle.  The chances of that happening are pretty slim, and so that is the way we are made to understand that this is a precious human rebirth.  Now why are we supposed to hear that?  Well, we’re supposed to hear that so that we don’t waste our time.

Another traditional teaching that we hear is that being reborn as a human who has the capacity and the karma to hear the Dharma is like going to a continent filled with precious jewels.  You only have to bend over and pick something up.  That’s how easy it is compared to other sentient beings who have not created the connections, not created the causes as yet. And while they have the same capability and same desire to be happy, they will not get to that continent.  They will not pick up that jewel. Conversely, the Buddha also teaches that to meet with the Dharma as a human being and to meet with one’s teacher and to meet with the path and not to practice is like the fool who goes to this precious continent, looks at all the beautiful colors and enjoys it and then goes away with nothing, going back into poverty with nothing, nothing precious.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Excitement

get-inflamed

The following is a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Desire Blocks Happiness”

I don’t know how many times people have come to me and said, “Gosh, I’m so excited about this path! I would love to practice this path. It seems so wonderful! I’m so excited about this path. But you know, that’s like me. I always get really excited about things, and I jump into them; and I get really on fire, and then I burn out real quick. But maybe this one is different! This could be it!” Well, you know, that’s the example that I can give you that I see again and again and again and again. But people are like that about everything!  Whenever we get a new object, we get real excited about it, or we become attached to it; and we think this is the thing that is going to make us happy. But it isn’t. Or we get a new relationship, and we just get all in love, and in friendship, and whatever it is, enamored. And then we think, “Oh, this is going to be the one that makes a difference!”  And then, well it does, but it isn’t. It really isn’t.

What are we actually seeing? First of all, we’re actually seeing the faults of cyclic existence. What begins must end. What goes up must come down. What causes us to be supremely elated must also cause disappointment. What comes together must result in separation. That is the fault of cyclic existence. That is its quality. We’re seeing the reflection of the condition of cyclic existence. More than that, we are seeing the reflection of our own mind. Our own mind. Our own mind has within it the karma, or cause and effect set-up, if you will, to be able to experience that kind of thing again and again and again. That is our habitual tendency. We are suffering from a kind of inflammation of the mind. The mind is inflamed. Interestingly, the very thing that causes us to be so inflamed by some new toy, you know, some new relationship, some new thing that comes into our life, some new event, some new job, some new spiritual path, some new idea… Something that comes into our mind that causes us to be so oh, gosh! everything’s going to be different now! So breathlessly excited. Everything that comes into our mind like that, that quality of inflammation. And it is like an inflammation, isn’t it? We become all puffed up and red like inflammations. That quality of inflammation is the same quality that will actually lead to the downfall of that particular circumstance to satisfy us, because that very inflammation is an indication of the instability of our minds.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Mind as Your Guru Part 1 of 3: Full Length Video Teaching

The following is a full length video teaching offered by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo at Kunzang Palyul Choling:

In order to practice Spiritual Fidelity – being true to your own nature you need to understand what that nature is. Also, understand what it isn’t. This involves studying the faults of cyclic existence, so we can avoid those faults and stay directly focused on enlightenment to benefit all beings.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

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