The Guru as the Path to Recognition

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

How do we use the Guru Yoga as this rocketship?  How do we understand the way it is used?  Well, first of all, if we look at the Guru Yoga in our Ngöndro book, the prayers are achingly beautiful.  The tune, Lama Khyen No, that beautiful tune… You could almost hear it being sung on misty mountain tops.  There’s something about it that’s just so haunting.  And you get the idea when you’re doing this practice that it’s kind of geared that way.  It’s geared to bring tears to one’s eyes.  It’s geared to create an interdependent relationship that’s so intimate, it’s more than what we are accustomed to.  We wouldn’t take an ordinary relationship and sing Boyfriend Khyen No, (laughter) Girlfriend Khyen No. We wouldn’t do that.  And why?  Because there wouldn’t be any result.  You might as well twiddle your thumbs.  There just simply would be no benefit.

We are given this method and it should cause us some benefit.  Why?  Why is that?  Because we are opening the eyes of recognition.  What is it Lord Buddha said when he was asked how it was he was different?  He said, “I am awake”.  Awake in recognition.  We are opening the inner eyes of recognition to understand the difference between the precious connection with one’s Root Guru, the ultimate nature that we share, that we depend upon utterly, and what is ordinary. You know, the stuff we get lost in so easily.

We have this single-pointedness that we can whip ourselves back to.  That’s how we use the Guru, when we get lost and wobbly and we’re kind of out in space… You know how we get—the noises in our head and everything. We get lost in that.  We can use the Guru as our centering back to the single-pointedness.  We think this is none other than Guru Rinpoche, the second emanation of Lord Buddha, himself.  This is the way.  This is that nature.  This is what is precious.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

How to Cherish What is Precious

The following is respectfully quoted from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru Is Your Diamond”

We should understand that if we feel that connection with the Guru, and that it is heartfelt, that is like a diamond that you should invest.  To hold onto it and to keep it stagnant is not the way.  One should not say, “I’ve got this connection, therefore I’m in like flint.”  One has to take that connection and build on it.  You have to use it for investment. You use that connection to create more virtue through learning the Buddha Dharma and practicing accordingly, through going to the teacher for guidance and advice, and then practicing that accordingly.

There’s no use going to the teacher for guidance and advice if you don’t practice accordingly.  Then you’re simply cashing in that diamond for nothing.  You’re throwing it out the window and it’s too precious to waste.  Instead again, you should invest in it, build on it.  That’s cash.  That’s money in the bank.  That’s the most precious thing you own in this lifetime, no matter how wealthy you are.

So you go to that teacher for guidance, for advice.  You allow that teacher, and ask for that teacher, to open and prepare your mind, and to deepen the mind and to mature the mind; and you depend on that teacher similarly to… Let’s say you had somehow a cash cow in the bank, you know a diamond or some fabulous thing that could be earning interest. In the same way that that diamond might be the nugget and maybe you’re living off the interest, you think like that about the teacher.   But you’re always making the moves and doing the things that never harm the principal and only increase the interest.  See what I’m saying.  I’m using a funny money analogy here, but it’s like that.

That diamond must be kept in a sacred place, enthroned upon the Lotus of one’s heart where it cannot be harmed.  And if you find that that diamond is somehow misplaced and it’s in your mouth and you’re talking about it in a non-virtuous way, get it back down there again.  Do your practice.  Recite The Seven Line Prayer.  Reestablish that connection.  Think that it lives in you, as it does.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

That Kind of Love

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

In Palyul, my teacher, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche…you all know him, is known as having rather wrathful moments.  I’ve met with a couple of them, and I still flinch.  But that’s ok, ‘cause it gets my attention.

Ultimately, we come to understand that there is no friend like one’s Guru, nobody in one’s life.  Nobody in our lives, even if they take care of you and feed you and clothe you until the time of your death, is so willing and so eager to look out for your welfare.  Our Root Gurus are more interested in our well-being than we can understand.  I personally can tell you that I had a difficult time with that.  I was an American.  I know that I had all this old karma with the Path.  I was recognized as this one and that one and the other one, and all that, but I was still a 38-year-old American.  (Yes, I was 38 when I met His Holiness.)  So, I was an old dog with old habits.  And I have to tell you that I didn’t understand that kind of love at first.  I mean I understood that I felt this commitment to my students even though I had not met with the Buddhist teachers yet.  I already had students and I understood the commitment to them, My teacher told me that apparently I was teaching Buddha Dharma and I didn’t know it because I hadn’t read any books on it.  But then, when I actually met him, and he became so intimately involved in my body, speech and mind, my whole life began to circumambulate my Guru.  I thought, “What is this? I’ve never seen love like this.  I’ve never seen anything like this.  That this Lama would come all the way across the world to find me?  That he came all the way from India and the first thing he said when he hit California was, “Take me to that woman in Maryland.”  And so, that’s how it happened.

I didn’t understand that every year he wanted to see me, and so I missed some years.  I didn’t understand how much he is invested in my well-being and the well-being of my students.  I didn’t understand when he built that place up in New York…  Now I understand that he built it for us.  Because I can teach you during the year what I have to give you—the ripening and the deepening—and then you can receive empowerment and take the next steps on the Path with His Holiness, my Root Teacher.  After we established this place here, he did that.  I didn’t understand that, bBut now I do.

I’ve never had that kind of love in this lifetime.  I don’t know anyone else that has either.  The kind of love that will… Let me explain to you.  When His Holiness was here last year, one of his particularly devoted and very close disciples passed on, Kunzang Lama.  His Holiness just abruptly left even though he knew he wouldn’t make it in time, just left.  For that one man.  And when he got there, the man, Kunzang, had left him a note.  The note said, “Guru, wherever you are, you are with me and I am with you.  Please do not grieve.”  Like that.  Can you imagine?  They were so close.  They came out of Tibet together.  They had that kind of devotion to each other.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Who Is the Guru

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

Many people, when they come to the Path, feel the connection with some particular deity.  I know of one person that felt a very strong connection to Manjushri with his great sword cutting through ignorance.  And yet that person did not practice proper Guru Yoga and understand that the nature that is Manjushri with the sword is the very nature that is our Root Guru, and that sword could be a word, a look, a piece of advice, some heart teaching—anything that cuts through the darkness of ignorance. Some of us can understand that and then others of us want to have our particular deity. You hear the pride in that, don’t you?  “I’m into Manjushri!  He’s the guy with the big sword.  What a guy!” And yet, every Buddha that we can visualize, all of the peaceful and wrathful deities that naturally appear in the bardo and are part of our own nature and can be recognized, each one of them, has the complete and perfect qualities of all the Buddhas.

It’s an amazing thing if you are attracted to some particular Buddha, like maybe Amitabha or Chenrezig or Tara. You might say, “Oh, I really love that deity.”  That’s good.  Cultivate that.  But do not miss the step that Guru Rinpoche gave to us when he said, “This nature, the nature of one’s teacher is unsurpassed by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions.”  Why did he say that?  To create confusion so that everyone in all our different places could look at our own particular Root Guru and say, “That’s the best one!”   No.  That’s crazy.  That’s just more ordinary thinking.  But instead, by implication, we understand that what we must do is to recognize the intrinsic nature that appears as our Root Guru, the promise of Guru Rinpoche fulfilled.  And if Guru Rinpoche said this was going to work, well it’s going to work. So, Guru Yoga is like a rocketship.  We depend on the accomplishment, the qualities and the nature that appear as our own Root Guru.

Early on in the relationship with our Root Teacher, we should practice thoughtful discrimination.  That is to say, we should ask ourselves: Has this teacher really given rise to the Great Bodhichitta?  Do we see that Bodhichitta is present here?  Ok.  Check that box.  Got that one.  Do we see that this teacher has the capacity to ripen my mind?  Do I hear Dharma from this teacher?  Check that one. Is this teacher considered qualified by peers of her/his/their lineage?  Is this teacher properly recognized and considered properly an authority and a throne holder?  Does this teacher have good qualities? Does this teacher have the ability to communicate?  Let’s see. What else? Does this teacher have an unbroken chain that connects us to the source of the blessing, which is Guru Rinpoche?  You betcha!

We think through these things.  And if you decide this teacher is not for me, then there is no harm in saying, “I’ll keep looking.”  Maybe the connection is not quite right.  So that’s when you do your discriminating and your thinking.  But once you’ve decided—check boxes are all full, looks good to me and I have that feeling, I feel that connection, something is wiggling in my little heart chakra…After that point, you must put yourself on a diet, because after that point, there’s no more judgment.

Once we make the judgment and discrimination necessary and we have that undeniable sense that one has entered the Path and met one’s Root Guru, after that point, judgment should be put aside.  Then the ball is in your court.  Not that the teacher doesn’t have a responsibility.  I promise you, the teacher knows their responsibility, if they are worth their weight in salt. That teacher not only knows their responsibility but also knows their students;  and a good teacher will be willing to say to a student, “Keep looking.  Go see this Lama here or that Lama there.  See what you think.”  Once the teacher has accepted the student, and the student has accepted the teacher, then that bond becomes more intimate than any marriage, any mother and child relationship, any friendship.  It’s hard to understand that because we think, “Oh, teacher,  I only see you every so often, but I see my spouse and my children everyday. Therefore, it must be more intimate.”

However, I will tell you that in order for you to be here, to be accepted as my student and to accept me as well,for that karma to mesh in that particular way, we must have known each other many times, many times.  The relationship between student and teacher is not a relationship that ends in one lifetime.  If we take vows together, I am responsible for you always.  So long as you remain in the world and have not yet accomplished liberation, I must appear again in samsara in order to liberate you.  I must.  Even if there’s only one.  Just you.  Your teacher will return for you.  Under any conditions.

 Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

The Blessings of the Wrathful Display

Wrathful deity

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

This is not separate from you when you see the Buddhas in their wrathful state. Do you really think that it is separate from you, that it is unfamiliar to you, that you yourself are not like that and should run? In fact, this is an indication to you, and a display of your own nature when you become a Buddha. Intrinsic within your Buddha nature is the capacity to liberate sentient beings in a forceful and active way. This is the aspect of your nature that you will come to rely on when you have completed giving rise to the bodhicitta, and your only hope is to be able to liberate sentient beings from suffering. You will look to that part of you, that element of your nature, that is forceful and dramatic and able to dominate samsara, to suppress samsara through a wrathful display.

Again, we can’t have the superficial view. We don’t understand wrathful display. Maybe a wrathful display to us might be having a temper tantrum. But you must understand that we are talking about the force and power, the enlightened force and power, and potential necessary to liberate beings, particularly during this age, which is the age of kaliyuga, the age of decay and degeneration. At this time, the wrathful beings are even more powerful, even more forceful, because their display is more in line with this time. It is more necessary. This being the time of degeneration, wrathful force is needed. And so in the bardo we should not only not be afraid of the wrathful deities, but we should look to them, look for them, expect them, and rely on them with confidence, because they may be the ones who are able to break through our own ignorance. This is the aspect of our own nature. Again, it is not external, but we have to talk in that way. We say we look to them to be able to break through our ignorance. In fact, we are relying on that aspect of our own Buddha nature to stamp out the hatred, greed and ignorance in our own minds, and the degree to which the hatred, greed and ignorance are ripening. These things are what we rely on the wrathful deities for, and so they are precious to us. And even though many of us like the pictures of the peaceful deities, we like to practice the peaceful deities, we just think they’re ‘friendlier’; we just like them better (prettier, better outfits, friendlier), it is, in fact, the wrathful deities upon which we should rely ultimately. We will need them at some point. There is not one of us that will not rely on that very power, that very display at some point in our spiritual development, to crush the ego, to pierce the veil of delusion, to whip apart the thick covering of grasping and desire that covers us and keeps our eyes closed to our inner awareness, to the awareness of our nature. Guaranteed, there is some point in your development, whether it is during the course of your life where you will have to practice some wrathful deity in order to remove obstacles, or whether in the course of your going through the bardo, it is that very force, that very energy on which you will rely to move you into enlightenment.

That very energy can also be seen sometimes in the guise of our teachers. Sometimes our teachers, in order to break through limitations that happen within our mind, will be very firm with us, very stern with us, very very forceful. I’ve had that happen to me. WhenHis Holiness Penor Rinpoche came here to give the Rinchen Terdzod, he saw an obstacle to my life. There are many reasons for that, and one of them is that I am teaching Dharma from my own habit of practicing Dharma life after life. I have had very little academic training in this lifetime, and so there are obstacles that come with that. These obstacles must be purified, and they are purified through continuing to gather the merit of teaching students as I am doing, and to fulfilling the instructions of my teachers, which is to continue teaching as I am doing. And in that way the obstacles are overcome.

In another way, I rely on my spiritual mentor, just as you rely on your spiritual mentor, and he relies on his spiritual mentor. That is how we look to our own innate nature. That is how we do it when we are physical: We look to our spiritual mentor. So he came and gave a wrathful display. He was extremely wrathful, and it would seem, from the ordinary samsaric point of view, unjustly so. My lama actually accused me of something that both he and I knew I would never do, and he knew that I did not do it, and I did not do it. And other people came and said, “But Rinpoche, she would never do that. She never did that,” There was no proof that it was done. There was no one who told him it had been done; he just picked it up somewhere. Manufactured it. Just pulled it out. So he threw this at me, and all I could do, as a good student, was to just take it, and try to understand how I could improve myself. There was no way to defend myself, because there was nothing to defend myself against. So when his wrathful display was finished, I, of course, was shaken and changed and crying and needing my spiritual mentor—his love and his guidance and his help. At that point he saw that he was finished and that the job was done, and he reached over and he touched my face, and he said, “Now, Ahkön Lhamo, that’s over with. Now don’t get mad.” And I was like, “Mad?” I was just trying to survive this moment. “We’re not mad, we’re trying to live through this!” So I didn’t get mad. And he said that because I didn’t get mad or have any judgment or anything like that, and because I understood what he was trying to do, then those obstacles to my life could be erased. And I remember that after he did that I felt ten or twenty years younger. I felt wonderful, really good, after I understood what had happened.

That is the kind of activity that we may even see on a physical level. That is the wrathful activity of a Buddha. It is necessary to be seen in that way because the obstacles that it is meant to crush are also violent and dramatic and forceful. The force of our own karma is violent, dramatic, and forceful. And so in order to be skillful we have to use that which is equal in strength and superior in strength to all the forces of samsara. That is the nature of that kind of wrath. Therefore you should not be afraid.

Train yourself, then, to recognize the images of the wrathful deities, to recognize their nobility, their purpose, their generosity, their kindness, the love that emanates from them, in order to remain ever ready, as they do, to suppress the obstacles that sentient beings face.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

When We Meet the Guru

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

When we meet with our Guru, our Guru should have the capacity to ripen one’s mind, particularly where there is a close connection, where one has practiced under the guidance of this Guru before.  That’s happened to me with many of you, where I see you and I just know you instantly.  And, I know, you start crying.  And you know me as well, and you can’t deny that.  When that happens, it’s just undeniable.  For those fortunate students where that happens, often they wish to even short circuit the discrimination part because the feeling is so strong, the bond is so deep, that the recognition is prevalent. If that should happen to you, here or anywhere else, that is the most precious jewel you will ever find in this world.  Whether you are gathering wealth, or gathering intellectual knowledge or whatever you were taught is precious in this world, the connection with that Guru is the most precious jewel you will ever find.

First it’s an indication.  You have practiced with this teacher before.  Maybe an ordinary way of saying it would be, when you see this teacher, you should see the feast laid out before you.  The feast.  And you know, you have tasted this before.  It’s almost like, in an ordinary way, if you go to a giant smorgasbord, one of those places people go to in America when they really want to chow down, and you see the roast beef, and the this and the that and the cobbler, you know, and you go, ”Bingo, I’m in the right place!”  And you eat some of that, and you remember.  It’s like remembering that taste in your next life.  Nothing’s going to keep you from chowing down.  You might be even a little weird about it at first.  Really emotional, and so forth. But nothing is going to keep you from that taste.  If you’ve ever had that experience, I beg you to honor it.  Not for my sake, but for yours.

 

That happened to me in this lifetime when I met His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.  It was like my heart jumped out of my chest and was standing there talking to me, like I met my mind, my nature.  Like I was following something elusive my whole life and suddenly it was standing before me.  Almost unbearable.  And, of course, I did the same exact thing that you guys do when you meet your Root Teacher.  You start dancing.  Inside you start thinking, ”What should I do? I should do this and I should do this. I’ll perform in this way, or maybe that way, or maybe this way.”  And of course you’re a stumbling, bumbling fool for a little while, just like somebody who’s newly in love.

 

If you find that connection, then you must honor it.  And you must honor it by growing.  Be ready.  Some people say, “Oh, I really want to fall in love.”  But then when love hits you, you go, “No, I don’t want to change that much.  A little scary here.  Back off.”  And so sometimes, we’re like that when we meet, in a sense, our destiny, our unfoldment. When we meet our teacher, we go “Oh, oh, oh,” and we feel the feeling., We feel the joy; we feel the connection. Yet at the same time, we’re like, “I can hardly bear it. I have to turn away a little bit. It’s too much.  I don’t know if I can change that fast.”  But remember, the original reason for making the connection to the Path was to exit samsara, and that requires a good deal of change.  So the relationship between oneself and one’s Guru should be potent.  It’s ok if it’s a little scary.  Gives you a little respect. (smiles and laughter).

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

 

 

The Vow of the Student

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

When the student accepts the teacher, they must honor that vow and they must make a similar vow in their own way.  That vow is contained in The Seven Line Prayer.  “Following you, I will practice.”  Even though the prayer is directly to Guru Rinpoche, the prayer has an inner, outer and secret level of meaning.  We recite it thinking of Guru Rinpoche on a lotus having the intention, hopefully, to understand that even though this appears as Guru Rinpoche on the lotus, it is inseparable from our own Root Gurus, same Nature, same taste, same essence, same uncontrived primordial essence.  And so, every time we recite the prayer to Guru Rinpoche, The Seven Line Prayer, we reconfirm that entire process—recognizing that Guru Rinpoche was the one that came from Orgyen, that he was born on a lotus in an extraordinary way.  This is like our saying, “I understand that this is not ordinary.  I understand that this did not happen as ordinary births, as ordinary conditions, happen.  And so having understood, I also promise to follow and to practice.”  And then we ask for the Guru’s blessing, Guru Pedma Siddhi Hung.  Guru Pedma, grant me your blessings.

There is so much condensed into the power of that little prayer that I make you say again and again and again. There’s so much.  One can go so deeply with just that one prayer.  One can move through the stages of recognition to a depth that we didn’t think we could ever reach.  One can create that connection by reciting again and again and again, “Following you I will Practice. Following you I will practice.”  And so, even though those meaningful words are simple, we can understand them more deeply and more deeply and more deeply.

“Following you I will practice.”  What does it even mean?  Does it mean I dress like Guru Rinpoche or act like Guru Rinpoche or do I wear some of his funny earrings, or…  What do I do?  (I’ve got some funny earrings on, by the way.)  That’s not it.  “Following you I will practice.”  First, we practice the way Guru Rinpoche practiced—for the sake of sentient beings.  That’s how Guru Rinpoche practiced.  He came and was born into the world for no reason other than to benefit beings.  He didn’t have to come and learn; he didn’t have to come and hang out.  Like Lord Buddha himself. He didn’t have to come and learn or hang out, and yet he came for the benefit of sentient beings.

And so that’s the way in which we promise to practice. Not only throughout this prayer, or throughout this hour that I am practicing, but throughout this day, throughout this week, throughout this month, throughout this year, throughout all my lifetimes, may I follow the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and liberate beings. We’re talking here about liberating beings from suffering.  This is what Guru Rinpoche did.  Yes, he taught.  Yes, he hid termas.  Yes, he gave us the means, the method.  But the intention was about liberating sentient beings.  Following you, therefore, I will practice.

And so that’s our commitment.  We take on this tremendous commitment, this tremendous opportunity to liberate beings from the clutches and the ravages of samsara.  And that means we’ll live the week like that, the month like that, the year like that, the decade like that, our lives like that.  And at the time of our death, we will make prayers to be reborn following Guru Rinpoche.  And in our next life, we are reborn again to continue and to benefit beings.

This is the method.  This is the way.  This is the powerhouse.  We rely on this promise,  this blessing.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

For This Time

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

The original teachings of Lord Buddha taught us to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha,distinguishing between the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and ordinary phenomena, samsaric phenomena. We use that idea of taking refuge in what is wholesome and what arises straight from the Buddha Nature. We take refuge in this Buddha Nature as represented by the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and that starts us on a path of discrimination where we can see what to accept and what to reject—what is wholesome, what arises from the mind of enlightenment as Dharma does, and therefore results in the fruit of enlightenment. In other words, the seed arises from enlightenment and the fruit is also then enlightenment.

So we are learning to discriminate by taking refuge. We see that we can take refuge in the Buddha and the Buddha’s method, the Dharma, and the Buddha’s body, which is the Sangha, instead of what we used to take refuge in which was, who knows, sports or ice skating or you know, watching TV or having three cars or twelve houses or whatever people find their particular desire is in samsara. Now we’re beginning to understand that where we took refuge in things of desire, now we are taking refuge in something that doesn’t give immediate gratification in the way that getting a new car, say, would. Get a new car, you feel good for about six months, So good. If you get Dharma, maybe you would feel good for about six months, but then you start to feel better. And you begin to realize that you are creating the causes for continued happiness. And we begin that discrimination…”Oh, the car wasn’t a cause for happiness, in fact nothing I’ve ever bought or had has ever been a real cause for happiness, but the condition of my mind… Now that can be a cause for happiness. if I learn to accept some things and to reject others and to live a more wholesome life and to get a flavor of what it is to live in purity with uncompromised intentions.

Slowly, we begin to notice, “You know, I’m feeling better.”  Then we also begin to notice that when it’s not all about “me”, that kind of self-absorption, and rather we are really taking refuge in the Buddha’s wisdom, the Buddha’s enlightenment, the Buddha’s compassionate and amazing intention, and it’s not all about “me” and what I want, our mantra has changed from “Give me, give me, give me” to maybe “Om Mani Padme Hung” or the “Vajra Guru” mantra, or even just the pure intention to practice Dharma. So little by little, we begin to move on the path.

But now in this time, and in this age, we have something quite special. This is the time of the ripening of the blessing of Guru Rinpoche. In fact, most of Guru Rinpoche’s teachings that were hidden as terma, or treasures, during the time of his life, have been revealed to come due, or to be potent now. They are meant for this time that is very condensed and very degenerate, where people are really lost and our cultures even are lost, and our governments and power holders are lost. During this time when it’s hard to find even a rice-grained size of truth, of clarity, and of compassion most of all, during this time, here it is that Guru Rinpoche’s precious teachings come ripe in the form of terma revealed.

In every cycle of terma revelation, bar none, Guru Rinpoche made it clear that most important was to practice Guru Yoga. Guru Yoga becomes to us the very sustenance on the Path.

Why Guru Yoga

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

One of the most important sections of Ngöndro practice is the Guru Yoga. It is beautiful. The cries to Guru Rinpoche are plaintiff and haunting and just moving. How can you describe it any other way? The Lama Khyen No…  And yet in the Ngöndro book, Guru Yoga’s at the last. I know when I started practicing Ngöndro, I asked for special permission to practice the Guru Yoga first, and I was given that because of my special connection with Guru Rinpoche in the past. And to me, it was the most beautiful and pure and worthwhile time I’ve ever spent.

For most people, we want to start with the Taking Refuge and the Bodhichitta. And the reason why, again, is because the first need is to discriminate between what is extraordinary and what is ordinary.

We cannot really practice Guru Yoga effectively unless we’ve made that discrimination. Because, if we can’t make that discrimination, we’re basically practicing to a cartoon image that we do not have the depth yet to understand; or maybe we are practicing on a personality level—. that my personality is worth worshipping the Guru’s personality. That’s a baby step. It’s not to be sneezed at, but it’s not where we stay either. We go further than that.

When we practice Guru Yoga, that’s the rocketship of tantric Buddhism. That’s the shortcut. The luckiest practitioners on the Path of Vajrayana are those who feel— it doesn’t mean they have to display it in any outward way or even see their Guru that often—but who feel they have, and who have cultivated a special connection with their teacher, a connection not of persona to persona, but one of recognition. That connection of recognition  is where we go to our teachers and we say, or we go in our practice and we visualize our teachers and say, “I understand that this is the very nature of Enlightenment, that this is the same nature as Guru Rinpoche, that this is the same nature as all the Buddhas of the ten directions, that this Buddha, this teacher that I have, has been taught to me by Guru Rinpoche to be the Buddha in Nirmanakaya form. And that we think like that, that kind of recognition, that kind of Intention, and a kind of—I hate to use the word passion, because people think of passion in only a certain category—but one develops a passion for the nectar that one’s teacher has to offer.  . That person is ripe. That person is ripe, not only to enter the Path, but blessed in such a way that not only will they continue, but very likely they will find completion stage practice, as well.

Because, when we connect with our teacher in that way, and really give rise to that recognition it says that indeed, this is exactly what Guru Rinpoche promised. Guru Rinpoche said, ” I will be there with you as your root teacher. If you call to me, I will be there”. And so, of course he’s saying that in the presence of one’s Root Guru, having been given the blessings, now we practice Guru Yoga. And that is the very nectar of Guru Rinpoche’s blessing.

How fortunate for those of us who have that sense, even in some small form, enough to where, you know, like an ember, you can fan the flame. That’s the most fortunate connection of all.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Taking Responsibility for Our Path

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

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