Are You Willing?

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

You cannot be a ‘sugar daddy’ in this world; there are no ‘sugar daddies’ in this world. You cannot be the conqueror or the savior as you cannot conquer someone else’s mind. Each person has to relieve themselves of the hatred, greed and ignorance in their own minds. But you can be the savior, and you can be the conqueror, in the sense that you, yourself, can liberate your own mind from hatred, greed and ignorance. In so doing, you can be a way or a path or an instrument by which the hatred, greed and ignorance in the minds of others can also be liberated. Therefore, your prayers have to consist, at least in part, of liberating your own mind from the causes of suffering. At the end of every practice, at the end of every teaching, at the end of every empowerment or anything that you do as a Buddhist, the prayer is this: “May I attain liberation in order to benefit beings.”

It’s very difficult for Americans to hear this kind of thing. It is a real struggle. We don’t like to hear about suffering; it’s so hard for us to hear about suffering. Yet, if you go to different parts of the world, they know about suffering. They know it exists. There are lots of people in the world that can say, “Hey, I’ve heard about this. I know this song.” But we who live comfortably don’t like to talk about it. We think it’s beneath us somehow to speak of suffering. We’ve become hardened to the idea.

You might say, “Well, I don’t believe that it does any good to talk about suffering. I think it does good to think positive thoughts and to constantly create a positive world.” I don’t think that’s the answer. We have become hardened to the idea of suffering, and we must first cultivate within ourselves a willingness to understand the nature of suffering so deeply and profoundly that we can do something other than scratch the surface.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Compassion in Action: Bodhicitta in Real Life

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

Everything that you do should have meaning. It’s important that your life be understood as a vehicle for practice. It’s the only thing that is meaningful: to make this life, which is so rich in opportunity, a vehicle by which you can come to benefit beings. This is the development of aspirational Bodhicitta. Every time you do something good, use that opportunity to dedicate it to the liberation of all beings. If you pat a little child on the head and it makes them smile, that’s a good thing. So you must think, “I dedicate the virtue of this action to the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings.” If you give money to somebody, pray, “I dedicate the virtue of this act to the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings.” You should continue like that in everything that you do. Make up your own prayer. You don’t have to use mine. Dedicate everything that you do so that it might go on, and grow, and be of use to benefit beings. Wean yourself from empty activity, activity that is useless and meaningless. Wean yourself from the need for ‘feel-good’ junk. Learn how to live a life in which your only concern is to liberate beings from the causes of suffering, because doing this is the only thing you can really feel good about. You aspire constantly through these prayers. You really train yourself to do this, and it should never stop.

After you are stable on the path of aspirational compassion, you have to think about concrete or practical compassion. You don’t forget aspirational compassion, saying, “Oh, I did that for a little while when I was a younger practitioner.” You should never stop. Never. I will never stop, and you should never stop. That’s not baby stuff. That’s the real stuff. Then you expand this to include practical compassion.

First you have to decide that the Buddha was right. You look at the Buddha’s teachings and you say, “If he’s right, then I have to think of some practical way to eliminate hatred, greed and ignorance from the world and from the mindstreams of myself and all sentient beings.”

Based on that you begin, and your practice should be deep and true. If you choose to be a Buddhist, the path is laid out, and the path is secure. It goes all the way to supreme realization. If you choose not to be a Buddhist, you still have to find a way to live a life of practical compassion, based on the goal of rooting hatred, greed and ignorance out of the mindstreams of yourself and all sentient beings. You should think that reciting many prayers on a regular basis for others could be of use. You should think activities that cause you to realize the emptiness of self-nature and therefore eliminate desire from your own mindstream would be of benefit. And that, finally, free of desire, when you are truly awake, as the Buddha said, you can go on to benefit others. You should be determined to liberate your own mind, and you should pray every day that you will return in whatever form necessary in order to liberate the minds of all sentient beings.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Love Like the Sun

Most people love with a “hook” at the end, better to love like the sun, radiating in all directions.

Why remain angry and disturbed? Watch a tree and it’s attendant breezes. And know that you are loved!

Why argue with the moon? The moon only reflects it’s Master’s lighr. Better to gaze in peaceful contemplation!

Why grasp at the love of a lover? Better to gaze with wonder at the face of the beloved!

Why fight with one’s friend? Better to sit at the stream and talk of gentle things!

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

The Habit of Love


The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Habit of Bodhicitta”

Basically what we have to do is, day by day in a gradual way, reinforce, develop and make larger the habit of loving. It is so mechanical,. You wouldn’t believe how mechanical it is. It’s like this: This hand is self absorption, listing severely to the right. Little by little, it, gets heavier on the other hand, the loving side. At some point,…  And who knows when that day will be? It’s not for you to judge. It’s not for you to know. Not for you to even care about. At some point, the balance will go in the loving direction  and you will really give rise to the bodhichitta. And there will be a time when the loving habit that you develop so outweighs anything else that there is a funny, magical thing that happens. The self absorption becomes invisible.

You won’t believe that in the beginning, especially when you first start trying the habit of true compassion, because it just seems as though the weight of self absorption keeps pulling you back and it just seems overwhelming. But you have to remember: It’s kind of like a rubber band, it’s kind of like a rubber band. It’s so hard, and the agony of feeling yourself go back to that same posture is going to be very difficult at first. But never mind, never mind. Keep putting more and more in the habit of loving kindness. You are going to break it eventually. It has to happen. It’s kind of like a spiritual law of physics, if you can imagine such a thing. Eventually one will outweigh the other. It’s just like that.

In fact, if you would spend a lot less time evaluating yourself and judging yourself and a lot more time just putting pebbles in that loving pile, you’d feel a lot better. In fact, if you take your eyes off  this self-absorption pile entirely, and move towards the loving  pile, you’d feel better still. It’s almost that once you begin to gather some weight in the area of proper virtuous habitual tendency, by magic, this thing starts to disappear. You’re not looking at it anymore.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Meditation on Impartiality: Patrul Rinpoche


The following is respectfully quoted from “The Words of My Perfect Teacher” by Patrul Rinpoche

1. Meditation on impartiality

Impartiality (tang nyom in Tibetan) means giving up (tang) our hatred for enemies and infatuation with friends, and having an even-minded (nyom) attitude towards all beings, free of attachment to those close to us and aversion for those who are distant.

As things are now, we are very attached to those we think of as part of our own group–father and mother, relatives and so on–while we feel an intolerable aversion towards our enemies and those associated with them. This is a mistake, and comes from a lack of investigation.

In former lives, those whom we now consider our enemies have surely been close to us, ever lovingly at our side, looking after us with goodwill and giving us unimaginable help and support. Conversely, many of those whom we now call friends have certainly been against us and done us harm. As we saw in the chapter on impermanence, this is illustrated by the words of the sublime Kātyāyana:

He eats his father’s flesh, beats his mother off,
He dandles on his lap his own unfortunate enemy;
The wife is gnawing at her husband’s bones.
I laugh to see what happens in samsāra’s show!

Another example is the story of Princess Pema Sel, daughter of the Dharma King Trisong Detsen. When she died at the age of seventeen, her father went to ask Guru Rinpoche how such a thing could happen.

“I would have thought that my daughter must have been someone with pure past actions,” said the king. “She was born as the daughter of King Trisong Detsun. She met all of you translators and pandits, who are like real Buddhas. So how can it be that her life was nevertheless so short?”

“It was not at all because of any pure past deeds that the princess was born as your daughter,” the Master replied. “Once I, Padma, you, the great Dharma King, and the great Bodhisattva Abbot had been born as three low-caste boys. We were building the Great Stūpa of Jarung Khashor. At that time the princess had taken birth as an insect, which stung you on the neck. Brushing off with your hand, you accidentally killed it. Because of the debt you incurred in taking that life, the insect was reborn as your daughter.”

If even the children of Dharma King Trisong Detsun, who was Mañjuśrī in person, could be born to him in that way as a result of his past actions, what can one say about other beings?

At present we are closely linked with our parents and children. We feel great affection for them and have incredible aspirations for them. When they suffer, or anything undesirable happens to them, we are more upset than we would be if such things had happened to us personally. All this is simply the repayment of debts for the harm we have done each other in past lives.

Of all the people who are now our enemies, there is not one who has not been our father or mother in the course of all our previous lives. Even now, the fact that we consider them to be against us does not necessarily mean that they are actually doing us any harm. There are some we think of as opponents who, from their side, do not see us in that way at all. Others might feel that they are our enemies but are quite incapable of doing us any real harm. There are also people who at the moment seem to be harming us, but in the long term what they are doing to us might bring us recognition and appreciation in this life, or make us turn to the Dharma and thus bring us much benefit and happiness. yet others, if we can skillfully adapt to their characters and win them over with gentle words until we reach some agreement, might quite easily turn into friends.

On the other hand there are all those whom we normally consider closest to us–our children, for example. But there are sons and daughters who have cheated or even murdered their parents, and join forces with them to quarrel with their own family and plunder their wealth. Even we we get along well with those who are dear to us, their sorrows and problems actually affect us even more strongly than our own difficulties. In order to help our friends, our children and other relatives, we pile up great waves of negative actions which will sweep us into the hells in our next life. When we really want to practise the Dharma properly they hold us back. Unable to give up our obsession with parents, children, and family, we keep putting off Dharma practice until later, and so never find the time for it. In short, such people may harm us even more than our enemies.

What is more, there is no guarantee that those we consider adversaries today will not be our children in future lives, or that our purest friends will not be reborn as our enemies, and so on. It is only because we take these fleeing perceptions of “friend” and “enemy” as real that we accumulate negative actions through attachment and hatred. Why do we hold on to this millstone which will drag us down into the lower realms?

Make a firm decision, therefore, to see all infinite beings as your own parents and children. Then, like the great beings of the past whose lives we can read about, consider all friends and enemies as the same.

First, towards all those you do not like at all–those who arouse anger and hatred in you–train your mind by various means so that the anger and hatred you feel no longer arise. Think of them as you would of someone neutral, who does you neither good nor harm. Then reflect that the innumerable beings to whom you feel neutral have been your father or mother sometime during your past lives throughout time without beginning. Meditate on this theme, training yourself until you feel the same love for them you do for your present parents. Finally, meditate until you feel the same compassion towards all beings–whether you see them as friends, enemies or in between–as you do for your own parents.

Now, it is no substitute for boundless impartiality just to think of everybody, friends, enemies, as the same, without any particular feeling of compassion, hatred or whatever. This is mindless impartiality, and brings neither harm nor benefit. The image given for truly boundless impartiality is a banquet given by a great sage. When the great sages of old offered feasts they would invite everyone, high or low, powerful or weak, good or bad, exceptional or ordinary, without making any distinction whatsoever. Likewise, our attitude toward all beings throughout space should be a vast feeling of compassion, encompassing them all equally. Train your mind until you reach such a state of boundless impartiality.

2. Meditation on love

Through meditating on boundless impartiality as described, you come to regard all beings of the three worlds with the same great love. The love that you feel for all fo them should be like that of parents taking care of their young children. They ignore all their children’s ingratitude and all the difficulties involved, devoting their every thought, word and deed entirely to making their little ones happy, comfortable and cosy. Likewise, in this life and in all your future lives, devote everything you do, say or think to the well-being and happiness of all beings.

Al those beings are striving for happiness and comfort. They all want to be happy and comfortable; not one of them wants to be unhappy or to suffer. Yet they do not understand that the cause of happiness is positive actions, and instead give themselves over to the ten negative actions. Their deepest wishes and their actions are therefore at odds: in their attempts to find happiness, they only bring suffering upon themselves.

Over and over again, meditate on the thought of how wonderful it would be if each one of those beings could have all the happiness and comfort they wish. Meditate on it until you want others to be happy just as intensely as you want to be happy yourself.

The sūtras speak of “loving actions of body, loving actions of speech, loving actions of mind.” What this means is that everything you say with your mouth or do with your hands, instead of being harmful to others, should be straightforward and kind. As it says in The way of the Bodhisattva:

Whenever catching sight of others
Look on them with open, loving heart.

Even when you simply look at someone else, let that look be smiling and pleasant rather than an aggressive glare or some expression of anger. There are stories about this, like the one about the powerful ruler who glared at everyone with a very wrathful look. It is said that he was reborn as a preta living on left-overs under the stove of a house, and after that, because he had also looked at a holy being in that way, he was reborn in hell.

Whatever actions you do with your body, try to do them gently and pleasantly, endeavoring not to harm others but to help them. Your speech should not express such attitudes as contempt, criticism or jealousy. Make every single word you say pleasant and true. As for your mental attitude, when you help others do not wish for anything good in return. Do not be a hypocrite and try to make other people see you as a Bodhisattva because of your kind words and actions. Siply wish for others’ happiness from the bottom of your heat and only consider what would be most beneficial for them. Pray again and again with these words: “Throughout all my lives, may I never harm so much as a single hair on another being’s head, and may I always help each of them.”

It is particularly important to avoid making anyone under your authority suffer, by beating them, forcing them to work too hard and so on. This applies to your servants and also to your animals, right down to the humblest watchdog. Always, under all circumstances, be kind to them in thought, word and deed. To be reborn as a servant, or as a watchdog, for that matter, and to be despised and looked down upon by everyone, is the maturation of the effects of past actions. It is the reciprocal effect of having despised and looked down on others while in a position of power in a past life. If you now despite others because of your own power and wealth, you will repay that debt in some future time by being reborn as their servants. So be especially kind to those in a lower position than yourself.

Anything you can do physically, verbally or mentally to help your own parents, or those suffering from chronic ill health, will bring inconceivable benefits. Jowo Atīsa says:

To be kind to those who have come from afar, to those who have been ill for a long time, or to our parents in their old age, is equivalent to meditating on emptiness of which compassion is the very essence.

Our parents have shown us such immense love and kindness that to upset them in their old age would be an extremely negative act. The Buddha himself, to repay his mother’s kindness, went to the Heaven of the Thirty-three to teach her the Dharma. It is said that even if we were to serve our parents by carrying them around the whole world on our shoulders, it would still not repay their kindness. However, can can repay that kindness by introducing them to the Buddha’s teaching. So always serve your parents in thought, word and deed, and try to find ways to bring them to the Dharma.


Unconditional Love

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

When we consider the student’s relationship with the teacher on this path, we are talking about very high stakes.  We are not talking about a student-teacher relationship in order to get through a six week course.  We are not talking about a student-teacher relationship with which to graduate with so many credits from college.  We are talking about a student-teacher relationship wherein the end result is the ultimate fruit or jewel, the crown of cyclic existence, that is, the potential or capacity to enter into the door of liberation and be free of suffering at last.  These are enormous stakes.

So both parties in the student-teacher relationship have to take that relationship very seriously, very seriously.  I know for a fact that the teachers regard the students with great seriousness.  Their love for the students is unconditional.  Once that student-teacher relationship has taken place, the teacher has become, for the student, Guru Rinpoche’s appearance in the world, Lord Buddha’s appearance in the world.  Once that happens, there is a love there or a bonding that cannot be undone by anything in the world.  There is nothing in the world that can take Lord Buddha’s blessing, Guru Rinpoche’s blessing out of your heart.  Nothing can do that.

Even if the students themselves were to act in a very inappropriate way, breaking the samaya bond, acting out of accordance with what the teacher has taught, even committing really negative actions like harming the teacher in some way, it is always the truth that if the student were to make restitution, were to turn their face towards Dharma again and truly wish to accomplish Dharma, and wish to separate themselves from their previous non-virtuous acts, the teacher would immediately respond to that.  There is no question.

As parents we do that with our children, don’t we?  Sometimes children will do pretty bad things, throw baseballs through windows, knock the cookie jars over, and really much worse things. So even though these acts may occur, the parent will always accept the child again.  The parent will not stop loving the child.  It may be true that there is a difficulty there, a burden, a strain, a suffering, but that is your child.  A good parent would never turn their face away from their child just because their child made a mistake.  Parents know that children are immature with very little discrimination.  They are learning, and it’s the parents’ job to teach them.  Exactly the same with the student and the teacher.

The teacher knows that students are sentient beings.  According to the Buddha’s teaching, all sentient beings are suffering.  They all wish to be happy, but they do not know how to make the causes of happiness occur.  They don’t understand cause-and-effect relationships.  So isn’t it to be expected that mistakes will be made?  Of course mistakes will be made. It’s only reasonable and logical.  So the teacher would never hold it against the student.  That relationship is like the Buddha’s compassion, all pervasive, beginningless, conditionless, without end.  That is the nature of that love.

So when we look to the student’s commitment, or samaya, to the teacher, we should look to see the same depth, the same bonding, the same beauty in that commitment as well.  And that commitment should be a joy on both parts.  Less the flavor of duty and responsibility than the flavor of love.  The love between the student and teacher is like the Buddha’s compassion.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Sweet Intention



The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Sensitive people should protect themselves, not become hard and mean. We are all sensitive at the core.

We grieve for the feel of love, and yet we all avoid love with responsibility, just live fast? Doesn’t work.

At this time, in my Sangha, people are dying, and people are popping awake. How? Who are you?

How hideous the dying part. How real the life, and joyful.

Waxing poetic here, still, this is Dharma thought. We bare joy and pain, and we can only control them with love. Dear sweet intention, Bodhicitta will save us all.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

A New Wind

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo originally tweeted on April 21, 2011:

For the last two to three days I’ve felt a change in the wind. As some of you know I have taken time off to heal. In these last days I realize I have not worked so hard at it. But I’ve been reading about people who have had similar challenges and have broken through into better balance. And they seem happy and engaged. The stories of how their lives are remind me so much of my own, and their beginnings seem to be like mine. I feel very inspired by these courageous Tribal people, yet I also feel guilty, and disappointed in myself. I see that I have been waiting for something, someone to heal and re-inspire me, unconsciously. For this I am ashamed, for I myself have allowed my mind to fall into a disempowered state. The last three to four years have been devastating and I’ve let myself down by letting them take my confidence, courage, hope. I see that I have begun to feel that I cannot help others, have no strength to do so. I have allowed fear to rule my life. And I’ve been keeping this to myself, just waiting for the cure. How ridiculous! There is healing all around. But I did not reach for it, I just let others decide if I was worth anything or not. For some reason my mind is like a mirror, I absorb what others tell/show me about myself. When with my Lineage and teacher I feel good. But around gossip and hurt, negativity, being put down constantly by ordinary view – it just knocks me to the ground.

I have, as you know, also been greatly concerned with the condition of our Earth Mother, and the rampant poisoning of her precious body. So I call out night and day for her relief from suffering, and for all her children. But have not done one thing to help myself. Therefore I’ve let not only myself, but all creation down. I am deeply ashamed. I am working now to see what can be done for me.

Since my guru Kyabje His Holiness Penor Rinpoche found and recognized me, and well before, I saw how much people were suffering, mostly spiritually. So even as a teenager I tried to help others. And others were drawn naturally to come to me. After the recognition I understood why and took off with my feet already running. That was, sadly late in life, I was a mother, etc, so I could not just run off to India, although I did go to be taught, and many teachers have come to teach me Buddha Dharma. I never learned how to nurture myself. So when others knock me down I have a hard time getting back up. Maybe because of my ugly childhood, but I only blame myself.

I worry about others, and must help in my intended way. I am seeing that we are connected to Earth and it matters very much that we take care of ourselves and each other. We think the Japanese radiation is ruining Earth or maybe pollution, so many things are happening. But here is the truth: we live in and on the Earth, our Mother and the Earth also lives within us! As do the Sun, Moon, Stars, all elements! We live within each other, and are one human family. So how can Japan’s problems happen? War? Pollution? Because we feel separate from it all and each other. We even become separated from our own minds and hearts. A shame we were taught badly by teachers with nothing but ordinary view, but we have. Thus we must seek connection, wisdom and truth. I’m going to use what I have been given, and seek more. I must lead myself out of this sorrow, and keep on learning and growing. Oh, true, I’ve built the Temple, a bunch of powerful Stupas, taught a lot. But I’m not dead yet, so I cannot let fear rule. It is compassion, responsibility, connection I must go to, to pacify this hard time. How? I don’t know yet. But there is a change in the wind, I feel it, hear it, smell it and feel I can trust it. Come with me, we all need to learn, search, pray, and love. Because a new wind is coming. And I feel it. Kye HO!



Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Precious Gifts

The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

I like reading my followers and meeting many kind hearted people out there. It nourishes me , too, that connection. I feel the love. So I come bearing gifts of compassion, community, and Dharma.


I feel the ripple of union with you all and thank you for your friendship. If I can help you that’s the best. Or you can help me, even that, but I’d rather it were you. Plus, since we are one, it’s got to be that way. That’s the way it is.

Silly beach talk from me to you. Although you already had it, and it was born and accomplished. I love you.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

We the People

The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Tons of people partying now, paying crazy prices for the Superbowl.
The poor and hungry are still hungry. The homeless have no homes.

I feel ashamed. So much money to entertain the “haves.” While the poor weep, we mindlessly party. Chips? Pizza? Not food groups. Hunger needs real food.

Does USA still have a heart? I can’t tell. But I see the eyes of the poor, hungry, cold and they haunt me. Where is the love?

It is hard to celebrate America’s games while so many are in dire need. Are we celebrating the great divide? Some get seats, others not! When did American values get turned upside down? Wait. I remember. Not worth blaming. Only worth fixing.

Anyway, I once wrote songs about the truth.

So we feed and clothe the poor and sing our songs, desperately praying for relief. For their sake –  we the people.

© copyright Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved.

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