Stopping the Merry-Go-Round

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Antidoting the Mantra of Samsara”

Now, during this practice, with our whole body we’re purifying body karma arising from the non-virtuous activity that we have engaged in since time out of mind, when instead of going for refuge, we went for ice cream.  So instead, now we are actually using our body, speech and mind—using the body by making prostrations, using the speech by reciting, and using the mind by remaining absorbed and visualizing.  Now we are training in the same way that a body builder trains a muscle. He develops and trains that muscle by pumping it and working it and working it.  Now we are working to sharpen our focus, not to be simply reactive and discursive the way we are in samsara going towards meaningless goals with no distinction whatsoever.  I mean, we’ll follow anything!

Instead of going for meaningless goals that have no meaning whatsoever, instead now we are training body, speech, and mind to be single-pointed for the first time.  This is pretty amazing!  I mean, think about it.  For the first time, single-pointed.  I take refuge in the Buddha, in the Dharma and the Sangha.  And if you do it with your body, speech and mind, the potency of reciting that 100,000 times is extraordinary!  Simply extraordinary!  I mean, completing 100,000 repetitions of the refuge mantra and prostrations is an extraordinarily life-changing experience.  It’s like stopping the merry-go-round for a minute. If you were born on a merry-go-round and your movement was invisible, and then suddenly you stopped, don’t you think that something inside of you would go, “Whoa! Whoa!  Whoa!  What’s this?  This is new!”  And that would be the beginning of a new kind of experience.  And it takes the weight of that kind of practice to make that happen.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Four fold Prayer for Motherly Sentient Beings Equal to Space

The following prayer is from the Nam Cho Ngondro, The Great Perfection Buddha in the Palm of Hand

MA NAM KHA DANG NYAM PA’I SEM CHEN THAM CHED

I pray that all motherly sentient beings, countless as space,

LAMA SANGYE CHÖ KYI KU LA SÖL WA DEB SO

May realize the Guru’s Dharmakaya Buddha Body.

MA NAM KHA DANG NYAM PA’I SEM CHEN THAM CHED

I pray that all motherly sentient beings, countless as space,

LAMA DE CHEN LONG CHÖD DZOG PA’I KU LA SÖL

WA DEB SO

May realize the Guru’s Great Bliss Sambhogakaya Body.

MA NAM KHA DANG NYAM PA’I SEM CHEN THAM CHED

I pray that all motherly sentient beings, countless as space,

LAMA THUG JE TRUL PA’I KU LA SÖL WA DEB SO

May realize the Guru’s Great Bliss Nirmanakaya Body

MA NAM KHA DANG NYAM PA’I SEM CHEN THAM CHED

I pray that all motherly sentient beings, countless as space,

Daily Offerings

An excerpt from the Mindfulness workshop given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo in 1999

I’d like to talk about mindfulness in practice of making offerings.  As you know, when you do your preliminary practice of Ngondro, at some point you accumulate 100,000 repetitions of mandala offerings.  That’s a fairly elaborate practice where you sit down and you work with the mandala set and you make the mounds and you have a very extensive visualization.  So is that where your offering practice stops?  Do you make your offerings to the deities and then walk away from your practice and not be involved in your practice anymore?  No, of course not.

In order to practice truly and more deeply, what we have to do is remain mindful of the practice constantly.  Remember that we are trying to antidote ego clinging.  We’re trying to antidote the belief in self-nature as being inherently real.  We are trying to antidote the desire, the hope and the fear that results from that identification of self-nature as being inherently real and other as being separate.  Remember that this is the point of what we’re doing.  So if we were to practice accumulating mandala offerings, or make offerings at a temple and then have that practice end and no longer be a part of our lives, we wouldn’t be applying that antidote very well — at least not as well as we might.

How would it be possible for us to avoid this ego clinging?  How would it be possible to avoid simply reinforcing samsara’s unfortunate message when we go around and simply enjoy ourselves?  Remember that it is a worthy thing to notice, when you perceive something like a house or a tree or a flower, how automatic your reaction and response to that is.   How is this flower going to affect me?  This flower, this tree, how is it going to be meaningful if it doesn’t affect me?  That is its meaning: it affects me.  That is how we think.  The practice that I’m suggesting is something that you can do without ever sitting down and meditating, so for those of you that have no time, this is a great practice.

When we’re doing anything, no matter what it is, we see appearances.  Images come to us.  They are sometimes very favorable, sometimes very beautiful, sometimes wonderful, and we enjoy them, and sometimes not.  When we enjoy them, we enjoy them by clinging, by taking that experience, in a sense, and holding onto it, grabbing it.  We’re grasping that experience.  That tree is only relevant because I see it.  Out of sight, out of mind.  When the tree is out of my sight, it no longer exists.  We think like that.  My suggestion is that rather than just doing your practice when you’re sitting down, why not be mindful constantly? When you see the appearance of any phenomenon, when you see any kind of beautiful thing — like for instance when you look outside and you see how lovely it is out there, how gorgeous it is, the trees and the flowers and the sweetness of the air — how can you not let that beauty simply reinforce our clinging to ego, that clinging to identity?

One way to do that is to develop an automatic habit, and again, those habits start small and end up big.  We start at the beginning, and we simply increase.  Develop the habit of offering everything that you see. You think, “Huh?  How can I offer it if it’s not mine?”  Well, that’s not the point.  Whether it’s yours or not, your senses will grab it as yours.  You will react to it, you will respond to it, you will judge it, and so it becomes, in a way, your thing.  You collect it.  When you see something, you collect it, and you hold onto it.  The experience is what you take away.  Maybe we can’t take away the tree, but that doesn’t mean anything because we’ve taken away our experience of the tree.  It has become ours, and it reinforces that delusion of self and other.  Instead of doing that, isn’t it possible upon seeing something beautiful, upon taking a walk, having a good feeling, accomplishing something wonderful, seeing beautiful things, having meaningful relationships with other people, any kind of pleasure that is part of your life, that it can be offered?  It can be thought of in a different way.

For instance, if I were to walk down the street and see a field of flowers, but didn’t know about any of these teachings of the Dharma, then maybe I might pick some of the flowers think that’s a meaningful experience because I feel good about it; I’m really happy with that.  The only reason these flowers have become meaningful is because they’ve affected me in a certain way, and it continues the delusion.  Having heard about Dharma, we have another option.  When we see and enjoy a whole field of flowers, we can visualize in a very simple way, making it an offering to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas.  Instead of that automatic clinging to this image and trying to take it with us, trying to make it part of us, there can be an instant habit that we form of offering this to all the Buddhas.  “This field of flowers is so wonderful.  I love it so much.”

If we work on it, instead of clinging to it in some subtle way, our automatic habit can be to offer it to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas.  Take any good taste, for instance, a good flavor in your mouth; a lot of times when we have a pleasurable experience like good food or good taste you may have noticed that ultimately it’s not so good.  The food turns into…well, you know what it turns into, doo-doo. The experience does us no good because when we were tasting it, we were clinging to it.  That’s mine.  You see?  I’m tasting it.  It’s in my taste buds.  It’s that relationship between my taste buds and that food that’s really important: we’re stuck in that delusion.  We’re stuck in that dream.

Suppose we were able, instead, to develop the habit that when we eat something we are practicing as well by automatically offering the flavor and the taste of that to the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas?  Then you’re not grabbing onto it, you’re not making it your experience.  Offering it, you’re not reinforcing that dynamic of self and other, but rather when you taste, you’re just simply offering it.  You can learn to do it very quickly.  When you first start, it’s a little bit cumbersome because you take a bite of food, and you say, “Okay, I offer this to the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas.”  You take another bite of food, saying, “I offer this to the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas.”  At first, it may seem a little dry and uncomfortable, but there’s an inner posture that can be developed that’s an automatic response, as automatic as deciding whether or not you like that taste.  As the taste hits you, the experience of that can be just offering it to the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas.  It can be so immediate that no words are required.  At that point, you’ve developed the habit of making this constant, constant, constant offering.

As parents, when we bond with our children and hold our children and have that wonderful, pleasurable experience of cuddling our kids and feeling wonderful, as ordinary human beings we think, “Oh, this is my child.  This is the extension of my ego.  I made that.  I made an egg, and look what happened.”  So we have very great pride about that, and our family becomes an extension of our ego, an extension of what we call ourselves.  What if were able to offer that as well?  As we hold our beloved children, as we feel that feeling, rather than putting another star in our own crown and thinking, “Oh, yeah, this is my kid and I’m holding her now” – what if we could offer that feeling? What if we could even offer the connection, the incredible, powerful connection between mother and child?  That, too, can be offered to the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas.   When you offer something to the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas, it’s not as though it disappears.  It’s not as though the feeling disappears once you offer that feeling of loving your child to the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas, and suddenly you don’t love your kid anymore.  It’s not like that.  Anything that we offer, really in some magical way becomes multiplied.  It becomes even more than it originally could have been.  In not using what we see with our five senses as a way to practice more self-absorption, but instead using what we see with the five senses as a way to accomplish some kind of Recognition, this is a very powerful practice and a very excellent, excellent adornment for the sit-down practice that we do.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Purifying One’s Intention

An excerpt from the Mindfulness workshop given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo in 1999

Another aspect of our Ngöndro practice is purification, the prayers to Vajrasattva. How would it be if we were to sit for maybe an hour and practice the purification and confession of Vajrasattva and accumulate the mantra and then just put our books aside and consider it’s over?  That’s it.  I confessed.  I said all the prayers, the short ones and the long ones, short confession, long confession.  Remember, if you practice like that, you never have to revisit it again.  It’s a lazy, cop-out way to practice.

Instead, we should think, “I’m deeply involved in the practice of purification and confession which does not stop at the end of my practice.”  There are so many ways to practice that kind of purification: by being mindful, by making offerings in the way that I’ve described, by moving into a state of better recognition about what is precious and what is ordinary, and ultimately moving into the state of Recognition of the nature of all phenomena.  Automatically one is constantly purifying the senses, constantly purifying one’s intention, which is the very thing that needs purifying even more than everything else.  If we practice in that way as we’re walking around, it complements any confessional prayers that we make.

In most of the confessional prayers, if you really read the meaning and content of the prayers, there is talk about broken samaya in the confessional prayers.  Nobody really knows what that means.  Does that mean you didn’t do your mantra today?  Well, maybe on one level it means that, but on a deeper level, it is referring to the state of non-recognition.  So in everything that we do, if we continually make offerings, as we continually give rise to a deeper Recognition, then the five senses are being purified constantly. The habit that I’m suggesting you develop will antidote the automatic reaction that is so natural for us, so habitual.   Remember, we can insert this way of thinking or this way of practicing because we are human.

I really like animals, but one thing I’ve noticed about animals, even if they are trainable and very smart, they cannot change or alter the way they perceive their environment.  They can’t do that.  The dog can’t say, “Wait a minute, before I lift that leg, let’s think about the nature of that fire hydrant.”  The dog is not capable of this.  You are.  That is one of the great blessings of being a human being, and yet the habits that we tend to cultivate are the habits that you don’t even need to be a human being to do: that habit of automatically reacting, not taking oneself in hand, not creating any kind of space or a moment where we can Recognize the nature of reality, not making any offerings.  We tend to just automatically move through life like an automaton, like a robot.

However, being human, we can develop a little bit of space in our minds to antidote that constant clinging and reactivity, and yet we’re all about collecting things.  Well, you know, crows collect things.  We’re all about having relationships.  Well, even animals can bond for life.  We’re all about having children.  Well, dogs and cats do that, too.  Isn’t it wonderful that here in Dharma practice, if we choose to, if we practice sincerely, we can do that which only humans can do?  How amazing!

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Our Guide in Difficult Times

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Ngundro, or preliminary practice consists of several parts:

  • Refuge, or entering the gate of protection of the “three precious ones” – the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
  • Bodhicitta, the practice of the six perfections and the generation of the aspiration to realize Enlightenment.
  • The offering of the Mandala, the accumulation of merit through skill.
  • Vajrasattva, the purification of obscurations through wisdom.
  • And Guru Yoga, receiving the blessings through which one can attain enlightenment in a single lifetime.

Nothing is more precious than this. Even a cache of jewels, a palatial home, a beautiful and healthy body, nothing is more precious than Guru Yoga, the means to awaken. I have always been taught this: that in these deteriorating times Guru Yoga is the swiftest and most powerful method as it is so easy to be distracted, make mistakes, forget to be mindful. Our Spiritual Guide is the method to keep our path as straight as an arrow and as powerful as the mightiest sword. One should always keep samaya with the Tsawei Lama, even at the cost of one’s very life. If one cannot do even that, even after the precious Dharma has been offered, there is absolutely no way to accomplish the path.

One should remain within their Lineage as well, as there is the certainty of receiving pure unstained empowerment. If we cannot do even that, we are in delusion and ignorance. The fruit of Enlightenment will not come to your mouth. Body, speech and mind, the three doors will be corrupted. Speech will be ordinary, and without any benefit or virtue.

This teaching is a combination of Kyabje His His Penor Rinpoche and my humble self. Forgive me, Guru Padma for any mistakes, and for my presumption. Lama Kyen No! To the lotus feet of the Guru I make extensive offerings! Happy Losar to all! Kye HO!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Offer It Up


An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo from The Spiritual Path

We never lose sight of how we feel. We are always monitoring ourselves. We want to feel free of suffering, free of stress. Sentient beings strive endlessly to be happy, so it is very difficult to achieve a sustained, sincere practice of generosity. Think what you have done over the last 24 hours. Work? Practice? Television? Family time? Social obligations? Was your first and foremost thought to benefit sentient beings? Or were you doing things to strengthen your ego in some way, to make you feel better? Mostly the latter, I think. Even our Dharma activity is often done to make us feel better about ourselves—to make us feel busy, wanted, necessary, energetic. Or, perhaps, spiritual, holy, and pure. We always have our selfish purposes, so it is difficult to be generous.

How should one be generous? How should we think about generosity? To begin with, we should not consider phenomena something we can have or not have, something that attracts or repels us. We should view all phenomena as a pure celestial offering that we can actually make to the Three Precious Jewels. We should view our entire world as an exquisite, vast celestial mandala. We should think of phenomena as Mt. Meru, surrounded by its beautiful continents. We should think of all sights, smells, sounds, sensations as precious jewels that we offer to the Three Precious Jewels themselves. It is a more profound version of what we do in our Ngöndro as mandala offering. The deepest way to engage in the practice of generosity is to offer one’s environment continually. But how many of us do that?

Think, for instance, about the way we react to food. We eat food with desire. We taste it with lust, more lust than we think. Shopping for food, we want the best apples, don’t we? The purest, the finest. We want the best carrot cake, the best vegetables. We even lust after color. Our eyes, our feelings are drawn to it. We think we look good or bad in a certain color. We perceive color with attraction or repulsion. All our senses function like that. Actually, generosity should be practiced in such a way that we offer the very senses that we have. But do we offer our taste? Our hearing? Well, we might say that. But we can’t wait for the next sound, the next taste. We cling to our existence as a sentient being, a feeling being.  We long for the next touch, the next sight. When you go for a walk, what do you do? You look at the flowers and trees. You sniff the air, smelling everything. The senses are yours. And you have no idea of offering, no intention of offering them to the Three Precious Jewels. And yet, that would be true generosity.

What is the basis of that generosity? How can such an offering be of benefit? You may think: “If the Buddha wanted my taste, my sight, my hearing, my touch, he’d get his own! A truly enlightened being can manifest all kinds of incredible siddhis, or powers. So why do I have to offer this phenomenal existence to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas?”

Well, why do you have to do that? There’s a real logic behind it. How long are you going to have your senses? You’re going to have sight until your eyes go. Even if your eyes last until the end of your life, they will die when your head dies. You will only have touch as long as you have skin to touch with. Your perceptual experiences will not outlast your body. So what are you holding on to? The traditional teaching says that at the time of death, we cannot take with us so much as a sesame seed. You take only your cause-and-effect relationships and habitual tendencies. So if you have clung to your experiences, establishing your particular neuroses at every moment, that is what you will continue to do in the bardo. If it has been your habit to look for approval and to gather things, situations, people around you for that purpose, you will not be able to take any of that into the bardo. All you will have is the habit of that longing, that desire—and the karma you have engendered from reacting to that need.

How much better to practice generosity—to offer your five senses and all phenomenal existence to the Three Precious Jewels. Why? You create a stream of merit. Offering is one of the major ways to accumulate merit, and that merit can be dedicated to benefit sentient beings. In fact, you can visualize yourself and all sentient beings offering the five senses, offering consciousness itself as we know it. You can think of all sentient beings gathered together with you making offerings of the three thousand myriads of universes purified into a precious jeweled mandala.

What is the value of such an offering? It cuts to the bone. It is so profound that it transforms the entire perceptual process. This deep level of offering pacifies our habit of clinging to cyclic existence. It purifies our self-absorption and selfishness, and we can offer the merit to the countless beings who are themselves constantly involved in selfishness and self-absorption, unaware that they can make any offering at all.

Unfortunately, we are afraid. If we offer something, the Buddha might take us up on it. If I offer the experience of being the mother of my beautiful daughter, maybe they’ll take her away. If I offer all my clothing to the Three Precious Jewels, they might take that away. We fear that something will be lost to us. But you can see that this is a product of our delusion. Our experience of phenomena depends entirely upon karma. As our karma becomes more purified, more virtuous, as our minds become more spacious, more relaxed—our experience can only be better. Suffering only happens due to clinging and desire. In our delusion, we continue to lust after experience, and that lust continues to cause our suffering.

The practice of generosity is an antidote to all that. There is literally nothing to hold on to and no one to do the holding.    Everything you have ever experienced—all you will ever experience—is the result of the condition of your mind. Why not then practice this deep level of generosity? Why not view phenomenal existence for what it is? You will in the end, anyway. You’ll see it disappear before your eyes. At the time of your death, you will see the elements disappear, dissolve. Whether or not you will recognize what is happening is another story. (You may merely pass into unawareness, and that would be for one reason only: you lived in unawareness.)

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

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

 

The Importance of Faith

Gyaltrul Rinpoche

The following is respectfully quoted from “Great Perfection: Buddha in the Palm of the Hand” commentary by Gyaltrul Rinpoche:

Faith cannot be forced in the disciple’s mind. You must understand the qualities of the objects of your faith; only then is there a ground for faith. Because these are difficult times, if a disciple has true, firm faith that isn’t wishy-washy but is based on a true wish to practice on the path, and if a teacher at least possesses impartial compassion, then these two make a suitable connection–the faithful disciple and the compassionate teacher–and it is appropriate to nurture that connection and practice on the path.

Obviously, these are not all of the qualities mentioned above, but it is very difficult if not impossible, in these degenerate times, for both lama and disciple to have all the qualifications and to come together at the same time. What is obvious and true for you now is what you call your “luck,” which is actually the force of good karma accumulated in the past; you only call it “luck” because you know nothing about it. It’s just an accumulation that you’ve unknowingly made.

Look at your present situation and compare yourself with millions of people in this and other countries who have no time for any kind of spiritual pursuit. This karma you have is really quite strong because it’s remarkably natural and easy for you–at least for these Nam Cho transmissions. Sofr these particular transmissions there’s a great amount of karma that we’re all a part of, and a great amount since the Nam Cho revelations are teachings of the ninth vehicle, the peak of the path, the atiyoga transmissions, you should rejoice in having this kind of natural, spontaneously arising karma to make these kinds of connections.

Padmasambhava said, “My dharma of the secret mantra is extremely dangerous, like taking a wish-fulfilling jewel off the head of a poisonous snake.” If you’re able to get the wish-fulfilling jewel it has the power to fulfill all your wishes. But you risk your life trying to get it. Padmasambhava gave this analogy for the path of secret mantra, and it pertains especially to the path of terma revelations. There is also the analogy of the snake in the bamboo shaft with only two directions to go: up or down. If you keep samaya and practice well, you go straight up and experience very swift results. If you don’t keep samaya and don’t practice, then just as good results are swift, so are negative ones.

To be a suitable disciple, the main quality you need is faith. It doesn’t matter which dharma you’re receiving–Kagyu, Nyingma, Sakya, Gelugpa; hinayana, mahayana–you don’t even need to be smart. You just need faith.

The Accomplishment of the Teacher

Guru Rinpoche Face

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 Ngӧndro book, the prayers are achingly beautiful. The tune, Lama Khyen No, that beautiful tun, 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, 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.

And yet we are given this method and it should cause us some benefit. Why? Why is that? Because we are, again, opening the eyes of recognition. What is it Lord Buddha said when he was asked how 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—between that 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 in our own particular, you know, the noises in our head and everything. We get lost in that. We can use the guru as our centering back to that. 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.

And so the lama gives us not only a way to have single-pointed concentration, but the lama also offers their own accomplishment. When one practices the Guru Yoga really deeply, whether it be the Guru Yoga in Ngӧndro or Shower of Blessings, or in any of the pujas that have Guru Rinpoche as the main focal point or Guru Rinpoche and consort as the main focal point, we should think thatthis is the way to practice Guru Yoga. And in each one of those practices, whichever it is, we understand non-dual nature. That’s what we’re working on. We see the arising from the nature of emptiness appearing in a real, but insubstantial, gossamer-like light form, first as the seed syllable and then as the guru.

We are telling ourselves our own story, because it is we also who have arisen from emptiness. It is our nature that is indeed also the seed syllable, and ultimately we are the same nature as the guru. And by the power of the guru’s accomplishment, through their many lifetimes of amazing practice, many lifetimes of looking out after sentient beings and accomplishing the needs of sentient beings and liberating sentient beings, they offer that. They offer themselves and their accomplishment in that way to be the very door to liberation. And so we should think of our teachers in that way: that we are in a burning house and there’s no other way to get out except that one door. Boy, would you ever be devoted to that door. That door would be on your mind. If your house were burning, and there were no other way to get out, wouldn’t it? That door would be…  And that’s how we should think. We should think that here we are in samsara; this is indeed the time of Kaliyuga. We have, at best, as many habitual tendencies guaranteed to bring us suffering as we do to bring us happiness. At best. 50/50, and that is so not usual. We tend to make ourselves more unhappy than we do happy. So we are in this burning house and we look to the teacher to provide the door to liberation.

So when we give rise to that devotion, it’s not to the person guru. It’s not to that person. So it doesn’t matter if you like what they’re wearing or how they smell or what they look like, or how they walk or anything like that. It doesn’t matter. That’s just the stuff you do in regular life. So you can just sweep it over. Instead you think, ‘This one has appeared and will appear throughout time out of mind until all suffering has ended, until samsara is emptied, as the door to liberation. What kind of dope am I that I wouldn’t walk through it?’  It’s that kind of fervent regard. Think of it that way. More than like/dislike, that kind of judgment, but rather fervent regard. And we rely on the accomplishment of our teachers.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

Calling the Lama From Afar

Guru Padmasambhava

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Experiencing the Hook of Compassion”

In our tradition, in preliminary practice, we practice this “Calling the Lama from Afar,” and it’s a haunting practice. It will bring tears to one’s eyes if one practices it with a full heart and really does one’s best. When that begins to happen, there is a change in the student. There is truly a change. Often that is when the lama, the teacher, first begins to notice the student. That is when the lama takes an awareness of the student. That is when the student comes into the lama’s mind and the lama comes into the student’s mind. That is when this tremendous bridge, this perfect bridge, is formed that is everything, really everything, on the Path. Without it there is only dressing up in Dharma clothing like a peacock, you know. There is nothing without that. So that is necessary.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

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