The following is a photo of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche offering Empowerment to Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:
The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Khenpo Tenzin Norgay given at Kunzang Palyul Choling called “The Six Paramitas”
We are always concerned about our mind. We have the body, speech and mind, and according to our Buddhist teachings, we say that our mind is more powerful than our body and speech. It is the main controller. Once we have our mind controlled, then our body becomes naturally controlled, and then our speech is also perfected. So that’s why, instead of making our body perfect, what we are doing is making our mind perfect.
The mind is given more importance in our teachings. According to our teachings, our mind can create a physical object, not the other way around—a physical object creating our mind. So this is one of the main teachings. If we are able to understand that, then the law of karma, or incarnation, can be better understood.
So here, when we say our mind can create physical objects or all these projections—it is in the Abhidharma teachings—we are talking about how we have three realms of existence: the formless realm, the form realm and the desire realm. Even in the Sutrayana teachings, when talking about, the formation of these three realms or cyclic existence, like when earth or some physical formation is there, it’s saying that it starts from below and then goes upward—having this sphere and space and the sphere of water and all gradually stacking upward. Then when talking about the formation of the beings abiding there, the inhabitants, it’s talking about stepping downward. First we can say we have this formless realm where there is only consciousness. The person born in the formless realm is, in one way of saying, less distracted and has a great degree of meditation but without Vipassana or Right View. If we don’t have Right View, then when our meditational power becomes exhausted, we can be born in the form realm. In the form realm, our teachings say, there is no physical body of flesh and bones, but not exactly the rainbow-like body. So there is sort of like a physical body there which is not really made of flesh and bones. But it’s saying because of our attachment to the physical form, there is some solid form of physical appearances in the form realm. When this becomes stronger, we call it the desire realm. So that’s where we are, in this desire realm. And here, our desire to objects is stronger, so we have this flesh and bones and this brain.
What I’m trying to say is our mind can exist freely without relying upon the chemicals in our brain. If it were just a chemical process, then once the brain died, everything would be dead. So it seems this is not our teaching. Our teaching is that our mind creates the brain, not the brain creates our mind.
The Seven Branch Offering
The following commentary was extracted from a teaching given by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche at Kunzang Palyul Choling in 2001 on the occasion of offering the Bodhisattva Vow. To see the verses of the ceremony for the Bodhisattva Vow to which His Holiness was referring you can click here.
The Vajrayana path includes many methods and is without great hardships. It is intended for those with sharp faculties. If we constantly train ourselves to accumulate merit and wisdom with a strong mind, everything that would otherwise take a whole great kalpa to accumulate through the six paramitas can be accomplished in an instant, and liberation can be attained in a single lifetime.
There can be no doubt that the single most excellent, secret and insurpassable field of merit is the vajra master. This is why the practice of accumulating merit is combined with the Guru Yoga. The seven parts of the Offering of the Seven Branches include all the innumerable methods for accumulation of merit and wisdom.
The branch of prostrations is a remedy for arrogance. Sometimes we have arrogance; we feel we are more qualified then the masters and teachers. So, this is a remedy to remove the arrogance.
After the prostrations to the Buddhas, bodhisattvas and all disciples, you now have to make offerings to them.. Imagine all the things in the universe as an offering, which is a very good offering. All the offerings will be the sacred flowers and the sacred garlands and musical instruments, perfumes, superior parasols, superior butter lamps, superior incense. All these things will be the offering. Just imagine you are offering them. So, this is the offering. This is the remedy for attachment to our belongings.
Now comes purification of negative actions. We have to purify the negative actions by thinking negative actions are like poisons that are inside your stomach. Also, you make a commitment that you will not do those mistakes or bad negative actions again. Also, you think that in order to purify all the negative actions that are in this world that are done by other sentient beings, I am doing these purification prayers. This is the remedy for removing anger.
We have to rejoice in the accumulations of merits done by other beings. This is the antidote for jealousy. Sometimes we feel jealous of other beings that practice. In order to remove the jealousy, we have to rejoice in whatever practice they are doing. This is the remedy for that action.
Requesting Enlightened Beings to Teach:
The next stanza is requesting the enlightened beings to teach. We request them to teach because sometimes when they come here for the purpose of teachings, they feel kind of upset when they find the bad reactions of the people. So they feel upset and don’t want to teach. So we have to request them to teach. That is how we are requesting it.
This is the remedy for ignorance, thinking the teaching is nothing, thinking the teaching will not have any result. This chanting will remove the ignorance.
Enlightenment depends on the understanding of the teachings. Without teachings, there is no way of getting enlightened. But some people, those who don’t know, who aren’t in favor of the teachings, then they don’t really see the teaching as worthwhile. They criticize the teachings and those who do the teaching.
Requesting Enlightened Beings to Remain:
The reason why enlightened beings pass away is that they want to show human beings that enlightened beings are very real and they don’t last long if we are not very careful. So, we have to request them to remain as long as possible to turn the Wheel of the Dharma. This is the request to remain with a long life.
This is the remedy of wrong view of Buddhas. Some people think the Buddha is nothing, just a liar. So, they have a lot of wrong views of Buddhas. This way of chanting will remove the wrong view of Buddha.
The last one is a short form of all the seven branches of practice. It’s an offering. This is the dedication of the merit that you have accumulated. You have to dedicate all the merit accumulated by other beings to other beings. In order to get enlightened you have to dedicate the merit.
This is the remedy for doubt. Sometimes we have doubt whether it is true or not. This way of chanting will remove or clarify our doubt.
The following is an excerpt from a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche on “Meditation” reprinted with permission from Palyul Ling International:
And there are many, many beings that don’t know much about Buddha or Enlightenment or the Dharma teachings or liberation. They really don’t have any idea of such things. Even with all the explanations we could find in these Dharma teachings, and even though so many lamas and other qualified teachers give these teachings, still one might think that these teachings are just myths. And so you can’t truly accept them or believe in the absolute reality.
Everything is based on what is called the Law of Karma which is the actions that we do, the causes and conditions we create ourselves. Furthermore there is a Law of Karma which is known as the Collective Karma, the actions, causes and conditions we create together. There is no way we can change ourselves other than understanding Karma. Moreover, when one cannot understand all these deeper things, then one thinks that these things do not really exist.
When the lamas and the many other qualified teachers¹ teach on the sufferings of Samsara, of course it is not really nice to hear and then one feels like, “I don´t want to hear these kinds of teachings.” Certain people when lama gives these teachings on suffering even say, “I’m not interested to listen about the sufferings of Samsara. This lama doesn’t seem like he can give out good teachings!” These people prefer to just express their own ideas.
However, when taught by a qualified lama, it is indeed the Dharma, the truth. These teachings about the nature of Samsara and the reality of the faults of Samsara have been taught by all the Enlightened Beings such as Shakyamuni Buddha. The Enlightened Beings, the Buddhas, all gave these teachings because if we could just understand the nature of Samsara, we could then move on to the actual practices through which we could purify our obscurations. We could have the ultimate realization through which we achieve peace and happiness, and through that we could manifest ourselves to benefit all other sentient beings in Samsara. For that purpose Buddha gave all these teachings. It is not that Buddha wanted to be famous and so gave these teachings, nor was the Buddha showing off his skills in teaching, nor was he explaining things to us so that we would become frightened. These teachings are mainly about how all sentient beings can believe and act to attain complete Enlightenment, to liberate themselves from the sufferings of Samsara. So you see, Buddha gave these teachings with great compassion.
Take the example of a having a nightmare. Within such dreams, no matter what you do, you still cannot escape the scary feeling of a nightmare until you wake up. At the same moment, someone who is awake and watching beside the bed, can see that you are having a dream. We can understand something of the nature of Samsara from this dream example. While we are in Samsara experiencing all different kinds of sufferings, it is exactly like somebody who is having a nightmare.
The following is an excerpt from a teaching given by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche at Kunzang Palyul Choling on Bodhicitta:
We start first with the special method that will turn one’s mind towards the Dharma. In that method, we have to understand that wherever we are born in the world, in this universe, there will not be much happiness. There is hot and cold suffering in the hell realms, and the hungry ghosts have the suffering of hunger and thirst. The animals have the suffering of killing each other. The human beings have a short lifespan, and within that short life, there is a lot of suffering. Even those god beings in the god realms have a very good life there, but because of their carelessness, they are just spending and wasting their lives with happiness. The sentient beings in this world have their own sufferings. It is important, the Buddha said, for you to understand that wherever you are born, there is no happiness. There is suffering.
When you understand that, then in order to remove the suffering, you need to have diligence to remove the suffering, like the diligence you do when your hair is burning, when your dress is burning. During that time, you will put all your efforts toward removing the fire. Similarly, once we have understood the suffering of samsara, of the world, then we have to really put some kind of diligence toward removing the suffering of samsara. Then if our hair is on fire and our dress is on fire, then we will not really remain peaceful. We will definitely do something. So, similarly, once we understand the suffering nature of samsara, we will not waste our time.
From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo while at Palyul Ling Retreat Center in Upstate New York:
To the victorious Guru Karma Kuchen I pray – for the sake of beings in these degenerate times, ascend the Lion Throne of Palyul fully endowed with every strength and virtue! May we who long for your blessing be satisfied!
In previous times you came to us as Karma Tashi to clear our ignorance, our attachment to ordinary confused appearance!
You again sat on the glorious Palyul throne to grant us the awakening to Primordial Buddha nature as the great display Karma Gyurmed, the dance of suchness, as it is!
Then you returned as Karma Tegchog Nyingpo, also known as Tsawei Lama by the peerless Guru, the Third Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche.
You now have come again as Karma Kuchen, pure and stainless. Kye ho! Such are the many miracles of your display for the sake of beings. Now please abide steadfast upon the Lotus Throne of my heart. Rise this very moment, clear all obstacles to mighty Palyul, banish the enemies of the Heart Essence Nectar given to us by the second Buddha Padmasambava through the child Terton Migure Dorje. Restore us all to original purity, clear recognition and perfect virtue!
May Palyul remain as the great unbroken refuge it is in the world now. Please establish the work of your predecessors and that of our Guru. Protect with mighty vigor the insurmountable accomplishment of our Guru Kyabje Pema Norbu, may nothing be wasted, and may all beings benefit! Live long! Strengthen the Throne of Palyul and remain in perfect health! Show your holy face as we hunger and thirst; and we need you now more than ever, in these darkening times we need your light, the sun of Palyul, Guru within my heart, grant your blessings!
Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo. All rights reserved
Jetsunma Ahkham Lhamo was an emanation in human form of Arya Tara, the holy mother of all the Buddhas. She was born in the province of Do Kham, in Ah Chog Drolhey village in the Bubor Mountains of the Palyul region of Tibet. This place has all ten positive auspicious signs present. Her father, Dorje, came from the highly revered family heritage of Mutshaga, and her mother was a wisdom Dakini named Gurutso. She was born around the later part of the eleventh Rabjung (according to the Tibetan Calendar), which corresponds to the later half of the seventeenth Century A.D. She was the youngest sister of Rigzin Kunzang Sherab.
She started her education with reading and writing at an early age, and she learned without much effort. Together with Rigzin Kunzang Sherab, she received many teachings from Terton Migyur Dorje and Khedrup Karma Chagmed, who was the emanation of (Lotsawa) Chogro Lhuyi Gyaltsen, as well as teachings from many other scholars and accomplished masters. With them, she perfected her study and practice of both Sutras and Tantras beyond any doubt. She entered with perseverance into single-pointed practice at various undisclosed places, and many meditational deities appeared to her and gave instructions to her. Through her practice she purified all illusory phenomena into primordial non-conceptual pure awareness, and became a ruler of the realm of Kuntuzangpo.
She lived on the mountain ridge towards the east of Palyul Namgyal Changchub Chöling (Palyul Monastery) and unceasingly turned the wheel of Dharma to a large community of Ani disciples, gradually turning that place into an expansive Ani Gonpa. Thus the location was called JOGONGDONG (nunnery on the ridge) and because of the huge numbers of nuns with red robes, that whole area has been called DRONGMAR TENG (red knoll village) ever since that time. In short, through turning both wheels of Dharma – both teaching and practicing – Jetsunma trained numerous students, not only as Buddhist scholars but many of them became highly realized practitioners.
When she saw that her activities to benefit the doctrine and her students had reached the limits of this lifetime, she passed into the peaceful Dharmata. While her holy body was being cremated, her skull flew over and landed on top of the throne of Rigzin Kunzang Sherab in the place where he used to give Dharma teachings. Since that time, that place has been used as a sacred cemetery and to this day, all the revered Lamas of Palyul Monastery have been cremated there.
Additionally, her skull has been used as THOEYAB during all major accomplishment ceremonies in Palyul Monastery to invoke the blessings even up to the present day. I heard there is an awakened reincarnation of her who has been born in America.
Excerpted from Palyul Namgyal Changchub Chöling Ge Denrap, a history of the Palyul Lineage, written by Mupo, a contemporary Tibetan scholar and historian. Originally published in China, May 19, 2002, Seventeenth Rabjung Iron Horse Year. Reprinted in Taiwan. [Ed note: The first Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo has sometimes been referred to as Genyenma Ahkön Lhamo]
The following is a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche
We are born in this Zambu-dweep world and have acquired the precious human rebirth due to the gathering of the compositional factors of the eight leisures and ten blessings. This is a most perfect and auspicious opportunity. That we are fortunate enough to receive the teaching of perfect Buddha dharma and also be able to meet so many qualified teachers is the result of the ripening of our positive merits from countless past lives.
But due to our attachment from time beginningless towards the repeated pattern of samsara, we have developed strong emotions towards this samsara. Therefore, it is common for sentient beings to find themselves emotionally drawn towards the attainment of worldly concern regardless of difficulty and hardships, which in turn generates all types of karmas in the process.
If we truly want to learn the teaching of Dharma, we must first find a qualified teacher. Buddhism has Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, of which Vajrayana and especially the Great Perfection (Dzogpachenpo) is especially beneficent for the degenerated times like now. The actual practice to Dzogchen consists of preliminary and the main practices, that has visualizations, recital of mantras and the sadhanas.
In fact, we might all think we know about Dharma and might even want to practice these teachings, but because of our attachment to worldly distractions, we are not able to practice accordingly as instructed, as if we show no concern for the effect of karma, as though karma is not real and does not really exist, and thus as a result, succeed in continually creating more negative karma. Only at the end of our lives, when we come face to face with the imminent sufferings of death, do we start thinking that we should do something about it! But by that time, even if we come to realize that we have not studied the Dharma and neither have we applied ourselves properly according to the pith instructions of the teacher and hence the prospect of falling into the three lower realms is imminent; the time of seeking the Dharma and practicing has already passed, so now what do we do?
The following is an excerpt from a public talk given by His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok:
As we begin here this afternoon, I would like to mention a little bit about the great deeds of our sole guide and protector, Lord Buddha Shakyamuni, who before he became the Buddha initially gave rise to the awakened mind, the Bodhicitta, after which he worked for countless aeons to accumulate merit, finally culminating in his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India. Then 49 days later, for the benefit of all those gods and human beings and many others who would benefit indefinitely in future times as well, he turned the Wheel of the Dharma for the first time to bring the precious and holy Dharma into the world. Now, in fact, this is the auspicious day which commemorates the first turning of the Wheel of the Dharma, and because of that I feel that all of the outer, inner and secret omens have come together to make this a most auspicious occasion.
Also at this time, on this fully endowed occasion, in this world the greatest country that exists, the most sublime, the most exalted country in terms of fame and freedom and glory which is unequalled by any other, is the United States of America. Today for the first time I find myself in the capital city of this great land teaching the Dharma, and I am filled with joy. Furthermore there are three reasons why I am filled with joy. I feel that the leaders of this great land, who are actually the leaders of the world, are men and women who are concerned with bringing peace to this world and establishing the beings of this world in bliss and happiness. Towards this pursuit, they work effortlessly because they have the noble qualities and the abilities and the intelligence to actually make this come about. So I feel that they are here close to us, and this is the first reason why I feel a sense of joy: knowing that leaders such as this are in this vicinity.
The second reason I am filled with joy is because the general population of the human beings who live here in the United States of America are people who are endowed with a great amount of power and a great amount of material wealth. Just by the fact that they live in this country they also have freedom—freedom of choice and human rights. The condition is fully endowed. And when I think about all the people of this country having such auspicious and wondrous conditions, it is a great marvel to me, which makes me very glad.
Thirdly, the environment of this place, the particular endowment of the external environment, is that it is quite beautiful. There are beautiful rolling hills and forests, and although it is of cyclic existence, it seems to be somewhat like a celestial realm, a god’s realm, rather than an ordinary city. To see such a beautiful place as it is, I also feel great joy.
I had heard about this place before in Asia where I live, and it’s not until today that I actually come here. Now that I’ve really come and I am able to see for myself just how fully endowed it really is, that all the things that I heard are actually true and inconceivable, truly, then I feel even more joyful.
Now, we are Tibetan Buddhists, and in Tibet there are many traditions of Buddhism. Amongst them is the great Palyul tradition, the founder of which was the Vidyadhara Kunzang Sherab. Kunzang Sherab’s sister was the great dakini, Ahkön Lhamo, and she was very important in helping to establish and uphold the Palyul tradition at the time when it was first initiated in the land of Tibet. The great omniscient mind of primordial wisdom, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, is the one who recognized her, who lives here in this land , in this incarnation, , I am especially happy to find her so well, in good health and so happy. To meet her here at this time gives me a great amount of joy.
As for all of the rest of you, the assembly of disciples, it is clear to me that you have very strong faith in the Buddhadharma, and this is also something that is very wonderful. You see, in Tibet there are many thousands of students who have been training in Dharma for many years, so it is not difficult for them to have faith and devotion, but here it is something quite extraordinary because this is not a Buddhist country. It is clear to me because of the kindness of Ahkön Lhamo who has brought many of you to the path of Dharma that this is why you have made this connection and this is why your faith is so strong at this time. I am very happy to see how this connection has been made and to see how the Dharma is flourishing here due to her kindness.
Especially too, here in the United States of America, with His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the leader, many other great lamas have come to this land, have stayed here for long periods of time and have given the Dharma teachings extensively. I visited some of those places at this time, however, the Dharma center of Ahkön Lhamo is different. I haven’t seen or felt any other place like it. That is because in Ahkön Lhamo’s center there are many ordained Sangha members. To see the robes of the ordained is something that brings me tremendous joy—to see how the Sangha, or the ordained community, has been established in the center. So, in particular, due to having seen the Sangha community flourishing in this way, I am extremely happy.
Generally speaking, in whatever country the Dharma may become established, it is very important for there to be a combination of the fully ordained, the partially ordained and the lay householders as a gathering of what we call the community of the Sangha. If you have just only the lay community and no fully or partially ordained community, it is incomplete, and vice versa. To have all of the different categories of holders of the Pratimoksha precepts together maintaining the Sangha community, it is considered to be fully endowed and complete, and that is what I see here in this center.
In particular, the category of ordination known as getsul, or novice, which of course includes the fully ordained, means those who have renounced the ordinary life of a lay person and who have taken on the life of an ordained practitioner. Now this status is something extremely important for the survival of Buddhism in any country at any time. This is something quite different from those who are called ngakpa, or mantra precept holders, who have no ordination according to the Pratimoksha per se. It is different because the doctrine can completely decline and vanish, and has over the course of time completely declined and vanished in places where there are only those holding the mantra precepts. In order for the survival of Buddhism to be assured anywhere in the world at any time so that it will always be flourishing, it is totally dependent upon the survival of the ordained Sangha.
Also as well in terms of the survival and the propagation of the Doctrine following this point of the survival of those who hold the Pratimoksha precepts, particularly that of full ordination, there is a prophecy from Lord Buddha which states that for 500 years occurring in ten successive stages of time, the Doctrine will increase and be propagated in the regions of the world. Now there are other prophecies that have to do with the land of Tibet and the Doctrine spreading to the north and surviving only in the north and then later going to the west and surviving in the western countries. According to this prophecy about the survival in the north, this refers to Tibet, which is the northern Snow Land of Tibet, the northern region of the world, and so there, of course, the lineage of ordination has propagated and survived. Then also according to the prophecy that it would spread into the west, that seems to indicate the western world, not necessarily western Asia. So when we look at the world in general and see now how in fact the lineages of ordination are moving into the western lands, then we can see how this prophecy is actually coming to pass. This is also something to rejoice about.
Henceforth, in general, because of Ahkön Lhamo’s efforts, the Doctrine is being established in this place, and also the lineage of ordination, which I will also pray, I do pray now and I will continue to pray to be ever increasing, to always be fully endowed, and that due to this there may always be peace and happiness for all the people of this place.
The following prayer is from “The Great Perfection: Buddha in the Palm of the Hand”
PAL DEN TSA WA’I LAMA RINPOCHE
Glorious, precious root guru,
DAG GI NYING GA PEMA’I ZE’U DRU LA
Upon the pollen heart of the lotus in my heart,
DREL WA MED PA TAG PAR ZHUG NE KYANG
Without ever separating, always remaining,
KA DRIN CHEN PO’I GO NE JE ZUNG NE
Hold me fast with your great kindness.
KU SUNG THUG KYI NGÖ DRUB TSAL DU SÖL
Pray, bestow the spiritual attainments of body, speech and mind.
PAL DEN LAMA’I NAM PAR THAR PA LA
Towards the way of life and activities of the glorious guru
KED CHIG TSAM YANG LOG TA MI KYE ZHING
May incorrect view never arise, not even for an instant.
CHI DZED CHÖ SU THONG WA’I MÖ GÜ KYI
With fervent regard, may I view all (the guru’s) actions as Dharma activity.
LAMA’I CHIN LAB SEM LA JUG PAR SHOG
May the guru’s blessings enter my mind!
KYE ZHING KYE WA DAG NI THAM CHED DU
In this and in all of my future lifetimes
RIG ZANG LO SEL NGA GYAL MED PA DANG
May I be born of excellent parents, with a clear mind,
free from pride,
NYING JE CHE ZHING LAMA LA GÜ DEN
Possessing great compassion and respectfully relying
upon the guru.
PAL DEN LAMA’I DAM TSHIG LA NE SHOG
May my samaya with the glorious guru always remain firm!
KYE WA KÜN TU YANG DAG LAMA DANG
In all lifetimes, may I never be separated from a perfectly
DREL MED CHÖ KYI PAL LA LONG CHÖD CHING
Utilizing the glorious Dharma to its utmost,
SA DANG LAM GYI YÖN TEN RAB DZOG NE
And by excellently perfecting all pure qualities on the stages
DORJE CHANG GI GO PHANG NYUR THOB SHOG
May I swiftly achieve the state of Vajradharahood!