Meeting His Holiness for the First Time

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

When I first met His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, he came to where I was in Kensington, Maryland, and wanted to stay at our house.  I had only met one Tibetan in my whole life.  I had no idea what a Tibetan lama even was.  I had no idea what to do with a Tibetan lama.  Where do you put them?  What do they eat? I wasn’t being silly, I just didn’t know.  So I thought, “Well, we’ll have a barbecue!” I didn’t know what to do.

I remember it, and I think about the way I was then.  Of course, it was natural, but there was His Holiness sitting on a bench!   I remember plopping down right next to him and asking casually, “So, what do you think of the barbecue?” If I did that now, my head would explode!  Thankfully, some spiritual discrimination has been developed since then!

During that visit, His Holiness said he wanted to talk to all of my students.  He wanted to ask all of my students, “What does she teach you?  What do you know about this, that and the other thing?  What do you think about compassion?  What does she tell you to do?  How does she tell you to practice?”  He questioned all my students, and I hadn’t even talked to him alone yet. I didn’t know that you were even supposed to ask Tibetan lamas questions.  I just didn’t know.

I saw that when he was interviewing my students, they also had the opportunity to ask him these great questions, and he gave them these really cool answers, about karma and how things are and why things were, and I thought, “I’d like a chance.  Give me the opportunity.”  I asked His Holiness if I could come and talk with him, and he agreed.  So I went in and I talked to him and I said, “Rinpoche, when I first saw you, I knew that you were purity itself; that there is nothing more pure than you.  So based on that, I’m asking you, at a certain age it just came to me to start teaching like that — teaching about emptiness, teaching about compassion, teaching about benefiting others, but I wasn’t taught this.  Until you, I didn’t have a teacher in this lifetime.  How can this be?  Have I done something wrong?”

I told him I felt like there were two justifications for me to teach before I had met my teacher.  One of them was that when these practices, like the natural kind of Chöd that I was doing, came to my mind, and I did them, they worked.  I could feel the renunciation that was happening.  I could feel it.  That was one determining factor.  I could feel that when I spent a large percentage of my time trying to be of benefit to others, I could feel that it worked.  I could feel that it made me happy.  So I began to practice like that, and I felt that I was authorized to teach others because I practiced it and I could see that it worked.

The other thing was that I looked around — ever since I was a child I could see that there’s nothing but suffering here, that suffering is all-pervasive, and even when it’s temporarily alleviated by some kind of temporary happiness, it’s all-pervasive and it returns, and the suffering is primarily spiritual.  I told His Holiness, that being the case, I felt I couldn’t wait.  I felt that if I knew something, anything, that would help, I’d better do it.  I asked him how these things have just come in my mind: this practice of generosity, this meditation on emptiness, this Chöd, where does it come from?  And by what authority am I passing this out?  How is this happening, and why doesn’t it happen to everybody?    And he said to me, “You were a bodhisattva in so many past lifetimes and you accomplished your practice — and he spoke of mindfulness and awakening and stuff like that — you accomplished your practice to the degree that it is mixed like milk with water into your mindstream.  You are not separate from that.  In every future lifetime, when you appear, you will remember the teachings.  You’ll remember them because you practiced them so mindfully.”

Do you hear what that tells you? I’m not different from you.  I use deodorant.  I stink when I sweat.  I am not different from you.  That tells you that, according to His Holiness, a Living Buddha, this practice of mindfulness is so potent, so perfect, that if you really invest all that you have into it in an honest and deliberate and profoundly deep way.  You can take it with you! To think that that is the one treasure, the only treasure we can take with us when we die.  You can’t take your car, you can’t take your TV, and you can’t take your boyfriend or girlfriend, husband, wife, or kid.  Even if you and your whole family die together, you can’t take them with you.  It doesn’t work that way.  But that profound Recognition, that habit, the constant making of that habit of Recognition and mindfulness, that you can take with you.

© 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

Gratitude and Guru Yoga

MG-150-9 HHPR, JAL on patio

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

Another aspect of constant mindfulness – it’s sort of like hand-in-glove with offering – is gratitude.  When you think about the appearance of all phenomena, like beautiful flowers, beautiful trees, all of our beautiful stuff, suppose you were able to develop the habit of thinking like this: “How great must be the Buddha nature, that this display of the Buddha nature is so beautiful,” with gratefulness.  It’s not like ‘thank-you-God-for-everything.’  It’s not like that.  It’s a deep response, joyfulness, the Recognition to see that the nature that is our deepest, most profound nature, the nature that is all-pervasive, the nature that is our Buddha nature is actually inherent in all appearances. To acknowledge that, to move into any kind of Recognition of that is so amazing.  To think that we are somehow connected.  How amazing!

A sense of wonder that encourages you, not just to see and react in a dull and stupid way, but to perceive more deeply.  By doing that, we develop the habit of letting the mind be more profound, letting the mind reach its depth, and consequently, one’s practice becomes so much more profound and our level of Recognition becomes so much more deepened.  This sense of gratitude ultimately, as we begin to practice, gives rise to an awareness of the emptiness of all phenomena and the inherent nature that is the heart of all phenomena.

As we begin to think like that, every time we take beauty into our eyes and have the opportunity to offer that beauty, perhaps we can say, “That is Guru Rinpoche’s.  This is Guru Rinpoche speaking to me.  I see this beauty and now I have, because of that, the opportunity to offer this beauty to the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas for the liberation and the salvation of all sentient beings.”  If you have a marvelous personal experience and remember to offer the joy of that experience for the sake of sentient beings, or to the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas, to be able to do that, in that moment, you are with Guru Rinpoche.  Guru Rinpoche is speaking to you.

If we learn to Recognize the intrinsic nature of phenomena, isn’t that like learning to see the face of the guru?  What’s important about this is the power that we have to practice this way.  In ordinary situations, if you love somebody, they can be taken away from you.  They themselves can walk away from you.  You could lose them.  But in this way of thinking, this kind of practice of mindfulness, no one can ever take the appearance of Guru Rinpoche away from you.  No one can ever take from you, nothing on this earth has the power to hide from you, to keep from you, the face of the guru.  So if you’re able to look at your environment, and think, “Oh, this is so beautiful, such a beautiful place,” and you’re able to really offer it and feel that blissfulness of just letting go and surrendering all the beauty that you see to the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas, praying fervently that somehow that virtue will be used to benefit beings, praying that all of that virtue will go to nourish sentient beings, at that moment, you are in the very arms of the guru.  You are not separate from the guru.

In ordinary relationships, someone can take that away from you.  Samsara has that power, and there’s not a thing you can do about it.  How amazing to distinguish between that and the extraordinary relationship that is brought about through mindfulness and Recognition: this one relationship that nobody on this earth, even Guru Rinpoche himself, could take away from you, not that he’d want to.  We have this extraordinary opportunity.

Regarding recognition and mindfulness in our Guru Yoga, remember how I’ve taught you that ultimately the practice of Guru Yoga helps us to recognize our own nature, to recognize our primordial wisdom nature as being inseparable from the teacher?  How amazing to use this practice of Recognition in such a way as to expedite all of that and make it so much more profound and so much more meaningful instead of reacting constantly as we habitually do.  How amazing if even once, twice, three times in one day, in one week, we can practice that Recognition and remove ourselves from that neurotic scenario, using the appearance of phenomena and our reaction to it as a way to see the face of the guru. How amazing!

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Challenge the Appearances

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

Since you were young and you figured out that it was very bad to get caught, that idea has never changed. Literally, once that idea is there, it’s in you.  You have that idea.  Why go back and challenge it?  Because it isn’t true.  We have to overcome that childish, immature part of us that we have preserved. You’re not only in trouble when you get caught; you’re in trouble when you’re in a state of non-recognition.  You’re in trouble when you’re asleep, spiritually speaking.  So why are we thinking in that same childish way?  Because it is also human nature, and we have to observe this about ourselves, that in certain ways, we’re incredibly lazy.

We like to keep really busy to reach a goal because we want that, but when it comes to backtracking and reevaluating an old conceptual scenario, like “it’s only trouble when you get caught,” we’re not going to do that unless we are pushed to do it.  We’re not going to do that because we already did it.  Why do it again?

In order to practice effectively, you must go back and challenge all things samsaric, all conceptual proliferation.  Instead of going through the rest of our lives in a childlike way, we have to go back and reevaluate, and you know how childlike we are about this.  We don’t want to get caught.  We don’t want to get in trouble.  We don’t want people to think badly of us, so we work very hard at this.  Instead of staying in that childish place, which only reinforces the idea of self-nature as inherently real, ego-cherishing, ego-clinging and the division between self and other, why not go back and challenge appearances?  Why not go back and reevaluate and ask yourself: what is the nature of suffering?  Where does the suffering come from?  Does it come from getting caught?

If you are gifted with the ability to impress people with how cool and attractive and wonderful you are, and yet within your mind, you’re basically a schmuck, constantly in judgment of others, constantly uncaring about others, constantly in a state of non-recognition, constantly fearful, angry, not compassionate, just your average, ordinary, mid-grade schmuckness on the inside but on the outside it’s not visible, then you have the greatest obstacle of all.  I am so sorry for you.  I’ll do anything I can to help you work through that, but it’s not going to work unless you work through it with me.  It’s much easier to be a student if you’re somebody like a recovering alcoholic and know that people have seen you vomit.  You have gotten to the bottom and it was nasty and dirty and there was no way you could avoid it.  I have more hope for the practitioner that one day decided to practice because they woke up in a pool of their own vomit than I do the practitioner that wants to practice because they want to be a Buddhist.  You think about that.  To come to the point where you really deal with yourself, with the appearances that you are putting forth, and discriminate between that, and just faking your way through.  This is really quite a different level of depth, isn’t it?

You have to ask yourself: remaining in a state of non-recognition, acting outwardly as though you have some answers, what do you think the result will be?  Why wait for me to tell you?  What do you think the result will be?  Assuming that the seed and the fruit are the same, that the seed produces the appropriate fruit and not a different kind of fruit, what do you think is going to happen?  Do you think your life will have less suffering in it, or more?  So much more.  But to be in a state where you’ve seen that there is some flaw here, that there’s something wrong here, then there is a kind of self-honesty that you have attained.  In the case of the recovering alcoholic, maybe you come to the point where you say, “Well, anywhere I go from here is up,” that is a very valuable point because at that point you’re not faking it.  You’re not in a place where you’re saying, “Oh, if I act this way, then I’ll be this way.”  Having fallen so far to where you’ve bottomed out and really recognize the faults of samsara, when you begin to engage mindfulness, it won’t be an external acting.  It will be more of an internal engagement, or an internal awareness.

It’s that kind of thoughtfulness, mindfulness, and recognition that must be part of our practice.  If we had been born in a culture where spiritual progression and realization were not only valued but eventually expected, we wouldn’t have to be told this, just as in a materialistic society we don’t have to be told that you have to train for your profession.  We would automatically, by reading these texts, understand that it is pointless to read the prayers, even if you read them so well and you are so cool when you read them.  If you have no understanding of their meaning or if you are insincere about this recitation, there’s just no point.  To realize that the point is to actually awaken, to move into a state of recognition, one would practice differently than if one’s understanding was that you had to do a certain amount of practice in order to be a really cool guy, or in order to be successful at Buddhism.  Do you see the difference?  One is about mind training, and the other is about samsara.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Prayer for the Nyingmapa Lineage and the Tradition

KHEN LOB CHO SUM RING LUK CHE

May the great tradition of the Abbot Shantarakshita, the Master Padmasambhava, and the Dharma King Trisong Detsun

DZAM LING SA SUM KHYAN PAR PEL

Increase and spread throughout the three realms of this world.

DRO GYUD CHOG SUM NANG WA DANG

May the appearance of the Three Jewels and the mindstreams of beings

MI DRAL DU SUM GE LEK SHOG

Remain inseparable and bring sublime well-being throughout the three times.

Composed by Kyabje Dudjom Yeshe Dorje

The Seven Limb Puja

 

 

JI NYED SU DAG CHOG CHU’I JIG TEN NA

However many Buddhas there are in the Ten Directions of the Universe,

DÜ SUM SHEG PA MI YI SENGE KÜN

All the Tathagatas of the Three Times, Lions among men,

DAG GI MA LÜ DE DAG THAM CHED LA

To all of them without exception

LÜ DANG NGAG YID DANG WE CHAG GYI-O

I pay homage with body, speech and mind.

ZANG PO JÖD PA’I MÖN LAM TOB DAG GI

Through the strength of this prayer for excellent conduct, which I make,

GYAL WA THAM CHED YID KYI NGÖN SUM DU

By directly perceiving all Buddhas within my mind,

ZHING GI DÜL NYED LÜ RAB TÜD PA YI

By prostrating, with bodies as numerous as the atoms in the Universe,

GYAL WA KÜN LA RAB TU CHAG TSAL LO

I bow down to all the Conquerors.

DÜL CHIG TENG NA DÜL NYED SANGYE NAM

Upon each atom are as many Buddhas as there are atoms,

SANGYE SE KYI Ü NA SHUG PA DANG

And they reside amidst the Buddha’s sons.

DE TAR CHÖ KYI YING NAM MA LÜ PA

Therefore, all the Dharmadhatu without exception

THAM CHED GYAL WA DAG GI GANG WAR MÖ

I fervently regard as filled with precious Buddhas.

DE DAG NGAG PA MI ZED GYATSHO NAM

(I) praise all of them as an exhaustless ocean.

YANG KYI YEN LAG GYATSHO’I DRA KÜN GYI

In addition, all sounds of this praise (are) as a melodious ocean,

GYAL WA KÜN GYI YÖN TEN RAB DZÖD CHING

Expressing the qualities of all the Buddhas,

DE WAR SHEG PA THAM CHED DAG GI TÖD

I praise all of the Tathagatas!

ME TOG DAM PA TRENG WA DAM PA DANG

Sacred flowers, sacred garlands and

SIL NYEN NAM DANG JUG PA DUG CHOG DANG

All musical instruments, perfumes, the supreme parasol,

MAR ME CHOG DANG DUG PÖ DAM PA YI

Superior lamps and superior incense

GYAL WA DE DAG LA NI CHÖD PAR GYI

I offer to the Buddhas.

NA ZA DAM PA NAM DANG DRI CHOG DANG

All sacred garments and supreme fragrances, and

CHE MA PHUR MA RI RAB NYAM PA DANG

Piled barley meal equal to Mt. Meru, and

KÖD PA KHYED PAR PHAG PA’I CHOG KÜN GYI

All specifically exalted, supreme and perfectly arranged offerings,

GYAL WA DE DAG LA NI CHÖD PAR GYI

I offer forth to the Buddhas.

CHÖD PA GANG NAM LA MED GYA CHE WA

All offerings, unsurpassed and extremely vast,

DE DAG GYAL WA THAM CHED LA YANG MÖ

(I offer) with fervent regard to all the Buddhas.

ZANG PO CHÖD LA DED PA’I TOB DAG GI

Through the strength of faith in this prayer for excellent conduct,

GYAL WA KÜN LA CHAG TSAL CHÖD PAR GYI

I prostrate and make offerings to all the Conquerors.

DÖD CHAG ZHE DANG TI MUG WANG GI NI

Under the power of desire, hatred and delusion,

LÜ DANG NGAG DANG DE ZHIN YID KYI KYANG

Through body, speech and likewise mind,

DIG PA DAG GI GYI PA CHI CHI PA

Whatever negativity I have accrued,

DE DAG THAM CHED DAG GI SO SOR SHAG

All of it I individually confess.

CHOG CHU’I GYAL WA KÜN DANG SANGYE SE

All the Conquerors of the Ten Directions and their Sons,

RANG GYAL NAM DANG LOB DANG MI LOB DANG

Pratyekabuddhas, those on the path of Training and no-more Training,

DRO WA KÜN GYI SÖD NAM GANG LA YANG

Whatever merit all sentient beings have,

DE DAG KÜN GYI JE SU DAG YI RANG

In all of this I rejoice!

GANG NAM CHOG CHU’I JIG TEN DRÖN MA NAM

Whosoever illuminates the Ten Directions of this world,

CHANG CHUB RIM PAR SANGYE MA CHAG NYE

Those who ascend the Stages of Bodhisattvahood without attachment to Buddhahood,

GÖN PO DE DAG DAG GI THAM CHED LA

All of those protectors,

KHOR LO LA NA MED PAR KOR WAR KUL

I entreat to turn the unsurpassed Dharma Wheel.

NYA NGEN DA TÖN GANG ZHED DE DAG LA

To whosoever can reveal the place beyond sorrow

DRO WA KÜN LA PHEN ZHING DE WA’I CHIR

For the purpose of bringing benefit and bliss to all sentient beings,

KALPA ZHING KI DÜL NYED ZHUG PAR YANG

I beg you to remain for as many æons as there are atoms.

DAG GI THAL MO RAB CHAR SÖL WAR GYI

I bring my palms together in prayer.

CHAG TSAL WA DANG CHÖD CHING SHAG PA DANG

By prostration, offering and confession,

JE SU YID RANG KÜL ZHING SÖL WA YI

Rejoicing, entreating and supplicating,

GE WA CHUNG ZED DAG GI CHI SAG PA

Whatever little merit I have managed to accumulate

THAM CHED DAG GI CHANG CHUB CHIR NGO WO

I dedicate for the purpose of the Enlightenment of All!

Understanding AH

 

A Relic from the First Ahkon Lhamo, housed at Kunzang Palyul Choling in Poolesville, MD

 

From a Series of Tweets by @ahkonlhamo

Don’t get misled! “Ah” is Sanskrit or Tibetan. It is not Japanese or Chinese. It is the seed vowel of our Primordial Wisdom Nature, the very ground of being. Buddha Primordial! It is our own pristine face. Please don’t be confused.

It is so essential to understand “Ah,” as it is the primordial ground of display. The ground – Buddha nature. The path – Dharma, or method.  The fruit is Buddhahood. Notice the relationship of seed, ground; and fruit, result. Cause and effect! The result can never be other than the seed. One cannot awaken to Buddhahood if the ground and path, seed and method are wrong. Ground/method/result, seed/path/fruit.  THIS is what the Buddha taught. Do not be confused by false teachings. There is no magic, miracle cure for samsara. It’s not for slackers!

Dedicated to all those who in their ignorance, oppose the Buddha’s teaching.  May their afflictions be antidoted.  May they find peace and happiness.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Dedication Prayers

Dedication of Merit

 

SONAM DI YI TAM CHED ZIK PA NYID

By this merit, may all beings attain omniscience.

TOB NEI NYEI PAI DRA NAM PAM CHEI SHING

May they defeat the enemy of wrongdoing.

KYE NA CHI’I BA LONG TRUG PA YI

From the stormy waves of birth, old age, sickness, and death,

SID PAI TSO LEI DRO WA DROL WAR SHOG

From the ocean of samsara, may I free all beings.

JAM PAL PA WO JI TAR KHYEN PA DANG

Just as the heroic Manjusri became omniscient, and

KUN TU ZANG PO DE YANG DE ZHIN TE

Likewise Kuntuzangpo accomplished the same,

DE DAG KUN GYI JEI SU DAG LOB CHING

So too shall I, by following their example and training accordingly.

GE WA DI DAG TAM CHED RAB TU NGO

I dedicate this virtue to the benefit of all.

GE WA DI YI KYE WO KUN

Through this virtue may all beings

SONAM YESHE TSOK DZOK SHING

Perfect the accumulations of ordinary and wisdom merit.

SONAM YESHE LEI CHUNG WAI

From the arising of merit and wisdom,

DAM PA KU NYI TOB PAR SHOB

May the two sacred kayas be achieved!

Online Support for Dharma Practice

Guru Rinpoche
Guru Rinpoche

Here are some online practice supports for Dharma students

Twitter

@ahkonlhamo – Musings and tweachings by Jetsunma

@kunzangpalyul – Kunzang Palyul Choling updates on practices, events, and other news

@palyulmedia –  Updates about webcast teachings and teachings available at palyulproductions.org

@kpcstore – updates on new Dharma product arrivals at the Mani Jewel Store

www.tara.org – Find out about Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, Kunzang Palyul Choling and its many activities and schedule of events, the Palyul Lineage, Buddhism and Buddhist Practices, and live broadcasts

www.PalyulMedia.Smugmug.com – A photo gallery of Lamas, Deities, and activities around Kunzang Palyul Choling and the Palyul family.  Downloads are free.  You can also order prints.

www.Ustream.tv/PalyulMedia – watch video teachings

www.youTube.com/KunzangPalyulCholing – watch short teachings and music clips

www.PalyulProductions.org – an online source for video DVDs, audio MP3s, audio CDs of teachings, practice books in book form or downloadable PDFs, as well as other Dharma supports.

www.JetsunmaMusic.com – Listen to Jetsunma’s music, read her poetic lyrics, and enjoy the music blog

Mandala Messenger – Sign up for KPC’s regular newsletter to find out about upcoming events and sangha news

www.kpcstore.org/– Online store for Dharma supports

KPC’s bookstore – Dharma books

www.stupas.org – beautiful images and descriptions of Stupas

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