Identifying What is Important

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called Commitment to the Path:

These two particular teachings about the preciousness of this human rebirth and the impermanence of all things samsaric are supposed to make us see, recognize and call to mind and to be mindful of the difference between what is ordinary and what is extraordinary.  What is ordinary experiences birth and death.  It doesn’t travel with you.   It’s a product of samsara and its building blocks, which are delusion, and the senses, which are also deluded.  And while this is what builds samsara (and this is nothing to feel comfortable in), once you identify that, you can also identify what is extraordinary. And what is extraordinary is the Buddha nature.

We think about the Buddha nature as it appears in the world as the ground, the method and the fruit.  The ground is that the Dharma, Buddhism—the way that the Buddha enters into the world—always comes from the mind of enlightenment.  Whenever the Buddha speaks, the Buddha speaks from enlightenment, from the Buddha nature that does not experience rebirth. All teachings in Dharma, then, arise from the foundation, the ground. All teachings in Dharma are expressed as the method, or path.  One thing that distinguishes us from other religions is that we have method, real solid method and many different methods, to suit different karmic propensities.  But the method is given rise by the Buddha nature, so the method and the Buddha nature are not only similar; they are the same taste, the same stuff.  So the path is enlightened as well.  The result, of course, is Buddhahood, liberation from ordinary death and rebirth and the realization of the primordial wisdom nature, that awakened state that the Buddha described.  That’s the result—Buddhahood which arises from Buddhahood, which is Buddhahood and remains Buddhahood. The ground, the method and the result are indistinguishable.

So now we have identified what is impermanent.  We have identified what is useless.  Now we begin, because of that teaching, to identify what is extraordinary, what is of benefit. From that knowledge we can begin to make choices about how to practice our path.  You can see how it would be difficult to make a real commitment without understanding that.  It would be a fad for you, a thing.

Tibetan Buddhism is really kind of stylish right now.  We’re in vogue, but that’s not how we should approach this.  We have to approach it with eyes open. And believe me, as you get older, you’re going to realize that, just like the Buddha taught, our lives are like a waterfall rushing down a mountain.  Oh, you might think, that’s not bad.  Waterfalls last a long time, but don’t you get it?  You’re looking at a condition.  When you see a waterfall, you’re looking at a condition.  The cup of water that falls from the top reaches the bottom in a heartbeat and we’re like that.   We look at life and we think, oh, it’s constant.  Been here for a while.  Probably be here for a while.  But that cup of water falls down so fast that we come to the point at the end of our lives and we wonder. We look in the mirror and we see ourselves.  We have graying hair and like I said, everything is falling south and all these changes are happening. For me, I look in the mirror and here is this middle age woman and I go, how did that happen.? I am just a kid.  I’m just learning something here.  How did that happen?  And that is the experience that we have.  It goes that quickly.

And while life seems like a jewel to be enjoyed, we do not understand that if we spend our time enjoying it, it will be over in a flash and we will have gone to a precious continent and brought nothing back.  And it’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy it.  I’m trying to enjoy my life, but I get the big picture.  And that’s the thing we need to do here.  We need to get the big picture. If we are in this place of great benefit and we have met with the teacher and met with the path, we must encourage ourselves to take advantage of this precious opportunity. I hope that you’ll think about this again and again and again.

Lord Buddha teaches us that all sentient beings are suffering, that all of samsara is pervaded with suffering, that we are wandering in cyclic existence helplessly.  We are taught that all sentient beings are the same in their nature and the same in the fact that they all wish to be happy. Even when they do crazy things, they are trying to be happy, to feel good.  And we realize while there is all this suffering, there is an end to this suffering and that end is liberation.  And that’s the only good news in all of life.

© copyright Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved.

 

Viewing the Guru

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo on October 18, 1995

This teaching is meant to help us correct our view and deepening in Guru Yoga.  We will be thinking about how to deepen in our practice and how to practice with a deeper and more profound sense of view.  Remember that the antidote that we are trying to apply now is the one that addresses our superficiality.

As materialists, modern people, and sentient beings in general, our minds are very superficial.  In fact, our superficiality is literally invisible to us simply because we have no sense of what anything other than superficiality might be.  As you listen to this, you should listen with your “doors” open.  That means, don’t just listen lightly the way most people do. Most people, when they listen to either conversation or teaching, listen to it just skimming the surface, picking out the main points.  In this case, you don’t want to use that technique.  That’s okay for ordinary listening, but in this case you want to not only hear everything that is actually said, but at the same time, you also want to try to understand the concept that’s being presented in a deeper way.  It’s as though you want to receive the totality of the idea, not just the top of it.  You don’t want to try now to determine what are the most important parts.  In other words, accept the entire teaching, and then, later on, as you begin to digest it, you’ll be able to determine what the important parts are more readily.

 

Generally, when we walk around in our normal waking consciousness, we think that we are with the Guru only when we are praying or doing our practice. We visualize the Guru in front of us.  We think, “Oh, now the Guru must be here by the force of my devotion.”  That’s appropriate, that’s what I’ve taught you.  Then we think also that we are with the Guru whenever we see the Guru’s face.  We think that when the Guru is actually in the room and we see the face, we see the form, and we think that we are with the Guru.  If we see a picture of the Guru, maybe we have a moment of devotion, and perhaps we feel a connection because of our past practice.  We think, “Oh, now we are with the Guru.”  In fact, if we are really to examine the way that we are thinking at that point, it is extremely superficial.  There’s no view in that at all.  It’s superficial.  It’s completely inaccurate.  If we think in that way, it goes to show us that we have not accomplished pure view.  We have not accomplished a deeper view.  So this would give us a lead as to how to practice more deeply.

When we think about when we are with the Guru, we have to try to understand the meaning of our relationship with the Guru in the deepest possible sense.  We try, hopefully, to move past our perception of the Guru as an individual person.  This is our goal.  This is what we’re trying to do, generally speaking, in our devotional yoga.  We are trying to see past the personality, past the superficiality, into a more profound understanding, a more profound view.

Let’s go back to that question that we might have answered differently while we were thinking more superficially: when is it that we are with the Guru?

We are with the Guru every moment that we have the Buddha nature.  We are with the Guru so long as we appear in the world but still have within us the Buddha seed.  What that actually means is that the Guru represents for us all sources of refuge: all Lamas, all Buddhas, all Bodhisattvas, these three that arise from the primordial nature.  The Lama represents for us the Dharma: all of the Dharma, every word that was ever uttered of Dharma teaching.  The Lama represents for us as well the entire Sangha: every monk, every nun, every Lama that has ever taken robes, that has ever practiced the Dharma.  The Lama represents as well all the meditational deities with all their qualities and all their particular incarnations and all of their activities.  The Lama represents as well all of the dakinis and all of the Dharma protectors.  So when we think of the Lama, we think that everything that arises from the fundamental Buddha nature, from the pure primordial nature, that which is our Buddha nature is represented by the Lama.  Everything that the Lama represents arises from the Mind of Enlightenment.

Conversely, the Lama does not represent those things that are present in samsara.  The Lama does not represent those things that increase our five poisons, that increase our delusions.  The Lama, therefore, cannot cause suffering.  The Lama cannot cause an increase in ignorance.  In a natural way, the Lama is not capable of giving rise to more suffering and more delusion.  If somehow within the relationship that we have with our Lama there is some suffering, then we have to look to ourselves as having impure perception, as having incorrect view, incomplete understanding and the tendency to project outward what is actually happening within our own minds.  The reason why we know that the Lama cannot increase our suffering or increase our poisons, or harm us in any way, is that the Lama actually appears as a display arising from the very Mind of Enlightenment and within the Mind of Enlightenment there is no cause for suffering.  There is actually no cause for suffering, so the seed is not there.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Viewing the Spiritual Master

The following is respectfully quoted from “Treasury of Precious Qualities” by Longchen Yeshe Dorje and Jigme Lingpa as translated by Padmakara Translation Group:

Spiritual masters have already accomplished their own aim. It is now their task to labor for the sake of others. It is important to understand that their various activities are displayed as appropriate to the inclinations and feelings of different beings and are the inconceivable operation of enlightened activities. Bearing this in mind, one should refrain from misinterpreting them. The siddhas of India like Saraha appeared for the most part as social outcasts. They adopted the way of life that was conventionally disreputable and lived without concern for purity or impurity, getting their livelihood as menials of the lowest caste or as “sinful” hunters and fishermen–living in the humblest way possible. But since their minds were undeluded, their actions were never wrong. We, by contrast, are as deluded as if we were under the power of hallucinogenic drugs. If we have not gained freedom through the three doors of perfect liberation, and have not realized the infinite purity of all phenomena, ascribe defects to our teacher, we commit an immeasurable fault. Bhikshu Sunakshatra committed to memory the entire twelve collections of the teachings, but, overpowered by his wrong views, he regarded as perfidious and underhand the actions of Buddha Shakyamuni himself, who was utterly without fault and possessed of every excellence. We should take all this to mind and confess and repair the slightest fluctuation in our faith.

 

The Vajra Master: from “Dakini Teachings” by Padmasambhava

The following is respectfully quoted from “Dakini Teachings” by Padmasambhava as translated by Erik Pema Kunsang:

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: If a master himself has not been conferred empowerments and he gives them to others, will they receive empowerments or not?

The master replied: Although you may be appointed by a charlatan to the rank of minister thus entrusted with power, you will only meet with misfortune. Likewise, although you may have an empowerment conferred upon you by a master who himself has not received it, your mind will be ruined. Moreover you will destroy the minds of others and go to the lower realms like cattle yoked together falling into an abyss. Carried away within an iron box with no exits, you will be sent to the bottom of hell.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Isn’t the offering of a gift when receiving empowerment just something you yourself have invented?

The master replied: All the teachings and tantras explain that at this present time when you have obtained the fortune of a human body after being on errant paths for innumerable aeons, you should, free from the three spheres of concepts, offer your body, life, and spouse to the master who shows the path of unexcelled enlightenment.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How severe is the misdeed of breaking the master’s command?

The master replied: The misdeeds of the three levels of existence do not match even a fraction of the evil of breaking the command of your master. Through this you will take rebirth in the Unceasing Vajra Hell and find no liberation.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How should we regard the master possessing the oral instructions from whom we request teachings?

The master replied in verse:

You should know that the master is more important
Than the buddhas of a hundred thousand aeons,
Because all the buddhas of the aeons
Appeared through following masters.
There will never be any buddhas
Who have not followed a master.

The master is the Buddha, the master is the Dharma.
Likewise the master is also the Sangha.
He is the embodiment of all buddhas.
He is the nature of Vajradhara.
He is the root of the Three Jewels.

Keep the command of your vajra master
Without breaking even a fraction of his words.
If you break the command of your vajra master,
You will fall into Unceasing Vajra Hell
From which there will be no chance for liberation.
By serving your master you will receive the blessings.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Which is more important, the master or the yidam deity?

The master replied: Do not regard the master and the yidam as different, because it is the master who introduces the yidam to you. By always venerating the master at the crown of your head you will be blessed and your obstacles will be cleared away. If you regard the master and yidam as being different in quality or importance you are holding misconceptions.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Why is it important to practice the yidam deity?

The master replied: It is essential to practice a yidam deity because through that you will attain siddhis, your obstacles will be removed, you will obtain powers, receive blessings, and give rise to realization. Since all qualities result from practicing the yidam deity, then without the yidam deity you will just be an ordinary person. By practicing the yidam deity you attain the siddhis, so the yidam deity is essential.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: When practicing a yidam deity, how should we meditate and practice in order to attain accomplishment?

The master replied: Since means and knowledge are to practice the spontaneously present body, speech and mind through the method of yoga sadhana, they will be accomplished no matter how you carry out the sadhana aspects endowed with body, speech, and mind. They will be accomplished when the sadhana and the recitation are practiced in a sufficient amount.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How should we approach the sugata yidam deity?

The master replied: Realize that you and the yidam deity are not two and that there is no yidam deity apart from yourself. You approach the yidam deity when you realize that your nature is the state of nonarising dharmakaya.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Which yidam deity is better to practice, a peaceful or wrathful one?

The master replied: Since means and knowledge are practicing the spontaneously present body, speech, and mind through the method of yoga sadhana, all the countless sugatas, peaceful and wrathful, chief figures and retinues, manifest in accordance with those to be tamed in whatever way is necessary–as peaceful and wrathful, chief figures and retinues. But as they are all one taste in the state of dharmakaya, each person can practice whichever yidam he feels inclined toward.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: If we practice one yidam deity, will that be the same as practicing all sugatas?

The master replied: The body, speech, and mind of all deities are manifested by the three mayas in accordance with the perception of those to be tamed. In fact, no matter how they appear, if you practice one you will be practicing them all. If you accomplish one you will have accomplished them all.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Is there any fault in practicing one yidam deity and then practicing another?

The master replied: Although the sugatas manifest as various kinds of families and forms, out of skillful means to tame beings, they are in actuality inseparable, the state of equality. If you were able to practice all the buddhas with this realization of their inseparability, your merit would be most eminent. But if you were to do so while regarding the yidam deities as having different qualities which should be either accepted or rejected, you would be immeasurably obscured. It is inappropriate to regard the yidams as good or bad, and to accept or reject them. If you do not regard them like that, it will be excellent no matter how you practice.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Through performing the approach to one tathagata, will we accomplish the mind of all sugatas?

The master replied: By practicing with a vast view and remaining in the nature, you will attain stability in a yidam deity. When you complete the recitation, you will accomplish the activities of all the victorious ones without exception by simply commencing them.

Lady Tsogyal asked the Master: If one’s view is high, is it permissible to dispense with the yidam deity?

The master replied: If you attain confidence in the correct view then that itself is the yidam deity. Do not regard the yidam deity as a form body. Once you realize the nature of dharmakaya you will have accomplished the yidam deity.

Descend With the View While Ascending With the Conduct: from Dakini Teachings

The following is an excerpt from Dakini Teachings: A Collection of Padmasambava’s Advice to the Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal 

Master Padma said: Some people call themselves tantric practitioners and engage in crude behavior, but that is not the actions of a tantrika.
Mahayana means to cherish all sentient beings with impartial compassion.
It will not suffice to claim oneself a trantric practitioner and then refrain from adopting what is virtuous and not avoiding or shunning evil deeds. It is essential for all tantric practitioners to cultivate great compassion in their being.
Without giving rise to compassion in your being you will turn into a non-Buddhist with wrong views, even though you may claim to be a practitioner of Secret Mantra.
Master Padma said: Secret Mantra is Mahayana.  Mahayana means to benefit others.
In order to benefit others you must attain the three kayas of fruition. In order to attain the three kayas you must gather the two accumulations. In order to gather the two accumulations you must train in bodhicitta. You must practice the paths of development and completion as a unity.
In any case, a trantrika who lacks bodhicitta is totally unsuited and does not practice Mahayana.
Master Padma said: Secret Mantra and the philosophical vehicle (Mantrayana) are spoken of as two, but ultimately are one. If you lack the view or the conduct you will stray into be a shravaka. So descend with the view while ascending with the conduct. It is most essential to practice these two as a unity. This is my oral instruction.
SAMAYA

Relying on the Three Precious Jewels

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray by Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Truth be told, we haven’t really awakened to the conditionless state yet.  Maybe we’ve had a few experiences in our meditation, a little taste of emptiness if we really go deeply into our practice, but it’s only for a second.

For most of us, we are unable to let the boxes down so that our view opens and we are in a state of recognition. Because of that, we are taught that we should rely upon the Three Precious Jewels—the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and mostly especially the Lama, as the embodiment of all three.

In other words, when we see the lama, we are seeing the Nirmanakaya or body form of the Buddha—a projection of the Buddha nature in phenomena. The Nirmanakaya has appearance and characteristics, but these are gossamer thin. These are insubstantial, like dew on a hot morning. And so we rely on our teacher as the representation of the primordial wisdom nature.

We rely on the Buddha because the Buddha is the doctor who gives us teachings—tells us what is wrong with us and how to fix it.

We rely on the Dharma, which is the medicine—the tried-and-true method that practitioners have used for thousands of years to escape the suffering of samsara.

We rely on the Sangha who care for us, like a nursemaid, until we are awake. It’s as if we are in a coma, and there’s nobody to take care of us but these nurses. The nurses bring us the medicine. They support us. And so we love and respect the sangha.

© copyright Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo all rights reserved

Guarding Your Heart

Padmasambhava

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

Here in America, we have a lot of pop-psychology. We all have these little boxes about how relationships ought to be; and pop-psychology has told us how big they ought to be and what shape they ought to be in. And we are told that we should be independent in certain ways and then sharing in other ways. And then, you know, one way or another way we are told how we ought to be. I want to tell you that the relationship of Guru Yoga is not like that. For instance, in relationships we are taught, I’m ok, you’re ok. What is it? Don’t be co-dependent. So don’t be in a co-dependent relationship. Well, if you’re going to be in a co-dependent relationship, I guess it ought to be with your guru. But you don’t look at it that way, because a co-dependent relationship is where two people who are ill or not seeing clearly or deluded or neurotic in some way, are being neurotic together, and it fits.

Well, that’s not the same with one’s own root guru. You can freely and openly give your whole heart and know that you are not in danger. You can freely and joyfully walk, dance, through that door of liberation, and you will be happily and joyfully received. You can depend utterly and completely on the Three Precious Jewels and the condensed essence which is the root guru and never fall. This is the one time you should not guard your heart. A difficult habit to break for all of us.

So again, we’re not talking about personalities, because that’s ordinary. We’re not talking about you guys coming to live all at my house.  Not like that. That’s ordinary, ordinary context. We are thinking that the blessing of my teacher resides as me, in me and I am that. And like we say in The Seven Line Prayer, “Following you, I will practice.” Through that devotion, through that practice, all the blessings of the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas are yours, freely given. To the deserving student, to the practicing student, the guru will always appear. And we should always today be creating the causes for the guru to appear tomorrow, in whatever form.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo all rights reserved

 

 

Mixing the Mind with the Guru

mirror

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

Guru Yoga can always be depended on to reestablish and continue the blessing. I promise you, if we call out to the guru with full heart, with determination and with fervent regard and recognition, the guru will respond, whether it’s in the way that you would like which is ‘Hi! I’m here for lunch,’ or whatever. It may not be that way. It may be something quite different; and sometimes it’s not something that feels good right away. One of my favorite students works herself to death and forgets to practice sometimes, and then periodically does things like break her back or, you know, injure herself in some way. And then she practices and amazing things happen. I wish she wouldn’t do it that way, but she does. You know who I’m talking about, out in Sedona. I have other students that kind of orchestrate separation and return in order for that feeling of return. But I wish they wouldn’t do that, because that feeling of separation often comes with some cause and effect relationship. And again if it were my diamond, I’d be shining it up all the time. I’d be collecting that interest all the time.

We use Guru Yoga that way to create the causes for continuation on the Path. The teacher should never be frightening. The teacher is your friend, your friend who will take your hand and walk you, lifetime after lifetime, even when you stumble and you fall. Something will arise through the devotion that you practice in this lifetime to protect you even in your next life. Eventually we come to the place where we see everything as the blessing of the guru. Everything. Sometimes we feel some confusion, and maybe even confusion for a long time, but you know that that guru would not let you down. You know that. And so you count on that, even the confusion, to be a blessing. Eventually because of that devotion, the confusion will clear and the guru will appear again like an underground spring coming once again to the surface.

Guru Yoga is the most potent of all practices and it’s the most simple. One can practice Guru Yoga simply by visualizing the guru above the crown of one’s head and making offerings in a visualization way, and then receiving the blessing, real quick. The white blessing from the guru’s body to your body, and it does come in the head, white to white; the red blessing from the guru’s speech, from the throat to your throat; the blue blessing from the guru’s mind, which is the heart, from his heart to your heart (or her heart). And you can receive that blessing constantly. It’s free. It’s yours. You can receive it periodically. You can receive it every morning, every night—whatever you want, as much as you want. That’s the beauty of Guru Yoga. You should think that the guru is like your constant companion. Not in a creepy way. I don’t want you guys looking in my window, But in a wholesome way, where we understand that this nature is freely given, like method that one can use. It is indistinguishable from the ground which is full Enlightenment, the method which is Dharma, and the result which is the completion or accomplishment of the precious awakened state.

So we understand the guru is the ground, the guru is the method, the guru is the result. We begin to mix, through the devotion, through calling out our own nature, our own mind, our own qualities, willingly with that of the guru; and over time, that blessing mixes like milk with water and we understand that, indeed, Lord Buddha resides in us all. We understand that indeed each one of us is some uncontrived beginningless and endless and yet fundamentally complete luminous nature,  some state of awakened and yet uncontrived view. That we are that in our nature. And our job in this lifetime is to use the blessings of our gurus, to use their accomplishment, their qualities, their methods; to listen carefully and accordingly accomplish awakening to that, awakening to that nature. It’s the swift way. It’s the rocket ship. It’s powered because it’s like lighting something at both ends. You’re not thinking, ‘Oh I have to go there.’  We are thinking, ‘This is like a mirror and a mirror,’  inseparable in their nature.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

What Do Blessings Look Like?

Prayer Room

The following is an excerpt from a teaching called “The Guru is Your Diamond” 

If our teachers had not accomplished any Dharma, how would they be of any use to us? So we expect it of them and we rely on them to guide us in the way of Dharma. Sometimes it pisses us off. We’d rather go on vacation. We’d rather have a little more fun. I mean, it’s Sunday afternoon, isn’t it? And we have all kinds of reasons why we should maybe do something else, but we come back. There is my friend. If this teacher can bother to appear again and again for no reason other than to liberate sentient beings as my guru has, then I can at least be here. I can at least come half way, come full with devotion. When we are in the presence of our own root guru and we have that connection and we have the history and karma of the guru having ripened our mind in some way in the past, that ripening will surely come again. With faith and devotion and practice, it will surely come again. And so we have that kind of faith. We know in our hearts and our minds that we can rely on this one for that kind of help.

Should it happen that we cannot meet with the guru for some reason, or there is some difficult point in one’s path, some difficult moments, some difficult times, maybe even some difficult months or years, still, so long as the guru remains in the world, we can turn our face towards the guru and know. It’s like falling off a horse. You can always get back on.

But the problem, and there is a problem with that, is that if you waste your time with that precious jewel and don’t collect its interest, the jewel somehow becomes more distant, less potent, less present, less precious, less everything. And we think to ourselves, ‘Why is the guru not in my life so much?’  And we tend to think, ‘Oh, it’s because the guru’s over here or the guru’s over there, or the guru is not speaking right now, or the guru is this, or the guru is that.’  And you can think that way if you want to but it won’t help. We must think, ‘Now I’ve come to this place. I have chosen my guru and I am steadfast. And I have seen the door of liberation. Yet somehow things are a little mixed up here, I can’t quite get to it. I don’t feel focused. I don’t feel like I understand this blessing. I feel outsourced. I feel like I’m out to lunch somewhere on the Path here.’  And so we think, ‘Oh, what is the problem?’ Well, the first thing we have to do is correct our view and think, ‘This is the door to liberation. It is present in the world.’ Period. End of story. ‘What must I do? What must I do?’

Sometimes it takes traveling to see your guru. Sometimes it takes sitting down and doing Guru Yoga like you never did it before. And it can work out a myriad of ways according to one’s karma, according to one’s blessing. I’ve had it both ways. I’ve traveled to see my guru and the blessing was immeasurable and phenomenal. And then I’ve stayed home and practiced Guru Yoga and with amazing signs. The blessing was amazing and fundamentally life changing. And one, I saw the guru’s face; and one, I saw the guru’s face.

And that’s the nature of this blessing. It doesn’t depend on time and space. It doesn’t depend on ordinary things at all. And unless you neglect it, it cannot lose its potency. We must think, as pertaining to Guru Yoga, that every day, even while now we sit in comfort and enjoy being together, that every day, even this day, we should earn the blessing to see the guru tomorrow. How will I see the guru? Maybe I’ll see the guru’s picture and it will jump out at me and touch my heart. Maybe I’ll see Guru Rinpoche’s picture and it will jump out at me and touch my heart. Or maybe I’ll say The Seven Line Prayer.  And wow, that one really…, that one did it. Or maybe I will do my practice and it feels deep and rewarding like an underground stream that has come suddenly to the surface and has given us something precious to drink.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

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.

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