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Understanding the Four Thoughts

Understanding the Four Thoughts

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Relationship with the Lama in Vajrayana”

In the beginning of every Buddhist teaching, , before one actually begins any of the deeper practices, there is one practice that is called the Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind.

The idea is to […]

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Astrology for 8/29/2015

Saturday by Norma

Balance work with rest today, moving back and forth between a project and relaxation. Indecision is an issue: talking things over with another person helps firm up your thinking. Elie Wiesel said, “Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. I am the sum total of their experiences, […]

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Samsara - Living in a Material World

Samsara – Living in a Material World

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

In practicing bodhicitta in a mindful and discriminating way, one has to understand first of all the faults of samsaric existence. One has to understand the basic logic if it. If we are giving rise to the aspiration to be of […]

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Astrology for 8/28/2015

8/28/2015 Friday by Norma

If today is a horse race, a small unnoticed nag is coming up fast on the inside, leaving the rest in the dust! A long-term project characterized by steady, humble work, is paying off now. Don’t stop what you’ve been doing and don’t let success break your stride. David Bly said, […]

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The Fifth Root Downfall of the Bodhisattva Vow

Offering

The following is respectfully quoted from a commentary on the Bodhisattva Vows by Geshi Tashi: http://www.bodhicitta.net/BODHISATTVAVOWS.htm

5.    Taking Offerings Intended for the Three Jewels

Taking offerings intended for the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is considered a root downfall. Here the Buddha means any buddha image as well as the actual Buddha himself. At Jamyang we make many offerings to the big Buddha statue in the main gompa. Why is it so bad if you steal something from a statue? It is just a statue. Peter Griffin built it out of plaster. We all know that. But still, it is more than that. Within the statue are many, many mantras and there have been so many strong prayers made to the statue. So this is no longer just an object made by Peter. After he completed it many great masters such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Denma Locho Rinpoche have blessed it and many people, with sincere conviction, have made prayers in front of it. It is not just an image, it is an inspiration, and, for a Buddhist practitioner, it really represents the Buddha. 

So things offered to the Buddha’s image are offered to the Buddha. It is the same with any holy object – a statue, a stupa, a thanka. It is not as if the objects ‘own’ the offerings. But although there is no one who says, ‘This belongs to me’, taking those offerings is the same as stealing from a buddha. The offerings have been sincerely offered, so it is very important to learn how to handle those objects with great sensitivity. 

In the monastery, handling the monastery’s things is a very sensitive issue – not for only those monks who have the responsibility of looking after those things but also for people coming from outside. Traditionally, Tibetan people are very, very careful. Even when having a cup of tea in a monastery, they pay a lot of attention because the object they are using is really dedicated towards the Three Jewels, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. This is true of any property that belongs to a community, but much more so a spiritual community such as a monastery or a Dharma centre.

It is a very sensitive point. When Nagarjuna was asked to become the monk in charge of the monastery property, he completely declined. There is a prayer which he wrote requesting not to be born in charge in a monastery because he saw how heavy a downfall it was if that property was mishandled.

People contribute things to Dharma centres with a sincere heart, really wishing to help the development of the community. Because places like this are such powerful objects, if we misuse their possessions we are creating a much heavier negativity than if we misuse a normal person’s possessions.

And of course, taking without permission is much, much heavier than if someone in charge gives you something and you misuse that.

It is the same with taking from the Sangha. ‘Sangha’ very strictly speaking refers to a person who has a direct realisation of emptiness, or more generally to fully ordained monks or nuns but very loosely speaking, Sangha can refer to people who are practising the spiritual path. It is very important to know how to use things which belong to that kind of community. 

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