The Nature of the Guru

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

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 in the Guru Yoga in Ngndro, 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 nondual 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. Ultimately we are the same nature as the Guru.  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 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, 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?  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 unusual.  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.  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.

We rely on the accomplishment of our teachers. 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.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 02/18/2018

02/18/2018 Sunday by Jampal & Wangmo

Theme: Spiritual growth

Spiritual growth is possible at this time with Venus close to Neptune in Pisces. It’s as though a doorway has opened up and there is potential to find universal truths within. Encounters with others can catalyze spiritual awareness. With the Moon in Aries it’s another opportunity to practice patience as emotions are quick to rise-up. Rather than repressing emotions find a positive outlet. Remember to breathe. ‘It is within the nature to reveal to yourself the place that is beyond conceptualization…underneath conceptualization…like the crystal under the dust.’~Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo

The Only Purpose

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Vow of Love series

If we studied Bodhicitta, or the mind of compassion, every single day for the rest of our lives, we wouldn’t even scratch its surface because it is so profound. There are many different levels at which we might come to understand its meaning.  The word Bodhicitta can’t really be translated into English very well. It means enlightenment. It also means compassion. Compassion to us means something quite ordinary. We might think that we already understand compassion. We may think, “I don’t eat meat anymore, and I try not to kill things. I try not to hurt anybody, and I feel sorry for most everybody, you know. Therefore I fully understand compassion.” Unfortunately, if we think like that, we’re probably missing a lot, and we fail to understand the real meaning of enlightenment. If we think we understand enlightenment the way most Americans do, I’m afraid we don’t have a clear view of it, because we haven’t had teachings on what that mind, which is free of conceptualization as well as discursive thought, is really like. We just haven’t had that kind of teaching.

When we think of an enlightened being, we think of someone who dresses up a certain way. He or she wears robes and almost always has their eyes turned skyward. We have many different ideas about enlightenment and, unfortunately, none of them are true. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who are reported to appear in the world, for instance, take many different forms. They don’t have to be a Buddhist to be a Bodhisattva; they just have to have realization. They take whatever form is necessary in order to benefit beings, because that is how the mind of compassion works. That is how the mind of enlightenment functions. It does not cling to the idea of self. It does not cling to egocentricity. Literally, a Bodhisattva might appear in the world as food or drink, offering its body in that way to benefit beings. It might appear in the world as a teacher. It certainly might do that. It might appear in the world as an ordinary, funky-style person. I mean funky beyond belief! Unless you have traveled in India and Nepal, you don’t know what funky means yet! A Buddha or a Bodhisattva might appear in such a way that is funky beyond belief, and yet within the context of that life, has an incredible impact on many people, or on just two or three people who themselves go on to achieve realization and have an incredible impact on beings.

You see, the mind of the Bodhisattva is such that it doesn’t cling to the idea of greatness. There is no thought of greatness. The moment we think we have to be great, or have to wear a certain kind of robe, or look a certain way, or do a certain dance, we have lost the entire idea and the main reason why a Bodhisattva would wish to incarnate in the world. A Bodhisattva’s only purpose is to benefit beings, and that is done without attachment to form and content. It is done in whatever way is necessary.

Copyright ©  Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 02/17/2018

02/17/2018 Saturday by Jampal & Wangmo

Theme: The changing structure

For a number of years Pluto, the planet of deep long-term change and Uranus of sudden, seismic change have been working at cross-purposes. In the next few weeks this ‘cross-purpose’ will finish up. In our own personal lives the impacts may have been more subtle. For instance, being forced into a change-regime you didn’t ask for.  On another note, the new Moon has kicked in bringing fresh energy to tasks at hand. The themes of intuitive connections and heightened communications continues. ‘The clear, calm, stainless moonlike quality where the shackles which bind the person to becoming this and that, one thing after another, are dropped and allowed to go – this is what I call wisdom.’~The Buddha

Today the Moon is Void of Course from 5:15 pm EST USA until 7:06am the next day. If you’re in another country check what that means for you time-wise. It’s best to avoid making major decisions or signing contracts during this time.

 

Cars, Sunrays, and Choicelessness

An excerpt from a teaching called Intimacy with the Path by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

The path of Buddhadharma can only bring about the result that is consistent with and the same as, the seed or its essence.  We’re looking at essence, we’re looking at movement and we’re looking at result.  Try to imagine how we see things ordinarily.  When we are doing what seems right, moving through linear time, isn’t it the case where if something happens to you—let’s say, your car breaks down—that’s it.  The car broke down.  It’s out there. It’s isolated.  It has no connection with anything else.  Did the car break down because you forgot to put oil into it?  No, no.  It just broke down.  Did the car break down because you never gave it a checkup or a tune up?  No, no, no.  It just broke down.  It just happened that way.  Did the car stop because it had no gas in it?  No, no.  It just stopped.  It’s that kind of thing.  When we see events in our lives, we see them like that.  They happen out there.

Now as time passes, often there are these connecting things that happen to the events in our lives.  Maybe a year after the car broke down, several things might have happened.  You might have learned something about how to take care of a car.  Let’s say your husband or wife yelled at you for not taking care of the car and you learned because they yelled real, real loud!  Or, let’s say a year after the car broke down, a series of events happened in which you were challenged, and you put in some overtime so that you could make some more money so you could get a new car.  And so, a couple of years down the road, when you think about the day that car broke down, it’s no longer an isolated situation.  The car didn’t just break down!  It didn’t just happen.  There is meaning and importance that is somehow connected with all of that.

You can see a movement from even before the car broke down, because by that time you have enough distance from the chaos of your mind to be willing to look at things that you weren’t looking at before.  You can see that the car broke down, but you also know, in hindsight that in fact you didn’t take care of the car very well.  But now you see this as a total learning process.  It isn’t just that the car broke and you’re living with that horrible reality.  You’re not seeing this isolated, neurotic situation.  You’re seeing a trend, a movement.  You didn’t know how to take care of the car.  You didn’t do such a good job.  The car broke down.  Certain events happened by which you became naturally empowered to get another car, but that natural empowerment only happened because your first car disappeared.  It broke.

So now, in retrospect, you’re seeing this slow, beautiful movement, which started with your incompetence and led to your empowerment.  In retrospect, you can see the wholeness of it.  Doesn’t that give you a clue as to how we think?

We have this kind of an ignorance that plagues us, a kind of short-sightedness.  It’s not being able to understand whole pictures or abstract conceptualizations or how to see around things.  I don’t know how better to describe it.  So we only see something right in front of us and this is a kind of manic little posture we put ourselves in.

The path is like that also.  From the point of view of Buddhahood, one can see the primordial basis, the ground, which is uncontrived, beginningless, endless, unfounded and perfectly complete – Buddha nature, the primordial wisdom state.  We see that.  We see a dance or a movement, which is very much like having the same relationship with the ground as the rays of the sun have with the sun.  You can’t really say where the sun ends and the rays begin.  There’s no real way to say that.  There’s only a matter of opinion as to where one ends and the other begins.  And so we understand that sun’s rays are the same reality as the sun itself.

In the same way, the BuddhaDharma is understood as this radiance or display, which is inseparable from the source.  You can’t have sunlight without the sun.  It doesn’t exist.  They are married in the most intimate fashion.  There’s no separation.  This is seen from the point of view of Buddhahood.  We see the primordial wisdom state.  We see display as being inseparable from the natural resting state and we see this from the point of view of result, which is completely dependent on and based on the ground, the primordial wisdom state.  In other words, if we did not have this primordial wisdom state, which is Buddhahood, there could be no result of Buddhahood.  How would you accomplish it?  You couldn’t build it out of sticks and stones.  There would be no result.

So from the point of view of Buddhahood, this is seen as a three-legged stool or something that has three facets that are completely inseparable from one another.  The idea of whether or not one should practice, of whether one should be spiritual today or not, the idea of becoming stagnant on the path would not be possible if we didn’t see the path as being something separate from us in such an essential way that it becomes something we either walk on or put on.  Should one approach this particular problem in a spiritual way or do we simply let ourselves get away with it?

If we were to understand something of our own primordial nature, if we were to understand that the method is not separate from the result, then the hunger that we feel that brings us to the path would also sustain us.  There is a hunger that brings us to the path.  Something that makes us reach out, throughout the course of our lives. There is some kind of urging towards a natural, open, awakened state of wisdom and poise, a state that is free of the components of suffering.  We know that there is something.  We can feel it.  There is a natural urge and yet, even with all that urging and all that crying out in our hearts which we all do in some way or another, why is it that we are not able to sustain ourselves on the path?

What I’m describing is a very strong and powerful need to have our understanding of our spiritual life be so natural, so connected, so married, with every primal impulse that we have towards spiritual growth that we move past the point of making a choice.  That’s where you want to go on the spiritual path.  You want to get past the point of needing to make that choice again and again, because so long as you have to re-choose and reaffirm your path, you’re going somewhere that isn’t you.  You’re doing something you feel is separate from your nature.  You’re doing something still that is unnatural and so all these dilemmas come into play.

We become impotent upon the path then and we get to the point where we need to be inspired on a regular basis, because when you’re traveling a journey that is separate from you, inspiration is necessary.  On the other hand, do you need to be inspired to continue living, generally speaking?  Do you need to be inspired to take your next breath?  It’s true that sometimes we can fall into a confusion that is so thick and so deep that we don’t even understand whether we want to live anymore.  That happens.  There are people that commit suicide, but generally speaking most of us understand intuitively that life itself is simply a display of our nature.  On some level we’re beginning to understand that in order to continue living we’ve got to engage in the method of breathing and moving through our lives.

If we could only do that with the path, if it could be seen as natural for us and as inseparable from us as our own breath, then practicing the Dharma would be much more potent, much more natural for us, much easier.  Not easier in that you’d practice it in a schlocky way, or you would practice it without really caring how well you do.   Easy in the sense that it becomes as natural as scratching an itch or as natural as the intuitive knowledge that if you want to get out of bed in the morning you’ve got to swing your legs over the edge. It’s such a natural movement.

But that’s not how we practice Dharma.  We practice Dharma like it’s a big issue, something we have to do that is not us, a girdle that we have to put on, a thing that we have to suffer through, a ritual that we have to impress somebody with, something we have to set aside time for.  And ultimately, we lose touch with and have no sense of what it actually is to to live in spirit, to live a sacred life.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo,

Astrology for 02/16/2018

02/16/2018 Friday by Jampal & Wangmo

Theme: A soft landing day

It’s an intuitive emotional day where you will feel things before you see them. With the placement of Venus close to the Moon there is harmonious energy around helping to deal with relationships and connections with others. The spiritual side of your relationships is emphasized for the next week. It’s a good water therapy day today. Explore your inner dolphin. Communication is still heightened in your practical endeavors providing continued insights. ‘For whatever we lose ‘like a you or a me’, it’s always our self we find in the sea.’~E.E. Cummings

 

 

Who’s the Captain of Your Ship?

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Essence of Devotion”

The reasons for practice of refuge are known if you understand anything about the horror of cyclic existence.  You look outside and see the suffering.  You look at the way you are conducting yourself and the way your life is set up and the cause and effect relationships you’ve got going here, and you realize it’s just dumb, fruitless, pointless.  There is no future in this.  It’s a dead end.  At that point the mind turns.  That turning is the first step of practicing refuge.  What does it turn toward?  What does it actually turn toward?

Again, you’ve just looked out the window and you’ve looked at yourself, and the first realization is something like, “I don’t know what to do now.  I don’t really know what to do.  I know that something is terribly wrong, but I don’t know how to get out of this.  I don’t know how to leave the party.”  There is a piece of you that understands that you must leave the party.  Part of you still wants to be there.  Part of you likes to play.  Part of you likes to dress up.  Part of you likes to be unconscious of the eventuality of your own discomfort—suffering, death, old age, those things—and of the suffering of others.  We want to be kind of barefoot and ignorant.  Part of us wants that sleep, but another part of us, a stronger part of us, a more certain part of us, understands, “…not enough.  It is not enough.  I’m hungry.  They are hungry.  This is stupid.”  Part of us gets that.

That first turning is the first indication, the first movement, that is required in practicing refuge.  We have to stay kind of absorbed in that turning.  That turning should be practiced every day.  These very thoughts, these very leaving the party thoughts, should be practiced every day.  That’s called turning the mind toward Dharma.

Now we have to look for a way out.  How to leave the party?  The clue is, once again, the first thing we’ve noticed—the suffering and the trickiness and the seductiveness of samsaric existence, or the cycle of death and rebirth.  The cycle of death and rebirth must be addressed.  That’s where the suffering is.  How do we get out of that?  We look at the others suffering.  We look at ourselves suffering.  We look at how foolish we can be and we think, “What is the method?”

Ah ha!  That is the answer!  We need a method.  The answer to that is to look toward those who have actually found the way out of cyclic existence.  In other words, if you want to cross an ocean (and we’re talking about the ocean of suffering, the ocean of death and rebirth, the ocean of samsaric existence),,if you want to cross the ocean of suffering, of course you want to look for a boat.  The boat is the method, isn’t it?  The boat is the method.  Well, wouldn’t you look for a boat?  You’re about to cross an ocean.  There are no planes.  We don’t have planes.  You want to look for a boat, right?  You’re not going to try to swim it, are you?  Swimming it is like saying, “I’d like to be spiritual so I’m just going to be spiritual in my own way and I’ll do my own thing because I’m a really cool guy and I know how to do my own thing.” That’s like saying, “Oh great!  I’m going to cross the ocean of suffering.  Here I go!”  Dive in.  How long do you think you’re going to last?  A little while, but not very long.  Not very long, and the problem with that method is that you often don’t even realize when you’re drowning.

So what we need to do is we need to look for a boat.  No, not a boat. We need to look for a ship.  In fact, if you’re like me, you’re practical and you really want to protect your hide.  You do not wish to cross the ocean of suffering in a rowboat, something weak and puny.  Neither do you wish to cross the ocean of suffering in a boat that has not been proven seaworthy—a very important fact, really an important fact.  If I were to cross an ocean I would want to know that the boat I am in has crossed an ocean many times and is in good repair. And it’s pure, just in the way it was when it was originally capable of crossing an ocean.  We want to know that it’s made it back and forth.  This is proven.  We know we can make it.  Also, if you knew that you were crossing an ocean of suffering with, let’s say, the engineer of the boat, or, let’s say, the guy that swabs the decks…  Wouldn’t you be a little nervous?  I’d be real nervous!  I want to cross the ocean of suffering with the most experienced captain, the one who has crossed the ocean of suffering many times successfully, and returned for me.  That’s who I want to cross with.  I want the big ship.  I want the best ship.  I want to know that the captain has crossed.

So in this way we look for the most excellent method, that has proven again and again and again, to produce enlightenment, to produce realization.  Not an imaginary enlightenment or realization but the one with appropriate signs, the signs that are repeatable, reportable and visible.  Such as the signs that our teachers give us at the times of their death, proof of their realization, and even the signs they give us in their activities during the time of their life.  Only enlightened minds can provide enlightened compassionate results.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 02/15/2018

02/15/2018 Thursday by Jampal & Wangmo

Theme: Communication with feeling

It’s a day of communication and connecting. You may find that you’re able to think more clearly and with more discrimination. You may have have some ‘Ah Ha’ moments as your thought processes make connections. Today your emotional self is more on display and relationships with others, particularly women will be more harmonious. Dynamics in relationship will be more evident.  There are opportunities for deep learning through encounters and communications with others. ‘We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.’~Ronald Reagan. 

Today the Moon is Void of Course from 4.06 am EST USA until 9.43pm. If you’re in another country check what that means for you time-wise. It’s best to avoid making major decisions or signing contracts during this time.

Today is a partial solar eclipse beginning at 1:55pm EST USA and concludes at 5:47pm. It’s a potentially transforming time. All actions are multiplied in intensity so it’s an encouragement to undertake virtuous/ethical activity as much as possible. If you’re in another country check what that means for you time-wise.

Eat the Feast

An excerpt from a teaching called Vajrayana’s Final Hour by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

How amazing it is to have everything line up: to come to the path, to have a teacher that you can relate to, a teacher who can give you the path and provide the necessary components of the path and its blessings; to have a path that can bring the auspicious result.

We would all be fools not to take full advantage. In this time when it is almost too late, this is the time when we should take advantage. There is no better time than this, particularly to meet with this Vajrayana path which has some specific element that is meant for this time.

How many times have you found yourself during the course of your life being faced with some bountiful feast and you take the posture of being a peasant who takes only the crumbs of that feast? You missed out because you did not know how to take hold. You found yourself dancing on the sidelines, holding back.  Isn’t that what’s happening now? Aren’t we in the midst of a bountiful feast, holding a precious jewel that takes endless lifetimes to find, and we just don’t know what to do. We sort of look around. We can’t help ourselves.

So take hold of it, use it. You’re standing at the threshold of the door of liberation, looking at the very mind of liberation, the face of Guru Rinpoche. Every day Guru Rinpoche is touching your life; Lord Buddha is touching your life. That Nature is revealed to you, but you cannot see it because you have the habit of being a beggar at a feast. You have to stop that now. Sit at the table like the king or queen that you are and eat the feast. It doesn’t get any better than this, or any easier. Take advantage of it.

When I say something like this to you it is with concern for the well-being of sentient beings, and for you. Accomplish ultimate compassion by becoming Bodhisattvas or Buddhas so that you can return again and again for the others. I and other lamas cannot find the way to speak to the others that do not have the karma to hear about the Path. But someday you will. In some future life those that you have karma with will come to that moment and you will be their only hope. They will have hopes of you. Will you be ready, or will you have missed the brass ring? I’m trying to make you hear this for their sake. Begin now before it’s too late.

Astrology for 02/14/2018

02/14/2018 Wednesday by Jampal & Wangmo

Theme: Earth warrior day

With the Moon opposite Ceres, the asteroid of care-taking the earth, it’s a good day to give back to the planet and also change habits. Even the smallest habits can have a big impact in our lives and the world around us. Physical energy could be fluctuating. Focus on body awareness today. Energy directed towards self-less goals produces results. Spiritual practices are encouraged. Diligence pays off. ‘We the caretakers of the earth, dedicate ourselves to the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings’~The Caretakers Vow, Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo