Precious Nectar of Enlightenment

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

When we meditate on Buddhahood or contemplate on what it would be like to achieve realization, what do we think we are after?  What do we think the result will be?  Eventually, through the force of our practice, we are hoping, (and if we practice well, this will surely be the result), that someday we will awaken as the Buddha has awakened.  So we are actually looking to give rise to the very same thing that we are looking at when we see the Guru. We are looking to give rise to the primordial empty nature. We are looking to give rise to this nature which is free of contrivance, free of distinction; this primordial empty nature that is the innate nature, the Buddha nature.  We are trying to give rise to that in such a way that it appears, even within samsara.  We wish to attain realization now.  So it is that very union of emptiness and display, of emptiness and luminosity, of wisdom and method that we wish to give rise to in our practice.  This is the very ultimate object of refuge.

From the Vajrayana point of view we are told that realization will never happen without the necessary ripening that is provided by the root Guru.  We are told that in our practice we are dependent upon the root Guru to transmit this blessing and to lead us through the door of liberation.  But we must understand that it is more than that.  Practicing devotion in the way that we do opens the door, creates the connection, creates the habit, creates the karma, creates the cause by which we will awaken to our own primordial wisdom nature in the future.  And that nature will appear in samsara as the enlightened appearance.  This is the goal.  This is the very wish.  Understood in that way, the Lama then becomes even more the center of our mandala – the mandala of our practice, of our hope, of our prayers, of our devotion, of our lives.  The Lama, then, becomes the very core of our lives.

You must understand that there is never a time that you are not in the presence of the Lama. Not for a moment is there a time that you are not in the presence of the Lama.  If you refuse, if through ignorance you doubt, if through habit you ignore, if through slothfulness you simply put no effort into accomplishing that view, then you are not actually turning away from the Guru “out there.”  This is not an act that is happening between you and somebody else.  You are not slighting the person that is sitting on the throne.  That is not what is happening.  What is happening is that you are turning your own mind away from the very face of your Enlightenment, away from your nature. You are splitting yourself away from salvation. You are wrenching yourself away from the very hope that will bring future happiness and realization.  You are cutting yourself away from the root of your accomplishment.

Now that I have told you this, you cannot in good faith and good conscience remain superficial in your practice any longer.  You must understand that every moment that you say, “Oh, well, I can do this,” or every time you push away the Lama in order to live in your ordinary samsaric mental posture; every time you do that, you are spitting in the face of your own Buddha seed.  You are turning yourself away from primordial emptiness, from the Buddha nature, from the pure luminosity that is the very display of that nature, that luminosity that we also know as the Bodhicitta.  So then you have abandoned the root of your accomplishment.  You have abandoned the very milk of your nature, and you have shut the door to the great Bodhicitta. That is what we do when we forget and deny that we are always sitting at the feet of the Guru.  We are always looking into the eyes of the Guru. And so, we have to train ourselves to keep the Guru above the crown of the head, on the throne within our hearts, in our eyes, in our ears, in our hands.  We have to train ourselves as though we were some kind of precious vessel that was carrying around this most precious nectar of Enlightenment.  We can’t spill a drop; neither can we turn away from it.  And we’ve spilled so many drops already.

But now we know what we have in our hands, and like practitioners that have perhaps moved from childhood to adulthood, we can now expect ourselves not to drop the ball, not to drop our practice, whereas before, we were like children.  You know, when you teach children to prostrate, you do not worry whether their form is perfect.  When you teach them to say mantra, you know they are going to make mistakes.  But now we’re moving past that regarding our devotional yoga.  We can no longer allow ourselves to be the children that we once were.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 11/30/2015

11/30/2015 Monday by Norma

A rush of confidence and activity is invigorating. People join forces in an inspiring manner, and the news is good. A statement from a leader galvanizes the public and creates happiness. Dress well and spend time in bright, exciting places. Entertainment is favored, also athletic events, games and competitions. Respect people in elevated positions and take inspiration from them. If they can do it, so can you! Identify the person you admire the most and strive to emulate that person’s qualities. Donald Trump said, “As long as you’re going to think anyway, you might as well think big.” Goal setting helps pull you out of downbeat thinking that pops up today, use it.

The astrology post affects each person differently, based on individual horoscopes. Look to see which area of your life is affected by this message!

Rest in Wakefulness

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

What is it that we actually see when we see the Guru?  First of all, the Guru is perfection.  The Guru is perfect. The Guru arises very naturally, is spontaneously liberated; there is nothing about this appearance that has become tainted or impure.  There is no conceptualization.  There is no contrivance at all.  We are seeing a natural display of the Primordial Wisdom State.  We are literally seeing, in a non-dual way, the union of emptiness and luminosity. Now, of course, because of the way our samsaric minds work, we are not able to understand the non-duality of emptiness and luminosity.  We are simply not able to understand that.  To us they appear as two nouns.  Emptiness is emptiness.  We can describe that.  Luminosity is luminosity.  We can maybe describe that, and so: emptiness-and-luminosity-are-non-dual.  The best way to come to that is maybe to say it real quick! That’s about as well as we can do!

What is this non-dual display, this non-duality called emptiness and luminosity?  Well, first of all, we must understand that the Lama represents the primordial empty nature, that nature which is completely free of any kind of distinction or contrivance, any kind of ideation, any color, any form, anything that becomes something.  The Lama is the display of that which is without beginning and without end, of that which is primordially pure with no change, no movement, no contrivance or distinguishing factors whatsoever.  The Lama represents that pure emptiness.  When we talk about emptiness in that way, Americans have a difficult time with that; that’s why I’m trying to explain it in common ways, rather than using the traditional buzzwords.

When we think of emptiness, we think of a minus in a sense; like, an empty room is a room without things in it.  We think of an empty glass as a glass without liquid in it.  That’s the way that we understand emptiness, but in this case, you should understand that emptiness doesn’t mean an “absence of.” Emptiness, in this case, is more like freedom, more like liberation: liberation from conceptualization, liberation from contrivance.  The mind does not catch on, the mind does not hook, the mind does not hold in a package – anything.  You see?  Here, emptiness is liberation. Suppose you were capable at this moment of losing all the fetters, allowing the mind to abide spontaneously, allowing the mind to simply rest in wakefulness.  Rest in wakefulness.  That is perhaps the closest to how we might understand emptiness.

Luminosity is something we think about as a plus, like a light being on.  A light is on or it’s off.  Luminosity, we think of as something luminous, so it must be glowing. Of course, that’s not what we’re talking about here either.  Let’s say you could attain in your practice that true understanding of emptiness: if one could rest in innate wakefulness, free of contrivance, without any kind of distinction or super-structuring or building or grasping or clinging. Try to imagine a mind such as that.  Try to imagine a posture such as that, in a sense, even free of the condition of mind.  Try to imagine a posture such as that: innate wakefulness.  Then suppose that nature, free of contrivance, were to show itself:  gossamer, free, buoyant.  There are no words in English to describe it.

 

From the profound, innate wakefulness that is empty of contrivance, should a display show itself that was like that nature, inseparable from that nature in every single sense;  that display was not leaving the state of emptiness in order to show itself; completely indistinguishable from emptiness in the same way that the sun’s rays are completely indistinguishable from the sun itself; that there is no way to tell what is actually the tight hard ball of the sun, and what is the light and heat that comes out of it; that there is no way to tell the difference really: if we could imagine such display, we might call that luminosity.  We might say that this profound view of emptiness, this spontaneous, innate wakefulness that is complete and yet unbegun, could somehow show its face in a gossamer, uncontrived inseparable display that you can’t call light, you can’t call movement, you can’t call anything because it has not moved out of that nature. Because we need to use a word we say luminosity, but you must understand that this emptiness and luminosity are indistinguishable from one another.  We must also understand that this is what the Lama actually represents.

The Lama represents, therefore, the Primordial Wisdom State: that which is the wakefulness of Buddhahood in dance, in display, in radiance; not separate from the innate nature, yet arising in a completely pure display that is the primordial nature.  You have to say “indistinguishable from.”  That is what the Lama actually is. You could say that the Lama represents the union of emptiness and movement, or display.  You could say that the Lama represents the union of wisdom and method.  Guru Rinpoche appears to us always with the dakini.  He is always in union with the dakini.  Even when we see him in the pictures that we have of him or statues that we have of him, we may see him seeming alone; still, he has in the cleft of his left arm the symbol of the dakini.  So in his nature he is never without the dakini.  That is a teaching, a very profound teaching for us, as to how to understand the Lama.  The Lama, then, is understood as the appearance of the primordial nature, and the display of that nature appearing in our world, in our eyes, in our samsaric existence.  The Lama, then, represents the union of emptiness and luminosity.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 11/29/2015

11/29/2015 Sunday by Norma

It’s possible to over-commit or over-promise in the name of love. Do your best to pledge only what you can deliver and avoid future recrimination. Ignore alarming statements, and you’ll hear them, particularly from people at a distance. A powerful force has the ability to dissolve goals and assertions that have no basis in reality, so you don’t need to become involved. Arthur Schopenhauer said, “If we suspect a man is lying, we should pretend to believe him; for then he becomes bold and assured, lies more vigorously, and is unmasked.” What’s good today? Work involving pets, small projects around the house, pleasant activities with loved ones and conversation.

The astrology post affects each person differently, based on individual horoscopes. Look to see which area of your life is affected by this message!

In Your Hands

An Excerpt from a teaching called Our Motivation Is For Those Who Have Hopes of Us by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

When you practice you should think of all the uncountable beings who through ages and ages of wandering and endless revolution in cyclic existence you have had some either meaningful or meaningless contact with.  I can tell you for certain — absolute certain — that there will come a day when you will see them again.  And due to the purity of your intention and due to the strength of your practice, you will hold them in your hands.  And it’s only your compassion and your love that will be of benefit to them.  You will be able to bring them to the end of their suffering.  You have to remember that — and practice accordingly.

You have to remember that now you don’t have the power to look into the eyes of even your own children, your most beloved ones — your lovers, your husbands, your wives — you don’t have the power to look into their eyes and say, “I will always take care of you.  I will follow you. I will make sure that you’re all right.”  You can’t promise even your babies that you will feed them always.  You can’t make them that promise because they will die, and you don’t have — if you don’t have the practice — the power to see that they are happy in the next life.  There’s only one way you can keep that promise.  And that is through the sincerity and purity of your intention and through your practice.  But you can do that.  Due to Guru Rinpoche’s blessing, these things you can do now.

You can make prayers that in a future life you’ll be able to take those you now love so dearly in your hands and hold them until they achieve realization, that they will find the Dharma and be sure-footed on the path.  And the potency of that prayer will make a difference.  During the course of your life you should practice, knowing for certain that you are responsible for them, knowing for certain that you will hold them in your hands.  Knowing for certain that that’s the only way that love of any kind can be meaningful.

So you should come to the Dharma with the heart of a child, hoping that in the future you will be able to free from suffering those with whom you’ve come into contact.  The lamas teach us that the ones we love will someday be in our hands.  Now is the time to practice so that we don’t let them down.  Do not abandon them.  Do not forget them.  Hold them as carefully as you hold your own breath, and with more concern.  Because if you practice now, you will see them again.  Remember they are the ones who have hopes of you.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 11/28/2015

11/28/2015 Saturday by Norma

Feeling moody, impressionable? So is everyone else. Stay home and engage in domestic activities: cooking, tidying up, household maintenance. Family equals security today. Secret suffering is brought to light in some way, something you’d long forgotten comes back. Review it and forget it unless action
is required. Arthur Waley said, “Keep off your thoughts from things that are past and done; for thinking of the past wakes regret and pain.” The best aspect of the day involves imagination and creativity. Go to the movies, listen to music, and spend time near water. Dream the day away, relax and inspire yourself for the future.

The astrology post affects each person differently, based on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this message affects your life.

For Those Who Have Hopes of Us

An Excerpt from a teaching called Our Motivation Is For Those Who Have Hopes of Us by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

One of my teachers told me that he feels he has spent his whole life throwing seed out and that very little of it has landed on soil.  Most of it has landed on rocks and hard places.  That this teacher, who is so precious to me, could feel like this breaks my heart.  But it’s our fault, because we forget.  If our motivation to practice is not compassion — is anything other than realizing again and again and again, to the point where we cannot bear it, the suffering of beings — it is useless.

Every morning we should wake up knowing that others around the world are waking up hungry.  We can go down to breakfast; they can’t.  Every morning we should wake up knowing that we can practice Dharma this day.  We can do something about our condition.  We have a potency to our lives.  Others just continue — unconsciously, mindlessly, having no idea about cause and effect relationships.  Others continue with unbelievable suffering.

I remember feeling tremendous sadness watching the bullocks in India pulling huge carts from early in the morning till late at night and being whipped the whole time.  It isn’t only human suffering — it’s the suffering of all sentient beings that we should be touched by because they are all essentially the same.  They all have the Buddha nature; they have that seed.  And these are the ones that have hopes of us, because if we can think of them, there is a connection.  They have no method.  They have no practice.  They have nothing other than whatever pure intention we can muster up.  And so we can’t waste a moment.  We can’t waste even a second.  These are the ones that we are responsible for.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 11/27/2015

11/27/2015 Friday by Norma

The urge to say just one more thing is so strong that people are talking in their sleep, or talking to themselves! Talk interferes with work, or else communication systems are disrupted. Wait until silence signals a change into emotionalism, which is best handled by eating. Be aware that your interesting childhood story will be followed with someone else’s childhood story; they listened, now you must listen, so tell a happy story. Mark Twain said, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

The astrology post affects each person differently, based on individual horoscopes. Look to see where this message affects your life!

The Seed of the Buddha Nature Within

A Teaching by Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

When one begins to understand some of the ideas that are presented in Dharma, one realizes that the goal that we are engaged in “moving toward,” if you’ll forgive that bad choice of words, is actually Buddha Nature itself. We tend to consider that the path is like a thing that goes from here to there, like a movement toward, and it’s very hard not to conceptualize it in that way. But, in fact, when one practices Dharma, the ability to practice Dharma is actually based on the understanding of the innate Nature. If we did not have within us right now the seed of Enlightenment, if we did not have within us the potential to actualize ourselves as the Buddha, there would be no point of practice. The very basis for practice is that understanding. This is what the Buddha himself taught – that all sentient beings have within them the seed of Buddha Nature, and that Nature is their true Nature, in fact. However, they have not awakened to that Nature and so, in order awaken to that Nature, one engages in the path. The path should not be considered a ‘thing,’ a straight line that connects from here to there. The path should be understood as a method that one uses in order to awaken to that Nature which is already our Nature; which is complete, unchanging, and will never get any bigger or any smaller. One should understand that Dharma is actually an activity that is meant to awaken that potential. But the ultimate goal that one wishes for when one engages in Dharma, is, of course, Enlightenment itself. Now, what is Enlightenment? One understands that Enlightenment is actually the awakening to the Primordial Wisdom Nature, the awakening to the Buddha nature.

The Buddha never said that he was different from anyone else. He said simply, “I am awake.” He is indicating that he has awakened to the fullness of his own Nature and is able to abide spontaneously in that awakened state without any interruption or impediment. So, from that perspective, the basis of practice, the basis of the path itself is exactly the same as the goal. They are indistinguishable from one another. The path that one uses in order to achieve the goal is also indistinguishable from the basis, which is the Buddha Nature, and is also indistinguishable from the goal, which is the Buddha Nature. So, these three things, the basis, the method and the goal are indistinguishable from one another.

For us, however, it does not appear to be so, simply because of the way our minds work, involved in discursive thought as they are. We distinguish between what is potential and movement. We distinguish between movement and the goal. But in truth, you cannot distinguish between these three. If the basis for practice is the same as the goal, then anything in which you engage in order to achieve that awakening to your own Nature, must also be indistinguishable from your own Nature. The path, then, or the method, is not separate from the Buddha Nature.

Now, where we run into trouble is when we make our Dharma practice an outward movement that goes somewhere. When we do our practice, we project that there is going to be a certain result. That very subtle concept prevents the practice from doing all that it can do to remove obstacles from our own perception, because we cling to the idea of here-ness and there-ness, of such-ness and thus-ness, and in doing so, we cling to the idea of self. It’s very hard to understand that subtle difference, but that subtle difference is very important. If we did not view our Dharma practice as a subject, object, thing or as a linear movement in some way, we would more easily understand that the goal is the un-moveable, unchangeable, fully complete and spontaneously realized Nature itself, which is already present. The potential for the realization of that Nature would be much stronger in our practice, in terms of taking responsibility for our situation and utilizing our practice to its fullest capacity.

In order for us to consider our Dharma practice, or even the ability to listen to teachings, as a movement that ‘goes somewhere’ we have to be considering it in a very superficial way. But if the practice is understood as a natural and spontaneous manifestation, arising from the Buddha Nature that is our Nature, then the practice becomes less materialistic and more meaningful in a very profound way. In the same way, if we are in an ordinary environment and an ordinary teacher comes before us, we don’t respond as we would if the Buddha himself, with all the signs and marks, were sitting in front of us. If the Buddha appeared, we would respond with, “Whoa! Whoa! This is important! Something is happening here. The Buddha is here!” In truth, we should respond that same way to our own simple practice because that practice is indistinguishable from the Buddha Nature itself. The Buddha is here. But you see, the impact is different. Why the impact is different is because of the way that we consider and understand what we’re doing.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 11/26/2015

11/26/2015 Thursday by Norma

The news is good and conversation is satisfying. This is a great day for friendly get-togethers and for romance. Go for a walk, a drive or a short excursion. Contact everybody you know and say hi. Get everyone’s opinion about everything, and leave nobody out. Absolutely avoid political or religious discussions, they are hot topics and people aren’t flexible in their opinions. Listen politely to views contrary to your own. A person you forcefully disagree with can cause more trouble than you think, so be polite. Lane Olinghouse said, “To err is human, to refrain from laughing, humane.” What’s good today? Games, contests, short distance travel, romance and walking around.

The astrology post affects each person differently, depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see which part of your life is affected by this message!