Buddha in the Palm of Your Hand

From a series of tweets on October 20, 2010 by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

A few precious words taught by Kyabje His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.

The great master Buddha gave three main sermons to lead sentient beings onto the Path of Liberation from the suffering of samsara. Because beings have different levels of mind and interest, Buddha has given the teachings in nine Yanas or paths. These nine paths can be divided into the paths of Hinayana and Mahayana. Mahayana includes both Sutrayana, which emphasizes the practice of Bodhicitta and the six perfections, and Vajrayana, which utilized the techniques of deity meditation and skillful means of attaining Enlightenment.

The first eight Yanas are steps to the last and highest Yana called Atiyoga in Sanskrit. Ati means the best, top or essence. Yoga refers to the practitioner. Dzogchen, the practice of Atiyoga leads the practitioner directly to Enlightenment.

The Namcho (Space Treasure) Dzogchen preliminary practice is called “Buddha in the Palm of Your Hand.” By accomplishing this practice one can realize the nature of mind. An important and necessary foundation for higher Dzogchen practice, the preliminary practice consists of several steps.

Refuge or entering the gate of the three precious Jewels; Bodhicitta, the practice of the six perfections and the generation of the aspiration to realize Enlightenment; offering the Mandala, the accumulation of merit through skillful means; Vajrasattva, the purification of obscurations through Wisdom; and Guru Yoga, receiving the blessing through which one can attain Enlightenment in a single lifetime.

All components are necessary, as the Lama provides the maturation of the mind or there is little result. This Cycle of Revelation was revealed by Terton Migyur Dorje, who received it from Arya Avelokiteshvara and Guru Rinpoche.

This was from Kyabje Penor Rinpoche. With great longing, I bow down.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Astrology for 12/31/2015

12/31/2015 Thursday by Norma

Good-natured people appear and help in whatever way you need. Do some good deeds yourself: help someone cross the street, fold laundry, read directions. Small is beautiful today! Organize something, fiddle with your stamp collection, water the plants, hang pictures, plan your affairs. It’ll be fun. Material objects are your friend, along with mundane activities. A German proverb says, “When you sweep the stairs, start at the top.” Engage in small, practical activities and you will be happy today.

The daily astrology post affects everyone differently, based on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this message impacts your life!

What Is Real?

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

In science we have learned that objects, indeed, people are mostly space. We have atoms and molecules, and between them is empty space. So it is the case as Buddhism states. The primordial ground of being is the self-originating empty luminous state – space.

All appearances are due to the five senses, which are the five grasping skandas. We perceive by these senses all phenomena. The senses are themselves empty of self-nature.

So what is real? That empty, luminous uncompromised ground nature, and even THAT is empty if it is attached to conceptualization. It is natural vibrational attraction, magnetism so subtle that holds “view” together. We can also say that habitual tendencies, KARMA, cause and effect that rules view and condition; phenomenal display. In short we see what we are and according to habit from birth AND before. A cat is a born predator. A rabbit is born prey. Thus it is taught that every thought and action are important as they create every future, and result.

If we intentionally direct our minds toward harm, we ourselves will see the result. Cause and result. If not in this life, then soon. We are dancing in vibrationally-tuned luminosity. Every cause has result. And this is the Karma we bring into our future lives.

Try hard, indeed, accomplish virtue and view. And steer clear of harming others and causing suffering. This is what Lord Buddha taught. Eh Ma Ho.

In the end we will ALL suffer if we harm others. If we cultivate virtue (not just for show) we can benefit beings and know true bliss! Om Ah Hung Benzar Guru Pema Siddhi Hung

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Astrology for 12/30/2015

12/30/2015 Wednesday by Norma

Look to the big picture for happiness today, and look to small details for harmony. Zipping around stocking up on the necessities is surprisingly fun- toothpaste, shampoo and puppy chow for the new year! It’s a kaleidoscopic day: turn one way and see life’s shopping list, turn another and see the shooting stars of life. Mixing the two agendas will drive you nuts, so keep them separate. Dr. Alfred Kinsey said, “Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigeonholes.” A worry ends and a well -qualified person is on your side. Have fun!

The daily astrology post affects everyone differently, based on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this message impacts your life!

A Wish-Fulfilling Jewel

If you have ever walked into the Prayer Room at Kunzang Palyul Choling, you cannot have helped but notice the large collection of crystals.  And perhaps you have wondered, “Why do they have all of these crystals?  Is this typical of Buddhism?  What is their purpose?”

The Mineral Kingdom on a Mission:

The world is filled with uncountable minerals – crystals, ores, and gems.  Not only are they beautiful to behold, but they actually serve a vital function of maintaining the vibratory structure of the universe.  Originally brought into manifestation by rays of tone and color and vibration originating from the Primordial State of Awareness (the Absolute), they assure true communication and transmission of divine energies.  Crystals function to transmit peace, love, absolute oneness, absolute awakened consciousness.  They help to remind human kind of our own true nature, which is not unlike the clearest crystal and not unlike the most beautiful and radiant gems.

Each mineral or family of minerals has a specific attunement with different aspects of the Primordial Wisdom State that is the nature of all things.  If they were not present on our planet, many divine qualities would be lost to our memory.  But no mineral creates energy of its own.  They are transmitters, attuned to the cosmos.  They tend to refract universal energies into specific qualities.  If it seems that a crystal creates energy, it is because it has touched the Infinite and speaks of it, as though it had heard a song and continues to sing.

It is with this understanding that the crystals at KPC are utilized and upheld.  Walking through the Temple you will see magnificent specimens of all types:  clear and smokey quartz, rose quartz, amethyst, citrine, tourmaline, apophyllite, elestials, and so on.  Each type of mineral has a specific attunement to the Primordial State of Awareness, and together they work to absorb and amplify prayer energy and the presence of this primordial awareness (Buddhanature or God-consciousness) into the world.  Since 1985 KPC has maintained a 24-hour-a-day Prayer Vigil for the planet and all beings and the crystals are considered a vital part of our efforts.

How Do Crystals Fit Into Tibetan Buddhism?

While KPC is distinctive among Buddhist Centers in the number and unique use of crystals, they are indeed utilized within the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition.  In Tibetan Buddhist empowerment, the Lama will confer a special ‘nature of mind” transmission, wherein he holds up and students gaze upon a perfectly clear quartz crystal, symbolic of our Primordial Wisdom Nature.  Prayer beads (or malas) are also often made of semi-precious stones, from quartz to lapis lazuli, to amethyst.  The mala is blessed and empowered by one’s teacher, and serves as an aid to one’s spiritual practice.

Crystals, whether individual stones or prayer beads, in conjunction with a tried and true spiritual path can act as catalysts – bringing forth and ripening latent karmic potentials within your mind.  They may facilitate meditation and the breaking up of basic delusion.  But ultimately no mineral can give you anything that you don’t already possess.  They are supports to the spiritual path, not objects of refuge themselves.  On the path to enlightenment we have to find a way to catalyze the things that are most helpful to us, and that’s what crystals do.  That’s what they will do for a practitioner.  They should be an aid in our remembering – a support to realizing our true nature.

Something Truly Special

KPC’s crystals were chosen for their unique energies and strategically placed in order to facilitate the anchoring and transmission of prayer energy into the world.  Our spiritual director, Jetsunma worked to merge the energy of the crystals with one another and with the compassionate Buddha Nature.  Through twenty five years of continuous, unbroken prayer, the crystals have supported the mission of KPC and Jetsunma’s vision to bring benefit to countless sentient beings.

Astrology for 12/29/2015

12/29/2015 Tuesday by Norma

Emotional satisfaction trumps the news so focus on what’s good in your life as opposed to chatter, for best results. An appeal to imagination leads a worried person in a happy direction. Lama Surya Das said, “Intellect is a good servant but a poor master.” Turn off your brain to avoid thinking yourself into a tizzy today. Rest, relaxation and a cheerful companion – these are the ingredients for a happy day today.

The daily astrology post affects everyone differently, based on individual horoscopes. Look to see where this message affects your life.

The Four Immeasureables

In Tibetan Buddhism the idea of compassion is talked about by using the idea of “Bodhicitta.” Bodhicitta actually means compassion, but for Westerners, the idea of compassion is often that the “haves” give to the “have-nots.” There is a sense of one person having or being in a position to give, and another one being needy. In Buddhism it is different.  When one displays Bodhicitta, one understands that all sentient beings are suffering. One looks at cyclic existence and sees that it is impermanent; that all sentient beings, no matter how happy they are, temporarily, ultimately lose that happiness by experiencing old age, sickness, and death; that in the six realms of cyclic existence, there are many different forms of suffering due to impermanence and the mind of duality.

If you have no awareness of the impermanence of your situation, then you have no awareness of the fact that even though you may be happy at the moment, you are likely to suffer at some point in your life. If you tend to avoid that knowledge, you really cannot accomplish stability in your path because the motivation isn’t right. When you are suffering and you realize that you are suffering, your experience is intensified in such a way that you know that enlightenment is important. You know that this suffering that is happening to you is not good. Even if you are experiencing some temporary happiness like watching TV or feeling great when you’ve accomplished something, you notice that you feel not so great when that temporary satisfaction is absent.

According to the Buddha’s teaching, compassion and the determined cultivation of Bodhicitta is absolutely necessary in stabilizing and deepening one’s experience in meditation. Why is that so? First of all, we should look at the teaching that is called the Four Immeasurables.

The Four Immeasurables are loving kindness, compassion, joy, and boundless equanimity. Of these, the most foundational is boundless equanimity. This means the realization that all things are essentially equal. You learn to treasure your most loved one the same as those that you don’t know, including your worst enemy. How is this possible? If you look at why you care for your loved one more than you love your enemy or someone that you’ve never met, you can understand that the motivation for loving one more than another is desire. The desire that is felt here is the desire for approval, the desire for being recognized as an entity, the desire for the continuation of one’s awareness of self as being inherently real and stable. Believing in self- nature needs to continue once it is assumed, otherwise one will feel chaos or as though things are falling apart. Desire is inherent in all of this.  There is another thing that you can learn from realizing the difference you feel between the friend and the enemy, and that is the belief in the separation of self and other.

Buddha teaches us that we are actually empty of self-nature. This means that although we exist in a primordial wisdom state, what we experience when we experience self-nature as inherently real, is actually a series of conceptualizations that are contrived. They are inconsistent with the pure primordial natural state which is free of all contrivance.

Boundless equanimity is the opposite of this self/other contrivance because it is the realization of the loved one and the hated one as essentially equal. To realize this, one must rid the mind of attraction and repulsion, which according to the Buddha are the very causes of suffering. They are the children of desire; they actually begin the cycle of karmic cause and effect, and they occur every time you have a thought. If there is attraction and repulsion, there is always wanting or not wanting, there is always grasping or pushing away. When attraction arises, to the same degree repulsion will also occur because the ordinary mind exists in a state of duality. If you do not experience it at that very moment it will be experienced at some future time, perhaps next year or next lifetime.  Once a cause and effect relationship is set up it always realizes itself.

Equanimity becomes necessary, then, in order to have a profound and continuously stable experience in one’s meditation or practice, not floating on the ups and downs of attraction and repulsion.  Through equanimity one understands the equality of all phenomena.  The way that the Buddha teaches us to establish equanimity in the mind is to realize true nature, which is the underlying reality of all phenomena, including self-nature. The Buddha teaches us that the primordial wisdom state, or the ground from which phenomena spontaneously arise is clear — it has the quality of innate wakefulness. Yet the moment that you describe it you lose it, because to wrap concepts around it makes it a contrived, unnatural experience. Realizing the natural state comes through realizing equanimity, through learning how that natural state might appear or how it might be viewed, how it might arise. Then by eliminating desire from the mind stream one has the potential to experience the natural state in meditation.

How do you begin to attain this pure view of equanimity? First of all you should look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “Which part is self? Where exactly is self?” Maybe you think it’s in your brain. Imagine that you can open up your head. Can you find self there? Where’s your identity? Look at every little piece under a microscope. Where is self? Then look at something else you identify with. Do you have great legs? Look at your legs, take them apart.  Look at the bones, the muscle, the cellulite. Can you find self in there? Or look in your liver, or heart, or your chakras. Maybe self is in one of your chakras. You look inside, but you can’t find it. You take yourself apart and examine every single molecule under the microscope and you still haven’t found self. So you understand then that self-nature is a concept or a contrivance that is born of a certain type of consciousness which is actually an idea of separation — the separation between self and other. The whole thing is a conceptual proliferation. In examining the nature of self we understand that self-nature is inherently empty, that it doesn’t exist the way we thought.

If self is not real, maybe I should look and see if I can find “other.” Do the same thing with all the “others” in the world. Take everybody apart, examine everything. And after you do all of this you will find that many of the things by which you have structured your life are not as they appear. From that you can begin in a courageous way to determine what true nature really is. It is through meditation that you may come to sense or understand this primordial wisdom state that is free of all conceptualizations, free of any religious idea, free of any perception of self and other yet experienced and felt as luminous and awake.

How is it then that one’s loved one and one’s enemy become essentially the same? It is because they are understood to be the same nature, the same taste. Buddha teaches that all phenomena, when understood through pure view and the stabilization of one’s mind, are the same taste. It is only desire and the attraction to other that makes loved ones and enemies seem inherently real and separate in the way we always consistently experience them.

The equality of all sentient beings allows the arising of the purely loving viewpoint found in the other three Immeasurables. One of these three is loving kindness. This kindness is not about acting kind, or adopting a set of rules to be a nice person. Instead, the Buddha’s view understands that profound nature as having one taste, realizing that all beings are equal. Their happiness has exactly the same weight as mine, exactly the same importance.  From this viewpoint, one naturally develops loving kindness. There is no progress without it:  This exceptional quality of desiring the happiness of all sentient beings is what the Buddha means by loving kindness.

The next of the Four Immeasurables is compassion. Here one realizes the needs of others by realizing the intense suffering of others. One realizes the fragile nature of impermanence, the needs of sentient beings and how they suffer. The wisdom, stability and intensity of determination that comes through a solid realization of these things, the compassion that arises naturally from this is the second of the Four Immeasurables.

The third is joy. Ordinarily we grow up thinking that if we just develop a good attitude and if we are positive we’re going to look happy and therefore be happy. We’re taught, “I want mine and when I get mine then I’ll be joyful because I’ll be able to act joyful then.” But the Buddha talks about joy in the well-being of others. An example would be: if I hear that you have a new car I am happy for you because you have attained even a moment of temporary happiness. I don’t make a judgment like, “Well, you’ve already got three cars, or hey, there are lots of people starving and you have a new car.”

Instead, the practice is this: the happier you are, the happier I am. If even for one moment you have achieved some level of happiness I should bless that happiness and think, “May that happiness bring you to such a point of stability and regard, may it afford you the generosity to think about others and wish for their well-being to the extent that you attain realization. May that car be the cause for your realization, may you be free of suffering in all its forms.” Or, “I wish you could have six hundred cars; I wish you could have everything that makes you happy.” It’s the joy that naturally occurs from sincerely wishing for the happiness and well-being of all sentient beings, to the extent that whatever they are capable of in terms of achieving some degree of relaxation, peace, time out from suffering, or whatever they are able to achieve that is of any benefit or any use to them at all, I am sincerely happy for them because they are the same as me and inseparable from me.

Without the Four Immeasurables and the pure view that’s implied by them, there is no enlightenment. They can be developed in the same way that you have cultivated any of the talents or abilities you have developed during your life — through determination, through taking the time to really examine the emptiness of self-nature and the emptiness of phenomena, through meditation and stabilizing the mind through pure perception of the natural primordial wisdom state, through the determination to attain compassion. It does not happen effortlessly. So it does no good to throw your hands up and say, “I can’t do this, I just can’t think that way.” Neither can anyone else.

All the great Buddhas and Bodhisattvas began as sentient beings, in a state of confusion. Through the same kind of practice that you are embarking on now, they stabilized their minds and developed not only loving kindness and compassion, but the extraordinary pristine Bodhicitta that is the basis and the method for the attainment of enlightenment.

The ground from which you arise thinking that you are self and thinking that self and other are inherently real and separate, that ground is the same ground that gives rise to the most pristine compassion, the most glorious of spontaneous celestial awareness when realized with pure view. That ground is your nature, and in potential you are the same as all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Holding that in your mind, continue with determination, knowing that all things are possible.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Astrology for 12/28/2015

12/28/2015 Monday by Norma

A nice surprise perks up the day. A woman improves your life with a plan that is stable and ingenious; it’s so obviously right that you are swept along with the flow. Debates can turn unexpectedly contentious; stop talking if a conversation becomes heated. Stephen Covey said, “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” A surprise is possible but it’s over before you fully understand what happened. What’s good today? Big picture thinking, travel, goal setting, improvement in health and a joyous spirit that makes everything fun.

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

Vajrayana is for This Time

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

The tradition we practice here is called Vajrayana. This particular kind of teaching most greatly benefits people who are born in this degenerate aeon. There is something about Vajrayana that seems to burn the candle at both ends. When one practices generation stage practice for example, one does not suppress the compulsion to consider oneself a “self” or ego but rather uses that inclination. There is an energy associated with clinging   to oneself as an ego that is a lot like a rubber band. You can try to think of something else, but however much you stretch it, it will always come back to its original shape. That compulsion to consider self-nature as being inherently real is similar to the energy-that causes a rubber band to reform; we have that energy instinctively within our minds.

Vajrayana actually uses that inclination in generation stage practice. There we meditate on Emptiness, on the natural uncontrived primordial state of Emptiness. We consider that all elements of perceptual phenomena are broken into their natural component: sheer luminosity. Meditating on emptiness or shunyata, we then generate the deity using that same energy that causes us to consider self-nature. Generating ourselves as the deity, we generate the pure display having all the pure qualities of the deity. Arising from emptiness, we generate the pristine Nature in such a way as to be a phenomenal thing, a display. It is visible to our eyes and our consciousness. We use the very energy that causes us to cling to self-nature to accomplish realization. Vajrayana has that unique quality. Can you see how it burns the candle at both ends? We use what we have — that fire, that passion, even desire, to accomplish the Primordial Wisdom Nature.

In this time of degeneration, I am taught that there will come a time when there is no teaching in the world that can bring us to enlightenment. There will be no path, no Bodhisattvas that incarnate, and the Buddha will not be present in the world. It will be a time of great darkness and wars. And finally  there will be a time of night, of darkness.  Immediately after that the next Buddha will appear again.

Now while things are becoming darker and more condensed, one still has a shot. Things are lining up so that if one were to sincerely practice a technology that can lead to enlightenment and that has brought others repeatedly to enlightenment, if one were to practice that with fervent regard, devotion, and faith in a pristine way, then one could achieve the auspicious result — realization during the course of this lifetime, or in the Bardo, or an auspicious rebirth in order to practice purely and perfectly.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Astrology for 12/27/2015

12/27/2015 Sunday by Norma

A proud moment has everyone beaming. Light, color and an inspiring presence bring genuine fun today. If you’re invited to another social event dress up and show up, you’ll be glad you did. An emotional gesture, an offer of help, is satisfying and genuine. A partner continues to push as everyone else relaxes; be gracious and stay calm. The person needs reassurance and appreciation. Quentin Crisp said, “The formula for a successful relationship is simple: treat all disasters as if they were trivialities, but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.” This is an excellent day to make
travel plans for the future, to discuss New Year’s resolutions and to spend time with people who make you happy.

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