Letting Go of “Cool”

Excerpt from a teaching on Compassion by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Somehow you have found yourself in this fortunate, amazing position where this feast of possibility is laid before you. How did you come to this point? How is it possible that you have this option? You must have done something right in the past, and I suggest that you now build on it. If you don’t cultivate the mind of extraordinary compassion and such a burning love that compassion is the most important force in your life, then the natural inclinations of a mind filled with desire will overcome you. This is Kaliyuga, the age of degeneration, and that’s how it is. You must practice and cultivate that mind of compassion, of love, so thoroughly that you are moved to the core by even the faint possibility that you might achieve liberation in order to benefit beings. You think of nothing else. You must cultivate that until you burn with it. Don’t be afraid of that kind of love.

In the West we are taught, “Be cool. Hey, I’m an intellectual, I don’t think like that. I’m kind of special.” That’s what we’re taught, that’s our value system. That is the same value system we will take to our graves, and only the selfishness of that kind of idea will survive, not the intelligence. There is one thing that will survive this life, and will create the karma for your next life. It is the purity of your mind and the degree of love that you have accomplished. This will be the determining factor for how you will return time and time again in a form that will benefit beings until someday there is no more suffering.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 2/29/2016

2/29/2016 Monday by Norma

A barrier has just been crossed and you are now on the other side of the looking glass! You’ll notice the difference in time. An energetic person pushes a project and gets things moving. If you feel annoyed you just got pushed, so get going! A sense of accomplishment is all pervasive and something you’ve worked for is coming to fruition. Andre Gide said, “In order to be utterly happy the only thing necessary is to refrain from comparing this moment with other moments in the past.” Stay busy with the details of life today: get a haircut, wash the car, organize your files, color coordinate your pens, etc. Machines are helpful. Watch the skies for an interesting development, and avoid overdoing. Relax in the Piscean way: take a bath, watch a movie, listen to music or enjoy art and nature.

The astrology post affects everyone differently depending on individual horoscopes. Look to see how this message affects your life!

What Can You Do?

An excerpt from a teaching on Compassion by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

There are many Dharma practitioners who practice for many years, go on retreat, and even take ordination. Then at some point, some karmic switch flips in their minds and suddenly they’re finished with Dharma! They don’t want to do Dharma anymore. They’re on to something else. We may think that’s strange, but it has happened, especially to Westerners. It’s not uncommon for a Westerner to practice Dharma sincerely and then flip tracks, and go back into a very ordinary kind of life. That need not happen to you. But it could. You should face that possibility.

The antidote for that event is to cultivate compassion in your mind every day. If you move along the path of Buddhadharma and become overworked by it, thinking, “I just can’t practice that many hours a day. I cannot do this activity that propagates the Dharma anymore. It’s just too much.” If you become dry inside, if you think you just can’t go on, there’s only one way that that could happen to you. You have forgotten the suffering of others.

You must cultivate the memory that even in this visible world where beings can be seen, there is suffering that you cannot comprehend. You must think that there are children being abused everywhere, that there is starvation and poverty. You must think about the terrible diseases that afflict the body, speech and mind. You must think about the horrible things that come along with suffering, and the depth of suffering that exists, even in the realms that you can witness. If you think about that everyday, more about that than you do about yourself, you will not fall off the path of Dharma. When you become weak, when you waiver, that is when you forget. That is when you think the path is all about you. It’s when you forget that you are practicing for their sake, and that you are practicing also to liberate your mind so that you can be of benefit to others.

A non-Buddhist practitioner might say, “I’ve got another idea. Why don’t I do what I know how to do best. I’ll go out and make some money, and then I’ll feed everybody. I can do that.”

I’ll tell you a story about when I went to India. In our innocence, we thought, “Let’s go see Bombay; this is really going to be great.” So we got in a taxi and we went through the streets of Bombay thinking that we were going to see the India on the postcards. What I saw were streets so filled with sickness – leprosy, deformity, unbelievable poverty – that I couldn’t see anything else. I know there were beautiful buildings. I know there was beautiful scenery, but I couldn’t see those things.

Every time the taxi stopped, people with only part of a limb and open sores of leprosy would stick their arms in the car and beg.  Mothers would hold up their babies that they had done something to, saying, “Help us, help us.” So I started passing out dollar bills to everyone. I soon realized I was in deep trouble as I only had a limited amount of money, but that didn’t stop me.

I was traumatized by this. I was crying to the depth of my heart, because I had known that suffering existed, but I was used to my brand of suffering. I had never seen anything like this. I continued to pass out dollar bills, and finally the taxi driver stopped. He turned around and said, “Lady, don’t do this anymore. What is one dollar going to do for these people? Maybe they’ll eat today. What will you do for them tomorrow? And if you give out one dollar to everyone you see, there are so many people like them in India, you couldn’t help them all.” His saying that shocked me; he was right. Even if I could manage to become wealthy, I couldn’t feed the world. And hunger is only one kind of suffering. How can you help the other kinds of suffering? This kind of ordinary compassion ultimately does no good.

Why are those people suffering in India, and why were you born here in the West where things are relatively comfortable? Why are there animals and why are there humans? Why are there other realms of existence? Why is there so much suffering in one place, and much less suffering in another place? It is because of karma. That is the reason for all of this. Yet there is a cure for negative karma, which is the kind of karma that causes suffering. Ultimately, it is the only cure that will work. That cure is the eradication of hatred, greed and ignorance from the mindstreams of sentient beings. And the root of hatred, greed and ignorance is desire.

This doesn’t mean if we see starving people we shouldn’t feed them, that we should immediately teach them the Dharma. That, of course, won’t work. We have to be skillful. If people are hungry, we feed them first, and then we teach them. But your job now is to do neither. You might not have money, and you might not have the ability to teach just yet. But you can do something. You can practice Dharma in such a way that you, yourself, become free of hatred, greed and ignorance. You can practice so that you can liberate your mind from cyclic existence for one reason and one reason only: that after liberating your mind, you can emanate in a form that will continue to benefit beings. You can liberate your mind from desire to such a degree that you have only one hope, and that hope is that you will be born again and again in a form that will bring this antidote to other suffering beings. That’s what you can do.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 2/28/2016

2/28/2016 Sunday by Norma

Multiple slow-moving and far-reaching goals are coming to fruition now. Work projects are steadily improving in scope and outcome, as are spiritual projects. The trick is not to mix the two or they will obstruct each other. This means you must consider which realm you’re playing in at all times. Visionary projects succeed unless you start applying strict standards, feasibility studies, to them. Oscar Wilde said, “No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.” Likewise, material and financial projects work out well unless you apply dream standards to them. Put in real fence posts, not imaginary ones! What’s good today? Friends, groups, a future that is shaping up the way you prefer and improvements in health.

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

Astrology for 2/27/2016

2/27/2016 Saturday by Norma

The sun travels close to Neptune, reflecting the urge to lie on the couch watching tv, create a masterpiece or engage in escapist activity. It’s possible to pull inward and do some major thinking that leads to an “aha” moment if you spend time in contemplation. Emotional stability is the gift of this day. Your intuitive thinking allows you to solve problems you didn’t know you had. Oprah Winfrey said, “Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests.” What’s good today? Escape, the healing of health problems, happy times with friends and creative energy.

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

Why All the Focus on Suffering?

An excerpt from a teaching on Compassion by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

You may ask, “Why do I have to think about suffering? Why is it that the Buddha talks about suffering and nobody else does? Why is it that today’s New Age thinkers are saying, ‘I want to be me. I want to be free,’ and the Buddha is still talking about suffering after thousands and thousands of years?” It is because the Buddha has a teaching that is very logical and very real.

If we want to exit a room, but there is a chair between us and the door, we have a number of choices. We can say that the chair is not there. We can pretend that the chair is not an obstacle to our passing through the room and that it’s not important. Or we can notice that the chair is there and get on with our journey by walking around it. That is the essence of the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha doesn’t stop at saying, “There is suffering.” The Buddha follows that by saying, “There is a way out of suffering.”  And that’s the ticket.  You cannot motivate yourself to follow the path out of suffering until you generate the commitment through the realization of suffering. You can’t make yourself walk around the chair to get to the door until you face the fact that the chair is blocking your way. You have to look at the chair.

It isn’t only about walking around a chair so that you can get to the other side of the room, so that you can get out the door. There’s more to it than that. You must understand that your commitment is two-fold. In order to become the deepened practitioner that you must be, to really sink your teeth into the Buddhadharma, you must have compassion for others that is so strong and so extraordinary it will nourish you even when you are dry.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Treasure of Bodhicitta: What Does Enter the Bardo

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

The vow of refuge—taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha—is a vow that one must renew every lifetime, but the power of the Bodhisattva Vow is so strong that the power and potency of that vow lives from lifetime to lifetime.  If you have taken that vow, you have that vow from now until you cross through the door of liberation into nirvana.  And you must pray every day that you will be guided, in this life and in every future life, to meet with the means by which you will be able to practice this great compassion.

Now everything about your life must seem different.  The prejudices you had before, about different peoples and different races and different religions and so forth, how can they make sense now?  You had ideas about how this person is better than that person because of the class that they’re in, or how one person is superior because of their superior intellect.  Having tasted one moment of Bodhicitta you realize that a superior intellect is a fools’ toy in a fools’ world, unless it can be used to bring about that pure absorption.  Everything changes, and slowly, slowly so do you.  So even if you are that person who begins practicing the Bodhisattvas’ path by saying “I dedicate myself to the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings” (dull, bored and quick) that’s not going to last for long.  Accept yourself the way you are.  If that’s where you’re starting, start there.  It’s a simple truth.  Just do it, and don’t make such a big deal about it.  That’s a good mantra.  Om don’t make a big deal hung phet.  Just don’t make a big deal about it.  Just start where you are.  Gradually over time this will stop and you’ll begin to feel that catch in your throat, that movement, that change that begins to happen.

Of course, there are different ways of beginning practice, different places that each one of you start at, but the rules fundamentally are the same.  They are the same.  One requires mental discipline in order to truly practice the Bodhicitta.   Practice the contemplations.  Practice daily mindfulness, and then, in the practice of the repetition of the vow of the Bodhicitta, begin to remain absorbed in this idea, in the reality of the Bodhicitta.  Remain absorbed in the stability of mind that one experiences when one is not busy manipulating and grasping.  This is real progress on the path, real progress, much more so than talking the dharma talk and walking the dharma walk and doing the dharma routine.  Developing a good heart at last.  This is real result, and it is lasting.

You won’t be able to take your dharma talk and your dharma rap and your dharma scene and your dharma clothes and your dharma deadly do-rights, or anything that you have accomplished in this lifetime, into the next rebirth.  You will not be able to take any of that into the bardo. But a good heart and vajra compassion? Yes, you’ll take that into the next life. And it is one of the main causes for the conditions of your next rebirth.  This is valuable.  This is your treasure, this heart of the Bodhisattva.  It is the first step to a truly happy life.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 2/26/2016

2/26/2016 Friday by Norma

A surprising event generating indecisiveness comes early in the day. If you feel shocked use your brain, think things over and the situation will stabilize for you. Don’t be influenced by group thinking. Clarence Darrow said, “To think is to differ.” If you rush off impulsively or take action in a rash manner, things go poorly. You can be the voice of reason or calm a distressed person today. Elsewhere, friends are wonderful and groups are great. A sense of tiredness and the urge to escape reality are all-pervasive, don’t take them as a sign that something’s wrong with you. Join your friends and have a good time.

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

For Their Sake

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

There is nothing about you that inherently goes towards non-lovingness or lack of concern for others. You are actually the Bodhichitta in your essence, but it is your habitual tendency, karmic cause and effect relationships that bring about habitual tendency, and the weight of that karma that weighs down on one side. Now we’re looking to balance the scales and this kind of meditation changes your habitual tendency so that you find the next time you want to take that Bodhisattva Vow in the context of your practice, magically you’re feeling different. It’s not really an emotional thing, but somewhere inside you sense, you feel, that something has changed. Number one, you have the good feeling of really having invested a great deal of your time in this discipline of meditation for the sake of others. And number two, most importantly, your habitual tendency is starting to change. So next time you say “I dedicate myself to the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings,” you’ll find that as you say that, there’s a catch in your voice and your heart, almost like, “Oh, is it real? Do I feel it? Yes, it’s there.” You’ll know that it’s beginning to take hold in your heart. And when you really feel that deeply, you’ll begin to feel the benefit and happiness associated with this practice.

Now don’t get off on that and get lost in “Oh I’m so happy! Now I’m a great Bodhisattva! Now I can look like a saint! Take out a pint of blood, I’m looking too robust!” Don’t get lost in the concept. Only continue,, continue with the practice for the sake of sentient beings. Do not get lost in the circus. Remember, make it always about them. Ultimately you will come to understand, in maturity in your practice, that your own enlightenment and the enlightenment of others is nondual and equal in weight. Equal in weight. And here’s the real reason why. Even though there are so many more other sentient beings than you or I who are wandering in samsara, one can only bring about temporary or relative benefit as a human being. One cannot bring about extraordinary or ultimate benefit until one actually achieves realization. It is for that reason we are so dedicated to bringing about our own liberation for their sake.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 2/25/2015

2/25/2016 Thursday by Norma

Do not pass up a social opportunity today, you will have a wonderful time with friends. An opportunity involving a partnership or group is available, which you will miss if you mope around feeling sorry for yourself. E. Jean Carroll said, “If Joan of Arc could turn the tide of an entire war before her
eighteenth birthday, you can get out of bed!” If you are involved in the entertainment industry this is your time as people are looking for distraction. Keep talking about problems and watch your audience slip away while you’re not looking. Inspiration goes farther than hard facts now. Doctors and medical cures are favorable. Be aware that a prodigious effort is going on behind the scenes. Watch for hidden agendas, and be aware that positive change is taking place.

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