The Burning Room

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Bringing Virtue Into Life”

We can live our lives as the walking dead, and then die, unprepared, like going to a continent filled with precious jewels and coming back empty-handed.  Or, we can switch on the lights, face facts and do what it takes to negotiate the shoals of samsara, as painlessly as possible.

The Buddha teaches us that we should think of our lives as like a burning room and that the smoke is beginning to choke us, fill us up. And you know, if you’re in a burning room, eventually you’re going to get burned.  It’s going to consume you, right?  So think of ourselves as being in a burning room, and think that there is one door.  That door is wide open to you.  Do you get that?  It is wide open to you.  That door is the door of Dharma.  There is one door by which to escape and you can walk out that door.  You should think of the very doorway of that door as being your own root teacher.  That is the implement, the tool, that you should use to get out of that room—your teacher, your practice,  Dharma.

If you were in a burning room right now, and your skin was beginning to crackle and the smoke was beginning to overcome you, how would you think about that door?  With fervent regard,  the way we are instructed to think about our practice.  That door would look pretty much like God to you!  That door would look like the best thing you ever saw!  Every breath of air that came through that door would be sweeter than anything you have ever known because that door is freedom.

You should think about your practice that way, because that is the way it is.  That is the way it is.  In samsara here, we are locked in a burning room and there is a door. And we have the great good fortune of not only seeing that door, but having the capacity to exit through that door.  Not only that, but that door has a door sill that is friendly and helpful and appropriate for the size and shape of our bodies that will help us to exit that room comfortably.  And that’s how we should think about our practice.  Number one, wake up.  Number two, get the big picture.  Number three, act as though you were a sane and reasonable person, which most of us don’t.  We don’t act like sane and reasonable people.

I’m not telling you anything you didn’t know.  You know that life is impermanent.  You know that you have suffered, and you know that you feel unable to really face all these things because it seems so hard to simply live a virtuous life. But I can tell you that it’s like anything else that you do as a friend for yourself that’s good for you, such as changing your diet to really nutritious food.  At first when you do that, you know how it is.  When you’re young, you can eat anything.  You have a cast iron stomach.  I mean the things I ate when I was young I can’t even look at now.  Now I’m 45 years old and I have to eat right.  If I don’t eat right, I don’t feel good.

But do you remember what it took to change into learning how to live well in that regard?  To go from eating the food that I liked to eating the food that I have learned to like was hard, and I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t think I was up to it.  And to go from the kind of activity that I engaged in when I was younger… Oh I could stay up all night if I wanted to, every night if I wanted to.  I was blazing.  I was a crazy girl.  But now, if I don’t get a certain amount of sleep, the next day I’ve got bags down to my knees. You know, it’s horrible what life does to you!  You look terrible and your whole face shows it.  You feel awful. You feel like a dog.  You feel worse than a dog.

So how did you feel when you had to change from those old habits to these new habits?  At first it was painful.  You didn’t want to do that.  You didn’t want to change.  When you learned that your body was going to fall down if you didn’t exercise, you started to exercise. At first, you hated it.  You hated it.  Nobody likes it when they first start to exercise.  It’s painful.  Your body doesn’t want to do that.  But then when you finally do start to exercise, your body likes it and loves it and it feels good.

Living a virtuous life is like that.  The decision to live a virtuous life is painful at first because you have to face the facts, and the facts are you’re dying.  You’re dying on the hoof, right now. The second fact is that if you engage in virtuous activity you’ll be happy, and if you engage in nonvirtuous activity, you will be unhappy. That is not something we want to face.  We want to do what we do, effortlessly, la la la la la, like little children.  We don’t want to examine ourselves.  We don’t want to look at what we do, but once we have done that,I’ve found, and many of us who are practicing for some time now have found, that we come to love our practice.  We come to deepen in it and truly love it.  We come to love the life of Dharma.  We come to love a life that is engaged in bringing benefit and happiness to others.  We come to find out at last that we never, not for a moment, liked ourselves when we were living the other way, the nonvirtuous way, the no-brainer.  We never liked ourselves.  There was no self-esteem happening there at all.

So then my suggestion is that we get started.  Go through it.  Buck up little soldier!  Do what it takes to stand up tall and open your heart and get the big picture. Once you do that and you start to engage in a virtuous life, your mind will be smoother, you will be happier.  You will be happier.  This I promise you.

In the meantime, because our minds work the way they do and because we can’t see the direct relationship between cause and effect, we have to listen to our teachers.  There is no other choice. Our teachers have crossed the ocean of suffering, just as the Buddha has done.  Crossed the ocean of suffering, and returned for our sake. Our teachers, having seen the further shore and having seen the journey there and back, have come back to bring us this understanding.  Live this way.  Bring your life to the pinnacle of what it can be, and hold it steady and grow up, because that’s what it takes to be happy.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved



Astrology for 4/30/2016

4/30/2016 Saturday by Norma

Friends are satisfying and a group is excellent today. It’s time to renew old relationships that you’ve been too busy for recently. Samuel Johnson said, “A man, sir, should keep his friendships in good repair.” Call your friends, invite them somewhere, cook up a surprise party! An unexpected source of happiness comes later in the day. If you must make a purchase be certain you’ve considered it previously as brand new ideas won’t work at all! A pleasant sense of settling down after a long push is satisfying. Something you’ve worked for is headed your way. Relaxation and attention to beauty, these things are important now.

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

Do It Because You MUST

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Bringing Virtue Into Life”

Here are some thoughts that we do not accomplish because initially they are uncomfortable.  They are painful.  We do not want to know this.  We have this idea when we’re young, that by the time we get to be an adult we’re going to have all the answers.  And in fact you do have all the answers, until you’re about 25.  Before that you’re omnipotent you see, and then when you’re 25 you’re no longer omnipotent. Do you know why that is?  Because you have a brain that has finally started to grow in your cranium.  Before that it was only brain buds.  So now that you’re about 25 you’re beginning to realize that you don’t have all the answers and the omniscience, the supreme omniscience that you were afflicted with earlier, is dissipating.

That happened to me too.  When I was little I used to think when I grow up, I’m going to be completely comfortable.  I thought when I have children I’m going to raise them just this way; and I will never do this and I will always do this.  Who has had good luck with that I want to know?  Have you ever heard yourself yelling at your kid and you find out you are your mother?  You have turned into your mother for real!  Well, that kind of thing has happened.  Also, you grow up and you think, when I grow up I’m going to have all of the answers.  When I grow up I’m going to be secure.  When I grow up I’ll have financial things worked out.  It’s all going to come together for me.  When you’re young you think like that. And when you’re older you realize almost none of it is going to come together for you, almost none of it.  Some, yeah.  There are good things in life.  There are good things in samsara, but you realize that it’s not what it seems to be.

As practitioners this is really what you have to take away with you.  As a practitioner, you cannot fall into the trap that we as younger people fall into.  You can’t stay there very long.  And you that are younger, you need to create the habit of thinking about this:  Samsara is a deluded experience.  It’s like a narcotic.  It fools you.  It creates a way for you to look in the mirror at 45 with dyed hair and think “I’m not dead yet!”  Instead of pinching your cheeks for a little blush, putting on your lipstick and bouncing out of the house like you did when you were 18 or 20, after 45 minutes with the makeup, you look at yourself, blink twice, hope that the eyelashes don’t stick together, and go “I’m not dead yet!” again.  You can’t stay like that.  You cannot keep yourself in that childlike, ridiculous idea.  You must, at some point in your life, realize that life is going by very quickly and that you are going by with it, and there is not a moment to be wasted.

When it comes to who should practice and who should not practice, it is not for you to practice to impress your friends.  It is not for you to practice because I want you to practice and it would please me.  Certainly not.  It is not for you to practice because you’ll be cheek by jowl with the other people who are practicing.  It is for you to practice because this is the nature of your situation.  You are involved in the cycle of death and rebirth. Life passes quickly and if you do not prepare for your next life, your next life will not be what you want it to be.  There is a very good chance that you will end up with a lower rebirth or a rebirth of extreme suffering. So, when you think about why you should embrace spirituality, particularly when you think why you should embrace the path of Dharma, don’t do it for me. Don’t do it for the temple.  Don’t do it because it’s cool.  Do it because you must.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 4/29/2016

4/29/2016 Friday by Norma

Friends present themselves for activity and interaction. A financial impasse is resolved by quick action, but with Mercury retrograde you’ll spend time handling matters from the past. Five retrograde planets keep you hopping, in reverse! Don’t sign contracts and don’t buy anything you expect to
work in the future (cars, blenders, computers, etc). A conundrum exists where you want to work hard but aren’t sure what to do! P.J.O’Rourke said, “Worrying is less work than doing something to fix the worry. Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom with the dishes.” Just go ahead and do nothing. Ignore the urge to propose marriage, you’ll change your mind tomorrow. What’s good? Friends, happiness, health and enjoying the beauty that is around you.

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

Light of Compassion

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

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.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 4/28/2016

4/28/2016 Thursday by Norma

A person working behind the scenes, steadily and unobtrusively, is making actual progress to the surprise of flashier players who thought they were smarter. Ogden Nash said, “Here’s a good rule of thumb: too clever, is dumb.” Step aside, honor the person and recognize the accomplishment. Applause is in order. Behave appropriately in public today, respect authority and treat others with kindness. News from abroad is perplexing and political matters keep changing. Be aware that the spinning wheel determining outcomes hasn’t stopped yet, all you can do is watch and wait. In the meantime, love is fun, health matters improve and work is satisfying.

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

This Is Your Temple

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Bringing Virtue Into Life”

When you give money to the temple, do it because you need to, not because we need you to.  Do it because you understand that you are the one that needs to practice the generosity.  That’s your medicine.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that your root guru or your lama is the one that needs the temple.  It’s completely false.  It is not the lama that needs the temple.  It’s the students that practice there.  This is not my temple in Poolesville, Maryland.  This is your temple in Poolesville, Maryland.  You should take pride in its cleanliness.  You should take pride in its prosperity.  It should embarrass you when the bills are not paid here.  It should embarrass you when things are not going well at the temple—when there is not enough participation, when we can’t find someone to cut the grass—because this is your temple.  This is your house.  Spiritually, you live here.  This is for you.  If you could just get that one small truth and take responsibility for your practice whether it’s the karma yoga of engaging in protecting your temple, propagating the teachings, making this place firm, pure and safe for others to come and practice, or whether it’s the meditational yoga of actually engaging in sit-down practice in order to benefit sentient beings, or both.  Hopefully you’re doing both, because that’s what is needed.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 4/27/2016

4/27/2016 Wednesday by Norma

Things have settled down somewhat and you are free to engage in business and do a bit of shopping. Stability reigns, today, even though the tendency to use an outdated playbook persists. Be aware that your best thinking is behind you, for the time being. It won’t be easy to relinquish the mindset you have settled into, but being aware opens possibilities. Arthur Block said, “A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking,” neatly summing up the current situation. What’s good today? Early action that stabilizes finances, running errands, engaging in daily tasks, expressing your love, and
successfully appealing to authority figures.

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

Astrology for 4/26/2016

4/26/2017 Tuesday by Norma

Zippy action characterizes the day, so get moving! Travel is favored, either physical or mental- go somewhere or expand your mind through learning. Happiness lies in both directions. Prior strategies don’t work, it’s a different time! Harry Fosdick said, “The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.” Shelve policies unless they prove their worth in the situation at hand. It’s time to be nimble and quick to act. Love is in the picture, accomplishment is possible, but you must find a new way to move through life. Have you repeated stories 45 times, using ideas that worked 25 years ago? Enough! A burst of energy envelops your life as soon as you change.

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

Bodhicitta: The Great Mother

The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

New science theory wonders if space and time might be the same stuff. I don’t think that is exactly right, but close. So many theories being toyed with right now, that when “membranes” bump together that bump is a “big bang,” that there are infinite “bubble” universes all in the same place. That probable realities spin off with each choice we make. (Karma?) That where we sit is empty space, mostly, with atoms, and other nearly impossible to see particles. The rest of everything we see is mostly space with particles.

Another theory: what if when we space out, sleep, or forget where we are sometimes (just daydreaming) we may actually be focused on another reality. Hmm. Of course, that would mean brain is not consciousness, which is more. They are finding particles move in and out this dimension, and that black holes exist everywhere! Tiny and massive ones. So when we look at the stars and see galaxies, suns etc, we mostly see energy, same vibe as our eyes pick up. They look like what we think we know. But science always comes up needing a new theory. What if it all looks as it does because our own five senses came up with the very tools and measurements to prove themselves right? What if perception and consciousness became part of the equation? Like, all the empty space and speeding particles were exactly in the space we think we occupy? What if the macrocosm is the microcosm? What if looking “out” is delusion? What if all we see is our own perception? And what if that conscious/awareness perception is warped by thinking habitually, that it is all “out there” due to the scientific tools we created to see exactly that?

Okay, now, what if all consciousness could suddenly blink off. And there was no perception happening? Like a tree falling down with nothing and no one to perceive it would not make a sound. If there were no consciousness or perception, it would be unborn space, empty- but perfectly complete when there is perception and awareness.

We are one nature; that nature displays as we see it. We cannot be separated, but we can be duped by our own learned awareness, and so we have been, all this time. We are space. Our “vibration” is light, all-pervasive love. In Buddhism we call that Bodhicitta, the display of emptiness, the wisdom of Empty nature and its display. Bodhicitta, the great Mother of us all. We are that also. Buddha. But we are dreaming, and will someday awaken to view the primordial ground of being without the many gorgeous veils she dances with! Pure view. EH MA HO!

© Jetsunma Ahkön Norbu Lhamo