Astrology for 5/31/2016

5/31/2016 Tuesday by Norma

Energy! You’ve got it! Spend your time zipping around, greeting others, keeping busy and hitting all the important places today. Work hard and notice when tiredness overtakes you- the project is done. The exchange of information is important today, pay attention to the news and to what people have to say. It’s a great day for writers, contracts, horse-trading and deal making. William Wordsworth said, “All of which we behold is full of blessings.” Definitely take time to enjoy life today.

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

Purification of Moral Conduct

Vajrasattva

The following is a prayer from the Bodhisattva Vow Ceremony as translated in the Nam Cho Daily Practice book from Palyul Ling International:

Prostrate to all the Tathagatas!

Prostrate to Bodhisattva Mahasattva Avalokiteshvara!

OM AH MO GHA SHI LA SAMBHARA SAMBHARA BHARA BHARA MAHASHUD DHA SATO PEMA BHI BHU KHE TE BU DZA DARA DARA SAMANTA AVALOKETE HUNG PHET SOHA (repeat 21 times)

May the Dharma of the perfection of moral self-discipline be thoroughly complete in my and all sentient being’s mind streams!

May all non-virtuous deeds and obstructions arising from discipline broken because of defilements be cleansed and purified!

May there be the fortune of discipline pleasing to the Aryas!

May I be placed in contact with the bliss of liberation not oppressed by defilement.

May proper moral self-discipline be without faults.

May moral self-discipline be possessed purely.

And the perfection of moral self-discipline without hypocrisy be completed!

May I be trained as a follower of all the Jinas,

Completing the conduct of Samantabhadra.

May my conduct of discipline be completely immaculate!

May my moral self-discipline have the sweet essence of being well-kept!

May my conduct always be without damage and without faults!

Astrology for 5/30/2016

5/30/2016 Monday by Norma

Two planets that have been blocking each other, Jupiter and Saturn, are slowly beginning to move apart, giving “space” or breathing room to projects that had become constricted. You’ll notice the change as your options expand, for a change. Material items, things you can touch, deal with, pick up and carry away, are excellent. Planning on building a bookcase, a house or a business? You can begin now, the obstacles are clearing! Thomas Carlyle said, “He that can work is a born king of something.” Get busy! What’s good today? Work, a fortunate coincidence, the company of happy people and solid strategic thinking.

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

About Wisdom

An excerpt from a teaching called Compassion, Love, & Wisdom by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

We are going to talk about something that is very core to the Buddha’s teaching and that you will hear about again and again as you continue to practice on the Buddha’s path. This subject is compassion. It is about love and the primordial wisdom state or true nature, and how these things relate and come together in a meaningful way.  We think wisdom is a thing that can be accumulated in the same way that we accumulate clothing or jewelry or cars, and we think that the way to accomplish wisdom is to keep on learning more and more.  We think wisdom is a series of facts or items that we can learn and list. But wisdom is something quite different in Buddhist philosophy.

Wisdom is less like something that you can accumulate; it is more like the realization of what is pure and natural, what underlies the phenomena that we create and the conceptual proliferation that is the mindstream we experience.  Wisdom is the realization of the emptiness of self-nature and the emptiness of all phenomena. Thus the popular idea that we as Westerners have of accumulating wisdom is incorrect, according to the Buddha’s view.  We tend to think we will continue in a progressive way, always increasing our knowledge, always increasing our wisdom and always increasing our ability.  According to the Buddha that is not correct.  In fact the opposite is actually true.

In a sense you could say that true wisdom is the less and less you know if you think of knowing as based on some concept or idea.  The less ideation that one experiences the closer one is to the primordial wisdom state, the closer one is to the relaxation of one’s mind. That is wisdom.  We think we will necessarily become wiser as we grow older, or that we will necessarily become more knowledgeable as we gain more education.  That is not necessarily the case according to the Buddha.  The things we accumulate as we grow older aren’t wisdom at all, they are ideas.  They are conclusions; they are conceptualizations, such as the idea that as you grew older you learned to be more optimistic.  Whatever your idea is, whether it is concrete or abstract, so long as it is conceptualization, so long as it is ideation, so long as it is experienced as a concept that one forms and seems to contain itself, it is not the traditional view of wisdom.  That is considered knowledge and knowledge is something you can learn.  Even on the Buddha’s path there is tremendous value in accomplishing the scholastic knowing of the Buddha’s teaching. That kind of knowledge is important and it is one of the components of wisdom, especially if that knowledge is used to accomplish the realization of the primordial wisdom state. For example, let’s say you learn all of the philosophy of the Buddha’s path and then you learn the technology, learn how to accomplish sadhana practice and how to do puja. You learn how to practice Tsalung and you go on to all of the most profound teachings that Vajrayana Buddhism has to offer. If you learn all about those different things and you are very skilled at them, and you go on to practice them, then the knowledge that you gained becomes part of the process of gaining wisdom or of realizing the natural state. You use the skills you have accumulated through gaining knowledge in order to accomplish wisdom.  The difference is necessary to understand.

On the Mahayana path the accumulation of knowledge and the realization of the primordial wisdom state, or the realization of the natural state, are components that are interdependent. It is unlikely that you will simply be able to sit down knowing nothing about meditation and accomplish the realization of the primordial wisdom state.  It is essential to get from the teacher what is necessary – the skills. It is necessary to get from the Buddha the milk, the nurturing of his direction and his teaching so that we can accomplish the Dharma. But true wisdom is understood not as something that one can collect, but as the realization of the natural state. That is the goal of the Buddha’s teaching.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 5/29/2016

5/29/2016 Sunday by Norma

A perfect paradox occurs today as you are pulled in four directions at once. You’d like to take it easy and relax, go out and have fun, work on your project and talk to someone. Take things one at a time and you’ll be happy, try to do everything at once and sparks of frustration will fly out of your head! It’s a thoughtful time and a time of change. Avoid counting people’s faults, instead apply your critical faculties to yourself. Robertson Davies said, “If you want to be of the greatest possible value to your fellow-creatures, begin the long, solitary task of perfecting yourself.” This is a great
day to go exploring, to take a drive, learn something new and engage others in pleasant conversation.

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

Developing Spiritual Discrimination

An excerpt from the Mindfulness workshop given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo in 1999

One of the things that is very unique about the Buddhadharma is that it is not a “Sunday-go-to-meeting” religion.  It’s not the kind of religion where you go on Sunday and Christmas and Easter, or whatever your particular holiday happens to be, and the rest of the year you’re just where you are.  Buddhism is different in that it is a path.  In a way, it is a nonreligious religion.  You have to think of it as a path that one walks consistently, faithfully, and deeply.  There is relatively little benefit from practicing Dharma in a superficial way.  Learning one or two mantras and walking around saying some prayers but not really training the mind in a deep and profound sense of the View will be a lot less effective. Also, our tendency is to become dry, and not remain moist on the path.  The heart dries up.  If there is no profound investment in establishing the View and establishing mindfulness, the result will be greatly weakened, greatly crippled.

Mindfulness is one of those subjects that one can take to the depths of one’s practice and its many aspects display themselves in different kinds of practice.  Before I talk about the first aspect of mindfulness, let me address some difficulties we have as Westerners, particularly. Because of the very nature of our culture, there are so many different things to do, and we are inundated with philosophies and religions, both old and new.  We are inundated with different kinds of experiences that people call “spiritual.”  The reason I’m so mindful of this is because I lived in Sedona, Arizona, and Sedona is known for that.  People mistake any kind of experience that feels deep as a “spiritual” experience, not able to discriminate between something that feels spiritual and something that is an actual commitment and movement on one’s path.  There really is a difference between a mantra and a backrub!  There really is a difference between the various experiences that people have that they call spiritual and an actual path that one practices consistently with the intention of benefiting beings.  This lack of spiritual discrimination is the greatest problem that we have in the West.  You can see how it is symbolically, even to go the grocery store.  If you send your child to the grocery store to buy bread, you’ll have to specify what kind of bread, what brand of bread, because on the shelf are a million different kinds of bread.  Other cultures might be a little bit different than that, especially third world cultures.  There, when you go to buy bread, you buy the bread they have, and that’s pretty much it.  Bread is bread.  In the same way, their faith is their faith.  It’s not something that one tastes and tries and then tries something else.  That discrimination is sort of built into the culture.  We don’t have that, so our need to practice discrimination is much stronger.  We have a tremendous need for that.

Discrimination is best practiced through changing one’s habitual tendency.  On the path of Buddhadharma, if you really step back from it and look at the different categories of practice, you’ll notice that, basically, the Buddhadharma is about applying the actual, exact antidote to the subtle and gross forms of suffering that we endure.  The Buddha has taught us that we suffer mostly from desire and that suffering is ongoing and that it is all-pervasive.  But we also notice that that desire takes many forms, so there are practices in the Buddhadharma that are meant to specifically pacify pride and ego and that ego-clinging self-cherishing.  There are practices in the Dharma that are meant to apply the exact antidote to a lack of generosity, to selfishness and greediness and just wanting, wanting, wanting — that kind of suffering.  There are practices in the Buddhadharma that are meant to help us shake ourselves out of the kind of slothful mental attitude that so many of us have which is a kind of sleepwalking that we do through the days and years of our lives.  This is actually a quality of mind and in Buddhism it’s labeled ignorance.  Ignorance is not lack of education in Buddhism; it’s lack of wisdom.   For that reactive or  slothful mind, where the mind doesn’t stop and evaluate and use its energy to determine whatever direction it’s going in, in the Buddhadharma there are antidotes to that as well.

In fact, when you study the Buddhadharma, you really have to think about the Buddha as being like a doctor and samsara as being like the sickness and the Dharma as the nurse that feeds the medicine to you all the time.  So in this spiritual discrimination, it isn’t a theoretical, vague idea.  This ideal of mindfulness, of discrimination, actually needs to be practiced in a very exacting way, for the very reason that we are in a culture that goes in exactly the opposite direction.  We are in a culture that does not teach discrimination, really, in any form, particularly about spiritual issues.

How can we practice spiritual discrimination?  How can we formulate that by which we can begin to grow the ability to distinguish?  How can we learn to discriminate between what is truly of the mind of the Buddhas and what is ordinary and simply arising from the phenomena of samsara? What is the method by which we can actually establish the View?  In the Buddhadharma, we are always looking to apply an exact antidote.  You have to think about samsara as being like a poison and that there is an exact formula that is the antidote to that poison.  In trying to develop discrimination and mindfulness, it is best to hold ourselves to a kind of ritual or task that is evident and visible.  One of the strongest antidotes to being stuck on the idea of self-nature as being inherently real, (which is really quite different from enlightenment) and for lack of spiritual discrimination – not being able to tell, in a spiritual sense, the difference between a diamond and a piece of cut glass — is called Guru Yoga.

Guru Yoga on the Vajrayana path is extraordinarily important.  It is not important because the Guru needs it nor because it’s even pleasant or fun for the Guru.  It is not for any ridiculous or stupid reason like that.  The reason that we practice Guru Yoga is because our minds, when they are samsaric and therefore fully engaged in the cycle of birth and death, are a little bit deadened, sort of flat-line.  Just the energy or pulse of engaging in a relationship between oneself, which appears separate, and other, constantly creates a feedback loop that makes for a kind of dullness and stupor.  This non-recognition of phenomena as actually being a display of our own mindstreams keeps the mind deadened to the View.  In that state, it is so like us to take a spiritual minister or presenter of some kind and, because they have tremendous charisma and slick words, because they have a real routine going, we would put them in high regard and think, “Oh, this must be the Word of God,” or  “This must be the Word of Spirit.”  There is the inability to discriminate between that and a very deep practitioner, a silent bodhisattva (one who has not been publicly recognized).  If a silent bodhisattva were to walk into the room, we wouldn’t sense that.  We wouldn’t know what that was because there’s no display, no show.  One of the methods that we use is this throne on which I sit, and it is not because I like it.  Actually, it’s kind of uncomfortable.  This throne is not here because it’s pretty, and it’s not here for any superficial reason.  The Lama sits higher in order to indicate to the student the difference between this speech and the speech we hear every day.  So in your mind, in the student’s mind, the throne is high, and it’s a reminder for you.  This is a clear indication that in our lives we need some kind of ritual or some kind of visible habitual pattern that we engage in, in order to develop true spiritual discrimination.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 5/28/2016

5/28/2016 Saturday by Norma

A temperamental moment is surprising but short lived. Someone wants to be alone and others want to act as a group. If you’re the loner join up for the time being, you’ll be glad you did later. Spend time going over your options and clearly plan a strategy for the immediate future. Many suggestions swirl about, creating distractions that pull you off course if you’re not careful. Josh Billings said, “Opinions should be formed with great caution-and changed with greater.” What’s good today? Cheerful conversation, story telling, jokes and happy get togethers. You may need to spend time digging beneath the surface today or dealing with underground water, do your best to enjoy it!

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

Astrology for 5/27/2016

5/27/2016 Friday by Norma

Someone comes through in a way that is enormously helpful. Avoid a stubborn attitude and don’t be grumpy if it’s done differently than what you’re used to. It’s a new day, with new ways! Be aware that the times continue to be demanding, stressful and fraught with uncertainty; be willing to accommodate those who are under pressure. Charles F. Dole said, ” Good will is the mightiest practical force in the universe.” What’s good today? Cheerful conversation, happy banter, encouraging words, good news. Physical activity is crucial now and anything you can do to blow off steam or reduce pressure helps. Jumping jacks in the office, power walk at lunch? Sure.

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

Request to Remain Firm

The following is a prayer from the Nam Chö Daily Practice Book from Palyul Ling International:

As the single source of benefit and bliss,
May the doctrine remain in this world indefinitely and
May those of supreme birth who uphold the precious doctrine,
Live long firm lives like banners of victory!
May the lives of the glorious spiritual teachers be firm and
May all sentient beings, who are equal in number to space, be well and happy.
Through myself and all others, accumulating merit and cleansing obscurations,
May we quickly be placed on the stage of Buddhahood.
I pray that the spiritual teachers may enjoy excellent health.
I pray for their supreme long life as well.
I pray that their enlightened activities may spread forth and expand.
Grant blessings to never be separated from my spiritual teachers.
May myself and limitless beings without exception,
By the root of this very virtue,
Completely cleanse the karmic negativities and obscurations of all lifetimes,
And be liberated in the expanse of the profound Dharma treasury.