Responsibility Begins With Recognition

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Neurotic Interaction to Guru Yoga”

Responsibility begins with recognition.  Simply that.  Recognition.  There are some fundamental truths that must be recognized here in order to stop the game of projecting your own neuroses onto yet another external object.  Because that is not the practice of Dharma.  That is not going to lead you to liberation.  That will continue to lead you to more and more neuroses.  So you must play the game correctly.  The first thing that happens is recognition.  It begins with the recognition of the fundamental foundational truth that we call turning the mind toward Dharma—the faults of cyclic existence, cause and effect relationships, impermanence, these kinds of thoughts, and then the realization that in all the six realms of cyclic existence there is suffering.  Then the recognition that there is the appearance of the Buddha, which brings the element of enlightenment and supreme realization and the visage or face of our own primordial wisdom nature, and  puts that into the world.  That’s the Buddha, the Dharma, which is the Buddha’s method, inseparable from the Buddha like the rays are inseparable from the sun, and the result, which is enlightenment, also inseparable from the Buddha.  You begin to recognize that this has in fact happened.

In the world there is the Buddha.  There is the Dharma.  There is the Sangha, and there is the Lama as the condensed essence of all three.  That recognition alone puts you into position where you have to choose between continuing in samsara and neurotic redundancy which is what samsara really is.  Isn’t that a great term?  Neurotic redundancy.  Don’t you just love that?  Neurotic redundancy,.Or you can choose Buddha, and Dharma, and Sangha—this three-legged stool, or chariot we should say, by which we travel through the door of liberation into enlightenment, into realization, the precious awakened state that the Buddha named.

So we’re in a position now where we make that choice.  That choice is based on this recognition.  You can’t make that choice on an emotional level.  Big mistake!  And some people try to do that.  They come to the temple and they say, “I like this stuff!  It’s all weird.  I like the colors.  I like the shape.  I like the material over there.  Look how they built that up there.  Isn’t that cute?  Those books… You know, I like that they don’t turn this way.  I like that they turn this way.  It’s so exotic.  I think it’s really cool, don’t you?  And then all the statues and crystals!  Look at this!  This is really cool to be with the crystals!” Really I’m describing a silly mindstate, but many students, when they first begin, will come here and say, “Oh this stuff is so cool.  I really want to do this.  O.K., you’re my teacher.”  So on that emotional level, really not much has happened.  Or they might come in and have an emotional reaction.  I’ve seen that happen too.

In fact, this is another story that you’ll be amazed at.  This is an amazing story. A woman once walked into the bookstore.  I happened to be there, checking out the earrings as usual!  So I was in the bookstore and she turned around.  She got immediately who I was.  She had never been around Dharma before, knew nothing about Dharma, knew nothing about anything like that and she just was entranced.  She was transfixed.  She looked at me and then she did three perfect prostrations. Then when she got up she said “I don’t know what that is.  I don’t know what I just did.”  No idea what happened there, no idea.  And then I never saw her again.  And she was crying, crying, just like “My teacher.  My teacher at last!  My teacher!”  Crying.  Big emotional thing, and I never saw her again.

What happened there was unfortunate.  I would call that an obstacle to her practice.  She obviously had enough inner purity to remember a former relationship with her teacher.  Something bled through and yet the obstacle was that she could only, in that moment of meeting, relate on a purely emotional level.  She could not lay down the foundation.  She could not make any connecting thought.  Really, as beautiful as that story is, it broke my heart that she never came back.  It really did.  I love you all, but I have to tell you I have many stories about the ones that got away!  You see, she could have been very close to me and it broke my heart that she didn’t come back.  But what you’re seeing there is just purely an obstacle.  She was only able to relate on this emotional level, and really, it’s not that much different from what you see your dog do when your dog barks to go out or sits there looking at the door.  It is an immediate emotional hit that you’re just overwhelmed with.  It’s not that different from what animals do.  But animals can’t practice Dharma, because what’s needed here is to make these connecting thoughts, these cause and effect thoughts, by creating the kinds of awareness and thinking that causes you to move into a deeper level on the path, and causes you to get the lay of the land, to really get what’s going on here.

This is what’s necessary.  She was not able to, at that time, to think of the faults of cyclic existence, to think of impermanence and that this opportunity might not come again.  She was not able to think “Now that I’ve found my teacher, I have found a way to travel the path of Dharma and pass through the door of liberation.”  Just not able to think like that.  This is a big obstacle that arose in her path at the same time as the blessing of meeting with her teacher again.  So this is the difficulty that we all have, but now we are here and we are in a learning and teaching situation.  We’re in a situation where we have time to think.  We have the leisure to think.  We have the ability to put two and two together, and this is how we have to approach the path.  This is how we have to do this.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 8/31/2016

8/31/2016 Wednesday by Norma

An event from last night or very early today is electrifying, a course-changer. Don’t take action until your understanding of the new situation clarifies and you know what you’re going to do. Then get cracking! Detail is crucial: have a fully formulated plan with all major steps in place before starting any project. Avoid winging it- planning as you go- it’ll never end. Be aware that a disappointment is coming in the next two days, so whittle down your expectation for the time being. Plus Mercury’s retrograde. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Calmness is always Godlike.” This is an excellent day to enjoy partnership, to plug away at your usual work and to successfully improve your health.

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

The Seven Branch Offering: Commentary by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

The Seven Branch Offering

The following commentary was extracted from a teaching given by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche at Kunzang Palyul Choling in 2001 on the occasion of offering the Bodhisattva Vow. To see the verses of the ceremony for the Bodhisattva Vow to which His Holiness was referring you can click here.

From Words of My Perfect Teacher:

The Vajrayana path includes many methods and is without great hardships. It is intended for those with sharp faculties. If we constantly train ourselves to accumulate merit and wisdom with a strong mind, everything that would otherwise take a whole great kalpa to accumulate through the six paramitas can be accomplished in an instant, and liberation can be attained in a single lifetime.

There can be no doubt that the single most excellent, secret and insurpassable field of merit is the vajra master. This is why the practice of accumulating merit is combined with the Guru Yoga. The seven parts of the Offering of the Seven Branches include all the innumerable methods for accumulation of merit and wisdom.

 

Prostrations:

The branch of prostrations is a remedy for arrogance.  Sometimes we have arrogance; we feel we are more qualified then the masters and teachers.  So, this is a remedy to remove the arrogance.

Offering:

After the prostrations to the Buddhas, bodhisattvas and all disciples, you now have to make offerings to them..  Imagine all the things in the universe as an offering, which is a very good offering.  All the offerings will be the sacred flowers and the sacred garlands and musical instruments, perfumes, superior parasols, superior butter lamps, superior incense. All these things will be the offering.  Just imagine you are offering them. So, this is the offering.  This is the remedy for attachment to our belongings.

Confession:

Now comes purification of negative actions.  We have to purify the negative actions by thinking negative actions are like poisons that are inside your stomach.  Also, you make a commitment that you will not do those mistakes or bad negative actions again.  Also, you think that in order to purify all the negative actions that are in this world that are done by other sentient beings, I am doing these purification prayers. This is the remedy for removing anger.

Rejoicing:

We have to rejoice in the accumulations of merits done by other beings. This is the antidote for jealousy.  Sometimes we feel jealous of other beings that practice.  In order to remove the jealousy, we have to rejoice in whatever practice they are doing.  This is the remedy for that action.

Requesting Enlightened Beings to Teach:

The next stanza is requesting the enlightened beings to teach.  We request them to teach because sometimes when they come here for the purpose of teachings, they feel kind of upset when they find the bad reactions of the people.  So they feel upset and don’t want to teach.  So we have to request them to teach.  That is how we are requesting it.

This is the remedy for ignorance, thinking the teaching is nothing, thinking the teaching will not have any result.  This chanting will remove the ignorance.

Enlightenment depends on the understanding of the teachings.  Without teachings, there is no way of getting enlightened.  But some people, those who don’t know, who aren’t in favor of the teachings, then they don’t really see the teaching as worthwhile.  They criticize the teachings and those who do the teaching.

Requesting Enlightened Beings to Remain:

The reason why enlightened beings pass away is that they want to show human beings that enlightened beings are very real and they don’t last long if we are not very careful.  So, we have to request them to remain as long as possible to turn the Wheel of the Dharma.  This is the request to remain with a long life.

This is the remedy of wrong view of Buddhas.  Some people think the Buddha is nothing, just a liar.  So, they have a lot of wrong views of Buddhas.  This way of chanting will remove the wrong view of Buddha.

Dedication:

The last one is a short form of all the seven branches of practice.  It’s an offering.  This is the dedication of the merit that you have accumulated.  You have to dedicate all the merit accumulated by other beings to other beings.  In order to get enlightened you have to dedicate the merit.

This is the remedy for doubt.  Sometimes we have doubt whether it is true or not.  This way of chanting will remove or clarify our doubt.

Astrology for 8/30/2016

8/30/2016 Tuesday by Norma

Mercury goes retrograde today kicking off several things at once. First, start cleaning up matters from the past: you know, the things that weren’t done as well as they might have been. You get a do-over on them. Next, do not make a major purchase between now and September 22, unless it’s something you have previously considered. “Don’t sign, don’t buy,” is the mantra for this time. Stall. New deals should be put on hold, again unless they have been previously discussed. Be quite careful not to commit to anything mechanical: computers, cars, rocket ships, you might get a lemon. That aside, this is a wonderful day for partnership, happy conversation and for chugging along cheerfully at work. Paul Goodman said, “Enjoyment is not a goal, it is a feeling that accompanies important ongoing activity.”

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

Navigating the Path with Guru Yoga

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

Should it happen that we cannot meet with the Guru for some reason, or there is some difficult point in one’s path, some difficult moments, some difficult times, maybe even some difficult months or years, still, so long as the Guru remains in the world, we can turn our face towards the Guru and know.  It’s like falling off a horse.  You can always get back on.  But the problem is—and there is a problem with that—if you waste your time with that precious jewel and don’t collect its interest, the jewel somehow becomes more distant, less potent, less present, less precious, less everything.  And we think to ourselves, “Why is the Guru not in my life so much?”  And we tend to think, “Oh, it’s because the Guru’s over here or the Guru’s over there, or the Guru is not speaking right now, or the Guru is this, or the Guru is that.”  And you can think that way if you want to but it won’t help.  We must think, “Now I’ve come to this place.  I have chosen my Guru and I am steadfast.  I have seen the door of liberation.  Yet somehow things are a little mixed up here, I can’t quite get to it.  I don’t feel focused.  I don’t feel like I understand this blessing.  I feel outsourced.  I feel like I’m out to lunch somewhere on the Path here.”  And so we think, “Oh, what is the problem?”

Well, the first thing we have to do is correct our view and think, This is the door to liberation.  It is present in the world.”  Period.  End of story.  “What must I do?  What must I do?” Sometimes it takes traveling to see your Guru.  Sometimes it takes sitting down and doing Guru Yoga like you never did it before.  It can work out a myriad of ways according to one’s karma, according to one’s blessing.  I’ve had it both ways.  I’ve traveled to see my Guru and the blessing was immeasurable and phenomenal.  And then I’ve stayed home and practiced Guru Yoga and with amazing signs. The blessing was amazing and fundamentally life changing.  And one, I saw the Guru’s face; and one, I saw the Guru’s face.

That’s the nature of this blessing.  It doesn’t depend on time and space.  It doesn’t depend on ordinary things at all.  And unless you neglect it, it cannot lose its potency.  We must think, as pertaining to Guru Yoga, that everyday, even while now we sit in comfort and enjoy being together, that everyday, even this day, we should earn the blessing to see the Guru tomorrow.  How will I see the Guru?  Maybe I’ll see the Guru’s picture and it will jump out at me and touch my heart.  Maybe I’ll see Guru Rinpoche’s picture and it will jump out at me and touch my heart.  Or maybe I’ll say The Seven Line Prayer. And wow, that one really…, that one did it.  Or maybe I will do my practice and it feels deep and rewarding like an underground stream that has come suddenly to the surface and has given us something precious to drink.

Guru Yoga can always be depended on to reestablish and continue the blessing.  I promise you, if we call out to the Guru with a full heart, with determination and with fervent regard and recognition, the Guru will respond, whether it’s in the way that you would like which is “Hi I’m here for lunch.” Or whatever.  It may not be that way.  It may be something quite different.  And sometimes it’s not something that feels good right away.

I’ve seen one of my favorite students work herself to death and forget to practice sometimes and then periodically she does things like break her back or, you know, injure herself in some way.  And then she practices and amazing things happen.  I wish she wouldn’t do it that way, but she does.  You know who I’m talking about, out in Sedona.  I have other students that kind of orchestrate separation and return in order for that feeling of return.  But I wish they wouldn’t do that because that feeling of separation often comes with some cause and effect relationship.  Again if it were my diamond, I’d be shining it up all the time. I’d be collecting that interest all the time.

We use Guru Yoga that way to create the causes for continuation on the Path.  The teacher should never be frightening.  The teacher is your friend.  Your friend who will take your hand and walk you, lifetime after lifetime, even when you stumble and you fall.  Something will arise through the devotion that you practice in this lifetime, to protect you even in your next life.  So eventually we come to the place where we see everything as the blessing of the Guru.  Everything.  Sometimes we feel some confusion, and maybe even feel confusion for a long time; but you know that that Guru would not let you down.  You know that.  And so you count on that, even the confusion, to be a blessing.  Eventually because of that devotion, the confusion will clear and the Guru will appear, again like an underground spring coming once again to the surface.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 8/29/2016

8/29/2016 Monday by Norma

A situation stalemates and you know what it is: you can’t stop talking about it! Be aware that you’re discussing instead of doing, and stop. Move in the direction where success is possible, which is work. Major planets line up favorably in matters associated with work, health and organization, and
you should exchange ideas here. It’s easy to spot which is which: endless discussion is a dead-end street, and specific detail-oriented instruction is a winner. Charles F. Kettering said, “It is easy to build a philosophy. It doesn’t have to run.” Down to earth, here and now activities go very well
indeed today. Be sure to dress your best and smile at everyone you meet. How you look signals your level of confidence and seals the deal!

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

Short Confession: From Nam Chö Vajrasattva Ngondro

Vajrasattva-single

The following is a Short Confession found in the Nam Chö Ngondro practice of Vajrasattva revealed by Tertön Migyur Dorje:

In the View, I confess all commitments broken through mental activity,
Knowing the View is the all-pervasive foundational Bodhicitta;
Realizing that the View exists in non-existence,
And practicing meditation that is non-existent,
Realizing activity is neither existent nor non-existent,
The Bodhicitta is without expectation or disappointment.
All root and auxiliary committments,
Breaches and failure to uphold them, are unborn, ungenerated,
And liberated in the indivisibility of the object to confess and the confession itself.

Astrology for 8/28/2016

8/28/2016 Sunday by Norma

Pour everything you’ve got into your project today. Speaking, writing and communication go well: this is the day to create your opus magnum. Writing a novel, your memoirs or the shopping list? It comes out with such beauty and precision that an academy award is a possibility! Albert Schweitzer said, “Thought is the strongest thing we have. Work done by true and profound thought-that is a real force.” Everything sounds good, feels good and looks right today. As the day progresses a surprising turn of
events knocks you off your happy perch. Roll with it, you’ll be in a good place again soon.

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

Astrology for 8/27/2016

8/27/2016 Saturday by Norma

Home is where the heart is today. Domestic matters go well; spend the day cooking, eating and interacting with family and you’ll be happy. Picnics barbecues and comfort food are in order! This is a great day to buy, renovate or decorate your home. Trust your instincts and you won’t go wrong.
Thomas Moore said, “The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to us than their simplicity might suggest.” Bring food and offer a friendly snack to those you meet as you’re out and about. Visualization, hunches, dreams and suggestions are crucial today: follow an intuition and watch your life blossom in unimaginable ways. Ignore it, and it’s the same old thing. Work is fun, conversation is better.

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