Astrology for 9/30/2016

9/30/2016 Friday by Norma

An odd circumstance occurs where a cheerful partnership crosses the line and gets into trouble. Are you so in love that you make a spectacle of yourself, expressing affection inappropriately? You will be corrected! Behave yourself in public today, too much fun will get you into trouble. Sadly, you won’t know what’s happening until the boom is lowered. Argue, and you’ll be in more trouble! Authority figures don’t get the joke and aren’t in the mood to tolerate what you’re doing. Voltaire said, “I envy the animals two things-their ignorance of evil to come, and their ignorance of what is said about them.” This is an excellent day to pay close attention to your surroundings, to create a perfect imaginative masterpiece, to receive help and support from someone who loves you, and to be happy.

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

Why I Chose Buddhism

HH Penor Rinpoche & Jetsunma in 1985

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

I never cease being surprised when someone is personally challenged by my path, especially since I never try to convert them.  I don’t understand why it should bother one person what religion another person practices.  Or how one person can take it as a personal threat when someone else doesn’t believe in their god.  I cannot for the life of me see where unity argues with diversity.  In fact, I think that a lot of the world’s problems, at least from the relative point of view, arise because people have no tolerance for one another.

Since I have listened to many people describe to me their heartfelt feelings about what it was like for them when I chose Buddhism, I would now like to tell you how it was for me when I chose Buddhism.  I think turnabout is fair play.

First of all, from my perception, there was never any conversion process.  There was never a time when I converted from something else to Buddhism.  The reason why is that since the time of my adulthood, I have never formally identified with any religion.  There was never a time that I felt that I was going to an external god; and yet I have a very spiritual and religious sense of there being a goal, a path and a reality that is absolute or true.  And I knew that that reality had no describable nature, that that reality was essentially free of all conceptualization, that that reality wasn’t a reality in a sense, because reality implies thingness.  I knew that there was something that was beyond; and that beyondness was free of any ideas of here or there, or high or low, or self or other.  It was free of any contrivance

I didn’t use the word emptiness at first because I didn’t know the word, but I used to think of it as being vibrationally zero.  That is to say, there was no artificial construction within it, no contrivance, no conceptualization.  I knew that any conceptualization or idea that one had was delusion.  And I knew that there was an awakened state in which one realized one’s nature, and that nature was essentially free of all limitation.  That nature is not separate, it is not other; it is not something that one must go to or even progress toward.  That nature is the true nature, and one needs to awaken to it, and that awakening occurs naturally.

In order to describe that philosophy, at first I had to use general metaphysical terms.  There were no other terms for me.  I never had anything to do with Buddhism.  I had never even read a book about Buddhism.  When I met His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and I began to hear about the Buddha’s teachings, my sense was not of changing at all.  Nothing of the Buddha’s teaching seemed strange to me.  From the deepest part of my heart, I felt that I had come home.  My sense was, “At last, here’s the vocabulary I’ve been looking for.  Here are the words that I’ve needed all this time to describe what I’ve been trying to teach.”  And so gradually I began to absorb and introduce the vocabulary into my teaching, because I already had students at that time.

Now Penor Rinpoche says that I’m an incarnation of somebody that used to be Tibetan 400 years ago.  I don’t really know if that’s true or not.  If Penor Rinpoche says what he says, then that is due to his wisdom and his kindness, and I can’t take any credit for that; and I have nothing to do with it, other than that I rely on it.  I feel like I am just an ordinary person and I’m doing my best.  I believe in the Buddha’s teaching.  I believe that compassion will save the world.  I believe that enlightenment is the end of suffering.  That’s what I know.

So I’m not going to pull an ego trip and say, “Oh, when I heard the Buddha’s teaching, I recognized it, I knew it, I remembered it,” in some hokey way.  I’m not going to say to you, “Oh, immediately upon hearing the Buddha’s teaching I came into my own, and therefore I knew all these amazing things.”  It wasn’t like that at all.  It was something like the joy you might feel if you recognized music that had been in your heart for a long time being played on the radio.  There was a part of me that could recognize this truth as being truth.  It wasn’t really a change.  It was more like finding the right suit of clothing for my size.  So if any of you are uncomfortable with the fact that I’ve changed, please don’t be; I’m certainly not.  I’ve always been a Buddhist.  I just didn’t have the words.

Now, I would like to tell you a little bit about what I felt in my heart when I found the Buddha’s teaching.  I felt humbled to have the opportunity to practice a path that has been around for more that two and a half millennia and that has brought people to enlightenment again and again and again.  Ordinary sentient beings, through the intensity of their devotion and their practice, have achieved not theoretical, but exacting, reportable and repeatable physical and psychic signs that indicate enlightenment, such as bodies producing relics at the time of death and other miraculous signs.  This has happened again and again and again to guys like you and me.

Sometimes I stop and I think, “What can I have possibly done to have this opportunity?  What good fortune has befallen me?  What circumstances have come together over ages and ages of time to give me this chance to practice a path that really works and has worked again and again and again?”

I am awestruck that I don’t have to follow someone’s advice who is not enlightened, because I am following the Buddha’s teaching.  The Buddha knows what he’s talking about because it brought him to the state of supreme realization, and it has produced enlightenment in so many beings.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo


Turning On the Light

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Commitment to the Path”

Lord Buddha teaches us that we are wandering in cyclic existence, and that cyclic existence is tricky.  We are taught that cyclic existence is like that room full of furniture, full of obstacles.  You have to get through it, but lots of things are going to happen.  You’re going to go through events; karmic ripenings will take place.  There will be sickness.  There will be old age, and there will be death.  The only way you get out of old age is if you die first.  These are the rules.  That’s how the house works.

So that being the case, the Buddha teaches us, as well, that everything in samsara has a beginning and therefore has an ending.  Literally every time you meet and come together with a loved one, at that moment, you have given rise to the parting from that loved one. These moments, these cause and effect relationships arise interdependently; and although they seem to us to be separated by time, that’s part of our delusion.  Cause and effect arise interdependently.

So when we meet the great love of our life that we have waited for oh these many years, then we are also at that moment entering into the experience of separating, because it will happen.  Should we attain fame, fortune, whatever it is that our society teaches us that we want, then we should understand that the moment we have achieved this very thing, we have also given rise to its end. There is nothing one can accomplish through and within samsara that has any real lasting value other than to cultivate the mind, other than to cultivate the practice.  Only that brings results that are carried forward because it creates a virtuous mind and pure habitual tendencies.  But not one penny of the money we make, not one bit of any relationship, other than memory, will survive death.  We’ll all come together again, but it will all be different.

Lord Buddha teaches us that this is a constant, spinning, spinning, spinning in samsara. While each of us has in common the wish to be happy, we do not understand how to create the causes of happiness.  We think that to have more will make us happy or to be with somebody will make us happy or to be cured of something will make us happy or to change our lives and sail around the world or whatever, that’s going to make us happy.  But we find that ultimately it does not.  You can travel all over the place, sail around the world, have all kinds of relationships, make all kinds of money and you will find that in the heart, you have not attained happiness. We do attain temporary happiness. I feel pretty happy right now. But having lived with yourself for lo these many years, surely you must know by now that this happiness is so, so temporary.  It’s like the dew vanishing on the leaves every morning.  It’s like that.  That easy to lose. And there is no amount of positive thinking that is going to change that.  All you can do is make yourself crazier, crazier, crazier and more neurotic. You know you are suffering.  You know you’re not happy and you’re going, yes, I am.  Everything is fine.

So Lord Buddha teaches us that what we have to do essentially in our path is to turn on the light. Some of the furniture we’re going to have to move, get it out of the way.  That’s called pacifying obstacles, and we do that through practice.  Some of the furniture we’re going to have to climb on top of.  It’s just there and it’s going to have to be something we move beyond.  Some of the furniture we’re going to have to get under, Maybe we could liken that to undoing some of our poisons, like the five poisons that we have within our mind stream.  But whatever it is, things have got to change.

So Dharma is like that.  Dharma provides us a way to turn on the light.  You get the picture.  You see what is in your way and you decide how to deal with it. There are methods for how to deal with it,  but the big thing is eyes opened.  To wish and hope that everything is going to turn out well because, you know, I’m a spiritual person, therefore, da da da, whatever, is just not going to cut it, because you are still whistling in the dark.  You are walking through that room and you’re whistling in the dark.  Buddhism says, “Turn on the light.”

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 9/29/2016

9/29/2016 Thursday by Norma

Happiness is a function of partnership these days: people are having a wonderful time together, blossoming and expanding as new plans are developed. At the same time, alliances that are not supportive come apart under this aspect. If a relationship disintegrates, be grateful, it wasn’t mutually supportive or based on equality . Booker T. Washington said, “You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.” What’s good today? Shared brainstorming that generates good products, work that’s satisfying, forward motion in
professional aspirations, and yes, being with that special person!

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

Becoming Stable on the Path

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Commitment to the Path”

There are many different ways to practice Dharma according to our individual needs.  For that reason, it behooves us to kind of sit back and get the lay of the land before we start frothing at the mouth and chomping at the bit.

The tendency is to come in here and say, “Oh, great.  Well, first thing I’d like to do is start wearing robes.  The second thing I’d like to do is have me at least four or five interesting malas of all different colors.”  And we like to have the books. And we’d like to have a shawl, you know, a zen.  Only a real one, like them [the monks and nuns].  So we have all these ideas.  We think, I really want to get this where you sit on a bench.  It’s such a noble thing to do.  You sit there and you practice.

When we first come to the path, we have all kinds of funny, cute, but childish ideas, almost like a child viewing the world for the first time and trying to make sense out of it.  But then eventually there is a certain kind of relaxation that happens when the newness wears off. And then we are able to make some intelligent choices.

When we first start in our Dharma practice, we always think we are going to be great practitioners.  A couple of years later, we’re still hoping we’re going to be great practitioners. We find that it’s really taken this long to get the lay of the land, to really understand what is the relationship with the Three Precious Jewels.  What is the relationship with one’s teacher?  What is this about view?  Why are we here?  What’s this on my foot?  (I told you we’re going to have fun.)

So what are some of the fundamental ideas that we have to really accomplish and become at peace with in order to make intelligent choices on the path, in order to make choices that are lasting and commitments that are real? When we first enter onto the path, we might be filled with – I’ve seen this happen so much –with a kind of excitement, maybe even a feeling of passion.  But these feelings are emotional feelings, and emotional feelings come and go every 10 minutes or so.  You know how up and down our emotional condition is.  So those feelings, while stimulating and exciting at first, will not last and cannot be relied on.

So the best thing to do when you approach the path, is to approach it, not critically, but intelligently.  Look at the path and really become bonded with it in the way that it’s almost like— well, maybe women can relate to this more—but it’s like buying a really extraordinary new outfit.  I don’t know about you, but if I buy a new outfit, it has to hang outside of my closet for a little while so I can look at it and grok it in fullness.  Then and only then can I actually put it on my body.  So in a way, Dharma should be like that.  We should really examine how’s it going to lay, how’s it going to fold.  What is going to happen here?  It’s like we have to look at it. Examine, examine, examine. Because once we put on the clothing of Dharma and engage in our practice, we should try very hard at that point to remain stable. That’s important.  Once we engage in this close relationship with our own root gurus—when we meet the guru on the path and that hook is set and the connection is made, and we have found the potential for our liberation—then that has to remain stable.  That is not the time to vacillate.  So we should hang out a bit. Examine intelligently. Examine the qualities of our teacher, examine the qualities of our Vajra brothers and sisters. Then once we realize that this is our teacher and this is the place that we will practice, at that point, we are required to become stable.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo All Rights Reserved

Astrology for 9/28/2016

9/28/2016 Wednesday by Norma

Zip around organizing and categorizing things, a place for everything and everything in its place! Fix what’s broken and take medicine for what ails you. Virgo urges you to be well fed, well groomed and well dressed in all your activities. Employees’work is excellent, honor them! Investments prosper and gifts are well received, plus a possible legacy or inheritance comes your way. Need to remodel or refinance something? Now is the time! William H. Johnson said, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
This is a hard-working day, and the only obstacle is the jovial person who wants to have fun and distract you from your tasks! Balance is everything today: work, have fun, work, have fun.

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

The Nature of the Path

The following is an excerpt form a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Commitment to the Path”

I like to see students start off kind of smallish and grow bigger in their practice, because I think that is more realistic.  The best way to start out our practice is to understand what Dharma is trying to accomplish—what are the faults of cyclic existence and what are the results of practicing Dharma—to get a clear idea of that so that we can see for ourselves that this is a beneficial thing, so that we don’t have to argue with ourselves further down the path when it’s not appropriate any more.

So these teachings that I would like to give you are designed to get you to progress.  They are made to get you somewhere.  You are not meant to stay where you are on the path.   One progresses and that means change.  You know, that scary word.  So we have to ask ourselves then: What is Dharma engineered to do?  How does that change take place?  What does it look like?  What does it mean?

Well, first of all, look at something that is not Dharma.  Look at whatever sense of spirituality or religion you have that is not Dharma.  If we look at the ideas that we have generally as a culture about spirituality, spirituality is like salt.  It’s a condiment, a little ketchup on the hot dog of life.  It’s a flavor, but it’s not nourishment.  It doesn’t give you what you need every moment of every day necessarily, unless you yourself find a way to relate to that faith so strongly.

With Dharma, it’s a different story.  You don’t ever have to feel your way around.  You are never walking around in gray zone.  You can do practice.  You were taught how to increase your knowledge and your wisdom. You go from one practice to another to another to another through the different levels.  You can move through them according to your habitual tendency and your karmic propensity.  So there is something exacting, something like a method.

The reason why is that Dharma is not meant to act as a barbiturate, to calm you.  It’s not Valium.  It’s not meant to soothe you and make you feel more comfortable.  It’s more like if you could imagine your life as being a dark room, like any other room—filled with furniture. And it’s very dark.  You can’t see a thing.  This is kind of your life as a sentient being, because we really don’t come into this world understanding anything about cause and effect or how to make ourselves happy.  We come into this world unknowing, with only habitual tendencies.  That’s all we come in with, deep habitual tendencies from previous experiences.

So in a way, our lives are like this dark room, filled with obstacles. By now, now that we’re getting a little long in the tooth, we know there are obstacles. We’ve had them.  Some of them, anyway.  Doubtless there are more to come.  So we think of our life like this room with furniture in it and you’re supposed to get from the birth door to the death door successfully and make some progress in the meantime.  Well, if it’s pitch black and there are all these things in the room, the chances that you are going to walk through without knocking yourself into oblivion are pretty slim.  So the way that Dharma works is it forces you to turn on the lights.  You have to look at obstacles.  You have to look at what is in that room.  With another kind of faith you might think that the best thing to do is think positive and be positive and plaster good thoughts on your head. You know, just try to be kind of upbeat and make the best of everything.  All good ideas. But when you are stumbling through a pitch black room and there is a lot of furniture in there, you are going to trip.  And no amount of positive thinking is going to get you through that room successfully.  No amount of positive thinking is going to keep you from entering that last door.  Nobody has done it yet through positive thinking.

So Dharma’s tendency, rather than act like a soother or a barbiturate or something that is calming, Dharma turns on the light.  Dharma says, “Look folks, here is what’s happening.”  You are born, but you don’t remember how you got here.  There are uncountable cause and effect relationships since time out of mind that have formed into habitual tendencies and karmic propensities. And here you are born as a child.  How did you get those parents?  How did you get in this world?  How did this happen?  That’s what I said when I woke up as a kid.  What’s wrong with this picture?

So we find ourselves here and we’re kind of helpless.  That’s one of the teachings that the Buddha gives us. That in truth, we are all the same and in our nature we are exactly the same; but in our ordinary appearance as sentient beings, we are in a state of confusion.  We do not understand cause and effect relationships, because we can only see this present lifespan. We have had so many lifespans to give rise to causes in an amazing amount of time, since time out of mind.  So we have no understanding of this.

Dharma teaches us that all sentient beings, while we are the same, and while we are wandering in confusion, have one thing in common and all of our activity is geared towards that.  And if you think about it, you know that it is true.  Even when we are doing for others, until we really have given rise to compassion, we’re always trying to be happy.  It’s natural.  The organism wishes to be balanced and at peace, happy.  But we don’t understand what balanced and at peace is.  So we keep grabbing for stuff.  Yet Lord Buddha teaches us all that we are suffering due to desire.  It’s not that you don’t have something that makes you suffer, but your reaction to the not having it…that is most of the suffering.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo All Rights Reserved

 

Astrology for 9/27/2016

9/27/2016 Tuesday by Norma

Mars moves into Capricorn today stabilizing political and philosophical posturing and getting down to the real work at hand. Plan your strategy carefully and take each step in turn for the success that is the result of realistic planning. Don’t know where you’re going? Figure it out and you’ll get there. An inherent conflict exists between two prevailing energies, social and ambitious. Ambition can disrupt friendships. Do not combine the two: no trying to use a friend to further your goals unless the person understands and consents. Likewise don’t agree to help a friend’s cause if you’re not on board. Francisco Guicciardino said, “Ambition is not in itself an evil, nor is he to be condemned whose spirit prompts him to seek success by worthy and honorable ways.”

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

Viewing the Guru

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo on October 18, 1995

This teaching is meant to help us correct our view and deepening in Guru Yoga.  We will be thinking about how to deepen in our practice and how to practice with a deeper and more profound sense of view.  Remember that the antidote that we are trying to apply now is the one that addresses our superficiality.

As materialists, modern people, and sentient beings in general, our minds are very superficial.  In fact, our superficiality is literally invisible to us simply because we have no sense of what anything other than superficiality might be.  As you listen to this, you should listen with your “doors” open.  That means, don’t just listen lightly the way most people do. Most people, when they listen to either conversation or teaching, listen to it just skimming the surface, picking out the main points.  In this case, you don’t want to use that technique.  That’s okay for ordinary listening, but in this case you want to not only hear everything that is actually said, but at the same time, you also want to try to understand the concept that’s being presented in a deeper way.  It’s as though you want to receive the totality of the idea, not just the top of it.  You don’t want to try now to determine what are the most important parts.  In other words, accept the entire teaching, and then, later on, as you begin to digest it, you’ll be able to determine what the important parts are more readily.

 

Generally, when we walk around in our normal waking consciousness, we think that we are with the Guru only when we are praying or doing our practice. We visualize the Guru in front of us.  We think, “Oh, now the Guru must be here by the force of my devotion.”  That’s appropriate, that’s what I’ve taught you.  Then we think also that we are with the Guru whenever we see the Guru’s face.  We think that when the Guru is actually in the room and we see the face, we see the form, and we think that we are with the Guru.  If we see a picture of the Guru, maybe we have a moment of devotion, and perhaps we feel a connection because of our past practice.  We think, “Oh, now we are with the Guru.”  In fact, if we are really to examine the way that we are thinking at that point, it is extremely superficial.  There’s no view in that at all.  It’s superficial.  It’s completely inaccurate.  If we think in that way, it goes to show us that we have not accomplished pure view.  We have not accomplished a deeper view.  So this would give us a lead as to how to practice more deeply.

When we think about when we are with the Guru, we have to try to understand the meaning of our relationship with the Guru in the deepest possible sense.  We try, hopefully, to move past our perception of the Guru as an individual person.  This is our goal.  This is what we’re trying to do, generally speaking, in our devotional yoga.  We are trying to see past the personality, past the superficiality, into a more profound understanding, a more profound view.

Let’s go back to that question that we might have answered differently while we were thinking more superficially: when is it that we are with the Guru?

We are with the Guru every moment that we have the Buddha nature.  We are with the Guru so long as we appear in the world but still have within us the Buddha seed.  What that actually means is that the Guru represents for us all sources of refuge: all Lamas, all Buddhas, all Bodhisattvas, these three that arise from the primordial nature.  The Lama represents for us the Dharma: all of the Dharma, every word that was ever uttered of Dharma teaching.  The Lama represents for us as well the entire Sangha: every monk, every nun, every Lama that has ever taken robes, that has ever practiced the Dharma.  The Lama represents as well all the meditational deities with all their qualities and all their particular incarnations and all of their activities.  The Lama represents as well all of the dakinis and all of the Dharma protectors.  So when we think of the Lama, we think that everything that arises from the fundamental Buddha nature, from the pure primordial nature, that which is our Buddha nature is represented by the Lama.  Everything that the Lama represents arises from the Mind of Enlightenment.

Conversely, the Lama does not represent those things that are present in samsara.  The Lama does not represent those things that increase our five poisons, that increase our delusions.  The Lama, therefore, cannot cause suffering.  The Lama cannot cause an increase in ignorance.  In a natural way, the Lama is not capable of giving rise to more suffering and more delusion.  If somehow within the relationship that we have with our Lama there is some suffering, then we have to look to ourselves as having impure perception, as having incorrect view, incomplete understanding and the tendency to project outward what is actually happening within our own minds.  The reason why we know that the Lama cannot increase our suffering or increase our poisons, or harm us in any way, is that the Lama actually appears as a display arising from the very Mind of Enlightenment and within the Mind of Enlightenment there is no cause for suffering.  There is actually no cause for suffering, so the seed is not there.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Astrology for 9/26/2016

9/26/2016 Monday by Norma

Accept every invitation that comes your way, your presence honors others. Someone who has been struggling needs your support and your presence transforms the situation. Remember you must be present to help, so show up! Good humor is all-pervasive and diplomacy is crucial today. The Bible says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” Most of the planets are in public signs today and this highlights worldly, not private, activity. Attend public functions, stay in bright places and honor everyone with your presence.

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