Time To Practice

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Antidoting the Mantra of Samsara”

New students keep saying “Well this is amazing. I’ve been looking for something that’s that deep and that profound and this sounds really good, and as soon as I have time, you know, I’ll get into it. But right now I have children, and I have wife and I have a job and I have a car to support and all these things. So you know, I’m really for you and I hope lots of people become Buddhists and do all this. But right now for me I have to wait. I have to wait for a while. I have to wait ‘til my kids grow up. I have to wait ‘til my car is paid for. Right before I get the next one. And I have to wait for…, I just have to wait, you know, because waiting is what I do.”  And so the thought that we have when we’re waiting is that somehow this is all going to work out well. We’ll be exposed to the Buddha’s teachings and we’ll hear something. It’s that magical thinking: It’ll just sort of come together eventually.

Actually, if you really think about it, the Buddha’s teachings are so extensive, so developed, so profound, so deep that they take time to contemplate, to understand, to prepare for, to even build the foundation that causes you to practice foundational preliminary teachings. It takes time. Why? Because you have to change in the process!  We’re not in the business of applying bandaids here. It takes time for you to change. Some of you change faster than others. And it takes time to do the practice. The practice is extensive. So, I’m looking around the room now and I’m seeing that most of us are not under 10 years old. Therefore, whether we’re 20, 25, 35, 45, 55, 75 or however old we are, and it seems like there’s a mixture here, you need to start right now. Because there’s not much time.

There are two reasons: First of all the Buddha taught that there is no guarantee as to how long any of us are going to live, and you can’t understand this. For some reason it is beyond human capacity to understand this kind of thing, unless you yourself have been struck with a terrible illness or a terrible accident where you could have died or may still, or unless you’ve seen someone near you just kick off. Once you’ve had that experience you may understand, but before that, it’s very hard to understand what the Buddha has taught. There is no guarantee that you’re going to wake up tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year.

The second reason is the cause and effect relationships that constantly engage our own sea of karma. That sea of karma that is already hooked up and functional within our mindstream is very fluid and it’s constantly being catalyzed by other events. Each one of you most likely has the karma to live for a very long time and also the karma to die quickly. Which one will ripen?  Well, that’s up to you, according to how you practice, according to how you live, according to how you determine your mind state because everything you do, everything you think, everything you engage in is an additional cause and effect relationship and an additional catalyst. Everything you do is important.

So for each and every one of us the wisest thing to do is to begin to practice now. You know yourself very well. You know when you tighten up. You know what you need. You know when you get scared. You know when you do your best. You like to think you don’t know and you kind of get limp and act like you need guidance for everything, but in fact you do know. You do know how to take care of yourself if you stop and think about it and engage in some self-honesty. So do whatever it takes to mother yourself through, to nurture yourself through, to get to the point where you can actually practice.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 11/30/2016

11/30/2016 Wednesday by Norma

Zealots are out in full force, pressing their views on others, and a problem exists herein. It’s fine to hold opinions but be aware that those you’re proselytizing may have some ideas of their own. Be polite. Four planets in Sagittarius will show you a good time, but the sentiments are real so pay attention. Alan Watts said, “Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.” Genuine progress is possible today, in a way that seemed unimaginable until now. This is a good day to become informed, to learn something, to listen and to expand your horizons. If you’re doing all the talking, be careful, you might miss something important.

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

Using the Enemy as Guru

An excerpt from a teaching called The Dharma of Technology by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Think about the people in your life.  Is there one person that you just can’t stand? I know that you’re a Buddhist, however, there is probably one person in your life that gets your goat every time.   If you think there is no such person that you can’t stand, then you don’t know yourself at all.  Think about all of the people in of your life and think about whether you can sincerely wish that each one of them gets ahead, has all the happiness, all the approval, all the food, all the money, all the goods, all the joy, all the accomplishment that they could possibly have.

Think about all the people in your life. There is somebody in your life, probably more than one person, who when they get praise or that good old pat on the back from the authority that you’d like to have approval from, you’re not happy about it.

You want all sentient beings to be happy.  You want everyone to get ahead.  You want everyone to have a new car, lots of food, a great house to live in, everything they could possibly want and then you want them under those circumstances to reach enlightenment even without trying.  That’s what you want for all sentient beings.  But if you examine yourself, there is at least one person in your life that you really would like to see work for it.  And you wouldn’t mind if this person got disciplined heartily along the way.  You’d like to see this person get what they really deserve.  It may be somebody that you flat out hate.  There is always somebody like that.

Take that person and then think of that person next to the person that you love the most in the world, the person whose qualities you think are the purest, the one you’d most like to be like, the person that you really love.  Maybe a child or a mate or a teacher or a friend who has given you so much, somebody that has been so kind to you and someone you really feel like you couldn’t make it in this life without. There must be somebody in your life who is such a treasure to you.

Your job, in order to fully accomplish Dharma, is to make that person that drives you crazy the same in your mind as the person who is the real treasure in your life.  They have to be the same.  And in fact, if the person who drives you crazy to the point that you can’t live with being crazy like that any more, and through the Buddha’s teaching you are able to accomplish loving that person equally with the jewel in your life, then that person is more valuable to you than the one you love easily.  That person is your real guru. You have to think about the one person in your life that you would never, under any circumstances, call your guru.  That’s the one you use, the one person that you would be embarrassed to have the world know that was teaching you anything.  That’s the one you use.

Somehow you have to develop a sense of stability of mind and that is only done through compassion where you understand the equality of those two, because they are equal.  They are exactly the same.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 11/29/2016

11/29/2016 Tuesday by Norma

The New Moon marks a new beginning, one that’s remarkably harmonious provided you sidestep wishful thinking and stick with reality. Fantasy is your undoing now. Five planets in fire signs generate enthusiasm and you can feel the heat! Peter Marshall said, “Enthusiasm is not contrary to reason. It is reason-on fire.” If you’re sitting at home doing nothing check your pulse, you may not be alive. It’s that kind of time. Go outside where the excitement is. This is an excellent day to re-affirm your goals and principles, to travel, to confer with others and to meet with friends. Partnership is excellent, but someone on top suffers a fall from grace.

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

Ignorance: From “The Jewel Ornament of Liberation” by Gampopa

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Jewel Ornament of Liberation” by Gampopa as translated by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche:

Ignorance. Those who have more ignorance should contemplate the law of interdependent origination as a remedy. The Rice Seedling Sutra says:

Monks, he who understands the rice stalk can understand the meaning of interdependent origination. Those who know interdependent origination know the Dharma. Those who know the Dharma know the Buddha.

Furthermore,

a) the interdependence of samsara is explained in order and
b) the interdependence of nirvana is explained in reverse order.

1. The first one, interior interdependence with cause. As is said:

Monks, because of this, that is produced. Because this is produced, that is born. This way, by the condition of ignorance, mental formation arise. By the condition of birth, there occur old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, unhappiness, and distress. Therefore, in this way, this vast aggregate of suffering appears.

This is explained according to the desire realm and according to birth from a mother’s womb.

a) At the very first, there is ignorance, which is the confusion that misunderstands all knowledge.
b) Under the influence of ignorance is the mental formation of the karma called afflicted virtues and nonvirtues. This is called “mental formation conditioned by ignorance.”
c) The seed of that karma is carried by the mind so that is called “consciousness conditioned by mental formation.”
d) By the power of that karma, the mind is fully confused, enters into a mother’s womb, and an embryo and so forth arise. This is called “name and form conditioned by consciousness.”
e) By developing the name and form, all the senses of the eye, ear, and so forth are completed. This is called “six increasing fields conditioned by name and form.”
f) The interaction of the eye organ and so forth, the corresponding object, and the consciousness is called “contact conditioned by the six increasing fields.”
g) Through contact, one experiences the feelings of joy, suffering, or indifference. That is called “feeling conditioned by contact.”
h) When there is feeling, there is joy, attachment, and stronger attachment. That is called “craving conditioned by feeling.”
i) From that attachment, one craves more and more, and wishes to not be separated from the object of attachment. That is called “grasping conditioned by craving.”
j) Through that grasping, karma and existence by body, speech, and mind are again created. That is called “existence conditioned by grasping.”
k) That karma creates the five aggregates (Skt. skandas). That is called “birth conditioned by existence.”
l) After birth, the aggregates which actually exist increase, ripen, and cease. “Ripen” means aging; “cease” means death. That is called “aging and death conditioned by birth.” Due to ignorance, complete attachment, craving, death causes the inner pain called sorrow. That sorrow causes expression in words, called lamentation. When the five consciousnesses experience unhappiness it is called suffering. Bringing that in the mind, that suffering is called “mental unhappiness.” Furthermore, in this way and so forth, the entire afflicted subconsciousness is called “disturbed mind.”

These twelve should be understood in three groups. Ignorance, craving and grasping compromise the afflicting emotions group. Mental formation and existence are the karma group. Consciousness and so forth, all the remaining seven, are grouped as suffering. The Treatise on the Existence of Interdependence says:

The twelve interdependent elements
Should be understood in three groups.
The Sage described interdependence as
Afflicting emotions, karma and suffering.
The first, eight and ninth comprise the afflicting emotions.
The second and tenth comprise karma.
The remaining seven comprise suffering.

The examples of these are ignorance is like one who plants the seed, karma is like the field, consciousness is like the seed, craving is like moisture, name and form are like shoots, the others are like branches, leaves and so forth. If there were no ignorance, then mental formation could not appear. Likewise, without birth, aging and death would not happen. But because there is ignorance, mental formations are fully created. And so forth, when their is birth, aging and death occur.

Ignorance does not think, “I will create mental formation,” and mental formation does not think, “I was created by ignorance.” Likewise birth does not think, “I will create aging and death,” and aging and death do not think, “We were made by birth.” But when there is ignorance, then mental formations appear and manifest. Likewise when there is birth, aging and death appear and manifest. Thus, this is inner interdependence with cause.

Astrology for 11/28/2016

11/28/2016 Monday by Norma

Mars is the champion today, galvanizing people into action. Join up and become active in your favorite cause. This is a great time to start a company, a campaign or a diet. Cyril Connolly said, “The one way to get thin (or anything else) is to re-establish a purpose in life.” Your purpose is clear now so
get moving! A surprise shakes confidence, temporarily, but it has no lasting effect on your goals. News from afar becomes important as the day progresses. This is an excellent time to determine your overarching goals, and once that’s done determine the tactics to take you there.

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

The Foundation

Buddha Shakyamuni
Buddha Shakyamuni

From The Spiritual Path:  a Collection of Teachings by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

To me, compassion is not a feeling at all. It is not an emotion. It is logical. It is meaningful. I find no other excuse for living. If I tried to find another, I would be lost in samsara, a bee buzzing around in a jar.

The format of my life arises from—takes its only meaning from—the fountain of compassionate activity. I can’t think what else one is supposed to do. Anything else is deeply neurotic activity that has no true birth, no foundation, no substance. So I try to give a teaching: If you become a Bodhisattva, you will become happy. But that is just a poor condensation of the truth. A life that is born of compassion—that arises from the breath of compassion, the wind of compassion—is born of the profound essence, knowing itself to be inseparable from the profound essence. The key is to understand yourself as that compassion—your whole life as compassion-ate movement. It is the natural display, the natural order. It is the evidence of Lord Buddha’s blessing. It is YES.

Kindness is universal; it is not a word the Buddha invented. I am a Buddhist because I have found that this is the most useful way to benefit beings. Perhaps you will determine that for yourself. But even if you do not become a Buddhist, you are not off the hook. No matter what religion, path, or teaching you follow, compassion is the way to realization. Whether or not you are a Buddhist, you have a job to do—and that job is to develop a fervent, sincere aspiration to be of true benefit to others. This is the foundation.

Buddhism is based on the ideal of compassion. The Buddha taught that we should cultivate our lives as vehicles to help and benefit all others—not just our own small circle of family and friends. We should increase our compassionate activity until it embraces an ever greater number of beings. We must not be satisfied with concern only for human beings, or even for all the beings we can see in our world.

According to the Buddha’s teaching, there are six realms filled with sentient beings. That which we can see is a relatively small portion of the human and animal realms. But there are non-physical beings of different types who must be seriously considered.

To develop the mind of compassion, you should begin by honestly examining yourself. You may find that your goal is not in fact to benefit all sentient beings, but to be a kind person. There are worlds of difference between these two goals. One is selfless; the other is not. There is still you wishing to be a kind person. You must avoid the trap of using Dharma with the motivation, whether conscious or not, of making yourself a great Bodhisattva, a great helper, a great savior. You need to make the idea of compassion so strong that it becomes a fire consuming your heart.

Astrology for 11/27/2016

11/27/2016 Sunday by Norma

You won’t know you’ve annoyed someone until it’s too late, so be cautious about giving offense today. A groundswell of support for public figures is bubbling up from beneath the surface, and someone quietly gives you secret information that’s critical for success. Francis Crick said, “It is not easy to convey, unless one has experienced it, the dramatic feeling that floods the mind when the right idea finally clinches into place.” This is a good day to travel, to discuss philosophy, to debate ideas and to give and receive support on a deep level.

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

Star of Your Own Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An excerpt from a teaching called Perception and Karma by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, July 19, 1989

At the heart of all phenomena, at the heart of all feeling, at the heart of all thought, at the heart of all experience, at the heart of self-nature, at the heart of all things, is the nature of emptiness.   Neither self-nature nor phenomena can be considered separate from emptiness.  All phenomena are inseparable from emptiness.  It is indistinguishable from emptiness.  It is the same as emptiness.  It arises from emptiness, and it returns to emptiness. At the heart of every single experience, everyone without exception, including the ones that we react to in the various ways that we react, there lies the mother of all phenomena, the heart of emptiness.

From that point of view, since all things arise from emptiness, are the same as emptiness and inseparable from emptiness.  All phenomena are the same.  For those of you who practice Dorje Phagmo, one of the most outstanding and obvious qualities of Dorje Phagmo is that she cuts attachment to phenomena being one way or another.  She relates to phenomena in such a way that all phenomena are the same and she experiences the sameness of all phenomena. In truth all phenomena is the same taste.  The analogy that can be used to really get the point home is that, from that point of view, shit is the same as chocolate.  They are the same nature, the same essence, the same taste.

Yet, we do not experience them as the same. We want to eat chocolate and we feel repelled, terribly repelled, by shit.  We would like to have the chocolate bar, but we would not eat a bowl of shit.  That would be very difficult for us to do.  One would be delicious and the other would be utterly repulsive. So, if these things have the same nature, what, then, is the difference?  The difference, of course, is the perceptual process that we are engaged in.

This perceptual process is both collective and individual.  That is to say, there are certain things that groups, such as all human beings, might perceive similarly, not the same, but similarly.  There are some phenomena that perhaps would be experienced in a cultural way.  One group would experience something in one way and another group might experience it in another way.  There are some forms of phenomena that most sentient beings may experience in a certain way.  Even within those samenesses and those likenesses, a person within a group actually experiences that phenomena in a very individual way.  That individuality cannot be understood because there is not a true communication that can describe how experience happens.

How that occurs, of course, is through the means of karma.  Each of us has a certain karmic format.  We seem to be programmed in a karmic way.  Each of us operates very differently due to our karma.  The expression is, “due to the karma of our minds.”  This is, of course, according to the ordinary mind, the mind that is experiencing delusion, not the mind of awakening.  We have some similar karma, obviously.  We’re all sitting in the same room.  If we did not have similar karma, we would not be as close as we are.  Not only are we sitting in the same room but we see each other quite frequently, we’ll probably see each other for the rest of our lives, with any luck, and we will continue to have a relationship in this way.  So we have some similar branches of karma.  We live in the same city, we live in the same state, we live in the same nation, and we live on the same Earth at the same time.

Yet, each of us has individual karma.  It takes a tremendous amount of similarity, for instance, for all of you to have gotten ordained at the same time.  If you could conceive of the tremendous ripening that had to have occurred at that time, you would understand, then, the tremendous bond that you share.  It takes a tremendous amount of ripening for us to come together at this time, for all of us, in order to experience a life that is about Dharma.  There has to be a tremendous amount of ripening of very pure and virtuous karma in order for that to happen.  Yet, even with all of that, we have differences in our karma.  The differences are so deep and yet so subtle that one person, who has similar karma with another person, cannot talk to that person and describe exactly what their experience is. No one can communicate exactly what their experience is.  Even if you felt that you had thoroughly communicated your experience that would basically be a misunderstanding because the other person could not have understood what you said.  They do not have the same karma as you.  It is impossible.  You could not exactly describe how you experience a small object for instance. If you did, she would hear it in the way that she experiences it. There is no meeting, there is some overlapping, but there isn’t an intimate sameness about our experience.

For this reason, all scientific tools, from this point of view, are utterly useless. A simple thing, such as a thermometer, is useless.  If I put it in my mouth and had two people read it they would both say 98.6.  But the meaning of their experience, the way in which it was received, what they say, every single piece of what happened in order for that to happen is quite different. The sameness of the karma is indicated by their ability to sit together and have the opportunity to read the thermometer at the same time.  But the sameness is not in the experience.  It is an illusion that we all live with that makes us think that we all have the same experience.

In a very ordinary way, this accounts for the unbelievable thing that happens when groups of people get together and try to pass along information. It also explains how it is that gossip should be outlawed.  All things that are communicated in that way are different.  So, in one way, it is best to do as the Buddha does and just shut up for awhile until you get enlightened.

Each of us, then, is totally and completely involved in a perceptual play that we believe to be real.  We constantly experience self and other, we constantly experience phenomena surrounding us.  We constantly experience thoughts and feelings within our own mind and are constantly involved in reaction. Do we understand how completely and totally individual that is?  If we did understand that, we would have a way to understand how artificial the entire construction is and how it is absolutely dependent on one’s karma.  How useless it is to try to react or not react in a certain way in order to change things.  How useless it is to try and manipulate phenomena in order to get a certain result.  We would understand, then, that the only lasting means by which to make change, is to purify one’s karma.

I think of an example of someone, one of my students who is constantly bothered by losing things or having others mishandle things.  The only cure to a situation such as that is not what we usually try to do, which is to lay blame or take measures or lock stuff up.  The only lasting cure for something like that would be the practice of generosity.  The result of the karma of a generous mind is a feeling that is a state free of lack, a state that is without doubt or anger or without the building blocks that cause a situation to occur again and again and again.  The karma of a generous mind is such that those kinds of things simply don’t happen.  There is more stability in a generous mind.  A person who has truly practiced and attained selfless generosity, the experience of such a person will be stable, it will not be challenging in the way that the life of an ego-clinging person is.  It will not have the same frustrations.  It will not have the constant vacillation between having and not having. The karma of loss will not be there.  But we don’t understand this.  We constantly revolve in a very tight opera in which we are the stars and all the scenery is created just for us.  What we don’t realize is that it’s also created by us, and that no one else is playing.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 11/26/2016

11/26/2016 Saturday by Norma

It’s hard to stop pushing or railing against a disappointment, but do your best to tend to the daily affairs of life. A brilliant idea or event streaks in from an unexpected direction, lifting spirits and generating enthusiasm. Alan Kay said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” And you can, today, if you face forward. It’s a very public time, with everyone declaring what they are for and against, but the best plans are developing beneath the surface. This is a good day to travel, to invent things, to go exploring and to regroup your forces.

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