Be Your Own Best Friend

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Western Chöd”

Understanding what is in front of you is like, I’ve used this analogy before, it’s like walking through a dark room. Let’s say that the life span that you have can be symbolized by a room. It’s dark because you don’t know what it’s going to be like. So let’s say the room is perfectly pitch dark. All the shades are drawn. It’s dark outside. No moon. Lights are off. We’re talking dark. And it’s like that because no one can predict the future. We have no idea what our lives are going to be like. But you have to walk through that room.

So you have a choice there. You can either do what we’re used to doing which is, eyes closed, you don’t turn on the light. You just take it the way it is and, like a fool, just walk through the room. Now unfortunately in that room, there’s a sofa, there’s a couch, there’s a table, lots of tables, there’s stuff on the floor. It’s like any other room. It’s furnished. Just like your life. It’s furnished. So you’re going to walk through that room what, with the light off?  With your eyes closed?  Guess what’s going to happen. Try it in your room. Try it in your house. Just walk around a while with all the lights off and your eyes closed. You are going to hurt yourself. You’re going to fall down.

There’s another choice, and this is the choice that Buddhism offers to you, or that this kind of practice specifically offers you—examining the faults of cyclic existence and examining what is the more noble way.This kind of practice offers you another alternative and that is turning on the light. Having seen the faults of cyclic existence that’s like you’re walking through this room, yes, but you know where the couch is. You can walk around the couch. You know where the chair is. You can walk around the chair. You know where the table is. You can walk around the table. Something on the floor. You can step over that. So while it may not be our natural tendency to look at life in that way, it behooves us to have that kind of courage because ultimately it would be like walking through your life really seeing what it is, being able to avoid the obstacles, taking advantage of what is there to take advantage of, and not hurting yourself.

It isn’t like you’re sentencing yourself to several months of the worst practice you’ve ever experienced. In a way, for the first time, maybe for the only time, you’re being your own best friend. You’re really looking, really seeing, not copping out. And because of that you will be more competent to move through your life than you might have been otherwise. And not only that, you’ve given rise to the great Bodhicitta, the great compassion, and you have understood that while you are alive in this world, you cannot accept, you cannot bear the suffering of sentient beings. You see that it becomes somehow disgusting and unacceptable to you, that your two feet, that your self could be here in this world, and sentient beings are suffering. That’s why, in the practice, we give rise to renunciation, true renunciation. We totally give up the self for the purpose of benefitting sentient beings.  Practice like that will produce that excellent result.

According to my teachers, this is a combination of preliminary practice called Ngöndro, which is where we see the faults of cyclic existence and give rise to the Bodhicitta, and it’s also the practice of Chöd. There’s no reason why any of you can’t begin to practice like that right now, immediately, tomorrow, today. That practice can be done deeply as I have just given instruction, but it can also be done in more casual way, as you’re walking around. Examine everything you see, and even if you are not a Buddhist, that’s fine with me. Even if you’re not planning on being a Buddhist but you’re interested in these words and you have some connection with them, great. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to practice in this way, because when I practiced in this way, I wasn’t. But it is the same ethics, the same morality and the same beauty that I have later come to find in my religion, Buddhism. So I offer this to you as a gift and I really hope that you take it with you wherever you go, and that, for my friend, it will bring you back safely, and that for all of you, you will have the most excellent result practicing in that way.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 12/31/2016

12/31/2016 Saturday by Norma

Mars and Neptune join company today advising people to slow down, relax, and keep the party indoors. This is the perfect time to engage in creative activities, to watch movies or attend musical performances. It’s a poor time to engage in contests of speed, attend raucous parties or mingle with people you don’t know well. Authority figures are helpful and create a stable environment. Use this creative time to consider your future; imagine, think, plan what lies ahead for you. John Ruskin said, “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall at last unveil.”

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

Who Is Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo?

His Holiness Khenpo Jigmey Phuntsok gave the following commentary on the recognition of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo on July 30, 1993 at Kunzang Palyul Choling in Poolesville, Maryland

 

Padma Norbu Rinpoche was discovered by the fifth Kongtrul Thupten Chokyi Dorje.  Thubten Chokyi Dorje by indicating who Padma Norbu Rinpoche’s parents would be. When we look at the qualities of such a recognition, we find in someone like His Holiness Padma Norbu Rinpoche has lived up to every aspect of who he has been indicated to be, in terms of being an emanation of the previous Penor Rinpoche, in terms of the qualities of his scholarship, of his honor and morality, of his excellence and of his accomplishment which are all inconceivable.  And so in terms of spiritual and secular qualities he is absolutely fully endowed and lives up perfectly to the recognition, which has been bestowed upon him.

It is someone as supreme as Mahasiddha Padma Norbu Rinpoche who with his eye of primordial wisdom awareness has understood that this is an incarnation of the previous Ahkön Lhamo.  He has not recognized her just suddenly without basing it on any type of investigation, as though it were something that he just did spontaneously when it came to his mind.  The recognition of her occurred as a process that he had been looking into for an extended period of time.  He had been checking about who she was with his own heart deities, and he received some visions from his deities giving explanations to him.  He also had other experiences in his meditation and experiences in his dreams and in the least, also received indications through divination procedures.  And so when he finally made the formal recognition, it was from a point of view of total confidence.

As for Ahkön Lhamo herself, first we have to look at the status of her brother who is Vidyadhara Kunzang Sherab who came from the lower Do-Kham region of Tibet.

Vidyadhara Kunzang Sherab

Secret Mantra Tradition

In terms of establishing the secret mantra tradition in this region of Tibet, there are three principal monasteries that were founded:  Kadok, Palyul, and Dzogchen.  And of these three, the Palyul mother monastery and its branches came to be, even in its time of origination, the most essential of the three monasteries for the establishment of the vehicle of secret mantra. Vidyadhara Kunzang Sherab was responsible for initially establishing the mother Palyul monastery from which there are now some three hundred branch institutions.  His sister was Ahkön Lhamo and she was also very connected with him in these types of activities during their lifetime together.  But she was primarily renowned for her ability to practice the Dharma.  She was well-known as an accomplished yogini on outer, inner and secret levels who spent her entire life in practice And so this is why, later on, when she passed from that particular life she was well-known for the self-embossed syllable “ah” which appeared in her skull which was a sign of having achieved the highest accomplishment through the practice of that life.

 

“Ah” relic at Kunzang Palyul Choling

As a symbol of faith and devotion, it’s not an empty symbol.  It is a symbol that exists due to scriptural authority and lineage, the lineage that she belongs to, the authority of the lineage as well as the scriptural references to that authority in the lineage.  And so it is something that we can have confidence in terms of its validity.  And so, therefore, we can also have confidence in her in terms of background, from a point of view of intelligence, and from the point of view of scientific proof.

We can have total confidence then, in terms of proof, that she is an exalted rebirth.  Now in one way, in this lifetime, she appears as a common American woman, but in another way she appears very uncommon, because she has faith in the Dharma unlike that of a common person, and she has a very strong wish to be of benefit to others, which is unlike that of common people.  She has a tremendous love for her lamas and her spiritual mentors and an ability to make impressions on the minds of others, and to actually control or have some positive influence on the minds of others.  And so this sets her apart from the ranks of common folk.

Through her own wishes she traveled to India where the Dharma has existed for thousands of years.  And there she had an opportunity to listen to the teachings and receive many teachings directly from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche so as to increase her own noble qualities.

She also had an opportunity to receive the entire transmission for the Rinchen Terdzod directly from His Holiness, all of the empowerments, all of the pith essential pointing out instructions and commentaries that are found in that precious terma treasury, and she received it in a way that an elderly lama would receive it, an elderly Tibetan lama.  And so she had this opportunity to completely internalize all of those blessings, which is very extraordinary.

And from the time that the title of Ahkön Lhamo was bestowed upon her, she didn’t succumb to pride and arrogance and go on a separate pursuit, which would be of benefit to her with fame and glory.  Instead she used that title to, even more than before, do what she could to accomplish the purpose of sentient beings and the doctrine, which she has been able to establish more extensively since her title has been bestowed upon her.

And I also think that her enlightened activities have been most excellent in terms of what she’s been able to manifest, the establishment of this temple which is filled with many wondrous supports of enlightened body, speech and mind, and all of the many stupas that she has been able to erect, which are found here on the grounds which are also amazing supports for the presence of the doctrine in this world.

Then also here in the dharma center, she has established the ordained sangha in a way, which is unlike any other place, with so many disciples who have taken the vows of ordination.  This is a clear sign of her miraculous activities being manifest and her strong intention to accomplish the pure dharma in this land.  Not only that, the lay householders in the community also obviously have very strong motivation towards the accumulation of that which is wholesome and that which is virtuous.  And this unceasing effort towards prayer and practice carried on in the temple is yet a further display of her miraculous activities manifest.

What she has been able to accomplish up until now will continue to be accomplished in an even greater way in the future, and will have large effects on this country in general.  Not just here in this place but in a widespread way.  This will have an effect on many people in this country.  And so this is yet a further sign of the wide-reaching effects of her miraculous activity, which will continue to increase.

And as the Buddha said that if there is fire, there will be smoke, as a sign of the fire.  And if water; there will be a sign of water birds gathering there.  Likewise, if there is a Bodhisattva, there will be a sign of the Bodhisattva’s presence, and that means there will be external signs that are apparent and those signs are signs of bringing benefit to sentient beings.  This is something that we can notice and we then know that a Bodhisattva is amongst us.

As her students you should know how to rely upon her purely in the three ways.  And you should do your best to accomplish the stages of learning and the stages of accomplishment so that the doctrine can be firmly established in this land, so that it can be of benefit to both self and all other beings.

Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok

 

 

 

 

 

Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok

Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok (1933 – 2004) was a Nyingma lama from the Dhok region of Kham. At the age of two he was identified as the reincarnation of the Terton Sogyal, Lerab Lingpa (1852–1926). He studied Dzogchen at Nubzor Monastery, received novice ordination at 14, and full ordination at 22 (or 1955). Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok was the most influential lama of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in contemporary Tibet. A Tibetan Buddhist meditation master and renowned teacher of Great Perfection (Dzogchen), he established the Serthar Buddhist Institute in 1980, known locally as Larung Gar, a non-sectarian study center with approximately 10,000 monks, nuns, and lay students at its highest count. He played an important role in revitalizing the teaching of Tibetan Buddhism following the liberalization of religious practice in 1980.

 

In July 1993, HH visited KPC, ordaining a number of monks & nuns, and giving empowerment and teachings on recent termas he had revealed.

Astrology for 12/30/2016

12/30/2016 Friday by Norma

An early morning upset occurs, which you’ll probably sleep through: a storm, earthquake or explosion is possible. If you’re in the epicenter, clean up and clear out, otherwise hear about it on the news. Pay special attention to your hunches and intuition; if you sense something is about to happen, believe it and take prompt action. A sensitive reaction saves the day. The weather, cold and storms are highlighted. Physicians and medical treatments are outstanding. You can truly help someone or something today, so take action! Debbie Fields said, “You do not have to be superhuman to do what you believe in.” Compassion, empathy and friends are highlighted today.

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

Giving Hope and Finding Forgiveness: From “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” Sogyal Rinpoche:

GIVING HOPE AND FINDING FORGIVENESS

I would like to single out two points in giving spiritual help to the dying: giving hope, and finding forgiveness.

Always when you are with a dying person, dwell on what they have accomplished and done well. Help them to feel as constructive and as happy as possible about their lives. Concentrate on their virtues and not their failings. People who are dying are frequently extremely vulnerable to guilt, regret, and depression; allow the person to express these freely, listen to the person and acknowledge what he or she says. At the same time, where appropriate, be sure to remind the person of his or her buddha nature, and encourage the person to try to rest in the nature of mind through the practice of meditation. Especially remind the person that pain and suffering are not all that he or she is. Find the most skillful and sensitive way possible to inspire the person and give him or her hope. So rather than dwelling on his or her mistakes, the person can die in a more peaceful frame of mind.

To the man who cried out: “Do you think God will ever forgive me for my sins?” I would say, “Forgiveness already exists in the nature of God; it is already there. God has already forgiven you, for God is forgiveness itself. ‘To err is human, and to forgive divine.’ But can you truly forgive yourself? That’s the real question.

“Your feeling of being unforgiven and unforgivable is what makes you suffer so. But it only exists in your heart or mind. Haven’t you read how in some of the near-death experiences a great golden presence of light arrives that is all forgiving? And it is very often said that it is finally we who judge ourselves.

“In order to clear your guilt, ask for purification from the depths of your heart. If you really ask for purification, and go through it, forgiveness will be there. God will forgive you, just as the father in Christ’s beautiful parable forgives the prodigal son. To help yourself to forgive yourself, remember the good things you have done, forgive everyone else in your life, and ask for forgiveness from anyone you may have harmed.”

Not everyone believes in a formal religion, but I think nearly everyone believes in forgiveness. You can be of immeasurable help to the dying by enabling them to see the approach of death as the time for reconciliation and reckoning.

Encourage them to make up with friends or relatives, and to clear their heart, so as not to keep even a trace of hatred or the slightest grudge. If they cannot meet the person from whom they feel estranged, suggest they phone them or leave a taped message or letter and ask for forgiveness. If they are suspect that the person they want to pardon them cannot do so, it is not wise to encourage them to confront the person directly; a negative response would only add to their already great distress. And sometimes people need time to forgive. Let them leave a message of some kind asking for forgiveness, and they will at least die knowing that they have done their best. They will have cleared the difficulty or anger from their heart. Time and time again, I have seen people whose hearts have been hardened by self-hatred and guilt find, through a simple act of asking pardon, unsuspected strength and peace.

All religions stress the power of forgiveness, and this power is never more necessary, nor more deeply felt, than when someone is dying. Through forgiving and being forgiven, we purify ourselves of the darkness of what we have done, and prepare ourselves most completely for the journey through death.

FINDING A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

If your dying friend or relative is familiar with some kind of meditation practice, encourage him or her to rest in meditation as much as possible, and meditate with the person as death approaches. If the dying person is at all open to the idea of spiritual practice, help the person find a suitable, simple practice, do it with him or her as often as possible, and keep reminding the person gently of it as death nears.

Be resourceful and inventive in how you help at this crucial moment, for a great deal depends on it: The whole atmosphere of dying can be transformed if people can find a practice they can do wholeheartedly before and as they die. There are so many aspects of spiritual practice; use your acumen and sensitivity to find the one they might be most connected with: it could be forgiveness, purification, dedication, or feeling the presence of light or love. And as you help them begin, pray for the success of their practice with all your heart and mind, pray for them to be given every energy and faith to follow the path they choose. I have known people even at the latest stages of dying make the most startling spiritual progress by using one prayer or mantra or one simple visualization with which they really made a connection in their heart.

Stephen Levine tells the story of a woman he was counseling who was dying of cancer. She felt lost because, although she had a natural devotion to Jesus Christ, she had left the church. Together they explored what she might do to strengthen that faith and devotion. She came to the realization that what would help her renew her connection with Christ, and to find some trust and confidence while dying, would be to repeat continuously the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Saying this prayer opened her heart, and she began to feel Christ’s presence with her at all times.

THE ESSENTIAL PHOWA PRACTICE

The most valuable and powerful of all practices I have found in caring for the dying, one which I have seen an astonishing number of people take with enthusiasm, is a practice of the Tibetan tradition called phowa (pronounced “po-wa”), which means the transference of consciousness.

Phowa for dying people has been performed by friends, relatives, or masters, quite simply and naturally, all over the modern world–in Australia, America, and Europe. Thousands of people have been given the chance to die serenely because of its power. It gives me joy to make the heart of phowa practice now available to anyone who wishes to use it.

Practice One

First make sure you are comfortable, and assume the meditative posture. If you are doing this practice as you are coming close to death, just sit as comfortably as you are able, or practice lying down.

Then bring your mind home, release and relax completely.

1. In the sky in front of you, invoke the embodiment of whatever truth you believe in, in the form of radiant light. Choose whichever divine being or saint you feel close to. If you are a Buddhist, invoke a buddha with whom you feel and intimate connection. If you are a practicing Christian, feel with all your heart the vivid, immediate presence of God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, or the Virgin Mary. If you don’t feel linked with any particular spiritual figure, simply imagine a form of pure golden light in the sky before you. The important point is that you consider the being you are visualizing or whose presence you feel is the embodiment of truth, wisdom, and compassion of all the buddhas, saints, masters, and enlightened beings. Don’t worry if you cannot visualize them very clearly, just fill your heart with their presence and trust that they are there.

2. Then focus your mind, heart, and soul on the presence you have invoked and pray:

Through your blessing, grace, and guidance, through the power of the light that streams from you:
May all my negative karma, destructive emotions, obscurations, and blockages be purified and removed.
May I know myself forgiven for all the harm I may have thought and done,
May I accomplish this profound practice of phowa, and die
a good and peaceful death,
And through the triumph of my death, may I be able to benefit all
other beings, living or dead.

3. Now imagine that the presence of light you have invoked is so moved by your sincere and heartfelt prayer that he or she responds with a loving smile and sends out love and compassion in a stream of rays of light from his or her heart. As these touch and penetrate you, they cleans and purify all your negative karma, destructive emotions, and obscurations, which are the cause of suffering. You see and feel you are totally immersed in light.

4. You are now completely purified and completely healed by the light streaming from the presence. Consider that your very body, itself created by karma, now dissolves completely into light.

5. The body of light you are now soars up into the sky and merges, inseparably, with the blissful presence of light.

6. Remain in that state of oneness with the presence for as long as possible.

 

Astrology for 12/29/2016

12/29/2016 Thursday by Norma

The new moon kicks off a whole new mode for the month, and Capricorn urges everyone to get back to work. Dig in to the projects you set aside during the holiday season and re-commit to your goals. Capricorn rules tiredness so move slowly but steadily through your tasks. Two distinct attitudes are clear: first, an earth emphasis that relates to organization, work and structure; next, a fire emphasis that generates happiness and heat. You can do your job with a smile on your face and joy in your heart. George R. Gissing said, “I have the happiness of the passing moment, and what more can mortal ask?” Friends, partners and work are great today.

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

Listen to Your Life

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Longing for the Guru”

One of the great difficulties we have as practitioners and people involved in a materialistic culture is that we have very little understanding of the longing we feel for the Guru.  In a culture that has a spiritual foundation, in a culture that recognizes the role of the Guru, that recognizes the role of the Teacher or that recognizes and approves of a tendency to long for spiritual fulfillment, it is much easier to put a name and a label on that longing.

But in our culture, in order for us to survive that kind of longing, we have to make believe that it’s something else.  We have to pretend that it has to do with human relationships.  We have to pretend that it has to do with prosperity.  We have to pretend that it has to do with a certain lifestyle.  We have to pretend that it has to do with intelligence or that it has to do with mental health.  We have to pretend all sorts of different things in order to put the longing into some slot that our society recognizes, because if not, as we grow up in the formative years, it’s crushing to know in your heart of hearts that you are very different from others.  No one seems to have quite the same feeling that you do.

And so, because it is so crushing, because it is such a lonely thing, often, the very people that longed the most are the ones that diverted that longing into, perhaps, promiscuity, or perhaps becoming almost fanatical about this thought or that thought or this idea or that idea.  They could have diverted that longing into drugs or alcohol.  They could have diverted that longing into making themselves into a way that they are not, such as a superficial way or a hard way or a tough way or a dull way or a dead way.  They might have pretended that they had no feelings in order to deal with the ones that they did have.

Now, it’s true that lots of people have these same feelings and lots of people have these same ways of dealing with feelings.  For instance, it’s very possible that someone whose mother or father didn’t love them could become promiscuous simply for that reason.  Yet, that does not preclude what I’m saying.  You should listen to your life.  You should listen to what you did and what was underneath it and you should come to understand that perhaps there was something a little different in your heart and in your mind. It was there and it was with you always.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 12/28/2016

12/28/2016 Wednesday by Norma

Organizational thinking is outstanding today. Intelligence merges with power to the point where brilliant ideas solve crucial issues. Strong leaders are hard at work behind the scenes; be aware
that someone who seems to be doing nothing is very busy indeed. Medical treatments are effective
and detectives, sailors and spies operate with success. Everything associated with water is beneficial. Make use of the power of imagination today. Fulton Sheen said, “Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.” Romance, friends and groups are favorable today, and it’s time to start thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions!

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

The Perfection of Generosity: From “The Jewel Ornament of Liberation”

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

Six subjects describe the details of action bodhicitta. The summary:

Reflection on the faults and virtues
Definition, classification,
Increase, perfection, and
Result —
These seven comprise the perfection of generosity.

I. Reflection on the Faults and Virtues. Those who have not practiced generosity will always suffer from poverty and usually will be reborn as a hungry ghost. Even if reborn as a human and so forth, they will suffer from poverty and a lack of necessities. The Condensed Perfection of Wisdom Sutra says:

The miserly will be born in the hungry ghost realm.
In case they are born human, at that time they will suffer from poverty.

The Discourse on Discipline says:

The hungry ghost replied to Nawa Chewari,
“By the power of stinginess.
We did not practice any generosity.
So, we are here in the world of hungry ghosts.”

Without the practice of generosity, we cannot benefit others and, so, cannot achieve enlightenment. it is said:

Without the practice of generosity, one will have no wealth.
So, without wealth one cannot gather sentient beings,
To say nothing of achieving enlightenment.

On the other hand, one who practices generosity will have happiness through wealth in all different lifetimes. The Condensed Perfection of Wisdom Sutra says:

The generosity of bodhisattvas cuts off rebirth as a hungry ghost.
Likewise, poverty and all the afflicting emotions are cut off.
By acting well, one will achieve infinite wealth while in the bodhisattva’s life.

Also, the Letter to a Friend says:

One should practice generosity properly.
There is no better relative than generosity.

Again, one who practices generosity can benefit others. With generosity, one can gather trainees and then establish them in the precious Dharma. It is said:

By the practice of generosity, one can fully mature sentient
beings who are suffering.

Again, it is easier for one who has practiced generosity to achieve unsurpassable enlightenment. The Bodhisattva Basket says:

For those who practice generosity, achievement of enlightenment
is not difficult.

The Cloud of Noble Jewels Sutra says:

Generosity is the enlightenment of the bodhisattva.

The Householder Drakshulchen-Requested Sutra alternatively explains the virtues of generosity and the faults of not giving:

A thing which is given is yours; things left in the house are not. A thing which is given has essence; things left in the house have no essence. A thing which has been given need not be protected; things kept in the house must be protected. A thing which is given is free from fear; things kept in the house are with fear. A thing which is given is closer to enlightenment; things left in the house go in the direction of the maras. The practice of generosity will lead to vast wealth; things left in the house do not bring much wealth. A thing which is given will bring inexhaustible wealth; things left in the house are exhaustible. And so forth.

II. Definition. The definition of generosity is the practice of giving fully without attachment. The Bodhisattva Bhumis says:

A mind co-emergent with non attachment —
With that motivation, fully giving things.

III. Classification. Generosity has three classifications:

A. giving wealth
B. giving fearlessness, and
C. giving Dharma.

The practice of giving wealth will stabilize others’ bodies, giving fearlessness will stabilize others’ lives, and giving Dharma stabilizes others’ minds. Furthermore, the first two generosity practices establish others’ happiness in this life. Giving Dharma establishes their happiness hereafter.

IV. Characteristics of Each Classification.

A. Giving Wealth. Two topics describe the practice of giving wealth:

1. Impure giving, and
2. pure giving.

The first should be avoided, and the second should be practiced.

1. Impure Giving. Furthermore, there are four subtopics under impure giving:

a) impure motivation
b) impure materials
c) impure recipient
d) impure method.

a) Impure Motivation. There are wrong and inferior motivations. First, generosity with the wrong motivation is giving in order to harm others, giving with a desire for fame in this life, and giving in competition with another. Bodhisattvas should avoid these three. The Bodhisattva Bhumis says:

Bodhisattvas should avoid giving in order to kill, fetter, punish, imprison, or banish others. And bodhisattvas should not exercise generosity for fame and praise. And bodhisattvas should not exercise generosity to compete with others.

Inferior motivation is generosity motivated by a fear of poverty in the next life or a desire to have the body and wealth of gods or humans. Both should be avoided by bodhisattvas. It is said:

Bodhisattvas should not give with fear of poverty.

And:

Bodhisattvas should not give to attain the state of Indra, a universal monarch, or Ishwara.

b) Impure Materials. Other impure generosity practices to be avoided are explained in the Bodhisattva Bhumis. In an abbreviated way, the meaning is: to avoid impure material substances, a bodhisattva should not give poison, fire, weapons, and so forth, even if someone begs for them in order to harm oneself or others. The Precious Jewel Garland says:

If that which helps is poison,
Then poison should be given.
But even if a delicacy will not help,
Then it should not be given.
As when one is bitten by a snake
Cutting the finger can be of benefit,
Buddha said that even if it makes one uncomfortable,
Helpful things should be done.

You should not give traps or skills for hunting wild animals and so forth to those who ask — briefly, anything which can harm or cause suffering. You should not give your parents nor pawn your parents. Your children, wife, and so forth should not be given without their consent. You should not give a small quantity while you have great wealth. You should not accumulate wealth for giving.

c) Impure Recipient. To avoid impure recipients, do not give your body or pieces of your body to the marakuladevata demons, because they ask for this with a harmful motivation. You should not give your body to beings who are influenced by the maras, insane, or who have disturbed minds, because they don’t need it and don’t have freedom of thought. Also, a bodhisattva should not give food or drink to those who are gluttons.

d) Impure Method. To avoid impure methods, you should not give with unhappiness, anger, or a disturbed mind. You should not give with disdain or disrespect for an inferior person. You should not give while threatening or scolding beggars.

2. Pure Giving. There are three subtopics under pure giving:

a) pure material,
b) pure recipient, and
c) pure method.

a) Pure Material. The first has two divisions: inside wealth and outside wealth.

Inside Material. Inside materials are those related to your body. The Narayana-Requested Sutra says:

You should give your hand to those who desire hands, should give your leg to those who desire legs, should give your eye to those who desire eyes, should give your flesh to those who desire flesh, should give your blood to those who desire blood, and so forth.

Those bodhisattvas who have not fully actualized the equality of oneself and others should only give their whole body, not pieces. Engaging in the Conduct of Bodhisattvas says:

Those who lack the pure intention of compassion
Should not give their body away.
Instead, both in this and future lives.
They should give it to the cause of fulfilling the great purpose.

Outside Material. Outside materials are food, drink, clothes, conveyances, child, wife, and so forth according to Dharma practice. The Narayana-Requested Sutra says:

These are outside wealth: wealth, grain, silver, gold, jewels, ornaments, horses, elephants, son, daughter, and so forth.

Householder bodhisattvas are permitted to give all the outer and inner wealth. The Ornament of Mahayana Sutra says:

There is nothing that bodhisattvas cannot give to others–
Body, wealth, and so forth.

A monk or nun bodhisattva should give everything except the three Dharma robes, which are not allowed to be given. Engaging in the Conduct of a Bodhisattva says:

Give all except the Dharma robes.

If you give your Dharma robes, it may cause your benefit for others to decline.

b) Pure Recipient. There are four recipients: recipients with special qualities, like spiritual masters, the Triple Gem, and so forth, recipients who are especially helpful to you, like your father, mother, and so forth; recipients who are special due to their suffering, like those who are patients, unprotected, and so forth; and recipients who are special because of their harmfulness, like enemies and so forth. Engaging in the Conduct of a Bodhisattva  says:

I work in the fields of excellence, benefit and so forth.

c) Pure Method. The methods of generosity are giving with excellent motivation and giving with excellent action. The first is practicing giving for enlightenment and sentient beings’ benefit, motivated by compassion. Regarding giving with excellent action, the Bodhisattva Bhumis says:

Bodhisattvas exercise giving with devotion, respect, by their own hand, in time, without harming others.

“With devotion” means that a bodhisattva should be happy in all the three times. He is happy before he gives, has a clear mind while giving, and is without regret after giving. “Respect” means giving respectfully. “By their own hand” means that when you have wealth, that is the time to give. “Without harming others” means not harming your entourage. Even though it is your own wealth, if the people around you come with tears in their eyes when you give something away, then do not do it. Do not give wealth that has been robbed, stolen, or cheated–that which belongs to others.

The Collection of [the] Abhidharma says:

Give repeatedly, give without bias, and fulfill all desires.

Astrology for 12/27/2016

12/27/2016 Tuesday by Norma

This is a serious/happy day. Previous plans for the future move ahead with crisp regularity. The Uranus/Jupiter opposition is mediated by Saturn, The Lord of Rules, who keeps everything running on an even keel. You can rely on institutional forces to maintain order now. A serious moment comes when the reality of a situation is made clear, but this turns into happiness! Mercury is still retrograde, preventing brand new schemes from flourishing, so stick to your previous plans. I Ching says, “When
clouds form in the skies we know that rain will follow but we must not wait for it. Nothing will be achieved by attempting to interfere with the future before the time is ripe. Patience is needed.” What’s good today? Friends, partnerships and stability.

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