Non-Duality

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Tools to Deepen in Your Practice”

We think that bodhichitta is something that we must practice, and yes, in order to build proper habitual tendency, that’s what we should do.  That is the basis and foundation for the next level of practice.  But this level of practice requires going beyond simple human kindness, or even extraordinary kindness where we practice from life to death, you know, in order to practice medicine or give out food, or make some phenomenal contribution.

But here in the Vajrayana path, we must understand that you cannot create the bodhichitta.  You cannot establish it, nor can you tear it down or destroy it.  All you can do is deny that you are that; and you can do that from now ‘til kingdom come, whenever that is.  But you cannot deny the understanding that when we seethe fundamental picture we see again and again and again in Vajrayana of the Lama and Consort in union, this is emptiness and method, emptiness and compassioninseparable, functional as one.  We can take them apart to discuss or to understand them, but in truth the bodhichitta cannot be separated from emptiness.  And the true awakening to the bodhichitta comes from the fundamental view of understanding the emptiness of all nature.

In Vajrayana, we are asked to accomplish many things.  One thing we are asked to accomplish is, of course, the realization of emptiness, the understanding of emptiness.  We are asked to understand the arising of compassion as being consistent with the understanding of emptiness.  What we can’t do is change that or build it or control it, or anything.  By simply letting go of the idea of duality, the display of truth must surely arise, and that display is the bodhichitta.

 Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 2/28/2017

2/28/2017 Tuesday by Norma

A call to action puts a spring in your step and joy in your heart. A plan has emerged and activity founded on reality is highlighted today, so get going! Pisces planets are a problem; you’ll need to push against the urge to do nothing. Listen carefully to older, wiser people and take their advice on matters. Tomorrow you will feel lazier, so try not to procrastinate. If you suffer a loss, give yourself time to process and mourn your loss. The rhythm of the time features an energetic outflow of activity followed by escapist behavior. (Twelve rounds in the ring, then hit the nearest bar/ Type for ten hours, then watch tv.) The two most different signs-Aries and Pisces- are vying for attention, and it’s possible to balance them with understanding. This is a fun, interesting time if you play it well.

Avalokiteshvara in the 6 Realms (Chenrezig)

Downloads available: a PDF of the practice and an mp3 file of Palyul monk Lama Pasang chanting the practice.

 

Avalokiteshvara of the Six Realms

Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan name: Chenrezig) is known as the Buddha of Compassion.   His name literally means “Lord of Dharma who looks down with infinite compassion on all beings in a state of suffering.”  He appears throughout the realms of existence, in whatever form is necessary in order to guide beings on the path to enlightenment. His mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG is said to contain all the teachings of the Buddha.  Chenrezig Practice serves to awaken the great compassion (Bodhicitta) within our minds and also antidotes our mental afflictions, such as pride, jealously, anger, and so forth.

“Every person whose heart is moved by love and compassion, who deeply and sincerely acts for the benefit of others without concern for fame, profit, social position, or recognition expresses the activity of Chenrezig.”

Bokar Rinpoche

— Chenrezig: Lord of Love

Download Chenrezig Practice PDF

 

 

Astrology for 2/27/2017

2/27/2017 Monday by Norma

Opposition is a fact of life but it’s on the wane, replaced by a new sensitivity that either empathizes with others or else goes underground to plan covet activity. Feeling victimized? Consider your options and a way out of your trouble appears. Use your sensitivity to help those in need instead of demanding assistance from others. Margaret Mitchell said, “Hardships make or break people.” Four planets in Pisces- the kindest, most compassionate sign- point the direction: Serve or suffer, your choice. Morris Udall said, “Lord, give us the wisdom to utter words that are gentle and tender, for tomorrow we may have to eat them.” This is a great day to use your imaginative, creative abilities,
to engage in quick action, then retreat, and to make plans for the next six months, ones that subtly change the direction of your life. It’s a new time.

Proper Conduct: Understanding the Source of Happiness

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Lama Never Leaves”

Whenever we are on the path and we have a spiritual friend in the form of a teacher, whether it is on the earlier path of Theravadin Buddhism or whether we have a spiritual guru who is from the Vajrayana point of view, a very profound friend who one can expect will mingle with our lives and hopefully mingle with our mindstreams, and give us the appropriate information in order to practice the path, there is one set of instructions that is almost always given in one way or another.  And so I’d like to give these instructions.  They are about gathering and accomplishing “merit”…or meritorious activity.

Here in our society, we are taught in a materialistic way.  We are taught that of course if we get education we will make money.  If we make money, we will get things.  If we get things, we will be happy and we can pass those things on to our children who hopefully will be happy also.  And that’s the idea that we have in this society about material things.

Very rarely do our parents teach us about profitable conduct.  We’re taught about how to live profitably.  Hopefully, if we had good parenting, they taught us about how to keep a bank account and all of those passages of adulthood that we learn about.  But nowadays, it has become much less popular, unfortunately, for parents to teach us profitable conduct; in other words, how to act, how to present oneself, how to hold oneself, what deeds to act upon and so forth, that will bring us happiness and joy.  We in fact, in growing up, we are not really taught that acting in a certain way will bring us happiness or joy; or making offerings in a certain way, or certain kinds of conduct.  Generally what happens is the child imitates the parent.  Many times the parent, like any other samsaric being, is neurotic and we see them acting neurotically in their relationships, and we see that it’s like a roll of the dice.  According to how we act, half the time it produces happiness, and half the time it doesn’t.  And sometimes when we’re in a real spiral…that means the downward kind…we can experience a great deal of neuroses and our children will watch that habitual patterning and they will pattern themselves after it.  It’s natural.  It’s hard-wired in children to do that.  And of course in this day and age, it seems like we have lost touch with what it is that actually creates happiness.  We are so confused in our minds…we’re in such turmoil…we’re always grasping and grabbing and trying and often we’re working very hard at it.  It’s not that we’re lazy.  We don’t just lay around all day.  We’re often working very hard at things that ultimately produce no good result.  Pursuing endless distractions, the Buddhas have called it.

And so, we turn to the people of authority in our lives and we look to them for guidance.  Well, we look to the government and the government says, “Let’s cut down on social services, screw the poor people, we’ll go to war!”  So maybe that’s not so good.

So then we look at our parents…and let’s see, parent’s are on maybe second or third marriage, and they’re very much trying to be happy but they don’t know how to be happy and the parents are in as much turmoil as perhaps the child is.

And then the child turns to the teachers and even religious figures.  And if the religious figure is not enlightened, often times they are lead down horrible paths; perhaps even abusive paths where they are taught some strict dogma that has no relationship to anything really; or in the worst case scenario, they are used and abused by a religious figure of authority.

So where do we actually go to understand what it is the Buddha taught about cause and result…because this is where the Buddha really shone…showed his immense wisdom, his immense capacity.  …Is that not only Shakyamuni Buddha, himself, but every teacher and lama that has studied his teachings, followed his ways and accomplished.  And all the teachers yet to come that revealed Terma, including Guru Rinpoche and those that were Treasure Revealers later on, each in their own way, taught us Proper Conduct.

Proper Conduct is actually part of our Ngondro practice in which we learn to turn the mind toward Dharma.  And that doesn’t mean…what do you call it when somebody…a person that sings the rap of a certain company and…public relations, right.  It’s not like that.  Our teachers actually indicate to us how we should live and actually that’s one of the signs of the Buddha is that the Buddha comes to the earth and shows us how to live because we are living in confusion.  We have not been taught of cause and effect.  And this is one thing that Lord Buddha really taught about was cause and result.  And he said that, if spiritual thinking isn’t reasonable and logical, that is, if one cannot think it through first before one decides to really open the heart in faith, then we should think again.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 2/26/2017

2/26/2017 Sunday by Norma

Four planets in Pisces emphasize sensitivity, compassion and intuitive perception. It’s a great time for artists, healers and mariners. Feeling sick? You’ll get better. Three planets in Aries urge you to get moving, time’s a’wasting, so a bit of a conundrum exists. Solution? Act, then relax in your
favorite way, with your favorite person. Maggie Rogers said, “And if you had a bad week, just let me touch your cheek, oh and I’m the love that loves you, I’m the one that loves you.” Once you power down, you won’t want to power back up. What’s good today? The beginning of a new eclipse cycle of
activity where you move in a different direction, resting up, saying good-by to the recent past, and opening to a new mode that’s coming your way.

Love For All Beings

[Adapted from an oral commentary given by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche in conjunction with a ceremony wherein he bestowed the bodhisattva vow upon a gathering of disciples at Namdroling in Bozeman, Montana, November 1999. —Ed.]

Think about all living beings that at some time or another, throughout the course of innumerable past lifetimes, have been your own kind father or mother. Consider how a mother will do anything for her child—even give her own life, without hesitation. Consider how all living beings have been that kind to you at some time in the past—not just once, but countless times, in countless different circumstances and situations over the course of countless lifetimes since beginningless time. Consider also that to not think carefully about repaying kindness, and thereby to go through your life without the intention to truly benefit parent sentient beings, and so to actually ignore them, is truly shameless.

Many people in the West may think, “Wait a minute! My parents were not very kind to me. In fact, we are not even close, and I don’t even like them, so why should I feel that I need to repay their kindness now?” If that is what you think, then take a moment to think about how you acquired your body. Is it not due to the kindness of your parents that you have your precious human body? From the time your consciousness entered the union of your father’s seed and your mother’s egg, your mother carried you in her own body. Her body nurtured you as you grew within it. Then with pain and difficulty she gave birth to you. Her kindness did not just stop there: for many years she cared for you and lovingly fed, cleaned, clothed, and wiped you; she provided shelter and cared for you when you were sick, and then she protected you and looked out for you constantly. If you think you don’t need to repay the kindness of your parents, just remind yourself of those events, which you were the recipient of time and time again.

If that still does not change your attitude, so that you still do not understand the kindness your parents showed you, then think about your body, the gift of your body, which is who you are; your parents gave you that. Because your parents showed you the great kindness of giving you your body, your precious life, here you are. Sure you had the causes for your precious human rebirth, but without parents you wouldn’t have your body. And you didn’t have your body, you wouldn’t be able to receive these vows.

In our present state of ignorance, we have an inability to recognize that all beings have been our parents in the past, and we certainly don’t know what the particular situations and circumstances of those lifetimes were. Nonetheless, it is certain that we have had countless sentient beings as our parents over and over again in countless past lives. The truth is, at the present time we just do not recognize that.

Imagine you are on the bank of a river with your mother and suddenly she falls in and is being carried away by the rushing water. There you stand on the bank, watching that happened. What would you do? Would you do something to try to save her, such as throw out a rope? Or would you turn your back and walk away rather than risk your own life? Would you be concerned for her, or would your concern be only for yourself? The intention of the hearers and solitary realizers can be likened to this latter case, while the intention of the Mahayana practitioners can be likened to the former. While it is important to develop attraction toward peace, you should never for any reason, be attracted to the quiescence of the hearers and solitary realizers.

From “THE PATH of the Bodhisattva: A Collection of the Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and Related Prayers” with a commentary by Kyabje Pema Norbu Rinpoche on the Prayer for Excellent Conduct

Compiled under the direction of Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche Vimala Publishing 2008

Astrology for 2/25/2017

2/25/2017 Saturday by Norma

A flurry of last minute group planning occurs and then things change: preparations are complete and it’s time to to go with the flow. If you’ve planned well, and you surely have, things go as expected. Like a skier on a downhill slope or a surfer on the wave, it’s time to go with the flow and the wrong time to stop and think. Bursts of all sorts are highlighted: outbursts, bursts of emotion, etc, all sharing the component of suddenness and energy. Be wise in what you do and drive carefully. Henri Bergson said, “Think like a person of action; act like a person of thought.” What’s good today? Love in action, happiness with a partner, peace after energetic exertion and thoughtfulness that expresses wisdom.

Astrology for 2/24/2017

2/24/2017 Friday by Norma

Groups and friends rule today! Spend time with those who share your goals and also consider your personal plans for the future. William Jennings Bryant said, “Destiny is not a matter of chance: it is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.” A big push comes today that is temporarily blocked by a nice person who doesn’t have the sense to get out of the way. If you are obstructing someone, don’t be defensive, just step aside. If you are charging, go around, not through the other person and be good-natured about it. What’s good today? Action, then withdrawing into a well-deserved rest. Love is in the picture, friends are helpful and life is interesting.

Taking Bodhicitta Home

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered at Palyul Ling Retreat 2012:

We have to remember that kindness is the way, and bodhicitta is the most powerful thing in the world.  If you are afraid because someone has wronged you or harmed you in some way (and I’ve had that experience), I’ve also found out that bodhicitta solves the problem.  Bodhicitta ends the problem.  If someone harms you and you instead give bodhicitta, some kindness, then the problem is over.  His Holiness himself with his own mouth told me there is nothing more powerful in the entire world than the great bodhicitta, nothing more powerful.

Whatever practice you do, meditate on compassion.  Meditate on the suffering of sentient beings.  Come to understand what it is that they go through.   They will never have what you have because the karma is not there.  But you could help by offering the bodhicitta and offering yourself to the three precious jewels for their sake.  Keep this phrase in your mind.  If you are uncomfortable and your knees hurt or anything like that, remember, “For their sake. For their sake, my children.”  Please hold that in your heart and hold that in your mind, even though these are just very simple words and nothing to take home or be so proud of. Still I want to tell you that if you don’t have the bodhicitta, you have nothing.

You are so needed in a world that is hungry for love.  But if you forget that, then your practice again becomes dry and dull, and you may forget.  Dharma is like a wedding cake.  The bottom of the cake is the support.  Without support, everything falls down.  And bodhicitta is the support.

I know your hips hurt and your knees hurt and your eyes are tired.  I know what it is like with retreats and the long times that you sit in that one certain position.  I can’t even do it anymore because my knees have gotten so bad.  I inherited that from my father, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.  That’s all I am going to burden you with tonight.  I feel that you have spent a long day working very hard,  and you should have your rest; but I wanted to tell you this one small thing.  Don’t forget love.  Don’t decide what it has to be.  Don’t forget the bodhicitta that is so needed, like food and water.  Look and see what you can do to help others on ordinary levels too. You can’t practice when you are hungry.  Try to help all beings in any way that you can.  If you find yourself unable to keep going in your practice, stop.  Go back to the beginning.  Do the bodhicitta all over again, and then move on.  You will be refreshed.  Your heart will be moved.

That is all I am going to share tonight.  I thought that it might be helpful in your practice, especially in the middle when it’s just getting really hard.  Take care of yourself.  Take care of your hearts.  Give yourself the food you need to go on through practicing kindness.  Be kind to yourself as well.  I am thrilled to have this opportunity to be with you, even though I have nothing much to say.  Thank you for coming.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved