The Turning of the Wheel of Dharma

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The following is respectfully quoted from “The Small Golden Key” by Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

According to the teachings of the sūtras, the Buddha turned the Wheel of Dharma, teaching the “four truths” (Tib. bDenpa bash) to the “five noble ones” (Tib. lNga.sde bang.po). These four truths are: suffering, the causes of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path leading to cessation of suffering. These are the foundation of the Hinayāna teaching.

Later, at Vulture’s Peak in Rajgir, the Buddha taught the “Perfection of Wisdom” (Skt. Prajñā Pāramitā: Tib. Shes.rab.kyi pa role tu phyin.pa) which is the second turning of the Wheel of Dharma called “Characteristiclessness” (Tib. mutton.nyid med.pa) to the general gathering of the Sangha, including male and female Śramaneras, Bhiksus, and Bhiksuni, and to the special gathering of Bodhisattvas, such as Mañjúshri (Tib. hJam.dpal dByangs), Avalokitesśvara (Tib. sPyan.ras.gzigs), Vajrapāni (Tib. Phya.na rDo.rje) and Maitreya (Tib. Byams.pa).

Finally, at a place of supernatural beings unknown to ordinary beings, the Buddha taught the “Doctrine of Absolute Truth” (Tib. Don.dam rnam.par nges.pa) to various disciples such as Bodhisattvas, gods, nāgas, yachts, rākshas, and humans. At these times, the Buddha exhibited many miraculous powers of body, speech and mind.

The full meaning of Mahāyāna is contained in the Buddha’s last two turnings of the Wheel of Dharma where he taught the actual relative truth and absolute truth.

According to the teachings of the tantras, the higher Vajrayāna teachings were first taught by the Buddha at the request of King Indrabodhi of Uddiyāna (Tib. O.rgyan). In the Vajrayāna teachings, the Buddha taught disciples of superior faculties, who had accumulated great merit, how to transform impure phenomenal appearance into a pure mandala. In order to teach King Indrabodhi, the Buddha emanated the Guhyasamāja mandala (Tib. gSang.ba hDus.pa), then bestowed the empowerment of this mandala upon the king and gave him the tantric teachings.

Astrology for 6/30/2017

6/30/2017 Friday by Norma

An emotional or domestic issue is impervious to pacification, meaning the more you try to assuage someone’s feelings the stronger they grow. What to do? Listen, empathize and accept reality as it is. Offer a snack, mention how the same horrible thing happened to your friend, etc. Food and comfort make the greatest impact now and your attitude will be remembered in the future. The danger today lies in
assuming a Marie Antoinette-ish attitude, “Let them eat cake!” that worsens a difficult situation. Elsewhere, medical treatments are succeeding, whether or not you believe this to be true, a gift makes a favorable impact, and numerous candidates for partnership appear. Sadly, none fits the bill, but the attention is fun.

What Do You Long For?

Guru Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Decision Time”

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How much time do we spend understanding the quality, the fabric, the substance of the Buddha’s teachings so that we can make good decisions?. Have we reasoned things out for ourselves?  Do we follow the Buddha’s logic?   If we don’t follow the Buddha’s logic that cause and effect arise interdependently and at the same moment, if we don’t follow the logic that what we are experiencing now is our own karma, if we have not taken that teaching to heart, are we Buddhists?  I wonder.

How much time do you spend mixing your mind like milk with water, mixing with the mindstream of your beloved teacher?  Maybe it’s not me. I’m not that impressive. How much time do you spend mixing your mindstream with the nectar of the teaching?  How much time have you spent in courageous determination, paring the mind down the way one works the wood of one’s craft, or the metal of one’s craft? How often have we made solid and good and sensible plans for our death?  How many of us have made plans and can count on the plans we’ve made for our next life?  Isn’t it funny that after all this time, we do relatively little, and some of us nothing, to add to our virtue?  We don’t plan for the next life. We act like people who don’t believe that rebirth will occur immediately. And it will. We act like people who think there is no relationship between cause and effect. Everything we do is for satisfaction in this life and we still dance with it. We still try to control it.

How much time a day do we spend beseeching the Guru to never abandon us? And how much time each day do we spend in longing for the nectar of bodhicitta? How much time every day do we spend longing for liberation?  Compare that to the time that we spend hanging out with our own minds, like a drunk in a bar, convincing himself the next one won’t hurt. Opening the cans, pop another one, pop another one. Maybe this one will be the magic one. Or, maybe this one. Pop another one. Maybe this will be the one that there is no result for, a freebie. Only a true, bona fide alcoholic, or somebody who was awake enough to know that they are bona fide samsaraholics, understands the depth and depravity of the thinking that I’m describing. That kind of thinking tells me one thing and one thing only: One has not become a Buddhist. You might think you are, might wear the right clothes, but you ain’t there yet, because you have made samsara your guru, because you have made fear your guru, because you have made doubt your guru, because you have made the noise in your head your guru. Because of these and many other things, we’re still suffering. And we’re so deluded that we still seek answers in samsara. Do you know that’s the definition of insanity–to repeat the behavior again and again, achieving the same result?  By this time, we should have made decisions like that. But I see you listening to your heads. I see you making up your own religion in your minds.

I mean, sure, maybe it looks like Buddhism, but it’s not. Because if it were the teachings of the great Guru of Gurus, Padmasambhava, it would say to you that you are drunk, that you are mistaken, that the things that you hold onto in samsara will only betray you. The very things that you are most afraid of will come back to harm you. Guru Rinpoche would have said to you, ‘Each and every one of you have the seed of Buddhahood, but without ripening that seed, it will never manifest.’ Without taking the time, without taking this lifetime to hone one’s skills, to develop the kind of discipline and good mind, relaxed, calm mind…. This will never happen under the conditions that we are thinking now.

Guru Rinpoche’s teachings have said that we should rely on our root guru; and woe unto us if we make up something different. That’s a different religion. Our root guru represents for us the very nature of our mind; not only represents, but in fact is the very door of liberation. And for most of you, if not all, that’s your chance. There is one door to liberation and that’s one’s root guru. And if one cannot align one’s heart, body, speech and mind with the milk or the nectar of the guru, then something else is going on entirely, because this is what our faith is. This is what Vajrayana is about. It is about quick liberation. Nobody said easy. Quick liberation, by virtue of the karma and the relationship between oneself and one’s guru, which one cultivates. The work is hard, because our own minds want to remain drunk. We like the stimulation. We like the 30-minute stories. We like to control the endings. But that’s delusional. Nobody controls the ending. No matter how healthy you are, you could die tomorrow.  Or your root guru could die tomorrow.

Ego, health, control has nothing to do it. Your karma is ripening right now and that’s your experience. That is your experience. It’s yours. And should it happen that the path is difficult and long—difficult, takes a lot of work, makes us nuts sometimes—that’s the very time that Guru Rinpoche reminds us that we are hanging by one string from falling into the depths of samsara and that string is the connection that we have with our teachers. Ignore that string or cut it at your peril. I would not want to be lost in samsara. I would not want to be unknowing of what my next rebirth will be and what I’ll have to endure because I followed the wrong path.

You’ve been given a gift without measure that you have not even opened yet.. I would say in this lifetime you haven’t earned it. And so you might think that by that, you can accept it freely and you can waste it. But I say to you, if we are together and if we speak and if we love one another, then this is the result of many, many efforts in the past. And our job is to, instead of acting like an idiot farmer who is plowing the ground for nothing, rocks and dirt —maybe I can plant a bean here, a little corn—when underneath there is a diamond field, a mine of gold… We’re like poor, starving idiot farmers scraping around when the jewels are ours.

Why do you want to be beggars?  You have been invited to the feast of the Buddhas. Why would you put your fear on a throne?  Why would you put your confusion on a throne? And most of all, why in the world would you take your flawed, crippled ego and put it on the throne? But we do it, day in and day out. We think that somehow if we talk about Buddhism and we look Buddhist and we act Buddhist that somehow the cards will count and it will be fine. It will work out in the end. And I beg to differ. Do you know how it works out in the end?  You die, and you take rebirth according to what you have accomplished in this lifetime. So what are you going to put your money on? Insanity?

Some of you, I think, are beginning to get renunciation and that means you stop making up your own bullshit, and you listen. Some of us are not so young and stupid anymore. Learning the hard way is tough, but we’re good at it. The question is, though, are we learning Dharma, or are we learning to dig ourselves into samsara deeper and deeper? And that’s the question.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 6/29/2017

6/29/2017 Thursday by Norma

Avoid confronting authority figures or anyone you don’t understand, you won’t realize you are in the
weaker position until it is too late. A powerful entity is unswayed by emotional appeals and rules against them. It’s an odd time, where people believe that if they really, really want something it should be given – the two year old’s approach to life. The adult doesn’t agree and no tantrum changes that. Fortunately, a third party can mediate and explain things in such a way that everyone goes away if not happy, at least with a better understanding of the issues involved. Nadia Boulanger said, “Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims.” Work goes well early in the day so jump right in and finish your tasks before the late afternoon slowdown. Home is important, spend as much time there as possible and you’ll be happy with Buddihist Tea Pet.

Compassion as Antidote

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Habit of Bodhicitta”

There’s a funny thing about the human mind that we don’t realize. Do you know how in your mind you think you’re concentrating on a million things at once? Some of you can chew gum, watch TV, listen to the radio and write in a book at the same time. I’ve seen people do this. It’s amazing. I have a son, oh, my god, you can’t believe this son. It looks like he can watch TV, listen to the radio, talk and really carry on a conversation, dance while he’s talking, and if he knew how to fry an egg, he could probably do that at the same time. I mean, talk about a Mongolian juggler. Each of us feels likewe can do so many things at one time; but what we don’t realize about the human mind is that’s not true. It can only do one thing at a time. But what happens is that we do these things in such rapid succession, that if we think about ten things at once, it feels like what is actually happening is that we are thinking about this, switch to this, switch to this, switch to this, very quickly; and our minds actually become inflamed and agitated with the switching from one picture to the other. That’s why it becomes valuable and precious to meditate on bodhicitta and to practice bodhicitta. Because while you are practicing bodhicitta, putting your mind in this pile, while you are doing that, no matter how simplistic it is, even if it’s just opening the door for somebody, while you’re doing that, you aren’t doing the other thing. And the great thing about the human continuum is that if you aren’t continuing it, it doesn’t continue.

The funny thing about continuum is that it loses its definition, its essence, if it’s not being continued. So we are taught to practice kindness and to begin where we can and to increase it moment by moment. Because while you are doing that, you can’t be doing the other. But believe me, when you are not doing that, you are doing the other. You are doing the other. So the bodhicitta becomes now not a great mystical attribute that we all hope we are going to get, it becomes a remedy. It becomes a method. It becomes an antidote. And you should see compassion as an antidote. There is no excuse, none, for you not to start right now. And you can’t get into what is kind of like the diet syndrome with bodhicitta. I don’t know how many of you have actually been on a diet, but if you’re on a diet, you’re like this: You go through, ok, a thousand calories a day. So you’re making your little chart and you’re eating your boiled egg or whatever it is, celery and ice or, whatever horrible thing they are making you eat. And then at one point during the day, you just can’t stand it and you go back to the old habit and think, ‘Ok, I’ve eaten celery all day, now I’m going to eat a piece of chocolate cake.’ What happens in our minds is that we think, ‘Now I’m off my diet. And it doesn’t matter.’ Well, you can’t have that kind of diet mentality with your bodhicitta. For instance, if you practice bodhicitta for a good period of time and suddenly you blow it, not only blow it, blow it big time, you know, I mean, big time, you really blow it, then you think, ‘I’m not a compassionate person. I’m not good, I’m bad. It’s gone for today. I’ll try maybe next week sometime. I’m hopeless. I’m helpless. I’ve blown my bodhicitta diet.’ You begin to form all these exaggerated conclusions based on what has just happened.

If you could approach yourself in a relaxed way, moment by moment, and you did practice bodhicitta for a certain period of time, then when you really, really blow it, there would be no inner tension to prevent you from simply going back to the bodhicitta. What you’ve done is expressed both of your habits, your new one, which is difficult, and your old one, which is easy and you can fall into it any time you don’t practice your new one. It doesn’t mean anything. It only means that you’re expressing both habits and at every given moment you have a choice. You can practice bodhicitta the very next moment right after you’ve blown it. And you should, because the best way to prevent blowing it again is to climb right back on that horse and make restitution. That’s the best way, to get right back on it. If you don’t’ do that, you carry a tremendous burden as a spiritual person, the burden of hypocrisy. You feel like a hypocrite. You feel like you’ve really messed up. You have this idea that you’ve been kind and then this monster in you comes out and then you’re faking it again. You can’t think like that. You can’t think in terms of good and bad, high or low. Think in terms of habitual tendency. Give yourself a break. You have both. Accept it now. Accept it now. And this way, no matter what happens, you’re not going to have to think something vile about yourself. And you have the freedom to make a choice at any moment.

My recommendation is that should you begin to practice bodhicitta and find it extremely difficult, do not form conclusions about it. Only continue. The only conclusion you should form really is the one that I’m giving you: That’s my habit. I understand that about myself. I accept. And I accept that I can change it, little by little. And it’s hard. It’s all right if it’s hard. One day at a time, you know?

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Understanding the Opportunity

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Decision Time”

I want to say a few words, if I may. How many of you, I wonder, feel that you have absorbed enough of the teachings over the years to have a good enough idea of the pointing out instructions that Lord Buddha and many teachers over time have given us?  How many of us, I wonder, have really taken the time to contemplate the teachings in such a way that they really become a part of our inner gyroscope?  How many of us have taken to heart teachings that were given generously and kindly over the years in order to help us to see our way through?

I think about, in the beginning, how many times I taught that life is like going through a dark room with lots of furniture. And, of course, you have free will, lucky you. You can choose to go through that room in the darkness with the furniture right there, taking your chances. And, of course, we know what happens if you are operating in perfect darkness with lots of furniture in your room, or obstacles or past karma ripening, which we all have, or being in samsara, which we all are. How many of us have even taken that first step, I wonder, to make that decision to say, ‘I will not go through this room in darkness, I will not go through this life in darkness’? Why would someone teach you that?  Why would someone say that life is like a dark room and there is so much furniture and so many things that, without being able to see or negotiate or understand without any wisdom, without a map, without any instruction,. you’re likely to have difficulty. Why would one’s teacher teach that? Because it’s true.  This is not a made up agenda. These are the teachings of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas and the gurus throughout time.

We have this incredible stubbornness though, a terrible inner stubbornness that for some reason doesn’t want to take that teaching to heart. For some reason, we want to risk it, having the idea that we are strong or that it will work out or that maybe the teaching wasn’t true. Or because we didn’t actually take it to heart or never even learned it in the first place. I don’t know what the reason is, but we still have this kind of stubbornness that says to us, ‘You can do it, kid. Find your own way.’ Well, nobody is arguing that we can do it, but find your own way you will not,. not across the ocean of samsara. Will you make it through that room in the dark not knowing what’s in there?  Not bloody likely, is it?  Well, it is bloody likely if you think about it. You’ll probably get awfully bloody doing it.

Since time out of mind, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas have been coming to us, and not through their own need to experience or to come for fun or to come for torture or whatever. Buddhas and bodhisattvas appear in the world. They come for us; and they come to give us these teachings. And yet we are somehow so continuing in our delusion and habitual in this stubborn clinging to the idea that my ego has the answers, we still feel that way after all these years.

That is a teaching that is taught to you out of kindness, not out of a wish to push you around. If one cannot take at face value a teaching of that merit, that you must rely on the root guru, that you must rely on the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, have we somehow not put out the effort that it takes to come to terms with such a powerful truth as that?  It reminds me of alcoholism. It reminds me of the place where you say, ‘I can control my drinking.’ It reminds me of the place where you say, ‘I’m really on top of this. It hasn’t gotten me. Samsara hasn’t gotten me somehow.’ Or the idea that maybe the Buddha was lying or maybe he had his own agenda, or maybe Guru Rinpochewas just a phony. Maybe he was just on some sort of crazy power trip.

Why would somebody warn us of the suffering of samsara, of the danger of samsara? Because the Buddhas and the bodhisattvas are different than ordinary beings. They are different in one way: They have awakened. That’s the main difference—awakened to where the delusional phenomena of samara is simply that. Its dreamlike state is understood. Its seduction is also understood. To be human is to know that. But you have to decide once and for all, who is your guru? I’m asking you another question. How much time have you spent studying, reasoning out any of the teachings you have received so far? The Buddha’s teachings. Not that I am the Buddha, but my teachers have been saying all this time I’ve been teaching Dharma all these years. So I’m not making this up.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Astrology for 6/28/2017

6/28/2017 Wednesday by Norma

People who are working hard and struggling to keep things on an even keel receive major assistance from others today. An army of willing workers – or one – appears ready and able to solve every problem and wash the car to boot! Accept help and watch yourself relax. If you find yourself engaging in verbal sniping, consider the other demands you face and relax until you feel better. Edith Sitwell said,
“My person hobbies are reading, listening to music and silence.” This is a great day to wrap up leftover tasks, to engage in exercise or drive somewhere, and to plan and consume a special meal.’

Grasping for Happiness: The Root of Ignorance

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Foundation of Bodhicitta”

In closing, I wish to say this one thing. I talked to someone recently  who was schooled in a meditation that could create a feeling that was kind of blissy. This kind of meditation had bliss-like qualities. It would make you feel that you were kind of drunk, a kind of high feeling, a bliss-like quality. When I asked where the teaching came from, she said she got it from her teacher who had an experience of revelation and developed this teaching from that experience. I asked what the source of revelation was. She said they don’t think of it as a source, but this person had a revelation. This person had developed a technique with breathing and things like that. When I heard what the technique was, I was amazed. I remember thinking that you can horse yourself into a hyper-excited emotional state that is very much like a blissy kind of an experience. You can jerk yourself around psychically, using breath, using visualization, using certain kinds of thoughts and physical and non-physical techniques in which you can feel a certain kind of bliss. But I don’t know why a person would want to waste their time with that. I don’t know why a person would engage in such activity. It seems to me that all they are doing is exchanging one kind of phenomena for another.

The feeling that you have right now is just that. It is a feeling. It is like dew on the grass. When you examine it and even understand that the self that produced the feeling is empty of self-nature and is only the primordial wisdom state, that feeling that you have right now will vaporize. And who is producing this bliss that you can horse yourself into? This bliss, when examined, is produced by that same one. Not understanding the emptiness of self nature, not understanding and awakening to the primordial wisdom state through purifying hatred, greed and ignorance, not understanding this, you can jerk yourself around and experience bliss. And you can think happy thoughts for an hour and you will feel pretty good about yourself; but who is producing that thought the same way and it will vaporize the same way. Why exchange one kind of phenomena for another?

In the Vajrayana view, it is very plain and actually best put in a very stark verbiage. In the Vajrayana view, it is very clear: Chocolate and shit are the same. They are both brown and they are both phenomena. Now, of course, it is the you that would rather it be chocolate, but the you is not inherently real as you understand it. It is empty of self-nature. And it is only in your understanding of yourself, in the way that you do understand, and your clinging to that self, that you crave chocolate as you do and you are repelled by shit.

But phenomena is phenomena and you must understand that in order to practice the ultimate bodhicitta, you must practice the supreme path that does not create just another kind of phenomena. It doesn’t just create another kind of high, but in fact absolutely pacifies, once and for all, all of the building blocks of cyclic existence, all of the grasping, hatred, greed and ignorance, pride, jealousy, all of these things, that will produce this terrible suffering. These must be pacified once and for all. That is the ultimate act of love. There is a technology by which this can be accomplished. You cannot think it away because always  who is doing the thinking will be you.

So the game is then to become awake—to awaken to the primordial wisdom nature, to awaken to that Buddha nature, the ultimate kindness.

That is our teaching today. I hope that it is useful. Please make use of the teaching.

 

The Habit of Love

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Habit of Bodhicitta”

Basically what we have to do is, day by day in a gradual way, reinforce, develop and make larger the habit of loving. It is so mechanical,. You wouldn’t believe how mechanical it is. It’s like this: This hand is self absorption, listing severely to the right. Little by little, it, gets heavier on the other hand, the loving side. At some point,…  And who knows when that day will be? It’s not for you to judge. It’s not for you to know. Not for you to even care about. At some point, the balance will go in the loving direction  and you will really give rise to the bodhichitta. And there will be a time when the loving habit that you develop so outweighs anything else that there is a funny, magical thing that happens. The self absorption becomes invisible.

You won’t believe that in the beginning, especially when you first start trying the habit of true compassion, because it just seems as though the weight of self absorption keeps pulling you back and it just seems overwhelming. But you have to remember: It’s kind of like a rubber band, it’s kind of like a rubber band. It’s so hard, and the agony of feeling yourself go back to that same posture is going to be very difficult at first. But never mind, never mind. Keep putting more and more in the habit of loving kindness. You are going to break it eventually. It has to happen. It’s kind of like a spiritual law of physics, if you can imagine such a thing. Eventually one will outweigh the other. It’s just like that.

In fact, if you would spend a lot less time evaluating yourself and judging yourself and a lot more time just putting pebbles in that loving pile, you’d feel a lot better. In fact, if you take your eyes off  this self-absorption pile entirely, and move towards the loving  pile, you’d feel better still. It’s almost that once you begin to gather some weight in the area of proper virtuous habitual tendency, by magic, this thing starts to disappear. You’re not looking at it anymore.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 6/27/2017

6/27/2017 Tuesday by Norma

First you did too much, now you’re going to say too much! Avoid the urge to tell others exactly how you feel, instead tell them what you dream of and wish for. A dream that turns into reality is highlighted today. Raymond Inman said, “If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a person who goes for a walk.” Appearance matters for leaders, so show up looking great and your followers will be inspired anew. It’s not really a good time for financial decisions so conserve your resources right now. What’s good? Being in light, bright places, going outside, dressing well and tending to long term projects. Watch for the interesting person who pops up with enthusiasm that brightens your day.