How to Uphold the Opportunity

bee in jar

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru is Your Diamond”

We revolve in samsara likes bees in a jar. At some point, bees that know each other meet up. And when that happens and it happens to be one’s guru, this is the connection that is most precious. We should understand that if we feel that connection and that it is heartfelt, that is like a diamond that you should invest. To hold onto it and to keep it stagnant is not the way; not to say, ‘I’ve got this connection, therefore I’m in like flint.’  One has to take that connection and build on it. You have to use it for investment. You use that connection to create more virtue through learning the Buddhadharma and practicing accordingly; through going to the teacher for guidance and advice, and then practicing that accordingly. There’s no use going to the teacher for guidance and advice if you don’t practice accordingly. Then you’re simply cashing in that diamond for nothing. You’re throwing it out the window, and it’s too precious to waste. Instead, again, you should invest on it, build on it. That’s cash. That’s money in the bank. That’s the most precious thing you own in this lifetime, no matter how wealthy you are.

And so you go to that teacher for guidance, for advice. You allow that teacher and ask for that teacher to open and prepare your mind and to deepen the mind and to mature the mind; and you depend on that teacher similarly to… Let’s say you had somehow a cash cow in the bank, you know a diamond or some fabulous thing that could be earning interest. In the same way that that diamond might be the nugget and maybe you’re living off the interest, you think like that [about the  teacher]. You’re always making the moves and doing the things that never harm the principal and only increase the interest. See what I’m saying? I’m using a funny money analogy here, but it’s like that.

That diamond must be kept in a sacred place, enthroned upon the lotus of one’s heart where it cannot be harmed. And if you find that that diamond is somehow misplaced and it’s in your mouth and you’re talking about it in a non-virtuous way, get it back down there again. Do your practice. Recite The Seven Line Prayer. Reestablish that connection. Think that it lives in you, as it does.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 9/30/2017

9/30/2017  Saturday by Norma

Meet up with friends and share your thinking, be sure everyone gets a say and give each idea careful consideration.  A group moves things forward and lets you know where you stand.  A friend offers emotional support and a place to go in case you need one.  Men and women are in harmony and they are able to brainstorm and come to conclusions about the future.

Avoid pursing a dream today, it’ll be like a mirage- the more you chase it the farther away it is.  Paul Valery said, “The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” Steady work is accomplishing miracles, friends are here to help you, and a medical problem is close to resolution, all you have to do is wait.

 

Recognizing Liberation

Palyul Guru Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Conceptual Proliferation”

Now, in the way of confession, I will tell you honestly that this kind of situation has happened to me, and I’ve really done my best to remain pure in holding to the equality of all that lives. The way in which I hold to the equality of all that lives is that I don’t look at you in the way that you are now. I don’t see you that way. I see you as being the very Lord, the very Buddha, and that someday you yourself will be in the business of liberating beings. So you are, each and every one of you, to me, a treasure beyond any measure. A treasure, a unique and incredible treasure. But not unique in your individuality, not unique in samsara. There’s nothing like what you really are. But I don’t actually look at each of your personalities. So I’ve had people say to me that I’m not accessible on a human level. It’s not that I’m not accessible on a human level. I do feel that I’m accessible on a human level. I’m just not friendly on that level because I don’t see you on that level. I don’t want to either. What would be the point? You do that well enough on your own. I can give you something else, and I’d rather do that.

Here’s where the honesty and the confession come in. I’ve had it happen a number of times that before I give a class I’ll be told that a teacher is here. There’s a teacher here. Someone will be sitting down and they’ll say this person teaches spiritual things to others and has a number of teachers, like 25 or 30 maybe (30’s much more impressive than 25, don’t you think?); and that person will sit down there and say, ‘Just remember that this person’s here and they even teach a little yoga.’ Or, no, ‘This person’s here and they channel, you know, like the hierarchy and everything. And you should know that this person is here.’ And I think what they expect me to do is go, ‘Ooooooooo!’ But I never do and it’s just so darned disappointing to everybody. Nobody really likes this about me. In fact, what I actually do… And here’s where the meanness in me comes out. What I actually do is that when I find such a one, I find a way to rib teachers that day. Or I find a way to not pay any special attention to them. You know why? Because I’d like to dismantle that super-structure. I’d like to see it fall apart before my very eyes. I would like to see them come to the point where they realize that they just don’t know, and they need to follow the guidance of the Buddha’s teaching. They need to follow the enlightened mind in truth. They need to get off the high of power and pride. They need to get real. Like that little guy said, ‘Get down and get funky.’

And so, it probably looks like, and perhaps there is a little bit of arrogance in there somewhere. What do you say? But in fact I want to tell you from my heart that I see that one, whoever that one might have been, the same as any of you—all in the same condition, all in the same shape, ultimately and supremely worthy, worth saving, worth loving. And I promise you from the depths of my being that I would come back and reincarnate if I could be of benefit to any one of you, just for one of you. And for that one also. So you can’t say that the love’s not there. But I don’t think that we’re serving ourselves and I don’t think that we’re serving each other when we play that little game.

So I challenge you to awaken each morning and continue every moment of every day by thinking I don’t know anything,  and make a big joke about it. OK? That’s going to be your big joke, like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Your big joke today is that you don’t know anything. You just don’t have a clue.  You’re going to start dismantling this craziness that you run around in and try to look for the lighthouse. Try to see it. Don’t make one up either. Go to your guru. Go to your teacher. Come and find out the path and practice the path, and practice it purely. And if your guru says to you that you are confused, then, buddy, you are confused. And if your guru says to you that you should practice compassion instead of anger, drop the anger, practice compassion. And if your guru says to you that you should let those thoughts, whatever they might be, whether they’re anger or pridefulness or whatever, rise to the surface of your mind and just leave them alone, don’t follow them, that you should meditate like that, then pal, it’s time to do it. You should think like that. You should think that when you’re here, your guru’s teaching. When you hear the teaching of the Buddha through the mouth of your guru, you should think that this is the very nature of my own mind shining at me. That this is liberation. This is liberation. Really think like that: This is liberation.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Extraordinary Connection

HHPR and JAL

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru Is Your Diamond”

When we practice Ngӧndro, one of the most important sections of Ngöndro is the Guru Yoga. It is beautiful. The cries to Guru Rinpoche are plaintiff and haunting and just moving. How can you describe it any other way? The Lama Khyen No. And yet in the Ngӧndro book, Guru Yoga’s at the last. When I started practicing Ngӧndro, I asked for special permission to practice the Guru Yoga first; and I was given that because of my special connection with Guru Rinpoche in the past. And to me, it was the most beautiful and pure and worthwhile time I’ve ever spent.

For most people, we want to start with the Taking Refuge and the Bodhichitta. And the reason why, again, is because the first need is to discriminate between what is extraordinary and what is ordinary. We cannot really practice Guru Yoga effectively unless we’ve made that discrimination. Because if we can’t make that discrimination, we’re basically practicing to a cartoon image that we do not have the depth yet to understand; or maybe we are practicing on a personality level—that my personality is worth worshipping the Guru’s personality. And again, that’s a baby step. It’s not to be sneezed at, but it’s not where we stay either. We go further than that.

When we practice Guru Yoga, that’s the rocketship of tantric Buddhism. That’s the shortcut. The luckiest practitioners on the Path of Vajrayana are those who feel—not that they have to display it in any outward way or even see their guru that often—but who feel they have, and who have cultivated a special connection with their teacher, a connection not of persona to persona, but of recognition that connection of recognition. And that is where  we go in our practice and we visualize our teachers and say, ‘I understand that this is the very nature of enlightenment; that this is the same nature as Guru Rinpoche; that this is the same nature as all the Buddhas of the ten directions. That this Buddha, this teacher that I have, has been taught to me by Guru Rinpoche to be the Buddha in Nirmanakaya form.’ And we think like that, that kind of recognition, that kind of intention; and a kind of—I hate to use the word passion, because people think of passion in only a certain category—but one develops a passion for the nectar that one’s teacher has to offer. That person is ripe. That person is ripe, not only to enter the Path, but blessed in such a way that not only will they continue, but very likely they will find completion stage practice, as well.

When we connect with our teacher in that way, and really give rise to that recognition, that says that, indeed, this is exactly what Guru Rinpoche promised. Guru Rinpoche said, “I will be there with you as your root teacher. If you call to me, I will be there.” And so, of course he’s saying that in the presence of one’s root guru, having been given the blessings, now we practice Guru Yoga. And that is the very nectar of Guru Rinpoche’s blessing. How fortunate for those of us who have that sense, even in some small form, enough to where you know, like an ember, you can fan the flame. That’s the most fortunate connection of all.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 9/29/2017

9/29/2017  Friday by Norma

Hold on tight, you’re in for a bumpy ride today! Give instructions and nobody follows them.  Others try to draw you into a dispute, or you do the same to them.  Organization is the solution to every problem today, and food is a good second solution.  Can’t see eye to with someone?  Say what you’ll do rather than asking what  they’ll do.

Earth signs are strong and the more down to earth and concrete your activities, the better.  Fix something that’s broken, don’t write in your dream journal.  Organize your finances, don’t pray to win the lottery.  Go for tangible results. Martin Luther King said, “If I thought the world were to end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.” A project is coming to fruition and happiness lies in focus on details.

Astrology for 9/28/2017

9/28/2017  Thursday by Norma

Got a list of rules?   Follow it: check off items as you complete them and by the end of the day you will stand back amazed by your progress!  Be sure you have all the necessary ingredients at hand. Writing a book but don’t have a printer?  Buy one!  Making a cake but don’t have eggs?  The same.  The right ingredients equal success today.

The Munchikins sang, “Follow the yellow brick road,” a perfect example of the task of the day: following directions.  Later you can analyze why you didn’t think this was necessary in the past. This is a stable, productive time.   Visit the doctor or stylist, eat all five food groups, stay on your diet, organize your medications, tidy your file cabinet, take an invigorating walk, and be in bed by 10 pm.  You’ll feel wonderful.

 

The Rocketship

rocketship

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru Is Your Diamond”

Many people, when they come to the Path, they do feel the connection with some particular deity. I know of one person who felt a very strong connection to Manjushri, with his great sword cutting through ignorance. And yet that person did not practice proper Guru Yoga and understand that the nature that is Manjushri with the sword is the very nature that is our root guru; and that sword could be a word, a look, a piece of advice, some heart teaching, anything that cuts through the darkness of ignorance. Some of us can understand that and then others of us want to have our particular deity. You hear the pride in that, don’t you?  ‘I’m into Manjushri!  He’s the guy with the big sword. What a guy.’  And yet, every Buddha that we can visualize, all of the peaceful and wrathful deities that naturally appear in the bardo and are part of our own nature and can be recognized, each one of them has the complete and perfect qualities of all the Buddhas.

So, while it’s an amazing thing if you are attracted to some particular Buddha, like maybe Amitabha or Chenrezig or Tara, you might say, ‘Oh, I really love that deity.’  That’s good. Cultivate that. But do not miss the step that Guru Rinpoche gave to us when he said, “This nature, the nature of one’s teacher is unsurpassed by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions.”  Why did he say that?  To create confusion so that everyone in all our different places could look at our own particular root guru and say that’s the best one?   No, that’s crazy. That’s just more ordinary thinking. But instead, by implication, we understand that what we must do is to recognize the intrinsic nature that appears as our root guru, the promise of Guru Rinpoche fulfilled. And if Guru Rinpoche said this was going to work, well it’s going to work.

So, Guru Yoga is like a rocketship. We depend on the accomplishment, the qualities and the nature that appears as our own root guru. Early on in the relationship with our root teacher, we should practice thoughtful discrimination. That is to say, we should ask ourselves: Has this teacher really given rise to the great Bodhichitta?  Do we see that Bodhichitta is present here?  Ok. Check that box. Got that one. Ok. Do we see that this teacher has the capacity to ripen my mind?  Do I hear Dharma from this teacher?  Check that one. Is this teacher considered qualified by peers of her lineage/his lineage/their lineage, whichever?  Is this teacher properly recognized and considered properly an authority and a throne holder?  Does this teacher have good qualities? Does this teacher have the ability to communicate?  Let’s see. What else? Does this teacher have an unbroken chain that connects us to the source of the blessing, which is Guru Rinpoche?  You betcha!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We think through these things. And at that time if you decide this teacher is not for me, then there is no harm in saying, ‘I’ll keep looking.’  Maybe the connection is not quite right. So that’s when you do your discriminating and your thinking. But once you’ve decided—check boxes are all full, looks good to me and I have that feeling, I feel that connection, something is wiggling in my little heart chakra… So when we come to that place, after that point, you must put yourself on a diet, because after that point, there’s no more judgment.

 

Once we make the judgment and discrimination necessary and have that undeniable sense that one has entered the Path and met one’s root guru, after that point, judgment should be put aside. Then the ball is in your court. Not that the teacher doesn’t have a responsibility. I promise you, the teacher knows their responsibility, if they are worth their weight in salt. And that teacher not only knows their responsibility but also knows their students. A good teacher will be willing to say to a student keep looking. Go see this lama here or that lama there. See what you think. Once the teacher has accepted the student, and the student has accepted the teacher, then that bond becomes more intimate than any marriage, any mother and child relationship, any friendship. It’s hard to understand that because we think, ‘Oh, teacher. I only see you every so often, but I see my spouse and my children every day. Therefore, it must be more intimate.’

 

However, I will tell you that in order for you to be here, to be accepted as my student and to accept me as well, for that karma to mesh in that particular way, we must have known each other many times, many times. The relationship between student and teacher is not a relationship that ends in one lifetime. If we take vows together, I am responsible for you always. And so long as you remain in the world and have not yet accomplished liberation, I must appear again in samsara in order to liberate you. I must. Even if there’s only one, just you, your teacher will return for you. Under any conditions.

Astrology fro 9/27/2017

9/27/2017  Wednesday by Norma

A brilliant thinker mediates between two forces that have been unable to come to a resolution;  everyone recognizes the wisdom of the idea and heaves a sigh of relief.  All that remains is to put the plan into action,  easier than thinking of it.   It’s time to work, not play, and the harder you work the happier you will be.  Love and accomplishment come from sticking with the job. Plutarch said, “Many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.”

Partnership is excellent but distracting, tending to pull you off your plan of action.   Spend time with a partner then time alone, back and forth, for best results.  Health matters improve, dietary issues are resolved and anyone engaged in detailed work- accountants, dentists, bookkeepers, car mechanics, etc,-do outstanding work. This is a great day to teach, learn and expand your “how-to” knowledge.

Astrology for 9/26/2016

9/26/2017  Tuesday by Norma

You’re still in the mood to chant slogans but to your chagrin you won’t convert others to your cause today.  In fact, it is time to change your strategy. A new outlook, a slight tweak in the agenda, makes things right.  The first step is the hardest; admit things aren’t working.  This opens the door to success and unleashes energy previously trapped in resisting a problem. Happiness and enthusiasm appear as a result of changing your thinking. Winston Churchill said, “We are all worms, but I do believe I am a glow worm.” Be especially cooperative with a person who is working hard, affirm allegiance to those who are important to you, and expand your thinking to encompass other peoples’ reality.  You’ll treat others better and improve your own chances of success.

The Most Important Practice

Guru Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru Is Your Diamond”

The original teachings of Lord Buddha taught us to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, distinguishing between the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and ordinary phenomena, samsaric phenomena. We use that idea of taking refuge in what is wholesome and what arises straight from the Buddha nature. We take refuge in this Buddha nature as represented by the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and that starts us on a path of discrimination, where we can see what to accept and what to reject; what is wholesome; what arises from the mind of enlightenment as Dharma does, and therefore results in the fruit of enlightenment. In other words, the seed arises from enlightenment and the fruit is also then enlightenment.

So we are learning to discriminate by taking refuge. We see that we can take refuge in the Buddha and the Buddha’s Method, the Dharma, and the Buddha’s body, which is the Sangha, instead of what we used to take refuge in which was, who knows, sports or ice skating or, you know, watching TV or having three cars or twelve houses, or whatever people find their particular desire is in samsara. Now we’re beginning to understand that where we took refuge in things of desire, now we are taking refuge in something that doesn’t give immediate gratification in the way that getting a new car, say, would. Get a new car, you feel good for about six months. So good. If you get Dharma, maybe you would feel good for about six months, but then you start to feel better. And you begin to realize that you are creating the causes for continued happiness. And we begin that discrimination. Oh, the car wasn’t a cause for happiness. In fact, nothing I’ve ever bought or had has ever been a real cause for happiness. But the condition of my mind? Now that can be a cause for happiness, if I learn to accept some things and to reject others; and to live a more wholesome life; and to get a flavor of what it is to live in purity with uncompromised intentions.

Slowly, we begin to notice, ‘You know, I’m feeling better.’ Then we also begin to notice that it’s not all about me, that kind of self-absorption. Rather we are really taking refuge in the Buddha’s wisdom, the Buddha’s enlightenment, the Buddha’s compassionate and amazing intention. And it’s not all about me and what I want. And our mantra has changed from ‘Give me, give me, give me’ to maybe Om Mani Padme Hung or the Vajra Guru mantra, or even just the pure intention to practice Dharma. So little by little, we begin to move on the path.

Now in this time and in this age, we have something quite special. This is the time of the ripening of the blessing of Guru Rinpoche. In fact, most of Guru Rinpoche’s teachings that were hidden as terma, or treasures, during the time of his life, have been revealed to come due or to be potent now. They are meant for this time that is very condensed and very degenerate, where people are really lost and our cultures even are lost, and our governments and power holders are lost. During this time when it’s hard to find even a rice-grained-size of truth, of clarity, and of compassion most of all, during this time, here it is that Guru Rinpoche’s precious teachings come ripe in the form of terma revealed.

In every cycle of terma revelation, bar none, Guru Rinpoche made it clear that most important was to practice Guru Yoga. Guru Yoga becomes to us the very sustenance on the Path.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved