Fasten Your Seatbelts: The Vajrayana Path

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

I would like to say good morning to everyone. I’m pleased to see you all here and very honored to be here again.  This is the beginning of a new trend at KPC where I will be coming here a lot more often and ultimately my plan is to spend up to six months a year here.  We may grow into it in steps and jumps, but that’s my plan.  It feels very good to be here, and in Lama talk, that means that my students have been practicing. That means that there has been some effort in the way of determining what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected, and what is precious, and what is worth one’s endeavor.  And so that kind of discrimination must be coming to pass in many of my students.  If that’s coming to pass, then the teacher will definitely come.  There is no doubt of that.

Now on the path of Vajrayana, we are given something like a rocketship rather than a slow boat to cross the ocean of samsara.  When Lord Buddha first came to the planet and taught, when he was here as Shakyamuni, he gave teachings that were absolutely necessary for that time.  During that time, we were not in Kaliyuga, which is a more degenerate age.  During that time, it was easier to practice. It was easier even to speak Dharma; and peoples’ minds were more spacious and more expanded so that if one were to accomplish Dharma, it would be easierto accomplish Dharma during that time.  And yet, there was a difficulty.  And the difficulty was that during that time, because there was more space in the mind, there was also more relaxation, maybe more joyfulness, less reason to feel compelled to exit samsara.  So there are good and bad things in both times.

True that this is Kaliyuga; true that this is the time of degeneration. There are many false teachers and many false paths and sometimes delusion rises up like a tsunami flood. It is a difficult time.  We look to the people that even guide this country, and you wonder where is the clarity, where is the morality.  So it’s difficult.  Even this country that was once the prince of countries, and can still be—the peacemaker, the one who guards the little guy—instead now we’ve changed.  So these are all indicative of this time of delusion.

And yet at the same time, we are so pressed because not only our delusion thickens and deepens, but because of our delusion, our neuroses (which means an inappropriate response to something that is not understood well anyway), our neuroses also thickens and deepens.  And with that comes an increase in pain.  Fundamental pain.  Maybe not even a particular pain about something; but rather an all-pervasive sense of suffering that we are more unhappy, Now when things are happening faster and materialism is in some ways more attainable, in many ways more attainable, still we have become more and more unhappy and continually create the causes for unhappiness.  So this pushes us to find a solution.  For some people, we look to psychology or psychiatry. For other people, we look towards creating the causes for happiness through walking the path of spirituality.  But many of us are seeking, and that’s important.  That is something that is useful and to be treasured during this time.

Many of us will think what drives us to seek is this pain, this angst, this modern angst that we all seem to carry around.  That pain, on the one hand, seems sometimes unbearable; and then other times, just there. We are uncomfortable and we can’t say exactly why.  We feel wobbly, unguided, unknowing and we really can’t understand why that is.  That suffering of course, even though painful, can ultimately become part of the blessing that brings us to the Path.  Maybe we didn’t even come here thinking, “What I need is a good Path.”  Maybe we came here for some other reason—because we heard about this place, or we’ve heard a little bit or we’ve read some books about Dharma, or maybe His Holiness the Dalai Lama has given us some wonderful teaching through his books, and something has just hooked us a little bit.  Maybe we heard about the crystals.  That brings people!  Whatever it is, it’s that sense of things not being wholesome or right.  It’s that sense of fundamental unhappiness that drives us forward.

And so, in the beginning, that’s how it feels.  It can be a very poignant kind of search and we feel deeply moved by it.  So when we begin to examine the Path of Vajrayana, we find that rather than being the gentle ship that crosses a relatively gentle ocean, as was in the time of Lord Buddha’s physical life, now we have a different situation.  We are propelled by the depth of our feeling, by our discomfort, and we’re looking for something. We seem, in this time,  to connect with something that is more potent, maybe a little fiercer in a certain way, definitely more condensed than the original teachings of Lord Buddha.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Astrology for 11/30/2017

11/30/2017 Thursday by Jampal & Wangmo

Theme: Dealing with impulsiveness

Today you might feel impulsive and take rash action. On the flip side feeling like this is an opportunity to find out where you have been feeling constrained and restricted. It’s definitely a day for some form of exercise even if it’s just taking a walk outdoors. A sense of play is beneficial when dealing with a feeling of being over-organized. Insights come through reading or listening to a helpful teaching of some kind, for instance on meditation. ‘The first step is to learn to breathe naturally and to watch the breath at the same time.’ Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.


Astrology for 11/29/2017

11/29/2017 Wednesday by Jampal & Wangmo

Theme: Changing outcomes

Relationships are more unpredictable today but if there’s  challenges don’t make things bigger than they need to be. Some time today in personal spiritual practice can calm things a lot and provide more resources in dealing with difficult people. Make the adjustments needed and then things will go more smoothly. Good news in relation to a contract today is possible. For one who has no inner, angry thoughts, who has gone past being a someone, a this or that, that one is free from fear and is blissful.’ Udana Sutta

Patience: from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva:

That which is referred to as the Primordial Substance,
That which has been labeled as the Self
Do not come into being thinking
“That is how I will arise.”

That which is not manifest is not yet there,
So what could want to come to be?
And permanently drawn toward its object,
It can never cease from being so.

Indeed! This Self if permanent,
Is certainly impassible like space itself.
And should it meet with other factors,
How should they affect it since it is unchanging?

If, when things occur, it stays unchanged and as as before,
What influence has action had on it?
They say that this affects the Self,
But what connection could there be between them.

All things, then, depend on something else;
On this depends the fact that none are independent.
Knowing this, we will not be annoyed at objects
That resemble magical appearances.

“Resistance,” you may say, “is out of place,
For what will be opposed by whom?”
The stream of suffering is cut through by patience;
There’s nothing inappropriate in wanting that!

Thus, when enemies or friends
Are seen to act improperly,
Be calm and call to mind
That everything arises from conditions.

If things occurred to living beings
Following their wishes and intentions,
How could sorrow ever come to them–
For there is no one who desires to suffer!

Yet carelessly, all unaware,
They tear themselves on thorns and briars;
And ardent in pursuit of wives and goods,
They starve themselves of nourishment.

Some hang themselves up or leap into the void,
Or eat bad food or swallow deadly poison,
Or by their evil conduct
Bring destruction on themselves.

For when affliction seizes them,
They kill themselves, the selves they love so much.
So how could they not be the cause
Of pain and suffering for others?

And when, as victims of defilement,
Beings even cause their own destruction,
Even if compassion does not rise in us,
We can at least refrain from being angry.

If those who are like wanton children
Are by nature prone to injure others,
What point is there in being angry–
Like resenting fire for its heat?

And if their faults are fleeting and contingent,
If living beings are by nature wholesome,
It’s likewise senseless to resent them–
As well be angry at the sky for having clouds!

Although indeed it is the stick that hurts me,
I am angry at the one who wields it, striking me.
But he is driven and impelled by anger–
So it is his wrath I should resent.

I it was who in the past
Did harm to beings such as these.
And so, when others do me mischief,
It is only just that they should injure me.

Their weapons and my body–
Both are causes of my suffering!
They their weapons drew, while I held out my body.
Who then is more worthy of my anger?

This human form is like a running sore;
Merely touched, it cannot stand the pain!
I’m the one who clings to it with blind attachment;
Whom should I resent when pain occurs?

We who are like senseless children
Shrink from suffering, but love its causes.
We hurt ourselves; our pain is self-inflicted!
Why should others be the object of our anger?


Astrology for 11/28/2017

11/28/2017 Tuesday by Jampal & Wangmo

Theme: Action and restrictions!

There is potential today for emotional restrictions and upsets. Be aware of ways you can provide comfort to others and be open to receiving it. The Moon enters Aries today. There is forward momentum enabling you to leave the past behind. On the world stage the past is catching up with those who would escape it. None of us escapes our past but we can transform how we relate to it. ‘Do one thing every day that scares you’. Eleanor Roosevelt


Taking Responsibility for Our Path

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Neurotic Interaction to Guru Yoga” 

Today we are going to continue the process of looking at two main and fundamental foundational teachings associated with the Buddhadharma. We have examined and re-examined the Bodhicitta, which is one of the main foundational attitudes and practices and accomplishments that one should gather on the path, and now we are moving towards the Guru Yoga.  There are many areas in which these two subjects connect, and one has to develop the foundational thoughts, as I’ve indicated many times before, the thoughts that turn the mind towards Dharma. Also one has to develop the thoughts that make one understand the condition of sentient beings and the failings of samsara, or the sufferings of samsara.  If one were to understand these in a logical and realistic way, and go through the effort of contemplating them so that a real understanding is arrived at, and take responsibility for that, then it’s easy, or at least easier, to move into a deeper practice of the Guru Yoga, a deeper understanding of Bodhicitta, the twofold accomplishment of wisdom and knowledge.  These things are much more easily arrived at when one studies the foundational teachings. So try to remember that.  No matter what stage you’re at in practicing the path, one has to reorient oneself all the time.  It’s similar to, let’s say, you’re forty years old and you’ve had the experience of living for forty years so you have certain things about living that you’re comfortable with, that you’re certain about.  You know by this time the sun is most likely going to rise and set.

We find that if we are to continue to keep ourselves spiritually on the mark to where we feel satisfied about our spiritual practice, we find that periodically we have to reorient ourselves, and for some of us it might take different forms.  Many of us have realized by now that we need a certain amount of time spent alone in contemplation.  Many of us realize now that we need to reorient ourselves with nature—that one should align oneself with the cycles of life, the cycles of night and day, the cycles of the seasons, the natural directions and natural occurrences that occur in our world—and that is useful and good too.

When it comes to Dharma this is certainly the case, but the need here is more specific.  Yes, you may find that you do need a certain amount of time alone.  I think really that all people do. That you do need a certain amount of time out in nature and you do need a certain amount of meditation time and so forth and so on. But beyond that, particularly and specifically with Dharma, one needs to reorient oneself on the path by discovering and rediscovering again the faults of cyclic existence—the thoughts that turn the mind, the linking cause and effect conditions that we find in samsara.  Turning the mind—this is something that one needs to accomplish on a regular basis. There never is a time when you are actually finished with that.

So this is something that I speak about constantly. I know that you feel that you’ve already heard this.  I agree that you may have already had it meet with your ears, but the hearing part, well that’s a different story.  We don’t know if that’s actually happened yet or not, because the level of personal responsibility that I’m talking about is absolutely essential.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Astrology for 11/27/2017

11/27/2017 Monday by Jampal & Wangmo

Theme: Targeted awareness

Every day is an earth day – it supports us all. How can you give back to the earth today? Keep it simple. Think globally and act locally! Draw on your own experience and be open to transformation. Our own experience of suffering can be useful to others. Restrained optimism is one way of describing today. How can you use your optimism to bring tangible results? It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it. Day Quayle


Words of Honor: Advice from HH Penor Rinpoche


The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Kyabje His Holiness Penor Rinpoche offered at Palyul Ling Retreat:

When I was in Tibet I studied all this Dharma with my teacher, Khenpo Nuden. He was a great Dzogchen master. We received the transmission on the four volume text called Duba Do, which he has composed. There were five of us receiving this Dharma. We all tried to maintain the disciplines of being very humble and respectful, and not disturbing the lama’s mind.

We also had another Khenpo with us. This Khenpo always had coughing fits. He was always coughing. To announce the start of class each morning, a gong would ring. But one morning nobody rang the gong. We went to the lama’s place anyway, and asked, “Why was there no gong?”  The lama was really angry and told us that there was no need to ring the gong. I went to him, and said, “It is time now. May I ring the gong?”   He said, “No.”  Then I asked, “Are you sick or something?”  And he said, “No, I’m not sick.”  Then I asked, “Did you have a disturbing dream?”  He said, “No.”  After asking a few questions, he said, “You guys are not really respecting me.”  Then I said, “We all do respect you. We are just trying to maintain good discipline.”  Then the lama said, “Well, you know Khenpo clears his throat a lot, coughing up stuff.”  What to do?  He had an illness. It was natural, but we told him not to be too loud. We made a commitment to maintain discipline, and then later the lama started the teaching. No one dared to cough loudly in front of the lama. Talking to each other or making noise or getting up and down in front of the lama never happened when we visited the lama. One should be careful when visiting the lama. There is a whole book that gives lessons on how to relate with the master.

Disturbing the lama’s mind a little bit obscures one’s path and bhumis. Once one actualizes these stages of realization and the path, then one can do whatever one wants to do. Until achieving the ultimate fruition, the Buddhahood, enlightenment, until then we must relate to and rely on a master. One should respect and follow, and through that one can receive the blessing. Then there is benefit. Even with millions of dollars, there is no way to buy the Dharma teaching  through which one can attain complete enlightenment. Because if there is even a tiny breakage of samaya, then it obscures one’s own power or realization. The life force of the Dharma is the words of honor, the samaya. Even though you guys are very good, it is still good to understand how these things should be done.


Astrology for 11/26/2017

11/26/2017 Sunday by Jampal & Wangmo

Theme: Spiritual gifts and unexpected outcomes

A good day for spiritual sustenance and reaping the benefits of your past efforts. A sense of expansiveness is evident. Pay attention to intuition and think in terms of long-term plans. On a practical note be aware of your spatial surroundings. If you’re driving, drive carefully and defensively where possible. Generosity is a safeguard against antagonism.“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ― John Holmes.


Waking Up from a Dream

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray by Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Sometimes when we dream, we know that we’re supposed to change something in the dream.  If we learn how to work in our dream state, through practices like dream yoga, we can actually wake up during the dream or hold the line between waking and dreaming and know exactly where we are.

There are many things that can be accomplished in dreams. That’s because the dream state is a bardo that’s not much different from our waking state. If we can train ourselves to wake up from a dream, why is it that we can’t train ourselves to wake up from our dualistic reality?  The reason is that we have experienced dreaming and something else—waking—so we can wake ourselves from a dream. We know where we are going. But we can’t wake ourselves up from this dream of our life because we don’t know what to awaken to. Yet it’s a dream just the same.

© copyright Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo All rights reserved