The Caretaker Vow

This was composed and witnessed by Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo on August 31, 1986:

We the Caretakers of the Earth, dedicate ourselves to the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings.

We vow to work for the liberation of planet earth from the clutches of suffering, poverty, famine and death.  We vow to return in whatever form necessary, under whatever necessary conditions, so that all earth creatures can be liberated from the ravages of cyclic existence.

We vow to work for world peace.  We vow to work for the raising of all the nations of earth into a state of union and ultimately into the blessed state of supreme wisdom, the wisdom that is beyond all description.

We vow to work toward a great Universal Quickening of mind and heart, leading all beings to a state of clarity, a state in which Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion, is enthroned within all hearts and within the planetary heart.

We vow to offer as food and drink to all sentient beings the clear, sweet Dharma so that they may feast and be satisfied at last.  We offer our bodies, our speech, and our minds to be filled like bowls with Dharma that in our joy we will spill over into the waiting hearts of all our brethren.  May their suffering cease forever.

To all the blessed Tathagatas, to all the root Lamas, to all the Sangha, to all the caretakers, grant us the strength to continue, the clarity to overcome self-cherishing, the determination to return forever until we are the last, and finally, the grace to find our way home.

May the Dharma take root in the West, on the Earth, and in the hearts of all sentient beings.  So be it.

The merit of the dedication of these vows and of the building of this place of practice is offered

To our root Lamas:

His Holiness Padma Norbu Rinpoche, Ven. Gyatrul Rinpoche

To our spiritual friends:

Ven. Khenpo Palden Sherab Rinpoche,

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche,

And to His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche

And to all parent sentient beings who have gifted us with fire in our hearts and Light on our way.

I take refuge in the Lama.

I take refuge in the Buddha.

I take refuge in the Dharma.

I take refuge in the Sangha

With all beings equal to space.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Root Teacher: Cutting Through Concepts and Giving Rise to Compassion

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

It never ceases to amaze me how many meditators and Buddhists continuously argue that altruism and compassionate activity are not part of the Buddha Dharma. And that one need not develop virtuous qualities or purify in any way. That one need not do charitable good works or even offer even ordinary human kindness. In Vajrayana Buddhism conduct is just as important, and going beyond that one must pacify their inner poisons. So this is harmful thinking and will only muddy the waters. There is a kind of arrogance that has students thinking there is simply no work to be done on the path whatsoever. Or worse, that one has learned many intellectual concepts about Dharma (and can quote them over and over) so that one is “locked in” to their own learning and intellectualism and cannot see they have totally lost their way.

Then there are those who have decided that the practice of Guru Yoga is not necessary to achieve liberation. Not so. Guru Yoga is the heart essence of Vajrayana. Compassion and altruism are the very heart of Buddhism. If one tries to change that one is no longer practicing the Vajra path. If one guts the Dharma as it was passed purely from Guru to disciple there is a terrible breakage of the Buddha’s great intention as re-installed by Guru Padmasambhava when he brought Vajrayana to Tibet.

Now the newest “fad” (sad) in Vajrayana is to throw out the Tulkus and Lineage Masters entirely. How then, would the teachings and traditional wang transmissions be passed on? From student to student based on their promise to keep it free of defilement? That is a joke, if you know American Pride and self love. Have you seen what passes for wholesome Dharma on the internet? Some pure ones are there. Mostly there are self-serving people looking for adoration and praise while offering nothing.

There are many who feel one can truly understand Dharma from books. Books and traditional text is needed and most be studied. However the Guru, the very root of accomplishment is the greatest necessity in order to achieve any result. And it isn’t enough to repeat like a parrot the quotes of one’s teacher. How shallow! One uses only the quotes one likes best. You know, that fit the old lifestyle, and are hip.

Re-making the Dharma is the most heinous breakage of samaya with the Three Jewels, and with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions. Upon bringing Tantrayana; Vajrayana to Tibet, Guru Padmasambhava said “I will appear as your Root Guru, and will remain as you call for me.” How does one do away with that blessing, that method, so sacred? Not without consequences, and dire ones at that. It is like feasting with a hollow gutted corpse, instead of sitting to the feast as the bride of the precious Guru in honor and dignity. Unwavering in pure love!

And how does one tear the heart out of Dharma by having no pure intention, just another bloated ego to feed. Without Bodhicitta there is no Dharma recognizable to any Buddha! The two precious eyes of Buddhadharma, Mahayana, are wisdom and compassion. If one neglects kindness and compassion one has forgotten the instruction of every qualified Guru since Guru Padma at the beginning of every teaching or empowerment: motivation. “This I do for the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings from the endless wheel of death and rebirth.” This is why we practice Buddhism – to benefit all sentient beings. This can never change until all beings are liberated.

If one has to climb up over the corpses of those weaker to feel special or precious, if this sticks here in the west in these modern times, we really are at the crossroads, where blessings are lost; where corruption is the flavor of the times. And we are lost, utterly lost. We cannot allow this. One should follow the Root Guru purely – even at the cost of one’s very life. I take this seriously. So I will never stop, never shut up. Plot against me? Okay. But I will never stop preserving the Dharma for the future. I will never break Guru Padmasambhava’s great blessing. I am for you, beloveds as He is. Until all are free!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved