The Method of Dakini Activity


An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Dakini Workshop

On a more superficial level, let us describe the method of dakini activity, and how it actually can appear in the world.  Well, you cannot do that in one afternoon.  You cannot do that in one lifetime.  There are as many different ways that the Buddha nature can dance or move or generate activity as there are ways to be infinite.  It cannot be described.  Yet for our purposes, we can make some useful points about the method of Dakini activity.

First of all, anything having to do with the appearance of the Buddha’s activity in the world, that is to say, enlightened activity or compassionate activity should be understood as being inseparable from the dakini nature and should be understood as being dakini activity.  It should be understood that the movement or dance or display of the Buddha’s activity is always pure, not because of the phenomena that one sees, but because of the purity of the Buddha nature.  We like to evaluate phenomena that we see and that is where we run into trouble.  That is the mistake.  That is the cosmic mistake.  You cannot know the nature by evaluating phenomena as you see it, because you are seeing your own confusion, period.

When you see the display of the Buddha’s activity in the world, that which brings you closer to enlightenment, that which propagates the Dharma, that which contributes compassion to the world in some form or another that should be understood as pure activity.  You should see the purity. The purity is judged by understanding that the source of that activity is, and always has been and always will be, the enlightened nature.

That activity which is consistent with the nature of the dakini should be understood to be effortless in this way.  Typically and characteristically it is not born of the struggle to confirm self-nature.  It is born of spacious non-specific luminosity, the very nature of emptiness and having been born from that, all that appears as effortless and consistent with that nature, will eventually have the result of that nature.

While we have the habit of looking at an event midstream and seeing the middle of the picture, not the beginning, not the end, but the middle, we see certain things as if through a peephole. What appears to us is a very small picture and we do not understand the whole picture.  But if we could see that activity having its beginning, having its middle and having its end, we could see that activity in its completeness and then we would understand that it will always result in enlightenment, even while in the beginning there may be friction and in the middle there may be struggle, it will always result in enlightenment.   This is because the seed is the same as the fruit, always.  If the activity is born of the sphere of truth and is inseparable from the sphere of truth, if it is consistent with the Buddha nature, if it is the enlightened activity of the Buddha nature, it will always result in the Buddha nature.  That is always the case and that is the basis of devotion and faith.

Again, it is not based on what you see.  It is based on the purity of the Buddha nature.  Think about when the Buddha taught. The Buddha had no great teachers, really, that taught him on a physical level.  He had achieved a very great level of awareness through his previous compassionate and virtuous acts.  At the time of being the Buddha, he was able through his great effort to sit down and achieve realization.  But once he began to teach, he taught effortlessly.  It is said that people who spoke very different languages could sit down in front of him and they would hear the teaching in their own language.  It is also said that he would be able to teach any student on his/her own level.  He would be able to reach out and touch them exactly where they had a place to be touched.  He would be able to give to some students a teaching that to another student would seem superficial, but for that student, was the key to enlightenment.  And he could give to another student a teaching that would seem so profound to that student as to kick them into enlightenment very quickly, but to another student who might hear that teaching, if they were to hear that teaching in the same way, it would be blah, blah, blah.  Nothing.  Useless to them, like banana peels. You have to throw it out.  No good.  But the Buddha did not teach in that way.  The Buddha taught each person the nature of their own mind by showing them their poison, by ripening in their mind their potential for enlightenment, by shoving down their throat their own garbage, by giving them teaching that touched them in their language.

Now, if we were to do that, we would have to go to school to learn many different languages and learn all the different levels of the Buddha’s teaching in order to be able to do that.  And then we would have to have some kind of computer to be able to shoot this teaching to this one and that teaching to that one. We would have to be thinking about this all the time so that we could get it right.  Not so with the mind of enlightenment.  The mind of enlightenment can appear in whatever way necessary in order to teach and can speak to that person in the language that that person requires in an effortless way, completely effortlessly.

Of course, we have no real understanding of that, because of our confusion and our delusion.  We still continue to cling and to see what floats on the surface of our mind, like shit.  We see shit.  Yet, the method that is employed with enlightened activity is a method that will lead to enlightenment in an effortless way.  It is typical of the activity of the dakini to hit where it hurts, to get you where you live, to create for you a method by which you can try to run, but the road in front of you is turned around so that you can only run in a circle right back and it is as tricky and convoluted and sneaky as your own mind.  It will rub your face in your shit.  It will make you eat your own poison. But eventually, with faith and devotion, you will come out of it enlightened.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved


The Great Mother

Dornogov -- Shambhala -- First Anniversary -- Old Woman in Purple Worshiping Texts -- WS

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Dakini Workshop

According to the Buddha’s teachings the great expanse of unborn voidness is the great mother, or the spirit of truth.  All potential and all potency, all movement and all display arise from the unborn sphere of truth.  According to the Buddha’s teachings, all display, all movement, all potency and all emanation, and in fact, all phenomena of any kind not only arise from the unborn sphere of truth but are inseparable from emptiness, are the same taste as emptiness and therefore are the same nature as emptiness.  We should meditate in that way.

The great foundation, the ground, the great basis is the unborn and yet spontaneously complete sphere of truth.  Everything that can be seen, touched, felt, tasted, smelled, rises from the sphere of truth.  Therefore all conclusions drawn from any such observance also arise from the sphere of truth.  The basis of every thought, of every feeling, of every sensation is the same essence as the unborn sphere of truth – inseparable, indistinguishable.  Therefore it is undeniable that all phenomena are empty of self-nature.  We should meditate like that.

Therefore, when we take refuge, we take refuge in the great mother.  For those of us that practice the path, in order to achieve supreme realization, practice to achieve that view.  When we take refuge, we take refuge in the understanding that the basis of that refuge is the seed nature, the Buddha nature, which is inseparable from and arises indistinguishable from the unborn sphere of truth.  We should meditate like that.

We take refuge on the basis that the ground nature is the Buddha nature.  We take refuge as well in the path, which is the display of that foundational nature and we take refuge as well in the outcome, or the fruition, which is enlightenment itself.  Although we hold these concepts in our mind as distinguishable concepts they are in fact indistinguishable and inseparable from, and the same as, the foundational nature.

Knowing these things to be true, we can try to understand the many ways in which our practice occurs.  Our practice occurs through a certain systematic representation of enlightened images. Most of you recognize this systematic representation as being primarily the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and then, in a more inward way, the Lama, the Yidam (meditational deity), the Khandro and the Dharmapalas.  And of course, in the most secret way, we understand the ultimate objects to be the channels, winds and fluids that are the displays of our own enlightened nature.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Dakini’s Blessing


An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Dakini Workshop

The Dakini is considered to be the enlightened or concerned activity of the Buddha nature. In order to understand the enlightened or concerned activity of the Buddha nature one should understand thoroughly the activity of samsara.  In order to do that, one should observe one’s own activity. The key word to describe one’s own activity is effortfulness.  Everything that we do requires effort.  There is nothing that we can simply do spontaneously without effort.  Everything requires effort; including starting with the effort it takes to get up in the morning and the effort that it takes to continue throughout the day.  Every single item on our agenda requires some effortfulness.

Of course, there are degrees of effortfulness and there are degrees of ease.  You can describe some things as being easy.  You can describe some things that you do as being very, very difficult but the key word, the mark of samsaric experience, samsaric movement, is that everything one does requires effortfulness.  That is the basis of it.  And of course, in order to understand that basis of effortfulness, one must understand the foundation or the basis of activity.  All activity experienced within samsaric existence is based on the idea of self-nature as being inherently real because the self is doing the activity.  It has to be based on that.  And in order for self to interact with the environment, self has to distinguish between self and other.  That distinction has to be made.  That is the activity that is going on in samsaric experience.


In order for that to happen, one must have attraction, repulsion or neutrality.  One must interact with, or continue to meet up against and reinforce duality in every sense.  Therefore, in samsaric experience concerning activity, there is always an inherent friction.  Nothing slides through.  There is no effortlessness.  There is always a friction.  There is always a bumping up against. That bumping up against has to do with the mind of duality and the distinction between subject and object.  There is no movement in samsara without that.  All movement occurs in that way.

Therefore, in order to understand the nature of the Dakini and enlightened activity or compassionate activity, one must understand the concept of effortlessness.  In order to understand the concept of effortlessness, one must understand the basis for the appearance of miraculous enlightened activity in the world, and that, which is consistent with the nature of the Dakini.  The basis for enlightened compassionate activity is that this activity is consistent with, inseparable from and indistinguishable from, enlightenment itself – Buddha nature.  That must be understood.

How is that distinct from ordinary activity? Ordinary activity has that friction and struggle associated with its basis. This basis is the fundamental idea of self-nature as being particularly solid.  Remember that in order to determine self-nature, one has to distinguish between self and others, so immediately there has to be division, there has to be distinction, there has to be cleavage – there has to be a breakage of some kind.  That movement is very hard. It is a movement very much involved in a solid process of continuing the continuum.  That is the basis for any activity or movement seen in samsara.  That is not the case pertaining to the nature of the Dakini, enlightened activity or compassionate activity.

If we can think of the nature of the Buddha we should think of the great sphere of truth, the undifferentiated expanse, the great sphere of emptiness.  We should think that there is no basis for the sphere of truth, there is no basis for emptiness, and there is no building block or cause and effect relationship because there is no distinction within the great expanse.   In order to understand the great expanse, the mind has to relax utterly.  There is no arising of the components of distinction.  There is no contrivance.  There is no ripple or friction or cleavage or distinction of any kind.  The great sphere of truth is simply suchness. The moment one tries to box up suchness or put it in a bottle or put in a certain shape or color it or distinguish it from suchness, it is no longer that.  So, the great sphere of truth is as it is – simply suchness.

Yet, all potency arises from the sphere of truth.  All that one sees, all richness, all diversity arises from the sphere of truth: that which we perceive as diversity arises from the sphere of truth.  How can that be so?  Either a thing is empty or it is not?  Well, the mistake, the delusion comes after the idea of self-nature as being inherently real. At that point, the mind operates in the posture of distinction. It operates in the posture of duality.  And everything that is perceived from that point is engaged in that process.  Yet, from the point of view of enlightenment, when one has awakened to that nature and the view is correct, when one no longer engages in the process of distinction, when the mind is restful, spacious and luminous in the natural state, the mind is not operating in distinction.  There is no distinction.  And so, all that arises from the sphere of truth arises spontaneously and effortlessly and is spontaneously completed and insubstantial, like a rainbow.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Play of Emptiness


An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Dakini Workshop

When we taste the nature of the dakini through our practice, through whatever realization we achieve, when we taste that nature, when we taste the purity of that event through being exposed to, in a natural way, our own poison, our own fixation, our own determination to continue to absorb and be absorbed in and to remain fixated in a certain kind of view, a view of clean and dirty, a view of this and that, a view of high and low, a view of here and there, we can eventually come around to seeing through that absorption.

To the degree that we understand that by stabilizing our mind, by remaining unattached to the distinction between dirty and clean and up and down and here and there and you and me, we can begin to view the play or movement of emptiness.  However, we think very superficially, we think we will achieve enlightenment and that is what is going to happen and we think we will have some kind of blissful experience – I think we have the idea of evolution.  We think that we are going to evolve into something quite different.  That is the kind of idea that we have.

What we do not attempt and what we should attempt by meditating on the nature of the dakini and by utilizing this particular phenomena, this particular movement of the Buddha nature, is to understand that the point is to pierce the veil of our own confusion, to see through this mistaken belief that things continue, to see the primordial empty nature that is inherent in all display, to see that all phenomena is instantly complete, to hold to our nature, to practice that view.

Unfortunately, however, we insist on breaking samaya.  We break the commitment.  We hold so much more importance in our own value judgments, our own distinctions, our own understanding of the way things ought to be and the way they are and therefore we see what our minds are filled with.  We see the appearance of this enlightened activity as being ordinary, having certain qualities.  We brand it with mental qualities that are our own.  We see physical, emotional qualities that we ourselves are hooked on and we do not taste the appearance of that nature.   So, we miss the entire point.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

From the Great Lotus


An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Dakini Workshop

When the Buddha’s activities are accomplished in the world, through our lack of understanding, we will see lots of different things.  For instance, in this temple, we may see the need for fundraising, and we may see the intensive effort that is supposed to go into that.  We may see the need for expansion and how intensive the effort for that can be and we may see the extent of our own effort, which seems to be awesome.  Yet, every bit of that perception is only based on the belief in self-nature as being inherently real.  There is no one to struggle if the belief in self-nature is not clung to.  It is that clinging that is the basis for the struggle.

From the point of view of enlightened intention, one can understand that from a tiny event that seemed in our continuum to take place 2,500 years ago and then continued on with a thread of different experiences and different incarnations, it may seem that that tiny event gave birth to the oddest things in the oddest of places in Poolesville, Maryland where the Dharma is born.  Then we think about all of the things in India and we think about all the things in Tibet and we think about all the things that are happening around the world concerning the Buddha’s activity.   From the point of view of the intention of that one life, that is a very small piece of effort.  But from our point of view, of course, we are seeing the great effortfulness and it seems to be continuing endlessly, especially within the context of our lives.  We seem to think that it is continuing endlessly.

One must understand, however, that even thinking that all of this came from one small life, even that is an outrageous delusion.  It is a contrivance that we make to satisfy ourselves.  One must understand that from the point of view of enlightenment, from the unborn vast expanse of emptiness, of blissful emptiness, within that sphere of truth that we call the great mother, all potency spontaneously arises and is born, demonstrates itself or dances or moves in as many displays, forms, formlessnesses as we can possibly imagine and beyond what we can imagine.  And even as it is born, even as it moves, it is inherently and therefore immediately complete.  That means that all sentient beings have within them the inherent Buddha nature and therefore will achieve enlightenment, but that is our confusion.  In fact, we have never been separate from the sphere of truth.  We have never been anywhere else but born and completed in the great lotus of the great mother.  Anything else is complete fabrication.

We have never left the space of emptiness and we have never lost the scent of emptiness.  From the point of view of enlightenment we have never beheld or looked at anything other than emptiness.  We have never seen anything other than our own face.  We have never lost a moment’s time.

Yet, here we are trying to understand the nature of the dakini, like trying to be seduced back into remembering our own face, straining to hear the sound of our own name.  From the point of view of the enlightened activity that is consistent with the dakini nature, there is no loss.  There is no distinction.  There is no separation.  There is no need for struggle.  Yet it is clear that we remain fixed on the idea of separation between self and other.  We remain hooked with concepts such as the distinction between dirty and clean.  We remain addicted to the idea of hatred, greed and ignorance and seem to be unable to let them go so that they can simply do what they do naturally so that all phenomena, the moment that it naturally arises, is immediately completed.

From the point of view of enlightenment, no phenomenon continues itself.  No piece of what we experience, whether we wish to experience or do not wish to experience, by its nature continues or completes itself.  The experience of continuation that we have is only due to our own continuing it, our own determination to continue it.  No phenomenon is exempt.  All things arise from the sphere of truth.  They are spontaneously born and instantly complete.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved


Enlightened Activity


An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Dakini Workshop

Enlightened activity is considered consistent with the nature of the dakini in that it arises from pure spaciousness and does not remain fixed or absorbed in the mind of duality.  What arises, arises effortlessly and spontaneously and is spontaneously complete because the basis of that emanation is the Buddha nature, free of distinction, free of contrivance, free of duality, free of ego clinging.

What arises in an uncontrived way from the sphere of truth without clinging, without fixation is pure enlightened activity.  Pure enlightened activity always results in perfect result, perfect meaning or enlightened result.  From the point of view of practitioners, from the point of view of those who have not established themselves firmly in the view, activity appears in a myriad of ways and we attach meaning to that activity. What we see then, when we see that activity, is only our meaning.  We do not see the activity.  Therefore, when one holds to and one views the enlightened activity that is consistent with the dakini nature and when one sees that compassionate activity from the point of view of duality and distinction, one will always see ones own mind.  Therefore that activity will be seductive in the way that our minds seduce us, that activity will be meaningful in the way that our minds deduce meaning, that activity will be objectionable in the way that our minds object and that activity will be confusing in the way that our minds are confused.  That is what we see.

Yet, in striving to attain a deeper understanding of this enlightened activity we have no other recourse other than to achieve realization ourselves.  We have to.  That is the only way to reach any kind of understanding.  And we are beaten over the head with our own minds because our own minds are flashed back at us. We see our mind constantly.  We are relentlessly seduced with our own stupidity.  We are browbeaten with our own inconsistencies until at some point, eventually, because this is an effortless process, because it is natural, because it arises from the uncontrived state, because it is our nature, this intensified process of putrefaction will putrefy itself into pureness effortlessly.

Well, it will not seem effortless on your part, exactly.  But that is because the mind is still clinging to perceptual experience.  The mind is in that continuum.   The consciousness is there.  That is what the perception is.  But try to remember that all that is being viewed is our own confusion.  That is all that is being seen.  It is very much like the symbolic image of the peacock – the bird with big feathers –who eats poisoned things and ends up with this beautiful plumage.  To some degree, that is what our practice looks like.  We just eat ourselves and eat ourselves and keep on consuming this thing that we see that arises only from our mind until finally at some point we can achieve a glimpse of the pure basis of that.  At that point, the pure basis of that is understood to be effortless.  It is understood to arise from the sphere of truth and complete itself instantly.  It is understood in its nature, but while we revolve in confusion we cannot feel that way.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved