Gathering the Courage to Care

Guru Dragpo

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

I’ve been watching my own patterns, and I’m going to share with you my great ‘Aha!’  I realized recently in my own practice that for the past few years, unbeknownst  to myself (although maybe on some intuitive level, I understood. Yeah I did. But not in my brain, not where it registers. You know what I’m talking about?),  I realized that I have been making myself stronger; and I have been gathering my courage. Things have happened to me in the last few years that I wouldn’t dare the infinite, but when life changes and experiences come that would have terrified my little jellyfish heart before, they don’t phase me at all now. Things that used to scare me half to death, don’t scare me at all now. And I realized that I’ve been gathering my courage.

I started practicing more deeply about a year and a half ago. Not that I didn’t practice before that, but when I started to practice more deeply, just going in, going into my practice, everything outward changed, quite naturally without any effort. ‘Aha.’

There’s an understanding. If you’re mind is right and if you practice accordingly, and if you walk the path appropriately, you don’t have to worry about the outside stuff so much. It tends to take care of itself. Not if you are going, ‘Ah!’ the whole time. You’ve got to have the mind of Dharma. That’s not the mind of Dharma. If you practice four hours a day even, and the rest of the time you’re going ‘Ah,’ that’s not the mind of Dharma. If you are really into it, if you are really deep, honest, and in touch with your practice and it is a relationship in your life, more important than any other, it fills a category that nothing else can fill; and it prepares you for anything, which is good, because anything is just about to happen.

I’ve been gathering my courage and causing myself to change in ways that I never thought I could have. And though I wouldn’t want to do it over again, it’s okay. It’s always okay because it is for the benefit of sentient beings, and in my mind decisions have already been made. Whatever I can do to benefit sentient beings, I will do. I will do it. No matter what I think about it or whether I like it, or whether I feel like it, I will do it. And that’s what I have been preparing myself for, that kind of certainty.

I knew there was a time when I’d have to look samsara in the eye and say, ‘This is enough.’  And this is that time. I feel that for each and every one of us, this must be a time of courage. If we can’t gather our courage together at this time, it will be very hard to gather it together later. Right now at this time, we have a certain leisure to practice. For those of you who have full time jobs and are practicing on the go, you may say, ‘I beg to differ.’  But let me tell you the old proverb, ‘It could always get worse.’  And if in some way we end up with obstacles that cause us to have to live differently, or to scramble for existence the way much of the world has to do, then we’ll find a way to practice then too, but now’s the time to be strong. And this is the time when we can really commit to being an active Dharma presence in the world. The thing that I have come to understand is that this is no time for us to hang out in our comfort zones. And I am just about to leave mine, like Monday actually. Some of you know what I’m talking about. I think that in this time, we’ve got to give it all we’ve got. If you can give renunciation, if you can really do that, do it. This is it. Everything in samsara is falling apart, and it is time to be what you can be.

I feel that we all should take a posture of Dharma warriors. Not a warrior to harm anyone but a warrior for the path, a warrior who cares for the path, who guards the path. This is when we generate the deity. When we generate the different buddhas and bodhisattvas, we realize that each of them has qualities and activities; and it is just as important to establish their activities in the world as it is for us individually to engage in their qualities. The activity aspect of the Buddha nature is not method. It is something. So we prefer to sit on our cushions and say, ‘Ti-do-ti-do-ti-do. I’m practicing, and I look stunning doing it.’  But really we should also be active. We should not only be engaging in the extraordinary kindness of practice, but also in the ordinary human kindness of everyday caring for those around us, caring for the world at large, caring for beings who are suffering—animals, people, whatever, anything that lives—doing all that we can to end suffering. To engage in that kind of practice in this world today is very, very powerful practice.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved


Make the point and let it roar

Soaring through the moment

Doing what was hard before

You don’t have to worry

Now you’re holding all the cards

Time and space are yours now

Stand up tall and give your heart

I’ll be here beside you

Doing all I can for you

Loving from inside you

You and I can see it through

You don’t have to worry

Now you’re holding all the cards

Time and space are yours now

Stand up tall and give your heart


Strike out from this moment

With the power in your hand

Filled with strength of purpose

Caring for your fellow man

Bright and shiny moment

When you finally decide

To make this life worth living

Love and strength you can provide

Wake up bright and happy

Change a life to gorgeous play

Ripe fruit of compassion

Offered in a sweet display

You don’t have to worry

Now you’re holding all the cards

Time and space are yours now

Stand up tall and give your heart

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, April 20, 1992

The Challenges of the Contemporary Disciple

The following is respectfully excerpted from “How to Follow a Spiritual Master” edited by the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute:

We have tried above to show the deeper meaning and role of a Spiritual Master, as well as the way in which he should be sought and followed, by first looking at what dharma means, how it came into this world and further in Tibet; we also looked at a summary of the extensive teachings given in both sutras and tantras about the Master and disciple relationship.

We saw that we do not only have to carefully examine a prospective Master, but we also have to fundamentally alter our outer and inner behavior to be able to benefit from his presence, Teachings and Blessings.

Today, moreover, we are living in what is known as the degenerate times, presenting us with additional challenges, as well as making the rare opportunities to meet and be guided by an authentic Teacher even more exceptional and precious.

Why is this period we live in called degenerate times? Prophecies abound about the particularity of our times and its struggles, yet it is very difficult for us to recognize or acknowledge this, because this degeneration of times is rooted in the thickening of our own obscuration and deepening of ignorance with the inevitably correlated narrowing of our mind’s horizon.

How can it be so, we may ask, when most people are talking about a general progress and improvement? Well, if we examine the nature of the so-called progress and the apparent increase in personal freedom, we will soon realize that these, indeed, only relate to the pursuit of external goals. By this we count on an increase of material wealth, improvement of facilities- albiet for some part of the world only; people are becoming more eager to speak their mind, believe in their own ability and strive for the betterment of their physical surroundings. This however does not occur without a cost, that we are not prepared to examine.

Improving material wealth happens at the cost of the environment both physical and social, whereby those in pursuit of this goal will sacrifice anything to achieve success, family, values and traditions which are reminding us of the impermanence of people and things,  the need to remind ourselves of the cycle of suffering and death. Instead they put these considerations to the side and engage in a frenzied chase without ever seeing a satisfaction to their desires and perceived needs.

Young people are demanding more freedom and responsibility, refusing to listen to older generations experiences, believing they know better than their parents or teachers and thereby unleashing an unrestrained flow of conflict, suffering and quarrels among families and social groups. As such generations succeed each other, less moral values, understanding and compassion are to be found, since they are systematically uprooted from the children both at home and in school.

It is therefore very difficult for us these days, even if we have the fortunate karma to meet with an authentic Spiritual Master, to be able to follow him according to the advice we are hearing. The values of respect and service are alien to our western society and appear old fashioned and obsolete. The habits we have acquired from our social surroundings are so strong yet subtle that they reflect the narrowing of our ability to reflect on the benefit of such advice and form layers of obstacles we have to work hard to recognize and eliminate.

Furthermore, we have the innate tendency to want to see results there and then, even before understanding what the situation really is and what is needed to remedy to it. We listen superficially to a little bit of advice, may be, if we have time try to apply it over breakfast, and by lunch time complain that we have seen no improvement; by evening time we are demoralized and go to the pictures to console ourselves.

This certainly cannot work and does not reflect any understanding of how long habits have taken to form. Like ruts, we now unconsciously follow them and Masters warn us over again that overturning them is not an easy matter, which can be accomplished overnight. Methods to do so exist, but what we lack is the sustained determination to apply them at any cost and the real concentration to do so. This sustained determination, this unfailing courage we are exhorted to develop are the fruits of both inner reflections on the Teachings we receive from our Masters as well as the unshakable confidence in their validity, born out of faith and devotion.

So although the texts describe in great details the preciousness of our human life, the only form of existence, which allows us to free ourselves from the cycle of Samsara, through meeting with the dharma and authentic Masters, we act as if we could waste this life in trivial pursuits with impunity. Although we do not know when the moment of death will occur, we act as if eons are in front of us to enjoy, and when death strikes, we are just as helpless and lost as any other, wandering without realization in the bardo and rushing indiscriminately into the next samsaric rebirth.

To benefit from having sought, found and to follow an authentic Master correctly, we must therefore unfold vigilance and courage as never before.


When the Law Won’t Help

The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

I’m pretty much at a low point in recovery from PTSD. It’s not just feeling safe; it’s what it does to you. Like it’s hard to think and remember what is important. And I wish I could sleep all the time. I want to go home but it’s not safe. Am having difficulty concentrating, learning new things and studying. I have no ambition. In short, I have every symptom of a stalked person. Without exception.

I was doing well with the self defense, but the flu knocked me out. Now to start over seems like too much.

But I must get over this. I can’t find any stalker laws to protect us. There is no interest in providing safety for women. We have better luck with animal rights. Shameful.

Why would a judge or any man want to legislate safety for women? After all, they want to own us. Tell us how to be. Many women choose these days to be alone. It is better to take no chances. What a shame! Especially financially independent women choose lonely over bullying.

So how many women choose to make their own way financially? Not enough. How many men rule by keeping money from women? Many.

So why can’t we women wake up?

Well, no law protects us. And most is written by men. (Or not written) And we need their help. But they have no desire to help, as they might lose the opportunity to abuse and control. And that would be inconvenient.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Do What It Takes!

The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Looks like I may be on the move again. I do listen to my experts. And I am still transforming into my own superhero.

Evidently it ain’t over yet, too bad for us all. But I am braver and stronger.

When you disappear to avoid a stalker, they often go quiet. But they never forget. Neither should we. Feel safe by taking care of you.

It’s all I can say. Leave your life or work. Whatever, you have the right to save yourself. Survival is necessary to do anyone any good.

I believe in the rights of women and family – period. No one will take care of you like you. No proper laws are in place. No one considers women as important as men. Even if the woman contributes to society and the man is a total creep. She still loses. But she will always have the power to get it back.

In fact if we change the law we can change the world. Think of it – fair to women. No beatings. No stalking. No men who impregnate women and leave them with no help. No living in fear, rape, incest – world worth living in. It’s up to us. No one else gives a rat’s ass about women’s safety. Certainly not Judge Titus. How does he look at his family and know other families are at risk?

Dunno. Just know I can’t. I now advocate for women. Those who are upright and real, not goldbrickers. I don’t know how to afford this running life. But it will be OK somehow. I know because I feed homeless, rescue animals, feed and house birds, etc, the 99%.

So merit and karma prevail. And love. Love prevails, always, like water rushing over rock.
I’m with you, I love you. I love us. Be safe, do what it takes!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved



Every Time

The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo: 

It is really not healthy to get so upset constantly. Not for body and not for mind. If one has some practice or Dharma teaching, these can easily be overcome in one’s meditation. 

The trick is to actually apply what one knows, rather than react like a child in a snowball game. I feel a good sign of adulthood is to cope well, and take responsibility for one’s actions. To assume one has a part in the drama. In fact, our dramas always begin and end with our own habitual tendencies. One cannot blame the environment, it is all within. Every bit of phenomena’s display actually occurs within. 

For instance the FBI lost the case in which I am victim. So what. I’ll keep me and mine safe, somehow. I’ll deal. It is samsara, and we must bear it. So I deal, no? And what (or who) doesn’t kill me will make me strong. 

Anyone who has born a heavy burdon will attest to that. You grow up. You bear it. And you become strong. This is an opportunity for me I must accept. I will. My heart is big and my shoulders very strong. I’ll just do what it takes. Every time.


Interesting Times: Keeping Dharma Pure

The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Interesting times still, my friends. But all is well, and I am getting stronger and healthy. The slow de-stress of being safe is true medicine. I never truly understood what a killer stress is – causes high blood pressure, spastic muscles, depression, IBS, palpitations, panic attacks, etc. I am moving through most of it. Takes time though. And practice. But I am pleased and hopeful for more recovery. I miss family and students.

Here I am feeding wild birds, they need the help. Here I see when I don’t talk much and have some freedom I can see new beginnings. 2012-13- what will they be? I see dimensional “thinning” which is hard to describe. I am in a truly sacred place now, and I hear Dakinis singing when I do. See doors where there are none. I am seeing a lot of quantum change, all natural. I see activity so subtle it blows my mind.

Are the truly great Lamas returning? Will they reflect the mirror – like truth of our nature? Or reflect these sorry times?

Nothing new is happening here, this disrespect for pure undefiled Dharma was all predicted as was misunderstanding the Lama’s words or disregarding them entirely, making it up as they go along. This time, when Dharma moved west was expected.

My commitment is to keep Vajrayana safe and secure by following the instruction of my perfect Teacher. I will keep the transmission of Lineage and Terma from Palyul undefiled. This is what I am expected to do. And when it is safe and I am healed, I will come roaring back triumphant and ready to rock!

Palyul needs me, sentient beings need me and women need me. I want to fulfill them all. I keep hearing encouragement from my own, and the cries of the lost and worldly, the poor and hungry. How can I fail? How can I give in, leaving beings in suffering? I can’t.

If anyone prefers another Lama or stage of Buddhism I’m all for it. If it is real. But change Vajrayana or defile Palyul and you will see the wrathful fangs of the Dakini for sure. Be warned.

And yes, this IS love. It is Bodhicitta in wrathful form. But pure, wholesome – and vital. Be sure; I love you, Palyul and all the great noble, stainless family we share.

 Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved