Discernment: Taking the Time to Examine the Spiritual Path

The following is an excerpt from a public talk given by His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok:

When we think about the validity of religions—in terms of traditions, in terms of sciences internal and external, and in terms of pith essential pointing out instructions—there is no religion that equals that of Buddhism.  At this time there is no opportunity to really go into it; but in terms of the validity of the tradition which goes back for thousands of years and is documented in pechas, or scriptures, which are available at this present time, if one were really to investigate the qualities of the Buddha’s path, it is something quite extraordinary and unequalled by any other religion.  I would be more than happy to explain every single reason why in absolute detail, but there wouldn’t be time for that today, nor would there be time in the days that I have here, and you probably would become quite bored with listening to it.  So we’ll leave it at that, but please understand that these points are fully documented in the scriptures that we have available to us which date back some thousands of years.

Because of my own qualifications and so forth, at this time I can tell you all that I am a practitioner of the Buddhist religion. I am a Buddhist, and yet I can assure you that at no time in my life have I ever felt a sense of attachment to Buddhism because that is my own religion, nor have I ever felt a sense of aversion to any other religion because it was not the religion that I specifically pursue.  So please do not feel that I have any partial attitude towards my own tradition or a biased attitude towards any other tradition being inferior to it because I never have felt this way.  However, for a very long period of time I have examined not only the Buddhist religion but many other religions, and Buddhism, as practiced in the land of Tibet, is practiced according to three great lineages or rivers of this tradition which have come down over the centuries from India, China and Tibet.  Maybe many of you have heard of the Panchen Rinpoche who asked me to be personally responsible for examining the lineages and updating them and correcting any sort of discrepancies that may occur in present times.  Due to that I spent a lot of time going into further examinations of the traditions, and I came to the conclusion that the path of Buddhism is absolutely unequalled by any other.  It is absolutely superior.

Therefore I would encourage each and every one of you to carefully examine the spiritual path that you are involved in to make sure that you have not made any mistake. If you don’t examine your spiritual path and you just sort of mindlessly enter into a tradition which has no validity or true source, this is what is called delusion, ignorance. We Tibetans have a saying, “Don’t be like a dog.” If you put fresh lungs in front of a dog, the dog will just devour those lungs without even thinking for a moment, will just scarf them down.  Don’t be like this in terms of pursuing a spiritual tradition.  One should be very careful to examine in minute detail. And once one has found out for oneself through that process of analytical investigation that this is a true path and a path that is valid and has a true origin, then one can enter.  But please don’t just aimlessly enter a spiritual path without thinking.



Endowed with Garland of Flowers: The Reasons for Exhaustion by Longchen Rabjam

The following is respectfully taken from “Drops of Nectar” published by Ngagyur Nyingma Institute:

Endowed with Garland of Flowers: The Reasons for Exhaustion by Longchen Rabjam:

Om Svasti Siddham!

The delightful enlightened form, like a blooming lotus garden,
Whom gods and humans honor as the omniscient one,
The glorious Samyepa of mountain retreat,
Offers some verses to the ears of people with clear minds!
Nowadays, some people have been, in a manner of speaking,
Claiming I lack knowledge of appropriate manners, wealth and
short of an unconfused frame of mind,
That I am not firmly established in solitude and am extremely exhausted.
To all these, I answer. Listen as I speak!

Although criticized by sublime beings, non-dharmic evil behavior is increasing.
Lies, cunning and fraud are the basis of deceiving others,
Causing regret at the time of death and falling to lower realms in future lives.
Such appropriately worldly manners are better done without!

Sublime beings criticize sensual pleasures as the lasso of samsara.
Bringing on quarrels with everyone, it is the basis for many kinds of suffering.
Even if you have enough, you’re not satisfied and craving increases.
Since it’s the cause for downfalls, it’s fine to be devoid of wealth!

If revulsion towards worldly dharmas does not arise,
There will never be liberation from the ocean of existence.
Toward impermanent and essence-less phenomena,
It’s good to be unattached and better if you are short of worldly plans!

While staying together as one, attachment and hatred naturally increases.
Distractions, diversions and activities become even greater.
By binding one to existence, ego clinging is the cause of bondage.
In this kind of situation it’s better not to have any certainty!

Even my exhaustion is not without a cause.
As I ponder the auspicious throughout the day and night,
[I see] the ocean of samsara, with its waves of birth and death.
We wander here from the natural illusion of ego clinging.

Having seen the deep ocean of existence that is difficult to cross,
I despair and, shedding tears, become exhausted!
Please listen to how I am even more wearied by
Examining behavior of other people.

Venerable abbots, teachers and lamas, though quite secure,
Do not pursue the path of Dharma but chase after sense
pleasure and entertainment.
Outwardly peaceful, they are extremely arrogant within,
Having seen their cunning ways, I become exhausted!

Even those endowed with the Dharma pay attention to the wealthy.
The straightforward guides as well are more benevolent
towards their dissimulating retinues.
They pursue the eight worldly concerns, those versed in non-Dharma.
Seeing mere reflections of the Gurus, I become exhausted!

The slanderous ones who engage in divisiveness know nothing
about what is meaningful.
The crooked demonic ones who never take a stand but who live by flattery
Are not pleased by goodness and separate two who are in harmony.
Seeing friends like this, I become exhausted!

Unable to bear it themselves, while expecting others to cope with effort;
Not helping in times of need, and upholding others’ unworthy positions.
Displaying all kinds of moods even for minor things;
Seeing friends like this, I become exhausted!

If you teach those who have no proper respect, you evoke harsh words.
Lacking faith and devotion, rigid as unyeilding wood
They run after food and leave behind the activity of exertion.
Seeing students like this, I become exhausted!

They praise you to your face, and speak badly behind your back.
Not striving on the path of Dharma, but chasing after sense pleasures,
As the final return for your nurture they manufacture quarrels.
Seeing students like this, I become exhausted!

If your food and clothing are inferior, you’re cast down even if
you’re learned.
With great wealth, even the stupid are venerated
And reckoned as talented although their companions are evil and cunning.
Seeing this kind of people, I become exhausted!

They look on those who live in an honest way as being completely uncultured.
They take those who lack wealth as having merit.
They say that those who follow the Dharma have accomplished
only worthless methods.
Seeing this kind of people, I become exhausted!

Those who are expert at fitting into the ordinary are counted
excellent scholars.
Those who mimic good qualities are said to be wise in Dharma
Those who are good at using harsh, stupid and deceitful words
are considered quite exemplary.
Seeing this kind of people, I become exhausted!

With only verbal generosity, they dedicate as though the merits
were complete.
Bringing harm, they are proud as though they had created virtue.
Engaging in non-Dharma, they clearly believe they have
accomplished the journey to the bliss realm.
All these perversions make me quite exhausted!

Without Dharma, obtaining mere trifles is counted as happiness.
And genuine monks without wealth are scorned by all who see them.
When fools are more valued than noble ones,
If there is any feeling, exhaustion is appropriate!

At this time and place, principles are perverted.
Being the opposite of one’s mistakes, good qualities are
reckoned as erroneous.
Just as the beings of Tsuta (a realm where all beings have only one leg) laugh at two-legged humans,
Saying one leg is extra,
The one called Samyepa who composes, teaches and debates,
Now faces insults for acting in accord with the Dharma!

When I expound this truth, the throng of heedless, ignorant fools,
The most stupid who pretend to be studying and contemplating
the system of logic,
The foolish hypocrites with their imposing air of mastery of the
supreme precious three trainings,
And those lofty associates who easily befriend them, are most displeased.

However my body of discipline is superb; the petals of the
three trainings are formed and expanded.
And the excellent ones who can discern the causes assemble at
the fortress of honesty.
In order to awaken delight in their minds I arranged this composition.

All whose minds are clear, please examine whether the
meaning is true or false.
In this manner the sweet-voiced one of mountain retreat
I, Tshultrim Lodro Zangpo composed this.

By this virtue, may I and all beings,
Sit before the great tree of the essence of enlightenment;
After defeating the devils of unpleasant speech,
May we become Dharma Kings with the spontaneously established three kayas!

With the intention of a perfect exposition, this answer, called “Endowed with Rosary that Completely Subjugates”, was composed by the greatly learned poet, the glorious Samyepa, Tsultrim Lodr. It is here complete.


Choosing Your Guide

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

Buddhism doesn’t need you, you need Buddhism. Lama doesn’t need you, you need Lama. There are many more students than teachers.

To climb Mt. Everest one needs a Sherpa (guide) to show the way. A map or book is useless. You can only trust a guide who has gone before.

If you have a dental cavity, you need a professional dentist: trained, credentials from school, with many patients and experience, not a mechanic with pliers.

If you are hungry and don’t know how to cook a book helps. But an educated cook will show you how to use it. It will be edible!

OK, so you have a blown tire, and all the tools. Jack, lug wrench, etc- but no one has ever taught you how. You still aren’t going anywhere.

Is your TV broke? Don’t leave it to a plumber to fix. The plumber may electrocute himself and your TV will look like shit.

If a child needs to blow his nose it won’t be the tissue that teaches. It will be the parent.

How many ways can I say this?

If you are getting fit, walking works. But the real deal is weights, resistance, warm up cool down, flexibility and you need to train with an accomplished trainer. (Clue – check their bodies). A couch potato simply won’t do.

Whatever your goal, make sure you don’t choose a slacker with an ego. Choose a teacher with a track record and credentials.

Spiritually, choose a Lineage and stay strong. Don’t dabble. Or quibble. For truth don’t choose a liar or cheat. Learn from their past and from your own mistakes. Gather merit, love yourself enough to do this right!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved



Discerning the Qualities of Awakening

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

To describe the precious state of Lord Buddha, and the other Buddhas in that miraculous state… When Buddha was asked “are you a God? Are you a man? A great Rishi? A saint?” “Who or what are you?” Lord Buddha simply said, “I am awake” so simple and pure. No bragging. Awake!

Of all the things Buddha ever said I think this is the purest and must succinct. Awake. He did not go on about “marvelous experiences.” He said that his mind, merit and meditation had ripened his mind completely. He proved his Enlightenment through the miraculous fruits of his life. That is how one knows about the qualities of Buddhahood. By conduct and evidence. One cannot simply decide. Unless the manifestations are there which concur, no way. We should never accept baseless claims, especially about spiritual accomplishment. It can ruin your life.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama says the Chinese are his Gurus because they taught him impermanence, by destroying Tibet and her people and faith. As a young monk he could not think such cruelty possible just for a land grab and power. He was so innocent! A true Buddha in every way.

I have never called myself a Buddha or “Enlightened Being.” I’ve taught of the need to follow a pure teacher with bodhicitta. What other people call me is of no concern. It makes me happy when my Gurus said these things, and I love the old stories which I sometimes recall. But what ordinary people say doesn’t matter much. I have students that support and love.

And there are those who hate, and I don’t know why or who they are. Yet they venerate themselves to the degree that people bow and scrape or they are banished and put down. That is not Dharma and it never will be until the darkest time. Then the glorious Buddha of the next age will be born. May it be soon! I would sing his Praise and honor his name, this Buddha of the future. But many people call themselves “His name” and praise themselves as the incarnation. I won’t contribute to that. It is delusion and self cherishing. That circus show is not helpful. We have a planet to save.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Would You Know?

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

It’s not just me and mine. Respect and view toward Lineage Lamas has tanked in western centers. Reminds me of a song I love by Art Garfunkle:

“And if you watch the stars at night, and find them shining equally bright- you might have seen Jesus and not have known what you saw. Who would notice a GEM in a Five and Dime store?”

Perfect example of lack of view in a material world!


Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Pith Advice – Learning to Discern

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

If someone tells you they are never wrong it usually means they usually are.

If someone tells you this is exactly how they meant things to turn out it usually means they are clueless about a lot!

If we boast a lot about our dharma practice we should remember the best practice is alone, and silent.

If a practitioner tells you their mind is completely pure, and says they abide in emptiness and light, ask them kindly to turn down the volume!

If a Dharma practitioner does nothing to benefit all sentient beings they are walking on one leg. Dharma is Wisdom and Compassion!

Put your energy into gathering not the goods of the world. Gather the gifts of Wisdom, Compassion and virtue. Only these have value.

If someone harms you and you become afraid, work with it. If you allow the fear you have allowed the suffering: they win!

We are equal in need, equal in nature, equal in love and loss. Therefore we should learn to have empathy and kindness.

We are equal in fault, equal in sorrow, equal in longing and sickness, and death. Therefore we should have empathy, and LOVE.

The great being atones for the suffering of others no matter the cause. A middling being atones for their own. A lesser being accepts no burden.

A great being cares for all beings equally. A middling being cares for family and friends, mostly. A lesser one cares for no one but self.

Paradox: a great being does not differentiate between high and low, having view. A middling being sorts out those differences. A small being uses all this to get what they want.

A lesser being walks the earth. A middling being examines the world. A great being takes wing and flies! The sky is for dancing.

Here in this land we must learn to empathize, to care, to love, to minister to each other, to feed, to heal; and most of all to fly!

Here on Earth we must learn and study our equality. To be without prejudice, to know each other’s suffering, to cherish culture and be color blind in spirit!

May the dirt on their feet be the crown on my head; may their suffering be only mine. May I wipe their eyes, and fill their hearts with LOVE.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved