The Importance of Faith

Gyaltrul Rinpoche

The following is respectfully quoted from “Great Perfection: Buddha in the Palm of the Hand” commentary by Gyaltrul Rinpoche:

Faith cannot be forced in the disciple’s mind. You must understand the qualities of the objects of your faith; only then is there a ground for faith. Because these are difficult times, if a disciple has true, firm faith that isn’t wishy-washy but is based on a true wish to practice on the path, and if a teacher at least possesses impartial compassion, then these two make a suitable connection–the faithful disciple and the compassionate teacher–and it is appropriate to nurture that connection and practice on the path.

Obviously, these are not all of the qualities mentioned above, but it is very difficult if not impossible, in these degenerate times, for both lama and disciple to have all the qualifications and to come together at the same time. What is obvious and true for you now is what you call your “luck,” which is actually the force of good karma accumulated in the past; you only call it “luck” because you know nothing about it. It’s just an accumulation that you’ve unknowingly made.

Look at your present situation and compare yourself with millions of people in this and other countries who have no time for any kind of spiritual pursuit. This karma you have is really quite strong because it’s remarkably natural and easy for you–at least for these Nam Cho transmissions. Sofr these particular transmissions there’s a great amount of karma that we’re all a part of, and a great amount since the Nam Cho revelations are teachings of the ninth vehicle, the peak of the path, the atiyoga transmissions, you should rejoice in having this kind of natural, spontaneously arising karma to make these kinds of connections.

Padmasambhava said, “My dharma of the secret mantra is extremely dangerous, like taking a wish-fulfilling jewel off the head of a poisonous snake.” If you’re able to get the wish-fulfilling jewel it has the power to fulfill all your wishes. But you risk your life trying to get it. Padmasambhava gave this analogy for the path of secret mantra, and it pertains especially to the path of terma revelations. There is also the analogy of the snake in the bamboo shaft with only two directions to go: up or down. If you keep samaya and practice well, you go straight up and experience very swift results. If you don’t keep samaya and don’t practice, then just as good results are swift, so are negative ones.

To be a suitable disciple, the main quality you need is faith. It doesn’t matter which dharma you’re receiving–Kagyu, Nyingma, Sakya, Gelugpa; hinayana, mahayana–you don’t even need to be smart. You just need faith.

The “How To” of the Method


The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Art of Dispelling Anger”

There is no confusion regarding Dharma. It’s spelled out that conduct is everything, that working with one’s poisons is everything. And there are no modifications on not killing. Not killing is all pervasive. It means bugs. It means worms. It means enemies. In fact, we are the only ones that I know of who are taught to raise our enemies in loving concern higher than ourselves. Not that we do a personality cult thing, you know. We don’t do the wave every time we see our enemies. It’s not like that. But if our enemies are harming us, then they must be harming themselves also. So our compassion for them should be even greater. Tibetans were thrown out of their own country. They were killed; they saw their lamas abused; they saw their lamas murdered; they saw their texts being walked on by Chinese boots, their precious Dharma texts, and then many destroyed, as Palyul was destroyed. And yet because their culture is so different, rather than going to war or hating, from the Dalai Lama on down, they all say, “The Chinese are our gurus.  They taught us that we must have had some fault or we wouldn’t have been thrown out of Tibet, or there wouldn’t have been this huge problem.”  That’s the way Tibetans think. They think, “Oh, now maybe the problem is that we kept our faith to ourselves and we were happy just in our country, Shambala,.” And so the lamas said, “Go out and teach others. This is what we must do.”  And now they are grateful for that happening, although of course we want Tibet back. No doubt about that. But they are grateful for what happened there, for what they learned, for what they taught. It is no less a travesty. It is no less genocide than it was when it happened, yet this speaks to the quality of our faith. This speaks to the quality of our practitioners and our lamas. And so, now that we see it, we see that, in fact, it was the Chinese that sent Buddhist lamas around the world. And so we find out there are never any exceptions.

There were powerful practitioners at that time whose blessing was so strong (and I’ve heard stories about this from other lamas), whose powers were so strong that they would go out when the Chinese were shooting and they would stand in front of people with their robes held out to protect them. And then they would come inside and shake the bullets out because the blessing was so strong, their power was so strong; but they never fought. They died, but they never fought. There were many lamas who knew when the Chinese were coming, and it was hopeless. They simply did phowa and left. They didn’t wait. They knew the Chinese would kill them.  So rather than allow the Chinese to take on that non-virtue, they did phowa. And phat! they left their bodies. What was the year when the Chinese came into Tibet?  ’49?  I was born in ’49. So that’s what happened there. But there was never the thought of revenge. Never the thought of hatred or barbarism, because this is not our way. And what is great is that we can teach our children there are no exceptions. It’s black and white. That’s what is really great. Never kill. Each sentient being values its life just as much as you do. I really like that about our faith.

I see a problem in people who are trying to defeat their own poisons in this lifetime, even you guys whose faces and hearts I know so well. We tried this. We’ve given a lot to be Buddhists,  on the one hand. Yet we’ve gained a lot more by being Buddhists, on the other hand. And we’re very much involved; and each person is as committed as they can be to their path. So I know that the willingness is there. I think the caring is there, but there is so much confusion. How in the world are we supposed to defeat our poisons when it is not clear to us how we should live?

For instance, we are told in Buddhism that we must conquer hatred, greed and ignorance, and let’s see, lust and competitiveness, or warlike behavior. Let’s see. What else? Did I say sloth?  Well, that one, too.  So, we are supposed to conquer all of these things; and yet we’re not even clear what hatred is. We’re not even clear on that, because of how we were brought up.   If we acted out ,you know, few of us had parents that would sit down and say, ‘This is why this isn’t working.’  Most of us had a backhand or time out, or go away, or watch TV, or something like that; but there is never any clarity, because we ourselves don’t understand. So when we look at abolishing hatred in our mind stream, which we must do, which we’ve committed to do for the sake of sentient beings, where do we even start?  It’s so confusing. And not only where do we start? What are the perimeters?  . What does that mean, not hating?  Ok. I don’t hate you outright, but you know, if we mush with that a little bit and fool around and dance a little a bit, there’s a lot of leeway in there according to the way ordinary people think. But, in fact, that’s not true, because if you just look at the one poison, which is hatred, it’s much more widespread than you think, my poor little lambs. You know, when you go ballistic sometimes, because somebody let you down or somebody was rude to you or whatever the particular thing is?  That’s hatred. You can say it’s not because you don’t hate the person, but the rage, the thing that comes out of you is the same energy, just a little tweaked to fit our culture. It’s that same thing when you go off on somebody, . Or when you gossip. Like when you gossip to put another person down, you indicate that their qualities are down: They are not a good practitioner, they are not a good person, they are mean, they are mean to me, they are just bad. You have that kind of gossip, you know. Somebody looks at you cross-eyed and you’re going to hold a grudge for the rest of your life. That kind of thing. And every chance you get, you’re going to tell somebody how bad that person is. Or maybe you are a lightweight gossiper. You just do it with a smile on your face,  ‘She never practices.’

However you do it, whether you smile, or whether its grudge-oriented or whether you do it because there is nothing in your head but gossip, well, it’s still hatred. Now here’s where we get lost, because we think, ‘I’m not hating.’ But still, we are putting others down in order to raise ourselves up in our mind. Now there are a couple of unfortunate things that are happening there. First, the hatred. Any time that you need to raise yourself up at the expense of anyone else, that is about as far away from Buddhadharma as you can get. The instructions from Buddhadharma are that we should gain so much compassion from giving rise to the bodhicitta. And when is that going to happen?  When it feels right?   No. You have to practice. You have to make it happen, even if you’ve got to grit your teeth. One step at a time, you give rise to the bodhicitta. And eventually, hopefully, you lose the habit of putting someone else down in order to climb on top of them, because the bodhicitta requires that we understand this: We are one being. Out there is everybody else, so it seems, in relative phenomenal reality. That being the case, there are more of them than there is of me. They are therefore more important. That is what the Dharma teaches.

The basis for that is not martyrdom.  We’re not going to go to the heaven of 87 virgins or whatever. Not that I would be interested in that. Anyway, I think it was only for men. You know, that’s not going to happen to us. We don’t think of it in terms of martyrdom. We think of it in terms of view. According to what the Buddha teaches, the idea of duality, the idea that we are separate, the idea that time and space are separate, the idea that mind is separate from time and space, these are all the confusions that we live with. And so, because of that, it looks like there are so many of us out there and me over here. But in truth, if I were to meditate the way the Buddhas and bodhisattvas meditate, with pure Dzogchen view, I literally could not find a place where I end and you begin. And so I am you. I look into your eyes and I see Guru Rinpoche. How much do I love Guru Rinpoche?  That’s how much I love you. Like that.

And so sometimes, I have the occasion to speak very harshly to my students. On occasion, I’ve had to, figuratively speaking, slap them around. I mean really. Here is half of a piece of rice. You must know there there is not even that much hatred in that, none whatsoever. When I come to the point that I feel like a student needs a spanking, it’s because they are at a probability point. It could go this way or it could go that way, and I like to whap them over them that way. And that’s my job—to keep my eye on those probability points.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved


Caught in a Dream

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Stabilizing the Mind”

In order to practice the Buddha’s teaching with any meaning, you first have to understand that all sentient beings are suffering.  Now I have to ask you: Have you really seen that with your own heart, with your own eyes, with your own mind?  Have you seen that all sentient beings are suffering?

If you have seen that you are suffering, then let me describe a funny little thing that you still do that cannot coexist with that knowledge.  You have circumstances throughout the day (and throughout the month, the year, your life) that either please you or displease you, that either make you happy or make you unhappy.

You may think, “Oh, I’m really down today.”  Then you talk to someone, and someone has an upbeat thing to say to you.  It’s meaningful, it’s good, and it pleases you.  So what happens to you?  You go up, right?  There’s a nice sense of warm fuzzies, and you go up.

Or let’s say you are a renunciate, a monk or nun, and when you wake up in the morning, it’s a ho-hum day.  You’re in a flat-line zone, a kind of grey zone.  And let’s say you manage to get in all of the practices that you want to do in the morning, and you manage to have a pretty good experience with them.  You feel buoyant in your practice.  You feel stable in your practice.  You’re able to hold your visualization.  Somehow that magical thing that happens every now and then happens.  You had a good practice.  Then you have your breakfast, eating your cereal by the window like a guy in a commercial, and you say, “Morning is my time!”  But later on the dog urinates on your one robe, you are too busy to eat any lunch or any dinner, and you have a bad practice.  That’s the worst thing – you have a bad practice – and things are no longer going so well.

These things happen to all of you, and yet, although you say you know that there is suffering from the depth of your heart, you have looked to satisfy the end of suffering in a way that is different from what the Buddha taught.  We let our minds float on an ocean of waves like a buoy, up and down.  What is “up”?  What is “down”?  And who is feeling it?  Who says morning is your time?  Who says evening is not?  Who says life is good when you go out to a restaurant and have a glass of wine?  These are concepts that are part of your mind, and your consciousness floats on them.  For some of you, there is not a moment of spaciousness in your mind where your consciousness is not floating on some circumstance you contrived all by yourself.  Why does that happen?

You say that all sentient beings are suffering and that the end to suffering is enlightenment, yet you allow your mind to be satisfied going up and down according to circumstances.  All of the beings that you say are suffering are doing the same thing.  Has anyone achieved happiness by allowing the mind to float on that ocean of concept that we call samsara, affected by circumstances, lifted up by what we call high circumstances, put down by what we call low circumstances?

No one.  Never.  The Buddha tells us that samsara is not happiness, that the contrivances of the mind are not happiness, that sentient beings are suffering, and that the only end to suffering is enlightenment.  Yet we allow ourselves to slide up and down every day.  We get excited about some project, we get enthusiastic, but it always comes to a dead stop.  It always ends.  It has never, never, never, never, never continued until it gave you supreme happiness.

So here’s the point I am trying to make.  First brick: All sentient beings are suffering.  Now, we’ll put the next one on top of it: There is an end to suffering, and it is enlightenment.  Just two bricks, and already we find that we are not secure behind those two bricks, that we don’t believe.  Yes, you say that you believe that all sentient beings are suffering.  Yes, you say that you believe enlightenment is the end of suffering.  Can you tell me how that can coexist with the tendency to let your mind drift, relying on circumstances to make it happy, being the victim of circumstances that make it unhappy?  How do we allow that?

We forget.  We’re caught in a dream, and we lose faith.  So how are you going to practice this Vajrayana, the Diamond Vehicle, the Tantric teachings of Buddhism, passed from teacher to disciple, that can lead to the attainment of enlightenment in one lifetime, a path with sincerity and stability for the rest of your life until some potential comes for you to achieve supreme enlightenment?  Do you believe that that can happen?

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Guru Disciple Relationship


The following is respectfully quoted from “A Spacious Path to Freedom” by Karma Chagme with commentary by Gyaltrul Rinpoche

Lord Gampopa says of the tradition of the practice lineage:

If a spiritual mentor lacks realization, it does not help even if his disciples act with reverence and devotion. As an analogy, although the clay may be good, if its mold has no indentations, it will not form into a statue. If the disciples have no reverence or devotion, it does not help even if the spiritual mentor has realization. This is like a cow having milk, but its calf having no palate.

Prayer Works:Pray for Japan and the Earth

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Asking all people to have faith in prayer and not feel hopeless. If everything, every effort in Japan is hopeless, even then prayer works!

Please don’t forget that, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, in their great compassion hear our cries. All faiths, call upon your faith and help. Each of us has our own beliefs. Doesn’t matter. Call on your faith to see us through. We all need each other to do the right thing for the earth.

Blessings and love to my brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers in Japan. Pray for Japan. Pray for the earth, for Libya. We are one people.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

A Call to All Dharma Warriors and Spiritual People

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Dear Friends, I believe our prayers are bearing fruit. Please keep it up! It seems this nuclear catastrophe is slowing down (not going away!) – which is auspicious. Requests and offerings are being sent to Namdroling by KPC, and Pujas will be done at the great Drupchen. Many compassionate people are joining together, embracing the Earth in prayer. Thank you for this kindness!

Earth is our noble Mother, and our only home. Brother Sun, sister Moon, pray for our Mother! All Sentient beings, all with Divine nature, come together in a great roar of prayer and love as one. Let us step up and take this evolutionary step and heal our planet!


Let us join en force at 7:00 am and 7:00 pm eastern time every day together and change the world! A call to dharma warriors and people of all faiths!


Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Come Together and Pray for the Earth!

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Dear Friends, I want to ask- beg, really, for all to stop the busy work and pray in whatever fashion you are familiar with. The situation in Japan is spiraling out of control. Please pray for Japan and stay informed! Pray for the Earth as well, as this will affect our planet.

It is time, without self concern or ego to join hands, join hearts, minds, and spirit and encircle the Earth with love and protection. We are spiritual beings, all we see is a hologram projected by our “mind.” If we determine we have faith it is time to use it. Without holding back, without prejudice, please join together: Christians, Jews, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan, Sufi, Shinto, indigenous. Let our differences go and join together as never before.

The ground, water, sky, wind is filling with poison. We have the power to transform this poison. Love and compassion are stronger; our very spiritual nature has the power to transform. It must be done purely and without any negativity. If you pray to God, Allah, the Buddhas, Krishna, no matter, it is love and compassion that matters. We must empower ourselves to be “divine” in whatever way we can. It is within us to create the antidote to this.

If our seas are poisoned, our blood will be. If our wind is toxic our breath will be too. If our Earth is poison all our bodies will be as well. We cannot afford to take a vacation from guardianship of this planet. No one will save us but us. It is time to awaken. This is our Mother Earth and we are her children. We cannot fail. Awaken to spirit, to love, to compassion and to responsibility. This is what it is to be human. Human children of our Mother and we must honor her.

Pray for the Earth. Pray for Japan. Pray for human kind.




Valentine’s Day Message: Not “Be Mine” – but “Be Yourself”

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Tomorrow is that day, Valentine. Most people think about romance. I will be having a “Happy Loner’s Day” instead. At this point in my life this is exactly as I want it.

This time of year lovely things do happen, weddings, engagements, romantic beginnings – roses and chocolate and the diamonds! Rings! Jewels! The funny thing is how these lovely heartfelt gifts have such a high price tag. It is the expectation part. The jewelry and gifts often are meant to brand your partner as yours. You wear the same rings, therefore – commitment. I believe in family and commitment in relationships – but not the branding kind.

I think it pays to contemplate this whole “romance” thing. Romance is fun. It is hormonal. We are wired to connect to the genes. Studies show compatible genetics are often paired or attracted to each other. It can be very compelling. In general, however, that compelling part doesn’t last. So more important than the ring is the friendship. Often when there is great passion it is difficult when it naturally ages into comfortable love. Maybe we forgot the friendship part. Or forgot to think what you both will do as friends when the bedroom is actually a place to sleep.

To honor a new, (or aging) love think about your partner with empathy and compassion. Try hard not to judge. Try not to make your lover over into your “creature” or creation. Learn about them rather than demanding from them. We are people, on this relative level. Not toys, or objects to complete someone’s world. Many lovers do not talk about goals; like will we have kids? Will we give them a faith that we can join? Will we support each other if the relationship changes? What about money? Will we help each other get ahead? And the signs, do we read them? Is my love selfish? Am I? What secret motivation does the partner have? What are mine? In other words, there is more to it than rings and roses. There are ever-deepening layers in which love lives, and in which it can grow.

As we celebrate the day for Lovers, remember love is not a toy. It is a path to travel with great respect joy, and compassion. And if you end up raising your family with your best friend, like two comfy old slippers, you are blessed. You two have grabbed the brass ring in love. Respect, love, understanding, that is the prize. Please consider this when you “Put a ring on it.” Look your love in the eye and promise a life of caring and a life of love. Happy Valentine’s Day to all. You know those candy hearts? NEW MESSAGE: not “Be mine.” “Be yourself.” LOVE.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved