The Seduction of the Five Senses

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Tools to Deepen Your Practice”

All the practices, no matter what they look like or sound like or seem like, are heading in that direction of gradually awakening more and more to the awareness of the sphere of truth.  Wisdom is then the accomplishment of a state of such non-attachment that one realizes the emptiness of phenomena by simply [Jetsunma effortlessly and blissfully breathes out, her eyes and body completely relaxing].  I don’t know how else to describe it except to just show you that posture.  Just…[Jetsunma once again breathes out as noted above].

Because the same as your touch is bliss.  The same as your smell is bliss.  The same as your tongue is bliss.  How does it happen then that we’re so darned uncomfortable?  How does it happen then, according to the Buddha’s teachings, that so many sentient beings are revolving so helplessly in samsara, so lost, so unable to understand how to understand, or how to awaken, or even how to live virtuously so that in the future they’ll be happy?  How does this all happen?

Lord Buddha said it during the course of his actual physical life, when he said, “All suffering arises from desire.”  So while you can say that the fundamental space of the five lights is the same as the five primordial Dakinis, they are activity not separate from the Buddha nature.  And yet these five senses hold on to us. Well we think they do, although we did create them.  But with their grasping nature, they cause us, because we have the strong habitual tendency,  to constantly react and constantly react and act really neurotically because we don’t understand.  To be neurotic is to not understand the situation and to act inappropriately repetitively.  That’s pretty much us.  We do not understand the emptiness of self-nature and so we constantly act differently.

So, these five primordial Dakinis that are your senses and that someday you will awaken to are now—because we are clinging, because we have not renounced, because we believe in phenomena and we believe in the solidity of everything, and because we are really revolving in dualism—we would have to consider them like five nasty whores.  Because they trick us.  They seduce us.  They say to us, “Come and play with me and I will give you anything.”   And when’s the last time you got anything from a skanky whore. (laughter)  [Jetsunma: I did not say that!”]  Our five senses actually keep us in a constant state of inflammation, because while we’re grasping to the solidity of phenomena, we’re constantly reacting.  While we’re constantly reacting, we’re constantly acting neurotically, out of accordance with the nature of reality.  And so we’re being tricked, seduced.

The senses have many tricks. As front runners for our consciousness of duality, they like to trick us by building us up. You know, we can see and hear things that make us feel very proud and make us feel as though we are worthy of praise. You know, we can arrange phenomena any way we want.  That’s the amazing thing about it.  And it can become very seductive.  We can absolutely crap out on our practice and yet with our five senses, we can manage to create in our consciousness of duality a scenario in which we’re looking pretty good.  We can wear the right clothes and have the right beads, and you know we can look pretty good.  And so that’s the deceptive nature of the five senses.

How difficult it is to understand that that which helps us negotiate around is actually the very nature of bliss.  How to understand that the opposite side of the very clinging that we do so tightly that prevents us from awakening to the primordial wisdom state,  is liberation?  Well, that’s wisdom and that is the kind of wisdom that we strive for as we practice.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved


Understanding the Senses

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Tools to Deepen Your Practice”

In order to practice Vajrayana, for instance, there has to be some certain capacity that the student has, or some previous karma that now comes forward and comes to bear, or Vajrayana simply would not work. Indeed, for certain kinds of students because they practice very superficially, Vajrayana , would be like just reading Sutra—just reading it, reading it, reading it, reading it. You may glean some information, but you will never accomplish any wisdom that way.

So when we first come to Vajrayana, we are expected not only to read, to learn how to pronounce, to accomplish the tune; but we also have to learn how to visualize. We also have to learn how to allow the five senses to dissolve into the sphere of truth, which is emptiness,  and that means letting go of perception.  And that’s the first step towards meditating on emptiness, or rather as we do in Vajrayana, dissolving or realizing the essence of all nature to be empty and then arising from that empty nature as the deity or as a wisdom being.  This is basically the meat and bones of Vajrayana, that generation of the wisdom being by first dissolving into emptiness.

If a person who is studying Theravada Buddhism (that’s the early stages of Buddhism that Lord Buddha taught when he was actually physically alive),  practices like that, they are letting the mind relax. They are using some kind of method like allowing the mind to rest on the breath, to simply breathe, to simply be like that.  But ideally, when a Vajrayana practitioner prepares to really generate the deity and they’ve done their taking refuge and all the steps that precede:the promising, the Bodhisattva promise and all the prayers:and they actually get to the part where there is the dissolution or the original view of emptiness, they are not, at that point, relaxing the mind.  Because if we’re simply relaxing the mind at that point, we are technically practicing Theravada Buddhism.  It’s a little different.

It’s ok to start that way, but again, we’re talking about going more deeply into our practice.  So when a Tantric practitioner meditates on emptiness in order to pave the way for the rrising of the deity, what you really do at that time is to open up the senses in the sense that the senses are grasping things.  They see “this” or “this”.  I hear “that”.  I smell “something”.  So the senses are grasping things. The senses are actually the children of the original conscious assumption of nature being essentially real, or of phenomena being essentially real.  And so the senses arise from that assumption.  It’s a chicken or egg thing.  It’s opposite what you would think.  The senses arise from the assumption of consciousness as being inherently real.  And so the senses’ job is to grasp!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Five Demons or Dakinis

From The Spiritual Path:  A Compilation of Teachings by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

How do phenomena express themselves as they do? Each sentient being, within its own nature and even within the form in which it arises, contains an essential seed or drop that is the nature of mind itself. Just as all things emanate from Nature and can be understood as the spontaneous arising of that Nature—all phenomena that you as an individual perceive, including your individuality, can be considered the emanation or activity arising from that same mind-drop or essential seed.

Correct view describes that natural drop as being neither small nor big but both and neither. Since this Nature is indivisible, the only difference must be in perception. Literally everything you see is a reflection of your karma as it formulates itself into the perceptions of the five senses. The more you try to contrive understanding with the five senses, the more you try to “nail down” your perceptions, the more confused your perception will be. Data that are based on a system of logic organized by the five senses—cannot give you true wisdom of the realization of the uncontrived Nature.

Since the five senses will always support the ego, they can be considered demonic in their influence. In their enlightened state, however, they can be considered the five celestial wisdoms: they are the components of the activities and qualities of the Buddha Nature itself. They are the five underlying blissful expanses, completely one with emptiness. They are the celestial opportunities, the celestial messengers by which miraculous activity can enter into the world of samsara in order to benefit beings. They are five goddesses or dakinis even though, used as they are, they are five whores.

Within each of us is blissful mind expanse. All spontaneous activity occurs directly and inseparably from that expanse. The dakinis are depicted as distributors, upholders of the fruit of one’s karma. Does this mean that there are dakinis who are separate from you, who are doing something to you? No. It is through the perceptions of the five senses in their unenlightened state that one’s punishments are meted out. There is no one outside of you who causes your suffering.

Karma is completely implemented through the perceptions of the five senses, which survive in some form from life to life. Even though your nose, ears, and brain are gone, the underlying karmic pattern remains to reactivate itself in other incarnations. However, you now feel a totally self-contained involvement with everything you experience. You honestly feel that you suffer because you are too tired, because you have insufficient food or money, because your body hurts. The five senses create these incorrect perceptions.

“How,” you may ask, “can I free myself of these demons, these witches who cause me suffering?” You must want to be free. Unfortunately, you do not. Oh yes, all sentient beings want to be happy, and you are trying to be happy. But you compulsively believe that you can be happy by resolving the scenarios presented by these five senses. These scenarios are not measured and apportioned. Their essential form is not something that can be balanced. The only recourse is to strive to perceive True Nature, renounce the affliction of these five witches, and take refuge in the five celestial wisdoms and the five-natured blissful expanse of emptiness.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Planting Your Dharma Garden: Full Length Video Teaching

The following is a full length video teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered at Kunzang Palyul Choling:



In a beautiful, concise introduction to the Vajrayana path, Jetsunma describes how the 5 senses delude us, and how we mut begin taking refuge in something unseen that seems illugical Ngondro offers the method of purifying these senses, so that slowly, we awaken from ignorance into bliss.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved

What Are Your Five Senses Telling You? Full Length Video Teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

The following is a full length video teaching offered by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo at Kunzang Palyul Choling:



We are constanting giving ourselves information about our world through our 5 senses. What are they telling us? and how should we use that infomation?

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo.  All rights reserved


Cultivating Awareness

From a series of Tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Did you know that there is a fundamental difference between Vajrayana Buddhism and other faiths? All faiths improve our life, our minds and hearts, and give us structure and aspiration, hope. Buddhism has all that in common. The difference is that Vajrayana Buddhism does not recognize self-nature to be inherently real. In relative view we perceive self as solid through the five senses which also are empty, yet are themselves perceived as real and solid. The entire reason we compile our lives as seemingly solid is that once we fall prey to the concept of duality – self and other – both of which are dream-like, we simply cannot see the great expanse of truth.

Conceiving self and other as real sets us up to react to what is perceived as outside this supposed “self.” We always react with hope, fear, or indifference. Like I hope you will love me. I fear you will abandon me. I hope there is food and money. And fear it will not be enough. I hope you will not harm me – I fear you will. Indifference is involved when both views have been applied and neither does. I hope there is something coming from you but I see nothing will – therefore I am indifferent to you. In fact most people and things that do not excite our hope or fear usually are not even on our radar. Our five gross senses are meant to recognize what seems to be “other” and to measure and assess that. So you see – this whole perceptual event occurs instantly, before we even realize it has. So our entire awareness is based on that, meant to perform in a certain way. That is the only means to sense at that level.

In meditation we close out the gross senses and give rise to those awarenesses which are far more subtle and intuitive – quite gossamer, in fact. Much more spacious and formless themselves, this subtle awareness is what is needed to fully recognize the primordial ground of being, and the spacious empty luminosity that is our true face, the same taste as Buddhahood.

One must meditate to dispel the illusions of separateness and solidity. And we enhance the more subtle (and true) view that is the essence of true discernment and the precious awakening called enlightenment. It takes time! As we begin to awaken we develop compassion as we are not separate and no different on the relative level as all sentient beings struggle to be happy, while being unaware of their true nature.

I am asked- if we are empty of self nature, then who gave birth? Had that heart attack? Who says “ouch” when pinched? And what is it that reincarnates?

In Buddhism we see no self. What happens is rebirth. Buddha said we are cycling through death and re-birth and suffering because of desire. So true! Not a separate entity, but the thread of desire and other habitual tendencies rise up as our mindstream and continue on. We, then, with the five (made for this) senses believing in separation consciousness then measure, contrive and support it. Then once again we believe that we and all phenomena are all entirely solid and real. It is sort of real in that we react. Ouch! Yet not real in that there is no pinch no pincher, no pinchee, no hand, no no-hand, no pain, no no-pain, no self, no sorrow and no one to gain from self cherishing. And all of this is dream-like and without substance; no here, no there, no hate, no love, no one to hate or love. Yet our nature is love itself, BODHICITTA!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved