28th Anniversary of the Enthronement of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

The lowing of the conch shell sounded from various points on the temple grounds like a soft foghorn. It overlaid the patter of hammers as stupa construction continued. Sometimes the sound wavered and spluttered out, and Jetsunma would laugh, lowering the conch. She was practicing for the enthronement ceremony the following day and had been told at the last minute that she would have to blow the conch. She never had before, at least not in this lifetime. She wiped her mouth and joked to her students, “I’m never going to get this down.”

She gamely tried again, continuing her gradual circumambulation of the temple. The sound came out clear and strong and hung in the air. After a moment of stillness, the students cheered.

On September 24, 1988, the temple filled with cameras and mics angled in every direction. Jetsunma sat quietly humble on the throne, and straightened the brocades draped over her shoulders, blinking at the lights. The temple had never been so brightly lit. To the blare of Tibetan horns and ringing bells, NBC filmed while His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, Throne Holder to the Palyul Lineage of the Nyingma School of Vajrayana Buddhism, formally enthroned Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo as a tulku, or reincarnate teacher.
According to tradition, ceremonial items were carried from H.H. Penor Rinpoche to Jetsunma, empowering her to teach and formally represent the Palyul Lineage. When the time came for her to blow the conch on camera, the sound came clear and then wavered. Not as good as the night before. She shared a wry smile with her students, tipping her head, Oh well. Then one of the monks had to blow the conch. His Holiness chuckled and Gyaltrul Rinpoche translated his comment, “They should have had Jetsunma do it.”

The news spread via Associated Press, and world newspapers printed photos of the spectacle of a western woman with long dark hair on a Tibetan throne. Her enthronement came at a time when Vajrayana Buddhism was relatively unknown in the US. The year before, an obscure Tibetan monk, H.H. the Dalai Lama, spoke at the National Cathedral to a scattered audience of about a hundred. At Buddhist temples in the late 1980s, teachers were universally Asian.

It was openly questioned whether westerners could accomplish this eastern religion.

H.H. Penor Rinpoche, who never shirked what was needed, answered with a resounding yes. As he enthroned her, he said, “People have asked me why there are no American tulkus. And people have asked me why there are no female Lamas. Now you have both. So you should be very happy.”

“This is for you,” Jetsunma said later to her students. “It’s for all of us really. This is your own enthronement, your own future accomplishment that you’re seeing.” She explained that the enthronement meant that not only can Dharma be accomplished, it can be accomplished by westerners, even in this day and age. “Yes, even you.” And she wrinkled her nose impishly at her students, and laughed.

Post written by Michelle Grissom

This Journey

The Journey
The Journey

From the birth of yearning
To the moment of recognition
The path, this journey, is method.

One’s true nature the precious seed-
Buddha ground.
One’s journey, this path-  the method.
The awakening- this fruit- the treasure.
How astonishing!

The ground, the path, the fruit are Buddha.
Praise to the Nirmanakaya Buddhas who walk the earth!
Praise to the sons and daughters who follow them!

May I myself return again and again for them.
May I never grow weary, or bored of helping them.
May I nurture, teach, and feed them precious fruit.
May I never abandon the supreme samaya!

Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo on October 21, 2009

The Feast

Tsog - A Spiritual Feast

The banquet is ready
The feast is set
And never will I forget
The taste, the sweetness.

The Bodhichitta, sublime display
Of all the Buddhas. Sweetness
Without measure. Peerless pleasure
The dazzling play of light
And essence.

Oh! For the day still coming
When virtue prevails
The ship to Liberation sails
For you. Come aboard!
Know the Lotus Lord.

In this day, in this time,
Taste the bliss- love sublime awaits.
Where are you? Will you obey
The call within, or turn away?
Will the treasure be yours, today?

Oh, Beloved, will you stay?

By Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo on October 23, 2009

Path of the Bodhisattva

Being grateful for the many gifts I have been endowed with in this very lifetime, I now wish to offer a prayer usually associated with vows:

Today I have picked the fruit of this lifetime. The meaning of this human existence is now realized. Today I am born into the family of buddhas and have become an heir of the enlightened ones!

Now, no matter what occurs hereafter, my activities will be in conscientious accord with the family, and I shall never engage in conduct that could possibly sully this faultless family! Like a blind man in a heap of refuse, suddenly by chance finding a precious jewel, similarly this occasion is such that today I have given rise to the awakened mind!

Today, before all of my objects of refuge, the sugatas as well as all beings, I call to bear witness where the guests of this occasion- the devas, Titans and others- all join together to rejoice! The precious Bodhicitta, if unborn, may it arise; when generated may it never diminish and may it always remain ever-increasing!

Never apart from Bodhicitta, engaged in the conduct of the awakened ones, being held fast by all of the buddhas, may all demonic activities be fully abandoned!

May all the bodhisattvas accomplish the welfare of others, according to their wisdom mind’s intentions.

Whatever wisdom intention these protectors may have, may it come to pass for all sentient beings.

May all sentient beings be endowed with bliss, may the lower realms be permanently emptied! May all the bodhisattvas, on whatever bhumi they remain, fully accomplish all of their aspirations!

From “THE PATH of the Bodhisattva: A Collection of the Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and Related Prayers” With a commentary by Kyabje Pema Norbu Rinpoche on the Prayer for Excellent Conduct

Compiled under the direction of Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche Vimala Publishing 2008

I find that prayer soothing, comforting, and dedicate it to all who are suffering in any way. May all beings benefit!

Tsawai Lama


The colors of Autumn in full measure
Bring to mind the ultimate pleasure
A great Mandala, an offering treasure
I offer to the Guru, gone beyond.

If my eyes know beauty, it is His.
If the scent is sweet it is His.
If the sound is lovely, it is His.
If the breeze is silk, it is His.

He who brought to me in this life
The ancient wisdom again, that Light.
The root of accomplishment, that One.
Only He warms my heart like the sun.

He will come again in glory
To sing His precious, ancient story.
Never mind the time of tears.
I cannot doubt that He is here

Young Throne Holder


Prince of power this is the hour
This is the time when you must shine
I see it on your face, in your mind
You awaken right on time
To honor our Guru, our Lord Sublime.

You alone are well prepared
This time would come, you were  aware
He gave you his essence with such care
I would have known Him anywhere.
You mixed your minds like water and wine

I hear His song in your mind.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved


How I wish there was something to say

To nuture the dreams we have today

To seek the path and find a way

To hold you close, to sway,

To music only we can hear- Sacrament of joy spoken to my ear- I love you;

I love you;

ah, my Dear What secret whisper brought you here!

I love you.

So very clear I miss you can you not hear My sighs?

My light?

Floating down the river night

Soon be gone from your sight.

Love you.