How Keeping Commitments Fuels the Path

The following is an excerpt from a teaching given by Khenpo Tenzin Norgay at Kunzang Palyul Choling. In this excerpt Khenpo Norgay discusses how rare the opportunity to practice is, and how holding the vows assists practitioners in accomplishing both their own benefit and the benefit of others:


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

Nothing Will Stop Us: Love Is Stronger Than Prophecy

This is the final excerpt from a teaching on Compassion by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.

I have listened to some of the teachings on Buddhist cosmology, and heard the prophecy that there will be a time when there is no Buddha in this world – no teaching, no help, and no light. When things will be so dark there will be nothing, no hope. As a Buddhist I am supposed to believe this teaching, and I try. But I refuse to accept it, I won’t accept it, and if that makes me a bad Buddhist, then I am. But rather than think in a prideful way that I refuse to accept this teaching, I hope instead to cultivate an endless amount of energy to continue to practice for the benefit of others, no matter what the odds are. To consider that it is worthwhile if even one person can be benefited.

I wish we would all think in this way – that nothing will stop us. I find it necessary to believe that compassion is the strongest power anywhere, that love is stronger than prophecy. Believing this, we must continue as we are. Every day we must be stronger and continue in a more determined way.

When I see those of you who have taken ordination, I think you are the hope of the world. If you can remain emanating in the world always, even after attaining supreme realization, if your love is that strong that you change the prophecies, we have hope.

I also think of those who are newly starting, and those of you who are intermediate, and those of you who are choosing whatever particular path you choose. If you use the Buddha’s understanding, and come to a point of profound commitment and practice – if you consider love is your life, so that it will increase throughout every future incarnation – then you, too, are the hope of the world.

We must take this vocation very seriously. I don’t mean we have to walk around like somber people, with a terrible, woeful expression on our faces, or that we never get to have any fun anymore.  It’s not like that. But our sense of joy is the kind of joy that is born of the mind of compassion, the kind of joy that appears in the mind with the commitment to benefit beings at any cost, the kind of joy that knows there is an antidote to suffering. That kind of joy is stronger than human joy and human sadness, because those things come and go, day to day, up and down, in and out.

I suggest you choose to live a lasting life of love, rather than one that is impermanent and superficial. In doing so, come to know something that doesn’t vary. Know something that grows from a tiny seed into a profound sense of bliss, which, as it grows, produces the kind of realization that can let you at last be someone who can truly help sentient beings with the right medicine.

You are at a crossroads in time now. Tremendous opportunities are coming your way. They have come your way. You are at a point very rare in cyclic existence. It is now possible for you to make this choice. It was not possible before. You should take this time very seriously, and consider deeply whether you will cultivate the mind of compassion every moment from now on for the rest of your life, and in all future lives to come, knowing that this is the only end to suffering.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Letting Go of “Cool”

Excerpt from a teaching on Compassion by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Somehow you have found yourself in this fortunate, amazing position where this feast of possibility is laid before you. How did you come to this point? How is it possible that you have this option? You must have done something right in the past, and I suggest that you now build on it. If you don’t cultivate the mind of extraordinary compassion and such a burning love that compassion is the most important force in your life, then the natural inclinations of a mind filled with desire will overcome you. This is Kaliyuga, the age of degeneration, and that’s how it is. You must practice and cultivate that mind of compassion, of love, so thoroughly that you are moved to the core by even the faint possibility that you might achieve liberation in order to benefit beings. You think of nothing else. You must cultivate that until you burn with it. Don’t be afraid of that kind of love.

In the West we are taught, “Be cool. Hey, I’m an intellectual, I don’t think like that. I’m kind of special.” That’s what we’re taught, that’s our value system. That is the same value system we will take to our graves, and only the selfishness of that kind of idea will survive, not the intelligence. There is one thing that will survive this life, and will create the karma for your next life. It is the purity of your mind and the degree of love that you have accomplished. This will be the determining factor for how you will return time and time again in a form that will benefit beings until someday there is no more suffering.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

KPC Hosts 1st Annual “Pet Day!”

Pet Day 3

A Great Time Was Had By All Creatures Great And Small

This past Saturday, October 26 was KPC’s first Love Your Pet Day, a family-friendly pet fair. Designed as a fundraiser for KPC’s ongoing renovation project, it was a resounding success, raising over $1100 to benefit the project.

Pet Day 2

The weather was beautiful – a crisp and clear fall day that was perfect for enjoying our 65 acres. Activities included pet blessings, guided tours of KPC’s Peace Park, bake sales for both humans and pets, face painting for kids and reiki and acupuncture for pets. We even had a dress-up your pet photo booth. The event was entirely outside because the number of animals visiting would have been difficult to manage in our newly renovated prayer room, open since September.

Pet Day 1

Special thanks go to Mama Lucia’s Restaurant and Nick’s Pizza & Subs for providing our lunch, Bark! Pet Store and Elizabeth Elgin for providing raffle prizes, Drs. Pema Mallu and Kitty Raichura, of Holistic Veterinary Healing, for offering pet acupuncture, Robin Gough who gave reiki and massage for pets and our partners in animal welfare, Lizzy’s Lodge Pet Rescue and MCPAW (Montgomery County Partnership for Animal Well-being).

We look forward to seeing everyone next year at the 2nd Annual Love Your Pet Day!

KPC Participates in “Clergy Without Borders”

Attendee Group Picture[1]

The “Clergy Without Borders” bus rolled up to the Unitarian Universality Church in Rockville at 4:20pm on Sunday – just about on schedule – for a rally in Montgomery County.  Clergy Without Borders” is an interfaith effort that acknowledges diversity and seeks to raise consciousness of peace and unity in Maryland.  A bus of 12 clergy drawn from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions traveled over a 4 day period to a dozen communities in Eastern, Central and Western Maryland.  The rally in Rockville featured remarks from County Executive Ike Leggett and included musical offerings from Sikh, Jewish and Unitarian musicians, statements from clergy on the bus of personal commitment to creating a safe environment for all spiritual traditions, and a rousing call to action by one Imam who asked that everyone, when they look in the mirror, to recognize the face of other spiritual traditions. Montgomery County interfaith groups also gave a short description of their work in County.

KPC friend Rev. Mansfield “Kasey” Kaseman spent three days on the bus with the Clergy Without Borders and was the emcee for the Rockville rally.  He introduced County Executive Ike Leggett who reaffirmed his and the County’s commitment to a diverse and peaceful Montgomery County.  The Clergy Without Borders group departed for Baltimore, their last stop, at 6pm.  Four sangha from KPC attended this event – Gonpo Yeshe (David) Williams, Tashi Dawa (William) North, Ani Alyce Louise Bertsche, and Ani Tenzin (Lynn).

Kunzang Palyul Choling: NEWS

The following YouTube video was prepared in response to recent challenges faced by Kunzang Palyul Choling Buddhist Temple:

If you would like to help support the restoration of all activities KPC has offered to the community please click here.

Learn more about Kunzang Palyul Choling (KPC) in this excerpt from “Reborn in the West” by Vicki Mackenzi