True Refuge

Dharma and Buddhist teachers should unite in giving, and support each other. A true Dharma teacher will unceasingly give to other people and to one another, support. Any Dharma is good if it is pure in intention.

If we develop a good heart, we will progress to true compassion and awaken Bodhicitta. This is the way of the Buddha’s method.

Buddhism in any form is precious. And the forms are many, all lovely and useful. And can lead to Enlightenment. It is taught that VajrayanaIs the quickest and most profound. But I think Buddhism works. Period. And all types are profound.

My leadership is Nyingma, Palyul.All my effort goes to Palyul, and serving the poor as well as animals who need it. Many need help, and refuge.

The trick is keeping the ego in check. Because you sit under a tree does not make you Buddha. Being true refuge does, and the seed is your primordial nature. Unborn and spontaneously complete. You cannot contrive primordial nature. It is as it is. Pristine. And your accomplishment is as as it is and also cannot be contrived. Or maybe briefly, but only to dummies. It all comes out eventually. My advice: stick with Palyul, and wait upon His Holiness. His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and His Holiness Karma Kuchen. Stay pure. Honor the Boddhicitta before all.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo. All rights reserved


Peerless Guru: His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo: I wish there was no corruption in any religion. I wish there was no corruption in Buddhism. I wish there was no corruption in humans. When Tsawei Lama Third Drubwang His Holiness Penor Rinpoche was alive there was never any such thing. His Holiness always emphasized purity, honesty, bodhicitta. His Holiness Kyabje Penor Rinpoche ruled with care, and love. He was never in His life spoken of badly by anyone that mattered. All loved and revered him. His Holiness Penor Rinpoche kept his vows, outer, inner, and secret ones, all without stain. He began and built Palyul in India with his own hands! What Tulku, Khenchen, monk or nun could ever hope to accomplish the same? His Holiness Penor Rinpoche was peerless! Now we’ve lost Him. Who will keep Palyul pure? I can say this. No one should make money off Dharma. It should pay the bills, yes. KPC has no major donors, just many small ones. But we keep the doors open. Money goes to help sentient beings, like Garuda Aviary and Taras Babies or feeding the poor. Not lining pockets. Everyone, for the most part, wants money for themselves. Money is power. And it feels good until the Bardo, where all we will have is our selfishness without interruption! Everyone, except Kybje His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. He only wished to preserve the purity of Palyul and to empty samsara from its depths! May His Holiness Karma Kuchen rise up and do His work. And offering the precious jewel Mandala I beg and cry out for His Holiness Penor Rinpoche’s Yangsi to appear and return to us who mourn! Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved originally published Sept. 2, 2011

Change and Continuity: from “Journey to Enlightenment”

The following is respectfully quoted from “Enlightened Journey: the Life and World of Khyentse Rinpoche” by Matthieu Riccard:

Change and Continuity
The Spiritual Legacy

Transmission and continuity are key points in the Buddhist tradition. The living teachers must not die out; true spiritual realization must be imparted from teacher to disciple. Great Tibetan masters are not isolated mystics. Their wisdom, rooted in the fertile earth of their own confidence and perseverance, has slowly ripened in the sun of their teacher’s blessings and wisdom. There are many ways to please one’s teacher and repay his kindness, but the way considered best of all is to put his teachings into practice until genuine realization dawns in one’s own mind.

Of this way, Khyentse Rinpoche’s life was a perfect example. Besides his two main teachers, he studied with more than fifty outstanding masters from all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Having entirely integrated the teachings into his own being, he could then impart them to thousands of disciples. Among those disciples, a few became true holders of the teachings, his spiritual heirs, and are continuing the lineage today.

Trulshik Rinpoche, born in 1924, is not simply a lineage holder; he is also the principal depository of Khyentse Rinpoche’s “mind treasures,” as specifically predicted in the texts of these treasures. He is also the main bestower of monastic vows in the Nyingma lineages and has ordained several thousand monks.

in the 1960’s, after a pilgrimage to Namo Buddha in Nepal, Khyentse Rinpoche dreamt one night that he was climbing a lofty mountain. At the summit was a small temple. He entered, and inside, side by side, his own former teachers–the three main lamas of Shechen monastery: Shechen Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Shechen Rabjam, and Shechen Kongtrul. Khyentse Rinpoche prostrated himself before them and, singing in sorrowful verse, asked them how they had suffered at the hands of the Chinese (all three of them having perished in Chinese jails in the early sixties). With one voice they replied, also in verse, saying, “For us birth and death are like dreams or illusions. The absolute state knows neither increase nor decline.” Khyentse Rinpoche expressed his wish to join them soon in the buddhafields, since he saw little point in remaining in a world where the teachings were vanishing fast and most teachers were but spurious impostors. At this point, Shechen Kongtrul, gazing at Khyentse Rinpoche with a piercing stare, said, “You must toil to benefit beings and perpetuate the teachings until your last breath. Merging into one, the three of us will come to you as a single incarnation, a helper to fulfill your aims.”


Lineage in the West

WM-99-22 JAL VGR HHPR kapala-M

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Love Now, Dzogchen Later”

Well, today I’d actually like to tell you a story. And I think it is seasonal in one way in that this time of year we generally think about what we want or what we want to give or how, or maybe family relationships and what needs to improve in our lives. And a lot of times at the end of the year during this holiday season and at the beginning of the next upcoming year, we kind of reassess ourselves;. reassess our lives, and kind of take stock. And I would like to tell you this story to help you take stock a little bit, and to give you some motivation, you know, some perspective. Because I think that if you come to this temple and you practice, you may not necessarily understand or know what’s going on in the greater Dharma community. Some people travel around but some people don’t. Some people stay here down on the farm with me. And so you might need to be exposed to some context in the Dharma community.

When I first met His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, that was quite a while ago, almost twenty years. I met him the first time that he came to the United States. And one of the reasons actually that he came to the United States, besides being invited, was that he heard that there was this American woman over there and he heard stories about me. And he knew in his mind that this was someone that he had been looking for for a long time. I came to find out later on that when he was a very young monk the first time he held the kapala, or the skull cup, of the first Ahkön Lhamo, it was before the Chinese invasion, and so it was whole, in one piece.  First time he held that cup, he said, “Oh.”  He made prayers:  “If there is any way I can find this dakini in this lifetime, I would like to do that.” He set his goal that way. And so of course with a mind such as his, when the goal is set, the deed is done. When he heard my name, and heard something about me, he knew immediately. But of course he didn’t tell me immediately. All I knew was that this lama was coming to my house. He’d never been to America before, and I really did not know what a lama actually was. I thought, “Guy sitting on rug. Guy wearing sheet.” I really didn’t know. I mean I had a great deal of respect for Buddhist thought and it was coming to my mind naturally. In fact, I was teaching meditation that I later found out to be based on Mahayana Buddhism. So, it was pretty interesting that this all came about so naturally. But then when he came to the house, we didn’t know protocol. We didn’t know respect. We didn’t know nothing. I knew how to barbeque, that’s what I knew. And so we had a barbecue and we moved my two sons to another room, and put Penor Rinpoche and Lobsang in the same room; and Lobsang’s like, “Oh God!  Save me!  Don’t you have another room?”  “Well, why? Is it crowded in there?”  “But you don’t understand.”

But you know, they were very nice. And then they asked for some tea. So, I thought, “These are Buddhists. They want to be calm.”  What did I know? So, I made chamomile tea, and I gave the teapot to Lobsang to give to His Holiness on a tray nicely set up. and His Holiness sent back a message, “What is that?  Bugs floating on top?”  You know how the little flowers float? “No.”  “Don’t you have some other kind of tea?”  “We have regular tea.”  “Oh yeah, we want regular tea.”  I thought, you know, Buddhists like to be peaceful. I thought.

And then the worst, the worst. He was so gracious and so kind. He never put himself up in any way or, you know, was anything less than the most humble of monks. I mean he never indicated that he was such a spectacular lama. And besides I didn’t even understand what the term meant—high lama, you know, lineage holder. I mean, I could understand the English words, but I didn’t have any way to put them all together. So, we had this barbeque and I served him a plate of hotdogs. And you know just the old America food, which he was pretty interested in actually. He sort of liked it. You know, he ate it. But then I remember plopping down right next to him and saying, “So, what’s Tibet really like?” or something like that, you know. You know him now. He’s such a righteous, orthodox, holy kind a guy. Can you imagine?  Can you imagine this Injee twit comes and plops down next to him and says, “So, how’s it going?”

I was used to Southern hospitality. So, I made another big meal (and I was a pretty good cook back then) and had some friends bring some stuff too. We sat him at the head of the table and said to His Holiness, “Please, help yourself to everything we have.”  He gets served. I didn’t know that. And so Lobsang’s going,… Lobsang was a lot younger then. “No, I’ll do it, I’ll do it.”  Well, that was back in the day and the reason why I’m telling you this funny story is because things have changed so much since then.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved


Prayer to His Holiness Karma Kuchen

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo while at Palyul Ling Retreat Center in Upstate New York:

To the victorious Guru Karma Kuchen I pray – for the sake of beings in these degenerate times, ascend the Lion Throne of Palyul fully endowed with every strength and virtue! May we who long for your blessing be satisfied!

In previous times you came to us as Karma Tashi to clear our ignorance, our attachment to ordinary confused appearance!

You again sat on the glorious Palyul throne to grant us the awakening to Primordial Buddha nature as the great display Karma Gyurmed, the dance of suchness, as it is!

Then you returned as Karma Tegchog Nyingpo, also known as Tsawei Lama by the peerless Guru, the Third Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche.

You now have come again as Karma Kuchen, pure and stainless. Kye ho! Such are the many miracles of your display for the sake of beings. Now please abide steadfast upon the Lotus Throne of my heart. Rise this very moment, clear all obstacles to mighty Palyul, banish the enemies of the Heart Essence Nectar given to us by the second Buddha Padmasambava through the child Terton Migure Dorje. Restore us all to original purity, clear recognition and perfect virtue!

May Palyul remain as the great unbroken refuge it is in the world now. Please establish the work of your predecessors and that of our Guru. Protect with mighty vigor the insurmountable accomplishment of our Guru Kyabje Pema Norbu, may nothing be wasted, and may all beings benefit!  Live long! Strengthen the Throne of Palyul and remain in perfect health! Show your holy face as we hunger and thirst; and we need you now more than ever, in these darkening times we need your light, the sun of Palyul, Guru within my heart, grant your blessings!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Recipe for Results

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the Vow of Love series

As long as the idea of self exists, self will experience other with either attraction, or repulsion. There is no other way to experience other. Whether it’s subtle or not, even if you are a proponent of New Age philosophy, and are supposed to love everybody and have unconditional positive regard towards others, if you could really examine your mind with determination, courage, innocence and willingness, you would discover that you are either attracted to or repulsed by everything you see, no matter how you gloss it over. No matter what you say, the karma is still forming. That is how the consequences of one’s life actually manifest: through that constant inter-reactive relationship, through that interplay, through attraction and repulsion, through desire. That’s how it’s possible for you to be born. That’s how it’s possible for you to do things you feel uncontrollably forced to do.

Even if we are so convinced that we know all of these teachings, don’t we still get into trouble? Don’t we find that we react to circumstances in a way that is not skillful? Don’t we, in fact, on an on-going basis make everything worse? I mean, it’s true, if we are honest with ourselves. Every time we react, we make things worse. Even when we can’t see that we’ve made things worse, I’m telling you this is the truth: we are constantly compounding the karma of our own minds. Even if in retrospect, we could see that we should have been loving, and we should have been kind and good, blah, blah, blah, blah, still, we are compulsive about it. We are what we are. We are ‘feeling junkies.’ We are hooked on sensual experience. And we react to it.

What then is the answer? If all of this is true, and desire is the foundation of all suffering, then what if the Buddha is right? What if all of suffering comes from the belief in self-nature? Will it do to pacify our minds with positive thinking? Will it do to walk around with the idea or the New Age philosophy saying, “Oh, I’m already enlightened because I understand I am the creator, or one.” I’d have to say you’re talking about two selves there. You’re talking about ‘creator’ and ‘I,’ and so long as there is distinction, so long as there is the belief in self-nature, you still have desire. You still have attraction and repulsion. You still have hope and fear. You haven’t gone yet into a deep and profound understanding of the emptiness of self-nature. Of course, we have to do that through meditation. There is no ordinary language or ordinary experience that will teach us that profound understanding.

The best thing to do, actually, is to find a qualified teacher who can begin to help you, not only in terms of giving you the words – the verbal teachings – but also some kind of virtuous or valuable energy transmission. On the Vajrayana path, that is done through the transmission of the lineage. The teachings on the nature of emptiness, the teachings on the generation-stage practices, all of the different teachings that we receive here, are passed down through a lineage. That lineage originates in the mind of enlightenment, in the primordial state. It then is transmitted to us. It doesn’t stop there. The minute we receive an empowerment, we’re not going to instantly become enlightened. I wish it were that easy, but it is not. At that point, we are qualified to practice, and it is through the practice and our meditation – with the help of the transmission of the lineage – that we will achieve results.

Copyright ©  Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Authorization to Teach: from “Reborn in the West”

The following is respectfully quoted from “Reborn in the West” by Vicki Mackenzie:

Before receiving her bodhisattva vows she had told Penor Rinpoche of her own vow that she was teaching to her students: ‘I dedicate myself to the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings. I offer my body, speech and mind in order to accomplish the purpose of all sentient beings. I will return in whatever form necessary, under extraordinary circumstances, to end suffering. Let me born in times unpredictable, in places unknown, until all sentient beings are liberated from the cycle of death and rebirth.

Taking no thought for my comfort or safety, precious Buddha make me a pure and perfect instrument by which the end of suffering and death in all forms might be realized. Let me achieve perfect enlightenment for the sake of all beings. And then, by my hand and heart alone, may all beings achieve full enlightenment and perfect liberation.’

Penor Rinpoche had rocked to and fro in unbridled mirth, slapping his thigh in amusement. She had replicated, almost exactly the same prayers that Tibetan lamas spoke. It was another proof of her identity.

He handed her another certificate, authorizing her to teach. ‘This is important,’ he said. ‘People will say you haven’t been studying the dharma, that they have never heard of you. They will not understand. With this paper no one will doubt that you are capable of teaching the dharma.’

Penor Rinpoche went on to tell Jetsunma a little about her famous ‘predecessor’. The first Ahkön Lhamo was the direct student of Tertön Migyur Dorje, a famous revealer of secret teachings, he said. She was a great dakini and spent decades in retreat, only coming down from her cave to help her brother with his monastery. Otherwise people would go to her to receive healing and teaching.

I asked Jetsunma if she were curious to find out more about Ahkön Lhamo or had any memories of the yogini who had lived in Tibet in 1665 and had inspired a religious order that had survived to this present day.

‘I discovered she was pretty wild,’ she replied. ‘She stayed up in her cave and looked pretty wretched, with her hair sticking out all over the place,’ she said, picking up her own unruly locks. ‘She was a crazy yogini type. Some things never change! There was no water in her cave, of course, and she never bathed. Her clothes were rotting on her. But people said whenever they went to her cave it would smell like perfume. Penor Rinpoche told me that people would give her turquoise, gold and coral, but she would refuse it. She was probably holding out for gifts she could accept, like hair-driers! She was probably waiting for electricity to be put into her cave and she could have central heating!’ she joked.

‘As for any memories, I don’t like to make any fuss about the inner experience I have. I can tell you I have some awareness of it, but it’s pretty “Swiss cheesy”. I am curious. I want to go back to Tibet, to see the cave where she practiced. Gyaltrul Rinpoche, the reincarnation of Kunzang Sherab who is now in Oregon, said that when he went back to Tibet he remembered a lot. It’s as though the airways are clearer there.’

There is at least one concrete link between this latter-day bodhisattva, the girl from Brooklyn, and the seventeenth century Tibetan yogini who had helped found a Buddhist lineage. Ahkön Lhamo’s skull, or part of it, is still in existence. It bears an unmistakable hallmark of sanctity. On its top is etched the holy sanskrit syllable ‘Ah’.

The story goes like this. When the first Ahkön Lhamo passed away, they prepared a pyre to cremate her and duly put the body on it. When the last vestige of flesh was burnt away, the skull rose up in the air in front of hundreds of people and flew about a mile before landing at the Palyul monastery, at the foot of her brother Kunzang Sherab’s throne. This was considered the final ultimate display of Ahkön Lhamo’s power and spiritual accomplishments. The great dakini, who was already known for the many miracles she performed, had revealed her true greatness.

The skull became a most treasured relic and was used as a kapala, and instrument used in ritual ceremonies for holding nectar. It remained intact until in the mid-twentieth century the invading Chinese hacked to pieces everything of spiritual significance, including the precious kapala at the Palyul monastery. A lay person saw a piece of the skull among the rubble and, hiding it in his clothes, took it to safety. It was some years before Penor Rinpoche got word that at least part of the holy relic had survived.

The was a vast gap in time between 1660 and 1949, when the present Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo was born. I asked her the same question I had asked Tenzin Sherab. What lives did she think she had been living in between?

‘I think there were other incarnations, but as Penor Rinpoche told me, they don’t keep track of women. It wasn’t because they were prejudiced against women’s wisdom. In fact, dakinis are the primordial wisdom beings and are held in very high regard. Generally, though, dakinis were not the lineage holders. They spent their lives in solitude, doing spiritual practices. Penor Rinpoche says, and I feel, that there have been many incarnations.

But this present one, as the American woman doing it ‘her way’ as undoubtedly she always had, was the life that was to capture widespread attention. Jetsunma left the United States as a married woman, mother of two and teacher of New Age metaphysics with a bent for worldwide caring, and returned a recognized tulku, a reincarnate lama. For her students this took some adjustment. While they had been happily following the teachings of a woman whom they treated as their equal, they now had to contend not only with a ‘Buddhist’ but also with someone whose rank placed her on an entirely different footing. There was protocol to observe, a new language to learn for the same concepts they had learnt, and the mantle of an old and established ‘religion’ from the East to adopt. Some disciples fell out, but most survived the transition.

Whatever misgivings they might have had about the authenticity of their teacher’s new lofty reincarnate status, however, were completely dispelled when Penor Rinpoche came to see them for the second time in 1988. “He arrived at Poolesville with twelve monks in attendance and conferred the Rinchen Terzod, the revealed teachings of the great Padma Sambhava to all member of KPC. It was the first time he had ever performed the task in his lifetime, and the first time in North America”.

He then conducted an official enthronement of Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo. News of the thirty-nine-year-old woman who had been recognized as the reincarnation of a famous Tibetan yogini reached the media. Newspaper reporters and television crews descended on KPC. ‘Meet Ahkön Norbu Lhamo, Tibetan Saint,’ blazed the front-page headline of the International Herald Tribune. ‘The Unexpected Incarnation’ cried the Washington Post. She appeared in the popular People magazine. Leading Japanese and German magazines ran articles on her. This was when my own journalist’s antennae, primed for good stories, must have picked up the importance of the event and stored it away for later use.

Heart Son of Palyul: His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche

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

Shortly before Kyabje His Holiness Penor Rinpoche had His Parinirvana, He watched me watching His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche. His Holiness gave me a deep look and said “He is better than me. ”

It must be true. Tsawei Lama  said it. The more I read and pray I know it’s true. I cannot explain the gifts I’ve been given.

His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche is the inheritor, and the two other heart sons are supports. His Eminence MugsangRinpoche is for America.


Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Enthronement Anniversary Offerings to Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

The following was filmed live at Kunzang Palyul Choling on Sept. 23, 2012 during a Long Life Ceremony offered in celebration of the 24th anniversary of the Enthronement of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche:

 Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

What is Enthronement Lineage? Lama Nyima Rinpoche at KPC

The following is a full length video teaching recorded live at Kunzang Palyul Choling on Sept. 23, 2012, in celebration of the 24th Anniversary of the Enthronement of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Video streaming by Ustream