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

 

Choose Well

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

I can understand how bad the economy is for all of us. Many people, even former good citizens are turning to money crimes, sadly. They don’t see any other way to get funds. So they turn to illegal means to survive. The really awful thing is how temporary that gain can be! Once the “deal with the devil” is made, one has lost their way, spiritually, as well as character, ethics, purity and samaya. Then when the money is gone, no more happy times remain. And one has lost everything, all virtue diminishes, and future poverty and suffering is assured.

Why is greed so difficult to overcome? Or the urge to gather power and be on top? Perhaps no true understanding of the law of karma? Some will even allow themselves to try to take what another has earned. Even to the point of destroying the victim. That is just the perfect method to destroy oneself. The fact is, most people dumb enough to commit crimes are actually made stupid by their own lust for gain and mostly get caught. Or their criminal friends turn on them. There is no honor among thieves, they cannot be trusted.

I’ve learned so much about this in my life alone. We should always remember that some people are very, very weak. And some people are very, very strong. It is almost impossible to tell the difference. Until the thief turns demonic. Then they are easily known. Remember this. And choose well!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon 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

Understanding the Faults of Samsara: by Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso given at Kunzang Palyul Choling on Ngondro:

When contemplating the faults of samsara, we need to understand that in samsara, as we explained, there is some enjoyment, some peace, which distracts our minds and keeps us from having any accumulation of merit or purification.  It is just like in Christianity: In the beginning, God said there is a very nice apple tree, but you should not get distracted and eat of it.  If you do, then you will get spoiled.  By not listening to that and eating the apple, all evil and bad things happened.  Just like that, in this world there are certain things that really feel attractive, but when you look at the object of attraction and really examine it deeply, there is nothing attractive.  It is all just like a magician’s creation which looks very real, but when you approach it, then you see that it is artificial with no essence.  That is why one has the thoughts of the precious human birth, that death is uncertain, that the law of karma is going to direct you, and that the law of karma is created by yourself. There is no external law of karma  ordering you to do all these kinds of things.  Each and every experience of good and bad, suffering and happiness, that you experience each and every moment is created by yourself.  That is known as the ripening of karma.

So we need to understand the fault of samsara.  When one has a clear understanding of these four thoughts, you could have some kind of feeling that you have to do some practice.  Samsara looks so attractive, but it doesn’t have any essence, like the rainbow.  The rainbow looks so colorful, so nice, and you have so much desire and attachment.  You really want to have it, but when you jump up to get it, you cannot get anything.  Then you feel very sad, and you get so depressed.  Why can’t I have some of this beautiful rainbow?  You get upset, but nothing happens. All these worldly pleasures are exactly like a rainbow.  When you really enter into them, there is nothing there to have.  That is why one must have a deeper understanding of cyclic existence.  Then you can become more relaxed and have more enjoyment, thinking how attractive everything is, but having no attachment to it, no desire. You can enjoy and at the same time not create any negative karma and be more relaxed, because you don’t have to try to get anything. Whether you get something or not, you just relax.  If you can’t get it, you won’t feel depressed because you know that it has no essence.

So your mind gets very relaxed, you can enjoy whatever happens without any attachment or afflicted mind.  In that way, one can have a very smooth life without any depression or emotional feelings and without any excitement, but still some kind of enjoyment is always there.  That is how we can really apply practice into our daily life—just relaxing, no attachment, no hatred or anger, just always relaxed and balanced.  Whatever things you have, you enjoy them just like a magician’s creation.

At the same time, you do not have any attachment to the practices.  No attachment to the Great Perfection ngöndro practice.  Attachment binds you;  it is a type of bondage. When you feel that kind of excitement, like, “Oh, I want to do this ngöndro practice. This is so great!” with so much expectation and so much interest, then as you apply it into practice, some obstacle arises. Then you feel like you should have gone some other place for the weekend.  “I should have gone to see my friends or relatives.”  When one has so much attachment or expectation, that also becomes an obstacle.  So you need to get relaxed, always get relaxed, thinking this is a great opportunity.

Discernment: Taking the Time to Examine the Spiritual Path

The following is an excerpt from a public talk given by His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok:

When we think about the validity of religions—in terms of traditions, in terms of sciences internal and external, and in terms of pith essential pointing out instructions—there is no religion that equals that of Buddhism.  At this time there is no opportunity to really go into it; but in terms of the validity of the tradition which goes back for thousands of years and is documented in pechas, or scriptures, which are available at this present time, if one were really to investigate the qualities of the Buddha’s path, it is something quite extraordinary and unequalled by any other religion.  I would be more than happy to explain every single reason why in absolute detail, but there wouldn’t be time for that today, nor would there be time in the days that I have here, and you probably would become quite bored with listening to it.  So we’ll leave it at that, but please understand that these points are fully documented in the scriptures that we have available to us which date back some thousands of years.

Because of my own qualifications and so forth, at this time I can tell you all that I am a practitioner of the Buddhist religion. I am a Buddhist, and yet I can assure you that at no time in my life have I ever felt a sense of attachment to Buddhism because that is my own religion, nor have I ever felt a sense of aversion to any other religion because it was not the religion that I specifically pursue.  So please do not feel that I have any partial attitude towards my own tradition or a biased attitude towards any other tradition being inferior to it because I never have felt this way.  However, for a very long period of time I have examined not only the Buddhist religion but many other religions, and Buddhism, as practiced in the land of Tibet, is practiced according to three great lineages or rivers of this tradition which have come down over the centuries from India, China and Tibet.  Maybe many of you have heard of the Panchen Rinpoche who asked me to be personally responsible for examining the lineages and updating them and correcting any sort of discrepancies that may occur in present times.  Due to that I spent a lot of time going into further examinations of the traditions, and I came to the conclusion that the path of Buddhism is absolutely unequalled by any other.  It is absolutely superior.

Therefore I would encourage each and every one of you to carefully examine the spiritual path that you are involved in to make sure that you have not made any mistake. If you don’t examine your spiritual path and you just sort of mindlessly enter into a tradition which has no validity or true source, this is what is called delusion, ignorance. We Tibetans have a saying, “Don’t be like a dog.” If you put fresh lungs in front of a dog, the dog will just devour those lungs without even thinking for a moment, will just scarf them down.  Don’t be like this in terms of pursuing a spiritual tradition.  One should be very careful to examine in minute detail. And once one has found out for oneself through that process of analytical investigation that this is a true path and a path that is valid and has a true origin, then one can enter.  But please don’t just aimlessly enter a spiritual path without thinking.

 

 

Examining the Causes of Suffering

The following is an excerpt from a public talk given by His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok:

The second cause for suffering is karma—– karma meaning cause and result. This begins with these negative causes:  beginning first with killing, the weightiest cause, which is to kill or to take a life.  Now according to Buddhism this means the life of any and all living beings.  In other religions it is more or less agreed upon that one should not kill human beings, but it is O.K. to kill other beings, that it simply doesn’t matter.  But this is not O.K.  This is incorrect understanding, and the reason for this is that all living beings have fear and all living beings suffer in the same way that human beings do.  So even the lowliest little ant has feelings and doesn’t want to lose its life  It feels suffering when it is being trod upon and so forth and smashed in this way.  We have to think about how we don’t want to suffer, and we have to understand that every creature that lives feels the same way.  Therefore this is the reason why we should never intentionally take the life of any living being.

The second cause to abandon is stealing. This means to take the possession of another without permission, whatever it may be.  Whether it is of great value or of little value, it simply doesn’t matter.  If it is something that belongs to someone else and they have every intention of maintaining that as their possession, then it should never be taken from them for any reason.

The third cause to abandon is to lie. Specifically it means here to really trick the minds of others with the specific intention to harm them by speaking that which is untrue. By doing so it immediately lowers one’s own honor and brings suffering to others. So this is something which is negative and must be abandoned.

The fourth cause to abandon is adultery or unclean sexual conduct.  This specifically refers to entering into a relationship with a male or female who already belongs to somebody else.  When we say “belongs to somebody else,” it means that that person is already committed to somebody else, and there is an understanding between them.  To break that understanding by intervening and having a relationship is considered to be ultimate stealing of a spouse of another.  Not only that. Those males and females who are already committed to one another usually have the most attachment for one another. So if someone else is with their partner, then there is nothing more painful than that because of the intensity of the attachment.  It produces even more suffering than stealing other objects.  Therefore it is considered to be extremely negative because it brings about such tremendous harm and harmful repercussion which arise from it. This must be abandoned from the root.

In addition to that, another action or activity which is considered to be ultimately destructive and which must be abandoned is the drinking of alcoholic beverages so as to become intoxicated.  The reason for this is because it is physically harmful to the body. Also if one becomes intoxicated one loses one’s own sense of control.  In that state of being out of control, all the other nonvirtues are easily accumulated.  Therefore becoming intoxicated by drinking alcoholic beverages must be abandoned.

These four root causes that correspond to physical conduct must be abandoned, and then the fifth, drinking alcohol, as well.  Any practitioner of Buddhism, whoever the person may be, must abandon these five.  These are five root precepts which are maintained, which means the abandonment of these negative causes.  Not only to abandon these five, but to guard oneself by taking the vow of what is called genyen, which is the vow of a lay practitioner who upholds these five precepts of formally vowing to abandon these five negative causes.  This is something that each and every one of you should consider taking on: to become a genyen or lay practitioner who upholds these five vows, because if you have these five vows you automatically accumulate virtue in whatever you do.  This also makes you somewhat similar to those who are holding the vows of higher ordination, such as the male and female novice practitioners and the male and female fully ordained, because they all have these five precepts as well.

There are two things which set the ordained apart from the lay upholders of these five vows.  First of all the fact that you are wearing the robes of the Buddha, the robes of ordination.  If you don’t wear your robes of ordination, you appear as a lay person  So the fact that you wear your robes sets you apart as an ordained.  The second point that sets you apart from a lay upholder of the vows is that in the case of a layman or laywoman, the vow is to abstain from adultery or unclean sexual conduct, but in the case of the ordained who are wearing the robes of the Buddha, you must abstain from any sexual conduct, particularly that of sexual intercourse.  So this is something that you all have abandoned before you have taken these vows of ordination.

I have spent some time here just now going over these four root precepts and the fifth, which is to abandon drinking alcohol, so that everyone here, especially those who are members of the Dharma center, would clearly understand what qualifies as a precept holder of the Buddhist tradition, and particularly those who are ordained.  If you are able to maintain these five precepts, that will be enough  Please understand that it includes the two particulars that you are already upholding.  Even if you can’t maintain the other vows, you must always maintain these five, and everyone else as lay practitioners should maintain the five as well.

The Wish to Benefit All Beings

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche on Meditation, reprinted her with permission from Palyul Ling International:

This is the root of all the Dharma practices: generating the Bodhicitta [loving-kindness]. If one can really generate genuine Bodhicitta within one’s mind, then it is very easy to move nearer to ultimate liberation. Bodhicitta is known as the awakening mind. The awakening mind is without partiality and equally benefits all sentient beings. If we have the thought of doing something good and beneficial only for our families and friends and then we want to create all kinds of obstacles for someone we don’t like or whom we consider to be an enemy, this is not Bodhicitta.

Generating Bodhicitta, the awakening mind, is for the purpose of benefiting all sentient beings without any exception. Even living creatures such as ants, in their ultimate nature, they also have the Buddha nature. Even cockroaches. There is no difference in the size of the form. In the teachings it says that there is no limit to space, that space is immeasurable, and similarly there is no limit of sentient beings. Their number is immeasurable. Hence we have to generate the kind of Bodhicitta that is immeasurable for all these immeasurable numbers of beings.

Meeting with the Vajrayana Path: His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok

The following is an excerpt from a public talk given by His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok:

This vehicle of secret mantra, Vajrayana, is the principal vehicle of Buddhism that is practiced in Tibet, and now we find it spreading throughout America and other countries.  There are many Dharma centers that have been established in America, primarily by Tibetan lamas who are upholders of the Vajrayana tradition.  This means that many of the American disciples are now becoming practitioners and upholders of this tradition.  In fact, throughout this world, Vajrayana Buddhism is already firmly established in some 32 countries.

Within the secret mantra vehicle, the ultimate, absolute pinnacle, the enlightened mind of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas condensed into one essence, the heart blood of all the Dakinis, is the quintessential path known as the Clear Light Great Perfection, or Ati Yoga.  This Doctrine of the Great Perfection is dependent upon the receiving of what is termed pointing out instructions or pith essential instructions which can be passed from teacher to disciple in the form of just a word or two.  In fact, if everything is auspicious according to the way that the Clear Light Great Perfection is actually transmitted, it is taught that if those essential instructions are given in the evening, by sunrise one will be enlightened.  If they are given at sunrise, by evening one will be enlightened.  So this is considered to be the most expedient path to liberation.

To meet with the Clear Light Great Perfection is something that is so precious and rare that it is taught that just to hear the words of the Dzogchen teaching, the teachings on the level of Ati Yoga, closes the door to rebirth in the three lower realms and puts one safely and directly on the path to liberation as a Buddha.  So it is a Dharma that has the power to liberate just by contact, just by sight, just by recollection.  Even to recall the words of the Dzogchen teachings is something that is so precious and profound that it is likened to having a wish-fulfilling jewel in the palms of your hands.  It is not a Dharma that is filled with elaborations and complexities that takes a lot of time to accomplish or establish.  It is a Dharma that, if it meets with the right individual or the perfect aspirant, is something that is easy to practice and that can be applied to every aspect of life in a very simple way producing very direct results.  However, this Dharma, this Doctrine, must only fall into the hands of those disciples who have the karmic affinity for it which is something that must be established due to karmic connections.  Otherwise it is a Dharma that is meant to be kept secret or to be guarded from any other type of situation.

When we think about Tibet and how the Dharma came into Tibet originally, it was due to the kindness of the great Orgyen Rinpoche, Guru Padmasambhava, and Vimalamitra. In fact, there have never been two teachers of the likes of these two who have ever come since then.  They are so great and profound.  Guru Rinpoche and Vimalamitra only gave the Dzogchen teachings to their closest heart disciples and only after a tremendous kind of karmic affinity had been established.  It is not something that is just given in any other circumstances.  In Tibet there exists to the present day the eight great chariots of traditions and teachings of practice which are very sublime and extraordinary.  However, amongst them it is only in the tradition of the secret Nyingmapa that these Dzogchen teachings are found, and they are unequalled by any other.

Now I have a personal feeling about this, and I mentioned it a little bit in San Francisco. Since I’ve come to America I have seen that there is a very strong connection here for the Dzogchen teachings.  I have also had an opportunity while I’ve been in the United States to give Dharma teachings on different subjects, but I find when I teach on the subject of Dzogchen, which is the Tibetan term for this Clear Light Great Perfection, this Ati Yoga category, that I find that people become much more enthusiastic and the faith wells up inside of them in a different kind of way.  I liken this to the situation in this country at this time where the country itself is very powerful and there is much material prosperity, but also everyone is extremely busy and people don’t have too much of a chance to practice elaborate forms of religious or spiritual instructions.  So in noticing all of these coincidences coming together, I truly have seen that Americans have a strong connection with the Dzogchen doctrine and that this is probably the most important doctrine to propagate here at this time.  Therefore I have a very strong hope that each and every one of you will have an opportunity to meet with the Dzogchen doctrine and put it into practice in your lives.

If you practice the Dzogchen in this life alone, you will immediately receive the benefits of good health and mental contentment.  That’s why you can use someone like Gyaltrul Rinpoche as an example.  Even though he’s old now, much older than most of you, he’s still very happy.  His mind is filled with content and his body is still healthy too.  This is because of the point I just brought out.  I think it also might be true for Ahkön Lhamo as well.

Four Contemplations That Turn the Mind to Dharma #Palyul

Wheel of Life

The following is a prayer from the Nam Chö Ngondro Practice Book:

Homage

I prostrate to the glorious Samantabhadra.

Vajra Verses

This precious human rebirth is extremely difficult to obtain.

All things born are impermanent and must die.

Perseverance in the practice of virtuous Dharma is cause for becoming a Buddha.

Whatever negativity is produced will cause one to wander in the six realms.

Hungry spirits suffer from hunger and thirst; animals from stupidity;

Hell beings from heat and cold; humans from birth, old age, sickness and death;

Demigods from warefare; and even gods (Devas) have their suffering.

Without Bodhicitta, There Is No Path: from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche on Mediation, reprinted with permission from Palyul Ling International:

Many of you are interested and have asked, “Please give us the Dzogchen teachings.” But even I myself don’t know what is Dzogchen and I don’t have anything to teach you!

Anyway, as I explained to you earlier, if one practices the Bodhicitta, that kind of pure intention to really benefit all other sentient beings, and then the samatha meditation practices to establish one’s mind in full concentration, then of course there will be the Great Perfection (“Dzogchen”) meditations.

But if one cannot cultivate the Bodhicitta within one’s mind, the path to Enlightenment is already broken. Without Bodhicitta, there is no real path. Bodhicitta is that which is without any partiality. The pure intention of Bodhicitta, the thought to benefit all sentient beings without any exception, can be understood by realizing that in one or another lifetime, each being has been one’s parent. If we understand this and think of how dearly they have taken care of us, then we will feel grateful to all the parently beings and we can generate Bodhicitta to all of them.

This present body of ours is here because of our parents. If we did not have parents, there is no possibility that we could have these bodies. And if we don’t have this physical body, then we cannot accomplish any kind of worldly or Dharma activity. So our mothers are indeed very kind and we should be grateful.

Of course, there are many kinds of parent-child relationships in this world, but we should remember that whether or not we are close to our parents is based on our own desires and our own thoughts. Beyond that sort of thing, the main meaning here is that without our parents, we could not have this body, and because of this we should understand and be grateful for their kindness. So first one really concentrates on generating Bodhicitta based on one’s gratefulness to this life’s mother, and from that one can extend this Bodhicitta to all sentient beings equally.

So the most important points are to have faith and devotion in the Dharma, then meditating and contemplating on Bodhicitta and compassion. Then one can apply these into practice through the meditations on emptiness.

In the Dharma practice one should not think, “Oh, I am doing all this practice for the benefit of this lama or for these Buddhas.” Never think in this way. The Dharma practice is for yourself. Each and every one of you as individuals has to liberate yourself from Samsara. You are attaining Enlightenment for yourself. You are attaining Buddhahood for yourself. By your practice, your lama is not going to attain Enlightenment nor is Buddha going to attain Enlightenment! Buddha has already achieved Buddhahood! And if you cannot attend to Dharma practice in the proper way, then it is yourself who will fall down into the three lower realms. It is not the lama or the Buddha who will fall into the lower realms!

So, though it is important to think spiritually of one’s own benefit and how one can attain Enlightenment, still the achievement of that kind of liberation is by the path of benefiting all other sentient beings. Without that kind of Bodhicitta one cannot attain complete Enlightenment.

The Bodhicitta we can generate right now, however vast, is beneficial. In the future, when one attains Enlightenment, according to the vastness of that Bodhicitta, that many sentient beings can benefit and liberate themselves from the sufferings of Samsara. Right now we cannot really perceive all that fruition, but if we continue to practice, then in the future we will realize it as a direct perception.