Spiritually Alive

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called Coming Alive

In your practice and in your mind and in your heart, keep yourself innocent and keep yourself alive.  If you think that spiritually you know everything, enough to tell others, then believe me, you know nothing.  Refresh yourself and practice as though you were a living practitioner.  Live in your heart.  Live in your mind.  Live in your purpose.  It’s not too late.  It can be done.  For those of you who have gone brain dead on your path, it can be done.  For those of you who are just starting, if you hear these words and you are inspired, please practice them just the way I’ve given them to you, always.  While you have breath in your body, make your spiritual practice, your spiritual contact, and a true one. Every prayer is the potential for the miraculous, because it is according to your intention. Intention is everything.

If you can pray by ripping your heart open, if tears come to your eyes, if you are moved to the depth of your being, if you can beg for the cause of sentient beings, then please do so, and do it without ceasing.  Never let yourself get so sophisticated that you come to the point that you are satisfied with your practice. Never let yourself become so immune that you can say a prayer in passing, without having something catch in your throat.  I’m asking you to be there with your purpose.  Go into your cave.  Meet with the core or root mindstream that is your being, your nature.  Whatever that is that you’re looking for when you look into the eyes of your root guru and you’re hungry for something, whatever it is that you want, that made you come here to the path, keep it open.  Approach the core of your being with that prayer. The only way that you can do that is by ripping it open and letting it be.  Be alive spiritually.

I’ve had those experiences.  I know the difference, and I want to convey to you that you are both in trouble and free.  You’re in danger of losing that every single minute!  And yet you are free to go that deep and that pure and that innocent every single minute.

I have had the sickening experience of watching myself pray because one of my children was in danger. There was a time when my older son had Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and they were not able to diagnose it.  He was dying.  His brain was swelling.  His eyes were going out of focus.  He was gritting his teeth so much that his teeth were starting to crack.  His organs were swelling inside his body.  You could palpitate his liver. Yet they didn’t know why he was dying.  You never heard prayer like mine before!  It was before I met Buddhism so I didn’t know about prostrations, but I was on the floor–up and down begging and pleading, exchanging my life over and over again. I vowed that I would do nothing but benefit sentient beings. I asked that I be transformed into whatever it was that was necessary for my son to live.  Oh, I prayed unbelievably. When the medicine came, it was a simple medicine.  It was tetracycline I think.  When the healing started and his eyes could focus and I could put a spoon into his mouth without him breaking his teeth on it, I remember giving thanks.  It was like a new day.  I’d been born all over again.  Unbelievable.

How was it then, that a month later, when my son was eating hot dogs and running around and had gained some of the weight back and was looking normal, that when I prayed I didn’t feel that same magic?  I didn’t cry.  I didn’t beg. How was it that I could watch myself pray from that point of rawness and then a month later pray like a politician?  How is that possible? It’s possible for all of us, don’t you see?  I’m sharing this with you so that you’ll understand.  It is your natural tendency, and there is a way out of it.  And only you can do this.  I can’t do it for you.  No one can do it for you.  Don’t wait until life’s misfortunes force you.  You can be taught it in a passive and beautiful and beneficial way, or you can be taught it by life, which is a lot harder.

Please learn how to pray.  Learn how to practice.  Take yourself off the path of familiarity and complacency and put yourself on the path of Dharma as it is really practiced and has always been practiced by the great Vajra masters of our tradition and the great Bodhisattvas who are responsible for our salvation today.

This is my message for you.  I hope that you can hear it with your whole heart and give birth to yourself again. Now it is up to you.  I wish I could do it for you!  I wish I had that power, but I don’t have that power and neither does anyone else besides you.  You’re in charge here and the ball is in your court that you can be alive spiritually.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Approach Your Path With a Noble Heart

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called Coming Alive

To those of you who are new on the path, this is your opportunity to remain a child.  That might not sound like a good idea, because we’re all told that it’s really cool to grow up and be sophisticated and make sense of every opportunity.  I’m not sure that I agree.   I’m not sure making sense is the best idea.  I think what is really precious and really important is to remain innocent, with a pure and noble heart.  And if you go before the stupa or go before any of these altars and offer one rose, one flower from your heart and say, “For the sake of all sentient beings, make of me whatever is necessary so that all suffering might end,” this is an empowerment.

I have seen students who have been shaken in their lives, perhaps by realizing the immediacy of their death or by being afflicted with AIDS or by having to go through some remarkable, horrible trauma or life-changing situations that have left them panting and not knowing how to go on.  You have to understand that these are times of empowerment. You have to look at them as an opportunity and a gift.  When that one stands before the altar and prays, “I now understand suffering.  I now know fear, and knowing that, I realize that all sentient beings are afflicted with the same condition now or later. Therefore, transform my life and help me to live long enough to be of benefit to others so that I might serve as an example or as a benefactor in some way.  Please erase this suffering from the world.”  That kind of heartfelt prayer makes results.

If you pray like that in front of an object of refuge, whether it is your teacher or a stupa or a statue or a crystal that you can consider to be symbolic of the absolute nature, or whether you face the four directions and pray–whatever it is that you do–if you pray with that kind of heart, you are heard.  I know that this is true because I have received the most extraordinary teachings and empowerments from my root teacher.  I have had my teacher open his heart to me and give me blessings that no one has ever received.  I have had my teacher hold me up in front of the Western world in a way that he doesn’t even hold his other tulkus up, because he had that much confidence in me.  Although I have had that kind of empowerment and every blessing, what has made me a practitioner, given me confidence, made me honor myself and made me qualified to teach you, are the times that I have gone naked and alone to my own personal mountaintop–whether it’s that cave or a sweat lodge or my room, or my altar. It was those moments of begging and pleading for the cause of sentient beings, of ripping my heart open and not caring whether it was comfortable or safe, not caring whether I could own something or not own it, or whether any happiness was going to come to me as a result of those prayers.

I also knew that I would have to deliver, that if I prayed for the blessing to be able to benefit sentient beings, I would be required to live it.  Trust me, once you’re in the water, you will swim. And I’ve lived and experienced it long enough to know that this is true. If you make the offering, you’re going to have to live with it, but it will be your joy. On the other hand, if you pray like a fat cat, you’re also going to live with that, and, believe me, it will be your suffering.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Prayer – Potential for the Miraculous

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called Coming Alive

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced student–if you are a good student, you are innocent and you are pure, and when you practice, you taste and feel and open your heart. You meditate on purpose.  You give rise to new and fresh longing, almost like re-opening an old wound.  How marvelous if you realize, really, the finiteness of life. How marvelous because then you are empowered to pray as you have not prayed before.

There have been times when my temple was in danger. There have been times when I had the experience of teaching a class in which I realized hardly any of the people in the class had the capacity at that moment to really hear my teaching on compassion. At these times I went to my altar, threw myself down and did repeated prostrations saying, “Please, I gather together all of my virtue in the three times–past, present and future–and I offer it to these students, that their capacity to hear Dharma may be ripened.” Afterwards, I would go back into the same group and give the same teachings, and they were changed.  Their faces were changed.  They were alive.  They were hearing it.  I know the power of praying like that.

I also know there have been times when my children have been in danger. Do you want me to really pray?  Scare me with my children being in danger.  I’m not only talking about my physical children, but also my spiritual children. I have seen amazing life-changing experiences happen through that.  And I have also felt the suffering of praying by rote, I’m sorry to say.  But I will never have that feeling again if I can help it.  If a prayer comes out of my mouth, I’m going to be there with it.  And I would suggest that you do the same.  However you pray, whatever you do, pray as though it were the last time you had that opportunity.  Pray as though you were in front of the miraculous.  You know, that old joke about climbing to the top of the Himalayas to see that guy sitting on the rug so that you can ask him what is the meaning of life?  Pray like that.  Pray as though you had just climbed the mountain and you were looking at the old guy on the rug and he could tell you the meaning of life.  Pray as though it were your last moment to pray, as though you were going to lose your tongue after that.  Pray as though everything depended on it, because it does.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

The Guru’s Three-Part Empowerment

The most important part of the practice of Guru Yoga is when we receive the threefold empowerment from the guru. We receive the white light from the Guru’s head to our head to purify our body. We receive the red light from the Guru’s throat to our throat to purify and empower our speech. We receive the blue light from the Guru’s heart to our heart to purify and empower our mind. We should be receiving these empowerments 24 hours a day. Every time our mind has a little space, we should train ourselves to remember to receive the nectar of the Guru’s blessing. Instead, we walk around saying, “I’m lonely. I need my space. I need to go out and do stuff. I need to spend some money.” And we whine and carry on in samsara. And yet every minute this amazing phenomenal connection is available.

We should develop the habit of constantly keeping that connection. Whenever we have a moment, we should recite the Seven Line Prayer and ask for the guru’s blessing. And then we have it –boom, boom, boom—because when we ask, it is always given. There is never a time that when we ask, that it is not given. It may happen that we can’t receive the blessing sometimes. But we just keep trying. It’s simply our habit, and habits can change.

This is prayer without ceasing. This is constant prayer. This is a personal version of what we’re trying to do here at KPC by having our 24-hour prayer vigil, with someone practicing all the time. It is developing a constant awareness of our non-duality with the guru.

As we practice, the experience deepens. When we do our sit-down practice, the empowerments become easier to receive. We will find that we can go deeper and deeper and deeper. Then when we receive that three-part empowerment, our mind will be mixed with the guru and all the blessings will be present.  But be careful: Pride will stop the blessing.

So we wire up. We take refuge and are anchored in our confidence. We know, “This is my guru; I am unshaken.  This is the method; I am unbroken.  This is the result that I am going toward.” We maintain that connection constantly. Any time we have a moment, we recall our root guru appearing as Guru Rinpoche and receive the empowerments, mixing our mind with the guru’s mind. That’s the way to awaken to non-duality. That’s the way to awaken to our nature. When we mix our mind with the guru’s, we are deeply empowered with the bodhicitta. We can hear the calls of the suffering ones. They will fill our ears.

When we take this empowerment and we mix our mind with the nectar of the Three Precious Jewels, then we can pray. We can see ourselves as the same as the guru in nature, not in a prideful sense. Having received the blessing of the guru and of all the masters of the lineage, we are now able to pray.  We can ease the suffering of sentient beings.  Why?  Because we have the merit of our lineage. Now we can take within us the suffering of sentient beings because we can handle it. We have the power of the vajra masters.  That is our joy, our bliss, our ecstasy. We are never separate from them.

So prayer comes when we are in a state of awakening–when the bodhicitta that is the nectar of the guru’s mind is mixed inseparably with our own mind. Then we can pray: we can speak with the authority of the bodhicitta, in the way of the bodhicitta.

Do you hear the sense of potency I am trying to describe?  It is a sense of being fully mixed with the nectar of bodhicitta, fully aware that our nature is the bodhicitta. It is the bodhicitta that benefits sentient beings. When we are aware that we are the bodhicitta, it is this that we send to others. That is the power of the bodhisattvas and the Buddhas.

When we are that bodhicitta, we can awaken the bodhicitta in others just by looking at them. I know from experience that when His Holiness Penor Rinpoche looked at my heart, my heart was his and it opened. He recognized the bodhicitta in me, and I practiced to mix my mind with his. And therefore it was done. And that’s the potency of prayer. Now I can pray.

There is no room for pride in prayer—just simple gratitude for receiving the blessing of the guru in a humble way, with confidence in that blessing. Because of that blessing, we can pray. Now we have the bodhicitta; now we are the bodhicitta. And that is the potency and power upon which we rely.

The Buddhadharma is with us every minute. It’s a path, a way of life. And it is the true method to achieve the precious awakening. When we know that other beings are suffering so terribly, and we have found this jewel and it is in our hands and this nectar is given freely, I ask you: Why not learn to pray?

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Getting Connected

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray by Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

How do we pray?  How do we rely on the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and the Lama who is the embodiment of all three?  First of all, we have to get connected. We have to get wired up. And the way we get wired up is to practice refuge.

We have to view the Three Precious Jewels as though we were hanging over a giant abyss with crocodiles at the bottom, and the only rope to safety is held by the Three Precious Jewels. The rope is Guru Rinpoche—it is the Lama—and we hold on and start climbing. In other words, we sincerely take refuge, deeply in the most profound way that we can.

Most of the time we take refuge in ordinary things. We take refuge in our television programs, in our computer, in our social life or whatever it is that we like to do. We go to them to be happy. That’s 180 degrees away from prayer. Instead, we should realize that here we are asleep, living in a dream state, and that we must rely completely on the awakened ones and their teachings in order to wake up. We can’t rely on the teachings of someone who is also sleeping. That would be the blind leading the blind.

Lord Buddha was called the Perfect One because in every appearance and in everything that he did, he demonstrated that state of pure awakening and enlightenment. The Dharma, the method that we are using, has come from that awakened state.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

How to Pray by Being

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A teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo given in the wake of the Tsunami in 2004

In order to pray, first we have to understand that we are Uncontrived Primordial View – Suchness.  The Uncontrived Primordial View is every potential in its essential uncontrived form.  Our nature is that which is unborn, absolutely complete and perfect in every detail.  It isn’t made, it isn’t grown, and it can’t become stronger or weaker.  It is conditionless.  So we practice VIEW to allow the “boxes” of our mind to fall away so we can recognize that conditionless state and awaken to it, at last.  Our prayers have to be like this as well.

Because we haven’t really awakened to that conditionless state yet and we are unable to disentangle or to let the boxes down so that our view opens and we are in a state of recognition, then we should rely on the Three Precious Jewels of Refuge. Sincerely take Refuge deeply in the most profound way that you can. Rely completely and unwaveringly on the Three Precious Jewels and the Lama who embodies all three.

How do we do this? First we have to get connected – wired up.  The way we get wired up and connected is to practice Refuge.  Realize we are in this dream state and so we rely completely on the Awakened One.  Take Refuge Deeply.

In order to really pray we must let go of pride, our clinging to self.  The one that says, “Look at me, I’m praying.  Maybe if I recite this mantra, it will go over there to that person.” That’s not very awakened, is it?  Rather, this is dualistic.  The most important element in learning to pray is to let go of pride, the idea that I am a practitioner, I am praying, I am doing this, I must be good at it. Me, Me, I, I.

Our pridefulness and doubt are the two main obstacles to true prayer. Haughtiness and pride lead to anger.  Pride precedes anger because you think you are right.

With prideful thoughts, we are clinging to self-nature as being inherently real and we are always in a state of judgment.  If we are high, others are low.  Develop awareness that we are the same nature.  All of us are expressions of the infinite possibility of the Primordial Uncontrived Wisdom State…. Like white light going into a crystal and the colors are all broken up into different shades and beautiful reflections.

So instead of pridefulness when we get ready to pray, we should get down on our knees and pray and say:  “These are my brothers and sisters, some of them swept off the face of the earth by this giant wave, some of them are hungry, they’ve lost their families, many of them are in the bardo….”  So we think with that kind of compassion and consider the situation of other sentient beings rather than worrying so much about ourselves.  Simply consider their suffering.  Keep one’s ears open to their calls, to their suffering and to recognize that they are the same.  Not higher, not lower…. the same.  They are the same in their Nature.

Adopt the posture of a  “clear hearing” of the calls of sentient beings. “I hear you.  I am not separate from you”.  We have to hear the cries of sentient beings and then remember they are the same as us.   Have the posture of  “It is a privilege to honor that which you are”.

Untangle your pride.  Its like a constricting force on your heart.  It keeps you from opening up.  It keeps you separate.  It keeps you miserable and it affirms samsara every day. You are praying for suffering when you pray with pridefulness.  Lose the prideful stance and connect, wire-up to the Three Precious Jewels.  Pridefulness is the opposite of prayer.

“So, as we realize that others need our help and we begin to heed their call, we turn to what is real, what is profound.  From the Great Void…. from the absolute uncontrived undifferentiated spontaneously complete emptiness, is the brilliance of the Great Bodhicitta.  The Great Bodhicitta is the first movement, like the first word, the first movement.  It’s the arising of the Buddha Nature in a gossamer seemingly phenomenal form.  The Bodhicitta, the first movement of emptiness contains all potential…the Big YES.  Separate from nothing, containing all potential, containing all accomplishment…the Great Bodhicitta is the first movement of the Absolute, and that is also called Compassion.”

Compassion is your nature. You have deprived yourself of the deliciousness, the comfort and the happiness of true compassion, of the Bodhicitta for so long that the Bodhicitta seems to you like something you have to work on, like an outsider that you have to bring into your home.  How sad.  Because it is your nature.

How do we develop the unconstricted, uncontrived view?  First we practice Guru Yoga.  Guru Yoga is the nest in which prayers are developed.  In Guru Yoga we see the Lama as the embodiment of all the fields of refuge, all of the excellent extraordinary displays of Buddha nature that did not arise in samsara, that are pure and untainted.  Through your practice, you become absolutely non-dual with the Guru.  You mix your mind stream with the Guru like milk with water.

Train yourself to remember to receive the Three Light Empowerment of body, speech and mind 24 hours a day.  Receive the nectar, the blessing every minute of every day.  Receive this amazing phenomena of connection.  Develop the habit of constantly keeping that connection.  This is prayer without ceasing.  When we receive that empowerment, our mind is mixed with the Guru and the blessings are all-present.  Mix your mind with the Guru’s mind. Awaken to the non-duality. The Nature that is your Nature.

We have to be willing to change.  It takes getting down on our knees and challenging our habitual tendencies.  Dharma cuts like a knife.  It’s supposed to.  It’s doing a big job.  We have to do a lot of work because most of our life we spend chanting, “Om samsara Hung.” So we look to the teacher, we look to the Buddha, we look to the Dharma, and we look to the sangha with determination and strength.  It takes steadfast Vajra Courage.

Prayer is when you are in a state of awakening; when the Bodhicitta that is the nectar of the Guru’s mind is mixed with your own mind, and the nectar becomes inseparable.  That nectar is the Bodhicitta.  It is being fully aware that your nature is the Bodhicitta and it is the Bodhicitta that benefits sentient beings.  When you are aware that you are that, it is that that you send to others.  Being confident, not prideful, confident in that blessing; and therefore you can pray.  Now you have the Bodhicitta.  Now you ARE the Bodhicitta.  And that is the potency and power that you rely on.

It’s every minute.  It’s a path.  It’s a way of life.  And it is the true method to achieve the precious awakening.  When you know that other beings are suffering so terribly and we have found this “Jewel” and it is in our hands, and this nectar is given freely, then I ask you “Why not learn to pray?”

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

The Importance of Consciousness

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray by Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Quantum physicists are beginning to understand that the universe is multidimensional. They are beginning to understand that because their math is not working, there must be something else out there that they can’t figure out. The reason why their calculations don’t work is because they leave out one of the components of reality—consciousness. Time, space and consciousness are inseparable. So scientists are mistakenly looking out with their telescopes for the birth of the universe.

I’ve been asked, “How did this explosion of phenomena start?” I tell people, “Close your eyes. Let everything go. Dissolve into emptiness.” They do it. After a while I say, “Okay open your eyes.” Then I explain: “When you opened your eyes, that was the Big Bang. That was the moment. That was when movement started. That was it. It’s not out there.”

Phenomena appear in many different ways, in as many different ways as we can conceive, in as many different ways as we can move away from emptiness. The universe is an entanglement of intentions, dreams and potentials. Each one of us, every sentient being, experiences a separate and different phenomenon. Even though we are all in the same room, everyone here is experiencing a separate and different reality according to his or her individual karma.

The places that we can go in samsara are endless. They are infinite. As we conceive something, more phenomena are created. Lord Buddha taught about interdependent origination, that cause and effect arise simultaneously. They are linked. Even though we see the cause, we usually don’t see the result. That’s because we are still in a place where everything seems to be outside of us.

We pray like that, too.  We think, “I am praying to Guru Rinpoche, and he’s going to make everything better.” We think, “I’ll say some words or I’ll say some mantra and magically they will go there and sprinkle star dust on everybody.” We pray as though we are unconnected. We pray as though we are not in charge. We pray by rote like parrots. We repeat our prayers and hope for the best, as if prayer is a magic incantation. We don’t have any idea how there’s going to be any benefit.

In order to pray let’s understand that, first of all, we are all that is, suchness, the uncontrived primordial view. We are every potential in its essential uncontrived form. Our nature is that which is unborn and yet absolutely complete and perfect in every detail. It isn’t made. It isn’t grown. It can’t become stronger or weaker. It is conditionless. And so we practice view to allow the boxes in our mind to fall away so that we can recognize that conditionless state and awaken to it at last.  Our prayers have to be like that as well.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

There Is No Self

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray By Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

The Buddha taught that there is no self, that all that exists is primordial wisdom nature, with every potential, including the idea of self and the idea of phenomena rising out of emptiness. This potential is here. Although one of the ways that the primordial wisdom nature displays itself is in phenomena, we cling to phenomena as being inherently real. In fact, we cut our teeth on phenomena.

We have experienced phenomena since time out of mind, and so we are accustomed to the experience. It’s the only thing that makes us feel safe. Oddly enough, we spend all of our time contemplating the solidity of self nature, and we believe that self nature is inherently real. We identify with this body, thinking it’s us. We think that if we hold onto to self nature, we’ll be safe because we’ll be us. We think, “I’ll be staying here, you’ll be staying there, and we’ll continue in phenomena.”  But in fact, there is no difference between phenomena and emptiness. They are the same nature. They are the same essence. They are the same taste.

So while our habitual tendencies cause us to remain in this delusion of separation, still this nature exists—wholesome, absolutely complete and perfect, with no need for aggrandizement, with no need for construction. It is as it is. This is the nature that is our nature, and it is as much our experience, even now, as phenomena are, but it frightens us. So we cling to phenomena. Sadly enough, we become self-absorbed in that process. We think, “Oh this is me.  I’ve got to take care of myself. I’ve got to do what is right by me. I’ve got to have fun. I’ve got to have excitement. I’ve got to have pleasure.”  And that’s our experience—even though emptiness is at hand and we experience emptiness in our nature now. The Buddha nature that is our nature is complete. It doesn’t need any tinkering. Still, we cling to the idea of self. And of course, that’s the trouble that we’re in now.

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Waking Up From the Deep Slumber of Ignorance

The following is a prayer from the Bodhisattva Vow Ceremony as translated in the Nam Cho Daily Practice Book from Palyul Ling International:

Alas! Fortunate ones!

Do not let ignorance overwhelm you.

Wake up now and be diligent.

Since beginningless time to this very moment

You have been sleeping in ignorance. Enough!

Now sleep no more and devote your three doors to the practice of Dharma.

Don’t you understand the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death?

No moment of what is called “today” is permanent.

Now the time has arrived to practice diligently.

This is the moment to accomplish permanent happiness.

And not the moment to fritter away in the state of laziness.

Contemplate death and strive to accomplish your practice.

Life is uncertain, as the causes and conditions for death are innumerable.

If you do not attain the confident state of fearlessness in this very life,

Then what is the use of being alive?

All phenomena are selfless, empty by nature and free of elaboration.

They are like magical illusions, mirages, dreams, reflections, the cities of Ghandarvas, echoes,

Reflections of the moon in water, bubbles, optical illusions and manifested illusions.

By these ten known examples of the illusoriness of phenomena,

Understand all worldly and transcendental phenomena as these.

Thus sang the wisdom dakinis who then dissolve into space with sharp whistling sounds. By being mindful of the meaning and importance, generate awareness and determination to wake up immediately from the slumber if ignorance.

Offering the Miraculous

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo during a “Good Heart Retreat

There are some that may criticize the building of the Migyur Dorje stupa. I understand that it cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars. You might say, ‘Well, gee, if you’re going to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars, why don’t you feed the poor?’ Well, I feel like I am. I feel like that’s the point of the stupa. I begged and begged His Holiness for these relics and the ability to build the stupa because in this country there’s no place to go when you have no hope. There’s simply no place to go when all the doctors have told you they can’t help you. There’s no place to go when you’re at your last moments and maybe even the karma for this life has run out and you know that you haven’t really attended to your spiritual life. You know that you haven’t practiced very much. Or when your life is such that you got the ‘can’t fix-its’; don’t know how to put it back together again.

I know that in other places, in other lands, there are deeply inspiring religious pilgrimage places. I know that in Tibet almost all of the Tibetans, at one time or another, take some sort of major pilgrimage; and it’s a life changer. There are so many stories of pilgrimages turning out to be major healings. Where people will go to these holy places in which they have tremendous faith, where there are extraordinary relics there that are left by extraordinary Lamas, and healings take place that are miraculous.

I also knew that in this country there is AIDS which has been growing incrementally, cancer which is killing so many, and people constantly dying from all sorts of diseases that seem to be the afflictions of this day and time. There are so many diseases that we haven’t found any cures for, including simple mental unhappiness. Because of all this, I really wanted to offer this stupa to our community. What we have built here is, yes, at great expense, yes, at great effort; but also done with great joy. We have been able to gather together enough money, enough energy, and enough time to make this dream a reality. And now we have something here which over time, hopefully by word of mouth, hopefully by your good works and your good faith, the word will spread out that we have this amazing stupa here. Now anyone at any time, no matter what they have experienced as their spiritual path, if they’re ever down and out and without hope, can come here and make prayers. There is a potency to that pilgrimage. I’m hoping that it will become known that these same relics from Terton Migyur Dorje, these relics, of which there are pieces in different places of the world, not too many, but particularly in Tibet, have brought about amazing cures. I want people to know about this. I want them to come and feel better. To me, it’s like the ultimate soup kitchen, you know? You can offer this nourishment, this food, to your community.

So we went through the effort of building this thing, and thank you all for everything that you’ve done to make it possible—the work and the money, all of it—and now we have this tremendous gift to offer the community. To my way of thinking, this is one such group or community effort that we have made together in order to provide for and to nourish the community and make our hopes for the world more visible and more heard. That’s one way to do it. But I think at this point it’s time to move even beyond that.

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