April 26, 2011

Start with Kindness. ~ Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

ed’s intro: this sweet defense was written, un-asked for, in response to a twitter-based boycott of elephant journal. The criticism? That it is wrong for elephant, as an online vehicle, to charge for Buddhist teachings. While many have argued, discussed, asked questions of the boycotter—for instance, why his boycott does not apply to books, or teachers, or centers…but just online media, and just elephant particularly…Jetsunma, below, felt inspired to share her defense on elephant itself.

This is a delicate matter. elephant is not here to inflame partisan disagreements, or offer a forum for name-calling. All and any comments below that lack respect will be deleted, though we welcome respectful criticism.

I love and respect the boycotter. I do not respect the boycott—I think it’s a paper tiger for his resentment of me personally, which is a more genuine and interesting issue, at least to us. In any case, the discussion of how to make online media sustainable, and ethical, is an important one—so I thank the boycotter and Jetsunma both, for engaging in this discussion with respect.

~ Waylon Lewis, ed.

When I see His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings, I cannot help seeing how His Holiness loves all, respects all religions and faiths, and gently insists that our true responsibility and work are kindness, tolerance, loving spirit, ethics, and compassion.

His Holiness also states that dogma is less important. Oddly, although I love lineage for its unbroken method, I also teach exactly that. What I am truly adamant about is Bodhicitta or compassion.

I am sad to see there are so many in every faith that don’t appreciate the value of starting the path with kindness. I’ve found if there is no compassion, no Bodhicitta, there is no progress. It is pride that stops us, allows us to claim progress when there clearly is none. Progress is indicated by change and developing good qualities, yet we see blustering haters with huge egos insist their way is the only way, having graced the praying world with their sermons for 30 or 40 years, sat at the feet of Who-ha and Ding-dong and found a religion they can live with that suits their agenda. It takes a lot of energy, ego and pride to do that.

When it comes to faith, no one should ever have an agenda. Whether you want to wear gold lamé and have your choice of women or men, or wear robes, or be as ordinary as you please. Is this the “Kabuki Theatre” of faith? We show our progress by demonstrating our loving qualities and truthful method. Claiming you are the “real deal” while acting as a judge, jury and executioner is hatred and ignorance. Opinions are only opinions and should never be considered truth. We must never rigidly adhere to them, particularly when they are lacking in kindness and openness.

For instance, my heart goes out to Waylon at elephant journal. Here is a war that is so petty it would be funny if it weren’t true. The war is over a dollar [the price has gone up to $2 a month, because we still can’t afford an editor or staff. For those who don’t want to pay $2/month, we still give away three articles free every day, plus free front page and searches. ~ ed.] to keep the journal afloat. The ex-blogger takes up wars and takes this one as a cause. Waylon is not supposed to pay bills and keep it going? Ridiculous.

My mother said that “Small minds love small things.” She was quite correct. What do you sleep in? Your own poo-poo? The leakage of your neurotic notions? Why not gain a good heart and healthy mind and altruism to benefit all sentient beings?

Do you see? Faith and love are not about you. You don’t own truth. And you are not entitled to spew your false view or nastiness all over others. We can see, if you don’t, how flawed your practice must be. No good results! Yet here the grand proselytizer who continues to offer others his lack of wisdom, while whining and strutting. We call this the “king baby” syndrome. Baby needs his milk, and must be coddled. Oh, don’t argue. “King baby” is ruthless as he feels he is a “king” above all.

In my heart it seems to me that when I bow it is to the Three Precious Jewels, my Root Lama, Lord Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava. Not to needy people with too much to say, and no love to back it up. But still, while we can not bend our knee to judgment and hate, we do not honor the needs of “king baby.” He is ordinary and he is a useless fool. All about actual pride in the pain inflicted.

We all have the Buddha “awake” seed, and still have the time to grow it well. How can I help? All my life is about helping. Tell me what I can do to guide your path.


Jetsunma Akhon Lhamo founded the World Prayer Center in 1985. The organization has been known since 1988 by the name that Penor Rinpoche conferred, Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Choling (KPC), with Jetsunma as the Spiritual Director. Since her recognition and enthronement, Jetsunma has guided the center’s transition to a more conventional Vajrayana Buddhist path following the Palyul monastic tradition. Toward that end, she has hosted all of the major lamas from Palyul Monastery, as well as many others from the Nyingma and Kagyu schools, to give the traditional transmissions and commentaries. In April 1985, Jetsunma and her students began the 24 Hour Prayer Vigil at KPC, dedicated to the end of suffering for all sentient beings. The Prayer Vigil continues unbroken to the present day.

Read 3 Comments and Reply

Read 3 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant journal  |  Contribution: 277,736