It’s been a while!

•June 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Melhii chilling in the mud! Eastern Box Turtle, photographed by me in Kanawha State Forest (WV), 6/25/15.

Melhii chilling in the mud! Eastern Box Turtle, photographed by me in Kanawha State Forest (WV), 6/25/15.

It has been three months since I made my last entry on this blog, so I suppose it is safe to say that I am overdue! However, that will not be the case for much longer, and I anticipate making more frequent posts over the next several months, and years! Since making my last post I have begun working on the FPMT’s (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) Basic Program, which I will be doing as a home-study as there is not a gompa in this area for me to attend. I will be blogging my experiences with the Basic Program here!

I will also be working on reciting and tracing the Ārya Sanghāta Sūtra over the next few months, and I will be posting the sections I complete on this blog each day so that you can read/recite along with me! Since being the mother of a very active six-year-old won’t permit me to do the whole sutra in one sitting, I will be working on as much as I can each day, even if it is just a few lines. My traceable copy should arrive from FPMT this week, so I’ll be pen hunting (it is strongly recommended that you use a pen with gold ink) over the next couple days while I wait.

I am also teaching a class locally in August where I will be discussing some of the commonly found Tibetan Buddhist ritual tools in New Age/Pagan shops. As some of you know, ritual items associated with our traditions sometimes find their way into these shops, and while sometimes the shopkeeper knows what they are and can relay accurate information, other times shop owners are relying on poorly written descriptions in catalogues which can contain false information. As a result, customers can end up buying something that they have no clue how to properly use or understand. The class I am teaching is designed to help folks recognise these different items, learn about their use and symbolism within a Tibetan Buddhist context, and determine for themselves based on this information whether they should purchase these items or not. I occasionally get emails from folks asking me what an item they bought is used for, or what they should do with it when they feel it should move on (my recommendation in the case of the latter is to see if a dharma center can take it), which is what prompted the idea for the class. My husband suggested I should call it “How Much Is That Dorje In The Window?”, and I have to admit that I like that, bad pun and all, so that is what my class is called! I will be posting the notes for that class here as well, so stay tuned!

Religious/Spiritual Freedom

•March 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

buddha_shakyamuni_03

Here is what “religious” and/or “spiritual freedom” means to me.

My beliefs teach me that true spiritual freedom comes from not dictating what others should believe in, not interfering in others’ spiritual lives, and not forcing others to convert to my beliefs or follow what I follow. My beliefs teach me that genuine devotion comes from having deep, experiential understanding – not fanaticism, fear, or blind faith. My beliefs teach me that I should cherish and hold dear all sentient beings, and constantly think of how to benefit them. My beliefs teach me that I should contribute to the positive things people are looking for, not the negative things they are trying to avoid.

In brief, my beliefs teach me to not be the kind of person who uses religious beliefs as an excuse for ignorance, bigotry, and hate – those are the values of oppression and suffering, not liberation.

What is “Mo”?

•February 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment
The mantra of Manjusri: OM AH RA PA TSA NA DHI (the final DHI is usually repeated multiple times).

The mantra of Manjusri: OM AH RA PA TSA NA DHI (read clockwise, starting with OM at the top and ending with DHI in the center), the syllables of which are used to obtain the results.

Since I’ve started doing mo publicly at local monthly Psychic Saturday events, I’ve encountered folks who – not being familiar with this form of divination – have asked various questions, the answers to which I have compiled in this FAQ.

First and foremost, mo refers to divination; in my case, the system I rely on uses dice and falls under the auspices of the deity Manjusri. The numerical values of the dice are each aligned with one of the syllables of his mantra (not including OM; see picture to the left). The combination of these syllables yields 36 possible results. In a standard mo session, it is customary to throw the dice twice – if the throws yield the same result, the answer is firm; different results, the answer is mutable; if the first or second syllable repeats in the same or both throws, then the outer (first) and/or inner (second) meaning remains firm. I rely on the manual written by Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche (1846-1912), a Nyingma master and renowned scholar, who composed texts on a variety of subjects connected to the practise of Buddhism (including astrology, alchemy, and engineering).

Tibetan Buddhism views mo as a means to help others and oneself, and when done with the right motivation and compassion it is upāya (skillful means). One should never view mo as anything other than a means of assisting other sentient beings in the hopes of bringing them both relative and ultimate happiness, and giving advice on a number of matters. Thus, mo is another way of relying on the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to aid us in understanding the interplay of cause and effect in our lives, and the outcomes which can result (karma). For a Buddhist practitioner, doing mo for others is practising the Bodhisattva way. Because the mantra of Manjusri is the expression of the enlightened wisdom of the Buddhas, the use of its’ syllables in mo causes this wisdom to manifest in the dice. Thus, prior to each reading, a prayer to Manjusri, recitation of his mantra, and recitation of the Essence of Dependent Origination is performed. This serves to bless and empower the dice used in the reading.

Зөөлөн эгшигт - Manjusri.

Зөөлөн эгшигт – Manjusri.

For each result there are multiple areas which are covered:
– family/property/life
– intentions/aims
– friends and wealth
– enemies
– guests
– illness
– evil spirits
– spiritual practises
– lost articles
– whether or not tasks will be accomplished
– all remaining matters
In addition to these, specific advice on types of rituals to perform, mantras to recite, offerings to make, etc. are also recommended in order to enhance and sustain auspicious outcomes, or to modify/negate inauspicious ones. As all things are connected, and because what happens in our life is the result of karma accrued/burning off from this and previous lives, what is happening in one area impacts all areas of one’s life. As karma is neither fixed nor permanent, we have a responsibility to improve and/or remove ourselves from unfavourable situations; by illustrating the role of cause and effect in our lives, and allowing us to see this interplay at work, mo thus becomes a tool by which we can discover the means to improve our circumstances.

Lastly, a question I have been asked by a couple folks is “But I’m not Buddhist, will mo work for me?” As with other forms of divination, what you are seeing is a snapshot of things in your life based on a variety of factors. The situation can change based on the decision(s) you decide to make. Although mo arises from the Buddhist traditions of the Himalayas, it is universal in scope, thus anyone can benefit from it. All you need to do is to have an open mind and be willing to be honest with yourself about what arises in the mo.

Losar Tashi Delek!

•February 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment

LosarWoodSheep

losar

Ice Lingam in Kanawha State Forest

•January 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Naturally formed miniature ice lingam, Kanawha State Forest (WV) - photographed 12/31/14.

Naturally formed miniature ice lingam, Kanawha State Forest (WV) – photographed 12/31/14.

Too auspicious to not share with all my friends & loved ones this New Year’s Eve!
This is a small, natural ice lingam that formed in a small crevice near one of my regular offering spots to Shree Pashupatinath (aka Pashupati) in Kanawha State Forest – crystal clear!

~ ॐ नमः शिवाय ~ Oṃ Namaḥ Śivāya ~

Best Wishes For Your 2015!

•December 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Chenrezig, Medicine Buddha, and Green Tara

Chenrezig, Medicine Buddha, and Green Tara

May your 2015 be joyous, prosperous, peaceful, and blessed!
ༀམཎིཔདྨེཧཱུྃ། ~ Ум мани бадмэ хум ~ OM MANI PADME HUM

Last Tara Day of 2014…

•December 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Thangka of Green Tara from Tibet, 13th century.

Thangka of Green Tara from Tibet, 13th century.

oṃ tāre tuttāre ture sarva vighnān śāntiṃ kuru svāhā

As 2014 comes to a close and 2015 dawns, may the Swift Saviouress keep you safe, obstacle-and-hindrance-free, and grant your wishes for the coming year! (Losar falls on 2/19/15, so until then, it’s still Yang Wood Horse Year 2141!)

 
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