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What practice can we do to make amends and repair our mistakes?

A student asks: When we make mistakes, what is the best practice to make amends? Would the Vajrasattva mantra be best for purification? Lama Shenpen responds: When we make mistakes it’s good to apply the powers of repentance (as explained in our booklets under the section about confession in the 7 branch prayer).  First you acknowledge the fault and repent it – feeling remorse or … Continue reading What practice can we do to make amends and repair our mistakes?

What are the Seven Branches of Prayer?

The seven branches of prayer begin with salutations, which traditionally take the form of bowing and prostrations. The idea is that we honour the Awakened ones with our body, speech and mind, giving up our pride and egocentricity in order to be open to the vision of the Buddhas. So the gesture of salutation or bowing is one of acknowledging, aligning, honouring and celebrating. Continue reading What are the Seven Branches of Prayer?

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Do we have to abandon rational thinking? A conversation about thinking, intuition and faith

Sane people think – rational people think. So why do you say we have to abandon rational thinking? I would say we need to abandon clinging to views, opinions and intellectual conclusions when opening to the true nature of reality… Continue reading Do we have to abandon rational thinking? A conversation about thinking, intuition and faith

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If there were no objects for awareness to illuminate what is known, would there just be pure being?

Something has to happen in the way we look at everything – we are so used to either dividing everything up into seer and seen or to just blanking out and becoming vague about everything. Something quite different from both needs to happen Continue reading If there were no objects for awareness to illuminate what is known, would there just be pure being?

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What’s the difference between passing experiences (nyams) and stable realisation?

There is no need to worry about having gained stability of full realisation or not because it does itself in its own time, and the signs of it are obvious – the important thing is to notice any instability and use it as a trigger of awareness. There are so many Dharma teachings to help with this. Continue reading What’s the difference between passing experiences (nyams) and stable realisation?

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How can we use our imaginative faculty to good effect in Dharma practice?

Lama Shenpen: I find myself wondering what exactly we mean by ‘imagination’.  We use the term in various ways. To start with we use it for a faculty we have, the faculty that intelligence has to create – to be creative and to explore possibilities just because we can imagine them – and then come up with something more as if from nowhere. It is … Continue reading How can we use our imaginative faculty to good effect in Dharma practice?

The Apramanas and the Five Buddha Families

Love and compassion express themselves differently in different situations and we all need all of them both in ourselves and in others and as a society. Furthermore they all contain within themselves the other four energies/qualities in different measure. Any of one of them becomes distorted if not combined sufficiently with all the others. Continue reading The Apramanas and the Five Buddha Families

Pure Lands Part 2: Mantra and Pure Lands

Saying their name, it’s as if we are invoking them and then recognising that they have a power to connect to you. If it’s an Enlightened Being, they have the power to connect you to your own Awakening, the Mandala of Awakening. You could call it the ‘Samadhi of Awakening’. The Pure Lands are a special kind if samadhis created by Awakened beings for other beings to enter. So they are actually a special kind of shamatha and vipassana. Continue reading Pure Lands Part 2: Mantra and Pure Lands

life story, namtar, vimoksha, past lives, reincarnation, UK Buddhist teacher, Lama Shenpen Hookham, female UK Buddhist teacher.

Our life story as our path to Awakening: How does our story go from life to life?

The story passes from life to life in the sense that it is still your story however you tell it. You are the person and the story is basically your path to Awakening be it fast or slow. The stories we tell ourselves all fit into the whole in some way or another – the whole thing is not in time or space Continue reading Our life story as our path to Awakening: How does our story go from life to life?