How to Stop a Meltdown Before It starts

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February 27, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Abiding in Unceasing Clarity; The Kunzang Monlam

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March 10, 2019
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Carrying Joy & Sorrow Onto the Path

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March 12, 2019
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March 13, 2019
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Natural Nirvana

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March 15, 2019
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March 16, 2019
Nevada City, Ca ~ This one day meditation retreat explores the heart of the Great Perfection, (Dzogchen) Tibetan Buddhist meditation.
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March 17, 2019
Nevada City, Ca ~ Closed Retreat. Vajra Sangha Participants must be able to attend from beginning to end. Vajra Sangha are the long-term personal students of Pema Khandro who are eligible for private teachings and advanced training. The Vajra Sangha functions in a warm, closely connected community, based on long-term friendships, mutual respect, and appreciation. It is an association of serious practitioners who do in-depth study and service, who are also able to be light-hearted and celebrate life. It is a community of leaders rather than a community of followers since advanced Buddhist study requires a willingness to take responsibility for one’s life…
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March 27, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Skillful Means

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April 8 - May 6, 2019
Closed Retreat, for Vajra Sangha Members. Free for Sustainer Members and Above, or $90 Love offering [...]
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Dzogchen Day Webcast

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April 10, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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Buddhist Practice on Western Ground: Reconciling Eastern Ideals and Western Psychology

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April 17, 2019
Open Teaching, Pema Khandro interviews Dr. Harvey B. Aaronson Isn’t Anger sometimes appropriate? What is the difference between attachment and non-attachment in Psychology and Buddhism?  Is there self-esteem in a system that teaches no-self? What is Ego afterall? How do we find our voices in the context of the Eastern paradigms of the student-teacher relationship? These questions and more will be discussed with Dr. Harvey B. Aaronson, Lama, co-founder of Dawn Mountain, psychotherapist and author of Buddhist Practice on Western Ground: Reconciling Eastern Ideals and Western Psychology.
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April 24, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

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May 8, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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Open Teaching Webcast

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May 22, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Invoking the 100,000 Dakinis

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June 7 - 9, 2019
Dakini Mountain ~ This meditation retreat will offer the extraordinary opportunity to chant and study Invoking the 100,000 Dakinis, an inspiring Tibetan Buddhist prayer from the Dakini’s Heart Essence.
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Dakini Mountain, Grand Opening Celebration

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June 9, 2019
Join Pema Khandro and the Community of Buddhist Yogis at Dakini Mountain for this auspicious occasion! Sunday June 9th, Grand Opening Celebration    
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Dzogchen Day Webcast

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June 12, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

June 26, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

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July 10, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

July 24, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

The Radiance Retreat – Detox and Rejuvenate

With Aruna Rig'dzin and Satya Shiva

July 25 - 28, 2019
Free your body of deep-seated toxins and undigested material. Far deeper than fasting can go, this weekend retreat will guide you in how to safely uproot the toxins that are buried in your system. You will be guided through a traditional cleanse based on the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese and Himalayan Medicine. The retreat also includes bliss yoga, meditation, organic vegetarian meals, and communion with nature for a holistic mind-body renewal. The retreat will be led by Aruna Rigdzin and Satya Shiva, directors of the Yogic Medicine Institute. They have offered private treatments, group cleanses and panchakarma retreats each…
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Dzogchen Day Webcast

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August 14, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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The Innermost Heart of Freedom: Dzogchen Meditation Retreat

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August 21 - 25, 2019
Dakini Mountain ~ This is a meditation retreat for the wired and weary to settle into focused calm, to rest into the nature of mind and tap into profound depths. This is the fourth Annual Dzogchen Retreat, five days of Buddhist meditation practices that will surprise you with the wonderful power and expansiveness of mind [...]
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Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

August 28, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

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September 11, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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Meditation Instructor Training

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September 14 - October 4, 2019
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Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

September 25, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Laughter of the Dakinis – Chod Retreat

With Chodpa Kunzang Dorje and Pema Khandro

October 4 - 6, 2019
This meditation retreat focuses on Buddhism’s esoteric practice for transforming the most difficult experiences into opportunities for awakening. It is a method which harnesses the heroic energy of enlightened intent to change neurotic mind patterns and heal from traumas.….[…]
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Chod & Chod Dances

With Chodpa Kunzang Dorje

October 7 - 10, 2019
Vajra Sangha Only ~ Closed Retreat. This meditation intensive focuses on Buddhism’s esoteric practice for transforming the most difficult experiences into opportunities for awakening. It is a method which harnesses the heroic energy of enlightened intent to change neurotic mind patterns and heal from traumas. It is a practice for opening to intrinsic wholeness, loving compassion, and natural resilience [...]
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Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

October 9, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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Vajra Sangha Retreat

With Pema Khandro

October 10 - 13, 2019
Closed Retreat ~ The annual Vajra Sangha retreat is a private weekend retreat full of deep practice of meditation and study of Dzogchen, Buddhism’s esoteric philosophy. It is a celebratory reunion of the Vajra Sangha from all over the world. The retreat is led by Pema Khandro Rinpoche at her headquarters in Virginia, Khandro Ling.
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Group Leader Training

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October 15 - 17, 2019
The Group Leader Training Program serves the need for training leaders who will serve their local communities, to connect them with the tools for meditation practices and for studying fundamental Buddhist views. Click Here For More Details and Pre-Requisites [...]
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Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

October 23, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

November 13, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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Public Program

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November 21, 2019
San Diego, Ca ~ Public Program
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Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

November 27, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

December 11, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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New Years Retreat ~ Vajrasattva

January 20, 2020
Begin the New Year with a Day-long meditation retreat. You will practice Vajrasattva meditation, the practice cherished by Tibetan Buddhists for clearing past karma and restoring confidence and awakening compassion wisdom of your innermost mind. This retreat will be held in Los Angeles, Seattle, Santa Cruz, Grass Valley and Berkeley led by the Buddhist Yogi’s Sangha’s Meditation Instructors and Group Leaders [...]
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Four Slogans to Stop a Meltdown and Start Buddha Mind

People often think Buddhism focuses exclusively on staying calm and keeping calm in calm peaceful atmospheres but Buddhist tantra values a different kind of entry point – crisis.

Extreme experiences are regarded as fertile ground in Vajrayana Buddhism. When things are at their most difficult, when we are in high intensity moments, our awareness is naturally heightened. This is why practices orbiting around birth, dying, dream and post death are primary practices of the Buddhist Yogis. So too – when we are pushed to the max, when things are falling apart around us – these are also moments that have potential for encountering our intrinsic strength. These are times when concepts and business as usual are inadequate. Therefore they are natural opportunities for arousing greatest presence.

Four slogans can help wake up Buddha-mind in such times. Such advice is of course quite necessary. The state of total and complete exhaustion cannot always be avoided. It’d be nice to stay balanced all the time but there are times for the sake of life, love, duty or warriorship when the going gets tough and we keep going and going. All too often this leads to all those embarrassing awful moments – a meltdown where we get mean, crazy or make rash decisions we regret later. Some Buddhist slogans are useful in this case, so we can remember other options.

There is a legend of the Female Buddha of Tibet, Yeshe Tsogyal. It conveys a Buddhist notion of stress leading to breakthrough instead of breakdown. She faces a series of harsh obstacles and hardships. At first, it is a matter of self-imposed physical austerities. But her body begins to break down and she can barely endure it. After this, she gets distracted. Despite all her focus and discipline she is assaulted by one distracting fantasy after another. Then she faces both physical and psychological hardship – she is viciously harassed by young boys. Then, she is attacked by wild animals. Later she is almost poisoned to death by the sting and venom of scorpions, snakes and insects. She is then attacked by locals who gang up on her.

Perhaps you can imagine what happens next? If this was an ordinary story it would follow with her freaking out, having a meltdown, getting depressed, giving up, harboring anger, adopting a victim mentality, getting paralyzed in trauma…  But in the story of the female Buddha, there is a shocking conclusion. After enduring one trial after another, instead of breakdown, she breaks through and becomes a Buddha. The legend says that she passed “through the states of exhaustion and then she awakens to realize her full potential.

Perhaps that seems too high a goal for ordinary people facing hardships, after all, isn’t this a legend? What is possible for ordinary people in real lives? In states of exhaustion, just having the goal of making it through tough times, just surviving intact, is a great victory. However, that story communicates a sense of possibility which can remind us of our own intrinsic courage. It bears the message of endurance and awakening to a sense of fuller presence in the face of adversity.

What practical wisdom can Buddhism offer to help us break through?
Here are four slogans, some Buddhist advice for how to stop a meltdown, before it starts.

1. Forget the idea of “take like a man.” Instead “Take it like a Bodhisattva.”

We could harden, toughen up, hold to together, but we also run the risk of suppressing our feelings and accumulating undigested emotion. Instead, in the face of difficulty, we can open our heart and dedicate our circumstances to a greater purpose. Endure until we emerge victorious, not only for ourself, but for the sake of others.

Remember – this particular difficulty is not just about you. Remember everyone else who has gone through a similar circumstance. Remember the many people who are facing the same thing in their lives who are not as well prepared or supported as you are. Remember others who are the same as you are. Think of these people. Open your heart and send them love, pray for all others in the same situation. Let them give you the strength to go on.

This is a new kind of hero for global culture – but an old kind of hero for Buddhism – the awakened mind warrior (Tib. chang chub sem pa). A Buddhist warrior is the hero whose source of strength is compassion. When the going gets tough, the tough dedicate their actions to happiness, benefit and relief of others.

The main Buddhist meditation to generate the mindset of heroic compassion is called sending and taking, aka tonglen practice. Basically, tonglen practice is a contemplation for opening our hearts to others. We imagine other’s wish to be free from suffering. We hold a vision of them becoming free from suffering, becoming happy and becoming free. Opening your heart is away to make it through difficult times without baggage. A knee jerk reaction is to resist opening our hearts in hard times, because there is so much pain there. Surprisingly, connecting with others facing such times allows us to remember our innate strength and connects us with our greater purpose. It explodes the tight confines of “me, me, me,” and therefore allows us to see our situation from a greater perspective.

2.  Be like water

Dropping all our fixed concepts can be freeing. Change is most brutal when we refuse to change along with it. Sometimes when things are most painful – this is due to our non-accepting of things beyond our control. There is so much stress in trying to force things to be as we want them. Life is hard at times. Welcome to the jungle. The Buddha’s own spiritual awakening pivots on two experiences – first the experience of having it all, and then witnessing the possibility of losing it all as he confronts old age, sickness and death. To be able to withstand the full scope of life experiences is part of becoming a spiritual adult. This means learning to surrender, to let go, to go in the directions that actual circumstances open to us. We can’t control everything. We won’t always get our way. The Buddhist advice is – when circumstances change, we must change with them. This is what the zen proverb means when it tells us the slogan “be like water.”

3. Accept Help and Ask for Help

Accepting help allows us to access greater capacity than we have on our own – by harnessing the power interdependence. Asking for help is a sign of courage and confidence, not a sign of weakness. If we know we have fundamental goodness, this gives us room to acknowledge our limits and work with them compassionately. This is because we recognize that human limitations don’t cancel out our intrinsic worthiness, our innate goodness. Therefore, there is no fundamental threat incurred from admitting limitations, we thus afford ourselves the opportunity to address limits skillfully rather than deny them.

This slogan may lead us in surprising directions. As the saying goes, during tough times it may become suddenly clear who your friends are and who they are not. In difficult times help may be hard to come by. But there will usually be someone to help. It might not make sense who shows up. It might not be who you expected or wished – but be brave enough to ask for and accept that help. Accept the help you are offered.

Also be sure to let others know you need help. This will require vulnerability. But that vulnerability is a gift and an honor to offer to our friends. It can be an egoless-ness that will upgrade our life and maybe even lead to beautiful new relationships.

A helpful piece of Buddhist advice to remember is – genuine compassion is for the whole situation; it is a compassion that runs both ways, towards ourselves and others.

4. Just Put the Fire Out

Be alert before manufacturing a warped sense of “self.”  One of the greatest distractions in every hardship is the tendency to adopt a victim identity, or a blaming posture that locks us into fixed identities about self and other. This is a waste of time and energy during a crisis.

Tough times and obstacles happen, they come and go, this is part of life. We could easily stew in feeling badly about what is wrong with ‘me,’ or ‘how women are,’ or a variety of other story lines. In uncertainty, a knee jerk reaction is to fortify ourselves with a story and get lost in a quicksand of self-absorption in that story. These stories hold great power and can become substitutes for a direct communication with life. External circumstances do not define what you are or are not.

Deal with the circumstances directly and with minimal extrapolation about with this means about you and others. Save reflection for later. Avoid paralysis by analysis. Once past a crisis, we are in a better position to assess the situation and draw meanings. While in a crisis, deal with it as straightforwardly and simply as possible. As the Buddhist story says, when your house is burning down, don’t stand outside and try and figure out how the fire started. If your house is on fire, concentrate on putting the fire out.

These are four slogans for stopping a meltdown and starting Buddha mind.

  1. Take it like a Bodhisattva
  2. Be Like Water
  3. Accept help and Accept for help
  4. Just Put the Fire Out

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Notes and References

This is a public teaching transcript adapted from a Berkeley teaching with Pema Khandro in 2011.

For more on this topic see Pema Khandro’s article on facing death and rupture:
Pema Khandro – Bardo teachings – 4 Points for Letting Go in the Bardo

The featured image is an image of Yeshe Tsogyal from:
http://dakiniasart.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Yeshe-Tsogyal-Detail-A-Images-Of-Enlightenment.jpg

Pema Khandro
Pema Khandro is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, humanitarian, and teacher in the rare lineage of Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis. Raised in the west, ordained in the Nyingma lineage, enthroned as a tulku and trained as an academic, Pema Khandro presents both a traditional perspective and a modern voice. Read more at: https://www.pemakhandro.org/pema-khandro-extended-biography/