Samaya and Guru Yoga

The following is an excerpt from “Dakini Teachings: A Collection of Padmasambhava’s Advice to the Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal”  
“Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How severe is the misdeed of breaking
the master’s command?

The master replied: The misdeeds of the three levels of existence do
not match even a fraction of the evil of breaking the command of your
master. Through this you will take birth in the Unceasing Vajra Hell
and find no liberation.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How should we regard the master
possessing the oral instructions from whom we request teachings?

The master replied in verse:
You should know that the master is more important
Than the buddhas of a hundred thousand aeons,
Because all the buddhas of the aeons
Appeared through following masters.
There will never be any buddhas
Who have not followed a master.

The master is the Buddha, the master is the Dharma,
Likewise the master is also the Sangha.
He is the embodiment of all buddhas.
He is the nature of Vajradhara.
He is the root of the Three Jewels.

Keep the command of your vajra master
Without breaking even a fraction of his words.
If you break the command of your vajra master,
You will fall into Unceasing Vajra Hell
From which there will be no chance for liberation.
By serving your master you will receive the blessings.”

Guarding Your Heart

Padmasambhava

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru is Your Diamond”

Here in America, we have a lot of pop-psychology. We all have these little boxes about how relationships ought to be; and pop-psychology has told us how big they ought to be and what shape they ought to be in. And we are told that we should be independent in certain ways and then sharing in other ways. And then, you know, one way or another way we are told how we ought to be. I want to tell you that the relationship of Guru Yoga is not like that. For instance, in relationships we are taught, I’m ok, you’re ok. What is it? Don’t be co-dependent. So don’t be in a co-dependent relationship. Well, if you’re going to be in a co-dependent relationship, I guess it ought to be with your guru. But you don’t look at it that way, because a co-dependent relationship is where two people who are ill or not seeing clearly or deluded or neurotic in some way, are being neurotic together, and it fits.

Well, that’s not the same with one’s own root guru. You can freely and openly give your whole heart and know that you are not in danger. You can freely and joyfully walk, dance, through that door of liberation, and you will be happily and joyfully received. You can depend utterly and completely on the Three Precious Jewels and the condensed essence which is the root guru and never fall. This is the one time you should not guard your heart. A difficult habit to break for all of us.

So again, we’re not talking about personalities, because that’s ordinary. We’re not talking about you guys coming to live all at my house.  Not like that. That’s ordinary, ordinary context. We are thinking that the blessing of my teacher resides as me, in me and I am that. And like we say in The Seven Line Prayer, “Following you, I will practice.” Through that devotion, through that practice, all the blessings of the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas are yours, freely given. To the deserving student, to the practicing student, the guru will always appear. And we should always today be creating the causes for the guru to appear tomorrow, in whatever form.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo all rights reserved

 

 

Mixing the Mind with the Guru

mirror

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru is Your Diamond”

Guru Yoga can always be depended on to reestablish and continue the blessing. I promise you, if we call out to the guru with full heart, with determination and with fervent regard and recognition, the guru will respond, whether it’s in the way that you would like which is ‘Hi! I’m here for lunch,’ or whatever. It may not be that way. It may be something quite different; and sometimes it’s not something that feels good right away. One of my favorite students works herself to death and forgets to practice sometimes, and then periodically does things like break her back or, you know, injure herself in some way. And then she practices and amazing things happen. I wish she wouldn’t do it that way, but she does. You know who I’m talking about, out in Sedona. I have other students that kind of orchestrate separation and return in order for that feeling of return. But I wish they wouldn’t do that, because that feeling of separation often comes with some cause and effect relationship. And again if it were my diamond, I’d be shining it up all the time. I’d be collecting that interest all the time.

We use Guru Yoga that way to create the causes for continuation on the Path. The teacher should never be frightening. The teacher is your friend, your friend who will take your hand and walk you, lifetime after lifetime, even when you stumble and you fall. Something will arise through the devotion that you practice in this lifetime to protect you even in your next life. Eventually we come to the place where we see everything as the blessing of the guru. Everything. Sometimes we feel some confusion, and maybe even confusion for a long time, but you know that that guru would not let you down. You know that. And so you count on that, even the confusion, to be a blessing. Eventually because of that devotion, the confusion will clear and the guru will appear again like an underground spring coming once again to the surface.

Guru Yoga is the most potent of all practices and it’s the most simple. One can practice Guru Yoga simply by visualizing the guru above the crown of one’s head and making offerings in a visualization way, and then receiving the blessing, real quick. The white blessing from the guru’s body to your body, and it does come in the head, white to white; the red blessing from the guru’s speech, from the throat to your throat; the blue blessing from the guru’s mind, which is the heart, from his heart to your heart (or her heart). And you can receive that blessing constantly. It’s free. It’s yours. You can receive it periodically. You can receive it every morning, every night—whatever you want, as much as you want. That’s the beauty of Guru Yoga. You should think that the guru is like your constant companion. Not in a creepy way. I don’t want you guys looking in my window, But in a wholesome way, where we understand that this nature is freely given, like method that one can use. It is indistinguishable from the ground which is full Enlightenment, the method which is Dharma, and the result which is the completion or accomplishment of the precious awakened state.

So we understand the guru is the ground, the guru is the method, the guru is the result. We begin to mix, through the devotion, through calling out our own nature, our own mind, our own qualities, willingly with that of the guru; and over time, that blessing mixes like milk with water and we understand that, indeed, Lord Buddha resides in us all. We understand that indeed each one of us is some uncontrived beginningless and endless and yet fundamentally complete luminous nature,  some state of awakened and yet uncontrived view. That we are that in our nature. And our job in this lifetime is to use the blessings of our gurus, to use their accomplishment, their qualities, their methods; to listen carefully and accordingly accomplish awakening to that, awakening to that nature. It’s the swift way. It’s the rocket ship. It’s powered because it’s like lighting something at both ends. You’re not thinking, ‘Oh I have to go there.’  We are thinking, ‘This is like a mirror and a mirror,’  inseparable in their nature.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

What Do Blessings Look Like?

Prayer Room

The following is an excerpt from a teaching called “The Guru is Your Diamond” 

If our teachers had not accomplished any Dharma, how would they be of any use to us? So we expect it of them and we rely on them to guide us in the way of Dharma. Sometimes it pisses us off. We’d rather go on vacation. We’d rather have a little more fun. I mean, it’s Sunday afternoon, isn’t it? And we have all kinds of reasons why we should maybe do something else, but we come back. There is my friend. If this teacher can bother to appear again and again for no reason other than to liberate sentient beings as my guru has, then I can at least be here. I can at least come half way, come full with devotion. When we are in the presence of our own root guru and we have that connection and we have the history and karma of the guru having ripened our mind in some way in the past, that ripening will surely come again. With faith and devotion and practice, it will surely come again. And so we have that kind of faith. We know in our hearts and our minds that we can rely on this one for that kind of help.

Should it happen that we cannot meet with the guru for some reason, or there is some difficult point in one’s path, some difficult moments, some difficult times, maybe even some difficult months or years, still, so long as the guru remains in the world, we can turn our face towards the guru and know. It’s like falling off a horse. You can always get back on.

But the problem, and there is a problem with that, is that if you waste your time with that precious jewel and don’t collect its interest, the jewel somehow becomes more distant, less potent, less present, less precious, less everything. And we think to ourselves, ‘Why is the guru not in my life so much?’  And we tend to think, ‘Oh, it’s because the guru’s over here or the guru’s over there, or the guru is not speaking right now, or the guru is this, or the guru is that.’  And you can think that way if you want to but it won’t help. We must think, ‘Now I’ve come to this place. I have chosen my guru and I am steadfast. And I have seen the door of liberation. Yet somehow things are a little mixed up here, I can’t quite get to it. I don’t feel focused. I don’t feel like I understand this blessing. I feel outsourced. I feel like I’m out to lunch somewhere on the Path here.’  And so we think, ‘Oh, what is the problem?’ Well, the first thing we have to do is correct our view and think, ‘This is the door to liberation. It is present in the world.’ Period. End of story. ‘What must I do? What must I do?’

Sometimes it takes traveling to see your guru. Sometimes it takes sitting down and doing Guru Yoga like you never did it before. And it can work out a myriad of ways according to one’s karma, according to one’s blessing. I’ve had it both ways. I’ve traveled to see my guru and the blessing was immeasurable and phenomenal. And then I’ve stayed home and practiced Guru Yoga and with amazing signs. The blessing was amazing and fundamentally life changing. And one, I saw the guru’s face; and one, I saw the guru’s face.

And that’s the nature of this blessing. It doesn’t depend on time and space. It doesn’t depend on ordinary things at all. And unless you neglect it, it cannot lose its potency. We must think, as pertaining to Guru Yoga, that every day, even while now we sit in comfort and enjoy being together, that every day, even this day, we should earn the blessing to see the guru tomorrow. How will I see the guru? Maybe I’ll see the guru’s picture and it will jump out at me and touch my heart. Maybe I’ll see Guru Rinpoche’s picture and it will jump out at me and touch my heart. Or maybe I’ll say The Seven Line Prayer.  And wow, that one really…, that one did it. Or maybe I will do my practice and it feels deep and rewarding like an underground stream that has come suddenly to the surface and has given us something precious to drink.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Accomplishment of the Teacher

Guru Rinpoche Face

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru is Your Diamond”

How do we use the Guru Yoga as this rocketship? How do we understand the way it is used? Well, first of all, if we look at the Guru Yoga in our Ngӧndro book, the prayers are achingly beautiful. The tune, Lama Khyen No, that beautiful tun, you could almost hear it being sung on misty mountain tops. There’s something about it that’s just so haunting. And you get the idea when you’re doing this practice that it’s kind of geared that way. It’s geared to bring tears to one’s eyes. It’s geared to create an interdependent relationship that’s so intimate. It’s more than what we are accustomed to. We wouldn’t take an ordinary relationship and sing Boyfriend Khyen No, Girlfriend Khyen No. We wouldn’t do that. And why? Because there wouldn’t be any result. You might as well twiddle your thumbs. There just simply would be no benefit.

And yet we are given this method and it should cause us some benefit. Why? Why is that? Because we are, again, opening the eyes of recognition. What is it Lord Buddha said when he was asked how he was different? He said, “I am awake.” Awake in recognition. We are opening the inner eyes of recognition to understand the difference between the precious connection with one’s root guru—the ultimate nature that we share, that we depend upon utterly—between that and what is ordinary. You know, the stuff we get lost in so easily. We have this single-pointedness that we can whip ourselves back to. That’s how we use the guru when we get lost and wobbly and we’re kind of out in space. You know how we get in our own particular, you know, the noises in our head and everything. We get lost in that. We can use the guru as our centering back to that. We think this is none other than Guru Rinpoche, the second emanation of Lord Buddha, himself. This is the way. This is that nature. This is what is precious.

And so the lama gives us not only a way to have single-pointed concentration, but the lama also offers their own accomplishment. When one practices the Guru Yoga really deeply, whether it be the Guru Yoga in Ngӧndro or Shower of Blessings, or in any of the pujas that have Guru Rinpoche as the main focal point or Guru Rinpoche and consort as the main focal point, we should think thatthis is the way to practice Guru Yoga. And in each one of those practices, whichever it is, we understand non-dual nature. That’s what we’re working on. We see the arising from the nature of emptiness appearing in a real, but insubstantial, gossamer-like light form, first as the seed syllable and then as the guru.

We are telling ourselves our own story, because it is we also who have arisen from emptiness. It is our nature that is indeed also the seed syllable, and ultimately we are the same nature as the guru. And by the power of the guru’s accomplishment, through their many lifetimes of amazing practice, many lifetimes of looking out after sentient beings and accomplishing the needs of sentient beings and liberating sentient beings, they offer that. They offer themselves and their accomplishment in that way to be the very door to liberation. And so we should think of our teachers in that way: that we are in a burning house and there’s no other way to get out except that one door. Boy, would you ever be devoted to that door. That door would be on your mind. If your house were burning, and there were no other way to get out, wouldn’t it? That door would be…  And that’s how we should think. We should think that here we are in samsara; this is indeed the time of Kaliyuga. We have, at best, as many habitual tendencies guaranteed to bring us suffering as we do to bring us happiness. At best. 50/50, and that is so not usual. We tend to make ourselves more unhappy than we do happy. So we are in this burning house and we look to the teacher to provide the door to liberation.

So when we give rise to that devotion, it’s not to the person guru. It’s not to that person. So it doesn’t matter if you like what they’re wearing or how they smell or what they look like, or how they walk or anything like that. It doesn’t matter. That’s just the stuff you do in regular life. So you can just sweep it over. Instead you think, ‘This one has appeared and will appear throughout time out of mind until all suffering has ended, until samsara is emptied, as the door to liberation. What kind of dope am I that I wouldn’t walk through it?’  It’s that kind of fervent regard. Think of it that way. More than like/dislike, that kind of judgment, but rather fervent regard. And we rely on the accomplishment of our teachers.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

Meeting the Teacher

HHPR and JAL

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru is Your Diamond”

When we meet with our guru, our guru should have the capacity to ripen one’s mind, particularly where there is a close connection, where one has practiced under the guidance of this guru before. That’s happened to me with many of you. I see you and I just know you instantly—and, I know, you start crying—and you know me as well. And you can’t deny that. When that happens, it’s just undeniable. And for those fortunate students where that happens, often they wish to even short circuit the discrimination part because the feeling is so strong, the bond is so deep, that the recognition is prevalent. If that should happen to you, here or anywhere else, that is the most precious jewel you will ever find in this world. Whether you are gathering wealth, or gathering intellectual knowledge or whatever you were taught is precious in this world, that connection with that guru is the most precious jewel you will ever find.

First, it’s an indication you have practiced with this teacher before. Maybe an ordinary way of saying it would be, ‘When you see this teacher, you should see the feast laid out before you.’ The feast. And, you know,I have tasted this before. It’s almost like, in an ordinary way, if you go to a giant smorgasbord, one of those places people go to in America when they really want to chow down, and you see the roast beef, and the this and the that and the cobbler, you know, and you go, ‘Bingo, I’m in the right place!’  And you eat some of that, and you remember. It’s like remembering that taste in your next life. Nothing’s going to keep you from chowing down. You might be even a little weird about it at first, really emotional, and so forth; but nothing is going to keep you from that taste. If you’ve ever had that experience, I beg you to honor it. Not for my sake, but for yours.

That happened to me in this lifetime when I met His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. It was like my heart jumped out of my chest and was standing there talking to me. And like I met my mind, my nature. Like I was following something elusive my whole life and suddenly it was standing before me. Almost unbearable. And of course I did the same exact thing that you guys do when you meet your root teacher. You start dancing. Inside you start thinking, ‘What should I do? I should do this and I should do this. I’ll perform in this way, or maybe that way, or maybe this way.’ And of course you’re a stumbling, bumbling fool for a little while, just like somebody who’s newly in love.

If you find that connection, then you must honor it. And you must honor it by growing. Be ready. Some people say, ‘Oh, I really want to fall in love.’  But then when love hits you, you go, ‘No, I don’t want to change that much. A little scary here. Back off.’  And so sometimes, we’re like that when we meet in a sense our destiny, our unfoldment, when we meet our teacher. We go, ‘Oh, oh, oh!’ and we feel the feeling, we feel the joy, we feel the connection. Yet at the same hand, we’re like, ‘I can hardly bear it. I have to turn away a little bit. It’s too much. I don’t know if I can change that fast.’  But remember, the original reason for making the connection to the Path was to exit samsara, and that requires a good deal of change. So the relationship between oneself and one’s guru should be potent. It’s ok if it’s a little scary. Gives you a little respect.  In Palyul, my teacher, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche—you all know him—is known as having rather wrathful moments. I’ve met with a couple of them, and I still flinch. But that’s ok, ‘cause it gets my attention.

Ultimately, we come to understand that there is no friend like one’s guru, nobody in one’s life. Nobody in our lives—even if they take care of you and feed you and clothe you until the time of your death—is so willing and so eager to look out for your welfare. Our root gurus are more interested in our well-being than we can understand. I personally can tell you that I had a difficult time with that. I was an American. I mean, I know that I had all this old karma with the Path and I was recognized as this one and that one and the other one and all that, but I was still a 38-year-old American. (Yes, I was 38 when I met His Holiness.)  So I was an old dog with old habits. And I have to tell you that I didn’t understand that kind of love at first. I mean I understood that I felt this commitment to my students even though I had not met with the Buddhist teachers yet. I already had students and I understood the commitment to them. My teacher told me that apparently I was teaching Buddhadharma and I didn’t know it because I hadn’t read any books on it. But then, when I actually met him, and he became so intimately involved in my body, speech and mind, my whole life began to circumambulate my guru. I thought, ‘What is this?  I mean, I’ve never seen love like this. I’ve never seen anything like this.’ That this Lama would come all the way across the world to find me?  That he came all the way from India and the first thing he said when he hit California was, “Take me to that woman in Maryland.”  And so that’s how it happened.

I didn’t understand that every year he wanted to see me, and so I missed some years. I didn’t understand how much he is invested in my well-being and the well-being of my students. I didn’t understand when he built that place up in New York. Now I understand that he built it for us. Because I can teach you during the year what I have to give you, the ripening and the deepening; and then you can receive empowerment and take the next steps on the Path with His Holiness, my root teacher. And so after we established this place here, he did that. I didn’t understand that, but now I do.

I’ve never had that kind of love in this lifetime. I don’t know anyone else who has either. The kind of love that will… Let me explain to you. When His Holiness was here last year, one of his particularly devoted and very close disciples passed on, Kunzang Lama. And His Holiness just abruptly left even though he knew he wouldn’t make it in time, just left. For that one man. And when he got there, the man, Kunzang, had left him a note and the note said, “Guru, wherever you are, you are with me and I am with you. Please do not grieve.”  Like that. Can you imagine? They were so close. They came out of Tibet together. That kind of devotion to each other.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

How to Uphold the Opportunity

bee in jar

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru is Your Diamond”

We revolve in samsara likes bees in a jar. At some point, bees that know each other meet up. And when that happens and it happens to be one’s guru, this is the connection that is most precious. We should understand that if we feel that connection and that it is heartfelt, that is like a diamond that you should invest. To hold onto it and to keep it stagnant is not the way; not to say, ‘I’ve got this connection, therefore I’m in like flint.’  One has to take that connection and build on it. You have to use it for investment. You use that connection to create more virtue through learning the Buddhadharma and practicing accordingly; through going to the teacher for guidance and advice, and then practicing that accordingly. There’s no use going to the teacher for guidance and advice if you don’t practice accordingly. Then you’re simply cashing in that diamond for nothing. You’re throwing it out the window, and it’s too precious to waste. Instead, again, you should invest on it, build on it. That’s cash. That’s money in the bank. That’s the most precious thing you own in this lifetime, no matter how wealthy you are.

And so you go to that teacher for guidance, for advice. You allow that teacher and ask for that teacher to open and prepare your mind and to deepen the mind and to mature the mind; and you depend on that teacher similarly to… Let’s say you had somehow a cash cow in the bank, you know a diamond or some fabulous thing that could be earning interest. In the same way that that diamond might be the nugget and maybe you’re living off the interest, you think like that [about the  teacher]. You’re always making the moves and doing the things that never harm the principal and only increase the interest. See what I’m saying? I’m using a funny money analogy here, but it’s like that.

That diamond must be kept in a sacred place, enthroned upon the lotus of one’s heart where it cannot be harmed. And if you find that that diamond is somehow misplaced and it’s in your mouth and you’re talking about it in a non-virtuous way, get it back down there again. Do your practice. Recite The Seven Line Prayer. Reestablish that connection. Think that it lives in you, as it does.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Recognizing Liberation

Palyul Guru Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Conceptual Proliferation”

Now, in the way of confession, I will tell you honestly that this kind of situation has happened to me, and I’ve really done my best to remain pure in holding to the equality of all that lives. The way in which I hold to the equality of all that lives is that I don’t look at you in the way that you are now. I don’t see you that way. I see you as being the very Lord, the very Buddha, and that someday you yourself will be in the business of liberating beings. So you are, each and every one of you, to me, a treasure beyond any measure. A treasure, a unique and incredible treasure. But not unique in your individuality, not unique in samsara. There’s nothing like what you really are. But I don’t actually look at each of your personalities. So I’ve had people say to me that I’m not accessible on a human level. It’s not that I’m not accessible on a human level. I do feel that I’m accessible on a human level. I’m just not friendly on that level because I don’t see you on that level. I don’t want to either. What would be the point? You do that well enough on your own. I can give you something else, and I’d rather do that.

Here’s where the honesty and the confession come in. I’ve had it happen a number of times that before I give a class I’ll be told that a teacher is here. There’s a teacher here. Someone will be sitting down and they’ll say this person teaches spiritual things to others and has a number of teachers, like 25 or 30 maybe (30’s much more impressive than 25, don’t you think?); and that person will sit down there and say, ‘Just remember that this person’s here and they even teach a little yoga.’ Or, no, ‘This person’s here and they channel, you know, like the hierarchy and everything. And you should know that this person is here.’ And I think what they expect me to do is go, ‘Ooooooooo!’ But I never do and it’s just so darned disappointing to everybody. Nobody really likes this about me. In fact, what I actually do… And here’s where the meanness in me comes out. What I actually do is that when I find such a one, I find a way to rib teachers that day. Or I find a way to not pay any special attention to them. You know why? Because I’d like to dismantle that super-structure. I’d like to see it fall apart before my very eyes. I would like to see them come to the point where they realize that they just don’t know, and they need to follow the guidance of the Buddha’s teaching. They need to follow the enlightened mind in truth. They need to get off the high of power and pride. They need to get real. Like that little guy said, ‘Get down and get funky.’

And so, it probably looks like, and perhaps there is a little bit of arrogance in there somewhere. What do you say? But in fact I want to tell you from my heart that I see that one, whoever that one might have been, the same as any of you—all in the same condition, all in the same shape, ultimately and supremely worthy, worth saving, worth loving. And I promise you from the depths of my being that I would come back and reincarnate if I could be of benefit to any one of you, just for one of you. And for that one also. So you can’t say that the love’s not there. But I don’t think that we’re serving ourselves and I don’t think that we’re serving each other when we play that little game.

So I challenge you to awaken each morning and continue every moment of every day by thinking I don’t know anything,  and make a big joke about it. OK? That’s going to be your big joke, like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Your big joke today is that you don’t know anything. You just don’t have a clue.  You’re going to start dismantling this craziness that you run around in and try to look for the lighthouse. Try to see it. Don’t make one up either. Go to your guru. Go to your teacher. Come and find out the path and practice the path, and practice it purely. And if your guru says to you that you are confused, then, buddy, you are confused. And if your guru says to you that you should practice compassion instead of anger, drop the anger, practice compassion. And if your guru says to you that you should let those thoughts, whatever they might be, whether they’re anger or pridefulness or whatever, rise to the surface of your mind and just leave them alone, don’t follow them, that you should meditate like that, then pal, it’s time to do it. You should think like that. You should think that when you’re here, your guru’s teaching. When you hear the teaching of the Buddha through the mouth of your guru, you should think that this is the very nature of my own mind shining at me. That this is liberation. This is liberation. Really think like that: This is liberation.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Extraordinary Connection

HHPR and JAL

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru Is Your Diamond”

When we practice Ngӧndro, one of the most important sections of Ngöndro is the Guru Yoga. It is beautiful. The cries to Guru Rinpoche are plaintiff and haunting and just moving. How can you describe it any other way? The Lama Khyen No. And yet in the Ngӧndro book, Guru Yoga’s at the last. When I started practicing Ngӧndro, I asked for special permission to practice the Guru Yoga first; and I was given that because of my special connection with Guru Rinpoche in the past. And to me, it was the most beautiful and pure and worthwhile time I’ve ever spent.

For most people, we want to start with the Taking Refuge and the Bodhichitta. And the reason why, again, is because the first need is to discriminate between what is extraordinary and what is ordinary. We cannot really practice Guru Yoga effectively unless we’ve made that discrimination. Because if we can’t make that discrimination, we’re basically practicing to a cartoon image that we do not have the depth yet to understand; or maybe we are practicing on a personality level—that my personality is worth worshipping the Guru’s personality. And again, that’s a baby step. It’s not to be sneezed at, but it’s not where we stay either. We go further than that.

When we practice Guru Yoga, that’s the rocketship of tantric Buddhism. That’s the shortcut. The luckiest practitioners on the Path of Vajrayana are those who feel—not that they have to display it in any outward way or even see their guru that often—but who feel they have, and who have cultivated a special connection with their teacher, a connection not of persona to persona, but of recognition that connection of recognition. And that is where  we go in our practice and we visualize our teachers and say, ‘I understand that this is the very nature of enlightenment; that this is the same nature as Guru Rinpoche; that this is the same nature as all the Buddhas of the ten directions. That this Buddha, this teacher that I have, has been taught to me by Guru Rinpoche to be the Buddha in Nirmanakaya form.’ And we think like that, that kind of recognition, that kind of intention; and a kind of—I hate to use the word passion, because people think of passion in only a certain category—but one develops a passion for the nectar that one’s teacher has to offer. That person is ripe. That person is ripe, not only to enter the Path, but blessed in such a way that not only will they continue, but very likely they will find completion stage practice, as well.

When we connect with our teacher in that way, and really give rise to that recognition, that says that, indeed, this is exactly what Guru Rinpoche promised. Guru Rinpoche said, “I will be there with you as your root teacher. If you call to me, I will be there.” And so, of course he’s saying that in the presence of one’s root guru, having been given the blessings, now we practice Guru Yoga. And that is the very nectar of Guru Rinpoche’s blessing. How fortunate for those of us who have that sense, even in some small form, enough to where you know, like an ember, you can fan the flame. That’s the most fortunate connection of all.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Rocketship

rocketship

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru Is Your Diamond”

Many people, when they come to the Path, they do feel the connection with some particular deity. I know of one person who felt a very strong connection to Manjushri, with his great sword cutting through ignorance. And yet that person did not practice proper Guru Yoga and understand that the nature that is Manjushri with the sword is the very nature that is our root guru; and that sword could be a word, a look, a piece of advice, some heart teaching, anything that cuts through the darkness of ignorance. Some of us can understand that and then others of us want to have our particular deity. You hear the pride in that, don’t you?  ‘I’m into Manjushri!  He’s the guy with the big sword. What a guy.’  And yet, every Buddha that we can visualize, all of the peaceful and wrathful deities that naturally appear in the bardo and are part of our own nature and can be recognized, each one of them has the complete and perfect qualities of all the Buddhas.

So, while it’s an amazing thing if you are attracted to some particular Buddha, like maybe Amitabha or Chenrezig or Tara, you might say, ‘Oh, I really love that deity.’  That’s good. Cultivate that. But do not miss the step that Guru Rinpoche gave to us when he said, “This nature, the nature of one’s teacher is unsurpassed by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions.”  Why did he say that?  To create confusion so that everyone in all our different places could look at our own particular root guru and say that’s the best one?   No, that’s crazy. That’s just more ordinary thinking. But instead, by implication, we understand that what we must do is to recognize the intrinsic nature that appears as our root guru, the promise of Guru Rinpoche fulfilled. And if Guru Rinpoche said this was going to work, well it’s going to work.

So, Guru Yoga is like a rocketship. We depend on the accomplishment, the qualities and the nature that appears as our own root guru. Early on in the relationship with our root teacher, we should practice thoughtful discrimination. That is to say, we should ask ourselves: Has this teacher really given rise to the great Bodhichitta?  Do we see that Bodhichitta is present here?  Ok. Check that box. Got that one. Ok. Do we see that this teacher has the capacity to ripen my mind?  Do I hear Dharma from this teacher?  Check that one. Is this teacher considered qualified by peers of her lineage/his lineage/their lineage, whichever?  Is this teacher properly recognized and considered properly an authority and a throne holder?  Does this teacher have good qualities? Does this teacher have the ability to communicate?  Let’s see. What else? Does this teacher have an unbroken chain that connects us to the source of the blessing, which is Guru Rinpoche?  You betcha!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We think through these things. And at that time if you decide this teacher is not for me, then there is no harm in saying, ‘I’ll keep looking.’  Maybe the connection is not quite right. So that’s when you do your discriminating and your thinking. But once you’ve decided—check boxes are all full, looks good to me and I have that feeling, I feel that connection, something is wiggling in my little heart chakra… So when we come to that place, after that point, you must put yourself on a diet, because after that point, there’s no more judgment.

 

Once we make the judgment and discrimination necessary and have that undeniable sense that one has entered the Path and met one’s root guru, after that point, judgment should be put aside. Then the ball is in your court. Not that the teacher doesn’t have a responsibility. I promise you, the teacher knows their responsibility, if they are worth their weight in salt. And that teacher not only knows their responsibility but also knows their students. A good teacher will be willing to say to a student keep looking. Go see this lama here or that lama there. See what you think. Once the teacher has accepted the student, and the student has accepted the teacher, then that bond becomes more intimate than any marriage, any mother and child relationship, any friendship. It’s hard to understand that because we think, ‘Oh, teacher. I only see you every so often, but I see my spouse and my children every day. Therefore, it must be more intimate.’

 

However, I will tell you that in order for you to be here, to be accepted as my student and to accept me as well, for that karma to mesh in that particular way, we must have known each other many times, many times. The relationship between student and teacher is not a relationship that ends in one lifetime. If we take vows together, I am responsible for you always. And so long as you remain in the world and have not yet accomplished liberation, I must appear again in samsara in order to liberate you. I must. Even if there’s only one, just you, your teacher will return for you. Under any conditions.

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