The Spiritual Teacher

GuruRinpoche3

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Great Perfection: Buddha in the Palm of the Hand” by Gyaltrul Rinpoche

The first root downfall is to disrespect one’s root guru or gurus. If we belittle or disrespect our spiritual teacher, our guru, then not only do we shut the door to liberation, but probably we will have a difficult time getting out of the lower realms.

What makes someone your guru, your spiritual teacher? To begin with, an empowerment. Once you have received an empowerment from a teacher, the teacher becomes the guru, the object that this first vow pertains to. When it comes to inner tantric empowerments this is especially so. If a person has been your teacher from childhood onward, has taught you dharma continuously, or has been an important catalyst for the development of your insight, or has given you teachings on the generation and completion stages, or has openly revealed to you the secret oral instructions on the great perfection atiyoga, this person can be considered your guru. This kind of teacher is said to be one who has been kind to you in three ways: by giving  you empowerment, by giving you teachings on generation and completion stage practice, and by giving you teachings on the great perfection. Whether the teacher has given you only one, two, or all three of these, if you disparage or belittle that teacher in any way the samaya is lost.

Now how is this done? For instance, if you feel that you are more learned than the teacher, and that you could have done it better. In the extreme case you would eliminate your teacher so that you could take his place. Or, with a mind of jealousy, anger, or attachment, any of the poisons, to speak badly about the teacher to others, to tease the teacher, to disrespect teacher from the door of your body (such as ignoring the teacher), to disturb the teacher, upset the teacher’s mind, or cause the teacher to be displeased–of all broken samaya this is the heaviest. Very difficult.

As it has been taught, as an antidote to these problems, and to avoid them, you must always see the spiritual teacher as a living buddha and the embodiment of all buddhas, in all situations.

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.”

The Mystical Bond

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Keeping Heart Samaya”

The Lama, being the condensed essence of all three objects of refuge, is also considered to be inseparable from the Dharma.  The Buddha is like the Lama’s mind in this case.  The Dharma is like the Lama’s speech.  So as a student, together with one’s Lama, one takes on the responsibility of learning Dharma.  It really isn’t enough to go around and say, “I have a Buddhist teacher!  Oh, I have a Buddhist teacher!  This is very good!”  And feel really happy about that.  That is great.  I hope you do feel happy about it, but it is not enough to do that and no more because it really isn’t that valuable to have met with your teacher, which is really very precious, if you do not follow the Buddha’s teaching, which is the Dharma.  Otherwise, what you are doing is coming to the temple to be entertained once a week for roughly an hour and a half, or longer, if you engage in other activities.  So a relationship where only entertainment occurs is really not that valuable.  You can get that from Blockbuster.  You don’t need a Buddhist teacher for that.

What you need a Buddhist teacher for is to connect you to the method, the Dharma, which is the Buddha’s speech.  You need a teacher so that you can travel on this path in order to accomplish the supreme result of liberation.  So the second commitment that the student must make to the teacher is to practice and learn Dharma, to maintain a healthy spiritual interest in Dharma and that means, once again, reflecting on the Buddha’s foundational teachings–realizing the faults or flaws of cyclic existence.  Then we practice a kind of renunciation that makes us eager to drink the nectar of the Buddha’s teaching for our self and for all sentient beings.  We begin to develop the mind of compassion.  For our self and for all sentient beings this Dharma practice represents the end of suffering, so we are eager and pleased to learn Dharma, to learn to think like a Dharma practitioner.  That is the second commitment.

The Lama, as the condensed essence of all three objects of refuge, is also considered to be the Sangha.  The mystical relationship between the Lama and the Sangha is quite profound, quite beautiful.  The Sangha is like the Lama’s body in that the Sangha has the samaya, or the responsibility, of holding or anchoring the Buddha’s teachings in the world in the same way that the Lama’s body, or appearance or presence, establishes the Buddha’s teachings right here, in the world.  Teachings are here in the world, being conferred here in the world.  The Sangha becomes an extension of that appearance.

Here in this Sangha for instance, primarily the ordained, but other Sangha members as well are trained as umdzes, or chant leaders.  We have the chopön, who handles ritual objects during the puja.  The Sangha are all well-trained, and all of them have different jobs.  We have archivists who keep our books in good, healthy order and keep them in a respectable and clean place.  There are many, many different functions, and these are all considered extensions of the Lama’s body.  This is the Lama’s wheel of activity.  The entire Dharma community then is the Lama’s extended body or wheel of Dharma activity.  So the mystical bond between the Lama and the student is closer than one’s own breath, more essential than one’s own essence, more relevant than one’s own mind, speech, body, anything.

As the Lama’s body, the Sangha also has a certain responsibility to one another, and this responsibility is a very important part of the samaya or commitment to the Lama,.  Remember, there is the responsibility to uphold and propagate the Buddha’s teachings, to follow and learn more about Dharma, the responsibility to uphold and protect the Sangha, and the responsibility of the Sangha to be the extension of the Lama’s activity.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Caring for the Precious Sangha

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Keeping Heart Samaya”

As a student, one of your responsibilities is to uphold and protect the Sangha, one of the Three Precious Jewels.  The way that works is this. The Sangha is one body.  If one part of the human body goes sour, if there is some negative consciousness rattling around somewhere – and nowadays even doctors know that there is some connection – the body will develop a cancer.  If even one part of it has become disorganized, then the whole body becomes sickened.  So the Sangha’s responsibility to one another is virtuous conduct.

By virtuous conduct I mean that in the Sangha there should never, ever be gossip and slander. NEVER!  I cannot say this strongly enough.  If there will ever be a time when the Buddha’s teachings are destroyed, it will be from the inside because there is nothing on this earth, other than Buddhist practitioners, that have that power.  If the Buddha’s teachings and their purity are ever destroyed, it will be by Dharma practitioners committing non-virtuous acts.  Gossip and slander that are harmful and disruptive to the Dharma community is a heinous crime because the Sangha is like a beautiful, virtuous, supreme and exalted body; not an ordinary body, but a body that leads to liberation, a body that walks to liberation, a body whose sole purpose is to bring about the liberation of all sentient beings.  This is purity itself.  This is truth itself.  If instead of upholding that truth by keeping samaya with the Lama, the Sangha instead engages in this kind of non-virtuous conduct, this cancer is created. This is such a heinous crime because of what is lost.  Where else in samsara can we find such great benefit as from the Sangha or spiritual community?  Where else will such help and support come than from the Lama’s extended body, this pure activity in the world?  So because something very pure and precious has been harmed, the weight of the crime is very great.

I particularly have a strong dislike for gossip and slander.  I have seen what kind of harm it can do in religious communities.  Even in the ordinary context in this day and age, gossip and slander have gotten to be so stylish and so outrageously prevalent and hip that we don’t even seem to mind closing down our government so that we can do it.  We don’t seem to mind paying any price, including completely disrupting the responsibility between people in office and the people they serve.  Not to say that any of these things that are said aren’t right, but this kind of gossip has become such a thing, such a fad.  In other religious communities as well as Buddhist communities, it is a general religious phenomena.  But there is always gossip and slander.  It seems to be that if people think a teacher is pure, other people have to knock that teacher down.  Or if people think a particular faith is pure, other people have to gossip about it.  Why does it have to be that way?

As far as I am concerned, if you bring gossip and slander into this community, which is the Lama’s body, being the Lama here, I take it very personally.  If you bring gossip or slander into this community, you are wrong, wrong because you brought it.  Even if the story you are telling is right, you are wrong because what we are doing here by creating gossip and slander, is to harm the body of the Sangha, and there is a breakage of samaya.  We have not upheld the three objects of refuge.

Now, of course, if there is ever a problem with misconduct on the part of any religious leader, anything like that, we hope that those who are engaged in this conduct will turn to their teachers and receive spiritual guidance.  But the antidote to that is support and compassion.  The antidote to that is not the hatred, disease and sickness of gossip and slander.  That only harms the body and creates a cancer in the Dharma community.  So part of the samaya between students and teachers – and I will tell you that if I could legislate that it would be 100 times as strong here – for any of you who are truly committed to being my students, you must cut out gossip and slander from your life immediately, whatever it takes.  Purify that non-virtue.  Stop now.  You help no one and you harm yourself.  It brings nothing but unhappiness.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Heart Samaya

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Keeping Heart Samaya”

We’ve talked about the commitment made by the teacher when accepting a new student. What about the commitment by the student to the teacher, the samaya between the student and the teacher?  What is that all about?  There must be some kind of reciprocal relationship.  Obviously the teacher cannot insist on the student’s progress without the student’s willingness.  The student has to be willing to follow Lord Buddha’s teachings, has to be willing to accept the objects of refuge as their true refuge from the sufferings of samsara.  So there is a reciprocal commitment that is required.

It is extremely important that the teacher maintain their ethical and moral responsibility to the student.  That is to say, the teacher honors the student and thinks of the student with such high regard and such respect that actually it is said that a pure teacher will consider the student to be worth more than their own safety or comfort.  In a sense, they hold the student up in the same way that a parent holds up their child, not necessarily as superior, but as vitally important and cared for.  Any of you who have been parents know that in a dangerous situation, before you think of your own safety, if you have that bonding and love with your child, you’ll think about the safety of the child first. That is always the case.  And when the mother hears the cry of her baby child for food, she doesn’t say, “I am not ready to feed you now.  It’s not convenient for me to feed you now.  I have no wish to feed you now.” Instead, the mother wants to answer the child’s call as though the mother were filled with milk and the child were very hungry.  It is very instinctive and very natural.

So the relationship occurs in that way on the teacher’s side of the fence.  Now what about the student, what is the student’s part in the equation?

Well, there are certain teachings and certain rules that one must follow, but I don’t like to think of them as merely following dogmatic rules.  I like to think of this samaya, or this commitment, as a samaya of the heart.  Something that is deep and profound,  instead of like a cheap and gaudy display. It doesn’t burn hot like paper, quick and then gone.  It burns deep and slow like good strong hardwood or even better, good strong coal-something that burns hot for a long time, steadily without interruption.  This is how the relationship between the Guru and disciple should be.

When the student learns about the samaya they are keeping with the teacher, they should hold that samaya not so much as a duty and responsibility but more as a jewel, just as the teacher holds the student as a jewel.  So that relationship then is considered precious, valuable, from the heart.  Not a methodical thing, not a thing done by rote, not a thing done blindly without any understanding, but a deep and pervasive samaya or commitment that is a heart connection that ultimately enhances the practice and the level of accomplishment that comes from practicing Guru Yoga.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

When the Teacher Meets the Student

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Keeping Heart Samaya”

Guru Yoga is a very important, very fundamental aspect of the practice of Vajrayana. When a student and a teacher come together, following in the footsteps of Guru Rinpoche as he taught, the relationship between the student and the teacher is upheld by the teacher in a very profound way.  Once the teacher accepts the student as their very own and takes them into their heart and actually into their body, speech and mind, it is the teacher’s commitment to bring blessings and benefit to that student, not only in this lifetime but in every future lifetime.

The student then becomes extremely important to the teacher, in that the teacher, upon accepting the student fully once that relationship has been established, promises to return lifetime after lifetime in whatever form is necessary in order to be of benefit to that student.  So there is a heart commitment or heart “samaya.”  When the teacher looks into the face of the student, the teacher says to the student or thinks to the student in their heart and in their mind, “I will not abandon you.  I will not abandon you to remain alone in cyclic existence.”

So, the commitment is that the teacher promises to see the student through until supreme realization.  This then becomes a “samaya,” or commitment, that lasts life after life, from life to death, from life to death, from life to death.  Again and again and again this relationship returns. There are many stories about how lamas, recognizing their students or seeing their students from the time before, whatever that time might be, feel great joy at seeing the face of the student again, tremendous joy,  as though seeing and having the opportunity to nurture their beloved child once more.  And this is a very beautiful and happy thing.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Importance of Samaya

The following is respectfully quoted from “Perfect Conduct: Ascertaining the Three Vows” by Dudjom Rinpoche:

6.b.1(e.4) Restoring through the general cleansing of three yogas:
As is taught in the Hasti-upapraveśya-tantra, the general cleansing yoga of the nest of remorse is the “Stirring the Depths.” By confessing in this way, there is nothing that cannot be purified. Practice this accordingly.

According to the tantra called Hasti-upapraveśya and the Vimaladeśanā contained within it, this is the sole text for practitioners of all three yogas who, having engaged on the path and then allowed their samaya to deteriorate, wish to confess and perfectly restore it. The king of all confessions is Narakakhadāpravāsaprasphotana (Stirring the Depths of Vajra Hell). Here, it is clearly taught that by offering the external gathering of substances, the internal gathering of own’s own aggregates, and the secret gathering of the awakened mind of bodhicitta on the fifteenth, thirtieth, or eighth day of the lunar month, all deteriorations will be fully purified. If that is not possible, but one still makes prostrations and recalls the deity in order to confess, purification will occur. It is important to persevere in this practice as much as possible.

As is said in this text, “To all the enlightened peaceful and wrathful deities and to their mandalas, I pay homage. I pray that I may cleanse all of my broken commitments without exception. There is no doubt that the five limitless non-virtues can be cleansed and that even the lower realms can be emptied from their depths and that beings will be led to the well-known pure realm of the enlightened beings of pure awareness. Since Vajrasattva is the essential nature of secret mantra and cleanses all of our karmic obscurations and obscurations caused by broken commitments, in order to empty the realms of cyclic existence, recite the mantra.”

Accordingly, if one just hears the names of the deities in this mandala, all deteriorations of one’s root and branch words of honor can be repaired. Signs of accomplishing the purification through confession include indications in the dream state; indications from the lama or deity; and dreams of bathing, putting on white clothing, ascending to the peak of a mountain, and the arising of the sun and moon and so forth. Until such signs arise, one should continue to make confession and apply the four remedial powers.

6.b.2 The faults of failing to restore broken words of honor:

If one fails to make confession in this life, extremely unpleasant consequences will ensue. In the next life, one will be born in the vajra hell of irreversible torment and suffering.

If mantra words of honor are left unconfessed, this becomes a cause for rebirth in what is called “vajra hell.” There is no place of greater suffering. As it says in the Guhyagarbha, “If the root or branch of words of honor deteriorate, the result is that falls to the lower realm.”

In the Prakativavictra-tantra, it states: “If a root word of honor deteriorates and no effort is made to restore it, one will fall to the vajra hell. If all the suffering of the ordinary hells were to be combined, that suffering would not equal one fraction of one hundred-thousandth of the suffering experienced in vajra hell.”

It can thus be understood that even an association with an individual who has accrued this degree of negativity can cause one’s own words of honor to deteriorate. Strong adverse effects may occur for those who even come into contact with such an individual. As it says in the Sarvasamudita, “Just as spoiled milk will taint are pure milk with which it mingles, a singe mantra practitioner who has allowed his words of honor to deteriorate can spoils the words of honor of everyone with whom he comes into contact.” Even if one precedes the breaking of samaya by discussing this with others as a means to communicate one’s intention, this too must be immediately confessed. As it says in the Mahānyūha, “If one harms lama, his or her retinue, or the vajra brothers and sisters by casually speaking negatively or by just a subtle sign of dissent, even if only in the dream state, this must be confessed and cleared from the mind. Actual and inadvertent neglect of samaya that remains unconfessed will cause one to fall headfirst into the hells.”

According to these teachings, it is clear that the loss of any root or branch word of honor is a cause for rebirth in vajra hell. However, there are differences in the degree and duration of the suffering experienced, which vary according to the severity of the downfall.

7. The benefits of guarding the words of honor:

With no deterioration, the maximum will be sixteen consecutive rebirths; the minimum will be in this life, at death, or in the intermediate period. Other benefits include accomplishment of the eight common powers; and obtainment of the seven features of a divine embrace. For this purpose, spontaneously accomplish the twofold purpose of self and others.

The words of honor are the source of all noble qualities and are the very support for the stability and presence of such qualities. As it says in the Samānya-sūtra, “Just as the planting of a seed is dependent upon the earth in order for the result to mature, the life essence of the Dharma remains within the words of honor, which fully mature into the unsurpassed state of awakening as the precious life-essence of virtue.”

Temporary benefits include the accomplishment of all that one aspires to obtain; an appearance that is pleasing to all; becoming an object of the veneration of others, including the most powerful worldly gods; and being blessed by the buddhas, bodhisattvas, dākas, dākinis, and all objects of refuge, who guard one like their own child. Having understood the importance of pure samaya by entering the path of all the buddhas, one will quickly ascend the stages of vidyādharahood to realize enlightenment.

If in one’s immediate life one is unable to persevere in the accomplishment of the two stages, yet never allows the words of honor to become defiled, then after taking sixteen successive rebirths enlightenment will be realized. This is the longest possible period of time it will take just through the force and purity of the words of honor alone. After at least seven rebirths, one will meet with the profound path of the two stages and gradually be liberated. The speediest result occurs if one maintains pure words of honor coupled with diligence in the two stages of practice, resulting in the realization of nondual vidyādharahood in that very life. Those of average sensibility will realize the illustrative clear light, which will become the actualization of absolute clear light at the time of their death, and the obtainment of nondual kāya that arises from training. If absolute clear light itself is realized, then at death the nondual kāya (arising from no-training) will be obtained. Those of common sensibility, due to their practice, faith in the lama, and strong aspiration for the pure realms, will be liberated in the bardo (antarābhava) [intermediate state] by arriving in the natural nirmānakāya pure realm.

These are not the only noble qualities that arise from pure samaya. In addition, both extraordinary and mundane spiritual attainments are obtained. The eight mundane spiritual attainments include the power to make an eye medicine, which, when applied, allows one to see without impediment or physical obstruction; speed walking; the sword accomplishment; seeing underground; making power pills; flying in space; disappearing; and extracting the essence. These eight powers are called mundane because they are still of this world and can also be accomplished by non-Buddhists. They qualify as accomplishments belonging to the paths that are both worldly and transcendental. According to Vajrayāna, these qualities are developed during the two yogic states and are thus termed common because they are not the ultimate result. In addition, the eight sovereign qualities are achieved.

The Vajra Master: from “Dakini Teachings” by Padmasambhava

The following is respectfully quoted from “Dakini Teachings” by Padmasambhava as translated by Erik Pema Kunsang:

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: If a master himself has not been conferred empowerments and he gives them to others, will they receive empowerments or not?

The master replied: Although you may be appointed by a charlatan to the rank of minister thus entrusted with power, you will only meet with misfortune. Likewise, although you may have an empowerment conferred upon you by a master who himself has not received it, your mind will be ruined. Moreover you will destroy the minds of others and go to the lower realms like cattle yoked together falling into an abyss. Carried away within an iron box with no exits, you will be sent to the bottom of hell.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Isn’t the offering of a gift when receiving empowerment just something you yourself have invented?

The master replied: All the teachings and tantras explain that at this present time when you have obtained the fortune of a human body after being on errant paths for innumerable aeons, you should, free from the three spheres of concepts, offer your body, life, and spouse to the master who shows the path of unexcelled enlightenment.

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 rebirth 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.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Which is more important, the master or the yidam deity?

The master replied: Do not regard the master and the yidam as different, because it is the master who introduces the yidam to you. By always venerating the master at the crown of your head you will be blessed and your obstacles will be cleared away. If you regard the master and yidam as being different in quality or importance you are holding misconceptions.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Why is it important to practice the yidam deity?

The master replied: It is essential to practice a yidam deity because through that you will attain siddhis, your obstacles will be removed, you will obtain powers, receive blessings, and give rise to realization. Since all qualities result from practicing the yidam deity, then without the yidam deity you will just be an ordinary person. By practicing the yidam deity you attain the siddhis, so the yidam deity is essential.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: When practicing a yidam deity, how should we meditate and practice in order to attain accomplishment?

The master replied: Since means and knowledge are to practice the spontaneously present body, speech and mind through the method of yoga sadhana, they will be accomplished no matter how you carry out the sadhana aspects endowed with body, speech, and mind. They will be accomplished when the sadhana and the recitation are practiced in a sufficient amount.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How should we approach the sugata yidam deity?

The master replied: Realize that you and the yidam deity are not two and that there is no yidam deity apart from yourself. You approach the yidam deity when you realize that your nature is the state of nonarising dharmakaya.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Which yidam deity is better to practice, a peaceful or wrathful one?

The master replied: Since means and knowledge are practicing the spontaneously present body, speech, and mind through the method of yoga sadhana, all the countless sugatas, peaceful and wrathful, chief figures and retinues, manifest in accordance with those to be tamed in whatever way is necessary–as peaceful and wrathful, chief figures and retinues. But as they are all one taste in the state of dharmakaya, each person can practice whichever yidam he feels inclined toward.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: If we practice one yidam deity, will that be the same as practicing all sugatas?

The master replied: The body, speech, and mind of all deities are manifested by the three mayas in accordance with the perception of those to be tamed. In fact, no matter how they appear, if you practice one you will be practicing them all. If you accomplish one you will have accomplished them all.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Is there any fault in practicing one yidam deity and then practicing another?

The master replied: Although the sugatas manifest as various kinds of families and forms, out of skillful means to tame beings, they are in actuality inseparable, the state of equality. If you were able to practice all the buddhas with this realization of their inseparability, your merit would be most eminent. But if you were to do so while regarding the yidam deities as having different qualities which should be either accepted or rejected, you would be immeasurably obscured. It is inappropriate to regard the yidams as good or bad, and to accept or reject them. If you do not regard them like that, it will be excellent no matter how you practice.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Through performing the approach to one tathagata, will we accomplish the mind of all sugatas?

The master replied: By practicing with a vast view and remaining in the nature, you will attain stability in a yidam deity. When you complete the recitation, you will accomplish the activities of all the victorious ones without exception by simply commencing them.

Lady Tsogyal asked the Master: If one’s view is high, is it permissible to dispense with the yidam deity?

The master replied: If you attain confidence in the correct view then that itself is the yidam deity. Do not regard the yidam deity as a form body. Once you realize the nature of dharmakaya you will have accomplished the yidam deity.

How to Cherish What is Precious

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

We should understand that if we feel that connection with the Guru, 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.  One should not 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 Buddha Dharma 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 in 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.

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.   But 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 Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

The Vow of the Student

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

When the student accepts the teacher, they must honor that vow and they must make a similar vow in their own way.  That vow is contained in The Seven Line Prayer.  “Following you, I will practice.”  Even though the prayer is directly to Guru Rinpoche, the prayer has an inner, outer and secret level of meaning.  We recite it thinking of Guru Rinpoche on a lotus having the intention, hopefully, to understand that even though this appears as Guru Rinpoche on the lotus, it is inseparable from our own Root Gurus, same Nature, same taste, same essence, same uncontrived primordial essence.  And so, every time we recite the prayer to Guru Rinpoche, The Seven Line Prayer, we reconfirm that entire process—recognizing that Guru Rinpoche was the one that came from Orgyen, that he was born on a lotus in an extraordinary way.  This is like our saying, “I understand that this is not ordinary.  I understand that this did not happen as ordinary births, as ordinary conditions, happen.  And so having understood, I also promise to follow and to practice.”  And then we ask for the Guru’s blessing, Guru Pedma Siddhi Hung.  Guru Pedma, grant me your blessings.

There is so much condensed into the power of that little prayer that I make you say again and again and again. There’s so much.  One can go so deeply with just that one prayer.  One can move through the stages of recognition to a depth that we didn’t think we could ever reach.  One can create that connection by reciting again and again and again, “Following you I will Practice. Following you I will practice.”  And so, even though those meaningful words are simple, we can understand them more deeply and more deeply and more deeply.

“Following you I will practice.”  What does it even mean?  Does it mean I dress like Guru Rinpoche or act like Guru Rinpoche or do I wear some of his funny earrings, or…  What do I do?  (I’ve got some funny earrings on, by the way.)  That’s not it.  “Following you I will practice.”  First, we practice the way Guru Rinpoche practiced—for the sake of sentient beings.  That’s how Guru Rinpoche practiced.  He came and was born into the world for no reason other than to benefit beings.  He didn’t have to come and learn; he didn’t have to come and hang out.  Like Lord Buddha himself. He didn’t have to come and learn or hang out, and yet he came for the benefit of sentient beings.

And so that’s the way in which we promise to practice. Not only throughout this prayer, or throughout this hour that I am practicing, but throughout this day, throughout this week, throughout this month, throughout this year, throughout all my lifetimes, may I follow the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and liberate beings. We’re talking here about liberating beings from suffering.  This is what Guru Rinpoche did.  Yes, he taught.  Yes, he hid termas.  Yes, he gave us the means, the method.  But the intention was about liberating sentient beings.  Following you, therefore, I will practice.

And so that’s our commitment.  We take on this tremendous commitment, this tremendous opportunity to liberate beings from the clutches and the ravages of samsara.  And that means we’ll live the week like that, the month like that, the year like that, the decade like that, our lives like that.  And at the time of our death, we will make prayers to be reborn following Guru Rinpoche.  And in our next life, we are reborn again to continue and to benefit beings.

This is the method.  This is the way.  This is the powerhouse.  We rely on this promise,  this blessing.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

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