Before we begin, homage to the guru. And when we say homage we are not just talking about bowing down but basically some sense of surrender. It is not mere respect but it’s a total surrender. We do this surrender because we are aware of the downfall of ego-clinging. So therefore, total surrender to the guru.
The concept of the guru is very complicated. Guru always gets misunderstood as master. I don’t know whether master is guru. We don’t know yet. I don’t think so. Most probably not. Because – I don’t know – sometimes the master seems to have a connotation of learned one. So it comes within the context of education, accomplished being, from the more education point of view. Guru is not necessarily like that. As I said guru is a very complex – but I think this might help. Guru is not limited as the master but guru is the path also. Guru is everything. Guru is the breath. The color of this grape. The spaciousness of this room. But again, as I speak like this, there is a danger to categorize guru as “e v e r y t h i n g” which is like very abstract. So in this way guru is also personalized. So anyway, in the Mahayana, and specially in the Vajrayana tradition guru is probably the most important method. You know we were talking about the wisdom and the method. Method. Probably the supreme most method.
I believe that we are going to talk about relationship and love and all those stuff today. And probably I am not the right person to talk about these things but on the other hand I maybe the very right person, because – this maybe little bit uncomfortable for some of you to hear but I have many teachers that I have received teachings from, they are, I would say, really Buddha in person. Their kindness, compassion, their tolerance. And in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition it is believed that the guru comes in many different kinds of manifestations.
So within this context I will say that I have also learned something so precious and awakening from a girl I fall in love madly. I tried to call her last night whether I could mention her name but she is not available. Right now all I could say is that she is a dutch. Very beautiful, free spirited. And her parents are kind of like bohemian hippie. So this was when I was around early twenties. With the permission of my main teacher I decided to go to London to study. And for the first time I left the traditional surrounding where there is things like brocades as a table cloth, high thrones, attendants. Basically really almost like a godly life in one way. I went to London and I was alone. And I learned lots of things like making breakfast for instance. And going to supermarket and almost buying a cat food, thinking that it is for human beings. So it was a big lesson. Actually I dare say this but many younger generations lamas, rinpoches, esteemed high lamas, I think they should go through this this is what I suggest actually. It should be in the part of the rinpoche training curriculum. They should fall in love – of course they should make toast and go to supermarket so on and so forth, but they should also fall in love and then this girl should reject him. Because then we know what is suffering. Because until then when we talk about the truth of suffering we are always talking about things that are written in the books like death, old age, sickness. All abstract stuff. Most of the lamas don’t know what is meant by paying bills. You know the pressure of living in the modern society. I have learned a lot but most importantly this girl taught me a lot. Because I was completely madly in love I think. Because she was very free spirited. Really extremely free spirited I would say. I think she grow up in a hippie community so for her, like she was like amazingly free spirited. Sometimes we would travel in the subway and then she would you know nudge me and say: What do you think of that boy? You know like somebody traveling, just ordinary passenger. And before long she would be talking to him and then after a few days they are already together. Just for a night or two. Not long. You know she discards him also. But she in her own way she was very loyal to me. But it was so painful. And here I am supposedly the lama who is supposed to teach the free spirit, non attachment, do whatever you want. There is this girl, jolly, all the time happy, and really giving me a really precious teaching. I must really consider her as one of my awakening teacher. So special I would say.
So I can I think in some ways maybe I could talk about relationship.
Student: Hi. Thank you Rinpoche. I have heard about this gurus when I have to visualize it, don’t see them as a real person. Don’t see them as yawning and scratching. But just I am not enlightened enough to recognize a Buddha when I see it in the street. So if I see as a teacher I should not see him as a human being. And you said the opposite now. So, yes.
No no this is very good. When we say not see him as the human being, yes that is your aim. You have to think that he or she is the Buddha. You understand. But the entity itself, in order to communicate with you, let’s say your guru is like a what you think a sublime being is. With a hallow, you understand. Someone who doesn’t touch his feet when he walks on the earth, someone who flies. Someone who knows everything instantly. You know, someone who, if you have something like that, someone like that as your guru, you will not communicate. There will be no communication. We have already too many of those, how many ten thousand Buddhas, millions of Buddhas supposedly everywhere. This is not communicating. There is too many. This is like a statue you know. So the substance itself, the substance or the entity, the guru entity has to be, this is the challenge he or she has to have that human flaw and your challenge is to think that this flaw that I see is my own perception. He or she is the embodiment of the Buddha. That is your practice. We are talking about the complexity of condition. This is how human mind works. We are talking about creating a system that will dismantle all system including itself. This is the challenge.
In the Tantrayana, guru, the teacher, is taken as the ultimate, the embodiment of the all the object of refuge. Now that is saying a lot. That is really like. The reason why I was telling you earlier, those who have gone through the Theravada and the Mahayana teachings, then taking the Tantrayana, I was just saying that they are really good. The reason why I said this is because in all this Sutrayana which is the like Theravada tradition, they really encourage analysis, critical thinking. They always quote this quotations like come and see, not come and join, see for yourself. Buddha himself said, my teachings you have to analyze. You cannot take it for face value. And these are very important. And in the Vajrayana, we are assuming that you have done that. But you see the guy who came from California, recently, they are not doing this, they have not done that. And this is why there is a big misunderstanding about this guru business. In Tantrayana, guru is not a – actually even so we usually for a conventional reason we say, guru is, you know, guru, master, you know the word master. Actually in the Vajrayana, Tantrayana, guru is the path. And the reason is by now we are assuming you have done all the analysis such as, is all compounded things impermanent or not. For years you studied this, for years you studied is everything truly existent or not. All of that. If not years, at least a few month. You have been doing that. And then really coming to a conclusion that the most guilty, culprit, most – yes the real culprit is the ego. Clinging to oneself, cherishing oneself. After all the analysis we realize that cherishing oneself is the, it all boils down to this. This is the mother of all the emotion. Cherishing oneself. Not only cherishing oneself, actually even something more subtle then that, thinking that there is actually a truly existing self. Having that kind of delusion, that is the real culprit. Okay? After analysis if you come to that conclusion then next what. Next you have to open your diary book. Diary book. How much time you have. It is a matter of scheduling. Do you have lot of time or do you have a short time. Okay you want to get rid of this cherishing self, you want to get rid of the clinging to the self? Now, how much time do you have. Do you have three countless eons? Or you want to do it fast and get done with it. So that is the question now, the scheduling question. So generally we are assuming that everybody wants to get done with it quite as soon as possible. You know, right. We want the liberation fast. So now what do we have. What can we do. The fastest method is to hire someone. Fastest method is to really poke on you to really stir you, poke you, to really upset you. Also give you of course the path, the truth, of course. Just poking and, what you call it, upsetting is not enough. That you can just go to any place. But someone who can also give you – but those are equally important though. Someone who knows how to give you the right path, you know all the path, okay this what to do in order to fight aggression, this is what you do to fight the desire, anger. But he is not good at poking you or upsetting you. Not qualified, not good. You know many people these days worry there is a talk about all you know abusive gurus and stuff like that. Actually, from the Dharma point of view, we actually have the shortage of someone who actually poke you. We have fairly good enough gurus who can give you information. There are many many scholastic, well trained. Okay I have this and that problem. Guru will say oh yes page number twenty six. You need to do shamata, vipassana, this this this. There is many gurus who can do that. But a guru who has the courage, guru who has the courage to tell you, okay every morning you have to smell my armpit. That’s difficult. Because this guru has an agenda you see. This guru doesn’t want to lose students. This guru wants to have many many students. Become very popular. And then telling people smell armpit is not the right way to become popular. Have you ever seen a pamphlet, leaflet that says His Holiness this and that, expert in smelling your armpits or something. We always say His Holiness this, Manjushri himself, compassionate, he is the manifestation of this and that. We actually have the shortage of guru who actually knows how to poke people. Really, believe me, this is the truth. People actually are worried about, there is too much abusive people. Yes this is true, this is true. But if you are spiritually thinking, if you are serious, we don’t have enough. Yes we have to hire people who can do this job. And the thing is this, the challenge is this, this is your question I am answering. Challenge is this guru who you are supposed to think he is the embodiment of all the Buddha if he looks like the golden statue that you have just recently bought from India, you know this beautiful, serene, it won’t work. Then the whole, the guru effect won’t work. That is the challenge. This guru must like, has to have some kind of a disliking and liking. This guru needs to, this guru has to yawn sometimes. He has to fall asleep. He has to sort of do strange things. That is the tricky part. That is the tricky part. We don’t want to, actually you know, we should not talk about it too much, it is very, from the conventional point of view it is criminal to talk these things. It is almost like a crime. It is actually. It is.
And Jamyang Khyentse Choekyi Lodro said: If you want to see the buddha nature, the closest, the closest reflection of this buddha nature is this physical human guru. Other than that, there are many distant reflection like the Shakyamuni, you know Avalokiteshvara. Those are distant though. Those are distant. And this is a big point. See this is also why the guru path makes the path short. Because you know, with Shakyamuni Buddha and all of this, they will never come and correct you, you understand. You can do anything. You can basically interpret your path. This is the problem with the guruless path.
Spiritual master is really important. Because only through the spiritual master, only through his or her kindness and blessing, the great bliss or the dewa chenpo, maha sukkha, the great bliss can be actualized, only through the blessing of the guru. Guru is the Buddha, guru is the Dharma, guru is the Sangha. Guru is everything basically.
Let’s say you meet a guru who is actually very kind, compassionate, learned, has the lineage, he himself practices, very, what you call it, yes, little bit of realization maybe, little bit, but a little coward. Can’t do things that – you see you have bought the guru because you want things to be faster isn’t it. Which means that the guru, the utensil, has to perform its job and one of its job is – in order to perform this job the guru has to be quite courageous. And a courageous guru is difficult these days, very difficult. Some people might pretend they are courageous but really difficult. When I say courageous I am talking about gurus who doesn’t give a damn about social expectations. Guru who will not compromise the spiritual path for material gain, fame, anything. Wow, that is difficult.
Now then the next question is how much time do we have? Do you want to do it quick? Yes then, you know, the guru comes in here. And the guru, yes guru is difficult, really difficult. This guru business is really difficult. Situation like this happens. And needs a really strong devotion towards the path in order to apply the guru path as path.
Right now, our guru is not all pervasive. Right now, because of deluded mind, our guru is narrowed down to a physical guru, bound by time and space, bound by gender, bound by citizenship, bound by a physical human being. So because we are not skilled enough, every experience, everything that happens in our life, we just don’t know how to take them as the guru’s manifestation. So now this is a prayer, may I, by the power of all the merits I have created in the past, and also just before this aspiration, the seven limbs prayers, by this power, may the guru, may the splendor of the teaching, the guru, may it be everywhere like a space. Wherever we go we have to, we end up meeting a space, a sky. We cannot escape from the space, we cannot. Likewise, may I reach to a stage were everything become a guru. Also we can put poetic, like may everything, we can say – sometimes these poetic words could be quite deceiving such as we say, may the manifestation of the guru you know manifest at all time. These are meaning same but this is much more to the point, may the guru be everywhere. So basically from every different experience you can take abhisheka. The purpose of having a guru is to receive the abhisheka, wang. From the guru you take the abhisheka isn’t it. Or at the least from the guru, the usage of the guru is trying to unite one’s body, speech and mind with the guru’s body, speech and mind. That is the purpose. To be able to use the, to be able to unite. So when you reach, when you manage to see – when the guru, maybe I should put it this way, when the guru is everywhere, then everywhere you go, every experience that you encounter, every condition that you face with, you can take abhisheka from that. Or you can unite that situation and yourself. So basically everything, basically everything, there is nothing that not trigger a bliss in you. So that’s, that is basically what it is. Guru.
In the Shravakayana and the Mahayana, master or the guru only acts as a guide. Well, what we usually think about the guru is what, how Shravakayana and Mahayana – causal path anyway, that’s how they use the guru so to speak. But in the Vajrayana, not only as a master, not only as a guide, guru is the path. That is what is meant guru yoga. Guru is the path. Of course at every level of the Vajrayana practice taking the guru as the path is important. Even the most sort of, the highest level of the Vajrayana practice, in the Nyingmapa tradition for instance like ati yoga, when you reach to the maha ati, Jigme Lingpa said, for someone who can actually remember the guru, for this person the mindfulness – you know in the maha ati practice mindfulness, or the rigpa or drenpa is very important. Mindfulness, awareness, mere awareness, this is very important. Jigme Lingpa said, to really practice this mindfulness which is something quite abstract, is difficult. So for someone who can remember the guru, mindfulness is already there. So from this statement, many times, many Dzogchen masters like Jigme Lingpa will not differentiate between mindfulness and the guru also. Guru is the mindfulness. This is what makes the guru yoga special in the Vajrayana.
When we are following a guru we need to check him for three years that is traditionally the approach.
But now most people don’t do that. And then the essence of Varjayana is pure perception, that starts from the Guru we have to see the Guru as pure. I think that has been one of the requirement for being a qualified Vajrayana student. But then if we are following a Guru without checking sometimes we might think he did something we don’t …
Checking is important that is why oiyou have to study first. You should always study, ??? we call it. You should hear, you should contemplate. You should really study. And then you should check. But keep in mind when you check the guru this critical mind is not other than your own mind. You are not bringing a sober mind to check. It’s your mind doing it. What I am saying is you have to have a little bit of a balance here. Because you can check and check and check for next five hundred lifetimes. And it does not mean that you will not find a fault one day. As long as you have an impure perception you will always find one. Right? But when you check keep this in mind, like all this “do not depend on a person but depend on his teachings.” Like it doesn’t matter whether he uses forks or chopsticks when he eats his noodles. That shouldn’t matter. But it does matter whether he teaches you emptiness or soul. You understand? That is really important. I am serious. Some people choose guru just because they use chopsticks over the fork. People do that because you can relate. That is how we do. We love our guru to have a similar quality like us. We love anchovy pizza and if our guru likes – it is a bit like choosing wife actually. You have to have a common, what you call it, something common to share with. It is a relationship. It is really a big build up of a relationship. A relationship is always so complicated. Do you know why? Because we like our partner to have something in common with oneself. Beethoven, I don’t know, Mozart, Jazz, Jennifer Lopez. Something to talk about. Right? But we also want our partner to be slightly special. Because if he or she is completely like you, boring. So human mind is so complicated, so it is a bit like guru. Guru is same. We like our guru to be human. I mean imagine you have a guru whenever you invite to a restaurant for a lunch he flies in, sits on the table, looks at the food, sucks in all the food instantly. Well if you have some superstitious ridden friends they might get impressed but your normal friends I don’t think they have a good time with. You understand? You don’t like to have this super human quality at all the time. Human mind is so complicated. We like our guru to be human, but at the same time slightly super human. Not too super human. So bare all this is mind and then analyze. What you need is the path to enlightenment. Is he going to give you this or not? Does he have this or not? And most of all, is he or she interested in your enlightenment? That is so important. Because specially if you are a Vajrayana practitioner, basically looking for a guru means looking for someone to destroy you. You are basically hiring someone to destroy you. You are giving him the payment of body, speech and mind and quality and activity and all your belongings and everything so that he is going to destroy you. Guru is someone who you don’t negotiate. No negotiations. No discussions, no negotiations, no compromise, nothing. No scheduling. Basically almost all the questions that begin with WH have to be abandoned. Why, what, when, who, all of that. It is difficult. Very difficult. But if you want a quick enlightenment it is a necessary. It is not necessary for everyone. If you are a Mahayana or a Sharvaka practitioner, guru devotion like Vajrayana talks not necessary. You don’t need this burden of guru. Really. It is a burden. Why would you like someone to destroy you. No need.
You know just now during the break many people are asking me questions such as the relationship between guru and the student. That is another big subject. And many of the student and guru relationship does not work or falls apart because first coming with the wrong motivation. Secondly, well wrong motivation of course is an impure perception already. And then while you are having relationship with the guru because of that impure motivation all the perception is also impure. I will elaborate this. Okay, you go to a guru okay, you go to a guru and your motivation is not for enlightenment but your motivation is to be near the guru you understand. To be near the guru. I want to stress this a little bit because I don’t know somehow watching many of Kungfu film, the Chinese Kungfu film, and also the Chinese history. I mean this is not a problem with the Chinese society alone. Tibetans have the same problem. Indians, I don’t know, I think they have the same problem. But because right now we are, I mean the Chinese society. Let’s talk about this. This seems to be a big problem, you know, what you call it. They call it, what, the big brother, ‘Ta Er Ker’ or something. When one Kungfu master dies he has to have a successor, isn’t it. The lineage holder. Isn’t it, lineage holder. Many of the Kungfu film is about two student fighting about who becomes the lineage holder, isn’t it. Not only in the Kungfu film but you read in a – even what is his name, master Huineng sixth patriarch, Huineng . He had a tough time because some of the students didn’t want him to be the sixth patriarch. Didn’t want him to have the begging bowl and the robe. There was a lot of tough time. So what I am saying is some disciples, some students, some people come not for enlightenment but to become the ‘Ta Er Ker’,you understand, the big brother, the lineage holder. Or they want to become or – there are so many strange things like that. People come so that they can take photograph with the Rinpoche. Or the highest Lama is the best. And then later they can show it to a lower student and, see I am someone special. You better do what I say. You understand. I am kind of a special. There are so many I have noticed this. And these are all what I call impure perception. Because in Buddhism really the sole purpose of practicing the Buddha Dharma is to achieve enlightenment. Who cares about lineage holder or to become the second in command. Anyway, you should not be aiming for a second in command. You should be aiming for the first in command which is the enlightenment. That should be the real purpose. But this is easier to say then practice. Many people, many disciples, many many disciples, because their motivation is to be close to their guru, sometimes if the guru ignores them for about half a day, they go through a depression for sixth month. Depression, they eat prozac. Is it prozac. And so much pain, so much. And then if another student also becomes slightly favored, favored boy of the guru, then your situation becomes very insecure. Oh oh, I have a competitor. I have you know a competition. You understand. All this stems from a wrong motivation. Your motivation for enlightenment. Your motivation is to be recognized. To be the recognized person. And that is why we have pain. You see, why we call it impure perception, because it brings you pain. It really brings so much pain.
It is important to really check our motivation. Hopefully the motivation is triggered with wish to receive this teachings that one will reach enlightenment. I say this hopefully because most of the time when we practice, when we hear the teachings, or when we are practicing the Dharma, most of the time we don’t do it for enlightenment. Enlightenment is almost like a – if it happens, that’s good. But if it doesn’t happen it is also okay. Most of time we go to temples, we go to teachings, because we like to live happily. We want to make the life easier, happier. Isn’t it? Specially, this is the Asian weakness I think. We chant mantras for long life. Long life is not enlightenment. Long life is long life. We don’t know by having long life we are going to have a better life. We receive teachings so that one will be successful in whatever we are doing. Being successful is not necessary enlightenment. This is why I am stressing, what kind of motivation do you have. Do I have. Do we all have. Ideally, so called long life, success, good health, good marriage, good relationship, all this should be what we call side bonus. What the bodhisattvas, for the practitioners like us, this should be the bonus. Enlightenment should be the real goal, the ultimate goal. That should be our goal. And I am stressing this, because if our aim is wrong, right, if our ultimate aim – I am talking about two kinds of aims – ultimate goal or the aim, and relative bonus, temporary bonus, relative goal. If we have the right aim, specially the ultimate aim, then even something falls apart in our day to day life, the trust to the triple gem, the trust to the guru, trust to the path will always be there. Otherwise, in the course of my being Buddhist all this time I have seen so many people coming to the Buddhadharma, hoping so that their samsaric activity will be successful. That is their ultimate aim. Coming with that kind of motivation. And then of course our life so many things go wrong. That is the nature of life. Okay, today we are happy but who knows what happens tomorrow. A tomato stucks in your throat while you are enjoying a nice food of some of this wonderful hawker centers. And then that will be it. Your life has reached to the end. All because of a stupid tomato. And this could happen. Life is totally fragile. This is something that we have, that we so dearly clutch and grasp to. And that is our life and certainly life is the most fragile. And everything is, specially now, so fast, so fragile. And I have seen people with this kind of motivation, they come to the Dharma, practice the Dharma, and then of course something goes wrong and then they loose trust to the triple gem. “Oh, you know, Buddha is not helping us.” See the approach to the Buddha is very theistic, like any religion. Like Christian, or Hindu – maybe not Hindu – but Muslims. If you have that kind of attitude or motivation then your action what you are applying and your view is contradicting. So this is why I ask to really analyze why we are here. It is good to analyze like that. Even if it is intellectually.
Question: In most Buddhist traditions there are three jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, the community of monks. In the Tibetan Buddhism they added a fourth, the guru or the teacher. And I wonder what you think about that, particular in terms of its transmission to the west.
This is a very important question, yes. Guru. The word guru is stained now. Really, it has been stained unfortunately. But the guru principle, the practice of guru is actually quite an important in the tantric Buddhist system. And it’s really unfortunate that the human gurus have actually, many of human gurus have somehow managed to spoil that beautiful system. Actually you are supposed to – okay the fourth, you are talking about the fourth object of refuge. In fact more than fourth. In fact, according to the tantric Buddhism, guru is supposedly more important than the triple gem. So this is a big statement. But all this comes in the context of guru as the path. Now this is one message that always gets missed out. Because guru always is referred as a person who dictates your life. But guru must be, really, essentially guru must be taken as the path. Meaning – okay it is a bit like this. What do you want? You want enlightenment. Can you do it? Okay what do you want? You want enlightenment. You want it fast or slow? Right? That is the question. Fast. Do you want painless or – you know stuff like that. Painless is little difficult actually. Fast I think, fast. So actually, to put it very simply, in the Vajrayana tradition the guru principle is a bit like – okay if you want to have fast track so to speak, then first you have a choice to hire a person who will destroy you or not. Basically that is it. So you actually – okay order is you take first refuge to three gems, right. Triple gems. So you have accepted the Buddha path, the path of the Buddha. Now you want the speed, you want to do it very soon. Because you don’t have much time. Now there is a solution which is the Vajrayana and within the tantric Buddhism you are allowed, there is a solution and the solution is you hire or you get a person who will – basically you are asking him to destroy your ego, your emotion and all of that. So that way the guru becomes the path and I think that is quite important for the western aspiring tantric Buddhist to understand. Otherwise this guru as a figure is very dangerous, very very dangerous.
For instance hypocrisy that people like I have, doing one thing in front of maybe a picture of my teachers and do something else behind. You understand. That shows, that there is a lack of acceptance that your teacher is the Buddha, he knows everything. There is no such thing as behind the picture or in front.
The whole reason you go to a teacher is ironically to want, to actually aim for, so that one will not want. You understand? And that’s – I am not joking here I am not twisting any language, I am not trying to be clever, but that is the main aim isn’t it. I mean you – that is the whole point of the tantric concept of guru. You don’t want to leave guru independently at the end. You don’t want to leave the guru outside there as an external savior. You want to realize your mind, nature of your mind is the guru. Guru is only a bridge. So ultimately wanting something from an external source is something that we have to eliminate.
Another thing, there is this very strange, ongoing problem, which is very obscured and never really clear about the Guru business. Some people think that if you are taking refuge to a certain Lama, or Guru or Khenpo or whatever suddenly this person has become their Guru. Now the Guru is basically, I think in Sanskrit it means teacher, the master or something like that. So Guru can be someone who teaches you music, dance. In India, and as well as in Nepal I think, this is a culture that really venerates anybody who gives you anything to do with the knowledge or wisdom. So you see these like performance, dancers or the musicians, the first thing they do is touch the Guru’s feet, the masters feet and all of this. So wonderful. Even you know whatever, carpenter Guru, driving instructor, all of them. In a way, anyone who gives you some kind of a knowledge that will give you a temporary benefit or even a permanent benefit is very very venerated and appreciated. So of course there is no need to mention about the Guru who gives you ??? lam, the path to the liberation. Of course. But by the time you reach to the Vajrayana now the meaning of the Guru has become different. When you reach to the Vajrayana – this is not the time to talk about the Vajrayana, just to clear some of the doubt – by the time you have reached to the Vajrayana Guru is not only a master as some kind of an instructor, Guru has become a path. Guru is the path. Guru is everything basically. I don’t need to say anything else but Guru, as many of you practice the Tantra, Guru dissolves into you. That alone should indicate you that Guru is none other than you. Okay. So that is sort the ideal situation. But there has been lots of obscurity about the Guru business.