PURE DEVOTION TO AN INEXHAUSTIBLE TREASURY OF GOOD QUALITIES: RECEIVING THE BLESSINGS AND SIDDHIS OF A QUALIFIED GURU: 8th Karmapa on staying away from jealous and competitive people, impure gurus and lineages, the meaning of real devotion (17th Karmapa Spring Teaching 2023, Day 10, part 1)

“You need to stay in remote places that are far away from people who are jealous and competitive towards you. When we look at the words of the Buddha,  he talks about the nine bases of malice…So, you need to go to a place where such feelings will not occur. If you stay in a place where such thoughts occur, forget about practising Dharma , if you are in a place where there is a lot of attachments and aversions, it actually even becomes difficult to sleep. So, one needs to stay in  place where it is free of these nine bases of malice.”

“When you have pride, you get a lot of envy too right? Because when a being is impure and has great pride and jealousy, then whatever the guru has then their students  will become basically the same. If the teacher is arrogant and proud, then the students will also become like that. If the lama is envious then the students will become envious.  It is like the guru’s own impure perceptions then infect the students and they all become equal in impurity and it becomes an impure lineage, or lineage of impurity.”

“Connecting with the lama’s mind stream is like plugging into the electricity and you have to have the cord to plug in. You need to have a method to do that right? The guru is like the cord connecting us.”

–17th Karmapa (Spring 2023, Day 10)

On day 10 of the Spring 2023 teaching, the 17th Karmapa gave a longer two hour teaching, which I have split up into two halves, here is the first half.

In this teaching, the 17th Karmapa finished teaching about Verse 31 (on practising in solitude) by explaining why it was important for beginner practitioners to stay away from places where there are the nine bases of malice, populated with people who are jealous and competitive of you, even teaming up with your enemies to bring you down and so on.

The 17th Karmapa then moved onto Verse 32 and the the power of devotion and what real devotion means. First he explained what it means to be a qualified lama, and distinguished real devotion, which is based on a genuine understanding (after prior examination) that the qualified guru is like the embodiment of the Buddha and three jewels and can lead us on the path of liberation, from common worldly types of attachment to family, location, culture, country etc.  The 17th Karmapa gave the example of the 8th Karmapa’s refusal to study with unqualified teachers and not being allowed to study with authentic ones, such as the 4th Zhamarpa but that once he had decided to follow someone as his guru, he then did not later change his mind and think it was a mistake and this person is not qualified and so on. Meeting a qualified guru is no guarantee of blessings and connection either though, the student also has to be qualified in terms of being open and receptive, and have that karmic connection with the guru.

The first half of the teaching ended with a discussion of the source of compassion and blessings, like a huge water source from which all rivers flow, the Buddha Nature, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have the power to make others feel their infinite love, compassion and wisdom

Music? Endless ‘slave-like’ devotion to the ‘guru’,  Rotten Apples by Smashing Pumpkins,  I Wanna Be Yours by Arctic Monkey, I Wanna Give You Devotion by Nomad and  Higher Love by Depeche Mode, “I surrender heart and soul, sacrificed to a higher goal.”

Written and transcribed by Adele Tomlin, 8th May 2023.


17th Karmapa Spring 2023 Teachings (day 10)

Staying away from people who are jealous and competitive and teaming up with your ‘enemies’

Today is the 10th Session of our Dharma teachings and today I would like to speak about the 31st Excellent Deed, and I would like to say a little more about it, and also about the 32nd Excellent Deed. So basically, I could speak about the outline and how he trained and practiced the path of the greater individual and trained in the two types of bodhicitta, of which there are three subtopics, and within the third topic, there are seven sub-topics and among them we are speaking about the 5th of the 7 sub-topics, how he did what was fruitful so now we are talking about how he gave up what was fruitless. 

So there is the 8th Karmapa’s Instructions in Training in his Liberation Story. The main point what he said there was that in a degenerate time, when one wants to preserve or spread the teachings, you always come across a lot of people with afflictions and you have to spend time with them. Because these beings have so many afflictions, naturally there are many debates based on attachment and aversion, sectarianism and competition and so there are many such situations that occur.

At such a time, the way you should act is in accord with the Buddha’s teachings and be in accord with Dharma, so one should work very hard to make one’s body, speech and mind in accordance with the Dharma and uphold the teachings of study and practice the Buddha. When there are really good sponsors who give you a livelihood, there will be people who feel jealous of you. In particular, among the monastics, there are people who feel jealous of each other. If one monastic community gets a good sponsor and they start to promote the teachings of listening and contemplation well, then other communities feel that is unbearable and jealous of them. When that happens there are many different situations and problems that happen. They might speak badly of you, and even in the past, if you had a connection with them, then they cut you off and try and stay away from you, and they speak badly of you accusing you of things you may not have done. In the end, they may even try to harm your body and your possessions.  In such a situation, it is actually very dangerous. What is the danger? It is that if things do not go right, then it could be a danger to your life. And if not, it could create serious obstacles to your life and vows and your samaya commitments. So in a degenerate time, one should try to stay humbly and work hard on behalf of the teachings, and when others make false accusations about you and act in sectarian ways, when these problems occur, then everyone you have connections to and everyone you have gathered around you for the sake of the Dharma, you should make sure they are not influenced by such adverse conditions.

What method is there to do that? The method is you should stay as far away as you can from such people who are jealous and competitive. You need to stay in remote places that are far away from people who are jealous and competitive towards you. When we look at the words of the Buddha,  he talks about the nine bases of malice (Narsemgi Zhi Gu). The first set of three is: They harmed me once, they are harming me now, and in the future, they are going to harm me again, when you have that feeling. That is the first set of three. Then, that is mainly thinking about yourself.

Then if you think about the people connected to you, your relatives and friends, if you think they harmed me before, they are harming us now and they will harm us in the future. If you have a strong feeling of that, that is the second set of three. The first is three about yourself, the second set is about your friends or relatives.

The third section is when the people you don’t like are helping your enemies (the people who don’t like you), they know who your enemy is and they do what they can to make a connection to your enemies. So you can think in the past they helped my enemy, they are helping my enemy and, in the future, they will help my enemy. So there are three sets, three for yourself, three for your friends and three for enemies.

So, you need to go to a place where such feelings will not occur. If you stay in a place where such feelings and thoughts occur, forget about even practising Dharma , before that, if you are in a place where there is a lot of attachments and aversions, it actually even becomes difficult to sleep. So you need to stay in  place where it is free of these nine bases of malice. You need to go to a place where you won’t feel these things. And you should also go along with friends who are people who will not create such places. So even when you get to an isolated place, if they become conditions for you to feel such attachments and aversions, then just having solitude of the body is not enough, you also have to have solitude of the mind.

Also, if there are a lot of enjoyments and things, that also create a lot of attachments and aversions. For example, like the patrons who give you things, so if they make offerings to you, you should be humble about it and not live an elaborate lifestyle. As it is said in the Buddha, you should give up the extremes, the extreme of hardship and the extreme of luxury. In other words, if you have that sort of lifestyle then you are in a situation where your body, speech and mind are not distracted by concerns about this life, and you can live in solitude and remain mentally one-pointed. Then you will be able to engage your body, speech and mind properly in virtue. So to act in this way, is something we should all keep in mind and practice earnestly. This is the instruction that Mikyo Dorje gives in his Instructions in Following the Life-Story of Mikyo Dorje. as he said in the second section called ‘how he abandoned what was fruitless/not beneficial’.  So that was the little I wanted to say about that.

32nd Verse of the Excellent Deeds – How he accomplished the two benefits through the power of devotion

Next, what I want to speak about is the 32nd Excellent Deed out of the 33 Excellent Deeds. In the outline, this is the 6th sub-topic among the 7th, on how he accomplished the two benefits through the power of devotion. 

We are coming close to the end and are about to finish the Excellent Deeds. So as I said yesterday, the result of everything is devotion, but if I repeat that today, it will be a bit strange.  In brief, Mikyo Dorje is saying “having 100 percent conviction that my root guru is in essence the three jewels, and the body, speech and five wisdom/yeshe. I had this feeling in my mind”. He had four root gurus right, he had four main ones, among them was the Drubthob Sangye Nyenpa. There were four main teachers,  so he realised they were all the essence of the three jewels and they had the three kayas and five wisdoms, and because of that pure perception and devotion of Mikyo Dorje, sometimes also individuals also had these pure perceptions of him. For the 8th Karmapa he said, “having pure perceptions is for my own sake and that seeing my root gurus with pure perception is an interdependent connection.  Thus, he thinks of that as one of his Excellent Deeds. It is difficult to explain some of Mikyo Dorje’s texts to gloss over the words. Mikyo Dorje’s words, if you do not have familiarity with them, it is sometimes difficult to understand them.

Next, I want to speak about what it says in the Instructions in Training on the Liberation-Story in Mikyo Dorje’s Collected Works. So to speak about it from that, as I was saying, you are not staying in a place where you will feel a lot of attachments and aversions. Instead you need to go to a place where you can be in solitude. And your retinue, friends and support should not create attachments and aversions. In this way, you isolate your body and mind from things that will create attachments and aversions and you need to devote your body, speech and mind one-pointedly to Dharma and work hard at this. If you can then complete your practice and fulfil this commitment, then what condition do you need? If I make a strong commitment to spend this life practising, in order to fulfil that, one needs the supporting circumstances.  Just as raising a child depends on the parents being a good person and good family. This is what we say generally. If the parents are good upstanding people from a good family, then the child will naturally will grow up as an upstanding person. Or there is a greater hope for them. Of course, it is not certain. If the parents are good people and prosperous then a child that grows up in that environment will have better education and when the parents advise them then there is a greater hope, they will give better conduct. Similarly, if you have a receptive student, whether the student can gather the accumulations and purify the obscurations depends on whether they have made contact with an authentic, qualified guru or not. If they meet a guru with the qualifications, then from the time they have met them and follow that guru, and engage in the accumulations of purification and merit, then because of that they can take on the qualities that are in the guru’s mindstream.

Seeing the guru as an ‘inexhaustible treasury of good qualities’

What is the method to take the qualities that the guru has? There is no other way to do it, but the first thing is to think of oneself as the lowest of slaves. When we say the lowest of slaves here, at that time, the analogy was like the lowest of the slaves/servants. That is the way you need to think of yourself. These days, there is no longer a tradition of having servants and slaves so when one says the ‘lowest of slaves’ people think it sounds strange and difficult to understand. What this means is, and we do not absolutely have to use that analogy, in brief, one should see your teacher, guru or spiritual friend as an inexhaustible treasury of qualities and within their mind stream they have the qualities you are seeking. Like a mine of treasure. For example, if you are looking for gold or silver or diamonds you go to different countries that have great mineral deposits. Then, if by chance you find some gold treasury and buy it then you are really happy. Because you are really seeking that gold and those precious substances and you are looking for them and you have found a place where you can mine those substances and you are able to buy it and get the treasure. If you go to a place where they say there is gold but you do not find it, it is difficult right?

So the guru should be like an inexhaustible treasury of qualities and in order to gain these precious qualities you must never let your body, speech and mind be overcome by distraction for even an instant. You must always spend all your time practising and developing the virtuous roots such as the thirty seven factors of enlightenment and work hard. The reason for this is if you have the guru who is the source of these inexhaustible qualities and all the qualities you want are in the guru’s mind stream, for any of us to be able to take these qualities of the guru, you have to have a lot of joy and enthusiasm to do so. And you have to have effort that naturally happens. As you are enthusiastic even when you don’t think you want to, you will naturally find yourself making effort. So the main critical point in gathering the virtue is you have to have a stable wish to become virtuous so no matter what adverse situation you are in, they cannot take that away from you or change it.  If you have that attitude of seeking virtue and if it is stable, that cannot be changed or taken away from you by any circumstances, then naturally one will develop the prajna/wisdom within your being. It will ripen it quickly. Once you have the wisdom in your being then no matter what virtue you do, what Dharma you practice, then there will be no question as to whether the Dharma will become Dharma or whether the Dharma will become the path. There will be no doubt about whether this has happened or not.  Because of that wish for virtue there will be no doubt, and you will develop the prajna of knowing what you should do and should not do and knowing what is the Dharma. Because of that, this is not the ordinary wisdom from just engaging in studies, this is due to the power of your faith one develops this wisdom can determine what is Dharma and what is not. Having that kind of wisdom in one’s being whatever Dharma you do, you will know the critical point that will make it be the Dharma and the path. Because of that then no matter what Dharma practice, it will develop like the waxing moon, it will always increase and never degenerate or diminish.  

Contaminating all  – Impure teachers cause impure lineages and students
Like a rotten apple in a basket, impure teachers rot and contaminate everyone else around them

The opposite of that is what a lot of people do these days, first they do a little bit of study and contemplation, the prajna of listening and contemplation, but they do not have that attitude of faith, of wishing to achieve liberation, or they don’t have that stable faith in the three jewels or the guru. They don’t have the prajna related to that, instead they have done a little bit of study but they have not incorporated it into their mind. It is not something they have really been able to get an experience of, they cannot take it into their hearts. They have done a bit of study and when they have done that, thinking ‘oh I know a bit and understand a bit’ , a bit of pride or confidence arises in them, then they feel that whether they go to a guru and get empowerments, instructions, transmissions or not that is fine, and if they don’t get them, it is fine. They think they know the Dharma, so they think: “it is OK for me to teach it to others. I do not need any more than this because it is all in the texts. It is all there. There is nothing that the gurus teach that is not in the texts. I understand the texts and I know them, so there is no doubt about whether I can teach Dharma to others or not.”

  They have this pride that they can teach like that. They think they know how to teach people Dharma. If they have some students and they get a sponsor who helps and they think ‘Oh I am really good at this, I can teach the Dharma.”  They are reading these texts and they teach from those and say it is OK. In addition to that, if they get a lot of students, they think even more that their activity is flourishing. If, on top of that, they get a wealthy sponsor then they get really arrogant and think ‘Oh I am really talented at this.’ and everyone knows I have the capability and power to be someone else’s guru. They think that all of the talented gurus of the past and present, are the same as they are. When people talk about the great scholars and meditators from the past, they think they are basically the same as them. There is nothing amazing about them or that.  So, they think they are basically the same and they get very proud of this.

So, they become very proud and when they get a certain status, then get worked up about it and they cannot just stay in one place and sit there.  They think: “I will found a monastery and make statues and give students empowerments and teachings” and they pretend to be gurus of the great activity. When they do so many different things, the teacher’s own perception is impure, or you could say, because their motivation is impure, their behaviour is impure, they have a lot of pride. When you have a lot of pride, you get a lot of envy too right? Because when a being is impure and has great pride and jealousy, then whatever the guru has then their students  will become basically the same. If the teacher is arrogant and proud, then the students will also become extremely proud. If the lama is envious then the students will naturally become envious. It is like the guru’s own impure perceptions then infect the students and they all become equal in impurity and it becomes an impure lineage, or lineage of impurity.

So for these teachers and students when they are impure, in the short-term they may be able to get some food and clothing for this lifetime, or a little bit of benefit in terms of being well-known and so on. In actuality, it just increases your suffering and the origin of suffering. It is not something that can decrease the afflictions and karma of suffering, there is no benefit at all, and there is no point having a student-guru connection like that. For that reason, as Gyalwa Gotsangpa said:

“You must pray to an authentic guru but supplicating someone like a dog or a pig is not OK.”

Whar this means, is supplicating an authentic guru that means someone who has the qualifications, you need to supplicate someone who is worthy of being supplicated. It is not OK to supplicate anyone, it is not OK to supplicate a dog or a pig. Everyone can see that you cannot supplicate everyone or pray to everyone. You have to find someone who is an authentic, qualified guru and supplicate to someone qualified, you should not supplicate those who are not qualified. It is basically the same, whether we talk about a guru or a spiritual friend, it is basically the same right?

What qualities does an authentic spiritual friend/guru have?
Novice Buddhist Monk Praying, Rangoon, Myanmar, by Eric Laff.

When we talk in Tibetan we say lama, when we are taking about guru or spiritual friend, the term is different but the meaning is the same. You need to look for a guru or spiritual friend who has the qualifications. Once you find someone who is qualified then you need to follow them properly. It is something you find no matter what words of the Buddha’s treatises you read.  The foundation for us to be able to practise the Dharma and proceed along to path and make progress is very clear. 

So what do we need for the guru then? Someone who knows how to teach the path to liberation and omniscience. Someone who has entered the path for liberation and omniscience and knows how to teach others correctly the path to liberation. If someone has not entered the path, or has gone onto a false path or wrong path, if they have done that, you need someone as a guru who will prevent you from entering that wrong path  and instead bring you back to the right and good path. You need someone who has the love, compassion and power to be able to prevent and protect you  from following the wrong path and bring you to a good path. This is something that depends on your previous karmic connections. Even if they have a good authentic guru with the qualities of knowledge, love and power, if you do not have a good connection then the connection cannot be made. In the histories of the past, in the life-stories of the great lamas, you see a lot of great gurus who were scholars and practitioners, but there were still people unable to make connections to them because of their karma. So it is very important whether you have karmic connection.

So you have an authentic guru who is qualified and you have an authentic karmic connection. So when you go to them, you need to ask them for the siddhis that will eliminate the adverse conditions and create the positive connections. However when you are asking for siddhis, people often think it is like in our society, sometimes we talk about parents who give their household wealth to their children, right?  It is like the parents doing that, you sign it over to the child, and sign a contract saying you have given it to the children. So people think of the siddhis in the same way, like being a big thing that the lama will take and then give you. So when taking an empowerment, many people think I am going to get the empowerment from the guru, yet we don’t feel any blessing when the teacher is teaching the Dharma. The reason why people like empowerments is because when you go to the guru , they will take the vase and put it on the top of the head. It feels like they gave you something, right? So people think they were given something. If the guru teaches the Dharma every day for one month, people think there is no point, they are just talking. The don’t have the same feeling they received something  and got blessings, right? We are not able to understand it, right? When the guru is teaching Dharma, if you think about it, that is where the blessings are, but people do not understand that. They think it has to be something the guru will give you. Even if they don’t have a vase to put on your head, as long as they have something, anything, like a rock [Karmapa laughs] or whatever. These days, maybe a phone or iPad and put it on the top of your head and at that point you think, ‘oh the guru has given me something’, I have received the blessings and they think I have received something. This happens right? Now, actually receiving siddhis is not at all like that . The reason is because what blessings or siddhis means is the qualities that the guru has in their mind stream, the qualities of abandonment and realisation. These qualities in their mind stream we receive by looking at how the guru in the past practised purification and accumulation.  Because of the guru practising that, they were able to attain the qualities of abandonment and realisation. So how did the guru practice, and what sort of qualities of abandonment and realisation did they achieve? Then if the student follows the guru and does the same as the guru in practising then the student will be able to receive these qualities of abandonment  and realisation similar to what the guru has. Thus, whether it is a root guru or a lineage guru, the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas, we think how did they rouse bodhicitta in the past? How did they practice? In that same way, if you think I am going to do the same thing. I am going to practice it well, then if I do it well then before long I will awaken to the perfect Buddhahood to benefit self and others. As it says in the Entering the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, we think ‘just as the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the past did, I am going to do the same thing. I am going to do the same’.

However, if we think the Buddhas and bodhisattvas worked hard and did everything and think ”please give me that, and I don’t have to do anything, you have done the work, now give us something.”  It is like we are expecting to borrow something, like the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are repaying us a debt, we want it brought to us on a plate without working hard. We think “You have the wisdom of knowing and love and compassion so please just give that to us.” That is not correct, we should think just as those Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and gurus of the past engaged in  accumulation and purification, once they have completed that, then because of that, they developed qualities of realisation and abandonment. In the same way, we will also engage in those practices to develop those qualities.

This is a critical point we need to understand. When we talk about receiving siddhis from the gurus, there is not some material thing they just give us a lump of. If they could that would be very easy. But basically it is clear they cannot give us that. There are blessings of course, but you have to work hard yourself. There is nothing to get where you don’t have to work or lift a finger. There are no teachings like that in the Buddha’s teachings. This is what is said in Mikyo Dorje’s Instructions in the Training on his Life-Story.

The difference between real faith and devotion and attachment to friends, family, culture and country

Next, I will speak about it in terms of Sangye Peldrup’s commentary on the meaning of the text. These days, in the snow land of Tibet, we talk about ‘my lineage’ and ‘your lineage/school’.  This was not only in the past, but we also now think in this way, similar to the time of Mikyo Dorje. We talked about the four Dharma lineages of Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug and Jonang, and we say I am part of this school/lineage name. In actuality, if you don’t know how to practice the Dharma of those teachings of that school, then it is difficult. However, we have attachment to that school. Because of that, we say this is ‘my school, my sangha’. And you have the devotion of fixation. If you are a Kagyu, you have a greater interest in the Kagyu gurus, locations and great scholars and practitioners, you don’t pay much attention to other lineages and schools or take care about them. This is what happens right? You have faith in your own guru and think I have faith in the Kagyu gurus and devotion. We give this the labels of faith and devotion, but in actuality, is that faith and devotion? It is not really in Dharma terms. Is this the authentic faith and devotion as described in the text by the great masters of the past? If is not. For worldly people, faith and devotion is like feeling attached to our own family, friends, schools or those from our own region. We even have attachment to people from the same places or countries as us, right? There is a lot of attachment also to our parents, and our siblings, correct? So we call it faith and devotion but this is not the actual faith and devotion described in the words of the Buddha and the texts. Like saying ‘oh we are Kagyu, right? So we have to have devotion. Of course you do, if you do not have faith in your guru then what will you do?  There is no real faith.” They say.  Even the same parents, to our siblings, we have a lot of attachment. We call that faith and devotion to our gurus too. That is not the actual faith and say I am Kagyupa. Therefore, if I do not have faith and devotion in the Kagyu lamas, then who will? That kind of attitude, it is nothing beyond that. It is not thinking about freedom forever from suffering, give you a lasting state of happiness. We need to think who can bring us to a state of lasting liberation and happiness, and having a guru who can show you and you have true reasons that are related to the Dharma. Yet we don’t have such faith and devotion that comes from that. Someone like Mikyo Dorje, according to his life-stories the way he did it was different. It was like splitting and rubbing gold. You have to examine  the guru and test if they are qualified or not, like gold or not.  It comes from understanding himself.

8th Karmapa’s refusal to study with unqualified teachers and not being allowed to study with authentic ones

As I explained last year, when the 8th Karmapa was young, he did not have a lot of power, he had very little control and the administrators of the great encampment were not that great, and were not any good people. So they would not allow him to study with the great and authentic gurus, they would say this an authentic guru and bring them to Mikyo Dorje and tell them you need to follow him. The lamas that they liked and had good connections with,  they would bring them to Mikyo Dorje and say you need to study and attend to this one. There were many people who came and did that but Mikyo Dorje himself did not pay much attention to that. Actually, the 4th Zhamarpa, Chodrag  was really the one who was worthy to be Mikyo Dorje’s guru, he had a great education, he was the most senior lama in the Karma Kamtsang lineage and he would have been appropriate for Mikyo Dorje to study with. But they did not allow him to study with him. I will speak about the reasons they did not allow him to study with him now, I will speak about them later today. 

Likewise, afterwards, Mikyo Dorje’s root guru was mainly Sangye Nyenpa, but in the beginning when he was little, even though he wanted to study with him, they would not allow him to do so. They would say “there is no point with SN he is just like a humble person, there is nothing special or amazing about him’, they would not allow Mikyo Dorje to study with him. 

So Mikyo Dorje when he was small, had a very difficult time finding qualified gurus. You would think that Mikyo Dorje being the Karmapa would be able to do whatever he wanted, that is how we think of it, but it was not like that. He was actually a very clever person when other people said you should do this or that, he was a very hard-headed and stubborn person  and he would not follow them. He would instead think for himself and who he should follow as a qualified guru, he used his own intelligence.

Once he started to follow someone as the guru, then he would not say ‘oh you are not a qualified guru, I was mistaken about it. Now, I am not going to consider you my guru, right?  And you should not even think that I followed you as a guru, I am not going to think of you in that way, so don’t think of me in that way.” People do think like that and it happens quite a lot these days. He was not like that. Once Mikyo Dorje followed someone as a guru, then he saw them as the essence of the three jewels and nothing other than the three kayas and five wisdoms, nothing other than the Buddha. He had that kind of faith and devotion in them.

We have to understand the reason he thought this. Mikyo Dorje understood the reason, right? He saw his gurus as the embodiment of the Buddha and the three jewels and to have that sort of understanding or belief, the reason one needs to feel this is that we are ordinary individuals, and among them, we are actually beginners in the Dharma practice. So people are beginning the practice, they need people who can guide them and that is the main activity of the Buddha. Bringing people into the Dharma, getting people to the beginning of the path. The people who do this, it is not the actual Buddha who comes before you and does that  and says you must do this. Instead what happens is there is someone who can guide your mind and can bring you to the beginning of the path is a qualified spiritual master who seems similar to us, a similar status and level to us. We look at them and they seem like us, just people like ourselves. So they are beings who come in the form of regular people. They come in the form of a person, but they have all the qualifications that are discussed in the Sutras or Tantras  and we think of them as the actual Buddhas as the embodiment of the three jewels or that understanding. Mikyo Dorje had that, and because of that, he had such great faith and devotion in his gurus.

So, if we think about it, we are just ordinary people. We ask for refuge, and ask the guru to give us direction, it is possible that some of them are emanations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Some may be ordinary people and these ordinary individuals it is possible that they are not emanations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Or they might be emanations of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who appear like ordinary people. So who is an emanation and who is an ordinary individual is difficult for ordinary people to understand with certainty

In any case, whether they are an ordinary person or not, students need to have the confidence that they can teach us the Dharma that is good in the beginning, middle and end. That they have the power to lead and to produce the path to liberation in beings. If they can do that, this is the ultimate quality and the most fully developed blessing of the Buddha, if we are not able to have these blessings and activities of the Buddha, then we will not be able to change the students’ minds. So when the gurus are guiding the students to the path and the student is following the path then the guru will arrive. In the India, the railways they do not come all the time. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are different because they have the knowing wisdom and the love and compassion and the activity of their deeds. So at the right time, that authentic qualified guru will come at the right time for ripening the student’s being.  Then the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will be able to bring the compassion and the blessings at the same time. 

For example, it is like being possessed by a god. Some people are possessed by a god or a demon, then when they are possessed, they become a different person, there faces and expressions become different, the way they speak becomes different. It is similar to that. It is like the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of that time, the student receives the blessings. But receiving the blessings is not something we can see. It is not like being possessed by a god or something. When we receive the blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas it is kind of natural. Some people have the feeling  that they are receiving blessings, but some may not have any feeling. However, at that point, they have received the blessings and compassion of the Buddhas. And you do need to receive them, if you do not receive them, there is no other power or nothing they can do. Because in order to spread the Buddhism in the world and engage in activities is all done in order to ripen the students. It is at that time, if the student is going to receive the blessings, at that point. If they are not ready and do not receive it then, when are they going to receive the blessings and compassion? For that reason, the opportunity to receive the blessings of the Buddhas, the foundation for that is when a receptive student is ripened by a guru with a qualification if their mind is ripened and they are able to enter the path to liberation. That is the time that it depends upon. For this reason, at that time, if you do not receive blessings then, there is not much blessings you can receive. 

The source of all the teachings and blessings are the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

As it says in the Do Dupa I won’t read the whole quotation. In the world there is a lot of water, many rivers and lakes and so on. These rivers flow down throughout all the world and they ripen all the flowers and fruits and so on. The source of all these is called the Lake Anurvatapta, this is what is explained in the Indian tradition. In that way, all the waters are flowing down from that lake and ripening the crops and this comes from the Nagas in the lake. Likewise, for the disciples of the Buddha, he teaches the Dharma and because of teaching the Dharma it produces faith in the students’ beings and free them from suffering. It all comes because of the Buddha who taught the Dharma and because he taught the Dharma, then he had students who were able to spread it. If you think about the connections of cause and effect, if we are looking for the source of all of it, it all comes from Buddha. The main source is Buddha himself.

So from our perceptions, we have root gurus and lineage gurus., the gurus we can see and listen to now, and for them to be able to ripen the students, they need to have some wish, or a little bit of renunciation or a little bit of faith in the three jewels or a little bit of compassion for sentient beings is from the gurus compassion and blessings, they are teaching what we should do and not do. It gives us a feeling , some understanding of that. Because of the gurus, we have a feeling we can receive the blessings. If we think how did the gurus develop these? it is not easy to effect or change someone else’s mind. If someone never had compassion to get them to start feeling compassion is difficult. They don’t feel any revulsion, and to get them to feel that is difficult. If they only have a little bit of compassion to produce more compassion, this is because of the kindness of the guru. For the guru to be able to do that is because of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas because of the power of their compassion. So there have to be many causes and conditions that assemble. In all of the compassion and power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas all needs to be gathered into one. Because of the power and force of that , then we can develop a tiny little bit of virtue in ourselves. If we can develop a tiny bit of compassion, this happens because of the compassion and power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. So when we think about it in this way, only then can we understand what the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are and the guru is like the representative of them. That is the understanding, right? Connecting with the lama’s mind stream is like plugging into the electricity and you have to have the cord to plug in. You need to have a method to do that right? The guru is like the cord connecting us. 

Leave a Reply