Relying on a Spiritual Guide
By Khentrul Rinpoché Jamphel Lodrö
In this two-part series, Rinpoché discusses the importance of relying on authentic lineage masters and how to practice devotion towards them.
Relying on the Lineage
These teachings were recorded at the Rimé Institute in Belgrave, Australia on March 12, 2015
Ok so, I’ve been too busy, I didn’t prepare anything for today.
So, in the text we are chanting the lineage masters and so we…that means we learn and study the lineage holders stories, externally, intellectually, we meant to be familiar with these stories.
The best way of course is we have to memorise them. You know we have very little short story so we don’t’ have much longer story access yet, so that short stories you meant to memorise if you can. You memorise but even if you cannot memorise all of them, everyone is busy, but if you just say the name with each lama you say the name, that time, if you have some kind of picture, identify by this lama which means piece of story, you remember his story. That’s meant to be intellectually, intellectual level.
And then internal level you have to be inspired by each of them. If you really inspired by each of them, that means you are… (@ 11.06 uses Tib term) which means very fortunate lineage holder or the disciple; the fortunate disciple. But if you didn’t really inspired by each of them, still you have to try to connect by any of your methods. There’s no limitations, you can use this method, or don’t use this method, whatever possible. So for instance, if you maybe meditate each of them, maybe everyday a different one or if you meditate two times everyday so maybe you can do, try to feel that your lineage holder.
But actually they are more important than your ancestors. You know why more important than ancestors because ancestors you connect with genetically from science point of view and the other point of view you are connected with karmic winds, piece of paper gathered together, that’s all. But this more very much like your grandparents and parents, not so much your, the other ancestors. For instance your great grandfather and his ancestors maybe nothing to do with you, you know, that kind of really… If we think very carefully, your spiritual ancestors much more connected with you than this your genetic ancestors so…
But how you get benefits is up to your attitude and your , how you say, your mental state, your appreciation level, your understanding level, many things. So your familiarisation level, how much you participate with this study, practise, these stories. So that’s why it’s important to memorise or even if you cannot memorise all of them, just one sentence or whatever identify this lama this particularly if you say one of the names, somebody said it then you get kind of one picture, “oh his is this one” or “that one this” . That kind of familiarisation you meant to be doing. Ok.
So then, more important, why you doing this. Why? That’s even more important than what you meant to be doing. So think about this. Any worldly skills you need learn, you have to study, you have to go through a lot of study and certificate and skills. It’s not easy, straight away you can get. We know how much study involved. It’s not like only this five years study, this skill, not like that.
The study is you know come from primary school or even kindergarten school, from there you studying. You need all these foundations to have this specific, your degree. So but what does do this degree. Only you can find that job if, IF you are lucky and if you have fortunate to other conditions there. Somebody prepared to give you that job you know that’s all. So here and we studying, aiming for, you know unveil your sacred truth, unveil your enlightened nature. That may take a few lifetimes because that goal is much bigger than you know, we can just have job and or we can pay bills. Is more than that, that why may take longer. Just have to realise our goal is bigger than university degree and PH.D ok.
So that’s why what we need, we need… (@ 18.52 uses Tib term), that’s what we need. We need root lama and lineage lama’s. Another language, we need our immediate spiritual friends and we need the ancestors of the spiritual friends. We need that. We need both. So ok, if we need this, how we you know, can have this relationship. Yes, you know your immediate spiritual friend you know there are many other conditions you have to do, have to have to establish this friendship.
So that is a lot. We have a chapter in our book, Sacred Truth, big chapter, not just small chapter. So you have to be familiar with this chapter. I am going to summarise that later, a very little, brief summarise and then you can remember that summarise and then you read the book and then you know.
But how we connected with these ancestors you know this lineage, our holders, because we cannot you know like build direct relationship as like human being, so the only we have, bad (? 21.18) relationship, our mental state. So our mental state we need to know who they are, where they come from, what they did, how they are fantastic. Not just how they are fantastic and brilliant and awesome but more how they are compassionate, how they are disciplined, how they are loving and kind and wise. That we need to know. So that means yes, externally we need to know their stories. Internally we have to have some mental attitude we need to develop toward them. If we do that what connection we can get? Yes lineage transmission.
Ok, what the lineage transmission? If somebody give you something like physical red/radio (? 22.48) rhythm or something like that and say this is lineage transmission, that is not true because lineage transmission have to be like your mobile phone transmission, signal, your mobile phone signal, your internet signal. It is something not visible but make huge differences and entire your life, rely with this signal, really. Can we live without internet? Almost we think no, so probably we don’t really live properly and you know, if we live as everybody, the human being today, if we want to live exactly like them, the answer is no we cannot live with (without) this you know, signal.
So similarly, transmission. Can we reach Buddhahood without this transmission? The answer is no, of course you have to have this transmission. Is this transmission visible? The answer is no, of course not visible. Ok what is then? It is not like…is like internet, a cable, we need this smashings (?24.19), is like this? The answer is no, you know. The answer is necessary your root spiritual friends and your Sangha. They are this internet cable and not only that you need something else whatever you call, data or whatever you call, and so that is your mental developments, your mental attitude, how you are connecting, ok.
So for this reason, we need this lineage blessing so, for this reason we have these stories in the book. You may expect you know like monks study, the Tibetans study, they have this story. Actually they don’t have this story. They have to find the story elsewhere. They are not that organised so this small story you may not appreciate much, but I went through a lot to do this you know, to organise. You know even these pictures, unbelievably difficult. I work probably like a year try to find the pictures, never find the pictures. If you find you cannot send because the Tibetans have no skills. So very difficult, and these stories I try to translate, try to bring all the stories from everywhere and maybe take a few years to gather these stories together. These stories together actually in the one book you can read all of them each by each, that is first time ever done in this lineage, can you believe that!
Ok, so I am the first time ever done this, so that means my side job, I did huge effort so now is your side job, your side responsibility you have to read and memorise them ok. So you may surprise, “oh how come centuries and centuries like this lineage like 700, 800 years, how they do?” They have to make individual, huge effort and they have to find the stories everywhere themselves. Also the teachers do not tell you have to read stories, these prayers of the time, you have to know them, they not telling this. You know they are nomad people and they are not that organised, like 21st century, what you call, uptight organised people.
They are not that so, you may think these stories are too short, there’s not much information, you probably have many mental, what you call, complaints in your mind which means your appreciation degree is very small. In that case, but you have to know this is the first time ever done, somebody make huge effort for many years, so hopefully that makes you, “oh wow, maybe I should memorise, I haven’t even memorised one” or something like that, so anyway. So you may think this one is dead a long time ago so what is the point of know them? But how many human beings make effort to know just one story?
I often many times thought about it like that. In documentary people make huge effort to find your roots, try to find your ancestors your mother, father, who you are, your grandfather and they make documentary and all of them. What for? They just want to know, so then, I don’t know, after that you want to know and after that what is the benefits? I don’t know but this one, is much more than that. Not just you want to know. There is much benefits and more possibilities more than you just want to know. So just remember that. And these benefits is not limited. It goes beyond our limitation and when I say this, maybe you expect “oh ok, then I want this limitless benefits straight away” so I just telling you maybe not straight away limitless benefits for you, but this is designed for a limitless benefits for quite a long time. Ok? So that’s why you have to know. That’s one level.
And the second level, what really people do? You know like if you ask me, these very unorganised Tibetan people not even have these stories. The stories you have to find everywhere. Maybe you have to walk many days to find one story or you make ten years effort to find stories, you may find ten lineage masters stories but not all of them. Maybe twenty years you find fifteen but not all of them. Think about this. But do they do that? Yes they do. Ok is everybody do that? The answer is no. If everyone did this then they already probably organised something but no. But who do that, some yes. Some really really genuine, want to practice. Do they memorise the stories? Yes. Do they remember them? Yes. They inspired? Yes. Ok. And then make differences in their lives? Absolutely yes.
So that is my experience I’m telling you ok. Maybe you asking me? “Do you remember everything, all the stories?” The answer is no “that means you are very bad”, yes, I am a very bad lama but please don’t copy me ok! Try to copy the good ones. If I am very good one I probably yell at you many times and punish you maybe fifty times but you haven’t got any punishment yet, that means I am very bad, ok. Because I know how bad I am myself but I feel too guilty to punish you! So do you understand?
Ok, so now you understand why we need to study and why we need the stories. Why we need lama, why we need lineage. You know transmission, without all of them you cannot have internet. Impossible. If you do not make the conditions for internet, impossible. If you not have internet you cannot do so many things. Cannot do your job, cannot travel, cannot book your flights, anything. Almost anything you can’t do it. The only thing you can maybe do is walk and buy some food and then cook and eat, that maybe you can. That’s all, so similarly, if we don’t have lineage and transmission, and not only that but that’s one, that like internet signal, so we can’t do much spiritually.
That‘s why in this system, built, established this, you know like through the human relationship, you have much more than you go Sunday. So think about you know like normal people and their relationship with priest or the Buddhist , the monk, and the teacher and student and there relationship is a little bit different. It is more direct and more personal and more how you say, is many things involved, you know, is quite a big difference. The human connection is much more stronger. That doesn’t mean the religion is, how you say, superior and inferior but the design is different and different customs we develop so this lineage, they emphasise that part very much. That’s why we put our spiritual friends, you put equal of the Buddha, above the Buddha, all depending what you practicing. So this all we do sometimes looks like a little bit silly and sometimes looks like very skilful, but it depends on who you are and your attitude. That’s all.
So, that is in general ok. So now, what are you meant to be doing with your direct immediate, your spiritual friend? Spiritual teacher or whatever you call, your spiritual master, maybe we call that. What are you meant to be doing with. So that is the whole chapter. If we say very briefly, in Tibetan we say… (@ 38.16 uses Tib term) Three. First they say you establish the relationship very carefully, second, you appreciate, how you say, you participate very skilful, very wise way. Finally, you make sure you can be lineage holder.
So that’s saying. If I say more directly and practically, the first one they say you have to first carefully examine your teacher, your spiritual master. You examine a lot, which means you examine, you taste it and you think is good enough, and then you emulate and you, how you say, without any hesitation, all the instructions. It’s not saying you completely relying with instructions and you have nothing to say. Not really that but, so you have to be a different relationship. That’s what basically saying.
But, you have to remember this as well. When this text say “such and such”, sometimes in your mind, “oh, how can be that? That’s impossible these things” you know. But what they saying, they generalising. They generalise means, you know, they are not talking about average. They talking about absolute best. If you not absolute best, why you have to examine and test so many years? And how you do it? That’s not easy and by the time you examined, maybe not have much time left to do anything, you know, so we have to be kind of like practical.
Ok, it is worth to examine so long, do I have time? Do I have energy? Is it worth to do that long and what I am going to do next? Is this really best way? You know, generate so much doubt in your mind, try to taste, almost like scientific approach, sounds like. So I personally I wouldn’t! With my experience, it never happen that way.
You know what I do, I go along with whatever is possible, and I generate the best, my mental attitude as possible, for this teacher’s you know… Whoever I’m seeking, whatever I am seeking the Dharma, from whoever. I put my mental attitude the best possibility stage and then I try my mental best possibility, attitude. But what I get maybe not the best possibility. Maybe I am not received the best possibility. But with my experience, yes I may receive some degree. Always you receive some degree. So when you receive some degree you try to appreciate that much more than you received. So that’s what I do if you want to follow with my personal experience, you can do that way. But if you want your personal methods or you can follow traditional text, it’s up to you.
But most important, this relationship and this business, you know approach is, aiming for something limitless, so the best mental attitude as possible we put, always is necessary. So, and the most important you just have to remember, I am…you don’t have to judge other people. Impossible you can judge 100% somebody else, but you can judge yourself easily, so you judge, ok.
Am I victim of the karma? Am I completely under control the karma. The karmic wind throw me there and there and here. And today I’m here but tomorrow I don’t know where the karmic winds… Am I this kind of person or something better? If you realise “oh yer, ok, I am one of them, nothing special”. Ok then, then you think of the philosophy. That means I’m absolutely under the control of the karma. So everything I see, everything I measure, everything, my limit. Very very limited ability I get from randomly, from the karmic, what you call, projection. So if yes, and then what I see is not necessarily the same thing and absolute almost guarantee not what you see is not as it is.
So a few years ago I asked students, “have you had any disappointment from the Buddhism, please tell me” I begged and begged. Finally one man, his name was Peter Van… and he said he was very excited with Buddhism and spiritually. The celebrities, they following Buddhism and very fashionable, fantastic. But a few years late, he more and more disappointed. What he disappointed by? Because Dalai Lama said himself is simple monk and he has no clairvoyance and he doesn’t know anything when he dying or anything. So the Dalai Lama is the most, how you say, the best Buddhist monk in the world and so he doesn’t know nothing, he is just like us. And not only that, is there’s anybody in this world we can see is enlightened?. So that is why he’s disappointed. So I thought “hmmm yer, good point” Some degree is good point. This I’m sure many people disappointed by this.
But if you think deep down, what….is Dalai Lama emanation of Avalokiteshvara which means 10th level Bodhisattva. Is just almost Buddha or you can say absolutely Buddha. Is that really Dalai Lama? Or there is Dalai Lama who said he is only simple monk who doesn’t really know anything, can’t predict anything. Even he tell almost for 30/40 years, he telling Tibet one day free and we will meet… He probably been saying this for 30-/40 years and Tibetans waiting for this because Tibetans 100% believed what Dalai Lama said. During my childhood time I remember they just everybody believe 100% and they think maybe next year, maybe next year, like that. So now I am still am sure 70/80% still believe in, so I wonder what will happen, the Dalai Lama 80 years this year. In Tibetan count 81, and western count 80, so the longest possible, maybe 20 years. Is your mind, logically, will Tibet be free from China? In our logic, seems impossible!
But is that the reality, that is the real reality? Or the Dalai Lama is Avalokiteshvara, 10th level Bodhisattva? Which one is reality? We don’t know. We don’t know which one is reality. It is better to hope Dalia Lama is Avalokiteshvara rather than he is just nothing special, isn’t it. So which one better? We can hope.
So similarly, there is nobody enlightened in this world today, hopefully eventually (? 52.26), just joking! Nobody else we can see is reach Buddhahood, no? So that means, is nobody is enlightened, that better? Oh no. Enlightened beings everywhere. As much…countless enlightened beings and countless sentient beings become enlightened every day. Which one is more true? Probably for us, more true, I didn’t see anybody enlightened. That is more true, isn’t it.
But we have to remember, we have very very very limited reality we can see. We are just like piece of paper, you know, carried everywhere by the winds. This piece of paper have not much capacity. Just remember that. So that’s why whatever we see directly, or whatever we can experience directly is nothing really. But also better to hope that. That is better because if the reality, THE reality is what it is we see, then really there is no hope. So better too, our experience and what we see, our capacity, according to our capacity of this truth, is not much and there is much better reality. That is much better, because we can have hope and we can have inspiration and we can inspire everybody every day. We can inspire and be working towards. Otherwise we absolutely depressed.
So do you know why this century, everyday, this late century how much we develop scientific skills, medical skills and health skills and everything more and more develop. Still people have more and more depression and sadness and everything increase. Do you think why? Because we are too much relying and related with this you know, how you say, this profane reality. You know this profane reality. Which means we are much more engaged and participated in this depressing reality. Which means we have very limited perceptions.
So the other people, other time, they not that depressed. Even there conditions are so harsh and they live very short life. Their everyday life is much better. Their mental state is much better every day. Why? Because they didn’t uptight as much as we do in this fantastic world. Our fantastic world I mean. So much fantastic because we develop so much knowledge and skills. Scientific, medical, scientific discover, we organise so many things. You know we find democracy, everybody almost, and we find freedom. Many ways, we don’t have to follow this religion. We are free! But this freedom didn’t leave you very happy mental state! So think of that for a second.
So which reality, which one should be more reality? Which one is better to be the reality? What is it we see, is that should be THE reality or there is something else THE reality. Which one better? Which one should be and which one more logically should be? So it is better to have no Buddha nature or better to have Buddha nature? There is no doubt is there. Is it better to be hope Buddha nature or we not hope Buddha nature? Which one better! So it is better to hope and not too much doubt we have the Buddha nature or you just believe you have the Buddha nature? What is the consequence will be different? Think about those things. Then you know more profoundly.
So this spiritual relationship make some sense than our five senses see. So that means basically, better to believe the Dalai Lama is Avalokiteshvara, 10th level Bodhisattva and whatever he say is blessing. Or is this Tibetans look like on one level they are stupid blind faith. They don’t know nothing. They don’t know what happen in the world, the just believe in these things. I agree, but another level, they still didn’t destroy the hope. By this in 50/56 years later, and they still encouraged and even this self emulations come from that courage and that belief. You may think that is terrible, shouldn’t happen, shouldn’t self emulate. They should live this wonderful world. Is our world wonderful? Is good to live every day or long life? Question mark! Doesn’t mean we have no attitude. Doesn’t mean we have no attachment to this world.
Yes, particularly I have. I think I have attachment to this world more than all of you have. That’s what I believe. But still I can see a little bit, tiny bit, maybe they are better to die that way because they die for altruism. They died for altruism, for hope, they died for belief. It sounds like terrorism but it is not! There are many dimensions you have to think of. So before we never almost never had. I have to say almost otherwise can be, but there’s no like, suicide in Tibetan. It is not well known in communities. We hardly ever heard. So in a few years now 140… but they all writing letter, sounds like altruism. Not like because they can’t cope in there own life, not like that. It’s very interesting. Sounds like I am so much biased to Tibetans and am praising Tibetans, but not really. Joe and Julie knows, I criticise Tibetans a lot. On some level they think I hate the Tibetans!
But we have to think of many other angles. It is very interesting. Question from student – “what kind of karma are they creating?” – Karma? Probably they are karmic free, some of them, completely. Who knows? We cannot know exactly, we can only generalise. But we have famous Buddhist story… (@ 1.04.16 uses Tib term) and he …the compassionate captain we say, he killed the black, what you call? Black…spear (?1.04.37) Called Black Spear person, and he killed so many, unbelievable. Like terrorist. So he killed the Black Spear, the captain killed, but why he killed? He doesn’t have any, zero interest himself. And he have zero hatred to him, zero interest in himself and completely compassionate of him. He thinking he has 500 merchants, if he don’t kill him he going to kill the 500 merchants. I don’t know how, throw in the water or whatever. And he take all the wealth and go home or whatever. So 500 merchants lives and their wives and children and everything, except for this… he thought I should kill him then I go to hell, is ok. I should go to hell rather than these 500 merchants die and then him (Black Spear) eons, eons, never even return from hell himself. Rather I kill one person and I go to hell for short time. That’s his attitude, so he killed and not go to hell at all.
We believe he has…(@ 1.06.24 uses Tib term). He accumulates merits as like… 10 million eon times accumulate that merit he created just once by this. So if that’s true… is that true or not true, think of logic, we not talk tonight. Or your logic is good enough to understand this. But if that’s true, these people, self emulating, they leave children, husband, wife, many other monks and they do this. There are young monks doing, old monks doing and man and woman doing, young age, old age everybody doing. So if that is the case, they should be similar isn’t it. So they not doing the bombs, not killing others at all. Never harm even one tiny…they think what they have rights is themselves. What else can I do. This is our minds, so I can do. So all these things we have to think very carefully. We never knows.