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.
Practicing Devotion to a Teacher
These teachings were recorded at the Rimé Institute in Belgrave, Australia on March 19, 2015
So,maybe we… these all details are in the book. Maybe you considers as details to study and to remember and try to take as, how you say, take as advice, take as support to understand and so tonight maybe we talk about the essence hopefully. And so maybe we analysing the essence.
The root should be three subject; First you choosing right teacher. Second, your perception and conduct have to be the right…between you and your teacher. And that’s included Dharma friends, Dharma brother’s and sister’s. And then finally, your accomplishment… becomes a lineage holder for benefits for others but you benefit yourself more than any other worldly gain. That should be. These three should be.
So the first one you choosing the right teacher. That one is a little bit tricky. If you are kind of person, less judgemental and have a respectable nature and then I don’t believe you have any problem choosing the right teacher. Because choosing the right teacher means…is not something you have…you only have allowed have one teacher and cannot…you don’t have any other person to admiration, respect and dedication. Doesn’t mean that. So for this reason, may you have primary… the most respect teacher and second, third, a little bit possible. For this reason for some people this is not any issue, because you are not very judgemental and you are, you had pure motivations. So you had the consequence, you had pure conduct, so that’s not a problem.
For a little bit sceptical person, judgemental person. Even you pretend you are not judgemental, but inside you are very very judgemental person. Or kind of arrogant people. So really have to be careful because these kind of people, you treat the Dharma as like toys and you treat the teacher as a taste, experiment, so you missing the essence of the person. You missing the essence of the relationship. All diluted by your judgemental and scepticism and the arrogant type of pride. So these things make you blind that wisdom eye. So for this reason…so if you want to be sceptical (? 14.58) you should be sceptical from the beginning. Not you already formed some relationship, not after that, it should be before . So that’s why you should examine before you formed any relationship.
So right now in this 21st century, probably you just have to look the web site. Look at the research and then you have to compare others. I don’t know, it’s not easy to good judge but whatever you can. So which means you really believe in yourself is very doubtful person. So you know that and you aware this and that’s why you try to reduce as much as possible your own doubt and your own easy arise the disrespect and doubt.
Remember doubt is the primary affliction, you know. So when we said doubt, the primary affliction, which means the doubt lead you… afflicted level, afflictive thoughts, afflictive emotions and missing opportunities, leading to missing opportunities. For this reason you try from the beginning, your doubt from the beginning, not after awhile. So anything we make big decision, always we investigate. When we buy house or anything you first make examine a lot and then you buy, otherwise you shouldn’t buy very quickly, jumping to the decision. So kind of like that.
But in went to extreme and focusing only this means you lose the essence. So similar relationship before married have many years have relationship together, and then married one year, two years divorce again. Before marriage you examine five years, ten years but still, then you jump to the marriage and then you fail after two years. That kind of…why because you know, there are many other conditions possible. What the essence I’m saying is too focussing, too judge and too focussing to external, too focussing to other rather than oneself and looking inside and you know, working on own faults, rather than not focus other’s faults.
So that’s why these things happen, could be similar happen to teacher and student relationship, also can be like that. For this reason they saying you first examine properly. But once you have connected with the sacred Dharma, you receive sacred Dharma and then kind of like too late. So basically better to working your own afflictions rather than examine, so that’s why it suggests before, not after.
How you examine, you know what qualities. The details in the book, but the essence is…this goal of relationship is for the longest relationship and the most highest aim so your teacher have to have lineage and transmission. That’s why we talked last week and then you have to know the lineage, how precious and how sacred. And then your teacher should be educated, not necessary normal education but this spiritual path must be trained, must be educated that way.
Learned…this all important but more important, what is you teachers dedication. This you have to know. What is the primary dedication, the life. What is the life dedication? Is the life dedication something normal, average people do, you know. Is that or the dedication something spiritual completion/complacent (? 22.35) Is that dedication, or the dedication is worldly gains. I think that’s really important to look at. Look at teachers past and look at teacher’s present and future. What is the life dedicating? That is probably key you look at. But all these things, if you don’t have to look at, even better. But if you need to look at, you should look at those things. Not look at how is fame, not look how is popular and not look at how fancy, definitely not. So, these things look at, maybe you had good conclusion
And then most important I said work your own stuff. For this reason, first you have to compare what…compare with normal relationship. So first look…is relationship very important for human being? And then you say ”oh yes”. I mean when I say relationship, means variety of relationship, you know social relationship. You know anything going communication between. That is a relationship. So if you have not any communication with the humanity, how do you think…how do you live, you know and survive. Almost impossible. If you can this means you are very exceptional, exceptional capacity, otherwise you can’t. So that’s you know first
And then what is the purpose of this relationship. This relationship with the news, television, internet, work colleagues, neighbours, relatives, friends, family, all kind of like, everyone have a little bit of a specific purpose. Sometimes we seek out these relationship but basically we cannot coping without them, so we have to admit that part. So for instance, babies, children, we know everyone now, how is big task, and huge responsibility and very long responsibility. Yet still most of us cannot cope without. We fears we have to have that children, we have to have that. If not you feels missing something and you’re not satisfied. So, if we examine each of them carefully, they are really, really you know kind of like, source of your suffering. Source of difficulty, you know unbelievable big responsibility. Yet some people never thought about this. Some people thought about but still you feels you have to have it.
And then other kind of relationship, there is difficult, there is hardship and sometimes you scoff. That’s why you divorce many times, but still there is some kind of needs fulfilling, so kind of like, basically we cannot cope without them. So then again, we doing these things. So the modern time our relationships very weak and very uncertain. Uncertain and weak. There is many reasons but we not go details of that.
But ancient times, think about that. They are quite dedicated, maybe some villages, some certain relationships, for certain people maybe is terrible. Kind of like, one is kind of in charge, one is kind of asleep, that’s possible. But in general they are kind of like very dedicated. Very dedicated relationship. And still in Asia, many Asian cultures still very dedicated relationship. The dedication is quite amazing. But the problem is not excellent motivation. This dedication itself is quite amazing, kind of unshakeable dedication. But the dedication come from what? Based on ego, self cherishing, narrow minded, and habitual pattern, these three come. You can call love, but I wouldn’t say love. I wouldn’t say really pure love. You know ego, ego and very much you know like… (laughs).
Some my relatives I said…so some my relatives, if heard I’m sick and I’m going to die, they probably say they care, but they don’t really care. But if I make some bad reputation, they REALLY CARES! They really cares. Then people think that means “oh, your relatives really cares of you and they really love you” and they says “o because I love you, you are my relative, you are my family, that’s why I really care” but then when I analyse it, it’s not that. Because if I do some bad reputation, something embarrassing, affects themselves, they are embarrassed in the society. So the root goal, they self cherishing and they ego. Ok? (laughs) But if I die, they don’t really have any affect so they don’t really care. So I’m not criticising only my relatives. I think the whole world problem is there. The root is there. So that’s why these some cultures family, marriage, all the dedication, quite amazing if you look at one angle. But if you look at other angle, they are all based on selfish, self cherishing, ego, biased attachment, everything.
So spiritual, this relationship, if we can, we have to have dedication and devotion, more stronger than this families and relative and even if not more but equal of this dedication and devotion we have, but makes huge differences not based on your ego and self cherishing. Which means may not be zero self cherishing, may not be zero ego but, motivate the altruism and you know, you have wisdom eye looking from inside. So which means, so your dedication and your inspiration go beyond worldly achievement and goes beyond this life. Go beyond three, four, five life times. So that your motivation. And then that makes huge difference. So then your devotion, your pure perception or your devotion or dedication, all much, much worth than any other dedication.
So for this reason, to forming this kind of relationship, should be enjoyable and inspirational, and undefeatable. So it should be undefeatable by any other arguments. If somebody say “oh, this kind of relationship is blind faith” and then you should have the argument, why is not blind faith and you should have the argument of, “this kind of relationship is kind of cult system”. Then you say no because of this. You know, it should be undefeatable. You have to make distinguish. So to form this relationship…why special? Yes the motivation, and the purpose, looking for long way. So that means the wisdom eyes. If you see long vision that means you have kind of wisdom eye. Not necessarily have to go third eye (laughs), but is just…you have vision, you have intuitive feeling for long vision. So that’s why it is superior
And during the practise, this relationship should be, I said, valuable. Why is valuable? Let’s say normal relationship, you have to be kind of like, kind to each other. Talking kind words to each other. Constantly have to show how much you love and focussing on you. That means usually we go, “this relationship is going very well” but actually that means not going very well. Why? Because you have this anxiety, that’s why you have to constantly show something, confirming, because there is so much doubt and anxiety. So some relationship you don’t have to constantly showing this, but quite natural. Naturally you don’t have much problem. So that means going not so bad.
But still in general you have to be kind to each other, respectable each other, all these things. Why we emphasising on this.? Is this acceptable, all of this, because there is chance have doubt and anxiety, that’s why. That’s why if your relationship, relation partner, whatever kind of relationship, doesn’t matter, your partner, constantly criticise you, showing your faults and that kind of, you can’t cope. And it is not enjoyable. But if your teacher did this, and then if you have a different reaction, if you have different reaction that means “ahhh”, you getting somewhere. You getting somewhere.
So normally you not enjoy in any kind of other relationship, these kinds of reactions, if you can enjoy with your Dharma teacher or your Dharma brother’s and sister’s, that means you getting somewhere. That means becoming superior relationship. Or you can say high spiritual relationship. Because usually I don’t enjoy criticism but my teacher criticise, I enjoy. Usually I not that kind of serve work, physically, these things I not enjoy too…sweep, vacume and clean, cooking. All of them I not enjoy for others but for my teacher, my Dharma brother’s sisters, I’m enjoy. Which means become very special, because you not…you hate things, you not hate…you not enjoying things you enjoying now. Usually you think these jobs is like servant job, slave for somebody else.
So usually we have ego, we don’t want to bow down to anybody. But you can bow down this time. Which means very special. For this reason if you look at book said, you are patience like kind of, what say, you know, with rock or something and you are like servant like such and such, like horse, such and such like this. For normal people really this “ohhh no. I don’t want to be like this. Because I’m not that type of person. I’m much superior human being, so how can I be like this?” So one time I remember I wrote very inspirational Milarpea song. I show one English teacher, no religion at all, and she thinks is horrible! (laughs) Why? Because Milarepa criticism, say… and he saying your worldly relationship is start like this middle like this, end like this. So he saying I don’t want that kind of relationship (laughs) and your goals and wealth is start from this motivation and become like this. And finally becomes like this and I don’t want to do these things. So for her that is criticism for relationship, criticism, not just only one specific, you criticism all relationship, criticism all your wealth and accomplishment in the world. You criticism everything. “How terrible person this is”, probably like that.
That‘s why I think many things in Buddhism, conducts and especially the teacher and student relationship, especially Vajrayana is student conduct what should be. Perception what should be. Definitely normal people, some normal people find vey terrible, not acceptable, you know. For this reason we say secret, not for everyone because not easy to understand for everyone. But there is deep purpose. There is deep purpose. For this reason, it is not hard you become like slave, it is not hard you become like horse, it is not hard you become like you…I can’t remember in the book, I don’t know how to translate. If you have certain attitude, it is difficult to be like this but your attitude is changed, you understand meaning of relationship, then is easy and enjoyable. And honour, you feel privileged.
So our physical body is kind of like, secondary, so our motivation and the attitude is the direction/direct way (? 50.21) But our attitude and motivation also somebody directing (laughs.) Direct by wisdom, yer, so if you don’t have much wisdom and kind of like, ignorance more than wisdom, and then our attitude is afflicted, contaminated. So, and then this attitude and motivation direct your body, speech and conduct. But the root, your wisdom, more degree, higher degree than ignorance. And then your motivation and you attitude becomes superior. So then you conduct much more pure or beneficial. Or you can say enjoyable.
So here is said, how should be, how should you act in the presence of the teacher. When say this, act, means, not just body, speech, action, but there’s directly behind your physical body and speech. Ok, if in the presence of your teacher, what should be, makes you, like aware. And be mindful and conscientious. Done normal, you know, you working by yourself, you doing something by yourself, working with other work partners and you interacting with your child, you know, your husband, wife, friends. At that time, your awareness, mindfulness, conscientious, you check that level, and then in presence of your teacher, if same, that means you’re not doing much. So what I should be, you becomes more aware. More mindful, more conscientious. If become like that, that means, that means you’re doing well.
The teacher presence should be refine your morality and refine your mindfulness. And so you may sometimes you may have inside, more than by yourself. If that case, you’re doing quite well. So how this happened? Some things conditional, some things unconditional. There is nothing unconditional in general remember, but appears to you unconditional, means you have created the condition a long time ago. And now only small condition brings you this. But conditional ones, happens sometimes like this.
Let’s say, if you saw a few times on television news somewhere, how there is incredible yogi coming from this and this, from Tibet or somewhere like that. Then I…you saw…I very, very inspired, unbelievably I’m inspired, talking about always ”dha dha dha” like this, and then one day arrived. And so millions of people try to meet but you cannot meet, he is so…but one day you had really incredible opportunity, unbelievable. Accidently, the conditions you know something, you had that opportunity. At that time you met this person, that presence, may your refine your morality, your concentration. And then you got inside. So you cannot describe “oh that person/presence (? 58.10) is unbelievable” but you cannot describe. If that thing happen that means conditional. This all before these things, condition you, so you become like this.
So like me, always available, always appears ordinary, always doing ordinary jobs. This person, that kind of situation is obstacle for you to refine your morality, refine your mindfulness refine your wisdom. Not easy for you. But if tiny did (? 59.10), that means you are unbelievably fortunate/unfortunate (? 59.14). Even all this with obstacles or whatever you call, these bad conditions, not good conditions, ok, and still you did something like that, little bit, that means really fortunate, I would say.
But I think sometimes people focus too much Dharma teacher and forgot the Dharma brothers and sisters. And some Sangha even they fight each other. They jealous each other, they offend each other, you know. And they completely forgot this is my part of three jewels. Yes, the absolute Sangha, yes is Arya beings but we have to start from our ordinary Sangha. And also you don’t know who is Arya being and who is not Arya being. How many Arya beings in this room, we don’t know,. Hopefully many, you know. Usually we judge and “nah nah nah”, we don’t know. Why you don’t know because we only have our limited perception and your karmic arrangement. You only measure by this, so that’s why we have to believe, we have Arya Sangha and we are so fortunate.
But that doesn’t take you any disadvantage. Dharma brothers and sisters should be really, really honest each other and not easy offend each other. Very hard to offend each other, that should be. Even if you are offended then you should say “I’m offended. Why did you do this? Do you have any good reason?” and the other person brave enough to say “no I didn’t have any good reason. I just did unmindfully, I am sorry, I am really genuinely sorry. Can I do anything for you? Can I make up?” (laughs). Something like that so.
So for this reason, the devotion is not blind faith, should not be with blind faith. What should come with? Number one, should come with your insight. Second best, it should come with strong logical points. And third, it should come with intuitive feeling. Blind faith means you don’t have all of them, you don’t have inside, you don’t have strong local point, you don’t have intuitive feeling, but your dedication or devotion…copy somebody else, copying without thinking, without knowing, without feeling or without habitual, how you say, just follow others, or without thinking. Or even worse, pressure, peer group pressure. So that is not true devotion. Then yes, could be problem. You could be regret. What are the difference of consequence if true devotion then never, you never ever be regret. Whatever your dedication you done, whatever sacrifice you did, you will never ever regret. Is takes you instead of regret and suffering that means not true devotion. That’s all I think.
Student Question : Emulating the other Sangha members and your teachers actions, can you just talk about that? I take emulating us copying
So if there is good role model, you should emulate. But if there is no role model you should not emulate, and you should build your own track, what you call. You should build your own path and look at the text. If somebody there is good one, even not 100% good but one good thing. One we emulate James, one we emulate Leanne, one we emulate Clive (laughs). So something like that, we emulate something, good part, we try too. “ahh that’s Leanne’s way, that’s very nice. We should do this, we all try that (laughs). That is Veronica’s good quality, we should do that way.” Ok? That answered?
And the stories, your lineage lamas, what they teach. Which one you want to emulate. Ok?
Student Question : I can’t quite remember exactly where it was, but something about three ways of pleasing the teacher?
Oh yes, good. Three ways. Like how you dedicate, what you dedicate. You please the teacher. Remember when we say when we please the teacher, normal people think “oh your job is just pleasing somebody? You dedication is just pleasing somebody? That is terrible!” you know but, the main point, you please, you dedicate, whatever you did, actually, the majority of benefits, 99% benefit who get, you get it, nobody else, not even you teacher.
Your teacher pleased, why he’s pleased? Because he realised you have hope. You have hope, you have…become reach enlightenment and you can hold the lineage in the future. That is why he is pleased you know. Not because you cook me nice meal. So delicious. Not only that, you can include this no problem, we are human being and we are living with five senses, so we taste so why not, you should be happy but your primary should be not be because you cook nice meal. Your primary should be you developing good quality, what you say, you developing good qualities and you consider and you not lazy and you are mindful and you are thinking and you are dedicating. Any kind of action, that should be the main reason the teacher is pleased, not “oh, you did my job, so now I can be lazy” not only that reason. That included sometime (laughs). But should be secondary reason not primary reason.
So for this reason the three ways please, the first one…(@1.10.51 uses Tib term). So the number one you please, you practice so well. So teacher feels secured, the Dharma and your lineage, your transmission. If I die today or next year or ten years, somebody can transfer this. That’s number one, serving. Second, you are so dedicated physically. As before we say, you serve, everything you physically. Whatever teacher said, whatever teacher wish, you serve everything. Why you do this? Because you have, you growing inner quality, usually people don’t like things, you enjoy. Usually people don’t want to work 16 hours but you can. Why? Because you develop special spiritual quality inside. Usually people don’t like clean and vacuum and all dirty stuff, but you enjoy because you develop that good quality. So same, everything serve, physically, body speech and mind, you serve. Third, you give materiality, that’s easy. For very stingy people that not very easy (laughs) but much easier because if you have some money then you just buy something, that easy. Or you give something, that’s easy. You know, so that’s put there last, but last still means is unbelievable good, depending you motivation you know. So, unfortunately some big dollars, their motivation is not as big as their donation. That’s unfortunate. That’s more Asian. Western people motivation is better, but their donation is smaller (laughs) Ok.