Also, as I was starting to explain before, there are many different spiritual levels of spiritual teacher. And then there are others who can explain a little bit about how to put it into life, what their experience is — usually older students that share their experience. There are those who can teach us just technically how to meditate, like how to set up an altar and these sort of things, like a martial arts trainer just training us.
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There are lay and monk vows, bodhisattva vows, there are tantric vows. And the stages of the spiritual teacher also correspond to our own stages as a student as we develop. Many people take them prematurely, without really being mature enough and stable enough to actually keep them, to know what they are doing. Now of course we can get some inspiration from qualities of all of these levels of teacher, even somebody that can just give us good information — correct information, I should say. That is a good quality, and we can gain inspiration from the amount of study that this person must have done.
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So there is one level in which everybody can be our teacher, and we can try to recognize positive qualities in anybody and gain inspiration and learn from them. A proper teacher would never allow that, and see the signs of it at the very beginning and stop it. So, open to being led, but our feet are on the ground. We have sincere respect for the Buddhist teachings. Acknowledge our own shortcomings, we want very much to get out of them. We see the teachings as a way to be able to do that.
And we see the teacher as somebody like a doctor who can actually help to guide us. But not an omnipotent God that can just perform a miracle and we no longer have anger or attachment. We have to be ready, and that requires building up the causes for that. Also on the basis of everything that I just said, of being ready to commit ourselves, with vows, to the spiritual path.
To feel that inspiration from the teacher on the basis of all of this, what we need to recognize, that what is going on here is a type of energy. It is an energy exchange. And I think we should also be aware that the energy exchange and heightening of energy works both ways. Although we usually think of it only in terms of the inspiration coming to us from the teacher, but actually from the side of the teacher, having the receptive disciples gives the teacher a tremendous amount of inspiration and energy to really try as much as possible to embody the teachings and to stay as pure as possible with motivation and so on.
And so the whole relationship, when it works properly, is mutually uplifting for both. That is why it has to be a living relationship with an actual person for it to have the strongest energy. And once we have had it with somebody, even when they have died, the teacher has died, that energy still continues because it is based on a personal experience with the teacher. What do we do? Of course we could feel quite depressed about that, feel sorry for ourselves, and be filled with this longing desire.
And often that can be connected with a little bit of fantasy about what the relationship would be like — as if somebody is just going to fall out of the skies and take us under their wings, and lead us by the hand to enlightenment, and spend all their time with us.
What is the guru-yoga practice, anyway?
That is an unreasonable expectation. Not as if it is from a Milarepa comic book.
And we have to have, of course, to enter in such a relationship, or even to find such a relationship, we have to have a great deal of courage and the willingness to change and to grow. Think of the examples of great masters from Tibet and the amount of hardship that they went through to go to India — Atisha to go to Sumatra from India — in order to meet a spiritual master. So in most cases, they are not going to just fall out of the sky. So this is why the preliminary practices are so important, whether it is prostration, whether it is Vajrasattva, whatever it might be.
There are many, many forms that it can take. We need to in a sense soften our minds and soften our hearts so that we can be open and receptive. Things like prostration are… I mean obviously we can enter into it as an absolute fanatic out of desperation. This hurts my knees. Why should I do this? Yes, this wants to come up so that we work on it, and see it, so that hopefully through the process we can open up a little bit more and be more receptive to the spiritual teacher, to the teachings, to the willingness to grow and to change, encouraged to do that. Doing these preliminaries builds up character but, as I say, we have to avoid also this extreme of being a fanatic: just following orders and doing it expecting a miracle at the end.
They all have very wonderful excellent qualities. The point is to do it with somebody, someone that represents the Buddha-qualities, that actually we feel some connection with and that moves us. So if we do it with any of these lineage founders or lineage masters, it is very important to actually know the biography of this person, know their qualities, not just have it be vague, so that we could try to relate to that person as a person. Otherwise there will be very little energy there, and moving our energy is the whole point.
But with a real human being that we know, not necessarily intimately — I mean, all the time — but have some contact with them, then obviously we can feel the energy much more strongly. Find out about their education, their training, what they have done in their lives, and so on. It will give us far more inspiration. They developed.
So how did they develop their qualities? That is important. You know, basic biographical details of the person. So we need to build up the causes, not only in making our minds and hearts receptive, through preliminaries, but also what is always mentioned, and I think that we need to take it seriously, is offer sincere prayers to meet with fully qualified spiritual teachers, to be led by fully qualified spiritual teachers in all our lifetimes. This is important, that we are not praying to God or to Buddha Shakyamuni to grant that to us.
Particularly, dedicating any positive force that I might build into ripening for that, into that. And to do it all way up to enlightenment — future lives as well, not just now. These are important things to do. I have been looking for you. Please come, I will lead you to enlightenment. Or if it does happen, it happens very, very rarely.
And then it happens on the basis of tremendous amount of causes built up from past lives. So it is like — and the prayers and the requests are not enough — it is like the example of wishing to win the lottery but not buying a lottery ticket.
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You have to actually do something as well. And so we look at what are the causes. Well I think we have to look at what would be similar actions that we could be doing now. The main theme with the spiritual teacher of course is to focus on the good qualities, not just focus on the negative qualities and shortcomings; and the ones that are based on fact, not just projections of fantasy. And to appreciate the kindness that we have received from the spiritual teacher, and the willingness in actually engaging in helping a person to do positive things, showing respect, these sort of things.
We are already in that mindset that we want to develop. As I said, I have not seen that in a text, but I think that from the point of view of logic that makes perfect sense. You know, Buddhism is a very active path. If we want to experience something, then we need to investigate what are the causes, and then build up those causes.
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Short term, like if there is nobody around in our area, try somehow to make the money or whatever it is that would be necessary to go elsewhere where there might be teachers. Or in my case, in order to go to India I needed to pass all my doctorate exams and finish all the studies and gain all the languages. So, short term building up the causes, and then long term in terms of many future lives.
Always complaining, always criticizing others, always looking at their negative points, being lazy, not willing to work for things, just to expect that everything is going to be handed to us — these type of hindrances that will prevent having such a relationship. We take from others, we never give back in terms of when others help us and are kind to us.
A big obstacle is if we just take, take, take and never give anything back. So these type of things in all the practices interrelate with each other, bodhichitta practices, thinking of the kindness that we have received from our mothers and others and appreciating it and so on.
His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa gives teachings about Guru Yoga to about 4000 people
That helps us to be able to do that with the spiritual master. Not that we project that the spiritual master is our mother or father. That can lead to problems as well. But there are many, many causes that we need to build up. After a successful pilot project and several years of extensive research and planning, The Kumarajiva Project is now prepared to dive into the immense task of translating more than , pages of Tibetan texts into Chinese. Also, there are numerous texts from other Buddhist canons that are not available in Chinese. The vision of the Kumarajiva Project is to make all Buddhist texts available in Chinese, starting by translating the texts that are available in Tibetan but not in Chinese.
The initial priority of the Kumarajiva Project is to translate into Chinese the Tibetan texts of the Kangyur and Tengyur that have not yet been translated. This task is expected to take 60 years to complete. The Tibetan Kangyur, the written words of the Buddha, contains an estimated 70, pages of text, 15, of which have not yet been translated into Chinese. The Tengyur, the commentaries to the sutras and tantras in the Kangyur, contains an estimated , pages, , of which have not yet been translated into Chinese.
The chart further categorizes the untranslated texts into the sutric and tantric texts in the Kangyur and Tengyur that have yet to be translated into Chinese. Look at your life. Look at the ways in which you define who you are Look at your goals. Look at the pressures applied by the people around you and the culture in which you were raised.
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