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    Modern version of the Eternal Knot by Charles Huttner
A View on Buddhism
Teksty w jezyku polskim     Deutsche Seiten

Quotations on:
Spiritual Master, Teacher, Guru, Lama

Return to the Quotations Index

Even if you can recite the whole Tripitaka by heart, even if you know the entire Dharma, if you don’t have the guru’s advice, there
will be a gap between you and the Dharma when you practice.
Atisha, from Collection of Advice from Here and There

In criticizing, the teacher is hoping to teach. That's all.

The Buddhist teachings differentiate between flash insights (nyam, nyams), and stable realizations (togpa, rtogs-pa). A flash insight does not make a significant change in one's life, but may lead in that direction. A stable realization, on the other hand, whether it be partial or complete, actually produces a noticeable improvement that lasts. The distinction we are drawing here between Dharma instructors and spiritual mentors derives from this difference. Dharma instructors may have either insight or realization, whereas spiritual mentors need to have some level of stable realization.
Alexander Berzin, from Relating to a Spiritual Teacher: Building a Healthy Relationship

If, though, by the conjunction of conditions, someone understands what the Buddha meant, that person doesn't need a teacher. Such a person has a natural awareness superior to anything taught. But unless you're so blessed, study hard, and by means of instruction
you'll understand.

The Buddha

If you were to follow the Dharma purely out of love for me or because you respect me, I would not accept you as disciple.
But if you follow the Dharma because you have yourself experienced its truth, because you understand and act accordingly - only under these conditions have you the right to call yourself a disciple of the Exalted One.
From: Old Path, White Clouds by Thich Nath Hanh

Ajahn Chah

Actually in my own practice I didn't have a teacher to give as much teachings as all of you get from me. I didn't have many teachers. I ordained in an ordinary village temple and lived in village temples for quite a few years. In my mind I conceived the desire to practice, I wanted to be proficient, I wanted to train. There wasn't anybody giving any teaching in those monasteries but the inspiration to practice arose. I traveled and I looked around. I had ears so I listened, I had eyes so I looked. Whatever I heard people say, I'd tell myself, 'Not sure.' Whatever I saw, I told myself, 'Not sure,' or when the tongue contacted sweet, sour, salty, pleasant or unpleasant flavors, or feelings of comfort or pain arose in the body, I'd tell myself, 'This is not a sure thing'! And so I lived with Dhamma.

Once a visitor asked Ajahn Chah if he was an arahant. He said, I am like a tree in a forest. Birds come to the tree, they sit on its branches and eat its fruits. To the birds, the fruit may be sweet or sour or whatever. The birds say sweet or they say sour, but from the trees point of view, this is just the chattering of birds.

When the sun of fierce devotion shines on the snow mountain of the master, the stream of his blessing will pour down.
Drikung Kyobpa

From the blossoming lotus of devotion, at the center of my being,
Rise up, O compassionate master, my only refuge!
I am plagued by past actions and turbulent emotions:
To protect me in my misfortune
Remain as the jewel-ornament on the crown of my head, the mandala of great bliss,
Arousing all my mindfulness and awareness, l pray!
Jikme Lingpa

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Devotion is the essence of the path, and if we have in mind nothing but the guru and feel nothing but fervent devotion, whatever occurs is perceived as his blessing. If we simply practice with this constantly present devotion, this is prayer itself. When all thoughts are imbued with devotion to the guru, there is a natural confidence that this will take care of whatever may happen. All
forms are the guru, all sounds are prayer, and all gross and subtle thoughts arise as devotion. Everything is spontaneously liberated in the absolute nature, like knots untied in the sky.

There is only one way of attaining liberation and of obtaining the omniscience of enlightenment: following an authentic spiritual master. He is the guide that will help you to cross the ocean of samsara.
The sun and the moon are reflected in clear, still water instantly. Similarly, the blessings of all the buddhas are always present for those who have complete confidence in them. The sun’s rays fall everywhere uniformly, but only where they are focused through a magnifying glass can they set dry grass on fire. When the all-pervading rays of the Buddha’s compassion are focused through the magnifying glass of your faith and devotion, the flame of blessings blazes up in your being.

I have made the point in the past that it is not necessary to consider someone one's guru from the very outset simply because one has heard the explanation of the Buddha's teachings from that person. At first, it is much better if one does not have that kind of attitude toward them, simply regarding them as a Dharma-friend. One gets teachings, and time goes by. Then, when one feels that one knows that person quite well, and can take them as one's guru without any danger of transgressing the commitments that accompany such a relationship, when one has that kind of confidence, then one can go ahead and take him or her as one's guru. The Lord Buddha himself made it quite clear in both the Vinaya sutras and in the Mahayana scriptures, and even in the Tantrayana, in a very detailed fashion, what the qualities of a teacher should be. This is why I often criticize the Tibetan attitude of seeing whatever the guru does as good, of respecting everything that the guru does right from the start without the initial period of examination. Of course, if the guru is really qualified, then to have such an attitude is very worthwhile.
Take the cases of Naropa and Marpa, for example. Sometimes it appears as though some of the things Tilopa asked of Naropa, or Naropa of Marpa, were unreasonable. Deep down, however, these requests had great meaning. Because of their great faith in their gurus, Naropa and Marpa did as instructed. Despite the fact that they appeared to be unreasonable, because the teachers were qualified, their actions had some meaning. In such situations, it is necessary that from the disciple's side all of the actions of the teacher be respected. But this cannot be compared to the case of ordinary people. Broadly speaking, I feel that the Buddha gave us complete freedom of choice to thoroughly examine the person who is to be our guru. This is very important. Unless one is definite, one should not take them as a guru. This preliminary examination is a kind of precautionary measure.
Answers: Discussions with Western Buddhists

The master is like a great ship for beings to cross the perilous ocean of existence, an unerring captain who guides them to the dry land of liberation, a rain that extinguishes the fire of the passions, a bright sun and moon that dispel the darkness of ignorance, a firm ground that can bear the weight of both good and bad, a wish-fulfilling tree that bestows temporal happiness and ultimate bliss, a treasury of vast and deep instructions, a wish-fulfilling jewel granting all the qualities of realization, a father and a mother giving their love equally to all sentient beings, a great river of compassion, a mountain rising above worldly concerns unshaken by the winds of emotions, and a great cloud filled with rain to soothe the torments of the passions.
In brief, he is the equal of all the buddhas. To make any connection with him, whether through seeing him, hearing his voice, remembering him, or being touched by his hand, will lead us toward liberation. To have full confidence in him is the sure way to progress toward enlightenment. The warmth of his wisdom and compassion will melt the core of our being and release the gold of the buddha-nature within.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

...what happens when the guru gives us advice that we do not wish to follow or that contradicts Dharma and reason? The yardstick must always be logical reasoning and Dharma reason. Any advice that contradicts these is to be rejected. This was said by Buddha himself. If one doubts the validity of what is being said, one should gently push the point and clear all doubts. This task becomes somewhat more sensitive in Highest Tantra, where total surrender to the guru is a prerequisite; but even here this surrender must be made only in a particular sense. If the guru points to the east and tells you to go west, there is little alternative for the student but to make a complaint. This should be done with respect and humility, however, for to show any negativity towards a teacher is not a noble way of repaying his or her kindness.
The Path to Enlightenment

It is frequently said that the essence of the training in guru yoga is to cultivate the art of seeing everything the guru does as perfect. Personally I myself do not like this to be taken too far. Often we see written in the scriptures, "Every action seen as perfect." However, this phrase must be seen in the light of Buddha Shaky-muni's own words: "Accept my teachings only after examining them as an analyst buys gold. Accept nothing out of mere faith in me." The problem with the practice of seeing everything the guru does as perfect is that it very easily turns to poison for both the guru and the disciple. Therefore, whenever I teach this practice, I always advocate that the tradition of "every action seen as perfect" not be stressed. Should the guru manifest unDharmic qualities or give teachings contradicting Dharma, the instruction on seeing the spiritual master as perfect must give way to reason and Dharma wisdom.
The Path to Enlightenment

The disciple must always keep reason and knowledge of Dharma as principal guidelines. Without this approach it is difficult to digest one's Dharma experiences. Make a thorough examination before accepting someone as a guru, and even then follow that teacher within the conventions of reason as presented by Buddha. The teachings on seeing the guru's actions as perfect should largely be left for the practice of Highest Tantra, wherein they take on a new meaning. One of the principal yogas in the tantric vehicle is to see the world as a mandala of great bliss and to see oneself and all others as Buddhas. Under these circumstances it becomes absurd to think that you and everyone else are Buddhas, but your guru is not!
The Path to Enlightenment

The extraordinary qualities of great beings who hide their nature escapes ordinary people like us, despite our best efforts in examining them. On the other hand, even ordinary charlatans are expert at deceiving others by behaving like saints.
Patrul Rinpoche

Even to learn worldly crafts, things we can understand by seeing them with our eyes, we need a teacher to show us. So how is it possible that we, who have just come from the lower realms and are entering a path where we have never been before, could travel
it without a guide?
Geshe Potowa

When I consider my own teachers, one thing I particularly value is their capacity to be authentically themselves. They each have their unique personality and quality that is a genuine expression of their individuality. There is no contradiction between our Western need to be individuals and the Buddhist path. Buddhism does not demand that we become clones of some ideal. Rather, it asks us to respond to who we are and awaken our full potential, expressing it within our particular individual capacity. My Tibetan teachers have supremely individualistic personalities, something I love and value deeply. They respond to me as an individual with my own personality, which they would never ask me to relinquish. The fact that they were each on their own unique journey within the Buddhist path was, for me, a sublime example of the bodhisattva as an individuated person who has truly responded to the inner call to awaken.
Rob Preece, The Wisdom of Imperfection: The Challenge of Individuation in Buddhist Life respecting and serving your teachers you exhaust karma whose effects you would otherwise experience in the miserable realms. Your action of serving the teacher expends these miserable effects and replaces them with only slight harm to your body and mind in this lifetime, either in actuality or in dreams. In addition, the benefits of respecting and serving your teachers are tremendous, such as a collection of virtue which surpasses even the roots of virtue that you derive from making offerings to limitless buddhas, and so forth. As the Sutra of Ksitigarbha says:
"Those whom the teachers care for will purify the karma that would otherwise cause them to wander through the miserable realms for ten million limitless eons. They purify this karma with harm to their bodies and minds in this lifetime. This harm includes sickness such as an infectious disease with fever and calamities such as famine. They may purify their karma by merely undergoing something as little as a dream or a scolding. They produce more roots of virtue in one morning than those who give gifts to, worship, or observe precepts from limitless tens of millions of buddhas. Those who respect and serve their gurus are endowed with unimaginable good qualities."
Tsong-kha-pa, from 'The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment: Lam Rim Chen Mo'

Don't worry. When the time is right, you'll meet your teacher. Buddhism doesn't believe that you can push other people: ' everybody should learn to meditate; everybody should become Buddhists.' That's stupid. Pushing people is unwise.
When you're ready, some kind of magnetic energy will bring you together with your teacher. About going to the East, it depends on your personal situation. Check up. The important thing is to search with wisdom and not blind faith. Sometimes, even if you go to the East, you still can't find a teacher. It takes time."
Lama Yeshe

Even if we can recite by heart all the sutras and tantras or have studied them at university and can explain them all intellectually, it doesn’t mean much in terms of realization because generating within our mind the paths revealed by the teachings has to depend on receiving the blessings of the guru. Receiving the nectar of the guru’s blessings depends on our having the devotion that sees the guru as a buddha. Without the blessings of the guru, there is no way we can have realizations, no way we can actualize the three principal paths and the two stages of tantra. ... We need a guru for a special reason, to receive the blessings that enable us to develop our mind in the path to enlightenment. ....
The ultimate request is, recalling the qualities of the guru, praying for our own body, speech and mind to become one with the guru’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind. The main way to receive blessings is to request to receive all the qualities that the guru has.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche, from The Heart of the Path

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Last updated: December 11, 2016