The Absolute and Conventional Guru

The Absolute and Conventional Guru

Date of Advice:
October 2016
Date Posted:
May 2017

A student had two questions for Rinpoche after reading The Heart of the Path many times. First question: Is the absolute guru the practitioner’s own fundamental innate mind of clear light, the practitioner’s very subtle mind, which then manifests according to the disciple’s karma as the relative guru in ordinary form? Second question: Would it be correct to say that whatever causes a person to become closer to enlightenment is a manifestation of the dharmakaya, the guru?

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you for your letter and practice. Regarding your two questions:

Perhaps [the absolute guru] is not the subtle mind, because if you say the extremely subtle wind and mind is the guru, then all sentient beings become guru-buddha. This is the way Kagyü and Nyingma accept that all sentient beings are buddhas. According to their view, there is purified buddha and obscured buddha, so it seems that what you are saying is more like the Kagyü and Nyingma view.

But direct perception of the extremely subtle mind, maybe that’s called the ultimate or absolute guru. I don’t know the reasons so much, but it may be something like that.

However the absolute guru, dharmakaya, the extremely subtle wind and mind, has no beginning and no end. You can find this in Lama Chöpa after you recite KHYÖ NI LA MA KHYÖ NI YI DAM / KHYÖ NI KHA DRO CHHÖ KYONG TE.... After you finish that prayer it talks about the qualities of the guru. At the end it talks about the ultimate guru having no end and no beginning, and ultimate bodhicitta. There is this one, not obscured, so the Buddha who is not obscured, with no beginning and no end. In Lama Chöpa it is talking about that, which manifests.

Yes, those pure manifestations as a buddha in the nirmanakaya and sambhogakaya aspect are like that. The highest bodhisattvas manifest in ordinary aspect, just as a buddha manifests as a sura for suras; manifests as asuras for asuras; manifests as human beings for human beings; manifests as animals for animals; manifests as hungry ghosts for hungry ghosts; manifests as hell beings for hell beings; and also manifests as yamas for yamas and as mara for maras. Like that there are all kinds of manifestations to subdue those sentient beings and ultimately bring them to enlightenment.

So yes, the ultimate guru, the dharmakaya, manifests in ordinary aspect. In English it is translated as conventional, but in Tibetan it is kun dzob lama, the guru appearing in ordinary aspect, that is true for the all-obscuring mind.

Therefore the guru’s kindness can't fit in the sky. We’re guided by the guru from beginningless rebirth, and all our happiness comes from the guru. Every single present and future happiness until we achieve enlightenment comes from the guru.

Regarding your second question: Yes. Anyway I already answered that.

With much love and prayers...