Attachment to the Guru

Attachment to the Guru

Date of Advice:
May 2018
Date Posted:
April 2019

A student asked Rinpoche how to recognize whether their attachment to their guru, who was a lay person, was positive or was coming from a deluded mind.

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Painted by Jane Seidlitz.

My dearest, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you very much for your kind letter.

I will give you a simple example. Shakyamuni Buddha is sang gye in Tibetan. Sang means having totally eliminated the gross and subtle defilements—even the subtle negative imprints, and the dualistic mind and dualistic view—and because of that, gye, the total completion of realizations, with nothing more to generate.

Another way to present this is someone who has omniscient mind directly sees all the past, present and future, and is directly able to read numberless sentient beings’ minds in each of the six realms at the same time, never mixed up with each other. [A buddha] sees directly all the sufferings, all the delusions, as well as having all the different methods for different sentient beings, in order to gradually bring all sentient beings to buddhahood, including us—you and me—us.

Then having the power to reveal all the different methods to every sentient being including you; having perfect power to benefit others and also having infinite compassion for all sentient beings including you. Thinking that way, because of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kyabje Choden Rinpoche and all the other lamas who you have received initiations and teachings from, and because of the qualities of the Buddha, this manifestation happened to guide you.

With this understanding of the Buddha you won’t arise attachment toward your guru; you won’t arise attachment, only devotion, which is not attachment.

You have to realize it’s exactly like this with all the other gurus that you have, even now with this one that you got the oral transmission from. Without thinking and without realizing that he is like the Buddha, with all the qualities, then you will have attachment, especially because he is young, so the ordinary mind arises. As he appears ordinary, then the ordinary mind arises and you get attached, especially as he is young. If you realize he is like the Buddha, if you look at him in the same way as the Buddha, if you realize that, then you will never arise attachment, only devotion. You will never get sexual feelings and only pure devotion will arise, for example, how you would feel if you are in front of the Buddha, you feel like that.

It is very important to follow and practice His Holiness the Fifth Dalai Lama’s instructions. Here is his very powerful advice:

In the view of your hallucinated mind, your own mistakes appear in the guru’s actions. This shows your heart is definitely rotten. Recognizing them as your own faults, abandon them as poison.

With devotion and respect, [reflect on] the pure appearance, seeing whatever actions are done by the guru as positive, and practice whatever the guru advises. The profound vital points, whatever is done, go into Dharma.

That should be understood as the root of happiness and benefits, and the completion of all your wishes. In your everyday life having awareness of this is the most important guru yoga practice.

Another quotation for you to understand is what the Buddha said in the Sutra of the Meeting of Father and Son:

The Buddha manifests in the costume of Indra and Brahma
And sometimes in the costume of Mara
To work for the benefit of sentient beings,
But worldly beings do not realize this.
The Buddha also appears as a woman and as an animal.

Free from attachment, the Buddha manifests having attachment;
Free from fear, the Buddha manifests fear;
The Buddha is not ignorant but manifests ignorance;
The Buddha is not crazy but can appear crazy.
The Buddha is not blind but can manifest blindness.
In various manifested aspects the Buddha subdues sentient beings.

The whole thing relates to the guru, to all your gurus, as well as this one that you have received an oral transmission from. So you have to meditate in that way, by relating like that.

You will learn a lot from these two quotations, if you think well and think always not only of your enlightenment but to liberate all sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to buddhahood. These quotes give you a lot to think about; there is so much to understand.

Please show these quotations, these teachings, to your friends or to those who have a similar problem, maybe not with the same guru as you, maybe with a different guru.

Thank you very much.

With much love and prayers ...