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Lam-rim Topics : Guru Devotion

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at various locations (Last Updated Sep 12, 2013)

The Benefits of Guru Devotion

Rinpoche made the following comments after seeing a recent movie about Milarepa.

I saw the first part of this movie, on a private invitation, in Los Angeles, after His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s precious teachings. I was very happy to see it, and it’s very well done.

I read Milarepa’s life story when I was around six to seven years old. At that time, a very clear image came into my mind. I guess at that time my mind was not so polluted. So, this movie is a great awakening and liberation from the totally confused suffering world and life, and from total darkness and ignorance.

Even though Milarepa’s life story happened about 1,000 years ago, this movie shows such an incredible accomplishment of the spiritual path for the people in the 20th century today.

Milarepa is one who has completed the whole spiritual path, achieved total control of the body and mind. Many of us are under the control of obscuring disturbing attitudes and under the control of the suffering body. But Milarepa overcame all of these by having total control of the extreme subtle wind and mind by having undisturbed strong and stable guru devotion, totally free forever from any mistakes towards his guru Marpa.

Lack of guru devotion is the heaviest obstacle to fully developing one’s own potential, which is to achieve full enlightenment for the sake of numberless sentient beings.

Successful Service Due to Guru Devotion
Rinpoche made the following comments on guru devotion.

I can’t do much, but I try my best—a tiny bit, whatever I can do!

Up to now, what we have been able to accomplish, benefiting this world in various ways, is, I think, basically through the kindness of the guru: His Holiness, who is the only object of refuge of all sentient beings and the originator of all sentient beings' happiness; and then, secondly, the founder of this organization, Lama Yeshe, whose holy name is extremely rare to mention, who is kinder than all the three time Buddhas; and then the kindness of many other gurus. So, what we have been able to accomplish so far depends on how much guru devotion practice we did correctly, it is the result of that.

The 500-foot Maitreya statue is still left waiting, on the waiting list! There are many on the waiting list. In the six session yoga it says that all success comes from guru devotion—whatever benefit we are able to offer sentient beings in this world, in many different ways, either social service or Dharma, establishing centers, having learned teachers who are living in the practice, not just scholars, not just knowing the words, but teachers who are living in the practice of sutra and tantra, lam-rim, meditating on the path. Many of the teachers that we have, especially the elder geshes, the scholars, practitioners, who are meditating on the path—this is an incredible success. Just to have learned teachers in our centers is a great achievement, so that you can teach others unmistaken Dharma, extensively show a clear path to sentient beings who are lost, who are wandering in samsara lost and suffering from time without beginning. So, I think that’s one most wonderful thing that is growing more and more.

Then here is a recent thing—here is Yangsi Rinpoche, who studied extremely well in the monastery, starting at Kopan. Lama Yeshe put effort into requesting His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche (who was Lama Yeshe’s and my root guru) to recognize the reincarnation. And then His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche proved and recognized him as the incarnation of the great, outstanding, extremely learned geshe from Sera Je, Geshe Nawang Gendun, who was already well known in those largest monasteries in the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition in Tibet: Sera, Ganden, Drepung, and so forth. So under Lama’s guidance, Yangsi Rinpoche studied at Kopan, then studied at Sera as Geshe Sopa Rinpoche advised. So Yangsi Rinpoche completed extensive study. And the result? I think if Lama Yeshe was still here he would say: yum yum!

Maitripa Institute is going through the process of becoming a university—a Buddhist university like this is extremely needed, with the extensive study of Buddhadharma, philosophy, and then the practice of compassion, with the help of all the students. I think the process already looks very inspiring and this will be a great model of a Buddhist university for the rest of the world, in many, many countries. We need that to be recognized in society and be known in the world, with qualified students who can then teach in other universities in the rest of the world, as well as, but not only, teaching in Dharma centers.

This is another way to offer great benefit to the world, to enlighten the world and to reduce and eliminate the suffering in the world from war, famine, disease, torture, poverty, also the dangers of fire, water, earth, all those things which come from the mind, from karma and delusions. I think this is extremely needed, and I think it is the best way to repay the kindness of Lama Yeshe and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness always emphasizes education, not just closing your eyes and meditating. His Holiness emphasizes education, those scriptures composed by the great Indian pandits, those very highly attained Indians—His Holiness often talks about Nalanda. So [Maitripa Institute is] bringing Nalanda University into America. I think this is a great service to His Holiness as well as to all Tibetans, because Mahayana Buddhism was preserved in Tibet by the Tibetan people since Buddhism was brought from India to Tibet, preserved for so many hundreds of years, without allowing the influence of materialistic life, and without allowing the West into Tibet. People kept Buddhism pure. For so many years, the government and the people only thought about Buddhism, about preserving Buddhism, never allowed any building of factories, didn’t allow any materialistic life into Tibet, so that’s why Buddhism is still very strong. Numberless beings attained the path through lam-rim practice. There are so many mountains in Tibet with hermitages like ants' nests—so many beings attained the path. When you go to Tibet, the whole land is blessed by Dharma, the whole earth has so many blessings.

And because of that, pure Buddhism without degeneration is now able to spread, with the experience of the great masters being offered to the rest of the world—how fantastic that is. That’s the best gift to the Western world. Every year tens of thousands of people in the West and all over the world are able to make their lives meaningful by meeting Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, and then have the opportunity to follow the path to enlightenment, to find answers in their lives which are missing in Western culture. This is due to the kindness of the Tibetan people and His Holiness. What FPMT centers already do, and now with Yangsi Rinpoche establishing the university, is offering a great service to the Western world, in the United States, also for Tibetan people.

So, everybody, please pray for Maitripa Institute to be most effective, most fruitful, in the way I mentioned. That’s the best model for the rest of the world: to bring light to the rest of the world, the light of wisdom and compassion; for Yangsi Rinpoche to have a long life, and for all his wishes to succeed without any obstacles, and also the wishes of all the organizers here.

I request everyone to pray, that’s very important. Then, may all the needs for the success of Maitripa be met instantly, and the same for the rest of the organization, to be most useful for all sentient beings, for all the projects to succeed immediately, to be most beneficial for all sentient beings, even social services; that anyone who receives whatever social service—shelter, food, medicine, or universal education—generates compassion, that providing these external needs causes them to generate compassion within their minds, so that their lives become better, now and in the future, and there is change from their own side.

Earlier I mentioned the words from the six session yoga—please grant me blessings to be able to gain all the attainments, the sublime, the common siddhis, and realizations. These follow from correctly depending on and devoting to you, the savior (this means the guru): all this success, achieving all these realizations, depends on correctly devoting to you, the saviour, the guru. By seeing this, one is able to give up one's body and life and only do actions pleasing to you.

From guru devotion comes correctly devoting to the virtuous friend with thought and action, and everything comes from that. The guru is White Tara for long life; the guru is Manjushri to achieve wisdom; the guru is the yidam, from which through prayers one achieves attainments; the guru is also the protector from whom you receive protection, who dispels interferers; the guru is also Dzambala, from whom with devotion, seeing him as the Buddha and correctly devoting oneself, then one gets all wealth, all prosperity, for one’s own conditions needed to help other sentient beings, to teach them; the guru is the controlling deity, like Hayagriva or Mahakala, eliminating obstacles, to control your mind, the delusions, and to achieve enlightenment, the subtle mind, and then to benefit other sentient beings.

The guru is everything. From guru devotion, you achieve everything—that’s the main cause, the main source. It’s like a big department store where you can get everything! So, the guru is everything.

So, as I mentioned, from before up to now, our success comes from that: the success we have achieved up to now, how much we are able to offer service to the teaching of Buddha and Lama Tsongkhapa, to Sangha and sentient beings, depends on that.