Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive | The Archive of the FPMT

The Heart of the Path

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche (Archive # 1047, Last Updated Mar 20, 2014)

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For the past seven years, our senior editor Ven. Ailsa Cameron has been editing Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings on Guru Devotion. She has drawn on nearly fifty different teachings that Rinpoche has given over the past three decades and the result is this book, The Heart of the Path: Seeing the Guru as Buddha. This is a fantastic teaching on Guru Devotion and is a great and very important book.

Excerpts from Heart of the Path:

"Guru yoga is the key to all happiness."

"Without guru devotion, nothing happens—no realizations, no liberation, no enlightenment—just as without the root of a tree there can be no trunk, branches, leaves or fruit. Everything, up to enlightenment, depends on guru devotion."

"First of all, we should remember the ultimate meaning of guru, which is the absolute guru. We have to realize that the guru that we see and hear is the absolute guru, the dharmakaya, the transcendental wisdom of nondual bliss and voidness, the eternal primordial mind that has no beginning and no end. Since this absolute guru is the holy mind of all the buddhas, all the buddhas are the guru. We can understand from this that the guru is all the buddhas and all the buddhas are the guru."

"In relation to your own gurus you have to think, 'My gurus are buddhas.' There’s no discussion on that—for you, that is the practice. And not just the practice but the fundamental practice. It is the foundation of all the other practices of lam-rim. In terms of my relationships with my gurus, it is like that. No matter how others might want to debate that my gurus are not buddhas, from my side there is no questioning of that."

"The main point is that for you to succeed in liberating the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bringing them to enlightenment, you need to practice guru devotion. You have to understand this point."

"Teaching guru devotion is the responsibility of the teacher and practicing guru devotion is the responsibility of the disciple. If guru devotion is not explained, it is the fault of the teacher; if it is not practiced after having been explained, it is the fault of the disciple."

In addition to the chapter excerpts available through the links below, you can also read excerpts in our December 2007 e-letter and our February 2008 e-letter, and view of pdf of Chapter One.

The Heart of the Path: Table of Contents

Foreword xv
Editor’s Preface xvii
   
1. Why Do We Need a Guru? 1
The root of the path 1
Why do we need a guru? 5
Manjushri’s advice to Lama Tsongkhapa 11
The four general benefits of guru devotion 14

Receiving the blessings of the guru
Guru devotion protects our mind from delusions
Guru devotion protects our merit
Guru devotion protects us from delayed realizations

14
14
15
15

2. The Power of the Guru 19
3. Checking the Guru 25
4. The Qualities of a Guru
Revealing the complete path to enlightenment
Qualities of a Mahayana guru
Qualities of a vajra master
The essential qualities
The fundamental quality
An additional qualification
29
29
32
33
37
38
40
5. The Qualities of a Disciple 47
6. Who to Regard as Guru
Taking teachings
Do we need to formally request someone to be our guru?
Taking initiations
Taking vows
Should we regard our alphabet teacher as our guru?
The importance of visualizing every guru
How many gurus should we have?
Who is the root guru?
49
49
63
64
66
67
70
73
74
7. The Benefits of Correct Devotion to a Guru
The benefits of correctly devoting to a guru
79
80

We become closer to enlightenment

80 

We become closer to enlightenment by practicing the advice given by our guru
We become closer to enlightenment by making offerings to and serving our guru

81
89

We please all the buddhas
We are not harmed by maras or evil friends
All our delusions and negative actions naturally cease
All our realizations of the paths and bhumis increase
We will never lack virtuous friends in all our future lives
We will not fall into the lower realms
We will effortlessly accomplish all our temporary
and ultimate wishes

100
102
105
106
117
120
122
8. The Disadvantages of Incorrect Devotion to a Guru
The shortcomings of not devoting to a guru or of devoting incorrectly
129
129

If we criticize our guru we criticize all the buddhas
Each moment of anger toward our guru destroys merit for eons equal in number to the moments of our anger and will cause us to be reborn in the hells and suffer for the same number of eons

131
135

Purifying our mistakes

138

Even though we practice tantra, we will not achieve the sublime realization
Even if we practice tantra with much hardship, it will be like attaining hell and the like
We will not generate any fresh knowledge or realizations and our previous knowledge and realizations will degenerate
We will be afflicted even in this life by illness and other undesirable things
In future lives we will wander endlessly in the lower realms
In all our future lives we will lack virtuous friends

140
143
145

151
154
158 

9. The Importance of Devotion
How to devote to a guru with thought
165
165

The root, training our mind in devotion to the guru

165
10. Why We Should Look at the Guru as a Buddha 175
11. Why We Are Able to See the Guru as a Buddha
The mind can be trained
Focusing on the good qualities of the guru
Using the guru’s faults to develop our devotion
183
183
186
189
12. How to See the Guru as a Buddha
There is nothing to trust in our own view
Even nowadays all the buddhas and bodhisattvas are still working for sentient beings
The guru is the doer of all the buddhas’ actions
Vajradhara asserted that the guru is a buddha
201
203
224
230
241
13. Debating with the Superstitious Mind 245
14. The Kindness of the Guru
Developing respect by remembering the guru’s kindness
253
253

The guru is kinder than all the buddhas

255

The guru is kinder than all the buddhas in general
The guru is kinder than Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in particular

255
258

The guru’s kindness in teaching Dharma
The guru’s kindness in blessing our mindstream
The guru’s kindness in inspiring us to practice Dharma through material gifts

263
272
275
The kindness of the guru in Guru Puja 279
15. Devoting to the Guru with Action
How to devote to a guru with action
283
283 

Carrying out the guru’s advice
Offering respect and service
Making material offerings

284
284
285
16. Is Absolute Obedience Required? 295
17. How the Past Kagyü Lamas Practiced 303
18. Exceptional Gurus, Exceptional Disciples
Tilopa and Naropa
Marpa and Milarepa
311
311
320
19. What is Guru Yoga?
The real meaning of guru
327
332
20. Guru Devotion in Six-Session Guru Yoga 343
21. Guru Devotion in Calling the Lama from Afar 351
22. Teaching and Studying Guru Devotion
Teaching guru devotion
Studying guru devotion
367
367
370
23. The Realization of Guru Devotion 375
24. Dedications 385
   
 Appendixes  

1. Guru Devotion Outline
2. Abbreviated Calling the Lama from Afar
3. Purifying Mistakes in Guru Devotion
4. Calling the Lama from Afar
5. Guru Devotion in The Essence of Nectar
6. Protecting the Mind
7. Gomchen Khampala’s Advice on Guru Practice
8. Practicing Guru Devotion with the Nine Attitudes

387
391
393
401
407
415
421
429
Glossary
Bibliography
Suggested Further Reading
Index
433
457
461
465
   

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