My most dear, most kind, most precious, most wish-fulfilling Ryan,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. It’s very good you are being helped by Geshe-la. So, root guru is defined— for example, Lama Atisha had 152 gurus and Lama Serlingpa was the one who gave the complete teachings on bodhicitta. Lama Atisha took 12 months to go by boat to Indonesia, then he spent some years there and received the complete teachings on bodhicitta. It’s like there are two containers, one container is full of liquid that is put into another container. Lama Atisha said that among his 157 gurus, his root guru was Lama Serlingpa, because he brought the most benefit to his mind. When he heard Lama Serlingpa’s name, tears came and his hair stood up. He also had four other root gurus.
Generally, your root guru is the one who transforms your mind into Dharma, who helps that. The root guru is the one who benefits your mind the most, such as to generate bodhicitta, so the root guru is like that. The root guru may not even be generally very learned, he may even have only a little understanding of Dharma, but he benefits your mind the most. For example, even if the guru just explains a simple verse like “the I is empty” or something like that, it is so powerful. Even if only a few words are said, it is so powerful for you, to subdue your mind, and so beneficial. This also shows your past life connection—why even just a few words to you benefit so much, that is due to past life connection.
Guru devotion should not be like this—when the guru is smiling at you, praising you or giving you presents, then you think he is your guru, but when the guru shows wrath or scolds you, then you think he is not your guru. So it should not be like that. That is not the way of practicing guru devotion. Here I am just giving an example.
Once you have taken that person as your guru, which can happen by receiving just one verse of teaching or one lung like OM AH HUM, so after taking that lung or even one verse, one stanza, or receiving teachings on the basis of recognizing guru-disciple, then the connection is made. Then once the connection has been made, you have to look at the guru as a buddha, whether a new person or old person, whether showing many mistakes etc. Once you have made the Dharma connection, as guru-disciple, then you have to look at the guru as a manifestation of all the buddhas. Think that the guru is Tara, Vajrayogini, Shakyamuni Buddha, Yamantaka, Guhyasamaja, Heruka, all the buddhas, numberless buddhas, and think every action that the guru does with body, speech and mind—whether he scolds you or beats you—everything is all the actions of all the buddhas.
When the guru gives advice, then all the buddhas give advice, and when the guru gives teachings, that is all the buddhas’ action. So you have to always think that way and respect the guru that way. Then not just the guru, but every single atom of the holy body is numberless buddhas, even the hairs. When you serve the guru with that understanding, then serving the guru is unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable purification. This is always, not just on some days—when the guru shows he is not happy then the mind becomes dry, and when the guru shows he is happy, then you are happy. So not like that, it needs to be always. This guru devotion is the most important one, from where all the other realizations come. From the blessings of the guru, we receive all the realizations up to enlightenment—renunciation, bodhicitta, right view, and then generation and completion stage—the whole path is actualized.
Please do this. This is the practice, so anytime you are doing service or making offerings, even if you are offering water or even one piece of chocolate or one nut, think you are offering to all the buddhas and then you get that merit. Even if you are offering just one glass of water or some nuts or one orange, you collect the most merit. You collect more merit then making offerings to numberless buddhas, numberless Dharma, numberless Sangha, numberless statues, numberless stupas and numberless scriptures. So compared to that, making all the numberless offerings is very small.
Always, you have to know this, to be mindful. I hope my answer will cover most of your difficulties. Thank you very much. Please let me know anything, any difficulties, and I will try to answer.
If you have doubt in the guru, or anger or jealousy, if you keep your mind in that, then you will have so many heavy problems. The guru is the manifestation of all the buddhas, so all the past buddhas left you—they were unable to subdue you directly, so you were left out, like the bone from the food. When someone can’t chew a bone it is left out, so now the guru, who is the manifestation of numberless buddhas, picks you up and subdues your mind, so that you can be free from the oceans of samsaric sufferings. He brings you to full enlightenment, the peerless happiness, so that you can free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to full enlightenment. That is so kind, the most kind, most unbelievable, most unbelievably kind, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! With all kinds of methods, whatever fits, the guru brings you to enlightenment by teaching Dharma, by giving vows and initiations, by wrathful, scolding or peaceful means. So with all these different methods he brings you to enlightenment.
So the guru has manifested in ordinary aspect. All the buddhas have to manifest in ordinary aspect using ordinary means, showing mistakes; they have to show mistakes. Without anger but showing anger, without attachment but showing attachment, without ignorance but showing ignorance. So showing mistakes, but he has no mistakes. It is only through this that you can see—otherwise you can’t see the pure aspect, you can’t see that at the moment, you can only see the ordinary aspect, which can bring you to enlightenment, to be free from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring you to full enlightenment. That is for you; not for the guru, but for you.
So think about this. Thank you very much. I hope to see you soon. Please live the life as much as possible with a good heart and bodhicitta. Live the life for others.
With much love and prayers,