The Joy of Compassion

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Soquel, CA USA 1999 (Archive #1055)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaches on one of his favorite topics—compassion. Rinpoche also explains emptiness, karma and many other essential Buddhist subjects. As ever, his teachings are clear, relevant, humorous and direct—a perfect guide to making our lives meaningful.

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Appendix 2: The Nine Attitudes of Guru Devotion
Advice to Correctly Follow the Virtuous Friend with Thought and Action: The Nine Attitudes of Guru Devotion

In order to quickly set all my mother sentient beings, who have protected me with kindness from beginningless lives in cyclic existence, in the state of a complete buddha, I myself must attain the perfectly complete state of a buddha. Therefore, I will practice the nine attitudes for resolutely considering and seeing my virtuous friend to be a buddha and carrying out his orders.

I request the kind lord root guru,
Who is more extraordinary than all the buddhas:
Please bless me to be able to devote myself with great respect
To a qualified lord guru in all my lives.

Realizing that correctly devoting myself to the kind lord guru—
Who is the foundation of all good qualities—
Is the root of happiness and goodness, I will devote myself to him
With great respect, not forsaking him even at the cost of my life.

1. Thinking of the importance of the qualified guru, I will allow myself to enter under his control.
May I be like an obedient son,1 acting exactly in accordance with the guru’s advice.

2. Even when maras, evil friends and the like try to split me from the guru,
May I be like a vajra, inseparable forever.

3. When the guru gives me work, whatever the burden,
May I be like the earth, carrying it all.

4. When I devote myself to the guru, whatever suffering occurs,
May I be like a mountain, immovable.

5. Even if I have to perform every unpleasant task,
May I be like a servant of the king, with a mind undisturbed.

6. Having abandoned pride, holding myself
Lower than the guru, may I be like a sweeper.

7. May I be like a rope, joyfully holding the guru’s work,
No matter how difficult or heavy the burden.

8. Even when the guru criticizes, provokes or ignores me,
May I be like a dog, never responding with anger.

9. May I be like a ferry boat, never upset
At any time to come and go for the guru.

Glorious and precious root guru,
Please bless me to be able to practice in this way.
From now on and in all my future lives,
May I be able to devote myself to the virtuous friend in this way.

If you recite these words aloud and mentally reflect on their meaning, you will have the good fortune to be able to devote yourself correctly to a virtuous friend in life after life.

If, with these nine attitudes, you serve and respect the virtuous friend, even if you do not practice intentionally, you will naturally develop excellent qualities within your mindstream and complete the extensive merits of virtue, thereby quickly becoming a perfectly complete buddha.


Apart from the title, these precious verses, which accord with the teachings in Je Rinpoche Tsongkhapa’s Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path on correctly devoting to the virtuous friend with the nine attitudes, were compiled by the ascetic mahasiddha Tshogdrub Rangdröl.


Translated by Lama Zopa Rinpoche and scribed by Lillian Too and Ven. Thubten Dekyong (Tsenla) at Aptos, California, in February 1999. Edited by the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive Editing Group at Land of Medicine Buddha, in March 1999. Lightly edited on the basis of the Tibetan text by Ven. Joan Nicell, FPMT Translation Services, April 2015.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave the instruction to change the title from Practicing Guru Devotion with the Nine Attitudes to Advice to Correctly Follow the Virtuous Friend with Thought and Action: The Nine Attitudes of Guru Devotion in Bendigo, Australia, 2014.


1 It has been suggested to change “son” to “child.” However, according to Lama Zopa Rinpoche: “The term ‘son’ is not used in dependence upon the characteristics of the body, but of the mind. This term is used because it is normally the son who becomes the king. The daughter becomes the queen, but does not become the king. Because this example is applied here, the disciple is called the ‘son of the vajra master,’ but it has nothing to do with the body.” [Return to text]