Advice to Correctly Follow the Virtuous Friend with Thought and Action: The Nine Attitudes of Guru Devotion1
In order to quickly set all my mother sentient beings, who have protected me with kindness from beginningless lives in samsara, 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 as a buddha and carrying out his orders.
I request my kind, perfect root guru,
Who is more extraordinary than all the buddhas:
Please bless me to be able to follow you,
The qualified perfect guru, with great respect in all my lives.
Realizing that correctly following you, the kind, perfect guru,
The foundation of all good qualities,
Is the root of happiness and goodness, I will follow you
With great respect, not forsaking you even at the cost of my life.
1. Thinking of the importance of a qualified guru, I will allow myself to enter under your control.
May I be like an obedient son,2 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 follow 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. 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. Lightly edited on the basis of the Tibetan text by Ven. Joan Nicell, FPMT Translation Services, April 2015. Further edited by Ven. Joan Nicell and Ven. Ailsa Cameron, December 2019.
1 Tib. sems dgu'i sgo nas dge ba'i bshes gnyen la bsten bkur. [Return to text]
2 Lama Zopa Rinpoche says: “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]