Son of noble family, spiritual teachers are like mothers, giving birth to the
family of buddhas; they are like fathers, accomplishing vast benefit; they are
like nurses, protecting us from all harmful deeds; they are like mentors,
leading us to understand the bodhisattvas' training; they are like guides,
leading us along the path of the paramitas; they are like doctors, curing the
disease of the destructive emotions; they are like snow-capped mountains,
nurturing the herbs of wisdom; they are like brave warriors, protecting us from
all fears; they are like ferrymen, ferrying us across the great river of
samsara; spiritual teachers are like oarsmen, rowing us to the jewel island of
Therefore, son of noble family, with these ideas constantly in mind, you must
honour your spiritual teacher. With a mind like the earth, bear all burdens
without ever tiring; like a diamond, your will unbreakable; like a mountain
range, unperturbed by any suffering; like a servant, doing whatever is called
for; like an apprentice, never disobeying an instruction; like a common slave,
never refusing to carry out any task; like a nurse, not upset by any destructive
emotions; like a sweeper, abandoning all pride and sense of superiority; like a
vehicle, carrying any load; like a mountain, unmoving; like a dog, not getting
angry; like a bull with broken horns, free from all arrogance; with a mind like
a wise son, looking up at the face of the spiritual teacher; you must honour the
spiritual teacher with your mind like a youthful prince, acting without
transgressing the commands of the Dharma-king.
Son of noble family, think of yourself as someone who is sick, of your spiritual
teacher as a doctor, of his instructions as medicine, and of diligent practice
as the healing process. Think of yourself as a traveller, of your spiritual
teacher as a guide, of his instructions as the path, and of diligent practice as
travelling smoothly. Think of yourself as a passenger crossing to the other
shore, of your spiritual teacher as a ferryman, of his teachings as a ford, and
of diligent practice as a boat. Think of yourself as a farmer, of your spiritual
teacher as a lord of nagas, of his teachings as rain, and of diligent practice
as the harvest. Think of yourself as impoverished, of your spiritual teacher as
a benefactor, of his instructions as wealth, and of diligent practice as
overcoming your poverty. Think of yourself as an apprentice, of your spiritual
teacher as a mentor, of his instructions as the craft, and of diligent practice
as gaining mastery. Think of yourself as someone frightened, of your spiritual
teacher as a brave warrior, of his instructions as weapons, and of diligent
practice as vanquishing all adversaries. Think of yourself as a merchant, of
your spiritual teacher as the captain of a ship, of his instructions as
treasure, and of diligent practice as collecting the treasure. Think of yourself
as a good son, of your spiritual teacher as your parents, of his instructions as
the family business, and of diligent practice as its perpetuation. Son of noble
family, think of yourself as a prince, of your spiritual teacher as the
Dharma-king and his ministers, of his instructions as the laws of the kingdom,
and of diligent practice as putting on the crown of a wise king, with its
ornaments and insignia, and overseeing the city of a king of Dharma.
After this, the benefits of following a spiritual teacher are taught in detail.
In summary, the text says:
Son of noble family, in short, it is like this. All the actions of the
bodhisattvas, all the transcendent perfections, bhumis, doors of samadhi,
attainment of the wisdom of higher perceptions, powers of unfailing memory,
fearless eloquence, wisdom of dedication, boundless qualities, fulfilment of the
bodhisattvas' aspirations, and the attainment and perfection of all the
qualities of buddhahood—all this depends on the spiritual teacher.
The text continues by saying that spiritual teachers are the source of all these
qualities, that these qualities arise from them, and that spiritual teachers are
We must understand this, just as it is stated here so clearly, and then we must
put it into practice.
To sum up, as it says in the Ornament:
Follow the spiritual teacher by showing respect,
By offering gifts, by service and by practice.
As this says, we follow the spiritual teacher by showing respect, through
offering prostrations and so on; by offering gifts, such as Dharma robes; by
serving him, washing his feet, and so on; and by practice, through taking to
heart his instructions. Of these, the last is the most important.
The method for following a spiritual teacher that is taught in the texts of the
Vajrayana is, as it says in the Fifty Stanzas on Following a Teacher, "the root
of all paths, the source of all accomplishments, the entrance to all blessings,
and the most important of all practices."
This outlines ten qualifications. The meaning of this is as follows:
Through the higher training in discipline, his faculties will be disciplined.
Through the higher training in meditation, his mind will remain peaceful.
Through the higher training in wisdom, his destructive emotions will be
He will possess greater qualities than his students.
He will be diligent and enthusiastic in benefitting others.
He will be rich in knowledge of the three collections of scripturesHe will
possess the wisdom of realizing the natural state of reality.
He will be skilled in communicating the Dharma to others.
His motivation will be pure, since he is loving and has no concern for respect
or material possessions.
He will be indefatigable, never tired by the hardships involved in teaching
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