"It is helpful to remember that many highly realized beings such as Atisha, Tsong Khapa, and so forth, followed many teachers and respected all of them equally. It is not a matter of having just one guru in the same way that one has only one boyfriend at a time! In addition, meditation facilitates our understanding of the nature of all our gurus in a non-contradictory way. The essence of all our gurus is the same, although they appear as different beings and the level of their realizations may also vary. When we gain some insight into the real nature of the mind, we will discover that the true essence of our mind and the nature of our guru are the same: clear light and emptiness. We are no longer able to define a boundary between them. At that point, there is no more problem because we know that by relying on one guru we are actually relying on all of them. However, if we do not meditate and only rely on the external guru, there may seem to be a conflict between the advice of different teachers. In such a case, we should know which of our teachers we consider as the principal one and follow his or her advice.
To advance in our Dharma practice we must practice meditation. Studying, teaching, and organizing events are worthwhile activities, but they bring limited benefit. In my own case, after spending many years doing retreats, living very close to my lamas, and doing various works for them, I had the opportunity to study more. I heard the teaching on the five paths and thirty-seven factors concordant with enlightenment from Geshe Sonam Rinchen; he made it very clear that unless we develop one-pointedness of mind and bodhicitta, we do not even enter the first path. That really gave me a shock. I realized that even after all those years spent in Dharma practice, I had not even entered the actual path of Dharma. It is only through meditation based on proper study and understanding of the teachings that we can generate realizations."
Excerpt from:How to Rely on a Spiritual Friend
How to Rely on a Spiritual Friend
by Bhikshuni Jampa Chokyi
Born in Spain in 1945, Bhikshuni Jampa Chokyi obtained a degree in Law. She became a sramanerika in 1973 and studied with Lama Yeshe. In 1987, she received the bhikshuni vow in Hong Kong. An artist, she also translates Dharma texts and prefers to live in retreat when possible. She was co-organizer of 'Life as a Western Buddhist Nun'.