50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

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50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby waimengwan » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:23 am

Did a puja in Ipoh a part of Malaysia and we recited the 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion. And one of the attendees was freaked out with the references to going to the lower realms disparaging the guru and so forth.

To which I answered him that you can go to the lower realms without the help of a guru student relationship, plus getting a guru who teaches you the dharma, if you use harmful and hurtful speech you will create a lot of negative karma for yourself because you use that kind of speech to one who is so beneficial to you and helps you out.

So the question is, are the 50 Stanzas only given to those with HYT in the past and traditionally? It will help me a lot thank you.
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Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:31 am

My opinion is that the 50 verses are not at all appropriate to introduce at an event with beginners. It is unskilful and sends the wrong message- people may feel pressured to enter into a relationship they don't feel ready for.
New attendees should be encouraged to check the teacher's qualifications according to the outlines in the Lam Rim and make sure that they take enough time to assess the teacher before jumping into a relationship.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama on presenting guru devotion to beginners:
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... amrim.html
The Place of "Guru-Devotion" in Lam-rim

Alex: Is there any need to mention guru-devotion? They have no gurus.

His Holiness: When we take refuge, the actual refuge is the precious gem of the Dharma [true stoppings and true paths]. To have the Dharma Gem on our own mental continuums, we need the methods for generating it there and we need someone to indicate [through explanations and personal example] what the actual situation of the Dharma Gem is. We also need friends, the Sangha, namely those who are in the process of actualizing the Dharma Gem properly and have already achieved some level of success.

That being so, then when we ask, who is the indicator of the Dharma except for the teacher, we see that the Tibetan word for indicator tenpa (bstan-pa) is also the word for teacher. Without a teacher to indicate the Dharma, we would not be able to practice. Like this, we arrive at the guru.

It is not necessary, and there is no point, to have to talk about the guru and the manner of relating to one as explained in our traditional lam-rims. Just leave it on a simple level. Because the person who teaches us is important, the texts discuss such a person’s qualifications. Then, it is all right to explain the qualities of a spiritual teacher according to the different levels of teacher, as explained in the vinaya, the Mahayana sutras, and so on.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby waimengwan » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:36 am

Thanks Jkhedrup I understand the considerations :)
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Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:38 am

You should also explain that being in a student-teacher relationship is not about blind obedience, and the it is permitted to question the guru.

Once again, HH Dalai Lama:
http://info-buddhism.com/Questioning_Ad ... _Lama.html
The offering of practice means always to live by the teachings of one’s guru. But what happens when the guru gives us advice that we do not wish to follow or that contradicts Dharma and reason? The yardstick must always be logical reasoning and Dharma reason. Any advice that contradicts these is to be rejected. This was said by Buddha himself. If one doubts the validity of what is being said, one should gently push the point and clear all doubts. This task becomes somewhat more sensitive in Highest Tantra, where total surrender to the guru is a prerequisite; but even here this surrender must be made only in a particular sense. If the guru points to the east and tells you to go west, there is little alternative for the student but to make a complaint. This should be done with respect and humility, however, for to show any negativity towards a teacher is not a noble way of repaying his or her kindness.


It is frequently said that the essence of the training in guru yoga is to cultivate the art of seeing everything the guru does as perfect. Personally I myself do not like this to be taken too far. Often we see written in the scriptures, »Every action seen as perfect.« However, this phrase must be seen in the light of Buddha Shakyamuni’s own words: »Accept my teachings only after examining them as an analyst buys gold. Accept nothing out of mere faith in me.« The problem with the practice of seeing everything the guru does as perfect is that it very easily turns to poison for both the guru and the disciple. Therefore, whenever I teach this practice, I always advocate that the tradition of »every action seen as perfect« not be stressed. Should the guru manifest unDharmic qualities or give teachings contradicting Dharma, the instruction on seeing the spiritual master as perfect must give way to reason and Dharma wisdom.

Take myself, for example. Because many of the previous Dalai Lamas were great sages and I am said to be their reincarnation, and also because in this lifetime I give frequent religious discourses, many people place much faith in me, and in their guru yoga practice they visualize me as being a Buddha - I am also regarded by these people as their secular leader. Therefore, this teaching of »every action seen as perfect« can easily become poison for me in my relationship with my people and in my effective administration. I could think to myself, »They all see me as a buddha, and therefore will accept anything I tell them.« Too much faith and imputed purity of perception can quite easily turn things rotten. I always recommend that the teaching on seeing the guru’s actions as perfect should not be stressed in the lives of ordinary practitioners. It would be an unfortunate affair if the Buddhadharma, which is established by profound reasoning, were to have to take second place to it.

Perhaps you will think: »The Dalai Lama has not read the Lam Rim scriptures. He does not know that there is no practice of Dharma without the guru.« I am not being disrespectful of the Lam Rim teachings. A student of the spiritual path should rely upon a teacher and should meditate on that teacher’s kindness and good qualities; but the teaching on seeing his or her actions as perfect can only be applied within the context of the Dharma as a whole and the rational approach to knowledge that it advocates. As the teachings on seeing the guru’s actions as perfect is borrowed from Highest Tantra and appears in the Lam Rim mainly to prepare the trainee for tantric practice, beginners must treat it with caution. As for spiritual teachers, if they misrepresent this precept of guru yoga in order to take advantage of naive disciples, their actions are like pouring the liquid fires of hell directly into their stomachs.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
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Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby waimengwan » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:45 am

Thank you for your time again.
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Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:45 am

You will find that if students take their time to make the decision about taking a particular teacher they tend to last longer as students. Those who make the decision on an emotional impulse (there are exceptions, of course) ie "I melted when teacher so-and-so entered the room" often are quite fickle and end up leaving.

When I translate Geshe SN's teachings, because he realizes that many people attending are beginners with only a couple of years in the dharma, he always states "Please see me as your dharma friend, this is a relationship of equals. And even if you want to for some reason enter a deeper relationship and I or another lama become your teacher- check, check what is said carefully."

Geshe la also indicates that students have complete freedom to take different teachings from different teachers, though they should evaluate very carefully- ideally seeing the teacher as a "dharma friend" for the first year or two.

And he also states that students even after they take a teacher as a guru should measure the advice of the guru against the scriptures, as the quotes from HHDL above indicate. Geshe la does emphasize though, that if we have taken empowerments, especially of the Highest Tantra class (which carries a commitment to try to practice according to the guidelines of the 50 verses), we must guard our mind against a feeling of disrespect to our gurus. We can still walk away from the circle of the guru, but should strive to maintain our tantric commitments and not denigrate the guru. In other words, keep distance but also a respectful silence.

This is why it is so important to wait before taking tantric vows from a master, because we are to a certain degree submitting to them and if we later regret our choice this is quite heavy.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:47 am

Wai Meng, no problem.
I just want people to enter into a relationship with any spiritual teacher cautiously, so they don't encounter problems later.

I have come to this view because I have translated a number of interviews for lamas of students who jumped into heavy duty guru-disciple relationships and then felt trapped, and were in some cases taken advantage of.

What happens in these cases is that the people become completely nervous and afraid, and often end up leaving Buddhism entirely. I don't want that to happen.

So no matter who the teacher is that the person is considering, I give the same advice, even when they want to take one of my teachers as a guru.

In short, in this case "slow and steady" definitely wins the race.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby waimengwan » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:52 am

I am very happy to get your time on this!

With folded hands.
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Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby Simon E. » Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:34 am

A useful discussion imo.

:namaste:
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Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:01 pm

The Way to Rely on the Teacher is crucial to the path yet treacherous at the same time, especially in this age of degeneration. Actually this topic is relevant to all Tibetan schools and even Buddhism in general, as the Kalyanamitra is always an important factor in the practitioner's progress.

Teachers who start slow and steady, guiding the people who attend teachings as a dharma friend and then gradually allowing them to establish a deeper relationship- this is the way to go in my opinion.

At the centre where I work the older Geshe has been teaching here for 21 years. Some of the students of his (I would say around 20 or so) have been attending at least 1 course a month for the past 17-18 years!

In world that moves so fast, and where people are fickle, that is pretty impressive.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2324
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby disjointed » Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:53 pm

Sometimes Guru devotion is used by cults to manipulate students.
Sometimes these cult members post things about Guru devotion to try to guilt trip people into submission.
Sometimes the Guru they post these things in reference to never had the qualities of a Guru and was just playing messiah.
Sometimes the "Guru" is so illiterate and uneducated that he can only make long rambling videos for youtube about nothing in particular.
Sometimes the "Guru" uses his lackeys to build up a reputation for him while he hides in the background so people don't realize the deception.
Sometimes the "Guru" throws childish fits over petty things and spends his waking moments scarfing food and talking behind people's backs like an obese 13 year old girl.
Am I going to hell now WMW? lol
If there is a radical inconsistency between your statements and the position you claim to hold,
you are a sock puppet.
Make as many accounts as you want; people can identify your deception with this test.
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Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby disjointed » Fri Oct 25, 2013 6:52 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesopian_language

"Aesopian Language is communications that convey an innocent meaning to outsiders but hold a concealed meaning to informed members of a conspiracy or underground movement. For instance, Person X is known for exposing secrets in an organization, so the organization leaders announce, "any members who have dirty talking habits will be dealt with", warning Person X."

waimengwan wrote:Did a puja in Ipoh a part of Malaysia and we recited the 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion. And one of the attendees was freaked out with the references to going to the lower realms disparaging the guru and so forth.

To which I answered him that you can go to the lower realms without the help of a guru student relationship, plus getting a guru who teaches you the dharma, if you use harmful and hurtful speech you will create a lot of negative karma for yourself because you use that kind of speech to one who is so beneficial to you and helps you out.

So the question is, are the 50 Stanzas only given to those with HYT in the past and traditionally? It will help me a lot thank you.


Translation: You will go to hell and we will attack you if you tell people about Tsem's abuse.
If there is a radical inconsistency between your statements and the position you claim to hold,
you are a sock puppet.
Make as many accounts as you want; people can identify your deception with this test.
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Re: 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion

Postby mandala » Sun Oct 27, 2013 3:42 pm

Interesting topic & some great posts by Jkhedrup.

I agree it's not appropriate to introduce to beginners and could certainly cause some anxiety if misunderstood.. even worse if it were meant to threaten some type of retribution to the student for questioning the teacher or perhaps having spoken about being unhappy with the dharma centre.

From Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/e-books/published_books/spiritual_teacher/pt3/spiritual_teacher_15.html

Fear of "A Breach of Guru-Devotion"

Almost every classical text on the disciple-mentor relationship includes a section on the hellish suffering that follows from what is usually translated as "a breach of guru-devotion." The material derives mostly from Ashvaghosha's vivid description of the horrors, which in turn summarizes some passages from the tantras. Although the point pertains specifically to relationships with tantric masters, most Tibetan authors take it to have a shared meaning that applies to relationships with sutra masters as well.

Studying this teaching causes many Westerners to inject a devastating element of fear into their relationships with their spiritual teachers. Fear of hell easily leads to a cult mentality and may open them to abuse from unscrupulous teachers. They become afraid to protest against improper behavior or to leave their teachers upon fear of burning in hell. To avoid this type of unhealthy relationship, they need to investigate the teaching carefully.

First, they need to know exactly which types of attitude and behavior the texts describe as leading to hell. Otherwise, if the translation term guru-devotion has already misled them, the dubious phrase "a breach of guru-devotion" may have confused them even further. Then, they need to understand the Buddhist concept of hell. Lastly, they need to appreciate the psychological implication of fear within a Western cultural setting.


It's quite a mine-field really, but it's quite clear that it's not dealing with beginners who come to introductory dharma classes ... it's also one thing to have a teacher, it's another to enter into serious commitment.

JKhedrup wrote:Geshe la also indicates that students have complete freedom to take different teachings from different teachers, though they should evaluate very carefully- ideally seeing the teacher as a "dharma friend" for the first year or two.

great advice :smile:
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