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.
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.
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.
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.