Finding a teacher.

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Finding a teacher.

Postby Inge » Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:25 pm

Hi,
For a while I've been reciting Calling Guru from afar by Jamgön Kongtrül, but probably not persistent or sincere enough since I have not been able to connect with a teacher. The obscurations are so thick obscurations that I have severe doubts towards almost all teacher. The ones I feel most devotion towards, and have faith, in are no longer present.

I asked the Lama of the Karma Kagyu Centre I attend about how to recognize my teacher, and he told me I would know when I met him or her. What do you think of that?

One night I woke up with the word Jetsun on my mind and thought that maybe that was the name of my teacher, but Jetsun is a title isn't it, and there are many Jetsuns around? At that time I had just heard about Khandro Rinpoche, but didn't know that she was called Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche. In a few months she will come to teach in my home town and I might get a chance to meet her, maybe then I will know.

Do you have any advice about how to recognize and connect with a suitable teacher. How did you find yours?
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby Virgo » Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:38 pm

Many masters of India and Tibet have had multiple Gurus. Go ahead and take some teachings and empowerments. Just make sure that the teachers are legit and respected and that you feel some attraction and connection to them. Simply do not commit to any teacher strongly until you have very deep feelings for them.

Kevin
Last edited by Virgo on Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby Inge » Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:52 pm

Virgo wrote:Many masters of India and Tibet had multiple Gurus. Go ahead and take some teachings and empowerments. Just make sure that the teachers are legit and respected and that you feel some attraction and connection to them. Simply do not commit to any teacher strongly until you have very deep feelings for them.

Kevin


Thank you for your advice.

Doesn't empowerments come with strong commitments? There is a teaching coming up where I live, and an empowerment will be given there, but I'm afraid to attend because I don't know about the commitments. Is it possible to attend a teaching but not partake in the empowerment if doubts about the teacher or teachings should arise?
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby Virgo » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:36 pm

It's important to keep commitments. If you can, ask what commitments may be given first.

I think in the beginning it is OK to have a little bit of doubt. As your practice grows, you may begin to see that the practices really work and you may feel you are making some progress -- even if it is just a glimpse here and there-- then devotion to the teacher will truly grow. Just do your practice and I guarantee that devotion will grow. Vajrayana is very powerful. Still, the teacher you take this teaching from (should you go to it) may not be your karmic link Guru. That is OK. They will still be your Guru and you will still receive their blessings

Who is this teacher and what is the teaching?

Kevin
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby Inge » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:40 pm

Virgo wrote:Who is this teacher and what is the teaching?

Kevin

The teacher is Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche and the teaching is on green Tara.
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby Virgo » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:59 pm

Inge wrote:
Virgo wrote:Who is this teacher and what is the teaching?

Kevin

The teacher is Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche and the teaching is on green Tara.

Oh my gosh... that is an incredible, amazing opportunity. That is excellent. I encourage you to go should you feel a connection to her. She is a great living master. I am very impressed by her.

In nyingma heavy commitments usually aren't given, but there may be a mantra commitment. However, I don't know, maybe she would like to give more commitments..

That's an incredible blessing. You should absolutely go.

kevin
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby malalu » Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:19 am

Hi Inge. I have experienced this. :consoling:

Well certainly everybody is different. Some may know pretty quick that "this is my teacher", while for others it may take a while. I think in that sense it is based on each one's conditions. In the first case, one may have a strong connection to a certain practice, or even a strange sense of recognition, or maybe other signs. It's somewhat difficult to explain, because often times I think it can be a very personal experience for some. In my case, it is kind of personal I guess, but from my experience I had a few of those "whoa!" moments which kind of smacked me in the face so to speak and there was little doubt.

Some may overlook a teacher because they wish to be the student of a particular teacher, or because a certain teacher isn't as "famous" as others and so forth, but once again, our conditions must be appropriate....other times, one may come across them but are not entirely sure in the onset.

My suggestions are to keep practicing with a pure heart, a pure mind and a pure motive, and make sincere prayers and aspirations that you may find your teacher (or is it your teacher may find you?) I think this sounds very simple, but it is very important. I think they will find you. Try to be patient. It'll happen when the conditions are appropriate. Have faith, and do make heartfelt prayers and aspirations, though! the Buddha's and Bodhisattva's will hear you!

For what it's worth, I like to recite a particular dedication prayer that contains a line wishing others to meet with great teachers and glorious guru's. I will try to remember you as well... (I will try to find it and post it-it is a most beautiful dedication prayer...)

:anjali:


I don't wish to argue with the points made by Kevin, because I think that everyone's conditions are different and so forth, teachers are different, and some may view things in a different manner so, my take...

Some do have affinity with many teachers, a few of which they may be fortunate enough to have the circumstances to meet in this particular life. Sometimes it may be helpful to receive teachings from various teachers, but other times it may be just as helpful to have a few, or even one teacher, and follow them to the very end.

Some empowerment's may come with commitments, but they all come with Samaya with that particular teacher. In a strong sense, the teacher takes "responsibility" for the student at that point. This being said, the teacher may often wish to examine the student for a period of time beforehand. One thing I've always wondered about having multiple teachers, is the basis for the first Samaya precept; Essentially to follow the teachings and the wishes of the guru. Sometimes I think that the fewer teacher's one has, the easier it is to keep this vow, which is the basis for the entire set of vows.

I've never done so myself, but I know that sometimes it is possible to arrange for an interview with a teacher, providing their schedule will allow for it. Perhaps if you request it with sincerity, this may also be a very good option for you.

Best of luck, may you have the causes and conditions to meet with your teacher quickly!

:anjali:
The past is but a present memory or condition, the future but a present projection, and the present itself vanishes before it can be grasped.- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby Inge » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:37 am

Thank you malalu :smile:
Please post that dedication prayer if you find it.

I have no doubt that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas hear me or anybody else though, but only fear that I'm to deluded to hear them, that I won't recognize them even if they are manifesting right before my eyes.

When it comes to teachers it's like I have this flaw-spotting radar, which I know is very unwholesome. Maybe the fear of false teacher is unjustified and that I could have some faith in my own integrity and judgement.

I will make aspirations and prayers as sincere and heartfelt as I can, although it is difficult to avoid polluting them with some level of self beneficial thoughts or emotions.

While I also do think that when the conditions are right one will indeed meet a perfect teacher, I don't feel that I can just sit and pray and wait for the teacher to knock on my door. Maybe I must take the first step, make the initial contact in some way, and that there is a risk involved? It is a gamble, but that it has to be done sooner rather than later?
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby amber » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:31 am

Dear Inge,
I like your sceptical mind and your questions. I agree with Kevin "to go with the flow". If you are ready for Tara, go for it!

If you need just one or many teachers, who knows... Maybe you already got one without knowing him or her. ;) Trust your feelings and what your heart tells you to do.

Depending on the lineage, rituals and teachings can be very impressive or daunting. That's why it is important to check out different teachers and groups. If you feel a connection and a warm feeling inside: that's a good sign. If fear comes up, it's getting interesting! That means it really strikes a chord.

"See fear for what it is: a lack of trust in your genuine being, which naturally radiates compassion and kindness." Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

This quote helped me a while ago, when I was asking myself similar questions.
:namaste:
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby MJH » Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:34 pm

Inge wrote:
Virgo wrote:Who is this teacher and what is the teaching?

Kevin

The teacher is Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche and the teaching is on green Tara.


Hi Inge,

We are very very lucky that Khandro Rinpoche can find the time to visit us as often as she does. She is an amazing teacher and you will not be disappointed. Please try to make it if you can. I'm trying to figure out how I can get that Monday and Tuesday off from work! :smile:

If you have any doubts just ask Lama Changchub when he gets back. I'm sure he can help you out.
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby malalu » Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:54 am

Inge wrote:Thank you malalu :smile:
Please post that dedication prayer if you find it.


Hi Inge, I didn't forget. It is in the "prayers and aspirations" section, but here's a link...

viewtopic.php?f=43&t=1034
The past is but a present memory or condition, the future but a present projection, and the present itself vanishes before it can be grasped.- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby malalu » Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:08 am

amber wrote: If you feel a connection and a warm feeling inside: that's a good sign. If fear comes up, it's getting interesting! That means it really strikes a chord.

amber


Yes, so true!
The past is but a present memory or condition, the future but a present projection, and the present itself vanishes before it can be grasped.- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby Inge » Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:24 pm

MJH wrote:Hi Inge,

We are very very lucky that Khandro Rinpoche can find the time to visit us as often as she does. She is an amazing teacher and you will not be disappointed. Please try to make it if you can. I'm trying to figure out how I can get that Monday and Tuesday off from work! :smile:

If you have any doubts just ask Lama Changchub when he gets back. I'm sure he can help you out.


Hi,
I hope you will find a way to get away from work those days. I think now that I'm also going to her teaching.

Do you know when lama Changchub will be back?
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby MJH » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:15 pm

Hi again!

Inge wrote:I hope you will find a way to get away from work those days. I think now that I'm also going to her teaching.


Me too! If I can't get there for the weekdays, I'll still try for the weekend!

Inge wrote:Do you know when lama Changchub will be back?


He'll be back after the pilgrimage (He's already there waiting for us). I think we're back late on the 5th of April....So it is a little bit away. I'm not sure if he's checking his mail, but you could try that.

There are a few other people that you could talk to. How often do you make it to Paramita? (Hvis du vil ha noen navn kan jeg sende deg)
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby Inge » Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:16 pm

amber wrote:Dear Inge,
I like your sceptical mind and your questions. I agree with Kevin "to go with the flow". If you are ready for Tara, go for it!

If you need just one or many teachers, who knows... Maybe you already got one without knowing him or her. ;) Trust your feelings and what your heart tells you to do.

Depending on the lineage, rituals and teachings can be very impressive or daunting. That's why it is important to check out different teachers and groups. If you feel a connection and a warm feeling inside: that's a good sign. If fear comes up, it's getting interesting! That means it really strikes a chord.

"See fear for what it is: a lack of trust in your genuine being, which naturally radiates compassion and kindness." Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

This quote helped me a while ago, when I was asking myself similar questions.
:namaste:
amber


I really like that that quote by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, amber. Thank you.

I agree that fear is interesting, but is it interesting in a positive way? For instance I'm afraid of the wrathful aspects of vajrayana, and especially of Padmasambhava. Is this because I lack trust in my genuine being? I think maybe so, but are not completely sure.
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby malthus » Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:59 am

Hi Inge,

There is nothing to fear about Padmasambhava. His wrathful aspects are skilful means to pacify crazy apsects of ourselves, and the environment. In his iconography, he is often presented as a little crazy, but this is because Tibetans have always been a little crazy, and they need this sort of thing. If you are a more peaceful person, then there are many peaceful aspects of Guru Rinpoche (i.e., Padmasambhava) which you can connect with. Generally this "wrathful" stuff isn't given out until you are already well-established in your practice.

Of course looking at fear can be interesting if you're reading about it, but it is much less interesting if you're gripped by an anxiety attack. I know this from experience. We need to be clear about our scary places before we engage in vajrayana.

A British lama named James Low has written quite a good book called "Being Guru Rinpoche", which I think you might like. I would suggest getting hold of a copy of that. It is a commentary on a liturgy, so it is not always easy going, but he is a good practicioner and has a lot of experience.

For now, until you meet a good teacher whom you connect with, there are a lot of other practices which you can get benefit from. And one of those practices is the one you're engaging in now - asking people about teachers. So, you're on the right track!

Best,

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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby malthus » Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:33 am

By the way, I wanted to say something about samaya, or vajrayana commitments.

Contrary to popular perception, these commitments are not designed to send us to hell, but to support our practice. Do people really think that the Buddhas are out to get us?

Anyone who wants to know what the commitments are should read the translation of Kongtrul's Shes bya mdzod, "Buddhist Ethics". The basic commitments are well known. There is no secrecy. Secrecy adheres when you take the commitments, because we can't have people running around acting like drunken idiots and claiming to be tantric practicioners. Oh, we already do ... well, this proves the case.

On the ground, we have to understand some things about empowerments, and about how empowerments are given.

With regard to how empowerments are taken: if you just show up at an empowerment, and have no intention of receiving the empowerment, then you have not received it. If there is no intent, there is no commitment. A dog wandering past the building, attracted to the dulcet tones of a particularly good vajra master giving initiation, is not bound by samaya. Vajrayana is not magic. The basic Abhidharmic rules of Buddhism apply: only where there is intention, is there action.

So to receive an empowerment, you must have the full intention to receive it. (You can read all about this in the translation of Kongtrul's Shes bya mdzod, "Systems of Buddhist Tantra", though it's tough going.)

With regard to how empowerments are given. Vajra masters are not idiots, and they are, in general, people who are driven by bodhicitta, and not inclined to send people to hell. The unspoken fact is that 9 times out of 10, when you attend an "empowerment", what you are getting is a "jin lab", a blessing, or a "je nang", another kind of blessing, which authorizes you to do the sadhana, but doesn't involve any samaya, i.e. tantric commitments.

Samaya is a two-way street. Where there is samaya, there is a bond between both student and master. No vajra master who is not clinically insane is going to make a samaya bond between himself and a bunch of people he doesn't know. So, most vajra masters will just leave out that part of the initiation protocol where the commitments are made. When they feel a certain person is ready to make those commitments, that will happen.

So to receive an empowerment, your vajra master must have the full intention to give it, and you must have the full intention to receive it. Sometimes this does not happen in the way one expects, so it is your duty as a student to ask.

I am sure there will be a lot of questions about this, and I would appreciate everyone's input.

Best,

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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby plwk » Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:10 am

A little sharing...
http://www.ymba.org/parable/parabfr3.htm
PARABLE 047: FAULT-FINDING (GOOD SPIRITUAL ADVISOR)
According to the Brahma Net and Avatamsaka Sutras, we should ignore appearances and external forms when seeking a good teacher. For example, we should disregard such traits as youth, poverty, low status or lack of education, unattractive appearance or incomplete features, but should simply seek someone conversant with the Dharma, who can be of benefit to us. Nor should we find fault with good spiritual advisors for acting in certain ways, as it may be due to a number of reasons, such as pursuing a hidden cultivation practice or following an expedient teaching. Or else, they may act the way they do because while their achievements may be high, their residual bad habits have not been extinguished. If we grasp at forms and look for faults, we will forfeit benefits on the path of cultivation.

'Thus, when Buddha Sakyamuni was still alive, the Bhikshu Kalodayin was in the habit of moving his jaws like a buffalo; a certain Bhikshuni used to look at herself in the mirror and adorn herself; another Bhikshu liked to climb trees and jump from one branch to another; still another always addressed others in a loud voice, with condescending terms and appellations.

In truth, however, all four had reached the stage of Arhatship. It is just that one of them was a buffalo in a previous life, another was a courtesan, another was a monkey, and still another belonged to the Brahman class. They were accustomed to these circumstances throughout many lifetimes, so that even when they had attained the fruits of Arhatship, their residual habits still lingered.

'We also have the example of the Sixth Patriarch of Zen. Realizing that the cultivators of his day were attached to a literal reading of the sutras and did not immediately recognize their Buddha Nature, he took the form of an ignorant and illiterate person selling wood in the marketplace. Or else, take the case of a famous Zen Master who, wishing to avoid external conditions and concentrate on his cultivation, took the expedient appearance of a ragged lunatic, raving and ranting. As a result, both distinguished Masters were criticized during their lifetimes. The Sixth Patriarch was faulted for his ignorance, while the Zen monk was called insane and berserk. Therefore, finding a good spiritual advisor is a difficult task indeed."
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby amber » Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:02 pm

Inge wrote:I really like that that quote by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, amber. Thank you.

I agree that fear is interesting, but is it interesting in a positive way? For instance I'm afraid of the wrathful aspects of vajrayana, and especially of Padmasambhava. Is this because I lack trust in my genuine being? I think maybe so, but are not completely sure.


I went to a teaching last year called "Green Tara. Female wisdom without fear". I didn't know the Lama or the people who were there, but I attended the teaching anyway. Having found Yeshe Dawa (Moonlike Wisdom), as Tara is called in Tibetan, was a great opportunity. And a starting point for healing, too. Many fears kept me from doing things I was interested in. Or: I liberated myself from fears, that I cultivated to keep myself away from the world.

So we came round in a circle to your initial question... Tara.
:namaste:
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Re: Finding a teacher.

Postby Huifeng » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:21 am

Inge,

Elsewhere you stated your respect for Master Hsuan Hua.

Have you thought about contacting the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and seeing if you could go there to study and train in their monastery/-ies? They have quite a range of options, from part time lay volunteers, lay and sangha training programs, higher education programs, and all their regular retreats and dharma services.

Definitely worth thinking about.
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