Seeing the Guru as Perfect

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Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Challenge23 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:29 pm

Hello,

I decided to create two separate topics. One for my Ngondro practice and one for the biggest doubt that has come up. I'll post the Ngondro question a bit later.

As I have been practicing my Ngondro I realized that I had an unresolved doubt about the Vajrayana path, one that I had always had but didn't fully realize until I buckled down and really started my Ngondro.

I'll try to make this as brief as I can.

First, my concern is not about any particular teacher or teachers. It is not my intent to disparage anyone's anything. These are my personal qualms.

One of the things that I have read more than once is that once you embrace Vajrayana and commit yourself to a Guru that you must be willing to do whatever they say, no matter what. Even if they turn out to be really bad people and ask you to do things that you find questionable or even deeply unethical. The Guru says it therefore you must do it. The idea is that you have to be extremely sure of someone before you accept them as your Guru.

The thing that worries me is, what if you are very, seriously wrong in your estimation of your potential Guru?

One of the things that doing my Ngondro has taught me is that, like the quote in Fight Club, I am not a special snowflake. I don't have abilities to see into someone's mind or heart. Other than being able to chant pretty quick in Tibetan, being calm, and somewhat perceptive, I'm not super exceptional. I, like anyone else, can be fooled.

I don't think that my teacher or other teachers I have met are bad people, but then the people who took refuge in Jim Jones or Marshal Applewhite thought that they were not bad people either. They were wrong and most likely are suffering even now for their misunderstanding. In my heart of hearts I know that I could be wrong as well. And that really, really frightens me.

How do you reconcile that with Vajrayana, which can accurately be described as "many flavors of Guru Yoga with some side practices thrown in"?
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Paul » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:13 pm

Challenge23 wrote:One of the things that I have read more than once is that once you embrace Vajrayana and commit yourself to a Guru that you must be willing to do whatever they say, no matter what. Even if they turn out to be really bad people and ask you to do things that you find questionable or even deeply unethical. The Guru says it therefore you must do it. The idea is that you have to be extremely sure of someone before you accept them as your Guru.

The thing that worries me is, what if you are very, seriously wrong in your estimation of your potential Guru?


If a guru is actually a bad person, you stop following them. Don't disrespect them & bad mouth them , but back away politely.

In order to ensure they're not a bad person you examine them for a long time.

As far as doing whatever a guru says, I have found that listening and following to the letter what you are told to do has immense benefits if it from a genuine teacher. This is because they can see past the bullshit you can't and know how best to liberate you.
Image

"Do not block your six senses; delight in them with joy and ease.
All that you take pleasure in will strengthen the awakened state.
With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:21 pm

First, have an idea what you wish to attain, as it is not really fair on a Guru to expect to attain something other than what they can help you attain.

There are many sources of advice on choosing a Guru. Knowing what you wish to attain should direct you towards particular schools and maybe even a handful of Gurus. You may already be at that point.

You should tell your chosen Guru what you seek - they may accept you or guide you to another Guru, or advise another course of action.

Dive in - and if you feel that you are attaining what you seek, stick with it.

You are not restricted to one Guru through empowerments or attainments, and may come to regard several as aspects of one.

Finally, remember that all this activity is intended to make changes in your mind - you are totally in control and Guru devotion is not meant to be an obstacle, so the instant it feels that way, talk it through.

Oh, and please take no notice if I write anything obvious, simplistic or irrelevant. ;)
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Tilopa » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:45 pm

Challenge23 wrote:One of the things that I have read more than once is that once you embrace Vajrayana and commit yourself to a Guru that you must be willing to do whatever they say, no matter what. Even if they turn out to be really bad people and ask you to do things that you find questionable or even deeply unethical. The Guru says it therefore you must do it.

Nope you've got it wrong. Read this:
http://info-buddhism.com/Questioning_Ad ... _Lama.html
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Mr. G » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:48 pm

All good advice here.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:13 am

Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Josef » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:27 am

Just like in your ngondro thread Challenge, don't force it.
It takes time, sometimes in takes a long time to find either the right guru or the right place within yourself for real guru devotion to take root.
It took me a long time to grow enough to actually be ready for authentic devotion and it took receiving teachings from about 25 different lamas before it clicked for me.
Take your time and relax.
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Merely Labeled » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:38 am

:bow:

I have chosen a teacher in 2010, I have taken the Vajrayana commitments with him, I have no difficulty to see him as perfect and to see all his worldly/conventional situation he is in at the same time, I manage to see him every few months and I saw him just 18 hours ago.

When I ask him for pointing out instruction, he smiles, hugs me a lot and says `later, later`.

Ke garne ??? What to do ??

Repeat this scenario and repeat, repeat, repeat....................

:crying:


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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Challenge23 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:45 am

Mr. G wrote:All good advice here.


I can't agree with you more. I stand very much corrected. :)
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Mr. G » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:15 am

Challenge23 wrote:
Mr. G wrote:All good advice here.


I can't agree with you more. I stand very much corrected. :)


Your questions were never wrong to begin with. This topic is something every good student should think on. :smile:
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby heart » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:00 am

Merely Labeled wrote::bow:

I have chosen a teacher in 2010, I have taken the Vajrayana commitments with him, I have no difficulty to see him as perfect and to see all his worldly/conventional situation he is in at the same time, I manage to see him every few months and I saw him just 18 hours ago.

When I ask him for pointing out instruction, he smiles, hugs me a lot and says `later, later`.

Ke garne ??? What to do ??

Repeat this scenario and repeat, repeat, repeat....................

:crying:


M.L.


:smile: you get a lot of hugs, how bad can it be? Try talking about your meditation experiences or your understanding of the natural state instead, that is how you can show you are ready for the pointing-out.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:21 am

Buddhism isn't asceticism. Relax and try it easy.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby MrDistracted » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:49 pm

Hi Challenge

I find this teaching really helpful, it gets to the core of the guru/student relationship, and explains clearly what is the real purpose of seeing the Guru as perfect.

http://archive.thebuddhadharma.com/issu ... ngsar.html

This is the only online version I can find that i can share the link with you, hope you can read it. Hope it helps.
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Paul » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:10 pm

Merely Labeled wrote::bow:

I have chosen a teacher in 2010, I have taken the Vajrayana commitments with him, I have no difficulty to see him as perfect and to see all his worldly/conventional situation he is in at the same time, I manage to see him every few months and I saw him just 18 hours ago.

When I ask him for pointing out instruction, he smiles, hugs me a lot and says `later, later`.

Ke garne ??? What to do ??

Repeat this scenario and repeat, repeat, repeat....................

:crying:


M.L.


Maybe he can tell you're not ready for some reason. As I mentioned, I have found it invaluable to very carefully do what I've been told after a careful analysis of the instructions. If you follow what you've been told to do, you will eventually be ready and recieve the instructions you want.

It's quite amazing how many people will ignore their 'homework', even during retreats.
Image

"Do not block your six senses; delight in them with joy and ease.
All that you take pleasure in will strengthen the awakened state.
With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Challenge23 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:59 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Challenge23 wrote:
Mr. G wrote:All good advice here.


I can't agree with you more. I stand very much corrected. :)


Your questions were never wrong to begin with. This topic is something every good student should think on. :smile:


Thank you.

For me it was a consequence of my pre-Buddhist studies. Before I became Buddhist I studied new religious movements, in particular dangerous new religious movements(previously known as "cults"). One of the misunderstandings that people have about dangerous new religious movements is that the people who get involved with them are stupid or previously self destructive. This, actually, isn't true.

When you look at the statistics of who gets involved with new religious movements the primary function is their life phase. People who are in the middle of some form of transition(in between relationships, careers, recently moved to a new area, etc.) tend to be the ones who join NRM. That and open mindedness are the two big indicators.

The reason this goes into how we relate to our Teachers is that it shows pretty conclusively that we are no "smarter" and no more "skillful" than the people at Jonestown or Waco. My personal way to cope with this is to be careful and to always be willing to seriously entertain the possibility that I could be wrong.

An example. I think that my Teacher is a well trained individual who, at the very least, has a strong understanding of the Dudjom Tersar teachings and is happy as long as people practice hard, conduct themselves well, and do their part to keep our center up. However, I could be wrong. I could be seeing what I want to see or need to see and not what is actually there. Because of this I have to pay attention to everything my teacher says and judge it not in regards to "comfort" or "ease" as much as alignment to the very basic sutras*. I asked myself two questions. First, if I do what the teacher asks am I willing to stand before everyone in the lineage and proudly state what I have done? Second, does it seriously contradict the following quote, "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."

Recently I read a book named "Dangerous Friend: The Teacher-Student Relationship in Vajrayana Buddhism" where my method of analysis came into question. In this book it was stated pretty clearly that if one enters into a Vajra relationship with a teacher that they could not say no to a teacher without incurring dire penalties on your part. The way to make sure you don't accidentally get involved with someone who is, for lack of a better term, "evil" is to take a lot of time and look very closely at the teacher.

The problem is that it doesn't matter how long we take to examine the teacher or how smart we are. We can still be fooled if we relax our vigilance.

*Also, please note. When I talk about questioning what the teacher requests I'm not referring to "my Teacher wants me to practice 2 hours a day and I'd really rather do 1 hour" or "my Teacher wants me to do Ngondro again and I want to do Yamantaka". I'm talking about, "my Teacher wants me to rob a bank".
I'm an agnostic in the same sense that Robert Anton Wilson was, except his reaction was laughter. Mine isn't.

I am not a teacher in any tradition, Buddhist or otherwise. Anything that I have posted should not be taken as representing the view of anyone other than my own. And maybe Larry S. Smith of Montgomery, Alabama. But most likely just me.
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby heart » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:30 pm

Challenge23 wrote:Recently I read a book named "Dangerous Friend: The Teacher-Student Relationship in Vajrayana Buddhism" where my method of analysis came into question. In this book it was stated pretty clearly that if one enters into a Vajra relationship with a teacher that they could not say no to a teacher without incurring dire penalties on your part. The way to make sure you don't accidentally get involved with someone who is, for lack of a better term, "evil" is to take a lot of time and look very closely at the teacher.

The problem is that it doesn't matter how long we take to examine the teacher or how smart we are. We can still be fooled if we relax our vigilance.

*Also, please note. When I talk about questioning what the teacher requests I'm not referring to "my Teacher wants me to practice 2 hours a day and I'd really rather do 1 hour" or "my Teacher wants me to do Ngondro again and I want to do Yamantaka". I'm talking about, "my Teacher wants me to rob a bank".


Note that the person that wrote "Dangerous Friend" is a teacher in a group that is considered by some as a "sect". I haven't read it, so can't comment on the book itself. Anyway, if you want to make it very easy just avoid getting involved with anyone that is presented as a "crazy wisdom" teacher. Most older Tibetan Lamas are very solid.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Mr. G » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:17 pm

heart wrote:Anyway, if you want to make it very easy just avoid getting involved with anyone that is presented as a "crazy wisdom" teacher. Most older Tibetan Lamas are very solid.

/magnus


"Crazy Wisdom" is so 70's. :lol:

I agree though.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Lingpupa » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:04 am

I look at it this way, for what it's worth:

Seeing our lama as the embodiment of the Buddha manifesting in our own life is a good attitude, of course. Respect and devotion are wonderful, of course. But leaving reason, judgement, intelligence, discrimination and responsibility for our actions behind are another matter.

When we take a higher empowerment we are told that we must see the guru as the Buddha. We are also expected in the course of those practices to eat amrita made of shit, semen, menstrual blood and other stuff. This is well known. But we don't take that literally. At least I for one am certainly not at the stage where I could take that literally, let me assure you!

So when we see that our guru can literally eat shit and find it delicious, and make it delicious for us, then perhaps we'd better worry about literally doing everything he says, regardless of what our common sense says. Then we really are in a tight corner! But as long as our guru has more human tastes, I think we can safely keep our intelligence switched on.

We don't have to be so damned literal about everything!
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby Dave The Seeker » Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:56 pm

Choose your Guru carefully, you will become what they are


Kindest wishes, Dave
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They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
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If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
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One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
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Re: Seeing the Guru as Perfect

Postby MrDistracted » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:57 am

Lingpupa wrote:I look at it this way, for what it's worth:

Seeing our lama as the embodiment of the Buddha manifesting in our own life is a good attitude, of course. Respect and devotion are wonderful, of course. But leaving reason, judgement, intelligence, discrimination and responsibility for our actions behind are another matter.

When we take a higher empowerment we are told that we must see the guru as the Buddha. We are also expected in the course of those practices to eat amrita made of shit, semen, menstrual blood and other stuff. This is well known. But we don't take that literally. At least I for one am certainly not at the stage where I could take that literally, let me assure you!

So when we see that our guru can literally eat shit and find it delicious, and make it delicious for us, then perhaps we'd better worry about literally doing everything he says, regardless of what our common sense says. Then we really are in a tight corner! But as long as our guru has more human tastes, I think we can safely keep our intelligence switched on.

We don't have to be so damned literal about everything!



But surely in the path of result the Guru literally is the Buddha, as is the student?
If this is taken metaphorically and not literally the path loses it's meaning.
Isn't it the guru's and student's appearance as human that we are not meant to be so literal about :smile:

I think the confusion and problems arise when we take seeing the guru as perfect to mean seeing him or her as the 'perfect, flawless human being' rather than the Buddha. Necessary confusions and problems perhaps because resolving them and seeing how the Guru is the Buddha is the path...
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