What's working with a main guru like?

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Padmist
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What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Padmist »

I'm curious to know what to expect.
  • Do we have to be on the same city?
  • Can the entire process by done remotely via zoom?
  • How often do we meet?
  • How long does it take? Hours? Days?
  • I heard people going on a retreat. Is that what learning from your teacher looks like? A one week retreat?
  • Is working with a teacher some kind of arrange curriculum like a 6 year course or 7? I heard teachers who offer this. Is that what working with a teacher looks like?
  • How much do these programs cost?
  • Who are good Nyingma gurus?
Sorry newb questions
Terma
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Terma »

Grain of salt here, everyone's mileage will vary a bit.

1) No. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both, but there are many, many people whose guru does not live right near them. This could be a discussion in itself, actually.

2) Hard to say. Some guru's prefer (for us) to make a personal connection but I suppose in these times zoom is an option of doing so. One would usually request an interview with this teacher and the process would go from there.

3) I think most people are lucky if they can meet there guru even once a year. For a lot of us we have to travel a bit to do so, not to mention any occasions where the guru is away, doing retreat, or what-not. It is pretty important to have an avenue to ask important questions that comes up for us during our practice. Aside from a fortunate interview from time to time, many also rely on the Lama's and in some cases senior students for a lot of these things.

4) really not sure of your question for this one.

5) all depends. Some people are fortunate to do a retreat with their guru, some may go and receive teachings from time to time, and others may only meet the guru occasionally, receive a practice from them and go off to do the practice.

6) different guru's have different ways of teaching different students, but from my experience a really good guru will do things in a bit more of an individual basis. Perhaps their lineage has a "curriculum" per day, but a good guru will always will with each student's conditions which are never the same as another.

7) varies depends on what we are talking about.

8) there are some excellent ones. A few things matter here in my opinion:

a) finding a teacher who really inspires us and whose teachings strike the core of our being.

b) our connection to this teacher- it is all nice and we'll if there are great gurus out there that inspire us, but if we don't have a connection, then it will be unlikely we could have any sort of meaningful personal relationship with them.

I really think the best thing is to focus in the teacher, and when implementing what they teach, how it affects your being in an ongoing way. This is so much better than being attracted to a teacher because of their popularity, organisation, etc.

Often times even if one recommends a particular teacher, though they be excellent in every way, they may not be the teacher for us because we all have our own karmic dispositions and so-forth.

This could go on and on, but even though we always seem hasty to do find a teacher and get going as quick as possible, it is a very good idea to take your time and examine the teacher a little bit. How is their knowledge of dharma? How do they deal with hardship? Is the well-being of the students their main priority? How accessible are they really?

This is such a vast topic here. A few suggestions from me,

https://www.amazon.com/Drinks-Bourbon-D ... arketplace

Now this teacher is not everyone's cup of tea, but this in my opinion is an excellent book about this very process of finding a guru, what to look for, what to avoid, and so-on. Worth the read in my opinion.

http://levekunst.com/calling-the-guru-from-afar/

One of the many versions of this great prayer. So helpful in your situation. Preceded by a great article and this particular prayer is aimed towards the Nyingma lineage. Keep reciting, and making strong aspirations from your heart.

As I said, take my answers with a grain of salt. Some may give you a completely different outlook because I feel it is not always so cut and dry.

Good luck!
Padmist
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Padmist »

Thanks for taking the time answering that. What I meant with "4) really not sure of your question for this one."

Is this: How does a teacher/student teaching/learning/studying/working together look like?

Daily 1 hour a day, together, for life?

Daily 2 hours a day, together for life?

Weekly, 2 hours a day, together for life?

Monthly, full 8 hours a day, together, for life?

One on one daily, for life?

One on one weekly for life?

With other students, once a month, for life?

A full college-like atmosphere, in the temple/monastery for 8 hours, everyday for 3 years?

On zoom, daily, 1 hour, for 5 years?

In the temple, once a month, with another 2 or 3 students, for 2 hours or more, for 7 years?

Once a year, for an entire 6 days of 18 hours a day of meditation and teaching together in some remote part of the country, maybe a spa or retreat, all lodge and accommodation must be paid in advance?

Twice a year, in a month, the weekend is set aside, 8 hours a day, for full meditation and teaching with the guru, in person, for the entire 12 years?

For life, few minutes of talking, almost everyday?

As often as you (student want) as often and how much you can pay (retreats)?


I hope I have given some examples of how a teacher/student working process look like? Which one is it? It depends? What are more common? What is/are proper or appropriate? What is the actual correct / common / appropriate vajrayana teaching process?
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

There is no set pattern. Some people have root Gurus who they aren't around frequently, some have 20 or 30 teachers etc., some people have regular personal access, or a combination of all that stuff. Email etc. comes into play too of course, but with some teachers it will be assistants etc. answering them, and some respond directly.

A Gurus job is not hand holding, it's unrealistic to expect to have unfettered access to someone at all times, though of course someone is very lucky if they do.

Most of the work is on the students end, not the teachers. Not to say that Gurus aren't generous with their time, exceedingly so, only that it's kind of unfair to have the expectation of being someones' "special project" from the outset. The idea of having non stop ability to verbally confer with a Buddhist teacher, have them give you exact instructions on minutae at all times etc. is probably a mainly modern expectation, kind of like group meditation or asking every personal question under the sun during q & a sessions. Great if you can get it, but not something to rely on.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
Tata1
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Tata1 »

Im not trying to discourage you from asking questions but maybe you can balance your approach with a more relax kind of thing. You wont figure out everything from the start and then jump into it. Even if you tried everyone's path is different and even if there might be some general guidelines everyones relationship with their teacher is different. If i have to say whats the minimum common denominator is something very simple which is receive instructions and teachings and try to apply them to the best of our abilities

So my advice is to relax, listen to teachings from teachers you find interesting, apply what you can and let things develop slowly
Padmist
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Padmist »

Thank you Tata, Johny and Terma. All helpful. :cheers: Ok maybe not beer.
Crazywisdom
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Crazywisdom »

Padmist wrote: Fri Jan 01, 2021 1:07 pm I'm curious to know what to expect.
  • Do we have to be on the same city?
  • Can the entire process by done remotely via zoom?
  • How often do we meet?
  • How long does it take? Hours? Days?
  • I heard people going on a retreat. Is that what learning from your teacher looks like? A one week retreat?
  • Is working with a teacher some kind of arrange curriculum like a 6 year course or 7? I heard teachers who offer this. Is that what working with a teacher looks like?
  • How much do these programs cost?
  • Who are good Nyingma gurus?
Sorry newb questions
No
No
No
Can be one initiation but can last for weeks.
A proper retreat is years.
No.
Cost is between you and the guru. You are thinking like a Walmart shopper.
Khenpo Namdrol is the best helping the West. Go to Namdroling in Mysore or see him in Pharping Nepal and you will meet many good lamas.
Crazywisdom
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Crazywisdom »

Ok I have a better answer.


Get an initiation into a tantra or terma. Wait for that.

Complete initiation with reading transition and instructions on the complete path in English as well as books to rely on.

Skip everything else. Otherwise it a complete waste of time.

If.any of those three parts ar missing. You are being ripped off.
Last edited by Crazywisdom on Sat Jan 02, 2021 12:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Arnoud
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Arnoud »

Padmist wrote: Fri Jan 01, 2021 1:07 pm I'm curious to know what to expect.
There are many variations. Find something that works for you.
  • Do we have to be on the same city?
No, but it helps if you want to become close I am sure.
  • Can the entire process by done remotely via zoom?
Right now that is probably the safest way. Of course, face to face time is still nicer.
  • How often do we meet?
Enough to learn but not too much to get annoyed with each other.
  • How long does it take? Hours? Days?
How long does what take? Ideally, you receive an empowerment (Wang), reading transmission (Lung), and instructions (Tri) then go away to practice and come back with questions. Go away again until you have thorough understanding of the practice and hopefully some experience and then come back for either more empowerments, instructions or clarifications. This is a process which continues until Buddhahood, which, in all honesty, is going to take a while.
  • I heard people going on a retreat. Is that what learning from your teacher looks like? A one week retreat?
Some teachings are offered during a week long retreat. Sometimes one can go by oneself and practice for a week. After having received the necessary instructions of course. Or a month, or a year, or three or a lifetime. It's good to do if your circumstances allow for this every now and then. As much as you can handle financially and mentally.
  • Is working with a teacher some kind of arrange curriculum like a 6 year course or 7?

Yes, that's also an option. As westerners we don't have a lot of background in Buddhist thought and ideas, so to do a program which provides a thorough overview is really not a bad idea. It might seem long but doing systematic study and practice simultaneously is probably the best way to start out for most westerners (assuming you are a westerner).
I heard teachers who offer this. Is that what working with a teacher looks like?[/list]
By now, hopefully, you have realized there are many options for the teacher-student relationship. It is very personal. There are some students who dress their teachers and their are some who never get physically close.
  • How much do these programs cost?
That depends and is easily found out online.
  • Who are good Nyingma gurus?
There are many who are teaching all different kind of Nyingma teachings. Checking out different teachers until you find one you really connect with or with whom's teachings you really connect.
Sorry newb questions
They are good questions. Better to do your due dilligence before you even start. As long as you don't get analysis paralysis.

Now, what are you looking for in a teacher? How old are you? Where are you located? Do you work or do you have financial support to travel the world, once Covid has been brought under control? Do you have any experience meditating? Answers to these questions will help to point you in the right direction a little better.

Best of luck,

Arnoud
Padmist
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Padmist »

Arnoud wrote: Sat Jan 02, 2021 3:04 pmNow, what are you looking for in a teacher? How old are you? Where are you located? Do you work or do you have financial support to travel the world, once Covid has been brought under control? Do you have any experience meditating? Answers to these questions will help to point you in the right direction a little better.

Best of luck,

Arnoud
What am I looking for in a teacher? I am looking for a teacher with orthodox teachings, conservative, but delivered in simple terms, understandable, sometimes humorous, and other times deep. Sogyal Rinpoche comes to mind, prior to, you know. I would say his teaching style is a match for my expectations. Ideally, a teacher would take me to Dzogchen practice and reach its advanced practice. So Namkhai Norbu as a teacher would have been so perfect. I also like the unconventional style of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche and the way he pushes your buttons sometimes to make a point. Finally, the scientific/philosophical depth of Alan Wallace explanations strikes me as modern day Nagarjuna. In contrast, teachers that don't resonate with me would be Mingyur Rinpoche, Lama Surya Das, The Dalai Lama, Thurman. I hear words, but I don't understand what they are saying.

I am 40 years old. Vancouver, Canada.

I have experience meditating.

No I do not have financial means right now to travel the world. Yes I would have financial means to travel the world in about a year or two due to nature of my business. What are you thinking? Sending me to Dharamsala? haha

What is this? "an empowerment (Wang), reading transmission (Lung), and instructions (Tri)"

Thanks for taking the time going through my questions one by one Arnoud.
Padmist
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Padmist »

Crazywisdom wrote: Sat Jan 02, 2021 12:57 pm Get an initiation into a tantra or terma. Wait for that.

Complete initiation with reading transition and instructions on the complete path in English as well as books to rely on.
Thanks crazywisdom. I love the name.

May I know what are these:
  • "initiation into a tantra or terma"?
  • "initiation with reading transition"
  • "instructions on the complete path in English"
  • "books" (such as?)
Crazywisdom
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Crazywisdom »

Padmist wrote: Sun Jan 03, 2021 2:47 am
Crazywisdom wrote: Sat Jan 02, 2021 12:57 pm Get an initiation into a tantra or terma. Wait for that.

Complete initiation with reading transition and instructions on the complete path in English as well as books to rely on.
Thanks crazywisdom. I love the name.

May I know what are these:
  • "initiation into a tantra or terma"?
  • "initiation with reading transition"
  • "instructions on the complete path in English"
  • "books" (such as?)
You are super new.

First learn what these things are.
Arnoud
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Arnoud »

Padmist wrote: Sun Jan 03, 2021 2:40 am
What am I looking for in a teacher? I am looking for a teacher with orthodox teachings, conservative, but delivered in simple terms, understandable, sometimes humorous, and other times deep
Most of the ones you mentioned would fit that description. But it is good to know what you want.
Sogyal Rinpoche comes to mind, prior to, you know. I would say his teaching style is a match for my expectations. Ideally, a teacher would take me to Dzogchen practice and reach its advanced practice.
I don't know if he really taught advanced practices. He did invite a lot of teachers over to teach advanced practices though.
So Namkhai Norbu as a teacher would have been so perfect.
Yes, he was. I wish I would have made more effort to meet him. I did receive many teachings through his live streams. They were excellent.
I also like the unconventional style of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche and the way he pushes your buttons sometimes to make a point.

Well, he is still alive. So, once your finances allow, you should definitely make some effort to go see him.
Finally, the scientific/philosophical depth of Alan Wallace explanations strikes me as modern day Nagarjuna.

Well, he is still alive. You should become a member of wisdomexperience.org. He has many courses there. While there, also check out Malcolm Smith's lectures. Wisdom also has a great podcast I would recommend listening to. It has interviews with many different teachers on many different subjects. To be an all-access member is pretty darn affordable for that they offer. And Daniel Aiken is sometimes on this forum.
In contrast, teachers that don't resonate with me would be Mingyur Rinpoche, Lama Surya Das, The Dalai Lama, Thurman. I hear words, but I don't understand what they are saying.
That's interesting as they all have very different styles as well. Karma. I would still recommend getting an empowerment from HH the Dalai Lama if the opportunity ever arises. You can't go wrong and it would be a great karmic connection. Apparently he has said he will live to 108 so you still have some time. :-)
I am 40 years old. Vancouver, Canada.
Welcome. Nice.
I have experience meditating.

What kind? ANd what made you interested in Nyingma/Dzogchen teachings? I am just asking out of curiosity so no need to reply if it get's too personal.
No I do not have financial means right now to travel the world. Yes I would have financial means to travel the world in about a year or two due to nature of my business. What are you thinking? Sending me to Dharamsala? haha
Well, if you were 20 with a trust fund that would make it easier to just pack up and leave and study and practice in a supportive environment. At the same time, you might burn out and just leave it all together. 40 seems to be a good age to connect and start. And with Zoom lectures nowadays you don't have to travel and spend a fortune to get excellent teachings. Not many Nyingmapa's in Dharamsala anymore unfortunately. :-)
What is this? "an empowerment (Wang), reading transmission (Lung), and instructions (Tri)"
These are the pre-requisites one has to receive before practicing the path in vajrayana Buddhism.

Wang/Empowerment: https://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Empowerment

Lung/Reading Transmission: https://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?tit ... nsmission

Tri/Instructions: https://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?tit ... struction

These are just the instructions on how to actually do a certain practice. Whether that's deity yoga or Thogal. One needs instructions to know how to do a practice and one then needs a teacher to clarify questions/concerns.
BTW, I don't think one should ask a Guru everything about one's own life, like, what kind of roof should I put on my house, or what car should I buy. Back in the old days, people would ask advice from monks about their sex-life. Needless to say, the advice wasn't always the best.

Ultimately, the main practice in Dzogchen and Nyingma is Guru Yoga. So, to practice Guru Yoga one needs a Guru. There is no Guru without empowerment.
You can start with this:
Reading transmission would be best but as a Nyingmapa you can never go wrong with the 7-line prayer.
Thanks for taking the time going through my questions one by one Arnoud.
I hope it's helpful. My pleasure.
Padmist
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Padmist »

Arnoud wrote: Sun Jan 03, 2021 2:39 pm
Arnoud, your post is very spiritually compact. I will take some time to nourish myself with them. Thanks a lot. Yes on all your points. I'll check out the resources, Alan Wallace teachings, Malcolm's, and the links you provided.

Why Nyingma/Dzogchen- Before becoming Buddhist, I was an Atheist. Sam Harris, the famous neuro-scientist, atheist said (I paraphrase) "We can be confident that there is probably no God, all religions are man-made, but scientists need to keep an eye on Dzogchen. There's something there." But that was only a spark. Curiosity started there. Then I found Sogyal, and one thing leads to another and accumulated more interest, reasons and motivations for pursuing the path.

Nyingma @ Dharamsala - If there are not a lot there, where are they now?

What meditation? - Just the basic "mindfulness" meditation is how I started. Then I followed Sogyal Rinpoche's very basic meditation steps on Youtube. Then when I heard Alan Wallace's take, I switched to Shamata meditation.
Arnoud
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by Arnoud »

Padmist wrote: Mon Jan 04, 2021 4:20 pm Arnoud, your post is very spiritually compact. I will take some time to nourish myself with them. Thanks a lot. Yes on all your points. I'll check out the resources, Alan Wallace teachings, Malcolm's, and the links you provided.
:twothumbsup:
Why Nyingma/Dzogchen- Before becoming Buddhist, I was an Atheist. Sam Harris, the famous neuro-scientist, atheist said (I paraphrase) "We can be confident that there is probably no God, all religions are man-made, but scientists need to keep an eye on Dzogchen. There's something there." But that was only a spark. Curiosity started there. Then I found Sogyal, and one thing leads to another and accumulated more interest, reasons and motivations for pursuing the path.
Great. We all come to this through different ways.
Nyingma @ Dharamsala - If there are not a lot there, where are they now?
There never were a lot of Nyingmapa's in Dharamsala. Only Malcolm's old teacher, Ngakpa Yeshe Dorje, HHDL's rainmaker had a monastery there. There have been some more Nyingma Lama's affiliated with his holiness who lived there. They are all over the world. I don't even know if there is still a head of the Nyingmapa's. The other schools definitely have lineage heads.
What meditation? - Just the basic "mindfulness" meditation is how I started. Then I followed Sogyal Rinpoche's very basic meditation steps on Youtube. Then when I heard Alan Wallace's take, I switched to Shamata meditation.
That's a great start. Never give up on mindfulness. Practice your Shamatha but be mindful as much as you can in daily life.
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heart
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Re: What's working with a main guru like?

Post by heart »

Padmist wrote: Mon Jan 04, 2021 4:20 pm Nyingma @ Dharamsala - If there are not a lot there, where are they now?
There are Nyingma lamas in Dharamsala connected with the Nechung monastery.

/magnus
"We are all here to help each other go through this thing, whatever it is."
~Kurt Vonnegut

"The principal practice is Guruyoga. But we need to understand that any secondary practice combined with Guruyoga becomes a principal practice." ChNNR (Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja)
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