GURU YOGA: Bless Me So That Delusion On The Path Will Cease*
Morning 21.10.2019, Vietnam
I. The teachings are saying that accepting a wrong guru is taking a poison
The idea to practice Guru Yoga is to receive the blessing from Guru, which means one becomes inseparable from Guru. One doesn’t have to have too many thoughts but only faith, only mindfulness, only visualization of Guru. That’s the result of the practice Guru Yoga. And the high masters like Milarepa really achieved that kind of result and reached that kind of level. In his mind, there’s no physical, regular guru separated from him, therefore he was able to receive all the blessings, all the power from Guru.
I think people have read about Guru Yoga in “The Words of my Perfect Teacher” and other books. They describe in similar ways how to visualize and think of the Guru during day and night. And when we do that, it’s always important not to forget about Guru, His kindness and the practice because when we forget, then we create negative karmas. If we remember this, then probably we are able to protect oneself from creating karmas. Therefore, this has such power to protect oneself from being in Samsara and give a lot of benefit.
Visualize that the root Lama is Guru Rinpoche. When we visualize our own Guru, we visualize He is a Buddha. We don’t visualize the Guru in the regular ordinary form, like a human being, but we visualize the Guru like a deity, or Buddha or Dakini. Because when we see the Guru as an ordinary person, then this may cause some impure view. Therefore, we need to develop our pure view all the time toward everything, especially towards the Guru.
We need to understand the Guru is inseparable from all the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas and all the mandala. The Guru is the main deity in the center of all the mandalas. That is taught to high masters like Longchenpa, Jigme Lingpa and all of them did practice in the same way. When Like Jigme practiced Guru Yoga, he visualized Longchenpa as the Buddha. There was no impure thought towards Guru. For the Dharma practitioners, specifically Vajrayana practitioners, the Guru is very important. Therefore, one takes time to learn about the Guru, the qualities of the Guru. And the conditions to be a Guru is very important so we should not accept a [person to be] Guru that is not qualified. Because we have to rely on the Guru for the rest of our life – not only in this life but many lives in the future.
People sometimes don’t understand these important things and very hurry in accepting someone to be “guru”. Then, since the “guru” maybe unqualified, then problems will arise later. That will definitely happen because the Guru is not qualified. So, it’s important for people to be patient, be smart, to be honest and to take some time to investigate – to study, to be familiarized with the Guru, and then accept, and be a good student. If you read different books on how to look for a Guru, then you’ll get a lot of information that’s very important. To accept a guru is very important but it could be dangerous. Therefore, the Buddha mentioned the students to study first. Otherwise, it could be dangerous because a bad Guru can lead one to lower realm or that will happen badly, very easily. So therefore, it is a dangerous. We should understand that and then try to be careful. The teachings are saying that accepting a wrong guru is taking a poison, very strong poison. When you take a poison then, you are finished. And when you accept a bad guru, then you’re also finished. So therefore, it’s dangerous.
Everyone knows that a teacher, any kind of teacher, has to have good qualities and be well-learned, otherwise [he] cannot teach the students. It’s the same in the Dharma. Dharma teacher has to have a good history – a long history of studying, history of practice, history of good conduct and a history of good realization. When there are none of these conditions for a person to be Dharma practitioner, then that’s a bad teacher. We have a saying in Tibet:” It’s easy to pretend to have a high view, and easy to pretend not to have any money”, because you can hide money somewhere and to be like a beggar. And it’s easy for you to [pretend to] be very high being: “I have realized emptiness!”. And people get confused: “Oh, that’s a realized person. It must be because he said so.” That’s the confusion and that’s why we need to be smart.
On page 9 there’s some prayer. “Kind and precious root lama who knows me.” The Guru is kind and precious because due to His kindness we’re able to receive teachings and to be taken to the correct path. “Knowing”. The Guru has to know you, because that’s the Guru and you’re His student. Still, this is not only about knowing about student, but also knowing you’re in a dangerous situation. As I described to you yesterday, if we are not careful we may go down because we have so much ignorance and so much negative karma. Therefore, “I am in a great danger, so please protect me.” You know me, protect me because you know I’m in a in a dangerous situation. He not only knows you but also knows everything of you. Therefore, he is very kind and very, very precious. And then these are real prayers to [ask] the Guru to give us blessings to go through all the dangers: “Bless me so that my mind will turn to the Dharma.” Our mind will follow Dharma or not is depends on the Guru. Very much dependent on the Guru so Guru has to be very good, very qualified, and very compassionate.
“Lama Khyen!” It’s more like calling the Lama because you feel you’re in a danger. You’re fearful now. When we are scared of something, we say “O’ Buddha!” or “Adida Phat”, right? It’s the same thing. You are calling the Guru, not “Guru you know me”, but you’re in danger and you try to get help from your Guru. It’s different from when people say “Oh my God”, right? It’s a different from when someone is surprised by something and say “Oh my God!” But this is not like that. This is when you feel something dangerous, then you need help from Buddha or from your Guru. Therefore, you’re calling “Lama Khyen”, or “Buddha Khyen”, or “Guru Rinpoche Khyen”. That’s how we express our sort of feeling or faith.
II. Bless me so that my mind will turn to the Dharma
“Bless me so that my mind will turn to the Dharma!” It’s very difficult for our mind to turn to the Dharma. Even though we think we are Dharma practitioners and have some belief in Dharma but our mind is in a different place mostly, not following the Dharma. Maybe it’s in the emotional world, not in the Dharma world. The Dharma world is very peaceful and very pure. Our mind is not very pure.
The mind is pretty complicated and the mind desires for this and that, too many things, not really seeking for Dharma much. But what we need to do is to follow the Dharma, turn to the Dharma. Therefore, we need to pray to the Guru: “Bless me so that my dharma will go on the path.” Even though we [try to] do Dharma activities, we try to have some good actions and the virtuous things but our dharma is not on the path, mostly our dharma is probably for something else. Maybe for better health, better wealth, better friendship [laugh]. Yeah. It happens a lot! And for longevity, for it to be richer, more famous, more powerful. Those [things are] not a really Dharma. But our dharmas could get involved in this [kind of] “Dharma” very easily. And in fact for a lot of people [their] dharma is not on the path. That’s a big problem. That’s a wrong path. For a Dharma practitioner, this is a very big mistake and a very big lose. Therefore, we need to pray to the Guru: “Bless me so that my dharmas will go on the path.”
III. Bless me so that delusion on the path will cease!
“Bless me so that delusion on the path will cease!”. When practicing Dharma a lot of Dharma practitioners meet some obstacles and they give up their practice because they just cannot handle the obstacles. For example, nowadays the society is complicated and the whole society probably may be criticizing a dharma person. The whole society can make a pressure on the individual Dharma practitioners. For example, if you like to be a very different person from your family members and from the society where you belong to, then people think you are strange and you are not normal and you are crazy or something. Sometimes your parents are very worried and they think you really go crazy. So a lot of people gave up. Really! I have seen a lot of people tried to practice dharma and in the end it’s too much for them and they gave up and they completely forget about Dharma and now they can become a very different person. Maybe very wrathful. So these [things] are like a delusion on the path. And that’s one thing.
The other thing, “delusion” here means when one tries to be a very good Dharma practitioner. And to be a very good Dharma practitioner means to have very little attachment. When one tries to have very little attachment, then many things will come. What may appear in front of that person? Maybe people say: “Oh, can you give me teachings. I will offer you. And we have many friends that want to be your students.” And these [things] are distractions actually. Big distractions. And the person is becoming more important person and famous. And a lot of busy things arrive on the path. So that’s delusion. We need to focus on the path and whatever one is doing, one should try to continually accomplish, not distracted in the middle of your practice. A lot of people, or a lot of lamas, for example, went to do like a 10-year retreat. Or they like to be in the retreat for all their life, but they got distracted somehow and then gave up. So these are delusions. These are obstacles.
IV. We try to do something but then we get bored the next day
As a Dharma practitioner, it’s very important to continue to practice and finish whatever of the practice. But a lot of people are not able to do that. It’s not stable. The way we practice is not stable. We are very faithful somedays and very bad most days. That’s true! And then we try to do something but then we get bored the next day and then we forget the next day many things. And a lot of people say that is right. “I have been bad and I’m not practicing.” “I forgot my practice for one year.” “I stopped my practice for one year, two years” and this and that. This is delusion and obstacle on the path. So we need to pray to Guru, to Buddha to give us some blessing, some power, some energy, some understanding so that we’re able to continue. At least continue to practice. It doesn’t mean we have to practice in a full-time-job way, right? [laugh] Eight hours a day is a full-time job, but we don’t do that. We don’t do a full-time practice, but we [should do] at least a part-time [practice].
We have to try because if we don’t try to practice every day then there is almost no improvement. Because if you stop doing for many days, many months, and then you again start to do some practice and then you forget again and [that means] you actually do not do [that]. If you do like that with your job, can you finish? Are you able to take the responsibility? No, right? It’s the same thing, you are not really being responsible for your Dharma practice. Therefore, we need to, at least, continue every day 15 minutes, half an hour, an hour. That is a big step. It’s not easy, therefore, people are not able to do. Even [to practice] 15 minutes continuously is very difficult. So you have to have diligence to do that. And if you do that every day, every year, non-stop, then you are diligent. You are not the best or the greatest or most diligent, but you are okay. You are somehow diligent. So that’s something important.
V. Bless me so that illusory appearances will arise as wisdom
Everything is illusory as described in the sutras and the teachings of the Buddha. But “illusory appearances to arise as wisdom”? It is impossible for us because illusory appearances will raise attachment and strong grasping, so we are attached to the phenomena. And then we believe that this is real and that is real. This is really beautiful and this is really bad. It creates a lot of dualistic thoughts therefore to see illusory appearances [as they are] is very, very difficult. Now if one practices Dharma and, especially Vajrayana, very well, this one is able to see illusory appearance as wisdom. For example, before the Buddha became enlightened, all the Maras from everywhere in samsara came to attack him, throwing all these sharp, very dangerous, scary weapons to him. But they turned into flowers. Buddha saw illusory appearances as wisdom. That’s the highest result of meditation. Such thing exists but will it happen with us? It is difficult to say “yes” or “no”. It’s difficult because it definitely depends on one’s diligence, and the mental faculty and realization. If one is able to train oneself very well, one is able to be very diligent, one is able to understand the instructions of the Guru, then one is able to see all the illusory appearances as a wisdom. So, we need to rely on the Guru, on the blessing of Guru to reach this level.
VI. Practice can be short but it should be completed
Guru Yoga is a part of NGONDRO practice and Guru Yoga is the main part, most important part of this practice. But then it always requires to unify these three things: the outer NGONDRO, the inner Illusory and Guru Yoga together. And also sometimes, the outer and inner parts is also a part of Guru Yoga and we need to unify, we need to put together, make one package, one practice. Because when there is no outer Illusory, then one is not able to practice well on the inner one. Without the purification, the accumulation, these practices cannot go very well. And then when there’s no foundation of these outer and inner Illusory, the Guru Yoga will not go very well. So therefore, we need to unify together. But the main thing is Guru Yoga. For us to be able to practice the Guru Yoga, to really receive the power or the result from Guru Yoga, we need to go through all the other practices as well, for the [sake of] Guru Yoga. So therefore, we need to combine [all of them] together.
Some people say: “I like to practice the long version of ngondro”, which is good. But I also see some people, even this short version, they are not able to do [its parts] together: they do the outer part today and the inner part tomorrow, may be Guru Yoga next year. (laugh). Something like that. Really!
It takes a lot of time to finish the preliminary practices – the 500,000 practices. It takes forever with some people, not only for some but for most people. Therefore, I think, the best ways is to practice the whole thing daily. That, I think, is more effective. People are doing, for example, prostration. And they want to do this until they’ve finished the prostration. It takes forever almost. And then the person is not able to do any other practices.
So it doesn’t take too much time. [Only] 10, 15 or 20 minutes to do the whole thing: the outer ngondro, the inner ngondro and the Guru Yoga practice together. We understand that there’s not much time to recite, e. g. hundred-syllable many times, just three times, five times, seven times and OK. And then the Guru mantra maybe 21, may be 100 or something like that. That’s enough because you don’t have time. That’s the reason [why] I’m not saying that’s totally enough, but it’s for you, for your time, you’re doing something good because you’re busy. Therefore, practice the whole thing from the beginning, like purification for your speech, and then to the end, go through. That’s the best way to do that every day. And then when you have time, you want to do more prostration, you can do that. But when you don’t have time, you do the whole thing together and then you are doing something called “completed Dharma practice”.
End of the exerpt
Transcript by Diệu Huệ
Excerpt from MP 3 Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche teaching morning 21.10.2019: https://lienhoaquang.com/q_043ani5
* This is an excerpt from the teaching given by Rinpoche on 21.10.2019, in Vietnam. The title is created by the translator for the convenience of the reader.