Three Qualities a Dharma Master should have (Part I)

21.10.2018 morning, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda


 It’s very important for Buddist Dharma practitioners to have 3 trainings that we often mention: learning, contemplating and mediating. One must go through these three principle trainings, so that one is able to accomplish good result one is trying to accomplish. Then that training, that method we have to use in our daily practice. Whatever we have learned, whatever we have known, we have to use that in our daily practice. For example, hearing, when you do not any study on any practice, then you don’t know how to do any practice. But when you study some specific thing, then you know to practice that specific one. Then, by only that training, one is able to practice well. For example, Green Tara practice – we should have a teaching first and then try to practice. Without having any instruction on any practices, then it is difficult for us to understand and practice well. Therefore, it’s very important to study.

It’s also important to meet a good, a qualified teacher. A good dharma teacher means very knowledgeable, good conduct and good experienced. Those three qualities make one a very good Dharma teacher. Without having these qualities, it’s difficult to be a good teacher. Without having good instructors, it’s difficult to follow a correct path. Therefore, it’s very important for a Dharma practitioner to have good teachers.

Knowledge is a good quality to be a Dharma teacher, especially for teacher to lead practitioners on the path. Therefore, knowledge is very important. When someone is not knowledgeable on teaching, so how to teach, how to lead, then that’s very bad.

But that’s not only condition to be a good teacher. As I mentioned earlier having good conducts is very important, even more important than proper knowledge. Sometimes, knowledgeable or smart people can make troubles. [They] can lie people and cheat people because they are smart, while their conduct is not good. Good conduct means honest and bad conduct means dishonest. Therefore, good conduct, good discipline is even more important than knowledge.

And then experience is very important, because when someone is knowledgeable and good conduct but does not practice enough, then one does not have any experience. Then, no experience on the path, on the teachings, it means the mind is still empty, not powerful. [Then] the mind does not reach to the point of Dharma. Dharma is far away from one’s mind, Dharma is not working, training the mind; the mind is still empty or the mind is still very wild, though one can have good conducts and good knowledge.

Therefore, these three qualities are very important. The first one is knowledge, the second one is conduct and the third one is experience. Real meaning of having experience is meditate a lot, put a lot of efforts in meditating improve oneself on the path. When someone or a Dharma teacher doesn’t have experience from Dharma practice, one doesn’t have real realization. When there’s no realization on reality, the real meaning of teaching, even though the teacher is very smart that can’t teach very well, but that’s not very useful. When someone teaches us with his/her own experience and realization, then the teaching will be much more effective, much more blessing, much more powerful. That’s really helps people, people can understand [the teaching]. But, problem is that [some] teachers, including myself, do not have good experience, good view, good understanding and good realization. Therefore, their teachings almost like empty talks. But for you, you should look for a teacher, someone who has all of these qualities that I mentioned: good knowledge, conducts, and experience. It’s very important. When we say ‘experience’ or ‘realization’ [that means] realization on reality of phenomena. May be emptiness or egoless-ness, or all of these, or may be impermanence – all of these [is] reality of phenomena. And then ‘experience’ basically means someone who has guarantee a lot of training on the paths or on compassion, kindness and bodhicita. So [much training] that the teacher is very compassionate: compassionate not by the mouth, by the words, but by heart, by the mind. Also a very important quality.

To understand necessary qualities for being a teacher, then [it should be mentioned that] disciples or students also should have some qualities, some mental powers, otherwise, students can’t know who is qualified, who is not. The first of three important qualities to be a [good] Dharma students is honesty. Honesty is very important. For students, to be honest is very important. Sometimes, students even though they have knowledge, they are able to distinguish between good and bad about someone. But because maybe someone is very close to oneself, someone who has some connections; because of that, one doesn’t want to say anything, do anything, even though one see something that is not very correct on the person, the teacher. Sometimes, even though they see a very qualified and very good teacher, but because they have dishonest mind, they do not accept, they do not try to appreciate those qualities. Therefore, honesty is the first thing, the first quality for one to be a good student.

The second one is also knowledge. One should be intelligent to understand the qualities of Dharma teachers. Without knowledge, one does not know what kind of qualities that a teacher should have. So, one doesn’t know whether the teacher is good or bad. Therefore, intelligence is very important; [that] means learning about the qualities, to learn how to meet a teacher, how to be a good student – this is [condition to be] successful student. Therefore, one should be learned one. [It is] not empty-minded like knowing nothing, but just following a dark-minded [person]. That’s something not good. So, we should follow the teacher with understanding and intelligence. That’s the second thing.

Then of course, diligence is the third one. Because when one doesn’t put any efforts, then one still doesn’t get anywhere, even one have knowledge. One [may] know about the teacher very well, and one have received many teachings from a good teacher, but one doesn’t try hard, doesn’t continuously practice, then one can’t get anywhere. Therefore, efforts take very important part, so be diligent.

It’s very important to understand the important teachings or instructions for one to be a good student. Because we want to practice Dharma, we need good instructions for the path. Therefore, good instruction is very important, but good instruction will work on you or not depends on your understanding and the diligence. One doesn’t understanding the instructions, then instructions will not be useful. And if one is very lazy then even though one have received good instructions, one is not really improving. Because one is very lazy, doesn’t want to practice, just wasting time for talking, playing and eating v. v. For all of these regular things take the time, so one doesn’t practice dharma and to make improvement on the path.

Also, one should make sure that one doesn’t follow the wrong teachers because these days it’s very common that many not-very-good teachers become popular and people follow them. Buddha himself said in the future, there will be a time that faulty ones are more popular, more marketable than the real ones, the genuine ones. During the Buddha’s time, there were some bad teachers that cheated people, led people on the wrong path. Therefore, it’s important for people to not follow the bad teachers.


End of teaching on morning 21.10.2018 (excerpt)


Transcript by Choying Drolma (Giang Huong).

Taken from MP3 Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche’s teaching on morning 21.10.2018, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda.