From an external point of view, I have very bad karma when it comes to being able to be with my spiritual guide. It is hard for me to go to festivals, everytime I have tried to physically meet with him in the past, something has happened where it hasn’t been possible. It is even very difficult for me to have much interaction with those teachers he has formed. It is very easy to become discouraged thinking we must be doing something wrong or feel like we have insurmountable obstacles and we will never be able to attain enlightenment because we can’t receive this direct interaction.
Other times we can have the doubt, how is it possible for him to help directly each and every being all of the time. Yes, he can help those around him and they in turn can help others like ripples on a pond, but that is him helping all beings indirectly – not directly.
When I did my Heruka close retreat, my main conclusion was the answer to these doubts – and I need to remind myself of this conclusion again and again so that I never lose it. The way in which it is possible for the spiritual guide to be able to “be there” for each and every living being all of the time is he resides at the center of the sphere of all living beings. Technically speaking, and perhaps more poetically, he resides simultaneously in the heart of each and every living being. How?
All hearts of each and every being have a common intersection point, like the hub of a wheel or the center of a sphere (of emptiness). Each being is like a spoke on this wheel. If you are inside an individual spoke, you can only see what is inside that spoke. But if you can move yourself to the hub, then you can simultaneously reflect yourself inside every spoke. This is where the Spiritual Guide resides. By being present there, he is present everywhere for everyone all of the time. Beings can even die and be reborn, and he remains equally “right there the whole time.” For him, it is like a parent watching their child fall asleep and then waking up again. He is able to stay with us in life after life.
If we can understand this, then we will never feel alone, we will feel we can always access him, and that he has never and will never abandon us in life after life. Even when the reflection that is Venerable Geshe-la’s present body dies, it is really our karma to have that appearance which has exhausted itself, but he is still there. He will never abandon the NKT and he will always be there because he is not the body of VGL, rather he is the eternal Je Tsongkhapa, like the Living Christ for Christians. The body of VGL is an echo or a reflection of a much deeper, eternally abiding being. We do not need to fear, he will always be with us. In fact, he will always be within us eager to fill us with his wisdom and respond to our prayers.
While it is beyond the scope of this blog, this understanding also has tremendous benefits for our self-generation practice. We are able to feel as if we are doing our practice inside the hearts of each and every living being, directly and profoundly blessing and healing them.