Reliance upon the Spiritual Guide is the root of the path. Gen-la Losang said that there is only one activity on the spiritual path, and that is mixing our mind with that of the Spiritual Guide. Since his mind is already enlightened, by mixing our mind with his, we too become enlightened. Geshe-la said at the Summer Festival several years ago that he will take us by the hand internally and guide us every step of the way to enlightenment. Kadam Bjorn explains that we can literally ask the Spiritual Guide to do our practice for us in our mind, so he will do all the work, all we need to do is know how to ask him. A very pure senior teacher once said we need to allow ourselves to become completely under the influence of the Spiritual Guide, both externally and internally. In this series of posts, I will explain my understanding of how to do all of these things.
This series of posts will principally discuss three things: First, how do we get our relationship right with the outer Spiritual Guide; second, how to leave behind our ordinary mind, and why we should want to; and finally, how do we align ourself with and ultimately surrender ourselves completely to the Spiritual Guide. We can do this with respect to our wishes, our thoughts, our actions and ultimately ourselves.
Getting our relationship right with the outer Spiritual Guide
There is no relationship more important to get right than the one with your spiritual guide. There is no relationship more important that you can have because it is eternal and promises limitless fruit. There are several reasons why we need to get our relationship right with the Spiritual Guide. Your relationship with the outer spiritual guide is like your lifeline in your spiritual practice. Many people think they can have bad relationships with everybody externally but a good one with Geshe-la inside, but generally everything falls apart when our external relationship with our spiritual guide is bad. We lose everything.
If we can’t get our relationship right with our spiritual guide, then our future students of Dharma won’t get it right with us when we are their teacher, and then we won’t be able to really help them. The faith we have in our spiritual guide determines the faith our students will have in us. We don’t want our students to have faith in us because we like that sort of thing, rather we want our students to have faith in us so that we can help them. This is a very important point. We need to make it a priority to cultivate good, honest, working relationships with our teachers. If our relationships are bad, even if we have perfect Dharma, we will be unable to help anybody. By getting it right with the outer spiritual guide, you will be able to get it right with the inner spiritual guide. The outer spiritual guide will help you identify your delusions that specifically get in the way of you having a good relationship with the inner spiritual guide. By clearing these, you clear away the internal interference until eventually you realize he is with you all of the time.
So who is the outer spiritual guide? There are three different levels. The first, and most obvious, is he is the little Tibetan guy. This is the individual who assumes the aspect of a Spiritual Guide and appears to accomplish the function of a Spiritual Guide, namely to lead us along the path of Sutra and Tantra. We first learn how to get our relationship right with him – this is the easiest. Second, we come to understand the spiritual guide as the synthesis of all three jewels, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha – in other words, we come to view the totality of the tradition, externally and internally, as one giant Spiritual Guide with many aspects, like many facets of a diamond. We view all the teachers, our Sangha friends, the books, the centers, all the different Buddhas, everything as emanations of the Spiritual Guide. These are like his mind. We view all the instructions and teachings that are given as emanations of the Spiritual Guide. This is his speech. We view all the practitioners and Sangha as emanations of the Spiritual Guide. These are his body. If our relationship with even one part of this is not good, then our relationship with one aspect/part of our spiritual guide is not good. The third and final level is we come to understand him as everybody and everything. The ultimate nature of all things is bliss and emptiness, so it is correct to say that everybody and everything ultimately arises from and is an emanation of the Spiritual Guide. A senior teacher once explained how we can view ourselves as we are on solitary retreat right now, and everything we see is an emanation of your Spiritual Guide, like one big Truman Show.