The most transformative conclusion I have ever come to in the Dharma is “the most intelligent thing I can do is rely upon the guru’s mind alone.” I have always taken great (deluded) pride in being smart. When I realized this conclusion above, it changed literally everything. It showed me I had everything exactly backwards!
We often say in the Dharma that we have choice of mind. Normally what we mean is we have choice over how we respond to situations, but here the meaning is much deeper: we literally have ‘choice of mind.’ We can choose our ordinary mind or we can choose our guru’s mind. Given that we have choice, we need to investigate what is the best choice. Once we have decided what is the best choice, we simply choose to identify with and use the mind of our choice.
The essential argument for relying upon the guru’s mind alone is it works better. We need to overcome our pride with respect to our contaminated aggregates. We think that we are quite capable with our contaminated aggregates, and we rely upon them for all our actions. Contaminated minds are limited at best and deceptive at worst. When they do help us, they only make our samsara better which doesn’t help us. Pure aggregates of the Buddha are omniscient, possess universal compassion, employ perfect skilful means, and immortally do so for the rest of eternity. No matter how clever and skilled we think we are, the guru’s mind is infinitely more developed and reliable. We have a total and complete understanding that if given the choice between relying upon (using) the guru’s mind and relying upon (using) our ordinary mind, it is absolutely foolish to use our ordinary mind and what we should do is rely upon his mind alone. Once again, the most important conclusion I have come to in my Dharma career is the most intelligent thing I can do is rely upon my guru’s mind alone for everything I do.
We need to come to a definite decision to permanently unplug/turn off our ordinary mind. We realize that following/listening to our ordinary mind is endless. It takes us nowhere, it spins endlessly. Seeing that, we simply give up on it. There is nothing left to figure out with it, nothing left to think about with it. We realize its uselessness, we understand its harmfulness, and we just leave it behind. It is like in a Beautiful Mind when Russell Crowe says good bye to the little girl, understanding that he will never speak with her again because he understands that if he does it will just make him more sick and that she is not real. It is like saying goodbye to somebody on their deathbed knowing you will never see them again. It is like deciding to remove the TV from your house, not simply say you aren’t going to watch it anymore. It is like throwing away the final pack of cigarettes, quitting knowing you are never going go smoke again because it kills you.
How is it possible to rely upon the guru’s mind alone? To answer this, we need to understand how is it possible to have choice over which mind we use? The guru’s mind is not separate from our own – his mind is inside our mind. It is a part of our mind. Normally we think that his mind is somehow completely separate from our own mind, like there is this wall between them. The only thing separating our mind from our guru’s mind is grasping at an inherently existent guru’s mind and an inherently existent mind of our own. When we realize the emptiness of our mind and our guru’s mind then we can mix directly with his and use his mind as if it were our own. The guru’s mind is actually an aspect of your own mind, its completely purified part. It is in us, we simply start to use it.
To understand how, we can examine the process of thinking. The process of thinking is actually a process of making requests to a mind. We pose questions to the mind, it gives us answers. The only difference between thinking with our ordinary mind and thinking with the guru’s mind is not the process of thinking – which is making requests – but the mind to which we direct our requests.
Concretely, how do we practice this? The goal here is to completely turn off, silence and still the ordinary mind. Ordinary thoughts crowd out the guru’s mind from being manifest. Here we try to completely eliminate them so that we are left with only the guru’s mind functioning. If we use our ordinary mind, we feed it. If we don’t use it, we starve it and it dies. By silencing the ordinary mind it creates the space for the guru’s mind, until eventually we completely shut it off and are left with only the guru’s mind.
The practice is every time our ordinary mind becomes active, we identify it as our ordinary mind, and then ask the guru’s mind to resolve the question by dissolving it back into the Dharmakaya. By dissolving it into emptiness, we purify the contaminated karma giving rise to it. The feeling is a bit like playing Space Invaders where every time an ordinary thought comes up we vaporize it into emptiness and thereby keep the space of our mind completely pure and free from ordinary conception. The main function of this practice is to completely destroy any and all barriers between our own mind and the guru’s mind. Both Gen Lhamo and Kadam Bjorn suggested this as the main way of being able to rely upon the guru’s mind alone.
Step by step, the practice can be done as follows:
- We identify with the conventional nature of the mind itself (according to Sutra or Highest Yoga Tantra). A shortcut is we simply “listen to the silence/experience the stillness of our ordinary mind in the infinite expanse of the unobstructed clear light.”
- Meditate on the union of this bliss and emptiness. Shortcut here is we withdraw all the projections of our mind and realize that nothing is left. We experience this absence as supreme inner peace, or bliss. Main point is to rest within the Dharmakaya, understanding this to be your mind mixed inseparably with the mind of your Spiritual Guide.
- When a delusion/distraction arises:
- Become aware that a delusion/distraction is present – that your ordinary mind is projecting something or is active. It could be a particular delusion or distraction. It could be a question that you don’t know the answer to and you want to try figure out. It could be some situation that you don’t know what to do, etc.
- Remind yourself that this is not your object of meditation. Label it ‘not my object. This is my ordinary mind which I have completely turned off.’
- Mentally make the request to the underlying Dharmakaya that the spiritual guide resolve this problem, answer this question, heal this delusion, etc, by directing the implicit question to the Dharmakaya. Every thought has an underlying request to be made, such as work this out for me, give me an answer to this, etc. We essentially hand over the question to the Spiritual Guide that he work it out for us. The dissolving the question back into the Dharmakaya is the posing of the question to the Dharmakaya. By connecting with the emptiness of the delusion, distraction, situation, etc., you purify the contaminated karma giving rise to the situation itself so you treat it at the most profound level. In this context, we are purifying the karma that gives rise to the ordinary mind.
- Then once again, meditate on the union of this mind and emptiness, then rest once again in the union of bliss and emptiness as above until the next delusion/distraction arises. Keep doing this again and again and again for as long as it takes to completely purify/destroy our ordinary mind.
5 thoughts on “Activating the inner Spiritual Guide: Leaving behind our ordinary mind”
Thank you Ryan, it reminds me of your teaching in Geneva. that was wonderful
When I did exchanging self with others, I thought hmm… Let’s exchange self with Geshe-la and see what happens. Aha, blessing! Special. This article brings more to this so thank you.
Wonderfull teaching, thanks for your kindness, thank to our Guru!
Great teaching thanks so much Ryan is a joy to read your blog.