Vows, commitments and modern life:  Yes, you do need a Guru; and you do need a Protector.

We continue with our discussion of the three main causes of our Dharma practice.  The second main cause necessary for our Dharma practice is to rely upon a Spiritual Guide who teaches the Dharma.  When we have a legal problem, what do we do?  We rely upon a lawyer.  When we have a dental problem, what do we do?  We rely upon a dentist.  In exactly the same way, when we have an inner problem of delusions, what do we do?  We rely upon a Spiritual Guide.  If we don’t know how to get to where we want to go, we stop and ask for directions.  If our wish to get to the pure land, we quite naturally need to stop and ask for instructions.

Many people think they don’t need a spiritual guide.  They may think, “I will rely upon Dharma books.”  But who wrote the Dharma books?  A Spiritual Guide.  If there are some points that we don’t understand, what are we to do?  Other people think, “Buddha Shakyamuni did it on his own, so will I.”  Besides this being an incredibly arrogant thing equating ourselves to Buddha Shakyamuni, from a purely practical point of view isn’t it far easier to rely upon somebody who has already travelled the path than to forge out on our own.  Even if we were successful in the end, surely it would take us longer to get there.  And during that time, we would suffer more and all those who we would otherwise have been helping if we had already attained enlightenment earlier will be left to suffer for longer.  Why should they be made to suffer just so we can prove we can do it on our own?  But the reality is we most likely couldn’t succeed in the end.  We would become lost or discouraged.  We might be able to make some progress, but it is far more likely we would get stuck somewhere.  There is nothing in samsara that points to it being all a dream.  We can look everywhere within the dream and not have a clue we are dreaming, much less have any indication for how to wake up.  Only the Spiritual Guide, a being who abides beyond the dream but who nonetheless has the power to enter our dream, can lead us out.

The Spiritual Guide helps us in more ways that just giving us flawless instructions of what we need to do.  He also blesses, or inspires, our mind to put them into practice.  His blessings encourage our effort, and his blessings ripen previously planted seeds within our mind in such a way that the light of wisdom begins to dawn within our mind.  If truth be told, it is impossible for us to engage in any virtue without the blessings and inspiration of the Spiritual Guide.  The tendencies within our mind are almost all negative.  We know this because we know what a struggle it is to do the right things.  Absent the Spiritual Guide’s blessings, we wouldn’t stand a chance.  All virtue arises in dependence upon blessings.  Absent these blessings, we would never have engaged in any virtue.  Without virtue, we would know no happiness.

When we start practicing the Tantric path, reliance upon the spiritual guide becomes almost the totality of our practice.  The logic here is simple:  the Spiritual Guide’s mind already possesses all of the realizations and qualities of a Buddha.  We merely need to download them into our mind and then we will too.  Having access to a source from which we can download these realizations is essential.

The third and final main cause for our Dharma practice is having all of the necessary conditions for our practice.  Externally, these include access to teachings or books, time to practice, adequate food, clothing and shelter, and that’s about it!  Internally, these include the wish to practice, faith in our teacher’s instructions, and the wisdom which knows how to use any circumstance as an opportunity to practice.  Since everything is equally empty, everything is equally potentially perfect for our Dharma practice.  The problem is not the circumstance, it is our lack of wisdom which sees how the circumstances we have are in fact perfect for us.  To assemble this third main cause, externally of course we need do whatever it takes to gain access to teachings, make time to practice, and have enough money for food, clothing and shelter.  But internally, our main task is to rely upon our Dharma protector, Dorje Shugden.  Dorje Shugden’s main job is to arrange all of the necessary outer, inner and secret conditions we need for our swiftest possible enlightenment.  In dependence upon our reliance upon him, he will activate the karmic potentials on our mind to have the necessary outer conditions and he will bless our mind with the wisdom to see how what has been emanated is in fact perfect.  He attained enlightenment to do this for us.  All we need to do is ask for his help.  If we do, he will be by our side forever.

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