To rely sincerely upon our Spiritual Guide.
Since all the attainments of Secret Mantra depend upon receiving the blessings of our Vajra Master, relying sincerely upon him or her is the most important practice for Secret Mantra practitioners. Therefore, we have a commitment to remember our Spiritual guide at least six times every day so as to increase our faith in him or her.
Gen-la Losang said in reality there is only one spiritual practice, and that is reliance upon the Spiritual Guide. All of our other practices are actually just different aspects of our main practice of reliance. According to Sutra, we can understand this on a couple of different levels. First, every instruction we practice comes from the Spiritual Guide, so by relying upon them we are relying upon the Spiritual Guide. Second, we rely upon the Spiritual Guide’s blessings to be able to realize within our mind the different realizations of Dharma.
According to Tantra, our reliance on the Spiritual Guide is much more robust and profound. The simplest way of understanding it is in Sutra, it is like we are trying to create a Buddha from scratch by gradually building up within our mind all of a Buddha’s qualities through our own effort. In Tantra, we say, “the Spiritual Guide has already attained enlightenment, all we need to do is ‘download’ his enlightened mind into our own mind, and then we ‘install’ that enlightened mind into our own mental operating system. Downloading his mind into our mind is accomplished through the generation of the deity with faith within our mind, and we install his mind in our mind through our training in divine pride of imputing our I onto the pure aggregates we have generated. The software on the server and the software on our computer are exactly the same, just operating on two different computers. In the same way, the software of the Guru’s enlightenment in the server of his mind and the software of his mind in the computer of our own mind are exactly the same, just operating in two different mental continuums. Where did the Guru get his enlightenment? By downloading it from his Guru’s mind, and so forth back to Buddha Shakyamuni and Buddha Vajradhara.
In Sutra, when we train in lamrim we go through all sorts of different contemplations to bring our own mind to the conclusions of the lamrim, and then we try hold these conclusions for as long as possible to consolidate them within our mind. In Tantra, we say that every realization of the path, from the realization of our precious human life up to the Mahamudra realization of meaning clear light, are all different aspects, or parts of, our Guru’s enlightened mind. And when we train in Lamrim, what we are actually doing is making manifest within our mind this aspect of our guru’s mind. Just as we can download the deity body and mandala, so too we can download in the same way our guru’s realizations of the lamrim.
In Sutra, when we meditate we do so with our own powers of mindfulness, alertness, concentration and discriminating wisdom. But these are extremely weak and ineffective tools. In Tantra, we realize we can literally meditate with our Guru’s powers of mindfulness, alertness, concentration and discriminating wisdom. These are like nuclear enriched power tools for realizing the stages of the path.
In Sutra, as we go about our day, we try to be like the Buddhas, trying to be patient, giving, compassionate and so forth. In Tantra, we try to become an empty conduit through which the Buddhas work through us in this world, helping living beings, giving perfectly reliable advice and spreading love. Just as there is no point where we can say the sun stops and its rays begin, in the same way for the Tantric practitioner, there is no point where we can say the Guru stops and his rays of his actions working through us begin. Eventually, we lose any sense of there being an “us” he is working through – there is just him working in this world, and we are him and he is us, and both are true simultaneously and without contradiction. We become completely non-dual with him. Viewed in this way, our enlightenment is quite simply the culmination of our practice of reliance.