Vows, commitments and daily life: Downloading enlightenment

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.

4 thoughts on “Vows, commitments and daily life: Downloading enlightenment

  1. Dear Ryan, Your blog is incredible and invaluable:  thank you!  You write in this entry about the benefit of meditating with the Guru’s mind, rather than your ordinary mind.  I have also “discovered” this in my own experience, in the years of practicing Heart Jewel and meditating on my lamrim object AFTER Guru yoga (Requests to Receive the Guru’s Blessings).  However I have recently discovered that the correct way is to do the meditation after Receiving Blessings and Purifying, BEFORE Guru yoga.  This was confirmed by a teaching I received recently from Gen-la Dekyong.  I have of course “complied”, and changed my practice.  But my inner Guru’s voice is still telling me this is not “correct”, at least for me, or that it is at least “better” to meditate with my Guru’s mind.  I have asked my teacher, and he agrees that I need to change my view, conform to the official recommendation, and ask myself why it is so.  One advantage I see is it allows me to insert Dakini Yoga after Requests to Receive the Guru’s Blessings, since that Guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa is a natural step to self-generating as Vajrayogini for Dakini Yoga.  It makes sense, since I already use Requests to Receive the Guru’s Blessings as a stepping stone to self-generating as my Yidam to do the Dorje Shugden part of Heart Jewel (i.e. I am Vajrayogini throughout that part of the sadhana;  I assume that is how to practice Dorje Shugden).  But I still struggle with at least “the idea” of meditating on my lamrim object with Gary’s ordinary mind (though in practice there’s not much experiential difference, probably because in all that time trying to meditate with my Guru’s mind all those years, I always fell quickly back into my ordinary mind).  Can you provide some clarity for me please.

    • Your guru never leaves your mind from the day before, but he continuously resides within your root mind. It is we who merely forget he is there. Of course you should constantly be requesting blessings at all points of your practice. All virtuous minds are pervaded by faith and all virtuous minds are generated in dependence upon blessings. We are encouraged to rely upon the three jewels with our every thought, word and deed. There are no exceptions to this. Yes, it is true, there is a specific point in the sadhana where we re-dissolve the guru into our heart, but that does not mean we cannot prior to this recall that he never left, nor does it mean we can’t request his blessings to help us engaging in every stage of our practice. So of course, we don’t change the order of the sadhanas; but of course we also never stop relying. There is no time in which we shouldn’t rely. Geshe-la has never said anywhere that we can’t request blessings at any point in time.

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