Our ability to receive reliable inner guidance from the Spiritual Guide as explained in the previous post depends upon many different causes and conditions. First, we need to offer to him all of our karma. Every karmic seed on our mind is a potential for a particular experience. If we offer him all of our karma, requesting that he use it all for the enlightenment of all beings, he then has a good deal of material to work with. Each karmic seed is like a magic crystal through which we can see the experience implicit within the seed. Since we each have a unique constellation of karma, the plan our guru will have for each of us will likewise be unique. We essentially shine the light of our faith through the crystals of our individual karma which reveals to us an image of our guru’s plan for us.
Second, we need deep faith that our guru is actually with us, hears our requests and is eager to provide us the answers we seek. His mind knows all phenomena, past, present and future; he understands exactly our situation and knows precisely what we need to do. Part of this faith is a willingness to do as he reveals. The Bible and biographies of ancient masters are filled with stories of how revelation works and what is required to have continued access to it. But in short, it requires an almost unquestioning willingness to follow the path laid out before us. This does not mean we should not seek clarification to understand, but it does mean we should be ready to act on his advice even if it not entirely clear to us how things might unfold.
Third, we need to purify our negative karma obstructing our receiving inner guidance. We can generate a specific regret for all of the negative karma we have previously accumulated with respect to our spiritual guide, such as showing him disrespect, disregarding or even rebelling against his advice, misusing his teachings for worldly purposes and so forth. Just as a field needs to be cleared of rocks and weeds before crops will grow, so too the field of our mind must be cleared of negative karma before revelation will cleanly blossom within our mind.
Fourth, we need to improve our motivation. The scope of what will be revealed to us is limited by the scope of our motivation for asking the question. If our motivation is worldly, we will receive no guidance at all. If our motivation is wishing for happiness in this life, but we understand our problem is our own delusions, then we will receive advice for how to overcome the delusions preventing happiness in this life. If our motivation is to escape the lower realms, to escape from samsara or to become a Buddha capable of helping all other things, then the scope of what will be revealed will reflect our underlying motivation. The essential function of the Lamrim is to change what we desire into that which is spiritual.
If these four causes and conditions are assembled and we request guidance in the way Geshe-la explains, it is definite we will receive answers. At first, it won’t work so well, but with familiarity and experience it will become easier and increasingly reliable.
A doubt may arise, “how do I know if what is revealed to me is in fact reliable or just my delusions fooling me into thinking I am receiving advice from my guru?” This is an important question. There are several things we can do to test the validity of what is revealed. First, we can ask ourselves whether what has been revealed contradicts any known instruction. Second, we can check to see if what is revealed is consistent with all known instructions, in other words does our new understanding naturally follow from everything else we know. Third, we can check and see if our mind is made more peaceful and calm. All Dharma functions to make the mind more peaceful and calm, and all delusion functions to make it more uncontrolled and agitated. Fourth, it should feel as if everything “falls nicely into place,” where things that used to seem in tension now seem to fit together in perfect harmony. We understand and know clearly how everything fits together and why what is being proposed makes sense. Fifth, we should request Dorje Shugden that he “sabotage any wrong understandings” we might have. He is a “Protector of the Dharma.” The real Dharma is our inner spiritual views, so his primary job is to dispel our wrong understandings. This is why he is called a “Wisdom Buddha.” Finally, we can ask our teachers for clarification to make sure our understanding makes sense.
If we can learn to rely upon the internal Spiritual Guide in this way, we will be able to receive a constant stream of teachings and guidance from him day and night, even in our sleep. It is a particularly good idea to go to sleep in this way, asking that our questions be answered in our dreams. We may not remember our dreams, but when we awake we may find we have the answers we are looking for. This advice is Geshe-la’s promise and gift to us. He stands ready to help us and guide us every moment of every day if we would but ask.