Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Rely upon the Guru’s mind alone

(5.102) Never, even at the cost of my life,
Should I abandon my Spiritual Guide,
Who is skilled in the meaning of the Mahayana
And a supreme practitioner of the Bodhisattva trainings.

Probably the most important moment in my spiritual life came in 1999 when I was doing a retreat and hit a brick wall – I realized I was incapable of doing anything.  I called up my teacher and she told me, “the problem is you are trying to do it on your own.”  I asked her what I should do.  She said, “don’t ask me, go sit down and in your heart ask Geshe-la what you should do, and then do that.  Rebuild your practice from there.”  At the end of this retreat, I was left with the inescapable conclusion, “the smartest thing I can do is rely upon my Guru’s mind alone.”

We normally grasp at the Guru’s mind as somehow being separate from our own, distinct, out there, with an unpassable chasm between us.  This view is the greatest deception of our ignorance.  In reality, our Spiritual Guide abides within us, within our mind, literally part of our mind.  Our job is to make this part of our mind increasingly manifest to the point where it becomes the source of all of our actions.  I have explained how to do this in detail in the series of postings on Activating the Inner Spiritual Guide.

But to keep it simple, there are essentially two things we need to do.  First, we need to strongly believe our Spiritual Guide is within our heart, and then with faith and a pure motivation, we request him to work through us to help others, to bless our mind with wisdom and compassion, and to guide us internally in all of our practices.  All that is required is a mind of faith, a pure motivation and some basic understanding of emptiness.  Second, we need to apply effort to cultivate within ourselves the good qualities of our spiritual guide.  We can do this by training in the Lamrim meditations.  I once had a dream where Geshe-la told me, “your love is [Heruka] in you.”  In other words, I shouldn’t see the love I generate in my Lamrim meditations as being somehow separate from the guru deity; rather the love I cultivate in my heart is actually my guru’s love becoming manifest within me.  The same is true for all other Dharma realizations.

(5.103) I should train in relying upon the Spiritual Guide
In the manner explained in the Biography of Shri Sambhava.
I can understand this and other advice given by Buddha
From studying the Mahayana Sutras.

(5.104) I should read these Sutras
Because they reveal the Bodhisattva trainings.
First, it is important to study
Akashagarbha Sutra.

(5.105) Also, it is important to read again and again
The Compendium of Trainings
Because it extensively reveals
What is to be practised all the time.

(5.106) Moreover, sometimes one should read|
The Condensed Compendium of Sutras;
And with great effort, one should also study
The same two titles by Superior Nagarjuna.

Perhaps we haven’t these texts, but we have Great Treasury of Merit, Universal Compassion, Bodhisattva Vow, and Eight Steps to Happiness written by our kind Spiritual Guide.  He has complete mastery of the essential meanings of all of the teachings of these great masters, and he has represented them to us in a way that is easy to understand and put into practice.  If we had to dig into these texts ourselves and try extract their essential meaning we would quickly become lost, confused, discouraged and we would likely give up.  Fortunately, Geshe-la has already done this work for us and he has extracted for us what we need.  By directly putting into practice the instructions in his books we are indirectly putting into practice all the instructions of these sutras.  We should read these books again and again, and by putting what we have learned into practice we will gradually improve our moral discipline and become a perfect Bodhisattva.

One thought on “Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Rely upon the Guru’s mind alone

  1. In the past few months I have been reading Joyful Path. Reading the chapter “relying on the Spiritual Guide” I gleaned Geshla’s message was that the Spritual Guide to which he is referring is a flesh and blood live human separate from myself with specific qualities and dharma realizations.
    I inferred from this that such a person would get to know me warts and all and guide and correct me.
    I’m currently on a 6 month working visit at Manjushri, so I approached several ordained and lay practitioners asking how I might find one, keeping in mind the very special personal connection I was seeking. Each time, I was advised that my spiritual guide was gesh-la or my own inner wisdom. Each time I went back and re read the chapter and came to the same conclusion: that the Spritual Guide to which he is referring is a flesh and blood live human separate from myself with specific qualities and dharma realizations…so I kept asking. Eventually, I found a monk with whom I could really communicate, Eventually, I asked him if he would be my spiritual guide. He said he will help me however he can while I’m here. His wisdom has guided me to look at some hurdles not as the mountains I perceived, but to walk to the other side, look for a different perspective and find the gentler path.
    His wisdom is teaching me to trust increasingly Geshla’s guidance and my own internal spiritual guide.

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