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Tushita aims to provide a friendly and conducive environment for people of all nationalities and backgrounds to learn about and put into practice the teachings of the Buddha. With this in mind we offer regular drop-in events and courses on introductory Buddhist philosophy and meditation, as well as intermediate level courses and group retreats for more experienced students.

Monday - Saturday - am a break for lunch and then Contact Us. Share this post:. Related Articles. February 16, February 5, Video: Flight of the Garuda Teachings in Santa January 21, How to Deal with Impermanence and Death: A And so this Buddha-nature of the spiritual teacher — that is represented as one of these Buddha-figures, these yidams , in Tibetan. So when we see the teacher inseparable from these Buddha-figures, what we are seeing is focusing this on the Buddha-nature of the spiritual teacher, which can be represented by the form and qualities of the Buddha-figure.

The spiritual teacher is a Buddha-figure just as a convenient method — it is not that at all.

The meaning of "Guru Yoga" by: HE Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche (English)

We actually see the Buddha-nature, we focus on the Buddha-nature; it is there. You know what I mean. The language is always confusing there. That is the problem. So, what are we connecting here? What we are connecting really is our own Buddha-nature with the Buddha-nature of the spiritual master. That is why Gampopa said that when I realized the unity of my spiritual master and the yidam in my own mind, then I realized mahamudra. So we are linking our own Buddha-nature with the Buddha-nature of the spiritual teacher in order to gain the inspiration for us to realize our own Buddha-nature and fully actualize all its potentials.

That is the whole point of the guru-yoga. It is represented by streams of light connecting the three places the forehead, throat, and heart of the spiritual teacher with ours — representing body, speech, and mind. It is like there is a conduit which is there to energize these aspects of Buddha-nature from the spiritual teacher to ours. Because it is easier to see it in the spiritual teacher than it is to see it in ourselves — the unity of those three. That is not at all the point here. Now if we were to try to relate to Buddha Shakyamuni himself and all the qualities of the Buddha as are listed in the teachings: the ability to speak all languages, to say just one word and everybody understands it fully in their own language and gets different levels of realization from it, and so on.

These actual Buddha-qualities are very, very difficult for us to imagine, let alone relate to and take really seriously. So doing guru-yoga just with Shakyamuni Buddha himself could be quite difficult for most of us. So it is only somebody who really is very, very highly developed, like His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who says he gets his inspiration directly from the example of Buddha Shakyamuni.

His Holiness regularly teaches to crowds of ten-, twenty-thousand people. It is translated into so many different languages simultaneously, and sometimes he teaches to crowds of over , people in India. And so he could relate — His Holiness travels so much — so he could relate to the example of Buddha Shakyamuni who teaches millions of people, countless number of beings simultaneously. Then His Holiness, sometimes — his teachings are broadcast on the Internet all over the world, simultaneously.

The Heart of the Path

We have nothing in our experience that comes remotely similar to that. So, for us, what are the great examples that we could relate to? We are not there, but it is conceivable to us. And for most of us, as well, the example of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is beyond our imagination. Try to deal with that and not get depressed. This is inconceivable for us. So, for us, we need to relate to much less developed spiritual teachers to gain our inspiration.

And so a spiritual master who is suitable for us to help us on the path might not at all be the highest example, at least not at our present stage. It also says in many of the texts from the great masters that, realistically speaking, we are not going to find very easily a spiritual master that has all the qualifications.

And so ones that we are going to meet are going to have both positive qualities and negative qualities or shortcomings. But it is important to find someone who has more positive qualities than negative ones. And among those positive qualities, what are the most important? And these are sincerely wishing to help the student; not having intentions to exploit the student for money, or power, or sex, or whatever; and to be an ethical person. Not be somebody strongly under the influence of disturbing emotions and attitudes. These type of things are the most important. They sincerely want to help.

We have to be very careful because there are many charlatans who pose as spiritual teachers, both Asian as well as Western. And many of them can be very, very charismatic and entertaining and have a large following. We have to be very, very careful to discriminate and not follow a charismatic charlatan just because a lot of other people are following.

After all, Hitler was charismatic as well. So we have to be careful with the relationship with such a teacher as well. From the person who at least has learning, we can gain correct information.

It might not be very inspiring in terms of the type of person they are, but we can appreciate the fact that they are a source of correct information. And that we need. So there are many levels of spiritual teacher, and this we need to be very clear about. They are not all at the same level of development.

Another one of the really absolutely necessary qualifications of any level of spiritual teacher is that the person is honest and not pretentious. That is very important. That is more a therapist teacher. A spiritual teacher is not a therapist. A spiritual teacher gives us the methods and then it is up to us to work on them.

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We can ask questions. But with the therapist, the client does most of the talking — talks about themselves.


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The spiritual teacher does the vast majority of the talking and talks about the teachings. Very different. Many Westerners do confuse the two roles of a spiritual teacher and a therapist. It is very important not to confuse the two. If we need a therapist, go to a therapist and not a spiritual teacher. If I speak from my own experience, as I was explaining last night, I had a very, very close relation with Serkong Rinpoche for nine years, and very close contact with my other spiritual teachers.

All of them were Tibetan. And I must say that they never asked me about my personal experience with the teachings, and I never really discussed it with them in terms of, well, this was happening or that was happening. I was always encouraged to try to apply the teachings and figure it out myself.

Why I Quit Guru Yoga | Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

They would be open if I had questions about the teachings, but my relation with them was not at all a Western type of relationship. And for me, that suited me very well, I must say. Now for Western teachers relating to Western students, many of them do mix in a little bit of this aspect of being the therapist. I mean there are some who are very distant from their students, but if they have regular students they usually like to get to know the students personally and help them with the different types of problems that they might be having.

But I think that Western students find it much easier to speak about their own experiences and their own things to a Western teacher. Our experience is just too foreign; our backgrounds are just too foreign in terms of what we have studied earlier in our lives, in our cultures. So it is changing a little bit in the West as we develop this Western teacher to Western disciple relationship.

Why I Quit Guru Yoga

But there are problems there. That is not what people talk about in their relationships and so on. So to talk about emotions and feelings from Westerner to Westerner, that works much, much better. With Serkong Rinpoche, particularly, he would correct me and point out things not in terms of my feelings that I would express to him, but in my actual behavior. As I mentioned last night, he never failed to point out to me when I was acting like an idiot.

So it is in that way that a traditional Asian teacher would help us with our application of the teachings, whereas with a Westerner we might more easily speak about how working with the teachings is affecting our feelings, our emotions. This is how I see it from my experience of having been and continuing to be a student of great masters, and also being a teacher myself and relating to my own students. Traditional Asian teachers — there can be of course Asian teachers who have grown up in the West.

That is different.