Guru Yoga
Teaching by Lama Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
September 1998, Vancouver, BC, Canada

One of the benefits, first benefit, is if you have a guru or spiritual teacher, one can become closer to the buddhahood. One could achieve buddhahood in this very same lifetime due to the kindness of guru, due to the guardianship of guru, advice of guru and the help of the guru. There are many great people who become enlightened in one lifetime by the kindness of the guru, help of guru, when working together as a guru and disciple. Famous yogis like Milarepa and Lama Tsongkhapa, Sakya Pandita and Dromtopa, the disciple of Atisha, and so forth. We have many authentic sources and stories, life stories.

And in the tantric sadhanas we have a prayer, or sort of like a request, or you could say praise to guru. It says, "By your great kindness I can attain enlightenment instantly." Now is it possible one can attain enlightenment instantly? No, not possible, no way. But then, so why do they say, "By your great kindness I could become enlightened instantly"? So this means by the kindness of the guru, teacher, working with the teacher, one can become enlightened in this lifetime or next lifetime. In this lifetime or next lifetime. Maybe two lifetimes. In one hand, that is a long time. Let's say you become enlightened or become Buddha after thirty years of studying and practicing, meditating, and you can say, "Oh, that's so long -- a long, long time. A long, long time -- I didn't know it takes so long to become enlightened. I didn't know one has to sacrifice the rest of one's life, or half of the life." It is not a question of actually sacrifice. When we practice Dharma, we practice with joy and with love and with happiness, with excitement, great pleasure. It's not some sort of obligation or sacrifice.

So if I become Buddha within one lifetime, within thirty years, or forty years, whatever, that time, that chunk of time -- if you compare that time with how many lifetimes in the past we wander around in the samsara, life after life, birth after birth, death after death, bardo after bardo, we travel so many times in the past. We haven't achieved really anything significant, spiritual realizations. And we could still travel if you don't have Dharma in our lives, if you don't have guru in your lives, if you don't have a Sangha in our lives. We could still travel in samsara, reborn again and again, go through death, birth, old age, sickness, dissatisfaction, suffering and happiness, up and down, over and over. We can go on and on for thousands of lifetimes, hundreds of lifetimes. So comparing to that much time that we have to go through, if one become Buddha within thirty years, then that is like, almost like instant. This is the meaning, why they say, "By your great kindness I can become enlightened instantly." If says in the sadhanas like Yamantaka sadhana, Vajrayogini self-initiation, usually in the self-initiation or sadhana it always says like that.

Time goes so fast, see. For example, if you think about your own life, some people here have been doctor for thirty years, some people here have been a psychologist for thirty years, some people maybe here who've been a nurse for thirty years. Some people here been school teacher for thirty years. I have been myself teaching Dharma in the west for twenty-one years. In India, little bit here and there, altogether probably twenty-five years. When I look back now, it's -- wow -- I don't remember ever seeing what I did and where I went. And it's like a dream, it went so fast. So it just goes so fast. Time goes so fast and suddenly we realize I'm getting old, and we have to change our attitudes. We have to go to another existence. So therefore, it is like an instant.

Therefore we say guru's kindness, a guru's kindness is very special, or like treasure. Now you can see, therefore, we need a teacher, we need a guru. Some people might think, "I think there are people who never had a teacher or guru, never established formally a student-teacher relationship and who become Buddha. What about Jesus? What about Mohammed? What about Buddha himself? Who was Buddha's guru? Did he have guru? Did he ever become disciple?" And people have questions, lots of questions. Buddha had a guru, Buddha had teachers. And I'm sure Jesus and Mohammed had teachers. I don't know their teachers, the names of their teachers and their gurus and where they learned their path. And I'm sure they do have, from our Buddhist point of view and also from the Christian, many Christians, early Christians, their point of view, Jesus was reincarnation of a highly realized being, bodhisattva, I believe myself.

So it is necessary to have guru, to find a guru, to meet guru, but it is also necessary to find and meet guru, teacher, that we have special karmic connection. And you meet many teachers, gurus. Sometimes you don't feel there's a connection, there is no connection. Sometimes you meet high lamas, high teachers -- they are very high, very special, very holy, wonderful teachers, they are living Buddhas. But sometimes you might personally feel you have no connection. Sometimes you meet a lama who's not a famous lama, or guru who has hundreds and thousands of disciples, but a very highly enlightened being. And you meet, and sometimes you don't feel connection.

When you meet the teacher or lama, you have that karmic connection and a karmic connection in the past. And you know from your heart. You don't need explanation. Nobody has to tell you the qualities of the gurus. These are the qualities of the guru. Qualities of the great teachers, or qualified gurus -- you don't need to explain. You don't need to go through this list of these things. You feel these. You feel, "This is my guru." You feel very special. So it is important, Lam Rim teaching says it is important to study with guru that you feel there is a strong connection. That's a very important one.

Onward Onward to Guru Yoga, p.3

Back Back to Rinpoche's Teachings