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

Q: If there's been damage in a relationship with teacher, how do you advise to repair the damage, or if it's broken, or you broke it, how do you advise to establish a healthy one with another teacher?

Rinpoche: What do you mean by broken? That you can no longer work with that teacher, lost faith in that teacher? The relationship with the teacher is broken, but not the Dharma.

I think first question is if there's damage, you can repair. Just like anything else, you repair. Find a good hammer, saw and find good glue. Put it together, fix it. If there's damage, like you say, you haven't lost faith and you wish to continue to follow or have the relationship, it is important to have dialogue, request interview. You have to be very direct. Say, "Because I am very confused and due to my negative mind, confusion, lack of understanding Dharma and especially guru-disciple relationship, and Guru Yoga, I'd like to apologize and ask for forgiveness." Then you can fix this problem. Guru has compassion and gurus always know students. We have this kind of problem as a human. There is lots of room. So damage can be fixed, but you have to be very direct.

Now if the guru is not accepting the apologies. I don't know, some cases I've heard some teachers, I don't know why, they don't accept an apology. They throw student out. I feel it's very unfortunate. You start to think, "What happened? Where is the compassion?" This, I think, is unfortunate, because that means violating Bodhisattva vows, like abandoning disciple, what they call abandoning faithful one who has faith in you. Saying, "Go away, don't come near me. I don't want to be your teacher." It's actually violating Bodhisattva vow, but then again, we don't know exactly the intention of the guru. He may say, "Go away, I don't want you to be my student." That could be also another teaching. Because maybe teacher needs to tell student to go away, don't come to me, because maybe he has to figure it out himself. This is all that you can really do at the time.

Because sometime we have a karma to study with teacher for a certain amount of time, then sometimes there's a kind of time limit, the time or karma has expired. I don't mean the karma expired to have a teacher-student relationship. But there's a time to be with and to study, when that expires, the student is still grasping the teacher. The teacher says, "You are finished with me now. You go and study with somebody else." That doesn't mean he's abandoning you. So we don't know the intention of the teacher. But if the teacher's intention is careless due to some kind of politics, part of his own problem, saying go away, then it's sad. So we don't know. In that case, damage can be resolved. That's the first question.

Second question is broken. You said "lost faith," right? If you lost faith and broken the commitment and then you have to figure out yourself. Think about it yourself, why did you lose faith? Is it because of what has happened? Has it been from your side or teacher's side? Sometimes you never find an answer. It's very complicated. But in any case, as I said, if you feel you lost faith or trust, therefore you don't have the confidence any more to study with the same teacher, if you don't want to study that's your choice, your wish. So if you want to stay away from the teacher, it's up to you. It's like fire, you don't want to be too close, it will burn. You stay away from fire, like that, but it's your choice. Nobody forces you to study all the time.

Actually, guru do wish ultimately for you to go away, learn fast, become enlightened quickly, that's the whole purpose. So sometimes guru has to do that, say to these people, "Go away, don't come to me." You have to grow yourself. So we don't know.

But, in any case, it's important not to blame teacher, not to say bad things about teacher, not have this negative mind carry on, walking around. That's unhealthy for you and also negative, unhealthy for other people, other students. It's bad for the general karma, and also, of course, bad for the teacher, too. So as I said, always you should remember the kindness of the teacher. I saw this when His Holiness the Dalai Lama, many people ask the same question. He always says you keep distance if you want, you don't want to take teachings that's up to you, but you should always remember the kindness, what you've learned from him or her.

Onward Onward to Guru Yoga, p.10

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