One of the meanings of the Sanskrit word “guru” is “teacher” or “master” and represents a person who teaches and transmits knowledge, like a master carpenter teaches an apprentice.
Imagine that although you have no talent whatsoever and are unemployed, you also have a large family to feed. One day a carpenter offers to teach you how to work with wood. After a couple of months working with him, your neighbours begin to pay you to do carpentry for them. Imagine how grateful you would be to your teacher for giving you the means of making a living, and how much you would appreciate his help.
On the spiritual path we can only attain complete spiritual enlightenment — a rather larger project than simply feeding empty bellies — with the help of a guru, and when we find one who is willing to accept and teach us, our appreciation should know no bounds.
Vajrayana texts state that for one who seeks enlightenment a guru is more important than all the buddhas of the three times put together. His job is not only to teach students but to lead them.
He is our most important companion, our family, husband, wife and beloved child, because only he can bring us to enlightenment.
Sadly, in recent years, the word guru has all but lost its original meaning. The deluded beings of this time are greedy for everything pure and stainless, so they grab at the principle of the guru, spoil it, reject it and then move on to another perfect treasure to lay waste. It has happened far too often and as a result gurus are now mistrusted in the modern world and often ridiculed in popular culture.
Nevertheless, for someone serious about following a spiritual path there is no substitute for being guided by a guru.
We follow a spiritual path because we want to defeat our emotions and attain enlightenment, and to achieve that goal we need discipline, guidance and the courage to confront everything we have spent many lifetimes trying to avoid.
This is precisely what a guru provides us with by challenging our preconceived concepts, disrupting our lives and most important of all by denying ego’s every wish.
Therefore, as Jigme Lingpa strongly advised, we should do a great deal of research about a guru before we give him or her carte blanche to torpedo our lives, because we must be able to trust him completely.
Unfortunately, very few people these days focus on such details, and this stage of the process is too often overlooked.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
from the book Not for Happiness: A Guide to the So-Called Preliminary Practices
Read a random quote or see all quotes by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.
Further quotes from the book Not for Happiness:
- It cannot be fixed
- Very little time left for practice
- We must also practice it
- What Is Bodhichitta
- Without the personal advice of Buddha
- Everything we experience is a product of mind
- For the sake of all other beings
- Dawn of wisdom
- Spiritual practice is like riding a bicycle
- Practise whichever method works for you
- The merit of maintaining mindfulness
- Right intention
- Wealth is contentment
- Obstacles Create Fertile Ground for Practice
- To reject your aggression is a weakness
- Where does low self-esteem come from
- Adapting the Dharma
- Dealing with Emotions
- As they truly are