One quality that is indispensable is the authentic guru lineage. As the great Sakyapa master Drakpa Gyaltsen said, a guru without lineage has no blessing. Lineage establishes a pedigree of sorts and is an absolutely necessary component of the path. Lineage is a history; it provides authentication. Where there is a lineage, there is a path, and the path has been tested.
Any path leading from one place to another is a product of causes and conditions, and the Buddhist path is no exception. Working with causes and conditions is the essence of the Buddhist path. In the beginning — especially in the beginning — we strive to no longer gather negative causes and conditions, and we learn how to apply positive causes and conditions. Eventually we gather the specific causes and conditions needed to disentangle ourselves from causes and conditions altogether.
For the Vajrayana practitioner, the right causes and condition are of utmost importance. Of all the many causes and conditions, lineage happens to be an extremely decisive factor. On a fundamental level, lineage is a condition that, in our human mind, authenticates the teaching and the teacher. A lineage can be a reference point: you can refer to what has been done by all the lineage gurus prior to your own guru, and this will oftentimes help build confidence in the teacher and the teachings.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
from the book The Guru Drinks Bourbon?
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Further quotes from the book The Guru Drinks Bourbon?:
- Gurus Don’t Fish for Devotion
- Advice on selecting a guru
- Humble Gurus
- A proper guru-student communication
- Skillful Guru
- Going beyond Rational and Irrational Devotion
- Why can’t the Guru be perfect?
- Peeling of our patches of samsara
- Experience is like a mist in the morning
- Modern Buddhadharma
- Sooner or later, you will have to check
- Never opt for the easy way out
- Guru devotion and pure perception
- Hearing the Dharma
- Teachings don’t just rain down
- Examining the Guru
- Controlled by circumstances
- The guru is like the horizon