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How to rely on spiritual mentors in thought and deed

How to rely on spiritual mentors in thought and deed

Part of a series of teachings on the Gomchen Lamrim by Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa. Visit Gomchen Lamrim Study Guide for a full list of contemplation points for the series.

  • It’s important to approach our relationship with our spiritual teacher with a positive motivation
    • The relationship with the spiritual teacher is different from any other type of relationship
    • We shouldn’t relate to the spiritual teacher in the habitual ways we relate to others
  • How to relate to them in thought
    • Having confidence in their ability to guide us
    • Recalling their kindness, we generate gratitude
    • The Sutra of the Ten Dharmas and The Array of Stalks Sutra describe what our spiritual mentors do and how they are kind to us
  • How to relate to the spiritual mentor in our deeds
  • The benefits of relying on our spiritual mentor
  • The drawbacks of not relying on them
  • Cherishing our teacher doesn’t mean we have to agree with them on everything

Gomchen Lamrim 04: How to rely on a spiritual mentor (download)

Contemplation points

    1. Consider the kindness of your teachers in light of the following verses:

They look for me who has roamed in cyclic existence for a long time. They awaken me from a long time of obscuration and torpor due to ignorance. They pull me out as I sink in the ocean of existence. They show good paths to me who has entered bad ones. They free me, who has been bound in the prison of existence. They are a doctor to me who has been tormented by illness. I should generate the notion of them as rain clouds, pacifying me who has been ablaze with the fire of attachment and the like.

These are my spiritual friends, expounders of Dharma, exhaustively teaching the qualities of all Dharmas. Fairly teaching the conduct of bodhisattvas. With these thoughts in mind, I have come here. As they give birth to all that, they are like my mother. They give me the milk of virtue, so they are like nurses. They cleanse me completely by means of enlightenment’s branches. These spiritual friends completely exorcise harm. They are like doctors, releasing from death and old age. Showering a rain of nectar, they are like the Lord Indra. Like the full moon, they flourish with virtuous qualities. They show the direction of peace just like bright sunlight. Regarding friends and foes, they are like mountains. They have minds as undisturbed as the tranquil sea. They give perfect support, some say like boatmen. With this in mind, I have come here. Bodhisattvas bring forth my understanding. Bodhisattvas cause enlightenment. These beings, these friends of mine, are praised by the Buddha. With such virtuous thoughts, I have come here. As they save the world, they are like heroes. They have become captains, protectors and refuge. They are the eye bestowing happiness on me. With thoughts like these, honor your spiritual friends.

  1. What are some of the usual worldly motivations you have for cultivating a relationship with your teachers? What can you do to transform these into Dharma motivations?
  2. What does it mean to “please” our teachers?
  3. What are the three ways to rely upon our teachers in deed? How are you currently doing this? (Rejoice!!!) What can you do to enhance this aspect of your practice?
  4. What are the benefits of relying on our teachers and the drawbacks of not relying on them?
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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