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Excerpts from The Vase of Amrita by Dzatrul Ngawang Tendzin Norbu
The Wrong teacher
The Inner Tantra (nang rgyud) says:
“Ignorant and proud, Lacking in intelligence he teaches mere words; He cuts down others with disparaging statements; With little learning and a lot of arrogance He is at true evil for the disciple who fails to recognize such a teacher.”
Such a teacher does not have even a single one of the many good qualities that are born from listening and meditating. Nevertheless, because he belongs to a good family he claims: “I am the son of so and so,” and, like a Brahmin, conceitedly wraps himself in his noble ancestry. Although he is no different from any ordinary person, he acts as if he were on the same footing as the great siddhas of the past.
When he has done a little study and practice, he puffs up with self-infatuation as soon as others show him some marks of respect. He is so full of pride, so stupid, and arrogant, that he cannot see the qualities of great beings. He is irascible and jealous, and the cord of love and compassion in him is broken.
If you, faithful one, meet and follow such as mistaken teacher it is just as if you were shown the road by a mad guide. Your entire life of virtuous actions will be wasted. Seeking his protection is like wanting to take rest under the cool shadow of a tree that turns out to be a huge venomous snake.
The Right Teacher
With vast learning in the sutras, tantras, and commentaries, he is aware of the crucial points of the three vows. Having discarded all the veils of ignorance and realized all that is to be realized, he has the ability to cut through doubts and misconceptions with his sharp wisdom. His mind is imbued with love and compassion for others, like a mother for her only child. He can thus be followed and relied upon. He knows and can teach both the way samaras arises through confusing emotions, and the way nirvana is attained through total purification.
He gathers fortunate disciples in four ways; through giving presents, speaking gently, teaching in accordance with the discipline’s faculties and behaving in accord with what he teaches.
Remaining near him you will acquire his good qualities, just as logs of ordinary wood acquire a wonderful fragrance by remaining for years in a forest of sandal trees.
How to follow a qualified teacher
Although, in order to skillfully train ordinary people, he may appear to be and to act in tune with them, his mind is perpetually in the state of Buddhahood, utterly beyond that of ordinary beings. Whatever he does is perfectly adapted to his disciplines’ natures and needs. He is able to bear all ill-treatment that may be shown him in return for his kindness, and all saddening events, with patience like that of a mother for her only child.
Therefore, have constant faith in him, see him as the Buddha in person, and perceive the perfection of all that he does, and the truth of all that he says.
With fervor, prostrate to him and circumambulate the place where he lives.
Speak to him with a mind filled with devotion, and gave upon him insatiably-since such teachers are so rare, and so difficult to meet and to see.
How to behave in his presence If he enters the room or gets up from his seat, you should get up also, unless you are sick and unable to do so. When meeting him, inquire about his well beings and present him with all that he needs. Do not be noisy, do not gesticulate, frown, look him fixedly in the eye, tell lies, slander, sit arrogantly in full lotus posture or laxly with your legs stretched out before you,
crack your joints, wear hats, or hold weapons or sticks. Never step over his seat or his clothes, never use his personal objects, or ride his horse. If you accompany him, do not walk in front of him unless there is a danger or you need to show the way; do not walk on his right, the side of honor; do not walk immediately behind him, steeping upon his footsteps and his shadow, but talk slightly behind on his left side.
by Dzatrul Ngawang Tendzin Norbu Rinpoche his
Dzatrul Ngawang Tenzin Norbu of the Ningmapa tradition in Mendoling liniage, is a very famous great teacher with great accomplishment. He passed away seventy years ago. He helped so many Tibetan disciples, Tulkus, Khenpos, Lamas and lay people even in the present day. He is a great lineage holder and very accomplished precious teacher. Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche’s root teacher is Dzatrul Ngawang Tendzin Norbu Rinpoche.
Long ago people practiced with the intension of attaining Bhudha hood. Now days many people are studying Bhuddhist Dharma and doing practice not thinking of Bhudha hood but instead thinking teacher hood.
Practice in that way does not lead to Rainbobody or the remainder of Relics. When practice is true one becomes more humble, possitive thinking, and egoless. One needs to follow a good teacher. If one does not follow like that, then as Mipham Rinpoche said, if you have a teacher monkey then you will become a monkey. My wish is that it is not necessary to become a monkey. One should think of mindfulness which is very important for you and for other people very usulful
This translation by Pedmakara Translation Group
B. A Practice of Guru Yoga
This guru yoga specifically connected to the practice of bodhicitta can be found in Volume 4 of The Treasury of Spiritual Instructions (gdams ngag mdzod) collected by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye.
In general, for the lesser vehicle as for the higher ones, the crucial necessity of following a teacher is always stressed. As it is said in the Gandavyuha Sutra:
Throughout countless lives, We were unable to sail across the ocean of suffering. Even though we possessed many qualities-Without a spiritual master We did not gain freedom from samsaric existence.
You may possess great worldly qualities, and as a Dharma practitioner you may have many spiritual qualities such as consummate faith and endeavor, but unless you follow a master who blesses you, realization will not be born in your mind stream. If realization is not born, there is no way to attain liberation from samsara.
You therefore need to follow an authentic master, a master who holds the lineage and is himself realized. An authentic master is someone who has received the transmission of bodhicitta through an unbroken lineage from the Bhuddha to himself, like the lineage that came down through the Kadampa masters, the followers of Lord Atisha.
You should also know how to serve such a master. You must truly accomplish whatever he says, through your actions, and in your words and thoughts. Pray to him constantly with great fervor, meditating on him at the center of your heart, or above your head. For this there are three parts: the preparation, the main practice, and the conclusion.
Generate love, compassion, and the mind set on enlightenment as a preparation. Then, visualize yourself, appearing yet empty, like an image in a mirror. Your heart is a brilliant mass of light.
For the main practice, visualize a lotus and moon disc above the crown of your head, on which sits the master to whom you have the strongest devotion. He is either his natural size, or the size of a thumb- whichever you find the easiest to visualize.
Remember his face, his expressions, the way he sits and moves, the tone of his voice, and the wisdom of his mind. See him as indistinguishable and inseparable from all the masters of the lineage up to the Buddha himself, from all the teachers from whom you have received instructions, and from all the yidams, buddhas and bodhisattvas.
Offer whatever you can to him and, with folded hands, go for refuge as much as you are able, in his body, speech, and mind. Remember that the guru is free of all defects and has perfected all good qualities. Although in absolute truth he is as substanceless as the sky, he takes
appearance in the realm of form for the sake of us all. Pray to him as follows:
“Bless me so that the bodhicitta in its two aspects may take birth in me right now, just as it took birth in the minds of the precious spiritual teachers of the lineage, just as it dwells in the wisdom mind of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and just as it is described in the sutras of the ultimate direct meaning.
“Bless me so that whether I meet prosperity or ruin, renown or infamy, happiness or suffering, whether I am sick, dying, transmigrating or being reborn, I may actualize the two kinds of bodhicitta. Bless me that I may know how to use all difficulties and obstacles as friends along this path!”
Having said this prayer three times, place your two hands one upon the other in the mudra of equanimity in your lap, and consider that the aperture at the crown of your head opens wide. The teacher shoots down through it like a shooting star, and descending, comes to dwell in the depth of your heart.
Then meditate one-pointedly without distraction, with utter faith and devotion, thinking that the teacher is the Buddha himself. After a while, the body, speech, and mind of the teacher merges totally with your body, speech, and mind, and you yourself melt into light. Remain for some time in that radiantly clear, sky-like state.
To conclude, when you arise from that state, visualize the teacher as before, in the center of your heart or above your head, and dedicate all your merits, past, present, and future, to fulfilling the teacher’s wisdom intention and to the blossoming of the two kinds of bodhicitta.
There are boundless ordinary and extraordinary benefits to this meditation. To mention a few of them: you will not be harmed by either human and non-human beings, you will attain all worldly and supramundane perfections, and you will actualize all instructions and teachings. The two stages of this meditation will accomplish the transfer of consciousness into great luminosity and thus serve as the essential instruction needed at the time of death.
If you persevere with this meditation you will achieve whatever spiritual realization you aspire to.
There is no need to look for any other meditation than this. Za Rinpoche Chilbupa said about this meditation: “If I take my living heart from my chest, I have only one to show; likewise this practice is the quintessential one.”
This was written from the Teacher’s own words. It was transmitted by the Buddha to the sublime Maitreya, and from him successively to Asanga, Vasubhandu, the Elder Kusulu, the Younger Kusulu, Serlingpa, Lord Atisha, Drom Tonpa, Potowa, Sharawa, Chekawa, Chilbupa, Lopon Lha, Lhading Pon, Dharma Siddha, Gyaton Changchup Gyaltsen, Khenpo Shonnu Changchup, Rinchen Jungne Pal Sangpo (1187-1254), Buddha Ratna (Sangye Rinchen), Kirti Shila (Trakpa Tsultrim), Jaya Bhadra (Gyalwa Sangpo?), and Punye Ratna (Sonam Rinchen, 1214-1286). May it be auspicious! This translation is by Padmakara Translation Group.