Dear friends near and far,
As always, I hope this message finds you well, healthy and happy. On today’s Guru Rinpoche day, I would like to speak about Guru devotion, which we can also call samaya, compassion, or practice… It has many names. But what all of these come down to is actually one important feeling: love (tsewa). This type of love is a feeling of affection, appreciation, gratitude, cherishing, and close connection. And it is a fundamental feeling in all our main practices.
In order to cultivate Guru devotion, we first need to have love for the Guru. In order to keep samayas with our Dharma siblings, we need to have love for them. In order to develop compassion towards all beings, we need to have love for them. In order to keep our daily yidam practice, we need to feel love for the deity. And in order to become good practitioners, we need to love ourselves, because when we have concern and affection for ourselves, we don’t engage in senseless behavior that will harm us. That is why I think such love—which is a feeling of connection, concern, care, appreciation, cherishing, valuing, and closeness—is essential to our practices of devotion, discipline, compassion, and meditation. In addition to this love, in order to cultivate Guru devotion, we also need to come to see the Guru as the three kayas. The Kagyü masters of the past have said:
If you don’t recognize the Guru to be the dharmakaya, How will you ever realize the dharmakaya yourself? If you don’t recognize the Guru to be the rupakaya, Your yidam visualization, though clear, is reified. If you believe the Guru to be an ordinary being, Your realization, though high, is swayed by experiences. Though you may have good experiences, sleep befalls you. Though you may seem to be practicing the Dharma, You are under the sway of afflictions. Though you may seem venerable, you are devoid of Dharma. Starting from the samayas of the Secret Mantra, To the Father Tantras, which rule compassion, The Mother Tantras, which rule the co-emergent, As well as the supreme and common siddhis And the results of all activities, the peaceful and the rest, If you do not have devotion for the Guru, No results will come to you. You who know so much, do you not know this? All the results you desire from your practice– Even including the siddhis of non-Buddhists— Without revering the Gurus of the three times, Though you reach samsara’s summit, you will lose all.
This quote demonstrates the importance of Guru devotion. As you know, in order to come to see the nature of all things, we need to cultivate the view. But the view has many aspects: one of these is Guru devotion; another is compassion towards all beings; another is keeping one’s samayas; and another is remaining inseparable from one’s yidam deity. If you pretend to practice the Dharma without knowing these different aspects of the view, then you are only deceiving yourself, but not practicing the true teachings. Nor will you achieve genuine results.
This is why I wanted to remind you of the importance of love and Guru devotion on this Guru Rinpoche day. If you are intent on practicing the genuine Dharma, please keep this message in mind. But if you do not find any benefit in this teaching, then just leave it aside. I only wished to share this with you out of my own love for you.
With all my love and prayers,