There seems to be a lot of talk in Buddhist blogs, magazines and in real-time lectures about what it means for a guru to be infallible, if, in fact, it’s even possible. As I mentioned at the top of this post, it partially inspired me to write this.
In modern culture, we seem to have lost the traditional regard for our mentors. In the old days, you apprenticed to a trade. Your master was not necessarily the easiest person to get along with. But they did teach you a trade, a way to eat, and you felt sincere gratitude, even love. This gratitude for mentors was a part of every human civilization.
What is devotion? Is there something about the guru/disciple relationship that makes it unsuited to the modern world? If this relationship is truly essential to swiftly making progress along the path, how can we do so safely, especially in light of some of the stories we have recently had to hear about?
“Mindfulness is a mirror of our mind and motivation is a mirror of our dharma practice”.
Here we can understand motivation to mean tonglen–the development of bodhicitta. By practicing tonglen, we increase our loving kindness, our compassion and ultimately our bodhicitta.
In this teaching, Phakchok Rinpoche challenges us to come to understand the correct motivation. “Motivation is a reflection of yourself”, he teaches. This shows how important it is to examine our own minds. We can use the analogy of holding up a mirror–let’s examine ourselves honestly.
We need to know if we are self-centered, or if we are transforming to be more aware of others. But we can develop more than just concern for others. Going deeper, we can reflect and think about how we can really help.
Tulku Migmar explains in this video clip how we can begin to work with the profound practice of Tonglen. Moreover, he advises how we can incorporate this “Beginner Tonglen” within any of our meditation sessions.