Embodying Great Master Attitude
Great Master Attitude means that we follow in the footsteps of accomplished masters. We don’t adopt blind faith, but we examine the life examples of those who came before us and try to emulate their approach. We don’t assume that we can figure everything out on our own, and we don’t let our moods or emotions lead us by the nose.
In this video, Phakchok Rinpoche encourages people to take some time to study Buddhism if one has an interest and time. It does take time to learn the core principles of Buddhist philosophy and language. But study is only one part of the path; we must balance study with practice.
Rinpoche then reminds us of the core of Buddhist practice: The transformation of mind and the realization of mind nature. If we don’t transform our mind—our character and negative emotions—then all the practices we undertake are not fruitful.
Rinpoche reminds us that we should start every Dharma practice activity–regardless of what that might be– by chanting a phrase reminding us of our pure nature. We can do this using a mala. When we do this, we drop our philosophical outlook and simply repeat, “All nature is enlightened, all nature is perfect”. Then we can go on to whatever practice we intend to do.
All of us have the same nature; it is exactly the same. But we each have our own strengths and weaknesses. We have different conditions and some take a shorter time to progress and others more time. Rinpoche requests us not to compare with our Dharma friends. We can support each other and help each other, but there is no benefit from comparison. Sharing is supportive, but comparing is not useful. Rushing is not the way to practice authentically!
The role of the teacher–the lama or guru– is of great importance in the Vajrayana. And regardless of culture or history, it is always difficult to find an authentic teacher. The guru-disciple relationship is an essential part of the Vajrayana path, so we should clearly understand the role of the guru in our practice. An authentic teacher possesses the knowledge and skill to balance the extremes and guide the student in the right direction. It is not advisable to try and replicate the life of great masters like Milarepa without the guidance of a teacher.
The teacher serves as a positive example of how to practice and behave. However, finding the right guru is the responsibility of the practitioner, based on their karma, conditions, and research. An authentic guru avoids extremes and operates from a place of genuine compassion. We need to approach the guru’s teachings without assumptions and preconceptions, and practice according to their instructions with faith and diligence.
Great Master Attitude: No Expectations
Phakchok Rinpoche reminds us to practice what he calls “great master attitude”. This means that if our meditation goes well, we don’t get too excited or proud. And if our session goes poorly, that is okay too. We simply show up for practice and don’t get pushed around by conditions or moods. If we practice in this way, not trying to rush for results, then we don’t fall prey to hope and fear. We simply keep practicing and transformation will come about.
What are the four transformations that Rinpoche describes in this teaching? We should make the effort to memorize these four transformations.
How does Rinpoche explain dualistic fixation? Do you recognize that in yourself? Can you describe this in your own words?
Coemergent ignorance sounds very complicated. What did you understand from Rinpoche’s explanation of this term?