In preparing for our Lama Tsongkhapa Day celebration tomorrow night, I started re-reading Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s amazing book “The Heart of the Path: seeing the guru as Buddha”. In it, Lama Zopa shares many personal stories about his gurus many of which are humorous and all inspire pure devotion.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche writes, “If we don’t concentrate on guru devotion, we have missed the most important preparation for all our future lives. Our practice of guru devotion is the source of all the progress and all the problems in this life and from life to life. From our practice in this life, we receive all the benefits from life to life, up to enlightenment”.
He goes on to explain in great detail how guru devotion arises from our own minds, what’s important is how we regard our teacher. Nothing comes from the side of the teacher. If our guru is an enlightened being but we perceive faults in our guru or treat him/her as an ordinary being, we will not receive any blessings. Likewise, even if our guru is actually an ordinary being, if in our minds we think of him/her as a buddha, then we will receive blessings.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche writes, “If, from our own side, we don’t look at our guru as a buddha, we won’t see him as a buddha. If we look at only the faults, we will see only faults in our guru”. He continues, “Even if our guru is a buddha, we don’t necessarily see him as a buddha because what we see accords with our own karma. If we have a pure mind and pure karma, we see a buddha; if our mind is obscured by impure karma, we see an ordinary being”.
So when you do Lama Chopa or other prayers tomorrow to honor Lama Tsongkhapa, take the time to generate a strong sense of guru devotion since that’s the essence of guru yoga practice — rejoicing in our connection to our spiritual friends and our extended lineage that reaches back through time to our teachers’ teachers and so forth. And whether you are practicing by yourself or with Dharma friends, cultivate the firm conviction that your guru is actually there with you — showering you with friendly encouragement and infinite blessings.