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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
44 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 3 on the blessings of the spiritual guide and the lineage masters. Many of us have met a spiritual guide from whom we have received teachings. If you have met one, I advise you to make as much effort as possible to develop and deepen your connection with that spiritual guide. Don’t be satisfied with spending a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months a year with him or her. Try as much as possible to forge a deep personal connection with that person by offering your body, speech, and mind, your service, and your effort in practice. If you have not yet found a spiritual guide, and you base your meditation practice on going to a dharma talk here and there or perhaps read- ing a book, I urge you to find a teacher with whom you feel karmically connected. Develop a relationship with that person and follow what he or she teaches you. In Western societies, dharma practitioners tend to be deeply skeptical and often have difficulty committing to a spiritual guide. Part of the dif- ficulty is that many people do not know how to tell if a teacher is authentic. Also, if you have not encountered a teacher with whom you feel a kar- mic connection, it is incredibly difficult to commit to a teacher and cultivate devotion. If you are impulsive and fail to examine the spiritual guide properly at the beginning of the relationship, instead of being practical and lev- elheaded, you might instead simply dive head- first into a commitment. If you haven’t carefully considered that commitment, you could at some later point become frightened or doubtful and sever the connection with your teacher and your practice. Understanding the appropriate qualities to look for in a spiritual guide is important. If you don’t know what to look for, you will have dif- ficulty developing confidence in a spiritual guide and participating in that transformative rela- tionship. It is necessary therefore to know what qualities to look for, because relationship with the spiritual guide is crucial—our intellectual and experiential certainty, and our realization itself, depend upon it. The Qualities of a Spiritual Guide In the tradition of the Secret Mantrayana Vajra- yana, there are three aspects of lineage teachings that a qualified spiritual guide will have received. He or she should have received vast amounts of lineage teachings, including empowerments, PHOTO | DAVID KOZLOWKSI