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Buddhadharma : Spri 2013
SPRING 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 47 “doubt is very fertile ground” and thus, “the more doubt there is, the better.” As Rinpoche points out: ...distrust means condemning the whole thing, whereas doubt is knowing that there are possibilities. Doubt is knowing that something is happening, but not knowing exactly what is going on. It provides you with the possibility of questioning yourself as to whether you have the faculties and capability to understand the Vajrayana. With a heart of trust and the full capacity of our intellec tual mind, we enter the vajra world. The main emphasis in this yana, Trungpa says, is on “upaya, or skillful means. In fact, one of the definitions of Vajrayana is that it is composed of teachings based on a particular state of mind, or mental approach, in which shunyata and prajna are put together and are regarded as upaya.” With that understanding of sacred outlook, the way we enter the Vajrayana is through the abhisheka, or empowerment ceremony, which is tied to the notion guru, or vajra master. As Trungpa clearly states: If you are treading on this path, it is very important for you as a student that you and your vajra master come to a mutual conclusion. You have to reach a mutual understand ing with each other that you actually have to demolish the hidden corners of samsara. You have to demolish the devas tating tricks that exist and that you have been able to main tain for such a long time. The abhisheka process is connected to the Vajrayana con cept of the samaya principle: the commitment and vow to safeguard the integrity of the teachings. Fundamentally, this “basic commitment is to yourself. Beyond that, your commit ment to others and to your teacher will arise naturally,” says Trungpa. However, samaya should not be taken simply as a vow or command. It’s a meaningful way of binding “the teach ing, the teacher, and the students together in one particular project.” In this way, we come to trust in our own vajra heart, the absolute nature of our own mind. The Guru There are lots of misunderstandings regarding the Vajrayana guru in the Buddhist world today. However, if we look with the eyes of unbiased wisdom, a similar principle exists in all three yanas—that is, the concept of a master holding the upadesha, or key instructions. It’s important to understand that there are different levels of teachers who support and guide us appropriately on our journey through the yanas. According to Trungpa’s explanation of these levels, in the Hinayana, the “teacher acts as kind of a parental principle” and is somewhat like an instructor or a schoolteacher; whereas in the Mahayana, the teacher is known as kalyanamitra, or “spiritual friend,” which is “more than a schoolteacher. The Mahayana teacher is a like a physician and friend at the same time,” says Trungpa. He or she is concerned with your spiri tual development and wellbeing. Finally, in the Vajrayana, the teacher is called “vajra mas ter,” or guru. This level of teacher works much more directly with students and has a keen unflinching interest in their prob lems and buddha potential. Consequently, the search for pro found instructions, profound wisdom, or profound methods of awakening is most fruitful with the guru. Normally, the guru refers to someone who holds an enlight ened lineage that is passed down unbroken from genera tion to generation. Such a person need not be prominent or acclaimed. The guru in the Vajrayana, however, isn’t neces sarily an individual; there’s also the principle of guru, which operates at this level. The Vajrayana guru, whether vajra master or pure princi pal, is “a teacher, an executioner, a magician, and a surgeon.” These gurus, Trungpa says, are “like a surgeon because they help you out thoroughly, and that thoroughness might present you with some pain.” Nonetheless, “in order for the surgeon to heal you, you have to let them get into you thoroughly and completely. So while the vajra master is a parental figure, this particular parental figure is a surgeon, somewhat of an execu tioner, a heavyhanded person who has good intentions. That is one of the important aspects of a vajra master.” I believe that the guru is simply like a mirror that reflects the true nature of our own mind, our buddha mind. But in order to see this reflection, we have to have some light. We can’t be standing in a dark room. That light is our sense of devotion to our guru. Without turning on this light, there’s no way we can truly see all the features and qualities of our reflection. The Vajra World It’s also important to understand correctly that the “vajra world has three aspects,” says Trungpa. In it you have “the yidams, or principal deities; the teacher, or vajra master; and Misunderstandings surround whether or not Vajrayana practitioners need to engage in the other yanas. But the development of the view, meditation, and action of the entire three-yana journey is without a doubt essential. FROMTHECOLLECTIONOFSHAMBHALAARCHIVES/PHOTOGRAPHERUNKNOWN