Guru Yoga: The Benefits of Remembering the Lama
Monks and nuns at Namdroling offering khata to HH Pema Norbu Rinpoche‘s throne on the first morning of Losar.
Guru yoga, literally means ‘union with the nature of the guru’, is regarded in Vajrayana as the shortest path to enlightenment by the profound means of merging your mind with the wisdom mind of the guru. It is solely through the relying on a spiritual guru that all the bodhisattvas of the past attained realisation of buddhahood.
According to the pith instruction of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, keeping the lama, your own guru, in your mind for an instant is far more beneficial than meditating on the deities for countless years. For a start, the compassionate presence of a guru is tangible among us. You can approach him to clarify your concern, to verify your spiritual experience as being valid or delusional.
Shakyamuni Buddha gave 84,000 teachings to the world as antidotes to 84,000 afflictions. In vajrayana, there are an additional 6,400,000 texts of tantra. To study and assimilate all of these teachings by one single individual would appear impossible. Instead of trying to remember which practice is best for each situation, one simply focus one’s mind on the guru and apply oneself in the same manner as the guru would deal with it. This is the essence of guru yoga.
Dudjom Rinpoche described guru yoga as the life and heart of buddha-dharma. All the tantras state that the main source of innate wisdom is the guru and if one disparages the guru, spiritual accomplishment will not be attained because the guru is the embodiment of the Three Jewels.
The Lamdré scriptures of Path with Result, state that notwithstanding the guru’s ability, whether he has passed away or living in other realms, if you supplicate him with faith and devotion, your guru will come to you in the bardo to guide you with instruction on how to get liberated.
The simplest act of remembering the guru will generate far more virtues than all the Dharma practices combined together. By remembering the guru in your day-to-day interaction with others, you can transform everything you do with the same compassionate attitude of the guru instead of following your habitual impulses that are affected by worldly concern.
To avoid the most common non-virtue of speech violations, simply remind yourself the manner by which your guru would do before you speak.
To avoid the non-virtue of the body, remind yourself the manner by which your guru would adopt before you act.
To avoid the non-virtue of the mind, remind yourself the all-embracing selfless compassion your guru have for all beings.
The practice of guru devotion have been proven beyond all doubts by the countless lineage masters of the past to be the fastest and the most effective path to attain enlightenment. There is no shorter path to attain the supreme goal of perfect liberation than the guru yoga of devotion practice. This is the reason why we should remember the guru at all times.
- Extract from the commentary by Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche on the first line of Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s Heart Advice in Four Lines: ‘Do not forget the lama, Supplicating to him at all times.’
The original text is featured as an article in: Gateway to Tibetan Buddhism. Click here to see the full list of articles available.