Wanting To Hear and Not Wanting To Hear
As a student, I know how this feels!
It all depends on who is explaining;
Spirituality is not about being a fanatic.
There are some things in spirituality that are a bit… heavy 😀 I’ve been reluctant to put Guru Rinpoche’s (Padmasambhava) writings on the blog as they are very precise, to say the least. They are the ultimate upgrade. It all depends from which yana/level we are viewing these; Theravanda, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Dzogchen/Mahamudra. All views are inspiring but much depends on one’s personal leanings and tendencies – some traditions are strict and some are loose. I’m all for loose!
One has to approach Padmasambhava’s teachings with a relaxed understanding. If one takes them literally, one will be turned off. They should be taken expediently to start with, and then literally – with a skilful mind. It’s still all about the nature of everything, which is emptiness. His teachings are more to do with conduct and ultimate refinement: we push with our practice, which allows blessings to pull us through to enlightenment.
If one is merely resting in pure awareness, one is completing all vows in all disciplines. That is what it’s all about. These teachings are for those who need rules and regulations. And remember, this was written for Tibetan ears; modern people need to be relaxed. I’ve put this the blog so that, if you come across teachings like these, you can be relaxed about them – they’re not scary!
I’ll put in a couple of extracts to illustrate this point.
This is from “Dakini Teachings”, which was written by Yeshe Tsokgyal, a female disciple of Padmasambhava in the ninth century. She was a dakini and an emanation of the female Buddha Lochana, the consort of the Buddha Ratnasambhava as well as of Vajrayogini appearing in the form of a woman. Yeshe Tsokgyal wrote these teachings in a secret, coded language called ‘dakini script’ and concealed them as precious terma treasures to be revealed by tertons many centuries later.
Lady Tsokgyal asked the master: “Without receiving empowerments from one’s master, will one attain accomplishment or not?”
The master Padmasambhava replied, “To exert yourself in study and so forth without attending a master and without having received empowerments, you will have no results and your efforts will be wasted. Empowerment is the entrance to the secret mantra. To enter the secret mantra without empowerments being conferred is pointless, since it will yield no result and your stream of being will be ruined.”
Lady Tsokgyal asked the master: “If the master himself has not been conferred empowerment and he gives them to others, will they receive the empowerment or not?”
The master Padmasambhava replied, “Although you may be appointed by a charlatan to the rank of a minister thus entrusted with power, you will only meet with misfortune. Likewise, although you may have an empowerment conferred upon you by a master who himself has not received it, your mind will be ruined. Moreover, you will destroy the minds of others and go to the lower realms like cattle yoked together, falling into an abyss carried away within an iron box with no exit. You will be sent to the bottom of hell.”
OK. I can feel your hackles rising. You are now spitting blood and probably muttering about how ridiculous this is! But it’s here that we have proceed intelligently and carefully, remembering that this is from another culture and another age. I can only talk for myself as a student, reflecting how I reason this. For the word ‘hell’, read deep, dark confusion.
We have to take responsibility for our choice of teacher, and we have to test them. Then, having chosen, we have confidence in practice. However, there are times when we just have to move on, and maybe find another teacher. As our understanding changes, so does our perception.
We can regard this earthly existence in our human form as either heaven or as hell – or as both. And that will dictate how we practise. When we first start practising, we practise with a rather blunt knife; we’re walking on a blunt edge. As we progress, the knife become sharper and we have to tread much more carefully, because we have a greater effect on others.
Taking on a teacher is precarious. An authentic teacher is like fire; get too close, and you will be burned but stand too far away and you won’t feel the warmth. There are certain teachings that are very heavy and a turn off, but it’s important to get an inclining of such teachings to sew the seeds of refinement for the future.
In spiritual practice, our pride has to be loosened, and there comes a time when this pride is totally smashed – and that happens only through a relationship with an authentic, qualified teacher. I remember one of my teachers telling of how scared he was about going to see one of his teachers, because he knew that asking a question meant you had to obey whatever answer you may receive (remember here that we are talking about a high level of advancement).
Monks and nuns take many vows to keep them on the straight and narrow; it’s a very precise life. We, as householders, are responsible for our own spiritual welfare, and in this day and age, rarely get the opportunity to have a close relationship with a teacher.
Padmasambhava’s teachings are inspiring, but they are concerned with discipline, when one is ready – when the synapses are in conjunction 😀 😀 😀 We don’t want sloppy connections!
Teaching should make you smile,
and not scowl.
It’s all about the end of confusion!
When resting in pure awareness,
even if a thousand Buddhas tell you you’re wrong,
you know you’re right.