Finding a Qualified Dharma Teacher

compassion dharma emptiness ethics find true refuge four noble truths geshe tenzin zopa guru lam rim michael roach scandal shadow trauma wisdom Feb 05, 2021

I think it actually requires much more maturity to be able to stay in the hot pocket of understanding the virtue of this institution and how the lama arrangement works and the qualities of seeking a master that's truly qualified and also recognizing all the malarkey and all the nuance and sophistication of narcissism for example. We have built our program to allow for that. Six sessions on trauma and another module devoted to the Shadow. Listen to these qualities, the ten qualities to look for.

The first one on the list in Indian philosophy is always the most important. It's always the most important. The guru has excellent conduct by way of their discipline and their exercising of virtue.

Second one, they have a tranquil mind because of their practice of meditation.

Third one, they have diminished self grasping as a result of their adherence to the practice or the discipline of wisdom.

Think about the first three as the three disciplines that are found in the fourth noble truth. The fourth noble truth is the eightfold path and we condense them into three disciplines, the training in ethics, the training in meditation and the training in wisdom. Someone who represents an ardent understanding, an embodiment of the four noble truths will be someone who has a very narrow gap between what they say and do rather than a very wide gap. We use this expression "she walks the talk." That is the first ethical hallmark of a good teacher.

The second one is that you can see from the way they hold their mind, their mind is like a sharpened weapon. It's been refined. It's been well exercised. It's been subdued. They have natural tranquility. When I go through this list I'm seeing Geshe Tenzin Zopa but you're going to see whoever it might be for you. Lack of self grasping, they're not all that fixated on themselves which means they have a lot of spaciousness.

The fourth one is that they know something more than you. When you out grow your teacher, when you start to know more than them, it's time to move on. Wish them well and thank them. Like a raft that takes you to a shore, their function has served its purpose.

The fifth one is that they have tremendous enthusiasm for the Dharma. It's infectious. You want to tap that source whenever you're around them. If they're in Australia you would like nothing more to then be there and tap that enthusiasm.

The sixth one is that they have very good scriptural or textual knowledge because those are the words of the Buddha and of the great commentators and that they can draw on that by memory. That's why when we go to monasteries and you see the monks and the nuns chanting and reciting, what they are doing is committing a vast corpus of the Buddha's teachings to memory so that they are internalized.

The seventh one is insight into emptiness. This is a difficult one to ascertain but certainly if they are proclaiming that they have insight into emptiness, turn the other way. You can google Michael Roach's letter sent to the Dalai Lama's office proclaiming that he had reached the fifth or the third path of seeing, he had realized emptiness directly. It might have been Lama Zopa Rinpoche that replied back to him and said pull out your member from the roof, piss off the roof and retract your urine and then we'll know. That is lama speak for 'go away little boy with your proclamations. You're gonna cause a lot of damage.'

Eighth one is skill in means. This is the ability to adapt the teachings to the needs of the student. I think also very much the ability to adapt to the times. You will see lamas and you will see that some of them are not doing that. They're well-trained and they don't have this facility. Then what's its impact on you?

The ninth one is compassion. .

The tenth virtue or the tenth quality is persistence or patience. This is someone when for the tenth time someone asks the same question, they don't bat an eyelash. They are there. They will stay till the end of the night.

One of the things I remember was I was anxious for Geshe Tenzin Zopa in Nepal. My own anxiety, because I'm an insecure guy, was micromanaging his time schedule. I was trying to get people into batches of time where we wouldn't interrupt his practice and come after tea and he could see a few people. I was worried that if it became a free for all that people would just be out asking and and grabbing his time and his attention and like a nervous mother I was micromanaging that. I'm sorry guys, those of you in Nepal. I didn't need to micromanage Geshe Tenzin Zopa's time. The guy was happy to take every question and every inquiry. It was like my day was twelve hours long and his day was endless. There was no 'when are they going to go away?'.

One thing I heard about Geshe Tenzin Zopa, after the fact, from many of you who came to me and told me that unbeknownst to me, some of you found your way to Geshe Tenzin Zopa. He was able to meet you and receive you and honor you and validate you. It's so beautiful isn't it? Just like meeting an old friend.


From the online course Find True Refuge.

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