Within the Hinayana Tradition the lama, teacher doesn't really come into it, rather they have somebody who is like a learned spiritual friend, who is like a normal human being but spiritually more advanced than oneself, a friend. In the second case, when one is on the Mahayana path, one's perception of the teacher is like somebody who is on the bodhisattva levels and he has spiritual accomplishments. The teacher is like a doctor, you are the sick person and they give you medicine. That's how you perceive the teacher to be at the time of the Mahayana and bodhicitta practice. When it comes to the Vajrayana viewpoint of the teacher, then the teacher is viewed as Buddha. What is the reason for that? It's because if you view the teacher as Buddha you obtain blessings. Why is the swift accomplishment of blessings obtained? It's because between ourselves and the lama there is a connection. A very good, positive connection.
What are the three very good connections? They are the blessing of the empowerment, the scriptural transmission and the explanations. For a practitioner there is no better connection than these three. Also we can see the lama, we can hear his teachings. Because of these things mentioned we can say there is a very good positive connection with the lama and interdependence. So then, if we supplicate the lama with faith, it's like all blessings of the Buddhas come together united into the lama, and we receive the blessing of the lama, so therefore we also obtain the blessings of all the Buddhas.
Buddha Sakyamuni and Buddha Dorje Chang are very important but if we were to supplicate Sakyamuni or Dorje Chang directly and we also supplicated the lama, then supplicating the lama would be more beneficial to us and it bring blessing more swiftly. So the lama is more important. Why is that? We've never received empowerments, instructions or scriptural authorisations from Dorje Chang or the Buddha Sakyamuni, we've never heard their speech, we have never heard their teachings. We have from the lama, so the lama is more important to us.
We are given an example of what it's like for all of the blessings of the Buddha passed to the lama and thento us. For example the sun shines all over the United Kingdom. I have piece of paper in my hand. If you want to burn this piece of paper and place it on the grass in the sunshine, it will be difficult to burn it. But if I bring along a magnifying glass, and I place it by the paper, the sun's rays will be concentrated onto the paper and it will burn very quickly. It will burn immediately. The Buddha's blessing is like the sunshine. One's lama is like the magnifying glass and through him comes the sunlight, which is the blessing. Having connected with the lama's lineage, one obtains all the blessings of the Buddhas through him.
The main technique or main practice for us as practitioners in the Vajrayana is that of the practice of Guru Yoga. If we practise Guru Yoga we will swiftly obtain all of the blessings. Then one attains enlightenment very quickly. If you remember when we were doing prostrations and refuge practice we had the objects of refuge and the lama there who is the embodiment of all of the objects of refuge. When you are visualizing in the Dorje Sempa practice the Dorje Sempa deity upon your head, he is inseparable from your own guru. Then one does the yidam practice of the development stage and one feels that the yidam and the lama are inseparable. Then one is practising the dharma protectors' practices and one feels that the dharma protector and the lama are inseparable.
Based on these things one will swiftly obtain the blessings and the levels of enlightenment. What is the reason for that? It's based on having a very strong positive connection between ourselves and the lama, because we have had the empowerments, the scriptural transmissions and the instructions. Even if we don't receive all these three from the lama, if we receive empowerment from him or just instructions or just scriptural transmission, even each of them separately, will still give a very positive connection.
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So then, when we supplicate the lama, whether we obtain the blessings of all the Buddhas and the lama depends on our faith. If we don't have faith, even if our teachers were Dorje Chang and the Buddha Sakyamuni and we were next to them all the time, without faith in them, no blessing would enter us. As an example, Buddha Sakyamuni had a monk called Gelong Legpe Karma. He stayed with the Buddha for 25 years but he didn't generate devotion for the Buddha therefore he didn't receive blessings. So if we perceive our lama to have the lineage, even if he is like a normal person and he doesn't have very high realisation, if out of our faith we perceive him to be a Buddha then we will get all the Buddha's blessing completely. So generating faith for one's lama is very important.
What type of faith we have to generate? We have to have faith that the lama and the Buddha are inseparable, they have the same qualities. There are two reasons for that: one is based on the relative truth and one is connected with the ultimate truth. The one related to ultimate truth is that the lama has Buddha nature and the Buddha nature is Buddha. Therefore the lama and all of the Buddhas have identical nature. So the lama really is the Buddha. Not only the lama is Buddha, the student also is Buddha. Why is that? It's because the student also possesses Buddha nature. If you understand that, it's called the ultimate guru yoga. It's like the lama's mind and your mind are meeting. When we say the lama's mind and the student's mind are united and become mixed, it's not like you have to pick some substance in your right hand and some substance in the left hand, grind them and mix them up together. It doesn't mean that. The first thing to understand is that one's nature and the lama's nature are the same. Understanding that one also understands that all the Buddhas' nature is identical. If you understand correctly, one's own lama, his mind and your own are inseparably mixed. That's the reason relating to the ultimate truth.
What is the reason connected with the relative truth? The Buddha said that generally all the Buddhas possess compassion and skilful means. For all the vast number of sentient beings the Buddhas do what they can to help each individual being appropriate to that being's nature. We ourselves have negative karma and illusions. Because of our impure perceptions we cannot perceive pure perceptions. Right now this moment Dorje Chang is present before us. We can't see him. We can't hear his teachings. This is due to one's own negative karma and negative or impure perceptions, illusions. So, what are we able to see? We can see somebody who is rather similar to us, somebody of flesh and blood who suffers. Who appears to be like us because they have suffering and mental defilements. That type of person we can perceive. So then the Buddhas in their infinite wisdom, compassion and skilful means emanate beings who look like us; like Karmapa, Tai Situ Rinpoche. In the world now there are many beings like that. They look like us, they appear to be the same. They need to eat food. They become sick, they need to take medicine from time to time, and they also manifest death. And sometimes they make a few little mistakes.
So they appear to be like us and because of that we are able to see them and relate to them. and we are able to listen to the teachings they give. But truly their real nature is that of the Buddha because they are emanations of Buddha. If a lama has all the characteristics and he possesses the true lineage, he is an emanation of Buddha. That's the reason for relating to the dimension of relative truth. So then, putting it in brief: one needs to have faith and supplicate the lama. The root of the blessing depends on our generating faith for the lama, devotion. In Milarepa's lifestory it tells you what he did and what kind of experiences he had, how he generated faith etc. One day one of Milarepa's students approached him and said, "You know, when you were with Marpa, he gave you all those difficult things to accomplish and you did all those things, you practised and finally you became enlightened. Surely you aren't a human being like us, we can't hope to do this kind of thing. Maybe you are an emanation of Dorje Chang or maybe another Buddha, would you please tell us, whose emanation you are?
Il primo centro di Dharma a Venezia del Lignaggio Karma Kagyü del Buddhismo Vajrayana guidato da Sua Santità il 17° Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Fondato dal Venerabile Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, Abate e Maestro di ritiro del monastero Kagyü Samye Ling in Scozia, il primo centro di Buddhismo Vajrayana in Occidente, nellaprile del 2002. Lassociazione Kagyü Samye Dzong Venezia è sotto la guida del Venerabile Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche e del Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche, Maestro del Lignaggio Karma Kagyü, co-fondatore del monastero Kagyü Samye Ling e medico secondo la medicina Tibetana. Il Kagyü Samye Dzong Venezia è aperto a tutti, ed il suo scopo principale è quello di essere un luogo di pace, tranquillità e meditazione, dove possono essere studiati e praticati i preziosi mezzi abili della tradizione Karma Kagyü.