Finding an Authentic Teacher: The Importance of Aspiration
In the first portion of this audio, recording Phakchok Rinpoche responds to a student question about the basic qualities of a genuine guru. He advises those who are looking to connect with an authentic spiritual master to assess the teacher by looking for the signs discussed in many texts.
Core Qualities of a Teacher
- Great compassion
- Great knowledge and understanding of Dharma based upon experience
- Clear devotion to an authentic lineage of masters
- Behavior consistent with his or her teaching
Rinpoche notes that the special qualifications of a teacher depend upon the level of teachings being given. These qualities listed above are the basic qualities one should expect from a teacher.
Creating Conditions Through Aspiration
Next, in the second portion of the audio, Rinpoche advises us on how we can create the conditions to meet with a genuine teacher. So it is important to know that we have to do some work here. As students, we have the responsibility to make spiritual life and finding an authentic teacher a priority. Again, Rinpoche here emphasizes the importance of aspiration, true aspiration from the bottom of one’s heart. If we have not yet found our teacher, we make that aspiration again and again.
We are often willing to spend time and money on mundane things, right? But at the same time, we can be very stingy about taking the time and spending money to do practices that accumulate merit. And here we need to engage in some honest self-reflection. If we have not yet connected with a spiritual teacher, we can devote more time and energy to merit-making activities. We can make water or light offerings, and we can engage in acts of generosity. We can practice ethical conduct, being mindful of all our activities of body, speech, and mind In addition, we can engage in study and reflection on the teaching of the Buddha to lay the foundations for oral instructions. And we can make sincere prayers to meet with and follow an authentic teacher.
- Are we being intelligent about how we spend our time?
- And are we stingy when it comes to accumulating merit? Does that make sense if we really contemplate the probable outcome? How do you prioritize the accumulation of merit in your own practice?