27TH KAGYU MONLAM: DAY TWO - KARMAPA TEACHES ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LAMA & DISCIPLE
December 25, 2009 - Under the Bodhi Tree, Bodhgaya
The second day of the 27th Kagyu Monlam opened with His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche conferring Mahayana Sojong Vows on the thousands of fortunate disciples gathered beneath the Bodhi Tree.
His Holiness arrived for the second session, which was devoted to the biography of Milarepa. Along with the reading transmission of the text, which has been conferred over the past several Kagyu Monlams, each day His Holiness gives a Dharma teaching on a relevant topic, leads a meditation session, and selects one of Milarepa’s songs (Gur) for the entire assembly to sing together. Today His Holiness taught on the relationship between lama and disciple. After describing the qualities of a lama in different practice contexts, His Holiness gave advice on the correct way to rely on a spiritual guide. In general, we do not have the purity of karma to be able to meet buddhas directly and receive teachings from them in their full form as nirmanakaya or sambhogakaya. Instead, our only option is to connect with teachers in the form of ordinary individuals. Thus, we have cause to be grateful when we do receive Buddha’s teachings from these ordinary human beings. It is extremely difficult nowadays to find a lama who is completely without faults, Gyalwang Karmapa observed. When we are given instructions by our lama, that we do not think are sound, it is important to acknowledge that due to our own limitations, we may lack the wisdom to judge whether that advice will benefit us or not. However, if we are given advice that we believe contravenes ethics or that we suspect may not be in accord with the Dharma, we can check the Dharma teachings themselves and compare whether the advice given is consistent with the ethical system presented in the Dharma. If it is not, or if it truly exceeds our personal capacities, we have every right to go respectfully to our lama and excuse ourselves from following that advice.
Following the Dharma teachings, His Holiness guided a meditation visualizing one’s own lama in the form of Buddha Shakyamuni.