Introducing the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśha Sūtra, Gelek Rimpoche and Professor Thurman discuss mistaken relationships with Buddhist gurus and books, particularly in the West. They offer guidance for identifying a good guru and for maintaining a healthy relationship with the guru.
In monastic Buddhism, the abbot is not a big boss and obedience is not a big virtue for the Buddhist monk or mendicant. In the Mahayana tradition, the spiritual friend is a teacher emphasizing how you have to get out there and do your own bodhisattva deeds and become a Buddha.
“In the Tantric and esoteric teachings, the guru figure, which in Tibetan is translated as the “Lama,” is brought back into play. In Tantra you’re dealing with the unconscious; therefore you need someone upon whom to project different things to help you work out new relationships, like you do in psychotherapy. Also, there’s the initiatory practice of seeing the guru as the living embodiment of the Buddha when the teachings are transmitted to you.
The Tibetans have a proverb: “The best guru is one who lives at least three valleys away,” which means you receive the teaching and some initiatory consecration—and then you don’t hang out with that person to see how ordinary they are!”
Robert AF Thurman via www,tricycle.org.
Professor Thurman also continues with a reading of a humorous anecdote about Śhāriputra from the Vimalakīrti Sūtra to illustrate some common misconceptions about meditation.
The Holy Teaching of Vimalakīrti
This book presents the major teachings of Mahāyāna Buddhism in a precise, dramatic, and even humorous form. For two millennia this Sūtra, called the “jewel of theMahāyāna Sūtras,” has enjoyed immense popularity among Mahāyāna Buddhists …