** If you see your Guru as a Buddha, you will recieve the blessings of a Buddha ** If you see your Guru as a Boddhisatva, you will recieve the blessings of a Boddhisatva ** If you see your Guru as a friend, you will only receive the blessings of a friend **

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How to seek out a spiritual guide

How to Seek out a Spiritual Guide

The precious teachings of the Victor, which are the source of benefit and happiness,

are extremely difficult to encounter. However, a fortunate person may do so in merely a day.

Thus, when you attain the opportunities and resources of a human rebirth,

you should make effort at practicing the supreme dharma with your body, speech, and mind.

As stated by the bodhisattva Śāntideva, 

the dharma is the only medicine that can dispel the suffering of beings

and the profound source of all happiness,

so honor the dharma by putting it into extended practice.

Relying on a spiritual guide is indispensable for pursuing liberation.

Thus, you should show them respect with your body, speech, and mind. 

Why is that? Because they are the source of all good qualities.

Without a spiritual guide, you will lack the opportunity for liberation.

The Necessity of Relying on a Spiritual Guide who is More Advanced than You

By relying on someone less advanced than you, you will not develop good qualities.

By relying on someone equal to you, there will be neither increase or decrease in abandonments and realizations.

By relying on someone superior to you, exceptional qualities will arise.

Kinds of Masters on whom one should Rely

Among spiritual guides, there are ordinary beings, bodhisattvas,

and buddhas, both nirmāṇakāyas and saṃbhogakāyas.

However, there are also those whose afflictions are greater than one's own.

A spiritual guide is of greater benefit than all ordinary beings.

Why is that? Because when you meet a spiritual guide, 

the path of liberation is manifested by the guiding lamp of their speech.

Thus, a spiritual guide is esteemed as supreme.

Their kindness is greater than that of all ordinary beings.

The Characteristics of a Spiritual Guide who is an Ordinary Being

There are eight, four, and two sets of qualities that characterize a guide who is an ordinary being:

The eight are: (1) having moral conduct, (2) has sought to receive many teachings,

(3) has realized the meaning of them, (4) has loving affection for everyone,

(5) has no fear when responding to students' questions, (6) does not get angry but has patience, 

(7) willing to explain again and again, and (8) always being truthful. 

The four are: (1) Teaching extensively having received many teachings, (2) able to remove the doubts of others with great wisdom, (3) always acting like a holy being so their words are trustworthy, and (4) can teach the characteristics of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa and the nature of reality. 

And the two are as stated by Śāntideva in the Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life:

a spiritual guide (1) has mastered the meaning of the Mahāyāna and (2) always upholds the conduct of a bodhisattva. 

I will not forsake my present spiritual guide even at the cost of my life.

The Characteristics of a Individual Liberation Vow Master

The five masters who grant individual liberation (pratimokṣa) vows are: 

the abbot, ritual master, private instructor, resident master, and reading master.

The general characteristics that they should have are: 

they must maintain proper moral discipline, 

they must know all of the vinaya rituals, they should look after the sick,

their retinue should maintain moral discipline, 

they should strive to help people with dharma and worldly needs, 

and they should give timely instructions to students.

The Characteristics of a Master who grants Bodhisattva Vows

The master who grants bodhisattva vows

(1) should have tamed the wild horse of their mind, 

(2) must be able to sustain mindfulness and śamatha, and thereby 

(3) have thoroughly pacified dullness, 

(4) should have superior qualities to their students, 

(5) should joyfully exert themselves for the benefit of others, 

(6) be well-versed in the tripitaka, 

(7) have realized the truth of the dharma, 

(8) be a master at teaching according to the students' individual capacities, 

(9) not strive for personal gain or honor, and

(10) be willing to explain the teachings again and again 

with a loving intention and without tiring or quitting.

The Characteristics of a Tantric Master

The common characteristics of a tantric master are: 

(1) being steady in body, speech, and mind, 

(2) having a disciplined mind by maintaining the precepts, 

(3) having an intellect that is able to analyze and explain the various teachings, 

(4) having patience with students without becoming angry, 

(5) not concealing their own faults, and 

(6) without any intention to deceive others, maintaining an honest and authentic attitude. 

In particular, one who has the wisdom of union and Mahāmudrā, 

who can establish qualities in the mental continuum of the student 

and likewise who is able to transfer realizations to the student 

is said to be an authentic root guru. 

Do not rely on a teacher who has many faults, 

but since someone who has all these qualities is rare, 

take a teacher who at least has many good qualities.

To summarize all the characteristics of a guru:

One whose lineage of ripening and liberation

is unbroken from Vajradhara up to the present,

whose conduct is pure without broken samaya and who does not quarrel,

who possesses the pith instructions transmitted through the lineage,

who correctly understands the general and particular points

of the Buddha's words and commentarial treatises,

and who has a compassionate heart wishing to benefit others—

these characteristics are inclusive of everything.