In the practice of Tantra, the guru is very important and many qualifications have been outlined in the various Tantric writings for Tantric masters. A Tantric master who confers the empowerment ceremony should possess the necessary qualifications. It is important, therefore, for the disciple to examine whether a person he/she wishes to take on as a lama, or guru, possesses these qualifications.
This point has been emphasized in the Tantra. It is said that, even if it were to take twelve years to be convinced of a person’s qualifications, one should definitely take that time to convince oneself.
The qualifications that are recommended for Vajra masters in Tantra include the guarding of the three doors — body, speech and thought. They should be tamed and gentled. They should be well versed in the knowledge of the three trainings — Morality, Concentration and Wisdom. And, in addition, they should possess what are called ‘the two sets of ten principles’ — the inner and the outer. (I’ll not go into detail about these qualifications now.)
In the Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion it is said that any person who lacks compassion, who is hateful, who has a very strong force of attachment, who has no knowledge of the three trainings, and who boasts about the little knowledge that he does have, should not be taken on as a Tantric master.
Just as the Tantric masters should possess certain qualifications, so should the Tantric practitioners, the disciples. The current tendency is to attend any initiation or empowerment given by any lama without first investigating, and then speaking against these lamas. And this is really not a good habit.
It is also important, on the part of gurus, the Masters themselves, to give teachings in accordance with the general structure of the Buddhist path, taking the general framework of the Buddhist path as the guideline by which to determine the straightness of the teaching. The point is that the teacher should not be arrogant, feeling: ‘In this close circle of my disciples, I am like the Almighty God, the Creator, and I can do anything I like.’ There is a saying in Tibetan: ‘Although your realization is high, like that of a divine being, you should maintain your way of life in conformity with other people.’
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[Excerpt from a talk given in London in 1988. Published by kind permission of The Office of Tibet.]
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First published in the August 1989 Buddhism Now.
Photo: Tibetian Images, Monastries, and Monks from Ulaanbaatar.
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