Following a Spiritual Master
Given the singular importance of one’s connection with a pure lineage and pure spiritual master, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche requested that a text be written to help Westerners understand this relationship between a student and teacher, and also the qualities to look for in a qualified Spiritual Master. The text is called, How to Follow a Spiritual Master: a step by step analysis of finding the right Master and walking in His footsteps, by the Editorial Committee of the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). In His Holiness’ words, “This short publication describes the perfect path of relying on a spiritual master. I would request that you read it and examine its content without any preconceived ideas; you will achieve the supreme happiness of liberation when you generate irreversible faith in your Master and practice his word.”
How to Follow a Spiritual Master lays out the characteristics of an authentic Master according to the Vajrayana Path. Here are some of the qualities of a realized Master:
He should be well versed in Bodhisattva precept and all his activities should be purely for the sake of others
He should have received the blessings of his own Master and have the ability to pass the blessings out to his own disciples
He should have actualised the view and practice and displayed signs of these realizations on the view, path, meditation and conduct.
He should be able to pacify obstacles, and demons by unwavering pristine awareness
He should be able to bring down those harbouring wrong views through his miraculous powers
He is skillful in benefiting others, leading them into the path of enlightenment. p.41
A student needs to carefully examine whether a lama is qualified. To not do so is very dangerous. The text warns of the dangers connected with the choice of an inappropriate Master. “As we receive profound empowerments from a Master who is not authentic, a very strong connection is created which lasts well beyond this single life and can ultimately lead both Master and student into the hell realms.” p.36
The chapter continues to describe the characteristics of a Master who is NOT genuine:
“Although he did not receive the lineage of the teachings he is trying to practice, he fools ignorant people who trust him. Such a lama is also fooled by his own ignorance taking himself to be great without proper knowledge. He has neither understood nor practiced generation and completion stages but is proud of his knowledge of constructing sand mandala or conducting some small rituals. He is ashamed to acknowledge that his own Teacher although he may be accomplished, has no fame, name, or wealth but instead tells that famous and wealthy lamas are his teachers. He is proud of his family and possessions. He spent most of his time vying for positions and spends the wealth of the Sangha lavishly…
He does not know or respect the precepts, vows and does not have any faith in the law of cause and effect and is attached to material wealth especially from his patron. He ceaselessly collects donations from both the dead and alive. He has not mastered his many afflicted emotions and his level of compassion is very low. Ignorant of the four classes of tantra and the four pitakas, such a lama is only lama by name. If he were to bestow an empowerment he would drive both himself and his disciples into the depths of hell like two calves both fall in a precipice if they are tied together.” pp.36-38.
Sincere Dharma practitioners should be forewarned of modern day charlatans who claim to be qualified Vajrayana Masters. Yesterday’s post is a case in point. Cassidy claims no lineage. Therefore where is the transmission of the pure blessing of the Buddha? He misrepresents himself for personal gain . Rather than emanate compassion, his writing is intent to hurt and raise doubts in the minds of others. And his vindictive acts of vengeance and keen interest in knife fighting speak volumes. These are not pursuits of a Spiritual Master. In sum, his purpose is to turn others away from the purity of the Dharma. And that can have no good result. How to Follow A Spiritual Master sums it up in this way,”If the Teacher who bestows the empowerment has no mastery of the two stages of generation and completion, if he squanders the wealth of the Sangha, if he is attached to the sponsors, if he is poor in compassion and is full of doubts, then both Teacher and disciple will end up in hell.” pp.37-38