General principles in making devotion and respect the path

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It is said in the writings of the great masters of the past that if you see your teachers as Buddhas, you will receive the blessings of the Buddhas. If you see them as Bodhisattvas, you will receive the blessings of Bodhisattvas. If you see them as accomplished beings, you will receive the blessings of accomplished beings. If you see them as ordinary beings—simply as good spiritual friends—then that is the sort of blessing you will get. While if you have no devotion at all, you will not receive any blessings at all. For this reason, we should cultivate devotion, and there are four ways to do so.

🔹First, no other Buddha is greater than your own root teacher. The essence and embodiment of every one of the Three Jewels in the ten directions and three times is the teacher, and there is no end to the excellent qualities of the Three Jewels. Consider that the sublime beings who are working at present for the welfare of beings everywhere, the sun and moon, medicines, and even boats and bridges are manifestations of the teacher; that empowerments, transmissions, and instructions you receive from others, occasions when you are writing, reading, and studying, and even circumstances in which you can perform positive actions are all the miraculous display of the teacher. In short, decide that the teacher is the Buddha in person.

🔹Second, think of all the countless Buddhas there have been in the past, of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, teachers, yidam deities, and so on at present dwelling everywhere in the ten directions, and of the former knowledge holders who were learned and accomplished. You can marvel at these inconceivable and innumerable beings, at their clairvoyance, miraculous powers, and other extraordinary qualities, and yet you do not have the good fortune to even meet them in a dream or hear them teach. Moreover, even if you were to meet them, they could not do anything more for you than do your teachers. Your root teachers are the ones who give you the pith instructions that constitute an unmistaken, complete method for attaining Buddhahood in a single body, in a single life. So even if they were to smash your body and vital force to dust, think that there is no way ever to repay their kindness.

🔹Third, it will not do to think of your teachers when they are giving you teaching, offering you material gifts, and generally taking notice of you, but after a while to forget them. Nor merely when you are sick, in difficulty, or otherwise miserable, and not when you are comfortable and happy. Instead, remember your teachers again and again, and think of nothing else, even when you are moving around, walking, lying down, or sitting, and whether you are happy or suffering.

🔹Fourth, when you are thinking of your teachers, do not just say “I take refuge” or recite one or two prayers and reckon that that will do. Instead, you should feel intense yearning, with your hair standing on end and tears welling up in your eyes—the sort of longing that can suddenly transform your awareness, make ordinary perceptions cease, and cause experiences to occur spontaneously.

When you have these four aspects together, you will have the sort of genuine devotion that allows blessings to penetrate your stream of being and is able to give rise to sudden realization.

Dudjom Rinpoche
A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom
Translated by Padmakara Translation Group
published by Shambhala
Copyright © 2011

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