Now there are four branches to applying devotion on the path.
🔹The first of these is never to think of anything as a fault in the teacher. If you see apparent faults in the teacher, you will be like Sangye Yeshe. Seeing Mañjushri as a lay practitioner with a wife and children, his faith wavered, 158 and this acted as an obstacle to his attaining the supreme accomplishment. It is your own impure mind that is responsible. How could there be a single fault in the Buddha? Let your teachers do what they are doing. Even if you see them doing such things as acting unchastelyg or telling lies, train in thinking that these must be the best methods for benefiting beings. By using such skillful methods, they are certain to be maturing and liberating numerous beings, and they are therefore a hundred times, a thousand times more to be marveled at than others who observe strict vows. From the very fact that they are not doing it artfully or hypocritically, there can be no doubt that their conduct is that of a sublime being. In particular, if they should happen to scold you, it is to exhaust your evil deeds from the past; if they give you a beating, it is to drive out negative forces and obstacle makers. Think how immensely kind they are being in treating you lovingly and not dishonestly, like fathers with their children. If they seem not to take any notice of you and to be displeased with you, realize that it is because of your impure actions and obscurations, and make every effort to purify your obscurations and to do anything that will please them by serving your teachers’ body, speech, and mind.
🔹The second branch is to recognize that whatever your teachers do is a virtue, for as the accomplished beings of the past have said, These precious, authentic teachers—All that they do is excellent; Whatever they do is a virtue. Even if they are murderers or butchers, Be content, it is perfect; They surely hold beings with compassion. Even if they appear to have loose sexual morals, Good qualities are increasing, good qualities arise: It is a sign that they are uniting skillful means and wisdom. In fooling others with their lies, They’re using a variety of gestures and means To guide all beings on the path to liberation. Even though they act as thieves, robbers, or gangsters, They are transforming others’ property to accumulate merit And reducing people’s poverty. In truth, when teachers like these Deliver a reprimand, it is a wrathful mantra: It is sure to dispel bad circumstances and obstacles. When they give a beating, it is a blessing: It gives rise to all accomplishments. Beings who have devotion, be glad!
🔹The third branch is to decide that you have to put an end to all your hopes and doubts. Do not be concerned that by meditating with devotion on your teachers you will please or displease them in this life, let alone entertain the hope that you will attain the supreme accomplishment. No matter whether or not they hold you with their compassion, no matter whether or not you attain accomplishment, there is nothing else for you to do than to have devotion.
🔹The fourth branch is to always remain flexible and agreeable in your attitude to your teachers. Even in ordinary life, how much do respectable people put up with being polite and honest with their superiors, and that is only for this life, for a matter of months and years. Your teachers are the sources of all happiness, excellence, and good qualities, major and minor, in this life, the next life, and all your lives until you reach enlightenment. Therefore, you should be constantly adaptable in your wish to do everything you can, physically, verbally, and mentally, to serve them, including praying for their long life and the blossoming of their activities, for any Dharma qualities you obtain are entirely due to their kindness.
Use these four branches to train in developing devotion. For beginners it is difficult to give rise to uncontrived devotion right from the start and you have to create the foundation by deliberately arousing devotion. Later, develop the flow of devotion, getting used to it. Finally, when you gain the confidence of uncontrived devotion, you can be certain that your stream of being will inevitably be matured and liberated.
A Torch Lighting the Way to Freedom
Translated by Padmakara Translation Group
published by Shambhala
Copyright © 2011
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