(Originally published on tsemrinpoche.com)
Kechara is very fortunate to have H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche as our Spiritual Advisor and Dorje Shugden as our Dharma Protector. Understanding how fortunate we are to have connected with a supreme and qualified teacher in this life, we should therefore put as much effort as we can towards keeping a good relationship and good samaya with our Guru.
The advice below was recently given to the Kechara Forest Retreat team by the Protector Dorje Shugden. As Dorje Shugden is an enlightened Buddha, all the advice he gives is none other than the perfect Dharma, as can be seen clearly below.
His advice is being shared here as it is applicable not only to Kecharians but also to everyone who wishes to advance in their spiritual practice and maintain a supreme Guru-Disciple relationship with their own teachers.
Advice from Dharmapala Dorje Shugden to the Kechara Forest Retreat Team
Nov 18, 2015
The vast amount of Dharma teachings that your Lama has bestowed upon you, you should be like a garden where many seeds have been planted. And as the years expand, as the years grow, the acreage of your farm grows, producing beautiful vegetables and fruits and edible items. It should not be after years of receiving Dharma from your Lama by action, by words, by example, by official teachings, by kindness, by behaviour, that your farmland produces less and less and less edible items. Do you understand?
Each year, like a farmer – a spiritual farmer – your acreage, your land should expand and become two acres, three acres, four acres, five, 10 15, 20. Whatever you learn on the first acre can be applied on the second, third and fourth. Whatever you learn on the first acreage does not need to be given new instructions for the second and third and fourth acreage. Whatever’s been given for the first, whatever formula, whatever methods, whatever teachings apply to the second and third and fourth acres.
So, in other words, if you are applying, you will have produce, you will have results in edible items. And in fact, every year your farm should expand and grow. This is the farm of your mind. This is the acreage of your development. And the teachings are like seeds. You should not take the seeds and throw it away on someone else’s land and you getting no benefits. You should not plough the land, weed the land and water the land which is effort, ethics, vows, consistent effort and then nothing grows. To have the seeds and have the land, you must apply weeding, fertilisation, watering, protection from insects, birds and whatnot. And that is likened to effort, ethics, application, consistency.
When your mind goes up and down, catch it immediately. Do not let it go further. At no point in your life has your mind brought you any benefits, if you think about it carefully. At no point in your life has your mind brought you long-term and ultimate benefits. Everything that has been brought by your mind ended up in sorrow, disappointment, coldness, fear, anger, distance and, most important, the biggest obstacles – comfort zones. We become comfortable with being negative, we become used to being negative and then we expect people to reach out to us, to nurture us, to take care of us even when we’re 30, 40, 50 years old. This must stop.
Act your age. Behave your age. And develop according to the years you’ve been in Dharma and the amount of teachings you have received. Do not act like you joined Dharma a few months ago. Do not behave like you’re 15, 16, 20 years old.
When scolded, angry; when complimented, happy – this is the mind of a child. When scolded, examine why, overcome it, move on. When complimented, understand you’re on the right path, rejoice but do not be extremely happy because happy and sad arise from the same state of mind. Happy and sad arise from the same state of mind because it arises from the same mind, which is the deluded mind. Happiness leads to sadness, sadness leads to happiness and vice versa, on and on, and in a circle, it never ends.
Therefore do not be attached to being happy which is false. There is no happiness here in samsara. Do not be attached to sadness because the ultimate sadness is the three lower realms, not so much what you are experiencing now. Whatever you’re experiencing now, whatever you’re feeling now, do not blow it out of proportion. Do not let it linger, do not let it last, do not let it drag.
Never let negative emotions and thinking and behaviours drag. Why? Your Guru is not your father, is not your mother, is not your boyfriend, is not your girlfriend, is not your wife or husband or someone that you can treat on an ordinary level. Your behaviour, your body language and the way you interact with your Guru is a completely different relationship than those you have had in the past. Therefore you should never react to your Guru as you have reacted in the past to other beings you have encountered because the other beings that you have encountered are just as deluded as you. Therefore sometimes when you ignore them, sometimes when you’re angry at them, sometimes when you love them, sometimes when you’re neutral with them, it just adds to their delusions and they add to yours.
Anything from your Guru lessens your delusions, if you accept. Anything towards your Guru lessens your delusions and illusions. Anything from your Guru, lessens it; anything towards your Guru, lessens it. Therefore how you behave and act with your Guru is very different than any relationship you’ve had in the past. Therefore the relationship with your Guru is sacred. Why is it sacred? Because the most sacred achievement we can have is the transformation of our mind from that of a selfish, self-centric person to that of a person who thinks of others and focuses out. And as you do that more, you will see your unhappiness lessen, your depressions lessen, your sense of self-depreciation, lack of appreciation and low esteem become less. Why is that? As you do more positive activities, it reinforces the positive mind. The positive activities come from your Guru.
Think about it carefully. Have you done more positive things since you met your Guru, or have you done more positive things before you met your Guru? If you have done more positive things after you have met your Guru, then that is clear evidence, logical evidence to you that your relationship with your Guru results in positive actions, positive transformation. Has anyone in your life prior to your Guru taught you mind training, transformation, compassion, tolerance, Bodhicitta, acceptance of others, forgiveness, patience – has anyone?
And after you have met your Guru, what have you been taught, what have you been pushed to do, what have you been trained to do, what have you been scolded, what have you been complimented on? You have been scolded and complimented and blessed to develop your mind. Since you met your Guru, you have been pushed, goaded, prodded, encouraged, rewarded to improve your mind. Prior to this, who has done that for you? Who had the knowledge to do that for you? Who had the wisdom to do that for you? Who had the out-of-samsara mind to do that for you?
Since prior to your Guru no one has given you this type of mind transformation teachings, to think higher, to think of others, to think further, then your Guru is a treasury of Dharma. You should respect, you should have a relationship with your Guru different than any relationship you’ve had with other people because your relationship with your Guru is like no other person in your life. If you develop a consistent, positive relationship with your Guru, then the positive, consistent mind will develop in your consciousness.
You may think, “Some people did not.” That is not the fault of the Guru. Example – there are many Buddhists who commit heinous crimes worse than the atheists. That does not reflect on the Buddha; that reflects on the person and how he or she has applied or not applied Dharma. So therefore treat not your teacher as you would treat others. You should treat your teacher with great deference. You should treat your teacher with great respect, body and mind. You should speak of your Guru with great deference. As it says in the 50 Verses by the great pandita Ashvagosha, when speaking about your Guru to others, one should never just address your Guru by his name So-and-So. One should always honour and add an honorific title before his name when you mention him to others, and fold your hands in reverence.
Two things happen as a result. One is, you send a message to yourself to be respectful and you send a message to another person of how fortunate they would be to receive teachings from a Guru. Seeing your respect will instil respect in them. If they are karmically connected to your Guru, they will come; if they are karmically connected to another Guru, then they will meet. Whatever it is, your deferential actions, your respectful actions will lead them to find the Dharma.
The key point is not they meet your Guru; the key point is that they meet the Dharma through any Guru. Do you understand?
Any relationship you had prior to your Guru does not benefit your mind, does not benefit your karma, does not benefit your future life or even remotely this life. Any relationship you have with your Guru benefits this life, future lives and especially your mind. Listen and focus and concentrate, and contemplate what comes out of your Guru’s mouth the most. Definitely it will be about mind transformation, about patience and tolerance, about bringing yourself to another level and dealing with others different than the way you dealt with them before. If you listen to all these teachings from your Guru and you apply immediately – not tomorrow, not the next day, not when you’re in the mood, not when you’re rested, not when you’re feeling better – if you apply immediately, then your acreage will grow and your produce will be bountiful.
In building Kechara Forest land, many of the local deities and spirits have been subdued. Hence you see no sickness among you, serious or benign. You don’t see any accidents. Sometimes you see some disharmony. One thing you must keep in mind – and remember this clearly – whenever you do building work, there will be disharmony in the mind. Most of the deities here are subdued but as we further do work and we further make noise, and we further disturb the land and people come, throw things, spit, shout, scream, then sometimes the spirits, the local deities, get disturbed again.
They’re just like people, they can be placated but they can be disturbed again. Once placated doesn’t mean they stay placated. It means that they can be disturbed again, they don’t always remain placated. So similarly, the first sign that a local deity or local gods or the land gods are unhappy is disharmony within the group. Disharmony between you and your Guru, disharmony between each other. This is the first sign because the first way the local gods, especially in this area, attack is by creating disharmony. By creating disharmony, you separate; when you separate, the work does not get done. Do you understand?
What is important is the KFR group do continuous retreats, everybody in this room, even people who reside on this land, during your building. Very important. You are fighting your karma, you are fighting the karma of people to be benefited by your building and you are fighting the production of new karma by yourself on a daily basis that arises from the self-absorbed mind.
As a group, you should all do the Black Manjushri retreat. It was very auspicious that the teachings were given the other day. I was very pleased. As a group, you should do the Black Manjushri retreat, collectively collect 100,000 mantras. Especially the main root mantra, OM PRASO CHUSO DURTASO DURMISO NYING GOLA CHO KALA DZA KAM SHAM TRAM BEH PHET SOHA. The main one should be done collectively 100,000. As a group, Black Manjushri. That means together. Do you understand?
Black Manjushri will have many powerful effects. You may think, “Why this? Why that?” Karmically, astrologically, the blessings are different and your necessities and needs are different. Do you understand? Black Manjushri will stave off the curses that people are sending to Kechara, the negative words, the curses, the negative gossip and talk, and the ill-wishes and the jealousies from your neighbours – some of your neighbours – from other places, even some so-called spiritual people. So Black Manjushri, if done well, will stave off the curses, negative deprecations, curses, ill words, gossip will be staved off. Do you understand? It will also appease the local deities who have been disturbed again and again.
Be harmonious with each other. Be loving with each other, be respectful of each other. Be more and more in Kechara Forest Retreat. Do you understand? Look for more excuses to be here than in the city. Put your energy here to make it grow, be the pioneers. Do you understand? And not only be here and sit here, be active. Look around. Keep the place well-maintained. Keep the place upkept. Raise funds, be busy on your modern ways of Dharma dissemination. Modern ways of social outreach, social interaction.
Do your retreats, have a happy mind. Be harmonious with each other. Make your mind settled and think this is home. Home is in the mind, it’s not a place. So if in your mind you think this is home, it is home, regardless of geography. Do you understand?
Show a good example. The time is coming soon for more good news. Hence it will affect this organisation in a positive way to expand even more, do you understand? Take care of each other. Nurture each other. Take care of each other as if you are blood family.
In regards to building the various proposed plans you have on this land, do your retreats and do not wait from one project to another. Do not wait for your Lama to contact you. The Lama has a reason to wait for you to contact him constantly, for you to create the causes for something to arise by requesting again and again and again. It is said to receive the Dharma, we must make prostrations and offerings and a mandala offering three times officially to our Guru and request three times officially, from the heart, before he will even consent. And the reason is to create the causes to receive the teachings. Do you understand?
So therefore, whatever projects you wish to do on this land, request the Guru humbly, logically. Produce the work quickly. Do not drag, do not wait a long time, do not let your moods come in the way. Do not let your anger come in the way. Do not let your doubts come in the way. Why? None of these qualities benefited you prior to Dharma, and definitely will not benefit you during Dharma.
Most important – keep your relationship, samaya with your Guru clean. What does samaya and relationship mean? A sincere heart. An open heart. Appreciation. As he appreciates you, you should appreciate him and always show great deference. Deference means a special place in your heart, that the relationship with this person is extra-normal, paranormal, extra-worldly, extra-terrestrial.
What does that mean? Not of this world, earth, not of this time, not of this plane. From many lifetimes ago, you must have had a connection with this Lama. Hence you are here again to meet again, to do things again. Some of you have broken your vows and your refuge, and some of you have broken serious vows in your previous lives. The Lama knows, hence he keeps you close by and near by him.
The reason for the mind to fluctuate is the broken promises you’ve made in your previous lives, especially in relations to serious vows. Therefore when you break your relationship, therefore when you break your vows, therefore when you break your relationship with the Three Jewels in such a way, you come back – because you have done some Dharma – near the lama but in your mind you will be disturbed and it goes up and down, up and down, up and down, because of your lack of integrity of holding your vows in your previous life.
Be it you could have been a monk, you could have been a nun, a Bodhisattva, a teacher, an arhat-seeker, a meditator, someone who took refuge – but you carelessly, without any sort of respect, threw your vows away and just indulged, indulged, indulged. That results back in the mind being unsure of this. But having said that, even still you have held the vows for a while, hence you find the Lama again. Do you understand? You have found your Lama again due to finding the vows, but you have your mind go up and down because you broke your vows. Do you understand?
Remedy: your consistent practice. Your retreats that purify. Your continued Dharma work and most important, a good mind, constantly striving to break the comfort zones in order to be of benefit to others through your work. Whatever you need to build here, entreat, request your Lama at another time, appropriately, and have your drawings, have your costs ready. All will come if you make the effort, do you understand?
Continue to build. Take your responsibilities seriously and do not lax. Again, I repeat – all the negative qualities you have did not serve you prior to Dharma. Therefore it will not serve you during Dharma. Therefore eliminate them. All the positive qualities you have prior to Dharma has benefited you. Therefore during Dharma, it will also benefit you so increase your positive qualities that you all have, do you understand?
Build together. Nurture. Help. Reduce the anger. Today, your Lama has come. Many good instructions have been given. You have my support for those instructions. Build with harmony, cooperation, no pettiness. Do you understand?
I will always assist; follow the Buddha’s teachings, I will always assist. Do you understand? I will pray to the Three Jewels for you always.
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