Author Topic: What is the purpose of a Lama?  (Read 27581 times)

Damian.D

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What is the purpose of a Lama?
« on: July 23, 2011, 04:32:17 PM »
To teach the Dharma,
To subdue the students minds so that Dharma can go in,
To be forever on the lookout for any opportunity to share Dharma that minds may be transformed,
To continually look for ways to purify Karma, create merits, and soften a persons mind,
To make Dharma grow with a large scope in mind,
To be the devils advocate,
To tell it like it is,
To show you love and compassion,
To show wrath, and forbearance,
To scold, coerce, cajole,
To mould, meld, and construct,
To be a protector,
To let you fall,
To build you up,
To show you the workings of your mind,
To be an example of all our potentials,
To show us the way

What other things would you add to this list, those of you who have a Guru, such a big expectation to live up to, all created in the minds of the students at large...

dondrup

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2011, 06:56:49 PM »
What other things would you add to this list, those of you who have a Guru, such a big expectation to live up to, all created in the minds of the students at large...

A lama is the outer guru who acts as the mirror that reflects the inner guru in us.
A lama is the source of all our realisations of Dharma and the basis of the path.

There are four kinds of lamas in Tibetan Buddhism:

A lama is the individual teacher who is the holder of the lineage
A lama is the teacher which is the word of the buddhas
A lama is the symbolic teacher of all appearances
A lama is the absolute teacher, which is rigpa, the true nature of mind

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2011, 04:21:44 AM »
Wow ! Its a challenge to think of anything that has not been mentioned here already. I close my eyes and immediately this thought came out . A Guru/Lama is someone who cares more for us than ourselves. He will never give up on us to reveal all there is to know.  He sees to it that we are walking correctly along the path and will remain with us lifetime after lifetime  until we can control our own karma and firmly heading towards liberation and enlightenment. Hence we can say our Lama/Guru is the perfect Refuge we need.

Big Uncle

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2011, 05:44:39 AM »
Lama in Tibetan is a contraction of the phrase 'Lama Maypa', which translates as 'One Without Fault'. That does not necessary mean that the Lama is without fault as he is human but for us to train in our perception of him as without fault. This is the fundamental practice of Tantra in relations to our Lama. When we are able to perfect this practice, we achieve the highest form of perception that our Lama is the direct embodiment of Vajradhara. This practice of course transcends the realm of mere words and into actual every day practice of how we maintain our samaya, which is a key indication of how we regard our Lama. It is not the amount of offerings we give or the amount of praises we sing of our Lama but our real practice that holds the key to this - our success in the practice of Tantra.

The equivalent of Lama in Sanskrit is Guru, which is a contraction of 'Guna Ruchi' and this translates as a collection of spiritual attainments. The Guru is the exemplar of spiritual attainments, whether we have are at the level to witness this or not. We can however, look at his Gurus and see what sort of lineage is being passed down. It is said by Patrul Rinpoche in his amazing classic, Words of My Perfect Teacher that our practice should be like logs of scentless wood that surround sweet-smelling Sandalwood trees and soak its sweet fragrance over time. What Patrul Rinpoche is saying is that we should be close, not necessary in proximity but in heart. We soak all of the teachings and good qualities that the Guru exemplifies so we eventually gain the same spiritual attainments or at least hold onto our sacred vows in doing so.

Damian.D

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2011, 03:56:39 PM »
That's pretty deep @Big Uncle, but I think I can grasp what your saying to view a perfect Lama through the human faults, to soak up the qualities and teachings of the Lama whether near or far will change our practice from perceptual to a sort of "knowing / faith" and this is what will propel our practice further.

Distance in the Guru Disciple relationship should not be a concern. I guess this could theoretically transcend life and death.
Something like Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, the original. Guess I am sharing my age here. But Luke always communicates with Obi-Wan from the other side.

Thanks for your insights friend:)

WoselTenzin

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 04:39:51 AM »
All of us have Buddha nature in us and the function/purpose of our Lama is to help us uncover our Buddha nature that lies beneath all our obscuration and find the inner guru within our mind.

The Lama teaches us the Dharma, guide us, give us advice and many other methods of practice so that we can eventually gain realization of the Dharma. When this happens, we have found the inner guru within our mind and that would be the guiding light for us even when our Lama is no longer around. 

Therefore, the purpose of a Lama or an outer guru is to help us find our inner guru so that we can eventually be able to protect ourselves with our realization of Dharma and be independent of him.



Big Uncle

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 02:49:51 PM »
That's pretty deep @Big Uncle, but I think I can grasp what your saying to view a perfect Lama through the human faults, to soak up the qualities and teachings of the Lama whether near or far will change our practice from perceptual to a sort of "knowing / faith" and this is what will propel our practice further.

Distance in the Guru Disciple relationship should not be a concern. I guess this could theoretically transcend life and death.
Something like Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, the original. Guess I am sharing my age here. But Luke always communicates with Obi-Wan from the other side.

Thanks for your insights friend:)

Yes, you are right. The Guru doesn't need to be near us or even alive to benefit us. If we have strong Guru devotion and samaya, our Guru can help us to take rebirth by just focussing on him and relying upon him as we always had when he was alive. The blessings of our Lama would help us to take a pleasant rebirth or ascension into the pure realm of our Yidam. It would almost seem like opening a door and walking into a nice home.

Therefore, my point is that the Guru need not be alive or physically near us to benefit us. It is our own practice of Guru devotion and pure samaya that would propel us towards our next rebirth. However, to ensure that we not take another 'good' rebirth in Samsara, there is the practice of Powa or mind transference that is designed by great Lamas and great saints of the past to propel or eject our mind stream into a pure realm. However, most powa practices shorten our lives except for a few. The dissolution part of Gaden Lhagyalma where we dissolve Lama Tsongkhapa into our hearts while visualizing a trail of clouds all the way to Maitreya is a powa visualisation that anyone can do regularly without requirements or initiation. In fact, if we perfect this practice, it will be of tremendous benefit and power to help us to take rebirth amidst the very ranks of students of Maitreya in Tushita.

Reena Searl

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2011, 05:53:36 PM »


Follow Lama's instruction without doubts.
Treat Lama as living buddha
Offer Lama our mind transformation as best offerings
Practice gratitude as Lama said
Conquer fear as Lama advice

So important,  and precious to have a lama in this human life !



iloveds

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2011, 09:08:16 PM »
@Reena....

FEAR is a MIND KILLER

[-|-]

(c_*)

Helena

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2011, 09:34:19 PM »
To quote a famous book - A Lama is the most dangerous friend.

From "Dangerous Friend" - The Teacher-Student Relationship in Varjayana Buddhism by Rig'dzin Dorje

Page 13 -

"The Lama is the ecstatic, wild, and gentle figure who short-circuits your systems of self-referencing. The Lama is the only person in your life who cannot be manipulated. The Lama is the invasion of unpredictability you allow into your life, to enable you to cut through the convolutions of interminable psychological and emotional processes. The Lama is the terrifyingly compassionate gamester who re-shuffles the deck of your carefully arranged rationale." 

Page 12 -

"The vajra master is dangerous in the sense of the danger a vacuum cleaner poses to a carpet, or that a bath poses to body odour. The Lama is dangerous to our dualistic conceptions - but beyond that, he or she is the compassionate surgeon who saves our lives. The surgeon's knife cuts us open - but if there's a cancer to be removed, then the operation is to be welcomed." 

As Milarepa said, "The day that I recognised my teacher as a Buddha, that was when I understood the nature of my own mind."
Helena

WoselTenzin

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2011, 04:42:42 AM »
To quote a famous book - A Lama is the most dangerous friend.

From "Dangerous Friend" - The Teacher-Student Relationship in Varjayana Buddhism by Rig'dzin Dorje

Page 13 -

"The Lama is the ecstatic, wild, and gentle figure who short-circuits your systems of self-referencing. The Lama is the only person in your life who cannot be manipulated. The Lama is the invasion of unpredictability you allow into your life, to enable you to cut through the convolutions of interminable psychological and emotional processes. The Lama is the terrifyingly compassionate gamester who re-shuffles the deck of your carefully arranged rationale." 


The title of this book,"Dangerous Friend"  is interesting enough but upon contemplation it does make a lot sense.

Why a friend? It is because a real friend is someone that cares for your well being and your happiness now and in the future and will do whatever it takes to ensure that.

Why dangerous? We all have a formless system of self referencing within us which propels our actions of body, speech and mind.  This referencing system have existed since beginningless time and have evolved over our past life times up to our current life depending on the actions, karma and imprint we have created.  This self referencing system most of the time is highly defective resulting in defective actions of body, speech and mind that arise from it causing mulititude sufferings for us.  The function of a lama is to revamp this self referencing system. When the Lama does this, it challenges the norm and the comfort zone within us.  Our defense mechanism instantly see it as a threat and dangerous. 

However, this is a mistaken perception.  This mistaken perception can only be overcome only we have pure faith in the Lama. We must believe that his only intention to correct this highly defective self referencing system so that we do not continue to act out of our defective beliefs and views and create more sufferings for ourselves just as a doctor's intention to do an operation on a patient is to remove the death causing cancer from him.
 
Hence, in my opinion, the term dangerous friend refers to a Lama that does whatever it takes out of compassion to "cure" a student from his/her "mental illness" even if by doing so the student will see him as "dangerous".


Positive Change

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2011, 10:11:56 AM »
I have gone through/am still going through a lot of personal obstacles and one thing I was just reminded very recently by a dear friend and Dharma sister answers this question without a doubt!

The purpose of our Lama - in this case I am taking it in context of the Lama being my Guru of whom I have taken refuge, is very simply our guiding light in this often dark and deluded existence. Our Lama/Guru has ONLY our best intentions in mind, If we recognise this and trust and have faith in our Lama, no obstacle or hurdle is too large to leap over...

Sure at times our fear gets the better of us when we see a mountain right in front of us and we are going full speed ahead with no brakes... and we think to ourselves "how the hell do i leap over this - help or no help?" It is only human to feel that real sense of fear and doubt. However we need to realise what is manifesting before our eyes is our own doing (through our many many many years of negative karma ripening) and with the help of our Lama we CAN and WILL get past it.

As an analogy:

Perhaps the mountain maybe too large to move and we are going to hit that mountain if we do not stop in time. Perhaps our perception or ideals of what we want to happen may not happen. Perhaps the only way to stop is to trip and fall flat on our face. Better than smashing into the face of the mountain. The lesser of two evils so to speak. Guess who was the one that tripped us? Our Lama? :) I know I know, sounds like a Brothers Grimm story but life is not always a bed of roses.

The analogy I am sharing above could be seen in a spiritual sense as a form of purification but to our limited and deluded minds it seems like the sky is falling down! The past week or so has made me look on the brighter side of things whether or not it "seems" brighter at the moment. Only in hindsight may we look back on it and say "hey, I was darn lucky!"

On that note, with my Lama/Guru's guidance, I am looking forward to looking back on these obstacles of mine and know for a fact without a doubt what I can only hope and trust in my heart at the moment!

iloveds

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2011, 10:24:08 AM »
My lama mentioned to a few of us students not so long ago. That through the Guru we can create soo much more merit than on our own. And that by having a Guru we have a chance to benefit soo many people. The Guru's job is to benefit people, and if we help the Guru to do his work then we too collect the merits from the many different projects a Guru may have on at any one time.

The Lama / Guru, will have the resources and people to make projects manifest. Can you imagine trying on your own from scratch say building a monatery or a chapel for the

kris

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2011, 07:13:23 AM »
From a Theravada background, it is quite something to absorb to for Vajrayana, and one of the special things for Vajrayana is Guru/Lama. The other day my Guru told me something about helping others, and I am so touched, and started tearing. Then my Guru/Lama said I may have made aspiration in my previous life to help others, and when He talked about it, I felt touch and started tearing.

He said I have the imprint in me, but it is just a seed. The job of a Guru is to keep pouring water onto the seed and make it grow. I thought to myself, "Wow!"

Having and Lama/Guru is really a very special privilege, He can point things out so fast to help us to walk the path much faster!

DSFriend

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Re: What is the purpose of a Lama?
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2011, 08:26:58 AM »
I remember growing up, there were some teachers whom i was afraid of and some i was pretty fond of and established a friendship which lasted way past high school till today. I did better in the classes with teachers whom I was fond off. To think back, was it because i was being selective and didn't like the subject or could the teacher have helped to make a difference in my mind. Some of my friends did better or just as well in classes with teachers from hell or heaven!

The qualities or skills of a lama as most of you have already listed out are multi faceted, just like a diamond and is so hard to find. Driven by compassion, a lama embodies wisdom which enables him/her to apply various skillful ways to show us and cultivate our own potentials,..be it wrathful, gentle, etc.

Due to our deluded minds, we may not ALWAYS see our lama as described ie., kind, compassionate, patient eventhough it's for the best intentions towards us.

The first step we could learn to cultivate a most beneficial relationship with having a lama is by reading the 50 stanzas of Guru Devotion by Ashvagosha http://viewonbuddhism.org/resources/50_verses_guru_devotion.html It's not something we can immediately apply to our lives, but something to work on each day.

The question at the end of the day to ask ourselves is this -- > Is graduating with flying colors and reaching our goals more important than our likes and dislikes towards our classmates and our teachers, our dharma brothers and sisters and our lama?