Guru yoga – Lopön Andre Papantonio – 2/21/11

Guru yoga – teaching at Lotus Garden Ngondro program

This is a preview. (laughter) The real movie is in March at the guru yoga program.  Jann and Cathie are just fab teachers. This has been an incredible retreat. Only one of them is here, but we’d like to thank the residents.  [Thanks them by name.]

Again, remember what the proper intention is for any practice period, or giving or hear a talk.  Flash on motivation of radiating bodhichitta and then remember the whole point is to achieve liberation for all sentient beings including ourselves. Keep that in mind instead of gathering knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Also, flash on the lineage- in particular the Mindrolling lineage, in part His Holiness and Her Eminence, and picture the continual flow of blessings from that lineage, and from our guru, even when she is sitting still (which isn’t often).

The thing about guru yoga is we aren’t supplicating Dharmakaya or Sambhogakaya beings, but Nirmanakayas. Padmasambhava was a human being; Khandro Rinpoche is obviously a human being. There is a liveliness coursing through the veins of this lineage that is not abstract – these are actual people who dealt with actual human problem, Khandro Rinpoche tells the stories of growing up and her mistakes.

The image on the bodhichitta talk. This is not a cold lineage. There is warmth- just as we can say the milk of human kindness – analogy of mother music – bodhichitta – the warmth of the lineage- we’ve seen the motherly quality of Khandro Rinpoche, hugging someone scared – we can see it literally and metaphorically. This is not a “cut and dry, do things right” lineage.  Many stories of dealing with someone who on the relative level love us like or parents.

I was down at Liberty University in Lynchburg [at-times controversial Fundamentalist Christian Rev. Jerry Falwell’s school] giving talks on Tibetan Buddhism. They were kind to me. (laughter) The only hint of opposition, of “you got it wrong” was at a Chinese restaurant. One of the theology professors, said, “There appears to be something cold about Buddhism.” They seem to have read something about “the Void”, which is one (older) translation of emptiness.  “We have Jesus- he’s human.”  Andre responded that “we have a relationship with a guru, a living human being.” They talk of walking with Jesus; we are talking about walking with a human being, the whole lineage.

Quote Padmasambhava:

“For all men and women with faith in me, I, Padmasambhava, have never departed. I sleep beside their door.”

Take it metaphorically, it takes it with lively image of being in a retreat cabin, Padmasambhava sleeping right outside the door. I think most of us Americans, refuges from organized western religion, struggle with this.  We don’t want to be theistic about this – an outside savior. But on the other hand, we don’t want to be nihilistic – “he’s just a projection of my mind- he’s dad.”

Khandro Rinpoche has said “you can’t do this yourselves”.   Metaphorically – take it that humility that he is in front of you – “lama khenmo” “lama hear me” – that sense of giving in.  We don’t want to be trapped in theism or nihilism.

Padmasambhava exists as much as Katie Calkins or Ken Rawie exists, which isn’t much. (laughter)  An early dialogue with Khandro Rinpoche in Baltimore. “If you don’t believe in the hell realm, the hell realm is just as real as this human realm.”  “Are we supposed to take it as not see them as solid?” “See them as equal.  Understand more the ephemeral nature of mind creating this realm. “   As much as you and I exist, Padmasambhava exists currently.

Khandro Rinpoche – if the practices that precede guru yoga are weak, then the artificial generated devotion….

He was said to have been born a fully formed 8-year old boy on a lake. We usually see guru as old and wise.  The lineage tells us – new beginning, on the spot in the present moment – metaphor for the youthfulness of wisdom.  Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche explained this as “He was born, and he looked around, and he was inexperienced”. The Beginners mind is wisdom.  The 16 yr old girl mentioned in the  “Downpour of blessings” (guru yoga practice) is about the freshness of new eyes.

As long as we are attached to the relative, until I can give up seeing my friend/lover/buddies/etc. as people outside that will save me, we shouldn’t give up Padmasambhava, guru, Buddha, etc. as helping from the outside.   As long as we see ANYTHING as solid, we should see them as solid, and we should imitate the good qualities of Buddha.

Khandro Rinpoche said, “Once we can see all outside things are actually empty and luminous and have no outside existence, then we can stop supplicating the guru. Until then, we need to supplicate the guru.”

We are cultivating a “flexible vast mind that is pervasive and sees from all directions.” That’s one of the qualities of the Buddha we are trying to cultivate. It’s said only Buddha can see all karmic implications and effects of all things.   When we have aggression, it’s because we can’t see things from all directions, from the point of view of the person we are angry with.

A poster 25 yrs ago at a Friends meeting house had 15-20 photos of children. They looked so innocent. But in small print it said “these are the photographs of child murderers when they were children.”

No room for bias of impartiality – vast enough to understand samsara, and the vast concept and duality arises.”

This is in one of the qualities of Buddha nature we are supplicating to make manifest. It’s the same as the milk of human kindness.

One more comment about analogy of hunter hunting musk deer – improper way to approach teacher or teachings. “I’ll pay my 500 and take something away.”  Remember in order to get the musk gland; you have to kill the deer.   That means you would be metaphorically using/killing the guru.

Khandro Rinpoche says it feels too much like a commercial exchange. We should move to acting like patrons to cover electricity, food, etc. It’s not about money, but about our attitude to our guru. Let’s not use her up. Let’s see her as a human being that gets jet lag, gets hungry, who sits for hours and never takes a bathroom break. We complained about heat during teachings, but she was higher where it was hotter and didn’t complain.

We don’t want to kill the musk deer, out of respect for lineage and out of respect for the human being with many responsibilities. She doesn’t live to keep us happy, she lives to make all sentient beings happy.

Judy- when we look at the guru as the human that will be the example and the vehicle for us to experience our own Buddha nature – what she has that is so rare is the teachings and her embodiment of the teachings. What we can do – what is most exquisite and rare- if we make the environment one in which teachings can happen, is good. If we can travel so she doesn’t have to.

“Musk deer.” (laughter)

It is about experiencing the mind of the guru and your mind as one. We do that in lots of ways, and the Guru yoga is all about that too. If it’s that you act in more service so she can teach more, you do. Guru yoga is all about mingling minds like water to water, space to space.  It’s about decreasing obstacles to that.

Many of us wouldn’t believe these qualities are possible for humans if we hadn’t seen them manifested in a human being in Khandro Rinpoche.  We have all been blown away by some aspects. The more we purify the more qualities we will see and will recognize as our own too.

Patrul Rinpoche: “your complete surrender to the wisdom nature embodied in the teacher permits you to have direct communication with that wisdom.  Without this process of surrender, there can be no letting go of ego-clinging.”

The surrender of ego-clinging is most vivid and explicit in guru yoga.  That’s why teachers all the way back have said there is no quicker path to get you to realize your own Buddha nature.

In this guru yoga, the field of merit is the refuge tree. By now, you have a very rich/beautiful refuge tree.  The distinguishing thing of this refuge tree is the lineage. Make it a crowd of everyone you relate to. find the stories of everyone in that lineage- you want to relate to them – because of what they did, you got these teachings.

Sometimes, I visualize Khandro Rinpoche, her teacher (His Holiness Mindrolling Trinchen Rinpoche), then his teacher, then his, then their brothers, their other gurus, etc.  If you know something about His Holiness Mindrolling Trinchen Rinpoche, he is there.  If you have studied Yeshe Tsogyal, put her there.  She made the termas possible. Put Terdak Lingpa, Lochen Dharmashri.  Nagajuna, who wrote  the ‘exorcism” we recite after the Heart Sutra.  Shariputra. Of course Buddha himself.

7 branch offering

Recite the 7 branch offering. Every morning we have done the very long 7-branch.

1)      Offering of prostrations – is the antidote to arrogance.

2)      Offerings – is the antidote to grasping and attachment.

3)      Confession  – is the antidote to anger.

4)      Rejoicing in the accomplishment of others – is the antidote to jealousy.

5)      Requesting the teachings – is the antidote to ignorance.

6)      Supplicating the gurus to remain and continue to turn the wheel  of dharma – is the antidote to wrong view.

7)      Dedicating the merit so there actions are never lost, are never solidified- it’s Andre’s moisture – Andre’s river of merit.(laughter)  His Holiness Mindrolling Trinchen Rinpoche said Andre would be the first of the students at Lotus Garden to get enlightened. (laughter)


Then recite the 7-line supplication as much as one wants. Then recite the guru Rinpoche mantra. It is Padmasambhava‘s heart. When you recite that, you are sitting in his heart. That is the accumulation.


Then the empowerments. white Om – comes right into you – where you start experiencing body, speech and mind of the guru.  Red AH – Blue Hum – exactly the same as Downpour of Blessings.

Then all 3 together. The dissolution is where the guru explodes into light, which descends into the crown of our heads into our hearts, and then we explode into light, and that light brings all sentient beings to enlightenment.

Khandro Rinpoche said “you are now the vessel for these practices that came from Vajradhara to you.”

Now it is my time.  Manifest the teachings, your awakened nature.  Now is the time to not make those sentient beings wait one more minute for your enlightenment.”

Andre:  Padmasambhava is sleeping outside our door. Like it says in the lines from the Sampa Drupa (long prayer to Guru Rinpoche):   “He arrives on the rays of the morning sun. “   Use meteorological events as reminders.  I did a long retreat in Nova Scotia. In the snowfall, I saw the snow as the blessings of Trungpa Rinpoche coming down.

When you walk out, you will be hit by a fresh breeze. Think of it as  Padmasambhava waiting there to wake us up.  Getting hit by the cold, think of it as Padmasambhava coming on breath of the wind.

The 16th Karmapa said “I’ve met you before, and I will never forget you.”  We view the gurus as being like parents. Practitioners.


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