Likewise, all the commentaries which explained the dharma available at the time, authored by Indian masters, were translated into Tibetan. Through these efforts, all the teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni which include the view, the path of meditation and the fruition of realization spread and disseminated. This enabled Buddhist to practice the spoken words of the Buddha. One learns about the pure dharma, and afterward deeply contemplates its meaning and understands it.

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Gyalton Rinpoche Calling the Lama from Afar What we presently call Buddhism arose out of India; the Buddha Shakyamuni originally taught there and his dharma teachings spread from there. This was due to inviting skilful translators, teachers and other accomplished beings. Likewise, all the commentaries which explain the dharma available at the time, authored by Indian masters, were translated into Tibetan. Through these efforts, all the teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni which include the view, the path of meditation and the fruition of realization spread and disseminated.

This enabled Buddhist to practice the spoken words of the Buddha. One learns about the pure dharma, and afterward deeply contemplates its meaning and understands it. This is accomplished through years of meticulous study, so that an extensive understanding is acquired. Through this method, confidence is developed in the dharma. The other possible way is to have deep conviction in the most important points of the dharma; one understands and follows the basic teachings of the Buddha without failure.

One is not ignorant or blindly following the dharma, since we must understand the teachings accurately. However, the practitioner does not go too deeply into study and contemplation regarding the teachings. Instead, one has confidence and turns towards meditation practice. It is then through meditation practice and actual experience that one develops all the inner understanding and knowledge of the dharma.

Now, what is the connection or commonality that these two specific ways to practice, from which we choose between, have? They both aim at enabling the practitioner to understand the Buddhist view of the world and reality; this view is that the mind should develop true awareness.

Even when studying, a Buddhist should not be attached to the mere words themselves. The Buddha said, "Do not be attached to the words themselves, but trust and understand the true, inner meaning.

For example, the principle insight gained by a Buddhist on the path is that worldly life and goals do not achieve anything ultimately; they have no real meaning.

It becomes useless. Therefore, one must hold onto this awareness for more than a fleeting moment. We should recognize the true nature of our actions.

Awareness is helpful to still all the disturbing emotions, it is the basis for all practice and good-doing. In Tibetan, we say meditation is not merely just sitting down, it is not just meditation.

When we practice meditation, one can focus the mind on different objects. But, this is not really the goal of meditation. The point is what develops out of this single-pointed concentration of the mind, which is the basis of awareness integrated into our own experience. So, meditation is not only just a phase of sitting down and meditating, it is really about using awareness everyday, every moment. Usually our awareness is disturbed and becomes uncontrolled due to distractions created by the five sense organs.

Once awareness is there, distraction cannot be spoken of. True meditation is not merely sitting or concentrating on something special, that is just the method to develop the real practice of holding onto awareness. Once this true meditation is there, one realizes that out of our mind or consciousness a continuous stream of thoughts emerge. Through awareness, one comes to carefully study the consciousness.

We see directly that it is emptiness; one cannot find it or hold on any aspect or thought! Through awareness, one sees the different thoughts going and coming, one recognizes the clarity of the mind this way. Emptiness and clarity are the clear aspects of the mind or consciousness. If there is this clarity and emptiness, there should not be any fault in the mind.

But, then, how does confusion arise? Confusion arises when one does not know or understand what the clear aspect of the mind is about. One runs after thoughts and tries to possess them, one attempts to describe the mind with words and expressions, and gets stuck on ideas and beliefs; this is what brings forth real confusion!

Awareness must then be counted on; it is needed so that the clear aspect is fully seen, so that the practitioner does not run after the notional process which ends in confusion. Awareness leads to seeing the clarity and emptiness of the mind. What leads to this awareness and understanding? First we study, and then contemplate the teachings, and then meditate; we rely on these methods to accomplish our task of gaining true awareness.

However, this entire task of gaining awareness has preconditions. To develop this sort of wisdom, one needs a spiritual friend. The need for a spiritual friend has different meanings within the Three Vehicles yanas of Buddhism; the role of the spiritual friend is different for the various lineages and vehicles of Buddhism. In the Mahayana, the spiritual friend should not just merely understand the words; he or she should have integrated the teachings into his life.

For Mahayana practitioners, the spiritual friend should be at least a Bodhisattva, a noble being who can be a role model in every situation. One does not just simply see the spiritual friend as the Buddha, but develops deep respect and devotion, and treats him like he really is the Buddha. The spiritual friend then does not just repeat the words of the Buddhadharma.

He guides the practitioner through all his appearances, words and expressions. There are many people who explain the dharma only with words, they use many, many words. In the beginning of such a relationship, the practitioner should develop a deep sense of devotion and respect towards all his actions.

His actions guide our mind to understanding and to a positive state; his actions liberate our consciousness. We deeply trust the guru, knowing that all of his actions guide us the right way. One must not simply have trust in the root guru as a thought, this must spontaneously arise from inside oneself.

Devotion is not imagined! It never changes, it is stable, it stays within you. Once this is developed, there is a true sense of devotion and confidence that arises spontaneously. There is an example I will give now, right from Buddhist history, about developing the correct view towards the root guru; the example is from the relationship of Naropa and Marpa.

Marpa Lotsawa, from Tibet, sat in front of his teacher, the Indian pandita Naropa. So, Hevajra appeared to the right side of Naropa.

Then, Naropa asked Marpa to make prostrations. Marpa, now, had to make a choice who to prostrate to. Since Hevajra was so special, and seeing the deity in front of him was so rare, Marpa decided he would prostrate to Hevajra instead of Naropa. The root guru is the source of all inspiration; everything else is simply the manifestation and activity of the guru and his teaching.

Hevajra and all rest of the dharma are manifestations of the root guru. Without the root guru, dharma activity and manifestations would not exist. Out of this understanding, based on the relationship of Naropa and Marpa, did the Kagyu Tradition develop.

This example from the relationship of Naropa and Marpa was meant to bring understanding: one must trust and have confidence in the activity of the Lama. The Lama and the Buddha are inseparably connected; they are indistinguishable! At the moment Hevajra appeared, true conviction and respect spontaneously arose out of Marpa. This spontaneous and unchanging devotion must come out from inside, it is what makes the activity of the teacher special.

This devotion is what makes Vajrayana special and expedient. Meditation which allows us to liberate our mind is not something one learns in some special way, one achieves through a special efforts or becomes. Meditation is developed naturally in the mind and should accompany the practitioner all the time. For awareness to develop, the teacher is needed; his or her guidance and inspiration is of such great important.

Practice is the way one works to develop devotion to the guru. Once realization is gained, the student will understand that there is no such thing as calling the Lama from afar. The Lama is understood to be the Buddha. The guru appears in different forms, mainly three ones which are the symbolic guru, the real guru and the dharma guru the mind or essence of the guru which is the entire dharma. It is all-pervading.

So, in the mind of the Lama these three aspects of the Buddha are completely there. There is nothing in which the mind of the Lama does not pervade, all the appearances of the teacher are there.

This is why the student must call the Lama from afar. The mind of the Lama is not different from our own in its ultimate essence or clear aspect. But since we have, from time without beginning, wandered in samsara and circled through endless rebirths, we call upon the Lama.

That is the reason why we call the Lama from afar. This is the real meaning of calling the Lama from afar. Specific practices of Guru Yoga are given by lineage teachers to the students. When we talk about emptiness, it is very theoretical. So, can space be used as a metaphor for emptiness? His Eminence: Space can be used as an example.

Space, like emptiness, is all pervading. Everything emerges out of the empty nature of the mind, just like space. His Eminence: One comes out of emptiness and one disappears into emptiness, yes it is like this. The personal feeling and imagination of a self develops due to not knowing that one comes out of emptiness. Calling the Lama from Afar Lama, think of me.

Glorious Lama dispelling the darkness of ignorance; Glorious Lama revealing the path of liberation; Glorious Lama liberating from the waters of cyclic existence; Glorious Lama dispelling the diseases of the five poisons; Glorious Lama, wish-fulfilling gem.


Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye



Calling the Guru from Afar






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