The Inner Guru, the Eastern and Western Guru

December 16th

Today we continued with the empowerments for practices related to the inner guru. Before I got to Orissa, I thought these practices would all be guru yogas—meditations where one visualizes the form of the teacher, such as Padmasambhava , and supplicates them for blessings. Such practices help increase the stability of the mind, along with opening one up to the qualities of the teacher, which in turn brings out one’s natural appreciation and devotion.

However, I have been surprised to see how many practices in the guru section of the Rinchen Terdzo are not guru yogas. There have been many yidam and protector practices bestowed on us within this section as well. Last night I learned that in these cases the yidam practices are written from the point of view of guru yoga; here the yidam is considered expressly as an aspect of Padmasambhava. Thus, the mantras for the yidams all have the mantras of Padmasambhava woven into them.

I’m starting to realize that the ordering of the Rinchen Terdzo isn’t simply a big list or a bunch of bins to pick things out from. The ordering of the entire treasury of empowerments, pointing out instructions, and reading transmissions is in itself a major teaching on the evolution of how to practice, moving from the most important thing, the teacher, and going out to the practices which rely more and more on confidence in one’s own buddha nature, or basic goodness, and finally into practices that recognize goodness as being immovably present in the world. I think this is another reason why giving and receiving the transmissions of the Rinchen Terdzo is such a big deal for lineage holders. It is a direct and subtle, deep and wide-ranging presentation of the path.

When I reflect on this and some conversations I have had with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche here in Orissa, I can better see why he is receiving the Rinchen Terdzo. While he is very much a part of our Western heritage, he is also a part of the East’s. Even without his recognition as the rebirth of Mipham, one of the most important lamas in the Nyingma lineage, he is the son and lineage heir of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It was inevitable that the Sakyong return to Surmang Monastery, his father’s seat in Tibet and begin to offer whatever is necessary for the people there in his role as a traditional teacher; the hopes and expectations of him are very great. By receiving the Rinchen Terdzo, the Sakyong will be able to give whatever transmissions are requested of him when he is in Asia, and people will have confidence in him based on knowing that he upholds all the lineages of the Rinchen Terdzo.

For the West (and the East), the Sakyong is receiving a big part of what made his father who he was. In Born In Tibet Trungpa Rinpoche explains that the Rinchen Terdzo contains all the wisdom his guru received from the 10th Trungpa. Somehow the last living person able to pass that lineage on to the Sakyong is doing that here in Orissa today. For the Sakong this is a chance to absorb more of what made the Vidyadhara who he was in order to pass that on both to his students and to the next Sakyong.

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