Translator, Author, and Buddhist Teacher, Erik Pema Kunsang has provided important clarifications on the meaning of root guru, the nature of mind, and samaya in his article, Club Nondualité.
First, Kunsang clarifies that a root guru is not automatically the teacher who gives you refuge. He further explains that a root guru is not necessarily a teacher from whom you’ve received an empowerment or even the introduction to the nature of mind, if it has been given in a large crowd.
Kunsang spells out the meaning of root guru in this way:
“The word root guru has a sacred meaning, that my teachers define in a very specific way: the person who not only tries, but succeeds in bringing about a complete change in your mind to such an extent that the grip of duality is loosened and that the nature of mind is totally laid bare in its naked state and can be accessed whenever remembered for the rest of your life.”
Kunsang goes on to warn that you could be training in the thoughtfree state of the all-groud if the introduction has not been properly introduced and authenticated.
“Patrul Rinpoche wrote 150 years ago, that there are many Dharma teachers who point out the thoughtfree state of the all-ground as being the nondual nature of mind, and that is why people who believe it may train ten, twenty, thirty years without becoming stable in nonduality. Why? They have instead trained in the very basis for dualistic mind.”
He emphasizes that non-dual mind must be authenticated by a teacher after the introduction has taken place.
While people may go about claiming to be a “nonduality person,” the real test, he points out, takes place when negative emotions come along.
“The smugness and false security of being a nonduality person is exposed the very next time one of the five toxic emotions hijacks your mind. A genuine knowing of nonduality does not wallow in dualistic emotions, be it aggression or self-pity.”
With regard to samaya, the sacred bond between student and teacher, he says:
“Within the Buddhist Vajrayana context, how can there be a samaya bond to a root guru, if you haven’t yet found the true nature of mind?”
Sogyal Rinpoche has said on many occasions that he gives us a “glimpse” of the nature of mind, when he introduces in a large gathering. In that context, he’s not necessarily giving the fully monty as described by Kunsang.
Be sure to read Kunsang’s full post Club Nondualité here. He also shares a great story about seeing your teacher as perfect, and how that was not even possible for the great yogi Milarepa while he was studying with Gampopa.
What did you learn from reading Erik Pema Kunsang’s article? We would love to hear in the comments.
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