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Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel Lerab Ling, 9 May 2009 20 minutes Today's topic is on guru devotion, and which is really a hard topic and a very, very challenging topic. Eh, and I really appreciate Sogyal Rinpoche for asking me to teach on this topic. [Elizabeth and the assembly laugh] Em, it's interesting how it works, you know. You don't necessarily ask for it, but the teacher gives you what you want, eh, what you need, let's say, [Elizabeth laughs] more accurately. Em, and I felt, eh, very appreciative, em, towards Sogyal Rinpoche for asking me. And I'm sure he didn't necessarily wanted to challenge me, em, he probably thought this would be a great topic for you, but it was a very challenging and inspiring topic, em, for me, and it helped me a lot just to think about it. Needless to say I think you're all extremely fortunate to have Sogyal Rinpoche as a teacher. Em, it's very much an understatement to say that Sogyal Rinpoche is very passionate about the Dharma [Elizabeth and the assembly laugh]. He is two hundred percent and, em, this temple and all of you being here is very much a testimony to the kind of teacher that he is. And I think back, em, on the first time that I met Rinpoche, and I was living at, eh, Kongtrul Rinpoche and I were living around, you know, the, eh, big Stupa of Bodhanath, and there is this, there is khorwa, you know, the place we do the circumambulation and there is this row of houses, you know, round circle of houses. So we lived in one of these houses, and, it was an old Newari [check] house. And so it's made of mud. And, eh, has these big arched windows but no glass, so is, there no separation between outside and inside basically. So very noisy around the Stupa. And so, Rinpoche was in Tibet at the time, and I did, I used to do my morning practice and then I have a couple of hours before I had to head off to the work, and I would just sit at that window and look out at the Stupa. And one morning, I looked out and there was a man, not a, a small man, with yellow robes—guess who [the assembly laughs]—and he was vigourously walking around [Elizabeth and the assembly laugh] the kind of upper part of the Stupa, and in back of him were about forty students [the assembly laughs] trying to keep up. [The assembly laughs] And, em, [Elizabeth laughs] you understand what I'm saying. [Elizabeth and the assembly laugh] You can see it, I'm sure. And, em, I just thought, you can see its kind of joy and enthusiasm and love for this place and the Dharma. And I thought: “Who is this?” [The assembly laughs] And of course, I later found out, and that's the first time I met Rinpoche in Nepal up in Nagi Gompa. Em, but that's the image I have, the first meeting and I, and I still, eh, when I think of Rinpoche, I think of that kind of passion and enthusiasm, I mean, it's just so contagious actually, obviously. [Elizabeth laughs] There's a lots of students here. Em, so I can say this a very, eh, challenging topic, a hard topic, and very personal, em. And I don't know about you, but when I think of my teacher, I feel a lot of appreciation and warmth, a little bit of sadness, em, love, some
Home Retreat Transmission—Week 175 These are restricted transcripts—please respect this and do not share the transcripts electronically or print them out for students.
you know. my teacher is very much an open question. um. So.. I experience him in a much fuller way. sometimes I kick up. [Elizabeth laughs] but. I don't think I can tell you. and it's interesting talking about these challenges. you know. I've often been the one who asked the questions that everyone else dares not ask. And when I see him in this way. stirs things up a little bit to provoke. I was very eager too serve in the right way. 2 . So for me I think. this is how she really is!” [The assembly laughs] But now everybody knows.. [Elizabeth chuckles] But if you were to ask me who or what my teacher is. It's like when I. and sometimes I got very frustrated and I interpreted my frustration as a lack of devotion. Em. people know how to relate to the teacher and it's not questioned much and it's a part of the culture. I love Rinpoche and I love the teachings. Um. eh. these kinds of challenges with the teacher—and I'm talking about more in the West. it's a given. I think these challenges are very important to talk about and very interesting. you know. a big question.. you know. Home Retreat Transmission—Week 175 These are restricted transcripts—please respect this and do not share the transcripts electronically or print them out for students. that gets everything all. two very. In the East it's very natural. you know. when we are in a public situation and I have a. when you're twenty-three you don't know what a husband is or what a. what do you do with all these moods. he always says: “See. you know. And then on top of that. and because of that. I mean it's. ways of communicating that are so different. you know. I always am the one who has too many questions. I wanted to be a good wife. [Elizabeth chuckles] all at the same time. from your own? This is. But. But quite good at it maybe being honest. and I fumbled around a lot because I was the only one. you know—what does this mean?! [The assembly laughs] And then on top of that. very different cultures. Em. you know. but I didn't necessarily always know how. so. other challenges. you know. sometimes some frustration. eh. I never mean to be indignant in any way. I completely lose him. when we met he was twenty-one and I was twenty-three. when I try to pin down who he is. [Elizabeth laughs] you know. but I'm not always so getting being good. and you know. And. and I wasn't quite sure what I was doing. rather than trying to decide or come to a conclusion as to who he is. and I'm a. Um. When you're twenty-three. em. so Rinpoche often teases me. you know as Rinpoche's first student. [Elizabeth laughs] But anyways I felt very challenged about my relation. eh.Understanding the Student Teacher Relationship. and I've. I had all these questions. you know. so you know. not a lot of people talk about the ch. you know. and I wanted to be a good student. em. we're from very different cultures. you know. you know. you know. I see him in a much true way and it leads me to a true sense of practice actually. you know. chaotic. you know. what a marriage is about or what it means to be a wife.. Rinpoche's moods and. Kongtrul Rinpoche first student. first he's my teacher and my husband. with my relationship with Rinpoche. Part One loneliness. And then on top of that. Em. obviously for us we have other. Em. you know.
but. Penor Rinpoche once said.. you know. And I actually appreciate that I've been able to be honest. you know. Um. ah. 3 . but I was very open.” What do you do with that?! [The assembly laughs] You Home Retreat Transmission—Week 175 These are restricted transcripts—please respect this and do not share the transcripts electronically or print them out for students. I. the spirit that [I] engaged this with. um. these basic human challenges that make us grow. ah. I think. the challenges that I've had. So he did the divination and then he said: “The mo is not firm. here today. really appreciate them. in. you know. because their teacher asked them to do that. ah. ah. and be very honest and open about it because it's. you know. it's not part of our culture. Sangyums never talk about these things. Ah. kind of. you know. So here I'm left with this open question again. club or like website.” Which means. what we learn in the texts with our own humanness actually. they should really be appreciated. um. these. when our teacher asks us maybe in a very gentle way. Once I went to see.. I mean. how do we reconcile. So. like I've. you know. His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. um. and I. um. And. you know? And so. ah. and we have our own special. I never actually got any advice. in the traditional texts we see things like. or. and throughout my whole. I never got my answer. So. ah. ah. when I was—you know. I wasn't quite sure what I was doing. it's. with our own. I think it.you know [Elizabeth laughs]. wants and not-wants and preferences? You know. you know. I think it means we have things to learn. you can go to. and it's the one and only time he was very stern with me. too. you know. so I asked Rinpoche to do a mo. people jump off cliffs and stick little splinters of wood in their fingernails upon their teacher's request. amongst each other. ah. in the case of Milarepa and Marpa. that's. “I don't want to be some sort of 'poster girl' for the Dharma. I think I'm quite interested in talking about. it's inconclusive. I was thinking back. you know. to follow a teacher in this way—but I don't think that the fact that we have these difficulties means we lack devotion. I really. And these struggles that we have. like. And Rinpoche looked at me very sternly. it's very impressive. I've appreciated my own honesty with these difficulties. you know. I just.” [the assembly laughs] and then we have so much resistance. they. you know. And so it just left me in this. [Elizabeth and the assembly laugh] you know. Um. these challenges. it's like the opportunity part of the whole thing. you know. I got some advice from some teachers. to ask him about this challenge I had with Rinpoche. Part One Um. there's no. we have trust issues and we're not used to.” [Elizabeth and the assembly laugh] you know. [The assembly laughs] But. um. build huge monuments and rip them down and build them up again and they rip them down. obviously there's still [struggles]. and it seems. what do we do with that? It's quite hard to let go of the ego when we have modern challenges—you know. [The assembly laughs] And. um. or like in. “Maybe. you know. all these years with Rinpoche. um. special challenges. you know? When I look at my challenges. let go of the ego just a little bit.Understanding the Student Teacher Relationship. I thought. um. actually. and. I think that we can all appreciate. kind of. these challenges. when I was thinking about what to say. “Never see your teacher as ordinary. kind of. there's still challenges—but when I was younger there were so many struggles around this. you know.
you know. and in the same way. Something that just never brings satisfaction. you know. in this way. how do we see the teacher um. or a perfect buddha. You know. from this point of view. the teacher has a lot to live up to. it's all about fantasy. it changes. is going to be disappointment from this point of view. the fight for survival for the ego. And everything is. Somebody who's. or a.. our emotions are constantly. you know. you know. so when I think about it it's like. but it's all of your koan too. we want him to save us in a way that makes us. Things themselves are just natural and changing. So. you know. the definition of samsara is: “That which doesn't satiate. we think maybe. and we'll never understand what it. which mostly we do. you know. what we don't want.. he can save us or ah. And it's just become like a tool of learning for me. that which is not fixable. nothing. Apple pie and ice cream don't even satisfy us [the assembly laughs]. you know. So it just. we hold on to this idea that we have. you. the way we perceive the teacher. you know. but it's very hard to understand. in some sense this is my koan. You know. we'll always be seeing things in a limited way. this fantasy. it will not get rid of the despair. that. nothing pacifies. Sometimes a monk. much. it's all very cryptic. we have all our idea. [The assembly laughs] So it's a lot to ask of a Home Retreat Transmission—Week 175 These are restricted transcripts—please respect this and do not share the transcripts electronically or print them out for students. Um. then he's bound. they—this is part of the koan—in the Vajrayana they say: “See the teacher as the perfect Buddha.. super hero. we may feel blissy for a minute. samsara is all this confusion. they. Tarte Tatin. you hear things and people give you suggestions and very kindly. all of our preferences. Um. samsara. um. it's so good.. 4 . what we want. and however they are.. not the things themselves. um. that's comfortable for us. So if we're looking at the teacher from this point of view. we enter the spiritual path. what I decided is this is just my koan. we're bound to be disappointed. you know. you know. but it's the way we perceive things. more resolved. So things let us down. but then. you know. so we hold on t. always disappointing. as perfect? You know. This has become. for example a father figure. you know. So. And then. because it has to do with the way we see things. French apple pie. in also not just save us. So. that we have. you know. kind of. what is that? Oh. in one way. You know. doesn't do anything wrong. all there is. but even that [the assembly laughs] will not. And it's still my koan but much. that apple pie. we can. you know. never for a minute. So. So. It's like our relationships are c.Understanding the Student Teacher Relationship. Oh. became my koan. if we perceive the teacher from this ordinary point of view.. Part One know. Even the French one. and meanwhile everything is all shifting and changing. the real question that gets at the kind of underbelly of the whole thing. Ah. there's like.ideas of what we think a teacher should be. you know. there's always a problem. now in the Vajrayana. to fit that image. settling in. all of ego's preferences. And obviously no one was going to tell me.. you know? So I didn't know. you know. it's so good [the assembly laughs].” But how do we see anything as perfect. and so then. when our mind is confused? That's kind of the q. As a student this is a koan: what does it mean to have a teacher? Um. what this idea of perfect buddha means. um.” You know.. So. you know. you know. What does this mean. so. you know.
Part One person. Mila and—you know— Naropa. he's kind of an ordinary guy. but what do we do with all our humanness? You know.Understanding the Student Teacher Relationship. you know? How do we reconcile me with enlightenment? Home Retreat Transmission—Week 175 These are restricted transcripts—please respect this and do not share the transcripts electronically or print them out for students. “Oh. you know. and actually it's really an impossible demand to make of. “What happened to my devotion?” What really happens is that we start to wonder about ourselves. I kind of threatened that I was going to write one on teacher abuse. and we've always talked about this. um so what happens is when our teacher does something. you know. you. it's been quite fascinating for me. “Why can't I see the teacher as a perfect buddha?” Which is a really big dilemma that comes from having a very very small. what do we do with all the dissatisfaction that arises? What do we do with our passion. they don't know. you know. They have this kind of tulku glamour kind of thing going where they wish they were recognized as a tulku and I always think. and I've watched his process. There was a period of time in these kind of Dharma magazines where students were complaining about teachers. some people. kind of. “Where did my devotion go?” You know. I've seen this quite a bit. it's a conceptual perfect. aggression and ignorance. And so then it's like “Oh. we can't maintain this grand and static view and perfect starts to fall apart. I used to tease Rinpoche but I think it would have inflamed things more if. so much passion you couldn't do anything else or. and we start to wonder though. experience perfect. ur. students complain about the teacher. that we don't understand. so much bodhichitta that you couldn't do anything else. um. But so often. Um it's like it's not an. And I used to joke with Rinpoche. ur.. I don't know if you remember? And. very fortunate that these teachers do have this motivation and this kind of vision. you know. But so what I think I'm trying to say is you know when we think of the teacher as a perfect buddha in this ordinary way we just have a very limited um. I told. Oh. anyone or anything.. what do we do with this. about how. to be in this position. and that's very noble. ah. Remember. view of who the teacher is. You know.. Because on one hand we want to be a good practitioner. So I didn't do it but it would have been kind of fun. you know. actually I've. I think. And essentially I think: this is the same dilemma we have with our own mind. “Why can't I be like. you know. So we're very. idea of what that is.” you know? The only way that you would want to do this is if you had like Sogyal Rinpoche. It's not an experience perfect. who would want this actually. you know. You know. a little more stirring up.. you know. because you know I've seen Kongtrul Rinpoche. kind of contrived ur.. “Oh my teacher is so hard on me. um. Otherwise from an ego point of view this would be a living hell. sometimes I thought I was going to. you know. and why can't I be like the examples in the text?” you know. or an image of perfect.” you know. Then we start to fake it a little. you know what I mean. because it's not a perfect way of seeing things.. And I always imagine. what this might be like from a teacher's point of view. You know. it's so hard”. 5 . it's not an experience. we want to be um good. there's a whole wave.
Part One You know. Home Retreat Transmission—Week 175 These are restricted transcripts—please respect this and do not share the transcripts electronically or print them out for students. this is the question. 6 . I just want to clarify that. I think that's what I'm getting at here. this is the.Understanding the Student Teacher Relationship. so I just want. you know please understand that I'm not saying that the teacher is not extraordinary. Um. but I just don't think we can see how the teacher is extraordinary through ordinary way of seeing things.
“Oh great. he'll kind of like hook me like a fish and just pull me out you know. you know. it talks a lot about the relationship between the teacher and student by using the analogy of hook and ring.” Um. in the life story of Milarepa a some. If we. you don't have to change. as a student.” And then he turned to them and he said. You don't have to become the ring. you know kind of gives him a pointed kind of little teaching there and saying. a very profound teaching actually. if I just hang out with the teacher. “Lord of lords. “Fuck you!” Really loud and I thought you know this is ah. 1 . um.Understanding the Student Teacher Relationship. You know someone was doing the same thing to Trungpa Rinpoche and saying. “We could never be how like you are. [Elizabeth chuckles] we have to become a ring. ur. ur.you. you know.” You know. we. But you have to become. and this is a quote. So. So you know I think of a. And Milarepa kind of sings back a song. “Rinpoche will you accept me?” And Khen Rinpoche looked at him and said. You know. you don't have to become. it's up to you. this Milarepa. ur. Kongtrul Rinpoche once told me that he wanted to be a student. We can't attain enlightenment if we don't change. there is an interdependence involved. we have to become. He says. like the teacher is up here and were down here and then something is magically can happen from that.” and he goes on and on. and there's a. 9 May 2009 13 minutes So um. If there is no ring there can't be a. it doesn't challenge us to change you know. “I was a sinful man. Part Two Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel Lerab Ling. and we need to change. ur. Because again you don't have to self reflect. you know. it's up to you. in the Vajrayana. Khenpo Rinpoche as a.” Ur. for the teacher to hook. You know.” [The assembly laughs] It's up to you. so he went to Khen Rinpoche and he asked you know. you've heard this before—um. hook and ring? Um. It's through you know the Dharma and integrating the Dharma that I become like this. “You couldn't have insulted the Dharma more by saying that. you know—I'm sure you may. there's a similar story about. a student um praises him—I'm sure you've all heard this—a student praises and venerates him and “How great you are and how realized you are and how learned you are. Trungpa Rinpoche that's interesting. Like the teacher is the hook. not you.” and all. if we see in that way. hook and ring means interdependence um. But ur. you know. in the. but it doesn't work like that. anything to hook. Something very grand. [The assembly laughs] Because ur. you don't give up your ego. how you keep your commitments and your motivation Home Retreat Transmission—Week 175 These are restricted transcripts—please respect this and do not share the transcripts electronically or print them out for students. “It's not really up to me. ur. [Elisabeth laughs] That would be easier. and I think we can hear this and we can think. You know. of my suffering and my misery. it's very safe to put the teacher on a pedestal and it's very safe you know to have a fantasy. you know we can't really see the teacher as divine. Have you heard that. to be accepted by Khen Rinpoche. you know.
So um. make him an icon of divine. Um. what did he do? You know. so we know where to meet the teacher. I mean the teacher is divine. But he's like the awake one. ur. and this thick.Understanding the Student Teacher Relationship. So in a sense when we look at these great teachers. The buddha had his own koans. passion to see what this was about.. you know. he wants to understand suffering. your sense of self and your ego. but not I think in the way we sometimes. who have grappled with these very important personal. you know. I thought. I don't think we could sail by just looking at the teacher as divine. And um. and had a very deep deep ah. give up your. Um so we need to. how do you live in samsara that. his whole life was about asking questions about the human condition. not too divine for us. He didn't let up for a minute. Part Two and your passion or longing to. you know the teacher is someone who has gone beyond ordinary dualistic mind. because the teacher has actually. you know. teaching. You know. which is. they have the same challenges we have: birth old age sickness and death. this is what is really miraculous. if we look at the life story of the buddha. understands what it means to be human. down here. of the human experience. ur. and he didn't ever turn away from the kind of the fullness of this experience. and the Buddha was really really relentless in the way he asked these questions. you know? How do you reconcile me and enlightenment for example? These where actually. the teacher is fully human. he included suffering as part of his. these were the buddhas koans and these are our koans too. that we can't understand. he. He wants to understand liberation from suffering. he's very passionate. his exploration and his koan. old age sickness and death? You know. How. You know not doing something kind of magical um. Like the. right? Like ur. I'm not sure. what could we learn. we're just actually looking towards people. They. 2 . you know. you know. Um. because he has this kind of passion to see the truth of things. face these basic human challenges? So you know. how do you live in a world where everything dies? How do you find meaning when you're up against. in order.. it was a very interesting um.the teacher is divine. what. but it. You know. you know. and so it's very important to see the value of the teacher in this way. That is like an example of what it means to be Home Retreat Transmission—Week 175 These are restricted transcripts—please respect this and do not share the transcripts electronically or print them out for students. ur. if if the teacher was someone divine and we're down. You know. and this deep interest in this thing that kept him awake. I'm actually. You know. Um. you know. I always love the part of the Buddha's life where. to value what it is about the teacher actually ur. So you know.. kind of questions. life story where. who are grappling. He didn't turn away from suffering. he's in the palace and he's getting ready to leave. um. and I think it's like this kind of passion. I'm always ah. fog descends and everybody gets sleepy and falls asleep. which is by nature unfixable. how would he help us um. um. so he has this deep interest. I think the t. And I'm always. what could such a teacher do for us? You know if the teacher doesn't understand our humanness or understand what were up against as human beings. you know we see. how do we..
ordinarily. doing retreat. it's like. And um. but like fully human. you know. they have this kind of. I've seen so much of his human side. what was the Buddha saying? The first noble truth. a teacher. you know. but we need to be able to behold suffering. “Oh husband and then teacher is. you know. which. or a fault. And you know. really to be able to bear witness. um. He didn't even have a hook. but he. it takes that kind of bravery. if you look at all the great luminaries of the past and present. and that's what I saw my teacher doing. you know we fall asleep in that fog. and understand that. they include suffering. um. they're not trying to live around their life. But. try to ah. we need to be able to behold beauty. you know. they're free at heart. you know.. to the full thing. see it in ourself. So. he's teaching us. you know. not to turn away from ah. really touching me. and to appreciate how the teacher has done that. you know. here we all are. we turn away from. we need to be able to behold all of our experience. You know. basically. and the all. from the kind of the natural vitality of the mind. behold suffering. we can't see this in the teacher. maybe in some ways he did. you know. they have this kind of glimmer of sadness in their eyes. and not to turn away from this incredible vibrancy of wakefulness. and they're full of mirth. all of our humanness. And it's interesting 'cause.. and the natural ah. you know. because I think. but that's actually ends up to be what touched me. and you know. it's really admirable because. he became enlightenment. is kind of a problem. you know. you know.” but actually that it's his humanness that ended up ah. all my teachers really. you know. you know. the suffering and the joy. like a ring. there we. ah. because I've seen. like a disciple really. So. the Buddha really exemplifies in his. And not just suffering.Understanding the Student Teacher Relationship. especially with Kongtrul Rinpoche. this points to a very um. in ourselves. you know these questions. you know. is to be awake to the vibrancy of experience. So. you know. that's what you need to be a ring. and we try to find security and we. when we have fantasies. different way of being. you are all here um. suffering isn't a truth.. I see. but I. Because sometimes we see humanness as a weakness. we objectify things. like. you know. ah. it's following in the Buddha's footsteps. all the great practitioners. when I think about it. I'm not sure how that one worked. Not other than human. and we can't ah. and it's.. you know. All the teachers Home Retreat Transmission—Week 175 These are restricted transcripts—please respect this and do not share the transcripts electronically or print them out for students.. you know I. these are our questions. So. So to stay awake is. they include everything into their experience. I think. you know. glimmer of ah. always this passion to understand this kind of natural way of being.. and. you know. if we have fantasies about how we should be. we. these. You know. when I think about my teacher. although they're. we can't really see this. you know. natural and ordinary. 3 . but with Rinpoche it was like he had so much passion to engage. enlightened but he understood how to be a. the important point is. but that. if you think of the Buddha's teachings. Part Two a ring. I started to understand that the point of waking up is to be fully human. you know. you know. You know. which is what we do. his story. ah. We can 't see our full humanness. richness of our mind. I thought. And it was. So.
but being fully human. we can. to have a full experience. 4 . being natural and having a full experience. This is what it means. and the teachings. “What are things before we start messing with them?” You know. or thinking of it as real. and. you know. So. teachings and experience come together. what I'm saying is. being able to let things be. or. it's not about getting rid of experience. and experience. Home Retreat Transmission—Week 175 These are restricted transcripts—please respect this and do not share the transcripts electronically or print them out for students. we can understand how to appreciate the teacher not being super-human. Um. like the Dzogchen teachings for example. becomes a little bit more clear. so I guess what—ah just to conclude this little section—you know. and [Elizabeth clears her voice]. you know don't suppress. Um. Part Two have this.Understanding the Student Teacher Relationship. like. you know when we start to understand this the teacher koan. um. but it's like. but there's like this kind of glimmer too of sadness. you know. there's this like beauty and. and it's not about exaggerating. you know it says. a naked experience.
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