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Home > Approaching Buddhism > Spiritual Teachers > Guidelines Concerning the Relationship with a Spiritual Teacher > Session Two: The Advantages of Having a Healthy Relationship with a Spiritual Teacher

Guidelines Concerning the Relationship with a Spiritual Teacher

Alexander Berzin
Moscow, Russia, February 2012

Session Two: The Advantages of Having a Healthy Relationship with a Spiritual Teacher

Unedited Transcript
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Spiritual Teachers in the West

We started our discussion this morning of the relation with a spiritual teacher, and we saw that there are many different types of teachers, many different levels, and likewise many different levels of disciples and many different types of relationships. And each of these arises dependently on the circumstances, the culture, the time, the situation, etc., and therefore we need to not be rigid in our way of relating to the various teachers that we have.

Our situation is really quite different from the classic type of situation in Tibet, for example. First of all, most of us are not monastics; we’re not monks and nuns. In Tibet and in traditional Buddhist societies, if you really wanted to go seriously into Buddhist training, you became a monk or a nun. Householders did not have that much access to teachings. They occasionally would go to discourses and so on, but they wouldn’t have the detailed type of training that a monastic would have. In fact, teaching meditation to householders is a very recent phenomenon that started actually in Burma just in the – I think it was the early part of the twentieth century. I don’t think it went back as far as into the nineteenth. And it was not generally taught in the Tibetan tradition to householders. Householders, aside from going to some teachings and so on, basically said mantras. Most of them were illiterate to start with, so they couldn’t really read the texts. So they recite mantras, memorize a few prayers, circumambulate, offer butter lamps, this sort of thing.

So now in the West, the situation is really very, very different, since the majority of Western students are certainly not monastics, we already have an education – we’re not coming to the Dharma as uneducated children – and we have other things going on in our lives; we’re not just monastics for whom the Dharma study and practice and the rituals are the only thing that they do. And for most of us, we don’t have close contact with the great spiritual masters; we certainly don’t live with them. And in most situations, we also have to pay for teachings, since we don’t live in a society that supports the whole Buddhist institution with monasteries, offerings, things like that, so rent needs to be paid, people have to pay health insurance, and stuff like that. So naturally the situation is very different for us. And for most of us, we only have very, very limited contact with the great masters. Maybe a few times we might go to a large teaching of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Or occasionally some great masters might come to our city, and we go in a large audience to teachings. And most of the time, we have available to us in our city only a much less qualified teacher; it could be a Tibetan geshe or khenpo or a monk or whatever. And we sometimes don’t even have that, and we just have more senior students leading discussions.

There’s no point in complaining about that. It’s the reality of what our situation is. And so the challenge is to make the best of that, and that’s why I emphasize the different levels of teacher and for ourselves the different levels. For most of us, we don’t have the opportunity to be able to devote all our time to Buddhist practice. We have families, we have to make a living, etc. So be realistic about that. And therefore if we have a realistic attitude, it helps us to not become disappointed when our local teacher is not quite the quality of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, let’s say. And probably even if we were able to be with His Holiness all the time and get private teachings from him, it would be so much over our heads in terms of advanced level that we wouldn’t be able to really relate to him and take the best advantage of his guidance.

I remember when I first went to India, back in 1969, although I had already done all my study for my doctorate, and I had studied the various Asian languages, including Tibetan and Sanskrit. Buddhism was taught basically as a science, a dead subject, at that time, and we only learned how to read Tibetan; the professor didn’t even have a clear idea of how the language was pronounced. So I started studying and having teachers in India for language and basic Dharma. And when I first met the great teachers, His Holiness and His Holiness’s teachers, the way that I perceived them was like a horse that was galloping very, very quickly, and I couldn’t possibly get on that horse now – it was going too quickly, they were speaking too quickly, the language I couldn’t really understand, and what they were talking about was much too fast and too advanced. But the strong aspiration was to be able to ride that horse and to train myself to get up to that level at which I could actually understand them and take advantage of such an incredible thoroughbred horse to ride. If you’re on a merry-go-round, you don’t need a thoroughbred horse; a wooden horse will do to go around.

So working with our local teachers – obviously the relation with that teacher needs to be respectful and so on, but it’s not quite the same as the relation with the greatest masters that we might only meet a couple of times in our life. And they might not be so inspiring for us; but nevertheless we can learn from them; they can help us to train. And what’s important is having, even if we don’t meet them very often, someone that really, really inspires us. They don’t have to be with us all the time, because as I said, they might be running too fast that we couldn’t even keep up with them.

The other really important point that needs to be emphasized from this morning’s discussion is that the relation with the spiritual teacher is not like the relationship with somebody in the army. It isn’t “Yes, sir” and you obey no matter what they say. We’ve examined the teacher very well, hopefully, beforehand before actually committing ourselves, entrusting ourselves, to be guided by that person, even if it’s from a distance. Beforehand we can of course go to their teachings, like a lecture and so on, but that’s very different from the attitude of actually from our side making that commitment.

And nobody in the Tibetan tradition that I know of would actually say to a teacher, “Can I be your disciple?” and the teacher says, “Yes, I welcome you!” and hugs you and whatever, and now you’r e their disciple. That is some sort of romantic vision of what it’s like. So even if there is some sort of mutual recognition from a previous lifetime or whatever, no big deal is made out of it.

I remember with Serkong Rinpoche (the main teacher that I studied with), although I had met him a few times previously, when I actually moved to Dharamsala and met him, just after I spoke with him and so on, he just said, “Well, stay here at the side of the room and watch the way that I’m interacting with people and so on.” So it was just totally natural, with no big deal made out of it. “Now here you are. Well, of course.” Then he just started to train me.

And I remember with the young reincarnation of Serkong Rinpoche (who I am also extremely close with), when I translated for him for the first time, when he gave a private teaching, I said, “How wonderful it is to be translating for you again.” And his favorite line: “Well, nothing special. Of course you’re translating for me again. What do you expect?” So there’s no big deal about anything. And I think that’s a very helpful style; otherwise we make everything like sort of dramatic movie and have a big inflation of ourselves and the guru and how great this is, a big ego trip.

But in establishing a relation with a teacher, it is similar to what Tsongkhapa describes as the circumstances for developing bodhichitta. He says that there are some people who have very strong instincts for bodhichitta, and they’re just very naturally drawn to this type of meditation, this type of aspiration, and so on. And there are those who have to put a great deal of effort in this lifetime to develop these type of aspirations and thoughts. And he says that for those who have sort of an instinct toward this, their development of bodhichitta will be easier, more stable. Now, that doesn’t mean that if we don’t have this instinctive drive we can’t develop bodhichitta, but it will be more difficult.

So now we extrapolate that to finding the spiritual teacher. There will be some of us that are just very naturally drawn to a teacher, and that’s a very important indication to watch for. And it shouldn’t be based on the fact that this happens to be the teacher who comes to your Dharma center, who is in your Dharma center. It shouldn’t be based on the fact that this is the head or the founder of the Dharma center or organization that you go to. Likewise it shouldn’t be based on just the big name and fame and charisma and the whole thing that goes together with some of these teachers. There’s no reason on earth why everybody at a Dharma center should be connected with the person who founded that center or the teachers who are there. If it’s the only thing that’s available in our city, or of the various alternatives it’s sort of the best for us, fine. We can benefit from coming to the center and studying with those teachers, no problem. But still keep an eye open for who might be the root teacher, the one that we’ll find the most inspiring.

And how do you know that you have some instinctive connection with someone? Well, one indication is that you just happen to be there when this person is there. You happen to meet all the time. You go to see them, and they’re there; they’re not away. But other indications are that it’s almost like a magnet: you can’t take your eyes off of this person. And that’s not the same as when you have longing desire or lust for a beautiful person and you can’t take your eyes away because you have such strong desire. It’s a very different quality. It’s not a disturbing or upsetting experience. And seeing this person makes you feel more calm, more comfortable, more at ease, joyous in a very calm level – not whoopee! type of joy – it just feels right.

And I think we all know what that’s like if we’ve ever bought a pair of shoes. You try on different shoes, and you get one that you walk a few steps and it just feels right. It’s comfortable. This is the shoe I’m going to get.

So it’s this type of feeling – that it just feels right, it fits – with the spiritual teacher. But as with bodhichitta, there may be no one that we feel this strong instinctive connection with, which Buddhism would explain from previous lives (whether we believe in previous lives or not is another issue, but Buddhism would explain it that way). And then we really have to put a great deal of effort into establishing a relation with the teacher. And how do you do that? Well, by being a very serious, sincere seeker – that you really want to be able to learn to practice to transform yourself.

I remember when I went to India and I met His Holiness the Dalai Lama the first time. I was very, very moved by the realization that everything that I had studied at university, which was like as if it were a dead subject, was actually for real. There was somebody that actually knew what everything meant and embodied it. And remember I met His Holiness only ten years after they came out of Tibet, so at that time it was much, much easier to actually meet His Holiness and interact with him and his teachers and so on – a completely different time.

And I forget whether it was the second or third time that I met him – whenever it was, I said that “I offer myself to you. Please give me the opportunity to be trained. I have a lot of shortcomings, but give me the opportunity to be trained, and then I will serve you – not as a servant, but serve you in the sense of trying to further your work.” And I was very, very sincere about that. And His Holiness did give me all the opportunities to be able to stay in India to get the best training that was possible. And after I started being more and more together with Serkong Rinpoche, I used the classic line of “Please train me like a donkey to become a human being.” My background was that I was a super, super intelligent student at Harvard University, very arrogant, and I had very little ability to be able to socially interact with others. I was quite horrible in that sense, I must say, very arrogant, and I really needed to learn how to relate to other people. And so this is what I asked Serkong Rinpoche to teach me. I think this is why he only scolded me, only called me idiot, and in nine years only thanked me twice. Very, very helpful. Right? “You think you’r e smart? You’re nothing.” And he never ever failed to point out when I said something or did something that was stupid, especially in front of a lot of people.

But my point being that you have to be very brave, very strong, in order to endure that type of training. And you put effort in from your side. Even though there’s some instinctive, karmic connection, you put effort in from your side. “Train me. I’m willing to be trained. Give me the opportunity,” and then you actually do it. And in that way you establish the relationship.

And as it says, help the teacher. If you want to establish a relationship, offer to help. Train to become the teacher’s translator or to transcribe their teachings or to arrange their travels. That’s how you get close with the teacher. Do something. Don’t expect that you can just be sitting in the audience and the teacher will see you and come over and “Oh, welcome!” like that. But you have to be totally, totally sincere, which means that you’ve examined yourself well enough to know whether or not you are strong enough to, as they say, endure the relationship with the spiritual teacher. To use the image that I was saying, are you strong enough to ride that really fast galloping horse?

So in summary, as I say, it doesn’t help us to complain that we don’t have access to these great spiritual teachers and say, “But look what we have in our city,” and so on. That is not going to get you anywhere. But if you really want to advance and so on, you put the effort into it. Look at how much effort these great masters put in in order to be able to walk from Tibet to India and study with the Indian masters and learn the languages and so on. We’re very fortunate that we don’t have to do like that.

And if I look at the situation of Buddhism and Tibetan studies now compared to fifty years ago, when I was just starting, it’s unbelievably easier now than it was when I started. Just as an example, there was almost nothing available for learning the Tibetan language. There was only one book, which tried to explain Tibetan grammar in terms of Latin, which makes absolutely no sense. And my teacher at Harvard had no idea how it was pronounced. So when I went to India, I had to figure out the sound structure of the language, like going to Borneo and working with some tribe. So look how many materials and how much is available now. There was hardly anything translated when I started. Now there’s so much available. In fact we complain that there’s too much and we don’t even know where to start.

So there’s no reason to complain or feel sorry for ourselves, that “Poor me. I’m living in this obscure place.” Moscow is not such an obscure place now. You have so many more teachers coming than when I first started coming (toward the end of the Soviet period). Come on! So if you want to do it, just do it, if you’re really serious. And if you’re really serious, the teachers will take you seriously.

The Advantages of Having a Healthy Relationship with a Spiritual Teacher

Now, there’s a presentation in the texts about the benefits or the advantages of having a healthy relation with a spiritual teacher and the disadvantages of turning away from that. What we’r e talking about of course is once we have examined the teacher. And remember the example of Atisha going to Sumatra and examining the teacher, Serlingpa, for a very, very long time before actually starting to study with the teacher. Some of the texts even say that the teacher and the disciple need to examine each other for twelve years before they really get serious. But certainly examine them, and examine ourselves. And if we commit ourselves or entrust ourselves to a teacher in the proper way, then the texts list many benefits.

This is a general method that we find in the Dharma, that in order to help us to develop an aspiration to achieve something, it describes what are the benefits of having it, and then it warns about what are the dangers when, once you commit yourself to that, you then turn your back on that and show contempt and anger about it: “Oh, it was stupid, what I did.” Pointing out the dangers is not to scare you. The point is to make you realize that it’s very serious and that you shouldn’t get into this type of relationship lightly – we’re talking about your attitude toward the teacher – because if you get into it prematurely and then decide that this was completely stupid, this leaves you in a very terrible state of mind. So be careful beforehand.

And also don’t look at these lists of the benefits and disadvantages like somebody trying to sell you a car, a used car, and they say, “Buy this. This is really the greatest,” and so on. It’s not advertisement. “Oh, this is so fantastic! I want to buy it. I want to get it because the benefits sound so great.” That is not at all the proper attitude. Everything in the Dharma is based on cause and effect. So if we’re going to get into this relationship, then what is the effect of it? What is the influence? What can happen? So we go into the situation with our eyes open. Nothing magical about it.

So let’s go through the list, since I was asked to go through the list, and try to speak about it from the point of view of how we actually apply it and what does it mean, at least from my own experience.

You’ll Come Closer to Buddhahood

The first one says you’ll come closer to Buddhahood. Well, that’s quite obvious. If the teacher is teaching us how to become a Buddha and we follow the teacher’s instructions, then naturally we will come closer to the goal. So that means of course being willing to practice what the teacher says in terms of evaluating what realistically we can do now. And if it’s a skillful teacher, the teacher will instruct you in terms of what actually suits you. But of course all of that depends on having a personal relationship with the teacher, and that’s not so easy. You have to establish a one-to-one relationship in the various ways that I said – are you translating for the teacher, or whatever. And we can always do a little bit more. This is what Serkong Rinpoche always did with me. He said, “No matter how tired you are, you can always do five minutes more of the translating or whatever it is that you’re doing.” A good trainer in a fitness club does the same thing: “Come on, you can do one more.” But obviously if it’s too much for us, then you speak to the teacher. You say, “I’m not able to do that now. Give me something that will help me reach that stage.”

You’ll Build Up Positive Force

And then it says we’ll come closer to Buddhahood through making offerings to the guru, by helping the guru. Right? The guru, like a Buddha – a Buddha doesn’t really need the offerings. The attitude should be, to quote the text, “like a tiger with grass.” The tiger is not interested in eating the grass. But if we look at teachings on Buddha-nature, the factors that will enable us to become a Buddha, one is this network of positive force I call it, the so-called collection of merit. So helping the teacher in whatever way you can help the teacher, without being a pest in terms of being too pushy in terms of your help, builds up a lot of positive force. What does that mean?

We’re not talking about merit, that you get a certain number of points and then you win the game. But I think from my own experience… I was quite selfish and self-centered, like most people are, as a young man. But as I said, it was very rare. I had the opportunity to be with Serkong Rinpoche for nine years, and of course I wanted to help – he was an older man, quite overweight – to help him get up out of the car, to help him get into the car, to help in various ways, so it got me out of thinking just in terms of me and actually helping somebody, being more concerned about his comfort than my own. And what’s the result of that? It’s that I learned through that process to take care of others as well, not just my teacher but to help anybody. It builds up this force, this habit of being concerned about someone more than yourself.

So it works like that – at least from my own experience – gives you more reinforcement of how important it is to care for others, and you see that you can care for others. And obviously we could learn that also with taking care of our children. If we take care of a baby, obviously there’s also this whole aspect of caring more for the baby’s comfort than our own. But there’s a big difference. The difference is that the baby is “mine, my baby,” whereas you can’t be possessive with the teacher; that doesn’t work at all. So it’s a bit different. When the baby cuddles with you, “Oh, it’s so nice and so sweet.” The teacher isn’t going to do that.

You’ll Please the Buddhas

Then the next one. It says you please the Buddhas. What in the world does that mean? Buddhas have equanimity. They’re not going to get angry with you if you don’t practice properly, and they’r e not going to say, “Oh, how wonderful you are!” and so on. And as I said, just to do something in order to please the guru and get a pat on the head and wag your tail – this is silly. But what is a Buddha all about? They’re all about helping others to overcome suffering, attain liberation, get enlightenment, and so on. So if you practice, you come closer to them, closer in terms of what their hope is for you.

So although for some people it might work on the level of wanting to please your parents, and you want to please your teacher, and you don’t want to be scolded, and so on, try not to approach this from a child’s point of view. I mean, look at it from the point of view of a parent toward a child. If you try to teach your child a sense of values – to be a decent person, an honest person – and you see that they are, you feel very satisfied, in a sense. We’re not talking about an immature thing of then going and boasting to all your friends: “Look how wonderful my child is.” But this is what gives the parent a feeling of having been a good parent, that the child has learned these values and grown into a decent person. So this type of idea is behind this.

So as it says, what will please the teacher is to actually follow what the teacher says and to try to emulate the good qualities that the teacher has, not just silly things of what they like to eat and stuff like that.

You Won’t Be Disturbed by Demons or Bad Company

Next one. You’ll not be disturbed by… they use the word demons or bad company. Well, let’s not think of little creatures with horns and fangs and so on for demons. We’re talking about demonic forces. If we’re with our teacher or if you practice so-called guru-yoga properly, then you’re imagining that your teacher is with you all the time. That’s the whole point of imagining the teacher on your head or in your heart or whatever. The values of the teacher are there. Even if the teacher has passed away already, the values of the teacher are still there. The point is that you’re really serious about trying to improve yourself, and you’ve really committed yourself to a teacher in terms of your attitude, the way that you’re interacting, and so on, and you really don’t want to be a hypocrite. So even if everybody around us is acting in a very unruly way, we’re not going to be disturbed – that’s what it says, the term it uses – disturbed by all these other negative things that might be around us, because we’re quite clear as to the course that we’re putting in our lives. So in a sense it protects us from these negative influences that might be around. The negative influences actually are our weak minds, our weak resolve. That’s what’s negative. So that’s why we need to be really very firm in terms of what we’re doing. And that is based on a real strong examination and analysis before that: Am I ready to do that? Am I willing to do that?

You Will Automatically Put a Stop to All Disturbing Emotions and Misdeeds

You will automatically put a stop to all disturbing emotions and all misdeeds, it says – negative behavior, destructive behavior. “How can I act like this? I have such respect for my teacher and such respect for myself in terms of what I’m doing, how can I act in some stupid way?” When you’re with your teacher, you have enough respect that you’re not going to pick your nose and just use stupid examples. You want to act properly because of your sense of respect for the teacher, respect for the situation. So how can you get angry? How can you get greedy with the teacher, that you gobble up all the food and cake and so on when you’re eating with your teacher? Right? It’s all based on respect.

I remember very well once I was with the old Ling Rinpoche, the senior tutor of His Holiness. I was visiting with him. And he was sitting on like a low platform with a rug on it. So he was sitting on one; I was sitting on the other, in the corner. He was on one side; I was on the other side. And all of a sudden, there was a large scorpion on the floor in front of us...

Ling Rinpoche was the master of Vajrabhairava (Yamantaka), this really forceful deity. He was an unbelievably strong, forceful figure (although actually he was very gentle when you got to know him). Most people were actually quite frightened of him because he was such a strong presence. Even before I could understand Tibetan well, I would go and be with him and visit him, and just by the force of his Manjushri – Manjushri is in the heart of Vajrabhairava – my mind would become clearer, and I could understand what he was saying. It was such a strong force.

So here’s this big scorpion on the floor. And Ling Rinpoche turns to me and in a very obviously affected dramatic gesture says, “Oh dear, a scorpion. Aren’t you afraid?” and turns to me. And I said to him, “How could I possibly be afraid in your presence?” And then he laughed and laughed. And then his attendant came and put a piece of paper under the scorpion and a cup over it and took it outside, as if it was all sort of staged as a lesson. But how could I or anybody in the presence of such a great master like that freak out at the scorpion and jump up and stand up on this platform and say, “Aah! A scorpion”? I couldn’t possibly do that. So that’s a very clear example. As it says here, you automatically stop acting in some ridiculous, childish way.

Your Insights and Realizations into the Levels and the Path Will Increase

Your insights and realization into the levels and the path will increase. Well, obviously if you are with your teacher and seeing the teacher all the time and the example of how the teacher deals with difficult situations, of course your understanding, your realizations, will increase the more that you practice to try to be like the teacher. So if we are actually close to the teacher – I mean, I had that experience – if you become some teacher’s translator or you drive the car for them, or whatever it is that you can do, then you see how they handle everyday situations, real-life things, and that really gives you understanding and insight into how to develop. And if you have more experience, then you see – I mean, with Serkong Rinpoche, I saw him with the Pope, I saw him with a drunk on the street – you see how they handle all these situations, and that really gives you insight.

You Will Not Be Deprived of Spiritual Guides in Your Future Rebirths

Then you will not be deprived of – well, I don’t like the way that this is translated, but anyway – the very constructive, positive spiritual guides in all your future rebirths. Well, of course that depends on believing in rebirth, doesn’t it, which for a lot of us is not such a simple matter. But if we think of this example of being instinctively drawn to a spiritual teacher and to wanting to find a spiritual teacher and so on, that type of instinct will continue to be there and be even stronger in future lives. Where does this instinct come from? It comes from previous lives. So if we build that up in this lifetime, it should continue in future lifetimes – if we have a precious human rebirth and are not reborn as a cockroach.

You Will Not Fall into Lower Realms

You’ll not fall into lower realms. Well, what is the cause for worst rebirth states? It is destructive behaviour. And the cause for a precious human rebirth? Ethical discipline. Well, with the teacher, of course you act in an ethical way. And having the various far-reaching attitudes, the paramitas, so:

  • Generous.

You’re helping the teacher. You’re being generous.

  • Being ethical.

Ethical discipline.

  • Perseverance and patience.

In other words, it’s really hard to follow the teacher and to learn from the teacher, so you have to put in a lot of effort and patience, which means that you’re not going to get angry with the teacher; you’re not going to get angry with how difficult it might be. See, this is one of the things you really have to examine before you get into this relation with the teacher, one of the most important aspects of the contract, as it were. It doesn’t matter what the teacher does, I’m going to look at it as a teaching; I’m not going to get angry.

Serkong Rinpoche without mercy called me an idiot all the time – in front of ten thousand people, he would call me an idiot, and I was an idiot – and I never got angry with him. Never. My reaction was usually a nervous laugh, and actually the Tibetans all thought that was wonderful, the way that I responded. It wasn’t like I was laughing at him, but that was sort of my response automatically. Right? If you’re going to get angry with the teacher, forget it. That really is not going to work at all. So that means you have to be really, really convinced that this teacher is only interested in your welfare. So patience.

  • Concentration.

Well, if you’re with a teacher, you can’t go, “What did you say? I wasn’t paying attention.” That doesn’t work.

Rinpoche trained me to be his translator. And so at any time of day or night when I was with him, he would just stop and say, “Repeat what I just said” or “Repeat what you just said.” Wonderful training. I never got angry. And you need that ability if you’re going to be a translator.

  • Discriminating awareness.

Serkong Rinpoche was great with that. There’s a wonderful example I always think of. Rinpoche was teaching at Nalanda, this Western monastery in France. They asked him to teach about the ninth chapter, the wisdom chapter, the discriminating awareness chapter, of Shantideva’s text Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior (Bodhisattvacharyavatara). There were only maybe two or three sessions that they gave for this, and Rinpoche thought it was absolutely ridiculous that they wanted him to cover this whole thing in two or three sessions; it was very pretentious to think that it is so easy that you could just cover it in a few lessons. So he started, and he explained something, but he explained it totally incorrectly, and all the Western monks very dutifully wrote it down. And then after the tea break, he came back and he said, “You’re idiots. I just taught something completely incorrectly last time. Don’t you think? Don’t you examine anything that people say? Did this accord with the text? Does this accord with what you’ve studied before? Right? So learn discriminating awareness.” And then I think for the rest of the sessions, he explained maybe one line in the thing, in a very elaborate way, to show them that “Come on, be serious about wanting to study this. Don’t think it’s going to be easy.”

You Will Effortlessly Achieve All Short- and Long-Term Aims

Then it says you will effortlessly achieve all short- and long-term aims. That doesn’t mean just be passive and sit back and then everything will just fall in your lap. But karma does work. Buddha didn’t lie about it. Karma does actually work. You build up a lot of positive force by serving your teacher, helping your teacher, and so on, and things do go more easily; you’re able to accomplish a lot more.

I look at it in terms of my own life. Look what I’ve accomplished with this web site. It’s unbelievable. Last year we had more than a million visitors from it. And I think a great deal of the success of it is this strong relation I have had with my spiritual teachers, and that I still have, and the great amount of effort and work that I put in to helping them to make them available to others. My motivation for becoming a translator, an interpreter, was “Wow. The teachings by His Holiness and His Holiness’s teachers are so unbelievably incredible. But either they were not translated at all in the beginning or translated so badly, so I’ve got to do it.” And then you have this armor-like perseverance: “I’m going to do it. I’m going to train to be able to translate so that people can have access to this. This is too wonderful for people not to have access to.” And from my own experience with this web site, everything has – I describe it as “fallen from the sky.” Somebody came along and said, “Oh, I’ll make it for you.” When the first version went up, volunteers came from all over the world, volunteering to help with it. I didn’t go looking for them. The major people who gave the big financing – because I have to pay a lot of people – I didn’t ask for it; they approached me.

So it’s effortless. The karma is there. If you build up the karma, it works. And if you look in terms of the teachings on what are the types of karmic behavior that will give results in this lifetime – most of them will give results in future lifetimes, but what will give results in this lifetime is doing some really positive help for those who have helped us the most (spiritual teachers and parents in particular). So from my own experience, these benefits are there. It’s not just a nice fairytale.

Okay. So that brings us to the end of this session, and then we’ll continue.