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Home > Approaching Buddhism > Spiritual Teachers > Guidelines Concerning the Relationship with a Spiritual Teacher > Session Four: How to Relate to the Spiritual Teacher in Terms of Our Attitude (continued)

Guidelines Concerning the Relationship with a Spiritual Teacher

Alexander Berzin
Moscow, Russia, February 2012

Session Four: How to Relate to the Spiritual Teacher in Terms of Our Attitude (continued)

Unedited Transcript
Listen to the audio version of this page (0:41 hours)

Review of Previous Sessions

Yesterday we were speaking about a healthy relationship with a qualified teacher, spiritual teacher, and we spoke about the topic in general. Then we spoke in terms of the benefits or advantages of such a relationship and the disadvantages if, once we get into it, we turn our backs on it and leave with a very negative, angry attitude about the teacher and Buddhism in general. And then we started the discussion of how to actually relate to such a teacher once we have actually examined the teacher very well and examined ourselves to see are we qualified to enter into a relation with such a teacher, how to do this in terms of our attitude (our feelings toward the teacher) and in terms of our behavior with the teacher. And we saw that there are many different levels of teachers, many different levels of students, and the general principles that we have here in terms of how we relate are valid for all the different levels, but certain aspects of it would be emphasized more in the much more advanced levels, like for instance distinguishing the teacher as a Buddha.

Seeing the Teacher as a Buddha (continued)

Now, we could of course qualify what I just said (qualify meaning “explain it more”). In general in tantra, we would like to of course distinguish everybody as a Buddha and everything as a pure land and so on. And in that context, then of course the person who taught us how to read and the person that just gave us information about Buddhism would be proper beings for us to distinguish as Buddhas – the same as we would for a dog – because, I was explaining yesterday, we are focusing on the Buddha-nature qualities of all beings and seeing that everybody has the ability to be a Buddha. So we’re focusing on the not-yet-happening Buddha of every being, not yet happening now. But as I emphasized, of course that doesn’t mean that they already are Buddhas, and neither are we when we’re visualizing ourselves as a Buddha and labeling me on that.

But on earlier stages, when we’re not involved with tantra, then as is explained, there are different levels of what it means to relate to teachers in terms of a Buddha. So from a Hinayana point of view, so-called Hinayana point of view, the teachers are representatives of a Buddha. Buddhas aren’t around to teach us how to read and write and teach us the basic principles of Buddhism, so the teachers are representatives and they teach us. And of course in that context, in terms of our attitude toward them, we would want to have confidence in their good qualities, whatever those good qualities might be – that they have good knowledge of Buddhism, or they can read and they know how to teach us how to read, whatever. So the same principle is there.

And the second aspect of this attitude – we didn’t cover it yesterday – is appreciation of their kindness (gus-pa). Sometimes that term is translated as respect, but if you actually look at the definition and at the way that it’s used in the texts, although in other contexts it could mean respect, it really is referring to appreciation of their kindness. And of course if we appreciate their kindness to teach us and to be patient with us and all of that, then that implies that we have respect for them because of that kindness. We could also have that appreciation for the kindness of teachers at school to teach us how to read and write and teachers who, like Buddhism professors, just give us information, regardless of what their motive might be. It doesn’t matter what their motive is – they’re just doing it as a job or to make money or whatever; it doesn’t matter. And in terms of how we relate to them with our behavior – just to do this very briefly (we’ll go into it in a little bit more detail later today) – we would also try to support their work, help them, be respectful in terms of how we behave with them (you don’t act in terrible ways in school, you don’t throw things at each other and not pay attention and stuff like that), and practice according to what they teach (so that means doing your homework).

So these are general principles that would apply with any teacher – we shouldn’t think that it’s just “Ooh, tantra,” like that – general guidelines for how incredible it is that we’re born like some worm or something like that (they always use this example), hopeless and helpless, and everything that we’ve been taught that enables us to function the way that we do now, that’s incredibly kind of others. What would it have been like if we just grew up totally isolated from everybody else and nobody taught us even how to talk? We wouldn’t know how to talk, would we? So these are very practical guidelines.

As I said, from the Hinayana level you see that the teachers are representatives; they’re carrying out the acts and function of a Buddha, which is to teach us, to help us. And from a Mahayana point of view – Mahayana always talks about Buddhas having all sorts of emanations and so on; so you could see them like emanations of a Buddha or being similar to a Buddha in terms of how they are helping us, rather than just a representative. And from a tantra point of view, as I was explaining yesterday, it’s within the context of seeing everybody and everything as a Buddha, Buddha-fields and stuff like that, which is based on Buddha-nature, certain characteristics that everybody has that will enable them to become a Buddha.

So we have to understand when we read statements that, according to tantra, it’s not as though they’re like a Buddha or it’s a device that we’re using in order to help us by seeing them as a Buddha, but it says they are a Buddha – we need to understand what that means, this word they are a Buddha. It doesn’t mean literarily they are now a functioning Buddha truly established from their own side. By any means of valid examination, we would discover that they are not omniscient, they cannot speak every language in the universe, and cannot emanate in a zillion forms, please! But rather it’s similar to the analogy that I was using yesterday: for the ghosts, this is pus; for humans, it is water; for the gods, it is nectar. It’s all three of those. In Sakya they call this the inseparability of samsara and nirvana. There are many levels, and all these levels are valid.

So, like that, as I was explaining, it is valid for us to label this being, our teacher, as a Buddha. And then we can fill in that they are functioning as a Buddha for us, etc. But it’s not just a device, it’s not just a method, or a game that we’re playing, a little trick that we’re using in order to benefit from the teacher. This is the point that is made when they say, “He is a Buddha” or “She is a Buddha.” Don’t look at it that way, that “Well, they’re not really.” It’s valid. And what is the ramification of that, what follows from that, is that once we are convinced that the teacher – and this is based on reality in terms of examining the teacher’s qualities – that really they are only concerned with our welfare and this is the sole motivation behind their interaction with us, then anything that they do we see as a teaching: What can I learn from this?

The classic story for that is one of the Jatakas, the previous-life stories of the Buddha, in which a teacher told all the disciples to go out and steal for him. And Buddha was one of the disciples. Everybody else went out to steal, and Buddha didn’t. So when the teacher said, “Don’t you want to please me? Why don’t you go out and steal?” Buddha said, “How can stealing please anybody?” And the teacher said, “Aha! You’re the only one that understood the lesson.”

Or the example that I used of Serkong Rinpoche teaching something totally incorrect in terms of voidness teachings and then in the next class saying, “Come on! What I said was completely incorrect. Don’t you use your intelligence to discriminate? Why didn’t you ask something?”

So as a proper disciple, one wouldn’t have responded to this incorrect explanation by saying, “Oh, the teacher is stupid. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” That’s not the proper response. The proper response is “What is the lesson he’s trying to teach us by saying it like that, by explaining in an incorrect way?”

I remember a very good example, my complaining about the texts of Nagarjuna, saying that they’re written in such a vague style, with so many this’s and that’s and it’s not clear what they’re referring to, and stuff like that. I mentioned that to Serkong Rinpoche. And as I mentioned, he almost always scolded me, and so he said, “Don’t be so arrogant. Do you think that Nagarjuna was incapable of writing a clear text? He wrote it this way on purpose. You’re completely arrogant.” He said that it’s written that way so that the students have to fill in from their own side the clarity of the meaning. So it’s a teaching device.

Or another time, I remember Rinpoche was explaining mathematics, Tibetan astrology style of mathematics, to me. And the way that Tibetans do arithmetic is very different from the way that we do arithmetic – addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. And my remark to Rinpoche was that “This is really strange.” And so again he yelled at me: “You’re so arrogant.” This was one of my biggest disturbing emotions, as I mentioned, was arrogance. And he said, “You’re so arrogant. It’s different. It’s not strange; it’s just different.”

If you look at the classic examples of the relation with the teacher and the student – the way that Marpa treated Milarepa, and so on – often you find that they’re either hitting them or always yelling at them and scolding them. So I was very fortunate that I had that type of relation with Serkong Rinpoche. But you have to be very, very strong and mature in order to be able to withstand that type of relationship. That is in a sense the “contract” of the relation with the spiritual teacher (with the full understanding that they’re not going to abuse you, and they don’t abuse you). Except for Kalachakra, he would never agree to teach me anything unless I was translating it for somebody else. He wouldn’t teach it to me privately. I had to be studying it in order to benefit some others, not just to benefit myself. So this was incredible.

But I think in general for Westerners, this is not the method, because most Westerners suffer from low self-esteem. My problem was arrogance, not low self-esteem. And if we look at Indians, Tibetans, Chinese – their issues are not low self-esteem; that seems to be quite a Western phenomenon. So most Westerners need a little bit of reinforcement that they’re doing okay. But as I said, my teachers, both Serkong Rinpoche and Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, used this image of you shouldn’t be like the dog waiting for a pat on the head – “Oh, well done!” – and then you wag your tail.

Conviction in the Good Qualities of the Teacher

So anyway we’re discussing how to relate with our attitude to a properly qualified teacher. And we saw that the first aspect of that is firm conviction in the good qualities of the teacher. There are three types of conviction. We have this general term [depa (dad-pa)] which is translated sometimes as faith. I find that a very misleading translation because faith usually implies blind faith. Rather, the term means “to believe that a fact is true.” Right? So we’re talking about a fact, not believing in Santa Claus or believing in Father Christmas or believing that the stock market is going to go up, like that. It has to be a fact and a true fact. Right? And we believe that it is true. So we’re talking about the qualities of the teacher. These need to be true – accurate, remember? – and then decisive. Then there are three types of this, believing in that fact:

  • The first is a confident belief (yid-ches-kyi dad-pa) that is based on evidence, either logic or observation.

  • And then the second type is clearheaded belief (dang-ba’i dad-pa). It is belief in a fact that then clears our – I can’t think of any better way of translating it – clears our head of disturbing emotions. So I believe that it is true that my teacher has good qualities, and that clears my head of doubts, clears my head of jealousy, clears my head of arrogance (“I’m so much better”) or anger toward the teacher (“Oh, you don’t have enough time for me,” and so on) or clinging to the teacher (“I want you for me, me, me and not for anybody else,” a very greedy attitude toward and possessiveness toward the teacher). And when you really understand and are fully convinced of the good qualities of the teacher, you know that this is absurd. The teacher is there to benefit everybody, not just me.

  • And the third type of belief in fact is belief with an aspiration (mngon-’dod-kyi dad-pa), which means that I am fully convinced that you have these good qualities, and so of course respect and all of that goes with that, and I aspire to try to become like that. Right? So we’re talking about the good qualities of the teacher. That’s what we are aspire to emulate. We’re not talking about just what their favorite food is and these sorts of things. That’s irrelevant.

Actually there’s a more relevant point here. And the relevant point is that if we have a teacher… Or often it’s in a center. As I said, it doesn’t mean that everybody who goes to the center feels that the founder of the center has to be their spiritual mentor, the one that gives them the most inspiration. So “aspire to have their good qualities” doesn’t mean that we have to practice every single practice that the teacher did. Just because the teacher had this or that yidam, or this or that practice that they did, doesn’t mean that that suits us. It may suit us; it may not suit us. Everybody has completely different karma, obviously. Beginningless rebirths – so we’ve studied with many different teachers, many different traditions. We have instincts for many, many different things, not just what this particular teacher has practiced.

Now, of course the general type of teachings and practices that the teacher did would naturally be something that would be helpful for us, but not necessarily every little detail. I’ll give an example. Serkong Rinpoche was not only an incredible tantric master and, like His Holiness, a master of all the four classes of tantra, but he was the master debate partner of His Holiness, which meant that he was the best debater of his monastery. But for me, I came from a super, super Harvard background. I was already absurdly logical and rational and very aggressive intellectually. And I knew, and my teachers knew, that if I studied debate, I would become like what I refer to as a “debate monster.” A debate monster is somebody who never knows when to stop debating – doesn’t differentiate when it’s appropriate and when it’s not appropriate – so no matter what anybody says, if it’s illogical you jump on them and attack, like in a debate. That’s a debate monster. So although Serkong Rinpoche was a debate master, he never encouraged me to study debate, he never taught me debate, and I always avoided that – even though I can read the debate texts (that’s not the issue). Right? It would not be helpful for my personality. That was not what I needed. I needed, without any mercy, to have it constantly pointed out when I was acting like an idiot.

So these are the different types of firm conviction.

Appreciation for the Kindness of the Teacher

Then we also have the second aspect of the attitude, which is appreciation for the kindness of the teacher. There are many descriptions of how kind the teacher is. “The Buddha isn’t coming around and teaching us. The teacher is teaching us. How kind they are.” So in that sense it says that they are kinder than the Buddhas.

One of the wonderful qualities of a really qualified teacher is that they take everybody seriously. So if we sincerely are interested to learn something, even if we might be on a very low level, they take us seriously and teach us at our level. An example: Once a very stoned hippie came to see Serkong Rinpoche and said, “Please teach me the six yogas of Naropa.” And Rinpoche didn’t scold him for being stoned or chase him out or anything like that, but he took him very seriously – of course the effect of that is that the person themselves starts to take themselves seriously – and he said, “Very good. If you want to do that, then this is how you start,” and he told him what he had to do first in order to be able to eventually study the six yogas of Naropa. So this is an example of what it means to take somebody seriously. It is not kind to teach the six yogas of Naropa to somebody who is completely unprepared. That’s not kind.

Kachen Yeshey-gyeltsen, who was a great Tibetan master, elaborated on this sense of appreciation of the kindness of the teacher. He said that what it means is that we esteem and we cherish the teacher and cherish their kindness. Esteem means that we have great respect for them. So he brings in this connotation of the word, which is respect. I bring that up because this word that he uses, cherish (gcer-zhing pham-pa’i byams-pa, cherishing, concerned love), brings into light the whole discussion of “Is it appropriate to love our teacher? Do we really love the teacher? And what does that mean, what kind of love?”

Now, we already saw that we have the type of belief that clears our head of disturbing emotions. When we say that “Okay, you cherish the teacher, you love the teacher,” that certainly doesn’t mean with longing desire and lust and we want to have the teacher as some sort of sexual partner or that we’re possessive and we want the teacher for ourselves. It certainly doesn’t mean that. The definition of love in Buddhism is “the wish for others to be happy and to have the causes for happiness.” Do you wish for the teacher to be happy? “Well, yeah. I mean, sure.”

There’s a discussion, in terms of the behavior with the teacher, that you make offerings; you give things to please the teacher. What pleases the teacher most is our practice. So does that fit into this context of wanting the teacher to be happy? So that gets a little bit delicate here because, as it says, you want to please your teacher, but Buddhas have equanimity anyway. So we don’t want to please them in a very childish type of way, just so that we get their approval. I always use the example of our teachers patting our head, saying “Good boy! Good girl!” and we wag our tail. But we love the teacher in a sense that we would like to see that they have proper food, that they’re comfortable, and we don’t bother them too much so that they’re able to have a rest, or whatever – being considerate of the teacher. So that’s an aspect of love, isn’t it? It’s not “Oh, I want to hug you or kiss you.”

But Kachen Yeshey-gyeltsen uses this word that I usually (and many people, most people) translate as cherish. Where does this word appear elsewhere? If we look in the bodhichitta teachings, in the seven-part cause-and-effect process for developing bodhichitta:

  • It starts with step zero (which isn’t counted among the seven) in terms of equanimity in which we have neither attraction, repulsion, or indifference to anybody. So it sort of levels thing out.
  • And then distinguishing the feature of everybody that at some point they’ve been our mother.
  • And then remembering the kindness of motherly love. So the kindness that we have received – well, remember we’re appreciating the kindness that we’ve received from the guru. So everybody has taught us. Everybody has been our guru.
  • And then what’s usually translated as repay that kindness (drin-gso).

One has to be very, very careful with this term. What you want to avoid is that “Well, I’ve received so much and I’ve given so little, and therefore I feel guilty and I have a debt to repay.” That is not the attitude that we’re talking about here, but rather we want to balance the situation.

And if we look at what follows from that, then what follows from that is they say that automatically we have this heartwarming love – heartwarming (yid-’ong byams-pa) is a difficult term to express, literally “it comes to our mind in a very easy, wonderful way” – and (here’s our word) we cherish the other person: it gives us great delight to see them, we cherish them, and if anything bad happened to them, we would feel awful. And that follows automatically, without having to do any other step of meditation, from the previous step, which doesn’t quite make sense if you translate it as repay the kindness. If I feel guilty and feel indebted that I have to do something to repay that kindness, why would I have this delight in seeing everybody and cherish them and feel awful if anything bad happened? So that can’t really be the full connotation or proper connotation of this earlier step, this previous step.

So we analyze a little bit more deeply. What is the state of mind behind this thing of “I want to balance the kindness with being kind back to you”? It’s a sense of gratitude. We appreciate that kindness, and we’re so grateful for it. “I’m so grateful for how much help you’ve given me that when I see you, I just lighten up. I’m so delighted to see you. I cherish you, want you to be happy. It would be terrible if anything bad happened to you. All because of that gratitude, that appreciation, in light of how kind you’ve been to me.”

We have this term also in the context of equalizing and exchanging the attitude about self and others. Instead of having this attitude toward ourselves that “Oh, I’m so great, and I’m only concerned about me,” you have this toward others. It’s the same term.

So when we get into this discussion of what does it mean to love the teacher – well, it’s this term cherish. That’s what we find in the texts. There are no disturbing emotions with it. But when we’re with the teacher, or even just thinking of the teacher, then it fills us with joy; we are delighted.

Look at the Vajrayogini practice. In that you have “The guru comes to your head, dissolves into you,” which you have in almost every practice anyway. And what is emphasized here is to feel intense joy and delight at merging with the teacher, which doesn’t mean sexual merging; it means merging the good qualities of body, speech, and mind of the teacher with our own (that’s the whole point of guru-yoga). And then this incredible feeling of delight and joy, you feel that it expands to be the size of the universe. And then it contracts as the mind gets more and more… Well, no. First you understand the voidness of that joy, and then the mind gets more and more subtle.

So my point being that this is what we’re talking about in terms of cherishing the teacher, is having this incredible feeling of delight and joy when you see the teacher, when you think of the teacher, let alone when you do this type of guru-yoga. And what the corollary of that is is of course that we want to take care of the teacher and we would feel really horrible if anything bad happened to them (if they didn’t have the resources to be able to help others, if they were sick, or whatever).

Now, of course this is not easy, is it, to actually feel that joy, especially if we’re doing this as part of our daily practice in a sadhana, let’s say. So how do you develop it if we really have that relation with a spiritual teacher? It’s by appreciating the kindness of others, exactly like in the bodhichitta meditation – think of all the kindness of the teacher, and then one generates this tremendous feeling of gratitude, and that automatically leads to this very joyous state of mind.

Inspiration from the Teacher

And what comes from all of this? What follows from all of this is the very standard practice with the spiritual teacher which is called making requests. We find that in every type of practice, making requests – solwa deb (gsol ba ’debs) in Tibetan. So what are we requesting? Obviously we’re not requesting a Mercedes-Benz or anything like that. What we often read in translation is “Bless me to do this or that.” Come on, what in the word does that mean? That’s from a different religious tradition. But as I explained I think at the beginning of this seminar, the term that’s translated as blessing has this idea of “inspiration, uplift my mind, more energy” [chingyilab (byin-gyis rlabs)]. So what we’re requesting is inspiration. Inspire me to be more compassionate, to be more understanding of my parents or my children – I mean, whatever we need inspiration for. Apply it in daily life.

And please don’t think in terms of inspiration being something like a football that your teacher has and throws to you and now you have the inspiration. (In fact I have a long article on my web site on what actually all of this means in terms of inspiration and oral transmission. Oral transmission also isn’t throwing a football to us.) But again by thinking of the first part of this attitude, firm conviction in the good qualities of the teacher, you remember, remind yourself of, their good qualities – and obviously the teacher has to have these qualities – how patient they are, how understanding they are of others. And then, thinking of that, we become inspired to follow that example and try to be like that.

When your teacher has passed away, this becomes even stronger, I find. Many people have found this as well. Serkong Rinpoche died in 1983. When he’s alive, when your teacher is alive, and they’re often in some other place, then you feel that they’re quite distant – not necessarily, but often you feel that. But once they’ve passed away, then they’re much more internalized: “The teacher is with me.” And what is with me are the values of the teacher. So when faced with a difficult situation, what do you do? What do I do? “How would Serkong Rinpoche deal with this situation?” is the question that I ask. “What would he do?” All right? “How would His Holiness the Dalai Lama deal with this situation?” Then we get inspiration to try to be like that. This is very, very helpful. But of course that requires having familiarity with how they handled different situations, obviously. Often we don’t have the chance to really see how they handled different situations, but if we do that’s fantastic.

In so many texts it says how important it is to make requests. Therefore it’s important to understand what that means, what are we requesting and why. And remember inspiration from the guru is the root of the path – it’s what gives us energy, it grounds us, it gives us stability – because we know that others have done this before us; we’re not alone.

Questions and Answers

Okay, we have a few more minutes before our lunch break. Perhaps we can have one or two questions.

Oral Transmissions

Participant: Can you dwell a little bit on the topic of oral transmission in general? And a more specific question is: All the oral transmissions go back to Buddha Shakyamuni. If we have received an oral transmission for a particular practice from one teacher, should we aspire to receive oral transmissions for that same practice from other teachers as well?

Alex: The custom of oral transmission arose within the context of ancient India, where nothing was written down in the teachings originally, and so the only way to learn the teachings would be to listen to them recited, and that implies memorization – that somebody has memorized it, and then you hear it over and over again so that you can memorize it. And we find among the Tibetans, even nowadays, that they all memorize the texts before they study them, and they memorize the pujas – they memorize everything.

There are three types of discriminating awareness: the one that arises from hearing, from thinking, and from meditating. What we want to do is to be very decisive in terms of the first of these types of discriminating awareness – that this is accurate, these are the actual words of the teachings, and we’ve gotten it correctly, and this is it. Then you can start thinking about it and try to understand it. And because of that, one needs to have the oral transmission of somebody who’s memorized it – that it is correct, and that we hear it, and you have to listen of course, pay attention, not fall asleep, etc. – so that eventually you can memorize it and pass it on to next generations. That is the whole context within which this custom arose.

Now, I used to think that what went along with the oral transmission was that the person who gave the oral transmission actually understood the text and the person who received it got inspired that “Well, there’s somebody that really understands it, so I can understand it as well.” But I found out that that was incorrect.

What happened was that the old Serkong Rinpoche’s father, Serkong Dorjechang… The first Serkong Dorjechang was one of the greatest yogis of the beginning of the last century, and he’s in the Kalachakra lineage. And although there’s a lineage of a particular text – Drang-nges legs-bshad snying-po, which is the Essence of Good Explanation of Interpretable and Definitive Meanings (it’s one of Tsongkhapa’s most difficult texts) – and although there’s the transmission from Tsongkhapa, Serkong Dorjechang had a vision of Tsongkhapa during a retreat and Tsongkhapa gave him another, a special transmission of the text.

The old Serkong Rinpoche had that transmission from his father, and although it’s a 250-page text, Rinpoche recited it from memory every day as part of his daily practice (in addition to all the tantra recitations and things that he did). And Rinpoche never actually gave that oral transmission to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, even though he was one of his teachers, because he said he was waiting until he had some really very, very special insight to be able to explain to His Holiness. So he never gave it.

So now the old Serkong Rinpoche dies. The reincarnation, the young tulku, he’s now twenty-seven, but a few years ago he said he really wanted to receive this transmission (I’m very close with him, as I was with the old one). And so we were looking around and looking around for who had this transmission to be able to give to the young Serkong Rinpoche. And it turned out that I was pretty much the only one left who actually had the oral transmission of this from Rinpoche. He’d given it to a very small group of like three people, and I was one of them. And what was even more incredible was that he gave the oral transmission from memory, the classic form, not from reading the text. So although I had the oral transmission, I had never actually studied the text. So I asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “Can I give the oral transmission? What should I do?” And His Holiness said, “It doesn’t matter whether you have studied the text or understand anything at all. You should give the oral transmission to the young Serkong Rinpoche.” So I practiced reciting the text out loud – I mean, I didn’t memorize it – reading it out loud until I could read it out loud at a sufficient speed so that it wouldn’t be a torture to listen to it, and I went to Rinpoche in India, made a special trip, and gave him the oral transmission. And what was really very nice was that a few months ago in Bodhgaya, Rinpoche for the first time gave the oral transmission. He gave it to a group of Tibetans, including Lama Zopa and Dagri Rinpoche. So it’s very nice that now it’s being carried on.

So you might ask if I was passing on the blessings of this text. I mean, I couldn’t say that. Is there some inspiration? Well, certainly not inspiration from my own realization – I never even studied the text – but there is I suppose some sort of inspiration from the fact that there is some continuity. So it certainly does have a benefit. They always say that if you receive the oral transmission, this will act as a circumstance to help you to understand the text better; and because of that, to receive the oral transmission several times is always helpful.

Anyway, that’s my experience with oral transmission.

So excuse me because I always answer questions much too long. I’m not good at just giving a one-sentence answer. But perhaps this story gives us a little bit of a lesson not to make these oral transmissions and these sorts of things into some sort of magic thing, as I said, with the oversimplification that they’re just throwing a football at us: “Here’s the transmission. Here’s the blessing.”

So let’s end with a dedication. We think whatever understanding, whatever positive force has come from this, may it go deeper and deeper and act as a cause to reach enlightenment for the benefit of all.