- This Issue
- Mandala eZine December 2011
- Mandala eZine August 2011
- Mandala eZine May 2011
- Mandala eZine February 2011
- Mandala eZine December 2010
- Mandala eZine August 2010
- Mandala eZine May 2010
- Mandala eZine February 2010
- Mandala eZine December 2009
- Mandala eZine August 2009
- Mandala eZine May 2009
- Mandala eZine February 2009
- Mandala eZine December 2008
By Ven. Tenzin Chönyi (Dr. Diana Taylor)
From the feet, footprints. On the beach I make up stories about the birds or people or animals who have left their imprints on the sand. One day I followed a very odd footprint to discover a red crab hiding under seaweed attached to its shell. It scuttled away to safety. Another day it seemed like a huge bird had been on the beach. No, it was a wallaby.
When we see the footprints, we can walk the same path. My granddaughter walks in my footprints and I play the game of going in circles until we are both laughing. Merlin sniffs at some dog prints. He can probably tell which dog ran along that part of the beach. We can follow the footprints of those who know the path.
Which footprints will I follow? “In the master’s steps he trod,” we sing at Christmas in the Good King Wenceslas carol, “where the snow lay deepest. Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.”
How do we know that the footprints are those of the master? If we can see where they lead, the answer is easy. If we cannot see where they lead, then we act on trust and we may not know at first whether or not that trust is misplaced.
Carl Jung wrote about the mana personality. This refers to those who become spiritual teachers, but then are seduced by their egos into inflated ideas of their own importance. I know about this because I have to watch it in myself every time I teach. It is easy for any of the eight worldly dharmas to creep into what I thought was a pure motivation. Power, prestige, prosperity, praise or peace at any cost, all these can seep into a teacher’s mind. The teacher who started following the master’s footsteps can so easily become distracted.
It is not easy to check out whether a teacher has become seduced by the eight worldly dharmas, but there can be clues. You can find some of these in the false guru test.2 Here are a few of them:
- Is unable to take criticism
- Acts omnipotently and without accountability
- Encourages adoration, masked as encouraging devotion
- Collects a large band of angry ex-followers
Of course, any of these can also be the outcome of crazy wisdom or wrathful action. The false guru, and his/her students, will often argue that this is the case, but too much unwise activity has been masked by this argument. Then, of course, perhaps our guru has wisdom that seems crazy to us, but is still wisdom. We need, then, to check out our own inner guru, our own wisdom.
Humility is perhaps the most important key. There is a wonderful photo of our precious Lama Zopa Rinpoche bowing low in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness is holding up Rinpoche’s chin for the photo. His Holiness himself keeps saying, “I’m just a simple monk.” I remember one day coming unexpectedly across His Holiness. At first I did not recognize who it was because his walk was that of a simple monk on the path. No swaggering. No expensive robes. A simple monk, a friendly monk , who smiled at me as we passed.
Following in the master’s steps means following the imprints of the master’s mind. While we trudge through the snow, the iciness of ignorance, there is warmth where the master walks, the warmth of compassion and wisdom. We can follow any imprints. We can create our own. Most importantly, we can follow the imprints of those who know the path. How beautiful, then are the feet of the genuine guru. Rejoice.
Subscribe to our Feed
1632 SE 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214-4702
Office Telephone: (503) 808-1588
Toll free [US only]: (866) 808-3302
Fax: (503) 232-0557
About Mandala Publications
Mandala Publications is the official publication of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international charitable organization founded by two Tibetan Buddhist masters, Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1984) and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. FPMT is a vibrant international community, with a network of 160 affiliate centers, projects and services, and members in more than 30 countries.
Mandala print magazine is published in January, April, July and October. Mandala is available via the Friends of FPMT program.