Rinpoche recently completed two weekends of teachings devoted to the practice of Guru Yoga.
A portion of the teachings described three types of Dharma students. All three kinds of students are necessary, and have a significant role to play in supporting the Dharma.
1. The student with faith, understanding, diligence, and meditative absorption.
2. The student who supports the Dharma through their own physical activity and wealth.
3. The student who makes material offerings to support the Lama’s activity.
Without material offerings, such as financial contributions, establishing a proper location and seat for rooting the dharma would be impossible. In order to reach ordinary beings who are suffering, a physical place to teach and inspire must be created. A part of that is based upon the material offerings of the lama’s students. Offerings such as fruit, flowers, incense are made on the shrine, creating proper dependant arising for the teachings to be given. We have all seen the importance of material offerings ourselves as we realize the establishment of Orgyen Khamdroling Dharma Center.
In addition to material offerings, many of us also offer out physical activity in various ways to support the Dharma. Our community has worked together to renovate and build out our center physically, and keep it clean on an ongoing basis. Members donate time and skills in many different ways to create/print flyers, and promote and organize teachings and events, teach classes (Yoga, Tibetan language, Children’s Dharma) and even wash dishes, carry cushions, clean the floors, and arrange flowers. Thinking of more examples is easy to do – the list goes on and on – and each of these different activities is important in creating the whole. These offerings of physical activity on top of material support are a further development our qualities as students of Anyen Rinpoche and the Dharma.
The supreme student has four exemplary qualities – the most important of which is faith. The faith of the supreme student is steadfast and unchanging, and does not falter when adversity is met. Constant faith in your lama is demonstrated as absolute trust in the lama’s selfless motivation and goal in all activities for the benefit of others. Diligence is another important quality possessed by the supreme student. Diligence means unfailing practice of the teachings throughout one’s lifetime and includes giving up worldly activity in order to practice. These next two qualities – understanding and meditative absorption – will naturally arise in the student who has faith and diligence. When the lama teaches, unmistaken meaning arises in the mind of the student. Meditative absorption, or not moving from the mind of meditation, is present in the supreme student – awareness, focus, concentration and discrimination are constantly displayed.
So, with these qualities and types of students in mind, how can we develop ourselves? We can begin by focusing on the outer qualities – faith and diligence. Ask yourself, do you have complete confidence in the Dharma and the Lama? Examine your areas of strength and weakness so you know where to focus your attention. Do you need to spend more time contemplating things you have already been taught? If so, set aside a small amount of time to do just that.
If you find that your faith is lacking, increasing your confidence in the teachings and the lama is can be gained through experience and practice – diligence. Do you attend teachings regularly, giving up some worldly activity in order to participate? Or are you attending only when it is entirely convenient for you, and you don’t have to give anything else up? Apply the teachings, observe the result, refine the application and repeat. Rinpoche reminded us that faith and diligence can be improved, solidified and expanded – we can improve ourselves as students of the dharma.
By focusing on increasing our outer qualities, we are also developing our inner qualities. The inner qualities are devotion and offerings. What is the difference between faith and devotion? They are closely connected, certainly. Perhaps there is an aspect of energy and enthusiasm to devotion, while faith is a belief or a conviction. So this makes sense as a progression – when we find our belief or trust in the lama and the teachings growing stronger, we practice more, and our diligence grows. And as we practice more, we gain momentum and enthusiasm to participate even more in teachings and practice. We want to express our appreciation. Feeling that strong urge to connect, making offerings starts to come naturally.
Offerings demonstrate the strength of your faith, diligence, and devotion. Ask yourself, do you take the time and attention to bring flowers or fruit, stay to help clean after a practice, or lend your time and energy in other ways? Do you offer an envelop and khata when you can after a teaching? There are so many ways, big and small that you can make offerings, and remember to dedicate your actions for the benefit of all.
A tamed disposition is the secret quality. When we have developed our inner and outer qualities, we find that a flexible, stable state of mind pervades our presence. We can engage in life with a calm and focused confidence, unshaken by the difficulties we encounter. What a gift for yourself, and for others. Developing yourself as a student is a good investment!
As we work together creating our center, expanding the reach of Orgyen Khamdroling and Anyen Rinpoche’s teachings, we are developing ourselves as practitioners, we are improving. Looking back, it’s not hard to see our progress individually and as a community. We are doing very good work in improving our faith, diligence, generosity, and mindset – together. Thank you for leading us so skillfully, Anyen Rinpoche.
How have you developed as a student over the past years? Are there any specific goals you have met, or aspire to meet in the coming years?
In the Dharma,