this translates as 'moon in the water',
a common metaphor for illusion or relative truth


    I take refuge in my root guru. He stands as a radiant beacon, supporting the aspiration to awaken, urging me on to look reality in the face, fearlessly. He appears in our midst, transcendent yet not separate from all we perceive, encouraging us to take heart, to open and grow spiritually, to consciously receive the continuous flow of blessings. Through this receptivity, compassion and skilful means develop for the benefit of oneself and all others. We cultivate the ability to move within the dualistic world, always aware of our oneness with it.

The spiritual master is not an 'other'. To begin understanding this truth, we need to consider our separative movement in depth and detail, and realize how deeply ingrained the egoic view is. If we are not sufficiently mindful of death and impermanence, if we are not yet aware that the nature of the illusion is suffering, we may lack sufficient motivation and will not be given over in our hearts and minds to transcendent truth. The teacher will simply appear to be another eccentric who possesses a few inspiring and entertaining qualities. By insisting on our right to be casual, superimposing our egoic need for affirmation through the robotic rituals and social exchanges of conventional friendship onto this relationship, we reveal our resistance. This is a very limiting and inept way to interact with the Infinite. It reinforces wrong views, ego-clinging and the mind of samsara, which is traditionally described as an endless circle.

We in the west have an aversion to recognizing the divine in human form. It's much safer that way. Doubt supports an attitude bereft of any real love or spiritual responsibility. The world-experience loses its lightness and fluidity and becomes heavy, solid and fixed; in fact, it has become a trap from which we crave release. Without a connection with one who stands free, how and in what direction will you be moved beyond yourself? Your own ego will be your guide in the endless search for happiness.

To make a serious commitment, we need to really study the teacher and hear his arguments; learn how to analyze, understand and discriminate so as to make an intelligent assessment. Does this one demonstrate and communicate the realization of compassion, love and truth? On the basis of these considerations we need to come to a whole-hearted decision and then commit ourselves, bind ourselves with sacred samaya or continue the search for an appropriate path. But we owe ourselves and the teacher at least this much. To casually continue in an undefined way and fail to recognize our responsibility drains the energy of communion.

When I merge my mind with the non-dual view and understanding of the teacher, I connect with the truth of his being, which is identical with my own being or being itself. In my practice, this merging is accomplished by grace through devoted service to and meditation. Through these means, I am freed of the constant feeling of separation and self-identity that permeates all other moments.

Lately, a lot of changes I've been going through for years are coming to a head. I was not ever really looking for a spiritual community and didn't have a very good idea of what one was. My love for Shugchang was my only reason for associating with this kind of gathering. In working with him, I have found myself in situations that put me up against the force and resistance of all my deepest attachments. I am having to face the liberating truth that I generate my own suffering and study the mechanism by which I perpetuate unhappiness. It has always been my habit to look outside myself as to the causes of my unhappiness, blaming others and external circumstances. Such an approach robs me of any means to transform my situation and only served to create further unhappiness.

Shugchang has been trying to communicate to me for a long time about the true nature of existence. Meeting the Khenpo Rinpoches in the fall of 1989, provided an opportunity to adopt a structured practice which has helped me to at least begin hearing. As my understanding develops over time, devotion and joyful effort are happening more and more naturally. Through dreams and in the course of daily experience I am becoming aware of an ecstatic opening at the heart, sometimes in a very intense and tangible way. The communication and ongoing life of realization of truth are absolutely necessary if we are to learn about ourselves and awaken to our real nature. This is a gift for which I continue to be grateful.


Turtle Hill Sangha © 2010