Choose well the object of your devotion

The Sanskrit word ‘guru’ translated as ‘lama’ in Tibetan, has the sense of weightiness; meaning the individual is laden with excellent qualities. These qualities have nothing to do with a person’s position or status, nor with their level of education, but are principally concerned with the way they think: their renunciation, bodhichitta and view of selflessness.

Someone with these qualities can be called ‘lama’. When engendering faith in someone with such qualities, since a beginner does not know how to have faith in the lama’s body and speech, we should instead have faith in and honour their inner qualities of renunciation, bodhichitta and selfless view. What good would it do to honour something skinny or fat, like myself? The body is called ‘the aggregate-demon’; and demon worship will do us no good whatsoever.

When we honour, admire and have respect for renunciation and these other qualities, we will become receptive and open to them, which means that they will gradually influence us and lead us to change. For example, we might start to feel that cyclic existence is suffering in its very nature, and such a thought will then inspire us to free ourselves from samsara’s cycle. This is beyond doubt.

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