Monday, April 04, 2005

Farewell To A Spiritual Teacher

A disciple with sense should not accept as his spiritual teacher someone who lacks compassion or who is angersome, vicious or arrogant, possessive, undisciplined or boasts of his knowledge.

(A spiritual teacher should be) stable (in his actions), wise, patient and honest. He should neither conceal his short-comings nor pretend to possess qualities he lacks. He should be an expert in the meanings (of the tantra) and its ritual procedures (of medicine and turning back obstacles). Also he should have loving compassion and a knowledge of the scriptures.

Excerpt: Fifty Stanzas on the Spiritual Teacher
Aryashura, 1st Century BC.

Almost every Monday night since July last year I have been attending my local Buddhist centre to take part in a two year Buddhist studies course. Tonight was the last night of the current module of the course, The Spiritual Teacher. This is a big and important topic in the particular tradition of Tibetan Buddhism I am involved in (and much bigger than any blog post), but tonight as we discussed the importance of the spiritual teacher we also touched on its importance in other faiths, not just in Buddhism.

A faith other than my own lost an important spiritual teacher this week with the death of Pope John Paul II, a man who was shepherd, guide and spiritual 'father' to millions of people around the world. I am not a Christian and so don't personally follow (or sometimes agree) with his point of view, however I have come to understand the importance he played in the spiritual lives of many millions of Christians. Importantly, especially from a Buddhist perspective, his willingness to show his suffering and to not shy away even from televising images of his body after death (as he requested) should encourage us all to appreciate that we have this the 'human condition' in common.

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