Some people believe that Guru Yoga is only mentioned in Tantric Buddhism and not in other Buddhist traditions. The reason for this is that other schools are only suitable for ordinary beings who are full of impurities and ignorance. These ordinary beings usually have to go through countless obstacles before they understand that the Guru is the embodiment of universal truth.
To be in line with what ordinary beings believe and perceive, Buddha Shakyamuni taught appropriate, easy-to-believe, and easy-to-practice doctrines. For those with higher intelligence, the Buddha revealed difficult-to-believe truths through Tantra practice. This explains why Guru Yoga is not “common” and is only practiced in Tantra, which is the path or “vehicle” for disciples with a certain level of intelligence.
Let’s explore together with LotusBuddhas to find out what Guru Yoga is and why some Tantric Buddhist practitioners are so proud of it!
What is Guru Yoga?
Guru Yoga is a spiritual practice in Tibetan Buddhism that focuses on creating a deep, meaningful connection with one’s spiritual teacher or guru. Through this practice, the practitioner seeks to receive the blessings, wisdom, and guidance of the guru by visualizing them, meditating on their qualities, and reciting mantras associated with them.
The essence of Guru Yoga is to recognize the potential for enlightenment within oneself and use the guru as a guide to uncover one’s inner wisdom. The practice helps to merge the student’s mind with the enlightened mind of the guru, facilitating spiritual growth and realization.
It’s like you’re connecting with the essence of your teacher, tapping into their wisdom, and allowing it to merge with your own heart and mind. It’s not just about sitting on a cushion, doing some stretches and chanting; it’s a deep, personal connection that can completely change the way you see the world.
That’s what Guru Yoga is all about – bringing that energy into your own life. One thing we love about Guru Yoga is the way it helps us stay grounded and focused, even when things get hectic. We mean, life is a rollercoaster, right? But with Guru Yoga, it’s like we have got this little oasis of peace and wisdom that we can tap into whenever we need it.
The origin of Guru Yoga
The origin of this practice can be traced back to Tibetan Buddhism, dating back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. You see, in the early days of Tibetan Buddhism, there was this idea that the guru was like a living embodiment of the Buddha. No kidding! The gurus were seen as a direct link to the enlightened state, and their students would do anything to learn from them and soak up that wisdom.
Now, over time, the practice of Guru Yoga evolved into what we know today. It’s still about forming a deep connection with your guru, but it’s also about recognizing the Buddha nature within yourself. It’s like the guru is the one holding the flashlight, showing you the way to your own inner light.
Guru Yoga has been handed down from generation to generation, from teacher to student, and it’s still going strong today. It’s like this living tradition that’s been passed on through the ages, always adapting and growing with the times.
One cool thing about Guru Yoga is that it’s not exclusive to Tibetan Buddhism. You can find similar practices in other traditions, like Hinduism and even some Western spiritual movements. It just goes to show that the idea of connecting with a spiritual teacher is something that resonates with people all around the world.
Benefits of practicing Guru Yoga
LotusBuddas acknowledges that no one is currently practicing Guru Yoga, so we admit to not knowing the exact benefits it brings. However, we have researched on websites such as lamayeshe.com and other reliable sources to share with you.
Inner peace: Practicing Guru Yoga is like hitting the “reset” button on your stress levels. It’s a way to find that inner calm and quiet, even when life is throwing curveballs at you.
Spiritual growth: Guru Yoga helps you tap into your own inner wisdom, guided by the insights of your guru. It’s like having a mentor who’s always there to help you grow and learn on your spiritual journey.
Greater compassion: When you practice Guru Yoga, you’re connecting with the loving-kindness and compassion of your guru. And guess what? That can’t help but rub off on you! It’s like you’re absorbing all those good vibes and then spreading them around in your daily life.
Deeper meditation: Guru Yoga can help take your meditation practice to the next level. By focusing on your guru’s enlightened qualities, you can achieve a more profound state of concentration and awareness. It’s like turbo-charging your meditation!
Building trust: Trusting your guru and opening yourself up to their wisdom is a big part of Guru Yoga. And you know what? It can teach you a lot about trusting yourself, too. It’s like learning to have faith in your own inner guidance.
Connection to something greater: Practicing Guru Yoga helps you feel connected to a larger spiritual community and a lineage of enlightened beings. It’s like being part of this amazing team, all working together to spread love and wisdom in the world.
How to practice Guru Yoga
As LotusBuddhas has shared, some people believe that Guru Yoga is not for ordinary individuals. However, we still have the right to learn about how it works, don’t we?
Find a quiet, comfy spot: First things first, you’ll want to find a peaceful place where you can sit down and focus. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just somewhere you feel comfortable and can be undisturbed for a little while.
Set your intention: Before you begin, take a moment to set your intention for the practice. Maybe you want to cultivate more compassion, or perhaps you’re seeking guidance on a particular issue. Whatever it is, hold that intention in your heart as you start your Guru Yoga practice.
Visualize your guru: Now, close your eyes and picture your spiritual teacher or the enlightened being you feel connected to. It could be someone you know personally, or a historical figure like the Buddha or a famous guru. Try to imagine them in as much detail as possible, radiating love and wisdom.
Recite a mantra: Next, you can choose a mantra to recite as you visualize your guru. This could be something simple like “Om” or a specific mantra associated with your guru or enlightened being. Repeat the mantra with a sense of devotion, letting it connect you even more deeply with your guru.
Receive blessings: As you continue to visualize your guru and recite the mantra, imagine their blessings and enlightened qualities flowing into you. You can envision this as a stream of light or energy, entering your heart and filling you with love, wisdom, and compassion.
Merge with your guru: Finally, imagine that you and your guru are merging together, becoming one. Feel your own mind and heart united with the enlightened qualities of your guru, as if you’re embodying their wisdom and love.
Dedicate the merit: Once you’ve finished your practice, take a moment to dedicate the positive energy you’ve generated to the benefit of all beings. This helps to seal the practice and ensure that its effects ripple out into the world.
Three crucial points when practicing Guru Yoga
First is Pure motivation
Before practicing, the practitioner should always reflect on the rarity and preciousness of this human body. Then, contemplate on the impermanence, death, the law of cause and effect, and reincarnation. Generate the Bodhicitta, firmly believing that all beings possess the Buddha nature and are only suffering in the cycle of birth and death due to ignorance. With this diamond-like faith, direct your life towards the sublime purpose of practicing for the enlightenment and welfare of all beings.
Second is Practice purity
The practitioner should remember that the secret mandala is a mandala of enlightenment of the Buddhas, a space of blessings and merits. Therefore, one should protect the power of blessings and avoid negative energies that could hinder one’s practice, purify the practice environment by reflecting on the mandala realm of the Guru.
In reality, the enlightened ones are present everywhere, but due to ignorance, we cannot recognize them. Therefore, to connect and invoke the appearance of the Guru, the practitioner should recite the praise and prayer to the Guru and the Seven Branches of Prayer of Aspiration and Conduct.
During the practice, the practitioner should pay attention to sitting in the seven postures of Vairocana Buddha, sit upright with natural breathing, the head comfortably balanced on the neck, chin slightly tucked in, shoulders relaxed and balanced, and can sit in any posture like the Diamond Seat, with tongue resting on the palate, hands in the gesture of meditation, placed in front of the abdomen or holding a mala bead, with eyes slightly open to maintain clarity and alertness.
In Guru Yoga practice, the practitioner should focus on reciting the mantra. The recitation of the mantra is a direct way of returning to the reality, which is the means and center of the manifestation of reality. As the mantra is the essence of the reality of the Buddha and the Guru, when reciting the mantra and repeating the syllables that resonate with this enlightened reality and abide in the great wisdom, the practitioner will create a connection with the outer and inner Guru and generate results full of power.
Third is Dedication of merit
In the teachings, it is said: “Even a single drop of water, once it falls into the ocean, will never be exhausted until the ocean dries up, and that drop of water will exist as long as the ocean exists. Therefore, if a person dedicates their good deeds and merits with Bodhicitta, then those merits will never be lost until they attain enlightenment for all beings.”
In other words, if the practitioner forgets to dedicate their merit and good deeds immediately after practice, then harmful afflictions such as anger, hatred, or desire may arise and destroy any accumulated merit.
The virtues and merits that have not been dedicated are like dry grass that can be instantly burnt by the flames of greed or anger. However, the virtues and merits that have been dedicated will never be destroyed because they have merged into the vast ocean of the enlightened mind of all the Buddhas and will continue to grow until the practitioner attains Buddhahood.
Some common misconceptions about Guru Yoga
When exploring Guru Yoga, LotusBuddhas came across misconceptions on Buddhist forums. Of course, with a secret practice of a mystical Buddhist tradition like Tantric Buddhism, misunderstandings are inevitable.
It’s all about blind devotion
Truth: No way! Guru Yoga is about connecting with the wisdom and love of your spiritual teacher, but it’s not about blindly following them. It’s more like using them as a mirror to help you uncover your own inner wisdom and potential for enlightenment. It’s a partnership, not a dictatorship.
You need a famous guru
Truth: Not at all! Your guru can be anyone you feel a deep spiritual connection with, whether they’re well-known or not. It could be a local meditation teacher, a friend, or even a historical figure you admire. The key is to find someone who inspires you and helps you grow on your spiritual journey.
Guru Yoga is only for Buddhists
Truth: While Guru Yoga has its roots in Tibetan Buddhism, the practice can actually be adapted for people of all spiritual backgrounds. It’s about connecting with a wise and compassionate guide, which is something that transcends religious boundaries.
It’s a complicated practice
Truth: Guru Yoga can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. At its core, it’s just about visualizing your guru, connecting with their wisdom, and reciting a mantra. Of course, you can add other elements if you like, but the basic practice is really quite straightforward.
It’s selfish to focus on your own spiritual growth
Truth: Here’s the thing – by cultivating your own inner wisdom and compassion through Guru Yoga, you’re actually better equipped to help others. It’s like the old saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” By working on your own spiritual development, you’re laying the foundation to be of greater service to the world.
Those are some of the most common misconceptions about Guru Yoga. Apart from the mystical nature of Tantric practices, Guru Yoga is truly a beautiful and transformative method of practicing Yoga. We hope that clarifying these misunderstandings will encourage more people to try the practice.