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Guru Devotion

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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 About a year ago someone relatively new to the dharma emailed me asking if he could begin posting sutras on our Buddhist Sutras Yahoo Group. Unfortunately, he suffered from the mental disease called schizophrenia.

Last January, we talked many times through email before he signed up. I told him of the positive benefits others have received just by copying and printing sutras and he became inspired. Later, he received consultation from a lama about the merits of reciting sutras. The lama told him if you do so, then all his negative karma would be gone after a year. A few months shy of a year, I got this wonderful letter:

    Hi neozen,

    I completed my massive chanting homework.

    I recited the High King Sutra 21,000 times since May, and the Padmakumara mantra over 1.35 million, and true Buddha sutra 2,000 times. I’m trying to complete the High King avalokitesvara sutra 30,000 times by the end of the year.

    I feel like my negative karma is gone already. For the first time in 1 and a half years, I was able to go out into public without fear or anxiety.

    I just finished my last post on a sutra. So, I might be taking a break from the site.

    Thanks for all your help.
    A mi tuo fo


The merits of posting these sutras are not well known. Dharma students often skip the sutras in favor of tantras. That is understandable. Yet the sutras offer a firm foundation for all the tantras to stand upon. The disciples who EMBRACE, READ, RECITE, EXPOUND and COPY these sutras receive immeasurable benefit. From the Sanghata Sutra:

    “If all the sentient beings of the million world-systems were bodhisattvas, compared to the mass of merit of one who makes charity to all of them, if the mass of merit produced by one whose mind becomes inspired with trust towards one Tathagata, and one who makes their mind inspired with trust towards a million world-systems completely full of Tathagatas, and one who hears this Sanghata dharma-paryaya would produce a much greater mass of merit than that.”


To understand how we can heal from these negative karmic afflictions that are latent in our subconscious mind, we need to know the benefits of guru devotion. If we have a qualified master leading us, we can be free from the most troublesome mental, emotional and physical disease.

The benefits of guru devotion are not well known in the west. To us it is either a foreign concept or we reject it because so many charlatans have deceived us in the past. Because of this, we think of surrendering our will to somebody as unwise. From the 50 Verses of Guru Devotion:

    It is from your Guru that powerful attainments, higher rebirth and happiness come. Therefore, make a wholehearted effort never to transgress your Guru’s advice. – Verse 25

When we find a qualified lama it is more precious than anything we ever encountered before. Since we have accumulated negativity over beginningless lifetimes it is worthwhile to take note of how to reverse this condition and develop virtue.


Since the benefits of proper guru devotion are so high, the consequences of belittling a highly-realized master is quite deep and serious. The law of karma is quite exact. Vajrapani once asked Guru Shakyamuni Buddha what the negative consequences of belittling the guru were.

    Taken aback, Guru Shakyamuni replied, “Oh, Vajrapani, please don’t ask me that! If I were to enumerate those consequences, humans, gods and even dauntless bodhisattvas would be terrified and die of shock.”

When Atisha came to Tibet he told the Tibetans:

    “All the major and minor realizations are developed by relying on the guru but since you Tibetans regard your guru as simply an ordinary man, there’s no way you can develop any realizations.”


If you are a Buddhist then there is a very important text that is a must read. The 50 Verses of Guru Devotion was written by Ashvagosha in the first century BCE. In Tibetan it is called Lama Nga-chu-pa. In Sanskrit it is called Gurupancashika.

    After a disciple has taken refuge in the Triple Gem and developed a pure (Enlightened) motive, he should be given this (text) to take to his heart (how to abandon his own arrogant self-will and) follow in his Guru’s footsteps (along the Graded Path to Enlightenment). – Verse 48

In order to help such disciples and save them from the worst consequences of belittling and transgressing their guru-disciple relationship, Ashvagosha wrote this book. Click to download the .pdf file: 50 Verses of Guru Devotion

It is a wonderful text to read over and over again. If we pay close attention to it, there is no doubt we will be perfectly mindful in his presence and receive the most blessings from our guru.