Nangten Menlang - Buddhist Medical Center

How to Receive a Teaching

We say that it is nearly impossible to be born on this planet. It is even more impossible to be born in a human body. It is even more impossible to be born in a free country where you can practice whatever you like. It is even more impossible to hear about Dharma teachings. It is even more impossible that you find a teacher. And even more impossible still that you have interest! Therefore, we are incredibly fortunate to receive teachings. We need to recognize our precious opportunity and we need to act. Somehow, we are here. If not now, when will we practice?

The Teacher’s Responsibility

A teacher needs many qualities, but the most important is to love the student. The teacher’s job is to give. Give and love are the same. The teacher must really honestly try to help the student. To do this means choosing the right student, right time, right place, right environment and right meaning. The teacher needs to understand the modern times and teach in a way that the student can relate. The teacher needs to be able to read the student and consider their beliefs and psychology.

Of course, the teacher needs to have a certain level of learning and higher understanding and, most especially, a high level of practice and experience. But, most of all, the teacher needs to love.

There are different kinds of teachers: Root Master, Kun Kyab Master, and Inner Master.

The Root Master is a teacher to whom you have a heart connection. Perhaps you immediately felt something when you met this teacher. Perhaps his or her words went very deep. This is important because this teacher opens you. This kind of teacher introduces you to yourself, makes you see yourself. They show you your wisdom.

The Kun Kyab Master means that everything is your teacher. Everything in this universe can teach you. An enemy is your teacher, a friend is your teacher, problems are your teacher and change is your teacher. Water can teach you and space can teach you, and you can teach yourself.

The Inner Master means that you have found yourself. You guide yourself, and you recognize that you are everything. You are your own teacher, because you recognize your innate wisdom and can use your wisdom eyes.

It is the Root Master that introduces us to our Inner Master. So it is very important that we find a teacher to guide us. A teacher motivates us, reduces our laziness and gives us an opportunity to practice devotion.

And remember: You can read a book, but a book cannot read you.

The Student’s Responsibility

The teacher helps, and the student practices. It is the student’s responsibility to change. It is 50-50. Change never happens on the outside. Change happens on the inside. No one can change you, only you can change yourself. To do this, the student needs faith in the teacher—not blind faith, but intelligent faith.

Nowadays, it is easier to find a good teacher than a good student because the student needs to have such faith in order to take the teaching. On top of that, we have so much laziness. That is the big disease of the 21st century. We are so lazy! A good student needs to have discipline and truly practice what is given. Having faith and devotion to a teacher really helps overcome laziness. Then the student can really change.

There are several kinds of students that may not receive a teaching properly. The first is like a glass that is upside-down. That student never hears what is said; nothing is received. The second kind of student is like a glass with a hole in the bottom. That student forgets everything. The third kind of student is like a glass full of dirt. That student hears everything in his or her own way. That student completely misunderstands and makes a story in their head. This first kind of student has no motivation. The second has weak motivation, and the third has wrong motivation.

Motivation is the key for everything. Motivation is the only ear, otherwise we don’t hear.

Therefore, both the teacher and the student have a role to play. When they each take responsibility the teaching goes very deep and it is like magic. When we open our wisdom eyes, it is complete magic.