Exposing Faults

The Kadampa masters used to say that the kindest teacher is one who reveals our hidden faults, and thus enables us to see what is holding us back on the path.

Reassuring flattery will only serve to sustain (1) our ignorance, (2) our vanity, and (3) our suffering.

The rebukes of a true master, one whose sole purpose is to awaken his students, have nothing to do with contempt or a tendency to see defects in others’ behavior.

Just as the needle of a compass stubbornly and unambiguously points north, they provide their students with precious indications that will save them from wasting time taking wrong directions or getting trapped in their own weaknesses.

After reading some of the following texts, one might think that the authors are castigating themselves. But this expression of humility is a traditional way of presenting the teaching. The disciple knows how to take it: he understands that the teacher is showing him a mirror.

Until we are able to integrate what we have understood through meditation into our everyday life, the smallest obstacle will trip us up, and we will be unable to cope with the vagaries of existence while continuing to grow spiritually.

Periods of meditation and post-meditation must reinforce each other, or the fruit of the spiritual path will remain out of reach.

To correct one’s faults and achieve stability, it is essential to be vigilant at all times.

In the words of a Kadampa master: The sword of attention guards the door of my mind! If passions threaten, I’ll threaten them back! I’ll release my grip when they release theirs!

Practice requires a sustained effort. If we were naturally free from attachment and anger, and our only concern was for infinite beings, we would already be accomplished, and we would not need to practice.

As that is generally not the case, we must keep in mind the meaning of the teachings and carefully observe what we do, say, and think.

It is only by assiduous [showing great care and perseverance] discipline that as practitioners of the Dharma we can deeply and definitively transform our way of being.

Note: Kadampa – a Tibetan Buddhist school founded by followers of the Indian master Atisha (982–1054) that focuses on monastic discipline, compassion, and study. His teachings are preserved and practiced in all Tibetan lineages. It was under the inspiration of this school that the Gelugpa tradition was founded in the fifteenth century.

Source: Ricard, Matthieu. On the Path to Enlightenment: Heart Advice from the Great Tibetan Masters. Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2013.