Meditator, teacher, and founder of Dongyu Gatsal Ling, a nunnery in the Drukpa Kagyu lineage in Tashi Jong, India, Ven. Tenzin Palmo [now, Jetsünma Tenzin Palmo] found her perfect teacher, His Eminence the eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche in India, 1964. In this extract from Reflections on a Mountain Lake: Teachings on Practical Buddhism [Snow Lion Publications, July 2002] she spiritedly reflects on the role of the spiritual master with particular reference to the Vajrayana path.
In the Vajrayana, or Tantric, school, the guru plays an extremely pivotal role. I think there are two principal reasons for this. Firstly, a genuine teacher, or guru, is the one who reveals to us the empty, aware, clear nature of the primordial mind, our inherent wisdom and compassion. This, the mind’s unconditioned nature, is always with us [and] is the most fundamental aspect of our being. However, it is very difficult for us to gain access to this without help. We need a teacher who can create the psychological circumstances for us to glimpse this inherent nature. So a true guru is the one who shows us the nature of the mind. He or she is therefore an extremely important person in our lives.
From Mandala June-August 2002.