The Guru Disciple Relationship in Vajrayana Buddhism

Guru: The Great Master

The Guru-disciple relationship is fundamental to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. In Vajrayana Buddhism the role of Guru is clearly defined and, it is the essential core of the tradition. The transmission of Knowledge from Guru to the disciple is a practice that predates to generations back.

The importance of the relationship between teacher and the student was recognized long way back during early Buddhism era. As the Pali verse explains:

"The man should venerate him from whom he learns the Dharma as the Gods venerate Indra. The learned person thus being venerated, being pleased with disciple, makes the Dharma manifest."

The life story of Shakyamuni Buddha, in itself also embarks the evidence of the Guru-disciple tradition. When he left the palace and wandered to places in search of truth, he apprenticed with different types of teachers. He mastered various meditative and yogic disciplines. But afterward his enlightenment, he decided to postpone his Parinirvana, to teach Dharma. He stayed on earth to promote universal wellbeing and decrease the sufferings of the sentient beings.

A Buddha as the one who knows, lives and transmits the Dharma, is the paradigmatic Guru.

Shakyamuni Buddha

Meanwhile Mahayana tradition introduced incipent Guru as a Noble friend. A companion on the spiritual path whose positive influence helps the aspirant to reach the enlightenment. As Mahayana Sutra explains:

It is from a spiritual friend that bodhisattva learn the practice of Bodhisattva. it is through spiritual friends that all bodhisattva's virtues are perfected: spiritual friends are the source of the stream of all bodhisattva vows: the roots of goodness of all bodhisattva are produced by spiritual friends. The provision for enlightenment are produced by spiritual friend. the purification of all ways  to enlightenment derives from spiritual friends; the accomplishment of all studies of bodhisattvas are based on spiritual friends"

Thus, the Noble friend is an essential peer who helps us withstand the temptations of worldliness and devote to the Six Perfections (Paramita): Generosity, Discipline, Tolerance, Diligence, Meditation and Wisdom. 

In Vajrayana, Guru or the spiritual guide is essential to advance in the path of Buddhahood. He is the supreme of the Tantric universe, the portal of all initiations, teachings and blessing.

Together the Guru and disciple embark on a relationship that is psychologically, emotionally and spiritually profound. The relationship is believed to be karmically destined and thus, a student will naturally be drawn towards a teacher. 

Guru takes the full responsibility to look after the disciples' training and his progress on every level. He empowers and permits student to visualize deities and aids the meditation. 

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