Host: But what do you, because I understand where you are going also with this question, if you have a person who has never been practicing anything before and stays away from you and starts to practice, like, what improvements do we see in people? Are they calmer? Are they more satisfied with their life? Or more compassionate? What have you seen with the people who stay away and they practice and they learn in their own pace? How does their life change?
Kalu Rinpoche: I think being a practitioner is one thing, being good at practice, or being good at reading, being good at reciting, being good with the communities, is one thing. Engaging with the true ugly reality is another. And regardless of many advanced practitioner you may be, whatever you call yourself, you will still fail as a practitioner, no matter what. And that is a reality that we have to accept.
Even Chenrezig, Avalokiteshvara, he fails his promise, he broke his promise in his time. So if bodhisattva can break their promise, then the ordinary being, obviously they’re going to lose their commitment, or break their commitment, time to time. But that does not give you the right to reject them. So they can fail and if their failure is genuine, not due to some other things, but if their failure is simply with a lack of qualities in their mind, then you support them continuously. And that’s how you become as a good practitioner over time.
You don’t say “oh, you’re a failure, and then now you just, I leave you behind.” that is not the definition of the Buddha’s student. You fail many times, and the teacher guides you over time. And that makes you a great practitioner.
The other thing is that you don’t consider yourself as a “Buddhist teacher” either. So you try to help as much as you can. The other person try to be genuine as much as they can. And of course there’s many things that they have overcome and they managed to overcome, and especially the people who I guide them in the retreat. Not the people that I engage them in an open public talk, because we don’t really spend time together, you understand what I mean? When there’s a public talk, when there’s an online talk, there’s no personal engagement, they watch for 5 minutes and they’re gone. How am I supposed to help them? How am I supposed to see the changes? But if they are individual, who spends time and do retreat, and studies little bit, and of course I see the changes. But it doesn’t mean that they are ready to fly. It doesn’t mean that. You have to guide them.
And that’s how my guru, Situ Rinpoche, my teacher, who has helped me, that’s how he guide me as well. He didn’t say “Hey, you are failure, and then now I abandon you”, it was not like that. He said “You do good things, I will support you, you do bad things, I will support you” So that is the definition of being a teacher. If you say “You embarrassed me, and now I reject you”, then that doesn’t make you a spiritual leader.
Host: It’s more like a spiritual friend.
Kalu Rinpoche: Yeah, it’s more like a spiritual friend.
Host: Patient with you, and understands you on a deeper level.
Kalu Rinpoche: The moment they get into the idea of “Ah, I’m the guru” and “I’m the student, the main student”, and then it’s finished.
To be continued…