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Qualities of a Good Spiritual Master (or Teacher)

What are the Qualities of a Good Spiritual Master?

The role of the spiritual master is much more important than the doctor’s because the effects of his treatment are not just temporary.

Consequently, a wrong orientation from the spiritual Master may cause many inconveniences.

Je Tsongkhapa said:

„We must not entrust anyone the end of the rope with which we are bound; otherwise, we risk fulfilling extremely negative and damaging deeds not only to ourselves but to others as well. ”

Gautama Buddha insisted on the need to conduct a proper investigation when we seek a spiritual guide. He advises us not to rush, to carefully observe his true qualities and analyze them thoroughly.

We must perform this analysis and try to find a spiritual Master who, although may not possess all these qualities, he must at least have the essentials.

The Mahayana Sutras indicate the following 10 qualities:

  1. A disciplined mind (referring to the quality of having mastered the higher training in an ethical discipline).
  2. A calmed mind (referring to the quality of having mastered the higher training in meditation and concentration).
  3. A mind that is thoroughly calmed (referring to the quality of having mastered the higher training in wisdom, particularly the wisdom of no-self).
  4. Knowledge exceeding that of the student in whatever subject is being taught.
  5. Energy and enthusiasm for teaching the student.
  6. Vast learning in order to have the resources from which to draw examples and citations.
  7. Realization of emptiness—if possible, a genuine realization of emptiness, but at least a strong commitment to the practice of emptiness on the basis of deep admiration for the teachings on it.
  8. Eloquence and skill in presenting the Dharma so that the teaching is effective.
  9. Deep compassion and concern for the well-being of the student to whom the teaching is given (perhaps the most important quality of all).
  10. The resilience to maintain enthusiasm for and commitment to the student, not becoming discouraged no matter how many times the teaching has to be repeated.

The spiritual master must also possess other skills that the Bodhisattvas prove:

  • The possibility of giving basic material support (that does not mean he has to provide for his disciples with all needs). On the other hand, not only must he teach his disciples, but also to be concerned about the general situation of the disciples, their temporary difficulties, and sufferings to which they need help and solutions.
  • A pleasant way to address disciples.
  • The knowledge to pass over the meaning of the teachings.
  • To live according to the teachings.
  • He will not speak to anyone about his nature, instead, he will prove this by deeds and manifestations.

The Master fulfills Buddha’s activities, namely, he releases sentient beings, shows us the path and leads us to liberation. The spiritual Master is a guide for the blind, a doctor for the sick and a trainer for wildlife. Even if we are not part of this category of animals, our mind is extremely wild, resembling an untrained animal.

Therefore, the Spiritual Master is the One that will help us train or tame our mind.