Within the Tibetan tradition, there’s a strong emphasis with connecting with a teacher and relying on that person. I think that’s generally good, but it’s also important to develop some self-reliance in practice. Geshe Tashi mentioned something very interesting about this a few months earlier. He commented that in order to become more self-reliant in one’s own practice, a person should contemplate the “Four Reliances.” I thought this was a refreshing reminder.

For myself personally, I probably could have spared my own teacher a great deal of my unnecessary questions if I had followed these four points.

  1. Rely on the message of the teacher, not on his personality;
  2. Rely on the meaning, not just on the words;
  3. Rely on the real meaning, not the interpretable meaning.
  4. Rely on your wisdom mind, not on your ordinary, judgmental mind.

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