My father is self-knowing wakefulness.
My mother is the excellent space of all things.
I belong to the caste of undivided space and knowing.
I have taken the unborn dharmadhatu as my homeland.
I sustain myself by consuming concepts of duality.
To slay selfish emotions is my aim.
∼Padmasambhava, the Lotus-Born
Who is Padmasambhava, the Guru Rinpoche, the Lotus Born? From where did he emerge, and how did his appearance transform the minds and landscape of the Himalayas, rooftop to the world? How does a man who walked in the shadows of mountains a thousand plus years ago, continue to leave traces of his steps today?
Who is Guru Rinpoche?
This simple and profound question has served as an anchor for our project, from the inception of the idea in 2008, through our 2013 film shoot across Asia, to the quieter days of post-production. We have asked the question so many times, it has become second nature to our project and film, in recent interviews, we’ve taken to opening and closing with this question. Inevitably, the interviewee’s answer evolves over the course of the hour-long session, moving from one place to another.
There is truth in this movement. The Guru is abidingly original, adapting to the minds and needs of the perceiver, from one generation to the next. As Tsele Natsok Rangdrol says: “We should understand that all of his deeds and life examples are a magical display shown to convert people according to their individual inclinations. An ordinary person cannot measure the deeds of the victorious ones. The inconsistencies and dissimilarities in the life stories of enlightened beings come about because those beings are perceived differently by the different levels of people who are to be influenced.” Our film, Precious Guru, will delve into these multifaceted levels of meaning and appeals of Guru Rinpoche.
Precious Guru will also pay homage to the wellspring of the story: the Himalayan people and their unbroken devotion to the great protector, Guru Rinpoche. In a recent message, the Dalai Lama describes the nature of this devotion, saying: “Guru Rinpoche had a dual responsibility. As a Buddhist master he had a role to help all sentient beings achieve buddhahood, but he also took on a special responsibility for the welfare of the Tibetan nation, a responsibility to help preserve Tibet.” The special responsibility is perfectly captured in this excerpt from the Terma Treasure, Precious Garland of Gold.
I, Padmakara, came to benefit Tibet.
By miraculous displays, I have tamed the vicious spirits
And established many destined people on the path of ripening and liberation.
The profound terma teachings shall fill Tibet and Kham with siddhas.
Pass and valley, mountain and cave, everywhere down to the size of a hoof,
I have consecrated to be a place of sadhana.
This is a predestined story. As Matthieu Ricard referenced in his interview, Guru Rinpoche’s immaculate birth was also foretold by Buddha:
The activity of all the victorious ones of the ten directions
Will gather into a single form,
A Buddha son, who will attain marvelous accomplishment,
A master who will embody Buddha activity,
Will appear to the northwest of Uddiyana.”
∼Immaculate Goddess Sutra
I will pass away to eradicate the view of permanence.
But twelve years from now, to clear away the view of nihilism,
I shall appear from a lotus in the immaculate Lake Kosha
As a noble son to delight the king
And turn the Dharma wheel of the unexcelled essential meaning.
∼Sutra of Predictions in Magadha
Precious Guru will share the perspectives of both western Buddhist teachers, such as Matthieu and Keith Dowman, among others, as well as the countless Himalayan people that we met and interviewed on our journey. And at its heart, our film will be guided by the simple, profound, and inspirational question: “Who is Guru Rinpoche?”
Kyeho! Listen, whole retinue, with one-pointed mind.
This emanation of myself
Will be superior to other emanations in the three times.
Not subject to age and decline,
His eminent form will be superior to other emanations.
From the very first vanquishing the four maras,
His wrathful power will be superior to other emanations.
Teaching the greater vehicle of Buddhahood in one lifetime,
His realization will be superior to other emanations.
Converting the central and surrounding lands of the Jambu continent,
His benefit for beings will be superior to other emanations.
Beyond passing away in this Good Aeon,
His life span will be superior to other emanations.
This is because he is an emanation of Amitabha.
I want to finish this post by sharing a short vignette from our 2013 journey. On the last day of the film shoot, in Rewalsar, Tso Pema in India, we met Tsering, a nun who was in the final two years of a twenty-year retreat. This is how she answered our foundational question: “Guru Rinpoche is very difficult to grasp. He has been very beneficial to me. I go to him when I need help. When I go very deep and feel insecure, he feels insecure. He is there with me. He is me and I am him.”
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Video Cinematography by Ronen Schechner. Editing/direction by Ronen Schechner, Jennifer Pearce, and Marc Wennberg.
Quotations and excerpts from Clarifying the True Meaning by Tsele Natsok Rangdrol from The Lotus-Born.
We are in the final weeks of our crowdfunding campaign for Precious Guru and we welcome your support. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us complete our film. Thank You!
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