Have You Lost Your Faith?

You have studied in the Tibetan tradition for some time, and are unable to keep up your faith. How do you handle this safely, intelligently and gracefully?

Trust your experience rather than your fears. This is the essential teaching of the Pali Canon.

What was the nature of any ‘vows’ you took? Think carefully. This depends not on the wording or circumstances of the ceremony, but your state of mind at the time.

According to Tibetan tradition your teacher should have informed you of the Tibetan injunctions against entering too easily into a ‘guru-disciple’ relationship. A minimum three years of close, mutual inspection is usually called for. Were you so informed?

If not, this doesn’t make your teacher a bad person; his intentions may have been kind. But how would you consider his judgment? Be frank. Does it scare you to ask this question? If so, you might also consider how your relationship could falter if it truly was tempered in the vajra flame. You may be taking responsibility for this rift on your own shoulders; that’s classic Western guilt, unrealistic. Your teacher’s part in the actual relationship can never be discounted. It’s not just in your head; it’s the dynamic between you.

On the other hand, there’s also the theoretical ‘relationship’ that is most certainly in your head. What qualities did you desire in your guru? Which of them did you project on him in your urgent desire to have a root guru? I say ‘urgent’ because without one you can’t really practice the rapid path to enlightenment. It’s a catch-22.

Whether you like what you see or not, these are your insights. You must have considerable resistance to them, but that’s normal. If your problem in life is illusion, then insight is a process of disillusionment. You’ve put in time, effort, commitment and years of your life. How can you walk away? Remember what is important here is not mere knowledge, status or social momentum but your own integrity. That has to come first.

Finally, what is karma? Is it a magical relationship between things or does it more closely resemble the cause and effect of the natural sciences? For me, karma refers to the momentum of our actions, of your actual behavior of body speech and mind, not of theoretical relationships and fantastic depictions of vajra hells. Look not to the outer form of your commitment but to the inner motivation of your heart. Have you been true to your original intentions? Are you motivated in this act of pulling away to grow clearer of mind and kinder of heart, or are you not?

Be true to yourself. All will be well. I applaud your courage, and you should too.