Guru Yoga
A Book Review

by William C. House
Reverse Spins

Guru Yoga:
According to the Preliminary Practice of Longchen Nyingtik
by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

I know of no other book that encapsulates in just 86 pages the essence of Tibetan Buddhism like Guru Yoga does. The author, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, had me from his very first words. This extraordinary adept and teacher of Tibetan Masters is unfortuantely no longer with us in the form you see above. He made the transition in 1991. But he left a record of this teaching for all in an unfolding elegant style that pullls the reader in. Even the intricacies of Tibetan meditation for advanced students are made accessible. While the beginner may want to read another book by the Rinpoche, The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel as an introduction, this one can stand alone. Its contents and practice forms the cornerstone of Tibetan Buddhism.

Guru Yoga is quite simply a vehicle to tie one's heart and path to Guru Rinpoche a.k.a. Padmasambhava. Dilgo Khysentse Rinpoche explains the importance of the guru in one's life both physical and etheric. The bond to Guru Rinpoche starts with his mantra:


The importance of each word is explained. More importantly the matrix for complex visualizations are given that compliment the mantra. The tapestry he sets for your mind exceeds the grandest of thangkas. The nature of empowerments, an important part of Tibetan Buddhism, is given its proper due. And perhaps the most important aspect we all need in our daily lives—devotion—is treated with a deft touch. How would you like to practice a sense of devotion such as this:

The Essence of Guru Yoga

"When thoughts arise, we imagine ourselves once more as Vajrayogini, with Guru Rinpoche above our head. There is no need to do an elaborate visualization of the retinue and all the other details. Simply maintaining the presence of the guru above our head, we carry a strong feeling of devotion throughout all our daily activities.

The essence of Guru Yoga is simply to remember the guru at all times: when you are happy, think of the guru; when you are sad, think of the guru; when you meet favorable circumstances, be grateful to the guru; and when you meet obstacles, pray to the guru, and rely on him alone. When you are sitting, think of the guru above your head. When you are walking, imagine that he is above your right shoulder, as if you were circumambulating him. When you are eating food, visualize the guru at your throat center and offer him the first portion. Whenever you wear new clothes, first offer them to the guru, and then wear them as if he had given them back to you.

At night, when you are about to fall asleep, visualize Guru Rinpoche in your heart center, the size of the first joint of your thumb, sitting on a four-petalled red lotus. He is emanating countless rays of light, which fill your whole environment, melting the room and the entire universe into light, and then returning to absorb into your heart. Then the guru himself dissolves into light. This is the state in which you should fall asleep, retaining the experience of luminosity. If you do not fall asleep, you can repeat the visualization again.

When you wake up in the morning, imagine that the guru emerges from your heart and rises up to sit again in the sky above your head, smiling compassionately, amidst a mass of rainbow light.

This is how we can remember the guru and apply devotion during every activity. And should death come suddenly, the best practice then is to blend our mind with the mind of the guru. Of all the sufferings of the three intermediate states, the most intense is the suffering of the moment of death. For this moment there are practices of Phowa, or the transference of consciousness to the buddhafields. The practice of Guru Yoga is the most profound and essential way of doing Phowa. ..." pp. 71, 72

The book ends with "The Guru Yoga Practice, from the Preliminary Practice of Longchen Nyingtik." It's about ten pages of recitations in English and some mantras that definately delivers a radiation and invites the presence of the Master—Padmasambhava.


Guru Yoga

Also by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:
The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel

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