1. Foreword by His Holiness Sakya Trizin
In all Buddhist traditions guru devotion is very important. It is the spiritual master who introduces you to the Triple Gem and leads you to the path to liberation and enlightenment.
The significance of steadfast trust and dedication toward the guru, I feel, stands on three grounds. Foremost, there are innumerable quotations from the sutras as well as shastras stating that a qualified guru is the source of all the qualities and benefits required to be liberated from the cycle of samsaric suffering.
Secondly, examining through logical reasoning, we ourselves can recognize the truth underlying guru devotion. For example, the sun brightly shines all the time in all the directions but without necessary instruments we cannot utilize its tremendous energy. Likewise, the Buddha’s blessings are showering down on all sentient beings all the time but we cannot receive them without the presence of a guru because our defilements and karmic propensities prevent us from seeing the Buddha. Thus we do not have the fortune of hearing instructions and receiving blessings directly. It is only through the guru—who is ordinary form like us and we can see and hear—that we can receive the Buddha’s teachings and therefore receive the holy blessings.
Lastly, the pith instructions found in the biographies of all the ancient masters tell us that all those who followed the guru’s advice with unshakable faith have attained realizations and those who failed to do so did not.
In the Vajrayana path the importance of the guru increases many fold as it is the qualified master who, through bestowing the unbroken lineage of empowerments, which can be traced back to the Buddha himself, opens the gateway to the path of the enlightened ones and helps us to realize the actual nature of the mind.
I hope that Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s book entitled The Heart of the Path will be of great benefit to the followers of Buddhist philosophy.
The Sakya Trizin
18 November 2008
FROM A REVIEW IN BUDDHADHARMA MAGAZINE
"The Heart of the Path is a lengthy teaching on guru yoga by a contemporary exemplar of the practice, Lama Thubten Zopa. A close disciple of Lama Thubten Yeshe for more than three decades, Lama Zopa has taught by word and example the importance and power of properly following a guru. The book is based on several decades of Dharma talks organized by editor Ailsa Cameron into twenty-four chapters, beginning with the question of why one needs a teacher to progress along the path. The remaining chapters discuss in considerable detail how to cultivate and practice devotion, and generate the view of one’s own teacher as the Buddha. It concludes with several short guru yoga visualization practices. Throughout the book Lama Zopa offers personal reflections and stories to illustrate his message that guru yoga truly is the heart of the path to liberation."
FROM A REVIEW IN TRICYCLE MAGAZINE
"For those interested in stepping beyond the realm of ideas into the world of practice, the latest book from Tibetan master Lama Zopa Rinpoche is a helpful guide to one important aspect of the spiritual path. The Heart of the Path explains the importance of guru devotion and Zopa's view of the proper way to develop a student-teacher bond. Lama Zopa has had many teachers, but his unwavering devotion to Lama Thubten Yeshe shines through on every page. Drawing on this experience and the Buddha's teachings, Zopa effectively conveys the value of relationships based on Buddhist ideals."
FROM A REVIEW IN MANDALA MAGAZINE
"Although guru devotion is a foundational concept within Tibetan Buddhist thought, for many it remains a bewildering and impenetrable topic. Fortunately for contemporary practitioners, Lama Zopa Rinpoche has spoken extensively on guru devotion, giving teachings and advice about what it really means to have devotion to one’s spiritual friend. Drawing from nearly fifty teachings, this treasure is the result of seven years of painstaking editing by Ven. Ailsa Cameron. Not only does it include teachings on the traditional sub-topics that fall under guru devotion found in Tsongkhapa’s lam-rim, but also a useful outline to guide your reading, several supplementary prayers and teachings from other renowned Tibetan masters, and inspiring images of Lama Zopa, Lama Yeshe and other amazing teachers peppered throughout. A perusal of this masterful work by Lama Zopa Rinpoche will assuage any doubts about the utility or possibility of 'seeing the guru as Buddha'."