Recognizing Mind as the Guru
Translations | Awareness

by Kyer-gong-pa
(, 1154-1217)

Guru bodhicitta namami

The gurus who point out mind itself are like no one else:
They are done with their own needs and have taken on the needs of others.
Their awareness is limitless, their compassion universal.
To my kind and gracious gurus I bow.

Yes, gurus do point out how things are,
But the guru who is natural being is within.
Mind that is my guru, here is how you are:

You have no genesis: you are just naturally present.
Misfortune doesn’t hurt you; correctives don’t affect you;
You don’t come or go; you don’t change with time;
And I cannot say you exist or don’t exist.

I can’t see, hear, taste, smell or touch you:
You are not a thing, yet you are the source of all experience.
Try as I may, there’s nothing I can point to and say, “That’s you!”
But when I sit and don’t look for you, you are present in everything.

You are not subject to conditioning, good or bad.
Finer than everything, you don’t attach to anything.
Not being a thing, you are the basis of everything.
Free from reasoning, you arise clearly when I don’t reason.

Because you aren’t anywhere, you arise as anything anywhere.
Yet you don’t belong to any one place.
So, while you are not anything I can point to,
You are my guru!

What is your spiritual history?
Here it is:

Because distance doesn’t apply to you,
You are present in every being.
Because of your pure intentions,
Every being belongs to your family.

Because of your great compassion,
Every being is originally placed in full awakening.
Because of your powerful actions,
You engage and master everything in samsara and nirvana.

Because change doesn’t apply to you,
Even when I look at things the wrong way, what is true is still right there.
You’ve never gone away for a moment.
And yet, though a long-time companion, everyone has trouble seeing you.

Because death doesn’t touch you,
You’ve always been the constant watchman: that’s amazing!

Oh, mind that is my guru,
I meet you by recognizing what I am.
I pray to you by letting go of doubt and hesitation.
I revere you by letting go and settling naturally.

I serve you by resting continuously in the nature of things.
I provide you with food by resting without strain in empty clarity.
I provide you with drink by knowing attention and distraction make no difference.
I clothe you by knowing appearance and sound as enchantments.

I seat you on the cushion of non-reactive ecstasy.
I crown you with what has always been there but cannot be found.
I give you offerings by not doing anything with what arises.

Past, present, and future–you always live
In the sanctuary of total knowing that holds no identity.
Attended by no preference for samsara or nirvana,
You are constantly giving higher instruction in experience.

How amazing you are, mind that is my guru!
Again, how kind you are, supporting me with compassion!
How much energy you have from practice in earlier training!
How amazing you are–your compassion never ends!

When I turn to you in these ways,
Waves of energy wash through me.

Without running away, I stop going into samsara.
Without going anywhere, I arrive at buddhahood.
I understand that no experience is good or bad.
The difference between buddhas and ordinary beings is direct knowing.
When I know directly exactly how mind is
And the knowing is full and present, that is buddha.
What one can do then can’t be described in words.

When I look outside, a guru may teach, but this is what happens:
Because I don’t know mind itself directly,
I take what is not as what is.
Chasing the past, I fall into old habits and pain.
That’s called ordinary being.

Now, let me be my own watchman.
As for samsara, I don’t chase what is past, I don’t let what has happened bother me.
A big effort is not to generate a nirvana:
I rest in mind itself and do nothing.

I cannot identify mind itself as this or that.
It arises as I refine this wonderful not knowing.
And this understanding is fulfilling.

Here’s how I know it is fulfilling.
Emptiness is just there: I don’t need to hunt for the dimension of truth.
Whatever appears just arises: I don’t need to block the dimension of form.
Mind itself is free as it is: I don’t need to control the three dimensions of being.

Samsara is destroyed at its root: I don’t need to discard anything.
My mind is buddha: I don’t need to hope for anything.
It’s always been this way: I don’t need to cultivate anything.
Isn’t this a better way to work?

If contemplatives who look at mind without distraction
Are free from the mind that looks, what’s the problem?
If deep meditators who continuously meditate on no separation
Release what meditates, what’s the problem?

If practitioners who constantly practice with awakening energy
Understand the natural presence of no practice, what’s the problem?
If truth masters who carefully guard against managing mind
Do away with mind itself, what’s the problem?

I have studied with many capable gurus:
Each guru has given me his or her own advice.
All advice comes down to one point–mind.
So, mind that is my guru,
I look at you, listen to you, and seek your instruction again and again.

I pray to the seven kind and gracious gurus,1
I praise them, give them offerings, and ask for their energy.
By doing so, I know directly that mind is the guru.
Because this knowing arises internally,
When I see writings that contradict or conflict with my experience:
I consider the meaning, not the words.

This song is the babbling of a crazy man.
I don’t ask anyone to pardon it.
No pardon, and don’t offer me anything for it either.

  1. This line probably refers to the first seven gurus of the Shangpa lineage: Vajradhara, Niguma, Sukhasiddhi, Maitrepa, Rahula, Chungpo Naljor, and Mochokpa.