Monthly Dharma Quotation: On The Importance of Teachers

Nobody can tell you, “Reality is like this!” or “Read my book for a complete explanation of all the secrets of the universe.” The truth has to be perceived directly, which is why even buddhas can never really communicate it to others. It isn’t that they don’t want to; we just don’t have the wherewithal to understand what they are saying. And it isn’t a question of intelligence; we simply can’t activate this direct seeing in ourselves. So teachers wisely don’t attempt the impossible. Instead, they try to arouse this capacity in others, which is what the Buddhist path is all about.

Shri Singha gave instruction on the nature of mind to Guru Rinpoche, who meditated and realized this teaching. Shri Singha then called his realization “beyond words and thought, beyond action, beyond anything that can be described.” He then said to Guru Rinpoche: “You may be the greatest guru of them all, the very essence of buddhahood. But that will make no difference; you still won’t be able to describe this to anyone else!” And it seems the Lotus-Born Guru agreed.

All practitioners find themselves in this situation. Even the greatest buddhas and most accomplished bodhisattvas find it impossible to transmit the nature of mind and being in words. Words can inspire us and act as a vital pointer or a springboard toward the truth. But they can’t explain what it’s like to leap from the diving board, up into the air, and land in the water. All we can say is, “Come on in, the water is fine!” and encourage other people to venture onto the diving board.

This quotation is from Never Turn Away by Rigdzin Shikpo which can be purchased in our bookshop: If you are a student of Rigdzin Shikpo and have a suggestion for the monthly dharma quotation please email us at

Scroll to Top