Sunrise in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, looking eastward into Kempenfelt Bay. Sounds of birds, waves, people and things made by us.

His Holiness The Fourteenth Dalai Lama

The qualities of the spiritual teacher

The qualifications of a suitable teacher can be found in texts from the vinaya all the way up to the Vajrayana. Since here we are discussing Mahayana teachings in general, we will consider the ten qualifications of the teacher as presented in Maitreya’s Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras:

  1. A disciplined mind (referring to the quality of having mastered the higher training in ethical discipline).
  2. A calmed mind (referring to the quality of having mastered the higher training in meditation and concentration).
  3. A mind that is thoroughly calmed (referring to the quality of having mastered the higher training in wisdom, particularly the wisdom of no-self (Skt: anatman, Tib: dag-med]).
  4. Knowledge exceeding that of the student in whatever subject is being taught.
  5. Energy and enthusiasm for teaching the student.
  6. Vast learning in order to have the resources from which to draw examples and citations.
  7. Realization of emptiness – if possible, a genuine realization of emptiness, but at least a strong commitment to the practice of emptiness on the basis of deep admiration for the teachings on it.
  8. Eloquence and skill in presenting the Dharma so that the teaching is effective.
  9. Deep compassion and concern for the well-being of the student to whom the teaching is given (perhaps the most important quality of all).
  10. The resilience to maintain enthusiasm for and commitment to the student, not becoming discouraged no matter how many times the teaching has to be repeated.

Illuminating The Path to Enlightenment

Tenzin Gyatso
His Holiness The Fourteenth Dalai Lama Of Tibet

A Commentary on Atisha Dipamkara Shrijnana’s A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment & Lama Je Tsong Khapa’s Lines of Experience

Translated by Geshe Thubten Jinpa

Edited by Rebecca McClen Novick, Thubten Jinpa, and Nicholas Ribush