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Falling in Love with a Buddha

Frank Berliner, a longtime student of the late chögyam trungpa rinpoche, describes the ever-deepening stages of relationship one experiences with their guru.

The first stage of falling in love with a buddha is embarrassment. the embarrassment comes from having our confusion and shortcomings so clearly exposed. we cannot argue with such a mirror, because it is so accurate and direct, and entirely without ulterior motives. At times we experience this mirror as merciless because it is so uncompromising. it is not so much that a buddha is deliberately trying to embarrass us, but that the pristine clarity of the reflection is hard for us to look at without turning away. when we see our grasping, our pride, our insecurities so vividly displayed, it is excruciating.

As a result, we may often have very strong feelings of anxiety or resistance to being in the presence of such a mirror. indeed, we may want to run away and never come back. for many, this is what happens. But if we are able to move beyond our embarrassment, we may enter the second stage of falling in love with a buddha. indeed, chögyam trungpa rinpoche liked to say that the experience of disappointment was the most reliable, and valuable, one we could possibly have in growing spiritually. it cut through our wishful thinking and helped us see things more clearly and more realistically.

The next stage is longing. this longing arises, first of all, because the love that a buddha expresses toward us is unconditional. No matter how little affection we may have for ourselves at any moment, a buddha’s affection for us is unwavering. At times this warmth—which radiates in our direction for no discernible reason and often does not seem connected in any way with how worthy we may feel we are—is overwhelming. it is like the sun, which does not discriminate where it will shine and where it will not. And like flowers, we turn toward the sun.

Excerpted from the Spring 2014 issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, available on newsstands and by subscription.

From Falling in Love with a Buddha, published by all My Relations, 2012

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