It appears that a number of people who attended my Prajnaparamita Enpowerment were confused by my introductory remarks about the importance of samaya and the Guru-student relationship. Here is a typical email I received together with my answer in hopes others find it helpful as well.

“Dear Tulku Yeshi,
“I did not understand a lot of the teaching of prajna paramita empowerment. I did not understand when you said, “I am worried about keeping teacher student samaya”
Did you mean the samaya with Dagchen rinpoche? I consider him my guru and many people who were at the prajna paramita empowerment consider him their guru. So how come you said you wanted us to consider you as our guru? Yet you said ‘I don’t want to be your guru.’”
In the dharma,
(name withheld)

Here is my answer:
“Guru” means your Dharma-teacher. After receiving a tantric empowerment from someone, this person is your Guru. That does not mean, however, that others can’t be your Guru also. For example, I have 35 Gurus myself, and I keep my samaya with each and every one of them. The point I was trying to stress at the empowerment was that I expect everyone who receives it from me to keep the vows they made during the ceremony. Those are the people I want to be my students; how many or few of them there are is of no importance to me. — As I mentioned then, public talks and lectures are totally different, because they don’t involve any samaya or formal vows.

To this I would add that there are teachers who demand that their students look upon them as their only Guru. However, I am not one of those teachers. If you encounter a teacher whom you do not want to be a Guru to you, then you should not receive any Mahayana or Vajrayana teachings from them, although you can still study with them and ask them questions.

Good Luck with your Guru Yoga!

Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche is a Dzogchen master and the reincarnation of Dzogchen Gyaltsab Thodo Rinpoche. He was recognized as a Tulku by H.H. Dalai Lama’s Nyingmapa teacher Kyabje Trulshig Rinpoche and has received teachings from thirty-five masters representing all five schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He has published ten books about philosophy, life, nature, peace, and magic. He is the founder of Tibetan Zen and has given Buddhist teachings in many places around the world. His book, Handbook for Half-Buddhas, will be published soon, and his autobiography, A Modern Liberation Odyssey, is available now as are three CD’s: Tibetan Chod, Ocean of Dharma Melody, and Ocean of Mantras. He continues to write novels and poetry for mind training in Tibetan. Tulku Yeshi also bestows empowerments, provides Tibetan astrology readings, and advises people on how to enjoy life.