Is My Teacher Perfect?

May 27, 2021

What does perfection mean in the context of Hinduism and Dzogchen? Is it dangerous to consider our teachers to be perfect as some traditions advise? A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

So I wanted to talk about perfection. The word Dzogchen is usually translated, or always translated, as the great perfection. And it means the natural perfection of the essence of reality, or everything. You’ll also hear in traditions from India things like—you should see the teacher as perfect, as God. Or everything is perfect. Everything is God, etc. Things like that. If we have any idea of what that means, it’s usually pretty wrong

So I wanted to, first of all, start with a tantra that is part of the Trika tradition. It’s a bit later than, for instance, Abhinavagupta, but it’s very typical in that it gives lists of how a disciple should be and how a guru should be. And the lists are interestingly pretty indicative of what is actually erroneous about our ideas of perfection.

So this is called the Kularnava Tantra, and here’s a little section called Characteristics of the Acceptable Shishya. So shishya is another name for disciple, an initiated student.

“The disciple chosen should be one who is endowed with auspicious features, given to sadhana that leads to samadhi, of good qualities and culture, clean of body and apparel, wise, devoted to dharma, pure of mind, steady in observance of truthful practice, gifted with faith and devotion, diligent, sparsely eating, deep thought-ed, serving without motive, scrutinizing, heroic, free from poverty of mind, skillful in all action, (and again) clean, obliging to all, grateful, afraid of sin, approved of the holy and the good, believer in God, liberal, engaged in the good of all creatures.”

“He shall be one who has trust and modesty, who is not given to deceive in matters of wealth, body, etc., who achieves the impossible, is brave, enthusiastic and strong, engaged in favorable activities, not intoxicated, able, helpful, truthful (again), limited and smiling in speech, not given to blaming others, who grasps what is said but once, clever, expansive in intelligence, averse to listen to his own praise, and genial to others’ criticism of himself, master of his senses, contented with himself, intelligent, celibate, free from worry, disease, fickleness, grief, delusion, and doubt.”

In other words, already realized! [laughter]


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.