The closest analogy for the teacher in the vajrayana is the samurai warrior. Such a teacher is ferocious, but at the same time he has the qualities of a father, an elder, and a friend. He or she could be very passionate, warm, and sympathetic, but doesn’t buy any bullshit, if we could speak American at this point. Studying with such a person is dangerous and a very advanced thing to do. You might actually progress much faster on the path. But if you start with the expectation of going faster, you might actually go slower. You are well trained and disciplined at this point. The teacher’s approach now is to create successive teaching situations in your life. He or she demands unconditional trust and openness from you, without any logic. Maybe some little logic applies, but the invitation and the demand are simple and straightforward: “Would you like to come along with me and take part in this historic battle? Come along, here’s your sword.”
From “The Teacher” in the latest issue of the Shambhala Sun. Based on a seminar on the Sadhana of Mahamudra, 1975.