The Guru Principle

The Guru Principle

A Guide to the Teacher-Student Relationship in Buddhism

Shenpen Hookham


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A clear-headed and relatable guidebook for navigating the student-teacher relationship by one of the first female Buddhist teachers in the West.

All major forms of Buddhism stress the need for a teacher. However, the importance of having a guide or guru is sometimes a source of cultural and spiritual confusion as Buddhism expands in the West. A clear understanding of the Buddhist view of the guru is essential for the student-teacher relationship to be beneficial for one's spiritual growth.

Collecting over fifty years of personal experiences as both a student and a teacher, Shenpen Hookham writes candidly of the opportunities and challenges facing modern Dharma students in the West who wish to study with a teacher. Traditional texts often do not reflect how the student-teacher relationship manifests in practice, which leaves many pressing questions and a great deal of confusion in communities taking root in the West. With honesty and clarity, Hookham discusses the roles of the teacher, practices related to the guru, and commonly asked questions she receives as a teacher. This handbook is the first of its kind, breaking down in a pragmatic and relatable way everything you need to know to enter a student-teacher relationship with open eyes and an open heart.


Shenpen Hookham:
SHENPEN HOOKHAM is a Buddhist teacher who has trained for over fifty years in the Mahamudra and Dzogchen traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Her teachers include Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, HH the Sixteenth Karmapa, and Tsultrim Gyatso Rinpoche. She has spent over twelve years in meditation retreat. Lama Shenpen produced a seminal study on buddha nature doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism, for which she was awarded a PhD from Oxford University, and her doctorate was published as a book, titled The Buddha Within. She lives in North West Wales, spending most of her time in semi-retreat and working with her students and on her writing.