Rinpoche gave this talk at The Hayloft, Emsworth, Chichester, invited by the Bodhicharya Buddhist Group.
He clarifies the topic, the Sanskrit word Kalyanamitra can be translated as a friend who helps you to develop positive qualities, who influences you in a positive way. We are all easily influenced, so we need someone who inspires us through example and understanding and wisdom to do positive things.
The spiritual friend or teacher – “Guru” means teacher – is regarded as very important.
Especially in Mahayana and Vajrayana it is emphasized that we need to learn how to relate to a genuine spiritual friend to get the benefit. You need to examine the spiritual friend, whether he teaches according to Buddha`s teachings, whether she received enough training in a trustworthy lineage, whether he has compassion.
Trust in the teacher has to be developed through understanding the teachings and through practice, we do not necessarily get trust and devotion from the beginning.