Perfect Teaching: This is the timeless teaching, the ultimate, absolutely true and candid, direct, spontaneous enlightenment teaching, perfectly liberating and freeing. This perfection is not meant to be comparative; it simply asserts that this is the perfect teaching for here and now, for those who are listening and receiving it. This, what is, right now—not necessarily our particular doctrine or tradition, but the truth shining in this moment. Everything is sublime, as it is, in this very instant.
Perfect Moment: This moment’s teaching, whatever you’re getting, is the perfect teaching. If it’s silence, this is the perfect teaching. If it’s bird song or traffic noise, that’s it. If it’s a harsh lesson or confusing, this, too, is it; none other to seek or long for; utmost reality is encoded in it, right here and now. The noble Dharma, or liberating Truth, is being eloquently expressed right here and now, for those with unobstructed ears to hear and eyes of pure vision to see. The sound of the stream is the song of the divine; the wind in the trees, the breath of the Goddess. Those around us are our sangha, the congregation or holy community of bodhisattvas and seekers.
Perfect Teacher: The Absolute Buddha or God, Allah, or Brahman is the ultimate teacher, who is coming through here and now in various forms and guises. Its energy manifests itself through human and, at times, avian, animal, and other nonhuman teachers with their limitations and foibles, serving as vehicles for the underlying radiantly shining emanations—clear as a ringing bell that awakens you from a deep sleep.
Perfect Student: This auspicious certainty is probably the hardest, the most challenging, for most of us to get. “What?” the inner defendant screams. “Who, me? I’m far from perfect.” Yes, you can be the right channel for this truth. This fifth certainty is also termed “the perfect entourage,” recasting the teacher–student relationship as the Buddha and his closest disciples or the followers of Jesus, Muhammad, Gandhi, Gandalf, Yoda, or whomever you most respect.
Once, during a three-year meditation retreat deep in the forest in southwestern France, an American student said to the teacher, Dudjom Rinpoche, “Rinpoche, I get this; what could be better than this? This is obviously the perfect place. This is definitely the right place. This is the right moment. This is the right teaching, and you are the perfect teacher. But I don’t feel like I’m the right person.” How honest, how human, and how true! Even if we might have little questions with the first of the four perfect certainties, that fifth one is the really tough one for most of us. Why do we doubt ourselves to such an extent?