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Lions Roar : March 2018
Meditating on her helps us awaken our buddhanature. In order for Tara to be able to benefit us, we need to approach her with an open heart and mind. Through continued medita- tion practice on Tara, we can establish a relationship in which we are able to trust and rely on her. It is like getting to know new friends—we have to invite them over to our home many times until we get to know them. The more we are able to open to her, the more she is able to benefit us. Tara is both peaceful and wrathful, beautiful and powerful. She is the actuality of wisdom and sensuality, compassionate and sexual, empty yet fully manifest. In this way Tara transcends dual- istic limitations. She leads us beyond duality to the infinite bliss and emptiness that is our most precious opportunity. LAMA PALDEN DROLMA is founder of the Sukhasiddhi Founda- tion. She was one of the first Western women to be authorized as a lama in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition. * Practicing the Six Perfections by Sakyong Mipham The Mahayana Buddhist tradition is defined by the supreme thought of bodhichitta, the intention to bring all sentient beings to enlightenment. Those who vow to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of others are known as bodhisattvas. Their path is based on the six transcendent perfections, the paramitas. Paramita is a Sanskrit word meaning “arriving at the other shore.” On the bodhisattva path, one’s view, practice, and action are based on simultaneously benefitting self and other. The bodhisattva is likened to a ferry operator whose sole purpose is to take passengers across the water. Yet while taking others to the other shore, the ferry operator is crossing too. The paramitas are generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and prajna—wisdom or “best knowledge.” They are the supreme way to attain merit, giving one the fuel and strength to take all beings across the waters. At the core of bodhichitta is the exchange of self and other. The two elements that enable one to exchange self and other are loving-kindness and compassion. Loving-kindness is engendered by the thought, “May all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.” Compassion is engendered by the thought, “May all beings be free from suffering and the root of suffering.” When we unify these two, we have bodhichitta, the vow to bring all beings to the perfect state of buddhahood. Love and compassion are essential to the teachings of the Mahayana and the way of the bodhisattva. Love and compas- sion lead to buddhahood, because for beings to be truly happy, they must understand the true source of happiness, and to be free from suffering, they must understand the true source of freedom from suffering. If beings do not understand the source, they might have a temporary state of happiness, but they will not have a permanent state of happiness. The bodhisattva sees that entire realms of beings are going up and down the ladder of existence, trying harder and harder to achieve happiness: in the hell realms through anger, in the ghost realms through jealousy, in the human realms through desire, in the god realms through pride, and in the animal realms through ignorance. Clearly these beings are perpetually suffering and utterly confused about how to free themselves. Therefore, the bodhisattva sees an urgent need to apply bodhichitta and liberate them. Bodhisattvas make a vow that they will remain in this cyclical place of pain and suffering until all these beings have perfected view, meditation, action, and the six paramitas. When all beings have perfected those, the bodhisattva stays to ensure that they attain the noble qualities of perfect buddhahood. In this way, the bodhisattva is like a shepherd, remaining until every being in samsara attains the perfect state. Bodhisattvas attain buddhahood themselves as a means to lead all beings to rouse the mind of bodhichitta and attain bud- dhahood too. Therefore, bodhisattvas perfect the state of bud- dhahood for the benefit of all, first demonstrating the principle so that other beings will follow. In the sutras, the Buddha says that arousing bodhichitta pro- tects the mind like a suit of armor. With bodhichitta, the mind is free from fear. As well, having bodhichitta brings perpetual joy, and arousing bodhichitta gathers unimaginable merit. Once one begins to understand the awesome potency of bodhichitta and its benefits, one starts rousing the mind to generate it. Thus, the bodhisattva—whether sitting, eating, walking, or talking—raises this attitude, accumulating infinite clouds of unseen merit. SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE is the leader of the Shambhala Buddhist community. His most recent book is The Lost Art of Good Conversation. * Why We Need Bodhisattva–Activists by David R. Loy CLIMATE BREAKDOWN, species extinction, a dysfunctional economic system, corporate domination of government, over- population—it’s a critical time in human history, and the col- lective decisions we have to make during the next few years will set the course of events for generations to come. We need both personal and social transformation so we can respond fully to the Buddha’s concern to end suffering. The Buddha emphasized that all he had to teach was suffering and how to end it. LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2018 72