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Lions Roar : November 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2012 45 COMPASSION IS THREATENING TO THE EGO. We might think of it as something warm and soothing, but actually it’s very raw. When we set out to support other beings, when we go so far as to stand in their shoes, when we aspire to never close down to anyone, we quickly find ourselves in the uncomfortable territory of “life not on my terms.” The commitment traditionally known as the bodhisattva vow, or warrior vow, challenges us to dive into these noncozy waters and swim out beyond our comfort zone. We vow to move consciously into the pain of the world in order to help alleviate it. It is, in essence, a vow to take care of one another, even if it sometimes means not liking how that feels. This commitment is connected deeply and unshakably with bodhichitta, traditionally defined as a longing to awaken so that we can help others do the same, a longing to go beyond the limits of conventional happiness, beyond enslavement to success and failure, praise and blame. A Greater Happiness We’ve all got the potential to awaken and to help others in meaningful ways, big and small. PEMA CHÖDRÖN shows us how we can let go of self-centered worries and become a bodhisattva-warrior. It’s the greatest happiness of all. In the hospice at Angola Prison in Louisiana, prisoner and hospice volunteer Paul Krolowitz says goodbye to his longtime friend Richard Liggett, who is dying of cancer. Liggett whispers, “You were the best friend I ever had. I love you.” “I love you too,” Krolowitz replies, and hugs his friend for the last time. PHOTO BY LORI WASELCHUK/REDUX