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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 54 It is necessary to take a leap in terms of trusting ourselves.There will still be confusion taking place, of course! But there is also a glimpse of openness and unlimited potentiality. So taking the bodhisattva vow is a real commitment based on the realization of the suffering and confusion of oneself and others. The only way to break the chain reaction of confusion and pain and to work our way outward into the awakened state of mind is to take responsibility ourselves. If we do not deal with this situation of confusion, if we do not do something about it ourselves, nothing will ever happen. We cannot count on others to do it for us. It is our responsibility, and we have the tremendous power to change the course of the world’s karma. So in taking the bodhisattva vow, we are acknowledging that we are not going to be instigators of further chaos and misery in the world, but we are going to be liberators, bodhisattvas, inspired to work on ourselves as well as with other people. There is tremendous inspiration in having decided to work with others. We no longer try to build up our own grandios- ity. We simply try to become human beings who are genuinely able to help others; that is, we develop precisely that quality of selflessness which is generally lacking in our world. Following the example of Gautama Buddha, who gave up his kingdom to dedicate his time to working with sentient beings, we are finally becoming useful to society. We each might have discovered some little truth, such as the truth about poetry or the truth about photography or the truth about amoebas, which can be of help to others. But we tend to use such a truth simply to build up our own credentials. Work- ing with our little truths, little by little, is a cowardly approach. In contrast, the work of a bodhisattva is without credentials. We could be beaten, kicked, or just unappreciated, but we re- main kind and willing to work with others. It is a totally non- credit situation. It is truly genuine and very powerful. Taking this Mahayana approach of benevolence means giv- ing up privacy and developing a sense of greater vision. Rather than focusing on our own little projects, we expand our vision immensely to embrace working with the rest of the world, the rest of the galaxies, the rest of the universes. Putting such broad vision into practice requires that we re- late to situations very clearly and perfectly. In order to drop our self-centeredness, which both limits our view and clouds our actions, it is necessary for us to develop a sense of compassion. Traditionally this is done by first developing compassion to- ward oneself, then toward someone very close to us, and finally toward all sentient beings, including our enemies. Ultimately we regard all sentient beings with as much emotional involve- ment as if they were our own mothers. We may not require such a traditional approach at this point, but we can develop some sense of ongoing openness and gentleness. The point is that somebody has to make the first move. Usually we are in a stalemate with our world: “Is he going to say he is sorry to me first, or am I going to apologize to him first?” But in becoming a bodhisattva we break that barrier: we do not wait for the other person to make the first move; we have decided to do it ourselves. People have a lot of problems and they suffer a great deal, obviously. And we have only half a grain of sand’s worth of awareness of that suffering happening in this country alone, let alone in the rest of the world. Millions of people in the world are suffering because of their lack of generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and transcendental knowledge. The point of making the first move by taking the bodhisattva vow is not to convert people to our particular view, necessarily; the idea is that we should contribute something to the world simply by our own way of relating, by our own gentleness. In taking the bodhisattva vow, we acknowledge that the world around us is workable. From the bodhisattva’s point of view it is not a hard-core, incorrigible world. It can be worked Vajrapani, the bodhisattva who symbolizes the Buddha’s power COLLECTIONOFRUBINMUSEUMOFART