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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 55 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. we are willing to feel empty and deprived and confused. But something comes out of our willingness to feel that way, which is that we can help somebody else at the same time. So there is room for our confusion and chaos and ego-centeredness; they become stepping-stones. Even the irritations that occur in the practice of the bodhisattva path become a way of confirming our commitment. By taking the bodhisattva vow, we actually present ourselves as the property of sentient beings: depending on the situa- tion, we are willing to be a highway, a boat, a floor, or a house. We allow other sentient beings to use us in whatever way they choose. As the earth sustains the atmosphere and outer space accommodates the stars, galaxies, and all the rest, we are willing to carry the burdens of the world. We are inspired by the physi- cal example of the universe. We offer ourselves as wind, fire, air, earth, and water—all the elements. with within the inspiration of buddhadharma, following the example of Lord Buddha and the great bodhisattvas. We can join their campaign to work with sentient beings properly, fully, and thoroughly—without grasping, without confusion, and without aggression. Such a campaign is a natural development of the practice of meditation because meditation brings a grow- ing sense of egolessness. By taking the bodhisattva vow, we open ourselves to many demands. If we are asked for help, we should not refuse; if we are invited to be a parent, we should not refuse. In other words, we have to have some kind of interest in taking care of people, some appreciation of the phenomenal world and its occupants. It is not an easy matter. It requires that we not be completely tired and put off by people’s heavy-handed neurosis, ego-dirt, ego-puke, or ego-diarrhea; instead we are appreciative and willing to clean up for them. It is a sense of softness whereby we allow situations to take place in spite of little inconveniences; we allow situations to bother us, to overcrowd us. Taking a bodhisattva vow means that we are inspired to put the teachings of Buddhism into practice in our everyday lives. In doing so we are mature enough not to hold anything back. Our talents are not rejected but are utilized as part of the learning process, part of the practice. A bodhisattva may teach dharma in the form of intellectual understanding, artistic un- derstanding, or even business understanding. So in commit- ting ourselves to the bodhisattva path, we are resuming our tal- ents in an enlightened way, not being threatened or confused by them. Earlier our talents may have been “trips,” part of the texture of our confusion, but now we are bringing them back to life. Now they can blossom with the help of the teaching, the teacher, and our patience. This does not mean that we com- pletely perfect our whole situation on the spot. There will still be confusion taking place, of course! But at the same time there is also a glimpse of openness and unlimited potentiality. It is necessary at this point to take a leap in terms of trust- ing ourselves. We can actually correct any aggression or lack of compassion—anything anti-bodhisattva-like—as it happens; we can recognize our own neurosis and work with it, rather than trying to cover it up or throw it out. In this way one’s neurotic thought pattern, or “trip,” slowly dissolves. Whenever we work with our neurosis in such a direct way, it becomes compassionate action. The usual human instinct is to feed ourselves first and only make friends with others if they can feed us. This could be called “ape instinct.” But in the case of the bodhisattva vow, we are talking about a kind of superhuman instinct which is much deeper and more full than that. Inspired by this instinct, Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom COLLECTIONOFSHELLEY&DONALDRUBIN