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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 20 The third instruction on generating bodhichitta is to repay the kindness of others. This is almost like taking a vow. If we have the view that those who have helped us includes every- one—that even animals have cared for us in some previous lifetime—every encounter becomes an opportunity for us to practice repaying their kindness. This contemplation is part of the aspect of the Mahayana school of Buddhism called the “great activity.” It’s called “great” because this attitude is so vast that it’s difficult to imagine. If we had this attitude even for a moment, we’d begin to see that everyone we meet has helped us, directly or indirectly, and we would want to repay his or her kindness. By taking this attitude in working with others, we could experience our lives in a completely different way. The fourth way to generate bodhichitta is to develop loving- kindness by contemplating the delightful qualities of others. If we care for someone, we naturally find something delightful in him; that’s what draws us in. In the middle of a meadow, if we saw a mound of dirt with a single flower growing out of it, we would still be able to see the beauty of the flower. We wouldn’t think, “The flowers are beautiful except for that one, because it grew from that pile of dirt.” So rather than contemplating the shortcomings of others, we see their good qualities and generate loving-kindness toward them. Loving-kindness is associated with wanting others to enjoy happiness. What generally hinders our wanting other people to be happy are heavy emotions such as anger, jealousy, and pride, Thangkas • Singing Bowls • Rugs Jewelry • Wall Hangings • Malas Statues • Incense • Meditation Cushions Ordained Robes • Much, Much More! Website: www.tibetanspirit.com • Toll Free: 1-888 -327-2890 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org • P.O. Box 57 • Boonsboro, MD 21713 We donate a portion of our profits to support Tibetan Buddhist nuns and monks. which obscure our mind. Developing kindness toward others takes the energy out of this emotional confusion. The next instruction is to generate bodhichitta by contem- plating compassion, which is the desire that everyone be free from suffering. Compassion does not mean taking pity on oth- ers or having sympathy: “Oh, you poor thing!” Compassion is empathy based on understanding what suffering is. Not only do we see the suffering of others, but we also feel it directly. If we love and care for others, we do not want them to have a hard time. Seeing the suffering of someone who’s very close to us heightens our sense of compassion. We think, “This could happen to me.” The final instruction on how to generate bodhichitta is to commit ourselves without question to following these instruc- tions. Even though in postmeditation we may not be able to do the bodhichitta practice continuously, we keep our determina- tion strong. We will be kind and compassionate and we will take delight in all beings, with the knowledge that they have helped us. Even if we are the only person in the entire world practicing in this way, we will not stop doing it. Such an adamantine com- mitment gives us the steadfastness and conviction of the Bud- dha sitting underneath the bodhi tree. ♦ SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE is spiritual director of Sham- bhala, an international network of meditation and retreat centers. He is the author of Turning Your Mind into an Ally and Ruling Your World.