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Lions Roar : March 2018
Bodhisattva HOW TO BENEFIT ALL BEINGS When you commit yourself to others, you experience the awakened heart of the buddhas. The Bodhisattva’s Vow by Sharon Salzberg IN THE BUDDHIST TRADITION, bodhisattvas are those who, aspiring to enlightenment, make a resolve, “I vow to attain full enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.” That is a pretty incredible vow! It means that we recognize our own liberation is intertwined with the liberation of all beings without exception. It means that, rather than seeing other beings as adversaries, we must see them as colleagues in this endeavor of freedom. Rather than viewing others with fear or contempt, which arises from a belief in separation, we see them as part of who we ourselves are. Seeing the truth of this fundamental interconnected- ness is what is known in the eightfold path as right view. The Buddha said, “Just as the dawn is the forerunner and the first indication of the rising sun, so is right view the forerunner and the first indication of wholesome states.” As dawn leads to sunrise, seeing the truth of our interconnectedness leads to the mind-state of loving-kindness that characterizes the bodhisattva. With loving-kindness we become the ally of all beings every- where. It may seem impossible to genuinely care about all beings everywhere. But developing the heart of loving-kind- ness is not about straining, not about gritting your teeth and, though seething with anger, somehow covering it over with a positive sentiment. Loving-kindness is a capacity we all have. We only have to see things as they actually are. We are all bodhisattvas, not in the sense of being saviors run- ning around taking care of everybody’s problems, but through the truth of interconnectedness. There is no separation. We all belong to each other. To be a bodhisattva, to open to our capacity for loving-kindness, is more a matter of recognition of our inter- connectedness than a dictum for certain kinds of actions. We are essentially no different from each other, no matter who we are. We share the same urge toward happiness, and not one of us leaves this earth without having suffered. As the Buddha said, “All beings everywhere want to be happy.” It is only due to ignorance that we do the things that create suffering or sorrow for ourselves and for others. Empathy and nonseparation are the most fundamental aspects of loving-kindness. This is what we need to recognize as loving-kindness: a radical seeing of our nonseparateness, knowing our oneness, our indivisibility. When we see through ignorance and arrive at the heart of our interconnectedness, it is as if we had been living in a bad dream, and our anguish and sorrow were born of simply not seeing. From clear seeing arises the uncontrived loving-kindness that is the truth of our bodhisattva nature. SHARON SALZBERG is a leading teacher of insight and loving-kindness meditation. Her newest book is Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection. This teaching is adapted from Voices of Insight (Shambhala Publications). * Mother of All the Buddhas by Lama Palden Drolma IN WESTERN CULTURE, we lack female archetypes that embody the complete range of our potential qualities, but in Buddhism we see embodiments of all aspects of pure form. The bodhisattva Tara is the most beloved by Tibetans of all the female awakened beings. She is “the mother of all the bud- dhas,” the essence of compassion in action. Tara is known as “she who ferries beings across the ocean of samsara.” She is renowned for her swift and compassion- ate activity. Her praises are sung and she is supplicated in all Tibetan monasteries and by many laypeople as well. Whether devotees have worldly or spiritual motivation, Tara gives benefit to all and leads people to awakening. Tara is beyond samsara, and so she has the stainless wisdom body. In other words, Tara is fully enlightened and inseparable from the absolute true nature, the dharmakaya. She rushes to the aid of beings when we call upon her with heartfelt devotion. Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion; Dharma Drum Center, Taiwan. PHOTOS BY DEBORAH BOWMAN LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2018 71