Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Nanaimo April 18,89
We had been talking about authentically shifting ones perspective to a more a more true perspective. In the first lecture I dealt a little with the universal equality of all. We all strive for happiness and none of us want suffering. From there we moved into the conscious attitude to be more aware of the source of joys and sufferings in our life, from there I dealt with the issue of how most of our problems arise when we have a strong personal investment in something. We become self centered and self cherishing. These attitudes become the major cause of creating suffering for us. And if we think of the major joys in our life, is dealing with regards to relationships to others and such.
The way to work with this is not to be overly concerned with our activities because this is a shifting of consciousness, of attitude. And if we can make that attitude actually active, that is good, but it is not necessary to worry about that because if we start to become more conscious of our situations, and the most important situations to be aware of is that in any relationship, any situation we move into, when we start feeling unhappy with that situation, what can be said is that we have met our limitations. Like we have met the area where we feel we cannot go beyond. And then we have suffered. In that way, it can be said that every time you feel frustration or fear or anger, one, you have insecurity but also you feel you have moved to an area where you are insecure or your limits have been got beyond. And the morel you start to recognize that, then the more what I am going to talk about becomes more effective for your mind.
If you think of a situation, like you are in the middle of some anguish over some particular problem you are having, if in the middle of the anguish you could pause for a moment, step out of it, you will see so easily that you feel this is insurmountable. What ever you are involved with. That is what you are seeing! And that is why you are anguishing! Like all the anguish is proportionate to how much you feel beyond your limitations, the boundaries you have, beyond the control you have in the situation. When you step out of it, sometimes it is refreshing. If you see that! And then you can say well, actually it is not that bad. And then you step back into it. You can step back into the situation and actually be quite effective.
That tool of actually, consciously catching yourself in a moment of anxiety or fear or unhappiness, and then sort of saying hey , I'm suffering because I feel I have met my limit. and when you get that sort of hey, that conscious experience, then you could almost laugh at yourself. You can say hey let's look at it a different way. It just gives you a little refreshing air, a little awakening from it. And that conscious experience is the most important experience to begin to get in touch with because you touched on two points. One, that you have been very closed minded and secondly, the more important point is that you have started seeing that those were self created limitations that you have felt for whatever reason. You are too old to do this sort of thing! It's inappropriate what you have been asked of, that you can't change, you are too set in your ways! Or the things that these people are doing, they are bad, or whatever you believe in, sort of in that way your ego is getting broken. Your boundaries are being attacked. Your vision of how the world should be is being knocked off kilter.
The next phase is to start to try to get away from personal self cherishing. It's important to work with the words and not misinterpreted them. To move away from a self cherishing attitude. One is always saying me. I need this and I need that. Those sorts of statements and comments and moving into more an awareness of others and ones relationship with others and the good side of that. Not what can I get from another, but what can I give to others. And allowing oneself to work in that new area. It is something that is not easy to move into, but it is something to work towards. That is the foundation with which we are working with.
Now I wanted to move out of that and talk a little about Buddhism and Bodhisattvas because I think it is good to have something to compare it to. And although an enlightened being isn't something that we can directly perceive and in some ways is based on faith of what Lord Buddha was like. It's interesting. And the certainly the bodhisattva perspective is much more applicable to our situation. The term for enlightenment says that that being is fully freed of all negativity, all negative reflection, their mind does not have any negative reflection to anything. Like anything comes into it is not seen in a negative, that whatever appears to the mind. Secondly, they have all positive qualities. This means their being is fully developed or capable. They have all the capacities they need to have in working with others and it is to the fullness. There is no limitation. Of course there is then the qualifiers, the being is omniscient, divine wisdom realizing the full nature of reality, understands the cause and effect relationship of all phenomena. And on the other side has the great love which stems from the true realization of equanimity, the quality of all. From that empathy appears great love and compassion.
That is the Buddha. Having those two qualities. The enlightened being, whether it is a man or a woman, is completely immaterial. The consciousness of that person is having the quality of freedom of all negative reflection and spontaneously manifests whatever is necessary to work with others.
The bodhisattva, the man or woman who is striving for enlightenment has the motivation might I become Fully Enlightened that I can benefit others in the best way. Like I could benefit them O.K. as a bodhisattva but it is low quality. Not the highest quality of benefit I could give. I don't have the full set of tools or realizations which I need in working with others and helping them gain realizations. So they strive for full enlightenment because in that state they will be able to fully benefit others. Their attitude then, the way they come onto the world, is that all situations are the proving ground for their motivation, their attitude. And so in any relationship they enter into, they have 1) a courageous attitude, that is one of the terms we use in English is "Spiritual Warrior." They are not like a wimp. They look at all situations with not an aggressiveness, but with the spiritual warriors vision. That they will work with everything in the most positive manner they can so they have a warriors mind within themselves. When they come to any relationship or situation, the way they look at it is, rather than seeing a obnoxious, rude and ugly person.... uggh, walks around the corner! and I have to deal with this person, My God... you have all these anxieties and emotions running through you...This is us. For a bodhisattva, that person walks around the corner and he actually blisses right out because their whole being says, in every way that I interact, and you could almost say win, as in can handle the relationship with this person. Can possibly if nothing else be receptive and quiet, that is a positive quality. Or even help them in a way that helps them move into a little better head space. They blissed out by that! Because their character, their whole being is being transformed in every inter action they have. And they have that realization fully and in the depths of their being. Their whole heart beats to the rhythm of I am striving for enlightenment, enlightenment has all qualities. So in every moment of my existence, in every interaction I have, I amass the qualities of the enlightened being.
When they meet with anything, then their being is almost like interested in difficult situations because they have that attitude which says if I can learn a new skill in interacting, that would be wonderful. And it is not personal sort of wonderful as in Wow arn't I fantastic! The bliss is for them, is that that goes back to the sentient being. It means the better they get over their selfishness the better they get out of their own personal head space, and they really are a manifestation of love. Of compassion. Then, when they have that, then the relationships with others, the bliss that they have, is that they are giving. And they are giving better and better qualities each time they can improve themselves. In the scriptures it says, when a bodhisattva hears a plea for help they actually bliss right out because here is an opportunity for being generous. And they go into that as they say.. like a swan to a lake, or a hot elephant to a cool river. They jump right into that situation with actual ecstasy.
It is something we don't have. Generally speaking, we don't look at situations like that. But the bodhisattva, they have the wish to become the full realization of enlightenment. Because their attitude is in that channel, whenever they interact, one, it is bliss because they realize it is adding to their realization of enlightenment. Two, it enhances their quality so there is personal satisfaction saying, hey if I can handle this, if I can work through it, that is more towards my evolution. But like I say the evolution isn't self satisfaction. The evolution is being able to better express love. And if you have experienced any real love, you know that real love is in relationship to others. The real joy. That sense of just being deeply in love. It's a wonderful feeling. That because of being with other people, that good feeling.
The bodhisattva has their sense of fulfillment because they are going to be fulfilled in enlightenment. Enlightenment has that everlasting quality of bliss. And they have the expression of their love which is that they are able to interact with others and they know that the quality of their interaction is better. They don't have to worry about their nasty little mind coming up and saying, hey, what can I get out of this person? The negative things are not kicking around in them because they are getting into their thing. All of that comes from the attitude, the attitude is focused on altruism in it's ultimate expression as in I am becoming enlightened for the benefit of others. And I take the responsibility of becoming enlightened for the benefit of others. Like I am actually consciously going into that.
The point that is being dealt with is merely a transference of attitude from a self cherishing attitude or personally worrying or being concerned with oneself to an attitude of where one is more conscious of the needs of others and what can be done for others. And by being involved with that, then automatically that the sense of fulfillment and love can come about.
In approaching that, it is good not be worried about it because in all of our actions we do interact in ne way or another. We do have a perspective that we go into thing. And there is no difference between one and another. You don't get more work because you are a bodhisattva or less work because you are a hinayana or a ordinary spiritual practitioner. There is no difference in the work.
Lets say you have a situation in front of you. And it is an angry situation. If you are an ordinary spiritual practitioner, you don't get angry because anger full of negativity. If you are a Christian, you could say God doesn't like anger. Or if you are a Buddhist you might say, I must be patient because patience is a virtue and I don't want to ruffle my meditative attitude. I have to be serene, at peace. You don't get into anger. When you are in a hostile situation you still have to have that energy that says, hey, let's not get angry. Lets try to hold the situation, let's see it as it is. Whatever dynamic you use in that situation. A Bodhisattva. Same thing, they have to still do something. The work is the same. The bodhisattva looks at the sentient being. Their perspective, actually, is different. They look at the sentient being and say, here is someone who is really suffering. They are very unhappy with their suffering, and now they are manifesting it aggressively. A whole different perspective. But still, they are working with the situation saying, hey, I have to be patient but the focus is I have to be patient because this person is really unhappy, suffering, and let's work with them as best we can to help them go beyond the situation.
Like I say, the work can be the same. You have to deal with an angry vicious situation. One way says, be peaceful so I don't ruffle my consciousness, the other one says, I must be peaceful because here is a person who is suffering. It is the same work. That is the most important thing. There is no greater work for the bodhisattva and less work for the other practitioner. So in dealing with any situation, the whole emphasis of these teachings is to start to approach a more positive altruistic attitude. And as I covered in the previous lecture, the benefits of it are manifold, far greater than being only concerned with yourself and working for your own personal spiritual evolution and such. There are much greater benefits in being altruistic.
This brings to a conclusion the talk on altruism. If you were to think of what Buddhist altruism in the Mahayana or Greater Vehicle is, it has to deal with personal attitude. It doesn't deal with I am a Mahayanist because I go to Jhampa's class or Jhampa is a mahayanist because he likes the Dalai Lama or something. It is really in your attitude. In this room we might have a whole bunch of different people and we all might be really hinayanist. Meaning working for ourself alone, our own personal evolution. That is our attitude. It has nothing to do with the sect or the group we meditate with. So mahayana altruism is an attitude that has to do with yourself personally alone, no clique or club or something. Secondly it is the attitude that says working for my own benefit alone is selfish and not as high a quality or activity I could do as in working for the benefit of others. And in working for the benefit of others, there are many advantages to it, there are many pluses. Like if I am to work for a spiritual goal, you could say, why should I work for a second rate goal which is just my own personal liberation. Why don't I work for the ultimate liberation of enlightenment which is beneficial for all.
And then you could think of the other things I said like thinking of actions motivating from a personal perspective versus actions motivated from an altruistic perspective. And then, the conclusion whatever way you bring yourself to it, is ... I will strive for full enlightenment for the benefit of others and I take that upon myself. I will do that my own self, my own responsibility. And so altruism is interacting with others and saying that I will personally start to act that way, I will start being in that channel of trying to benefit others. And my goal is full enlightenment. It is not anything short of that. To be fully in the state, fully free of negativity, fully having all qualities. It is much like a diamond. You can gain many spiritual realizations and cut facets in the diamond, but if you work for full enlightenment it is as if you took she diamond and cut all the facets that are possible so you have the greatest glory.
So, if you think of your own character, you think of yourself as ...well, if I am going to polish the facets of my character, well I could polish one or two and it would be quite attractive and beautiful, it will be the glory of my realization. But if I have the capacity, why don't I try to work for the more total picture of myself. And that is what the idea of enlightenment is, to bring about all facets of your being into the greatest level they can. And the only place you need to worry with is your attitude.
The main movements for the meditation are equality of self and others. Just as I don't want suffering, so others don't want suffering. Just as I want happiness, others want happiness. The second phase is most of my sufferings in my life come from my self cherishing attitude, most of my happiness comes about from interactions with others. The third phase is to say that as I become more conscious of that, most of my unhappiness and anxieties come from my own self cherishing, then I would like to become more involved with benefitting or working with others, being more conscious of others, and then trying to be more conscious and helpful for others. Why shouldn't I try to become enlightened because enlightenment has the best way to help others. And there is everlasting bliss in that. It is said the bodhisattvas intention, and each time they interact, they have joy in their interaction because they realize they are becoming enlightened and in becoming enlightened, they will give the best they possibly could for others. So there is joy in that, fulfillment.
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