There are several different things we need to consider to make the decision to enter the Bodhisattva’s Path.
First, our lives are as meaningful as the goal towards which we work. The goals that we are working towards determines what kind of life we have. There are many different types of goals we can adopt. Worldly goals are goals aimed at external happiness in this life alone, such as money, a good reputation, power, a pleasant partner, etc. Spiritual goals are internal goals of spiritual realizations that protect us in this and all our future lives, such as closing the door on the lower realms by purifying all our negative karma and creating no new negative karma; or attaining liberation by overcoming all of our delusions and thereby gaining the ability to choose our next rebirth. The highest of all goals is to solve all the problems of all living beings for all their lives. Essentially we make a promise to lead each and every being out of the mentally created prison of samsara. Someone who works for this goal is a Bodhisattva. We need to make a conscious decision about what we find to be worthwhile and work towards that goal. It is not enough to allow the momentum of our life to carry us along. To choose the life of a bodhisattva does not mean you have to abandon your external life, but you do have to completely change the mind with which you do it. We strive to integrate all of your activities into the accomplishment of our primary objective.
Second, we have worked incredibly hard to give ourselves this opportunity. Nothing happens without a cause. It is impossible for us to experience anything if we didn’t create the cause to do so. We now have everything. We have a precious human life, we have access to a Dharma center where we can receive teachings, we have a strong interest in accomplishing spiritual goals, we have access to Tantric instructions which enable us to attain enlightenment in one lifetime, and we have the opportunity to engage in a Bodhisattva’s actions through the center. I did the math once, and an opportunity like this comes around only once ever 550 trillion lifetimes. We worked exceedingly hard over many lifetimes to get this opportunity. We accumulated good causes for ourself and they are all ripening as this present opportunity. In many ways, this present opportunity is our self-created spiritual destiny. To not seize this opportunity would be like studying for 12 years to become a doctor and then in the last semester dropping out. Or it is like running our whole life for president and finally getting elected, and then not showing up for work on the first day. It is actually far worse than that.
Third, if we don’t fully seize this opportunity while we have it, we will lose it forever. It would be as if all our Dharma karma has ripened in the form of this present opportunity and we have nothing left on our mind. If we don’t take full advantage of this opportunity, we will burn up the causes which created it and have nothing left on our mind. If instead we fully seize this opportunity we will create the causes for it to continue until eventually we attain the final goal.
Fourth, we each have an inescapable rendez-vous with death. We are going to die and we don’t know when. The only thing we can take with us are the imprints we have placed on our mind. Everything else, we have to leave behind. If we invest all our energy of this life into external things to be enjoyed in this life, we will arrive at death empty handed and have no protection for our future lives. Do not allow yourself to arrive at death and realize too late what you could have accomplished spiritually if only you had been motivated enough.
We make this decision when we choose to take the Bodhisattva vows. Over the next several months of posts, we will work to prepare ourselves to be able to make this decision. Essentially, the purpose of these next many posts is to lead up to us being able to make this promise to living beings. We should give ourself this opportunity to really examine this opportunity we have in front of us and make a concsious and informed decision about what we want to do with this life and the rest of eternity. After the discussion of preparation for the bodhisattva vows, we will then likely spend the next three years explaining how to actually embark on a Bodhisattva’s path and live a Modern Bodhisattva’s way of life.