We are continuing with our discussion of generating bodhichitta. We talked in the last post how we rejoice in other’s good qualities and appreciate their faults. This is the key to generating cherishing love for others. Here I will try build the bridge between the appearance of other’s faults and king-like Bodhichitta, or what I understand to be “Christ-like” Bodhichitta.
I will explain two methods for building this bridge: ‘owing others faults as your own’ and ‘viewing your faults as those you have taken on’.
Venerable Tharchin says when we see faults in others we should “own their faults as our own.” He says the only reason why others appear to have any faults is because we ourself possess the same fault within our mind. He says when we see a fault in somebody else, we should see that person as a ‘mirror-like’ Buddha who reflects back to us our own faults. Then we find that fault within ourself and purge it like bad blood.
When we do this, several things happen: First, we gain the realizations we need to be able to help the other person overcome their fault because we learn how to do it ourself. Second, we show the best possible example for the other person, namely that of somebody overcoming, or being free from, their biggest fault. Third, almost magically, the fault will actually disappear in the other person. The fault in the other person actually comes from our own mind. When we eliminate it from our mind, it will disappear from the other person because it is our faulty mind projecting a faulty world anyways. In this way, a Bodhisattva gradually leads all beings to enlightenment. And at the very least, if we practice in this way we won’t be bothered by the appearance of faults in others and we will gradually come to have one less fault!
The second method for building this bridge is to view our own delusions and negative karma as those we have taken on from those close to us in our life, or as they say in French, nos proches. When a delusion arises in our mind, we should imagine that it is one that we have taken on from our previous practice of taking and giving. We then imagine that as we overcome it in our mind, we are eliminating it in the minds of the other person. A faulty mind projects a world filled with faulty people, but a pure mind projects a world filled with pure beings. By removing the faults from our own mind, we will stop projecting a faulty dream and start projecting a pure world. We take on the delusions of nos proches because we realize we are in a better position to work through them than they are. Just as a young person is in a better position than the old lady to carry her groceries, we are in a better position to “take on” the delusions of those we love because we have the Dharma.
A very profound way of practicing if we can view our mind like a TV screen which reflects the aggregate nexus of the delusions arising in the minds of all living beings. We have taken them all on, and their synthetic sum is whatever nexus of delusions is arising in our mind. We feel as if we have become like a contaminated mind treatment facility. We bring in delusions and negative karma, we treat it within our mind and then return back to them completely purified minds.
King-like bodhichitta is a mind that assumes the personal responsibility to become a Buddha first so that we may help others do the same. When we understand king-like bodhichitta in the context of understanding the emptiness of the appearance of faults in others, it transforms into what can easily be understood as “Christ-like” Bodhichitta. It feels like we are treating directly the delusions and suffering within our own mind, but we understand it to be our working through the delusions and suffering we have taken on from others. Geshe-la explains in Eight Steps to Happiness that Christ was most likely practicing taking and giving on the cross. Christ took on the negative karma of all living beings, and then his suffering was actually the negative karma of others ripening on him so others didn’t have to experience it. Christianity works by generating faith in Christ, one gains access to his special blessings which function to free those who rely upon him from their negative karma (sins) by allowing him to take it upon himself.
In the same way, we can take on the negativities, delusions and obstructions of nos proches, and then the negative karma, delusions and obstructions that we experience can be viewed as those of others ripening on us so that others don’t have to experience them. Venerable Tharchin says, “we can design our own enlightenment.” The reason why Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri, for example, are particularly capable of helping living beings generate compassion and wisdom is because when they were Bodhisattva’s, they generated special pure intentions to become Buddhas with this ability. In the same way, we can design our own enlightenment to have the special ability to help those who have the problems that those we love do by imagining we take on their delusions, obstructions and negative karma and working through them in a Christ-like bodhichitta sense. Then, when we are Buddhas in the future, by others generating faith in us, they will gain access to our special blessings which will function to free them from their negative karma, delusions and obstructions by allowing us to take them upon ourself. How wonderful!