Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Being delivered from bondage

(1.29) For those who are deprived of happiness
And afflicted with many sorrows,
Bodhichitta bestows upon them boundless joy,
Eradicates all their suffering, 

(1.30) And even dispels their confusion.

Why does bodhichitta do this?

First, we must understand why people are unhappy.  Normally we think our happiness depends upon our external circumstance.  But happiness is a state of mind, therefore its cause must come from mind.  Geshe-la repeatedly explains in the introduction to pretty much every book that happiness depends upon inner peace.  When our mind is peaceful, we are happy, even if our external circumstance is terrible.  When our mind is unpeaceful, we are not happy, even if our external circumstances are perfect.  We all have many examples of this in our life.  This shows that whether we are happy or not depends entirely upon whether our mind is at peace and has absolutely nothing to do with our external circumstance.  This is a huge claim with far-reaching consequences, but when checked we are left to conclude that it is true.

The only reason why it seems that our happiness depends upon our external circumstance is because we lack the ability to keep our mind peaceful when things go badly.  There is no other reason.  Those who have such ability are able to maintain their inner peace and thus remain happy, even in the face of great adversity.

Our unpeaceful minds are not limited to when externally things go badly, but also to when things go well.  For example, the more we acquire (wealth, fame, position, etc.) the more anxiety we face about losing it all.  Our lives become increasingly complex, our friends become less sincere, and most importantly no matter how much we have, it is never enough.  The mind that “wants” and “needs” can never be satisfied by getting more.  Quite the opposite, it feeds the hunger.  We want and need ever more, but like a drug it becomes harder and harder to get what we desire.  While we may externally be richer than we previously ever dreamed possible, we still feel poor.  When we have it all we become insufferably spoiled.  We get so used to having everything go our way, that we simply can’t tolerate anything going wrong, and we feel quite put upon when it does.  Our pride shoots through the roof, thinking we are somebody special who feels terribly slighted at the smallest thing.  Many rich and powerful people find their lives incredibly empty of meaning and devoid of personal growth precisely because there is nothing they have to struggle for, and no adversity that needs to be overcome.  Learning becomes impossible.  The Ambassador in Brussels once said, “the worst part about being an Ambassador is people are always kissing your ass and they stop telling you when you are acting like a real fool.”

Bodhichitta brings equal happiness to both external misfortune and fortune.  The goal of bodhichitta is to grow and develop our qualities so that we may better serve others, even unto leading them to enlightenment.  When misfortune strikes, that is when the bodhisattva grows.  When fortune strikes, that is when the bodhisattva serves.  Both are equally good, just in different ways.  A bodhisattva generates a genuine equanimity to external circumstances.  Why?  Because the cause of inner peace is virtue.  When our mind is virtuous, it is peaceful.  When our mind is overrun by delusions it is unpeaceful.  Bodhichitta is the supreme virtuous mind.  There is no higher virtue, therefore no greater inner peace and happiness.  Bodhichitta is the supreme opponent to all delusions.  Indeed, it is impossible for delusions and bodhichitta to be present at the same time.  The bodhisattva is able to equally feast on good and bad external circumstance and use both for fulfilling their bodhichitta wishes.  Nothing is a problem, everything can be used.  Who would not feel boundless joy when possessed of a confidence that knows no fear and which marches inexorably to eternal happiness for all?

Bodhichitta dispels all confusion, both temporarily and ultimately.  Temporarily, confusion arises when we don’t know what to do or we don’t know how to use a particular circumstance to our advantage.  With bodhichitta, we always know what to do.  We know how to use everything that happens, good or bad, to fulfill our spiritual wishes.  The supposed conflict of interests between self and others dissolves away for the mind that grows by serving.  Ultimately, confusion arises from ignorance.  With bodhichitta, we are not satisfied with merely protecting others temporarily from some of samsara’s discomforts, but it seeks to deliver all beings out of the bondage of ignorance.  Slavery is awful, but it is nothing compared to the ignorance of self-grasping.  We can be freed from slavery, but only the wisdom realizing emptiness can free us from the prison of samsara.  Moses delivered the Jews out of Egypt, the Bodhisattva delivers all out of samsara.  Bodhichitta drives the bodhisattva to realize emptiness directly and thereby open the prison gates for all.

Where is there virtue equal to this?
Where is there even such a friend?
Where is there merit such as this?

 

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