(2.30) Whatever harmful actions of body, speech, or mind
I have done under the influence of delusion
Towards the Three Precious Jewels,
My father and mother, my Spiritual Guide, and others –
(2.31) All the extremely unbearable evil actions
Committed by me, an evil person
Polluted by many faults –
I confess before the Deliverers, the enlightened beings.
Negative actions directed towards those that have shown us particular kindness are especially negative. Sadly, we do this all the time. It is sad truth that we often treat those who are kindest to us worse than we do strangers or even those who seek to harm us. We take their kindness for granted, and we abuse it by getting angry at them when they don’t live up to our expectations. We do this with our parents, with our Spiritual Guides and with our closest friends.
Towards our parents, we have nearly limitless expectations. No matter how much they do for us, it is never enough. We focus all of our attention on all of the things they haven’t done for us and are oblivious to all of the things they have done. Like adolescent children, we rebel against their every advice and we spend our time cataloging all of the different ways in which they are wrong and we are right. When they fail to show us the love we feel we deserve, we lash out at them and make them feel bad. We yell at them, make nasty comments, and expect them to serve us. We forget their birthdays, but can’t forgive when they forget ours. We feel constantly judged by them, and we resent them for it. We expect them to be perfect, and feel completely let down when they are not. We covet their money, become jealous when they appear to love our siblings more, and find fault in most everything they do. We become embarrassed by them in front of our friends or colleagues, and we talk behind their backs after they have left. We take completely for granted all of the kindnesses they have shown us, and we blame them for all our problems. When they get older, we either neglect them completely or feel put upon when they need our help. If we check, there is probably nobody else in our life who we have been systematically more cruel to than our parents. It is often only when we become a parent ourself that we realize all that our parents do for us and how cruel kids can be in the face of a parent’s kindness.
Towards our Spiritual Guides, in this and in our countless past lives we have committed all sorts of negative deeds, including stealing from them, criticizing them, shunning their advice, creating division within their Sangha, failing to keep our commitments to them, taking their kindness for granted, making no effort to repay their kindness, thinking we know better than them, resenting them for seemingly judging us when we do something wrong, mistreating the sacred objects they have given us, such as our Dharma books, misusing their teachings for our own worldly purposes, lying to them to cover up what we have done wrong, the list goes on and on.
Towards our closest friends, we have talked behind their backs, abandoned them when they need us most, gotten mad at them when they don’t return our calls or text us back quickly enough, we neglect them when they are not around, and forget them when we find new friends. It doesn’t matter how much past kindness they have shown, we find it hard to forgive even the slightest offense against us. We become jealous when they hang out with somebody else, unfriend them on social media, and we enter into all sorts of bitter fights with them. People who used to be our best friends or romantic partners become our worst enemies who we can’t see any good in. We say all manner of divisive or hurtful speech and create no end of unnecessary dramas between us. We use them as an object of attachment and expect them to be there to meet our needs.
It is important that we take the time to really look in the mirror and see how we treat those who have been kindest to us.
(2.32) But I might die before I purify
All my negativities;
O Please protect me so that I
May surely and swiftly be freed from them.
It is particularly important to purify the negative karma that we have with respect to the Spiritual Guide and the three jewels. In fact, there is no karma more important to purify because by doing so we clear the way to receive powerful blessings – they can then easily bestow enlightenment upon us and help us without obstruction. To purify this negative karma in particular, we need to generate a profound fear of losing the path. We don’t know what negative karma we have created with respect to our Spiritual Guide, and if this ripens we can easily find ourselves abandoning the path. If we lose the path, we have all of samsara to fear. If we stay on the path, we have nothing to fear.
For me, my biggest fear is losing the path. I have been practicing long enough now to realize it is going to take some time before I turn around this ship of delusion called Ryan. If I lose the path, either in this life or at the time of my death, what will I do then? It’s so easy to gradually and unknowingly get sucked back into samsara until pretty soon there is almost nothing left of the spiritual life we used to have. If we die before we have purified our negative karma, we will almost certainly lose the path. Falling into the lower realms is certainly painful, but the worst consequence of it is our losing the path. We will then wander for countless aeons committing all sorts of deluded and negative action before we stumble on the path again. Gen Lhamo once said, “we must choose: hold on to our negative habits or go to the pure land. We can’t have both.” Either we leave our negative habits behind or we cannot enter the pure land. If we remain in samsara, we will never know safety. We take for granted the relative calm and stability we currently enjoy, but it will not last. The end may not be near for the world, but it is for us. We should take this to heart.
One thought on “Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: We repay kindness with harm…”
I share in your fear of losing the path. We do have to make a firm choice and keep on making it again and again every day.