CHAPTER 3: Generating Engaging Bodhichitta
Now Shantideva describes the remaining limbs: rejoicing, requesting, beseeching, dedicating, as well as the practice of giving. First we turn to rejoicing.
(3.1) With great gladness I rejoice
In the virtues that protect living beings
From the sufferings of the lower realms
And lead all those who suffer to fortunate realms.
(3.2) I rejoice in the accumulation of virtue
That releases living beings from samsaric rebirth
And leads them to the state of nirvana –
The supreme, permanent inner peace.
One of the most important methods for attaining good qualities for ourselves is the practice of rejoicing. Every time we rejoice in virtue, we create strong causes to possess that virtue in the future in abundance. This happens on two levels, first the mental action of rejoicing itself is virtuous and creates for ourselves a similitude of the virtue we are rejoicing in. For example, when we see an ordained person working hard to maintain their ordination vows in this modern world filled with temptations, we create for ourselves karma similar to if we were ordained ourselves. Why would we want this? It is not hard to imagine how wonderful it would be to be a child of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Bill Clinton or George Bush Sr. Belonging to such a family brings tremendous benefits.
The uncommon characteristic of family is it is the people we would be willing to do anything to help, and we stick together no matter what. The ordained belong to the close family of Je Tsongkhapa. They are his close spiritual children, and by virtue of his close karmic relationship with his children, they receive special blessings, virtue and protection. When ordinary beings engage in the practice of moral discipline it creates the cause for a higher rebirth. When spiritual beings engage in the practice of moral discipline it creates the causes for a precious human life in which we find the Dharma. When an ordained spiritual being engages in the practice of moral discipline it creates the causes for them to be reborn into Je Tsongkhapa’s Kadampa family with deep faith and a desire to practice. The uninterrupted continuum of their spiritual practice is ensured, and with it their eventual enlightenment. We should all want this, regardless of whether we are lay or ordained.
The second way in which rejoicing bestows upon us great virtue is in the mind of rejoicing there is present very strong admiring faith that welcomes the virtue into our own mind. We all are reluctant to invite our enemies into our home, but we gladly welcome our friends and family. Faith, quite simply, is a mind that welcomes virtue into our hearts. Sometimes we fear virtue, thinking it will make us unhappy because we have to deprive ourselves of all those things we enjoy, but such a thought is born of profound ignorance. Virtues only function is to bring happiness. Faith sees this and welcomes it wholeheartedly. If we are to make authentic progress we must rejoice in the spiritual paths of others. We need to learn to see such qualities in others and rejoice in others’ spiritual paths. Try to see those qualities in other people. When we do this, we naturally start to emulate their view and actions. We start to act in similarly wholesome ways. Wholesomeness is a unique form of spiritual beauty, but one that only appeals to a pure heart. Sometimes we mistakenly think wholesomeness means we all need to become socially uptight people who judge everyone else’s morals. Not at all. Genuine wholesomeness is a mind that lacks nothing – it is whole – and so it overflows with kindness and generosity. It judges nobody and welcomes all. Because it seeks nothing, everyone naturally trusts it and admires it. Without saying a word, it naturally inspires others to become better people and it heals the sorrows of this world.
We should especially rejoice in those areas where we have difficulty ourselves in certain aspects of our training. The best method really to improve ourselves is by rejoicing. If we have difficulty training in concentration, meditation, then we must rejoice when we become aware of others who are good at meditating. We have to watch out for the mind that says, “they may look like they’re meditating, but …” There’s a mind that always tries to get in and spoil our rejoicing. It always yes, “yes, but…” Why do we want to think like that? Why do we allow ourselves to? If we can’t understand Dharma, maybe subtle subjects, then we must rejoice in those who are able to understand Dharma — subtle subjects, clearly, quickly.
We sometimes ask ourselves “is there a danger if I’m looking to someone as an example that I’ll be let down if that person suddenly disappears?” Never any danger in looking at a person’s example, spotting good qualities, and rejoicing. We need to take every single person who leaves the Dharma and learn from their mistake. Perhaps they are a Buddha showing you a potential pitfall in your mind so that you can avoid it. Venerable Tharchin says we must take our primary refuge in the Dharma, not the person. If we take primary refuge in the person and they do something stupid, we can lose everything. If we take primary refuge in the Dharma and the person does something stupid, we receive a Dharma teaching. Then we are protected regardless of what they do.