Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Rejoicing in those bound for enlightenment.

(3.3) I rejoice in the enlightenment of the Conqueror Buddhas
And in the spiritual paths of the Bodhisattvas.

(3.4) With delight I rejoice in the ocean of virtue
That arises from generating the mind of enlightenment, bodhichitta,
Which brings happiness to all living beings,
And in the deeds that benefit those beings.

We need to ask ourselves why do we find rejoicing so difficult?  What are we afraid of?  We can appreciate the virtues themselves: love, compassion, bodhichitta.  Why then is it difficult to see those qualities in others?  I think one reason is spiritual jealousy.  I have many delusions, but pride is one of my biggest.  It is not enough for me to think I am better than everyone around me, I don’t feel comfortable unless everyone agrees I am better than everyone else.  Needless to say, such a mind never finds comfort.  I find it incredibly difficult to admit others are better than me at things I find important.  My pride and jealousy find faults in the other person as a defense mechanism so I can sustain the illusion that I am better than everyone around me.  It takes great humility to rejoice in others.  We don’t want to do that.

We need living examples of people putting the practice of Dharma first and foremost in their lives.  This does not mean we all need to get ordained or move into a Dharma center, we can make the Dharma central to any life, job or family circumstance.  Dharma, quite simply, is wisdom.  Wisdom works in all situations, otherwise it wouldn’t be wisdom.  We need to perceive virtuous qualities in others, regardless of whether they are spiritual practitioners, the highest king or the lowest beggar.  Only then will we wish to emulate all good qualities, and become a living example ourselves.  There is a difference in the mind between thinking about a virtue and seeing such a virtue in others and rejoicing in that.   There is a big difference.  The former is abstract, the latter is practical.

We have to be very careful how we see others, especially other Dharma practitioners.  We should practice pure view with one another by asking how we can receive perfect benefit from what they have done, even when they make terrible mistakes. This does not mean we turn a blind eye to their faults and mistakes, rather it means we gain the ability to learn Dharma lessons from everything they do, especially their mistakes.

For ourself, we should rejoice in whatever we do do, not judge ourselves for whatever we don’t.  Very often we judge ourselves for what we don’t do, but feel we should.  We judge ourselves as failing to live up to the standards we set for ourselves, thinking what we do is not good enough.  This just creates the cause for us to do less.  We need to accept our weaknesses as weakness – accept that is where we are at and happily try to do better.  We need to take the time to rejoice in our own virtue, no matter how small.  Doing so creates the cause for us to do more and to enjoy our practice.  This is just karma, it is how things work.

As a general rule, we should rejoice in whatever virtues others do do, and ignore the rest.  Rejoicing in others should be our main practice.  The world we pay attention to is the world we experience.  If we pay attention to others’ faults, we will live in a faulty world; if we pay attention to others’ good qualities, we will live in a pure world.  Whatever we relate to, we draw out.  If we relate to people’s faults, we will draw them out; and if we relate to their good qualities, we will draw them out instead.  Seen in this way, rejoicing is a real act of love and compassion.

Rejoicing creates the cause to acquire whatever good quality we are rejoicing in.  Criticizing creates the causes to acquire the faults that we criticize.  Rejoicing is the root of the Mahayana path.  Enlightenment depends upon bodhichitta, which depends upon compassion, which depends upon cherishing others, which depends upon finding others precious, which depends upon rejoicing in their good qualities.

We all love a good deal.  A good deal is something that has a good relationship between the quality of the good and what we have to pay for it.  Every Dharma practice has different benefits, and different costs in terms of how hard it is to practice.  It seems to me, of all the practices of Dharma, none bring so great of benefits for such an easy to do practice as rejoicing. Surely, bodhichitta and the meditation on the union of bliss and emptiness bring the greatest benefits of all, but such minds are incredibly hard to generate, and only arise superficially after many decades (if not lifetimes) of practice.  But rejoicing is easy from day one.  It is a naturally happy mind and it is easy to do.  It is just a question of what we pay attention to in others.  We can choose to pay attention to their qualities or we can choose to pay attention to their faults.  Simple choice, simple practice, limitless benefits.  I would say the entire Mahayana flows naturally, like dominos, from the mental habit of rejoicing.  Do this, and the rest will naturally follow.

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