Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Creating the causes for Buddhas to appear in our world

Shantideva continues with the other limbs.  With these practices, like any practice, we need to make them personal.  They have to be our own, and we need to try understand their meaning and purpose on a personal level.  We need to get a feeling for them.  Otherwise they’re just words.   They won’t be ‘our’ practice.  If they are not our own practice, then these practices will have little or no effect on our mind.   For example, we need to ask ourselves, what is my purification practice?  How am I purifying?  What am I doing?  I need to know how my purification practice is freeing my mind from what is blocking it, freeing my mind from obstructions.  It is the same with the other limbs.  Make it real.

(3.5) To the Buddhas residing in all directions,
With my palms pressed together I make this request:
Please continue to shine the lamp of Dharma
For living beings lost and suffering in the darkness of ignorance.

The Buddhas want to teach, but if we don’t make requests to receive teachings, then we don’t create the causes for ourselves to receive them.  We make requests on behalf of others because it is an enormous act of compassion and it multiplies the effect for ourselves.  It is not enough to have Buddhas around, because they need to teach as well.  It is not just an issue of making requests to receive formal teachings, but rather that we receive teachings through everyone around us.

Exactly what is it we’re requesting?   We are requesting that Buddhas continue to teach us, for example in the form of our holy spiritual guide.  But this is not just limited to receiving teachings at festivals and Dharma centers.  We have to ask ourselves, what happens when Geshe-la leaves this world?  Will that be it?  I don’t know about you, but I want to be taught every day of my life by my Spiritual Guide.  This is what we are asking for.

We know that we can receive teachings from our spiritual guide every day.  There are external methods, such as those explain which how to transform adverse conditions into the path.  Suffering, our daily experience in samsara, is a powerful teaching about the laws of karma, renunciation and patient acceptance.   There are internal methods through learning how to communicate directly with the Buddhas inside our mind.  These have been discussed in detail in some of my earlier series of posts, such as How to Rely upon the Guru’s Mind Alone and Activating the Inner Spiritual Guide.  The bottom line is we if we maintain a faithful mind, our Spiritual Guide can teach us day and night through everything that appears to us.

(3.6) To the Conquerors who wish to enter paranirvana,
With my palms pressed together I make this request:
Please do not leave living beings in a state of blindness,
But remain with us for countless aeons.

The best way to get the feeling for this is imagine what our life would be like if Geshe-la had not entered into our world.  What chance would we have?  Buddhas remaining is not just a question of whether they wish to remain, because they certainly do.  Their remaining is a function of whether we create the causes for them to remain and appear in our karmic world, and we accomplish this through requesting them to do so.

This is not just an issue of wishing that they remain in this world, but that they remain in our lives and in the lives of those we love.  It is not enough that there are Buddhas in this world, there needs to be Buddhas in our lives.  We make this request motivated by compassion for the beings in our refuge visualization – ourselves, our family, our sangha, our work colleagues, the people of our region, for generation after generation after generation.

Again we can ask ourselves, how are we helped and guided by enlightened beings? How are we helped by our spiritual guide?  We must be careful never to lose the wish to be helped, to be guided in our development.  There’s a danger we’ve seen in the past practitioners who gradually fade away.   This often comes from the mara of pride thinking we don’t need Spiritual Guides and spiritual friends in our life.  It’s horrible.  None of us are free yet from this mara.   Geshe-la has warned us to watch out for the mara of pride.  We must invite Buddhas into our daily life and seek help and guidance.   We need to watch out for that mind that doesn’t want to invite our spiritual guide into our life for guidance.  We need to check, are we allowing ourself to be guided every day by our spiritual guide?

If we don’t invite the Buddhas into our lives, then change is slow.  It may even stop.  But when we do invite them, we can create very quickly a special pure mental environment in which there can be extraordinary growth of virtue.   Real change can take place.  Such a fertile environment comes from requesting in a heartfelt way that the Buddhas remain in this world and teach us.

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