Slowly, we are inching closer to having our mind ready to take the bodhisattva vows. First we will discuss what it means and how we can offer ourself to all living beings and talk about how we can generate the mind that wholeheartedly accepts the difficulties involved with the path. Then we will talk about what exactly is the Bodhisattva’s promise and how to overcome being a neurotic in our Dharma practice. Later, we will talk about the role of the Spiritual Guide for a Bodhisattva and how to take our relationship with him from first having him help us get out of the mess that was our life to the next phase of him knocking us out of our pride and complacency. Then, we will also talk about how we should think about our vows. Then finally we will be ready to discuss the actually Bodhisattva Vow ceremony.
Every once in a while it is worth it to compare our present state of mind to how we felt when we were at our last festival. When we are at the festivals, it all seems really clear. We see our incredible good fortune to have found the path and we are extremely motivated to dedicate our life to following it. But then life gradually creeps back in and our good intentions fade until they are little more than a distant memory of how we once thought. It’s useful, then to check and see how far has our mind slipped back into samsara? It’s scary isn’t it how far and how fast we can fall back in?
(3.13) Since I have given up this body
For the happiness of living beings,
It will always be theirs to beat, to revile,
Or even to kill if they please.
(3.14) Even if they play with it,
Mock it, or humiliate it,
Since I have given this body to others,
What is the point of holding it dear?
Our body is not just for Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, our spiritual guide, it is for everyone. We have a great deal of attachment to our body. We are so concerned with its appearance, its health and we identify with it so strongly. We need to drop attachment to and grasping at it by giving it to others. Giving away our body is an ‘attitude’ of mind, we don’t need to go around telling everybody we are offering them our body!
We should be prepared to sacrifice this body for the sake of others. This attitude is what is important. Even in the animal realm there are many beings who possess such an attitude. Soldiers are ready to give their lives to protect others and go through difficult training and situations to be able to do this. We are the same, except we are seeking to protect them from samsara. We are ready to work through their obstacles for them so that they do not have to. In actual practice, of course, we shouldn’t go around putting our body in unnecessary danger. We have a precious human life with which we can accomplish limitless spiritual goals, and out of compassion for others, we should guard and protect our body to be able to fulfill these aims. But mentally, we should be willing to sacrifice even our body if we needed to. We should be like the soldier who is spontaneously prepared to throw himself on the grenade to protect his squad and its ability to complete the mission. Do we have such a mental attitude? If not, why not? At the very least, it is an ideal we can strive towards.
How can we offer our body to others right now? Normally we say that we are not ready to offer our body to others because we still need it, but mentally we can offer our bodies right now. We can view ourselves as the ‘asset manager’ of our body, and the real owner is all living beings (or even better, the spiritual Guide). We have a ‘fiduciary duty’ to manage the asset of our body and mind for the maximum benefit of all living beings. The best thing we can do with it is transform it into a Buddha. Doing so yields the highest returning investment on their asset, it is the most useful thing for them, even if they don’t realize it. To use it for ourselves is to steal from all living beings because we are no longer the owner of it.
One powerful way we can offer ourselves to others is to adopt the view that our every experience is actually what we have taken on ourselves from those we love. We take on their suffering so that they don’t have to, we allow ourselves to become karmic ‘echo chamber’ for others – we take all their difficulties and give them all the good. All the delusions that arise in our mind are theirs. They reflect into our own mind, and we overcome them for them. We imagine that by doing so, the delusions are overcome in their mind.
If we make requests to Dorje Shugden that this be the case, it will be. He can organize where the delusions that arise in our mind and the problems we have are those that our loved ones suffer from. He can also organize where by overcoming them in our mind we gain the realizations necessary to be able to help them overcome the same problems. Technically speaking, we can’t actually take on the substantial causes of others suffering, but we can take on the circumstantial causes. We have within our mind the seeds to have delusions similar to what they are experiencing. By them ripening in our mind, we are able to better understand what they are going through and are better able to help them.