Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  The true meaning of Exodus

(3.28) Just as it is rare indeed
For a blind person to find a jewel in a heap of garbage,
So too, by some very rare chance,
I have generated bodhichitta.

It is quite extraordinary that we have met Buddhadharma, Mahayana Dharma, met a spiritual guide, and found ourself wanting to become a Buddha.  We’ve found ourself even taking Bodhisattva Vows and trying to behave as an actual Bodhisattva. It is remarkable, truly remarkable.  All these verses after taking the Bodhisattva Vow are expressions of the joy Shantideva feels.  His heart is full of rejoicing. “I’ve generated Bodhichitta! I’ve just taken the Bodhisattva Vow!”  We should rejoice in the same way, from the depths of our heart.  Our Spiritual Guide is definitely rejoicing like this for us!  We should feel his joy.

If we found a winning lottery ticket, we would feel extremely lucky.  In reality, lottery winners sometimes conclude it was the worst thing that ever happened to them.  If we were in prison and we found a way out, we would feel extremely lucky.  But if we didn’t change our ways, we would soon find ourselves back in prison.  By finding the bodhisattva’s path, we have won the spiritual lottery, we have found the way out of samsara and we can bring everyone with us in a true spiritual exodus.  There is no way to describe our good fortune, for it is quite literally beyond description with ordinary words.

We hold within our hands the keys to unlocking universal happiness.  Such claims are so bold that we automatically assume it is exaggeration and we don’t take them seriously.  If we did, it would change everything for us.  We have been mired in the swamp of samsara for countless aeons, and miraculously we have found solid ground, a path that leads out forever.  Every living being wishes for happiness, but they don’t know how to fulfill that wish.  We have found the way.  All that is required is to realize our incredible good fortune and the firm determination to not waste it.

(3.29) It is the supreme nectar that overcomes
The dominion of death over living beings,
And an inexhaustible treasury
That dispels all their poverty.

Samsara is described with many different analogies, such as a prison, a swamp and a nightmare.  But for me, it is a slaughterhouse in which none will be spared.  All enter, none come out.  We correctly decry the Nazi death camps, but we don’t think twice about the much larger genocide taking place all around us.  All who are born must die, and they will be tormented by suffering the whole way.  Death holds total dominion over us all.  His reign goes unquestioned and unchallenged by all but the few brave souls, such as Jesus and Buddha, who stood their ground and defeated death itself.  Because we doubt it can be done, we don’t even try.  But it can be done, and we have been given the methods for how to do so.

If we succeed, and success is guaranteed if we never give up trying, we will not only conquer death ourselves but we will gain the ability to help all others do the same.  We will stand at the door of death where we will lovingly greet all and guide them to permanent freedom.  We admire the soldiers who free people from captivity, we worship Moses who freed the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage, but no real freedom is ever found in samsara.  The true meaning of Exodus is from samsara, from uncontrolled death itself.  The Buddhas have come for us.  Our time is now.  We are invited to bring along all those we love.  The freedom of all is assured if we but follow.

Material poverty is tragic, but it pales in comparison with spiritual poverty.  We could be the richest person on earth, but spiritually poor, and our life would have no meaning.  We could be the poorest person on earth, but spiritually rich, and we would lack for nothing.  The only reason we lack anything is because we ignorantly grasp at ourselves as somehow being separate from all things.  When we realize the wisdom of non-dual emptiness, we not only will lack nothing we will become everything.

What else can promise such things?

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