(4.37) If those who engage in violent battles,
Strongly wishing to destroy deluded beings who must suffer death anyway,
Disregard the pain of being wounded by weapons
And do not withdraw until they have accomplished their aim,
(4.38) Then it goes without saying that, even if I have to endure great hardships,
From now on I should not be indolent or faint-hearted
In striving once and for all to destroy this natural foe
That is the constant source of all my suffering.
Normally, as Buddhists, we seek peace. We do Prayers for World Peace. We establish World Peace Cafes. We take heart in knowing “love is the real nuclear bomb that destroys all enemies.” We are guided by the truth, “without inner peace, outer peace is impossible.” We condemn war and killing, regardless of who does it, and we encourage compassion for all beings without exception, even the greatest murderers of all time, like Hitler, Stalin and Osama Bin Laden. The entire Buddhist path has one objective, one bottom line: total peace and harmony, both outer and inner, for all living beings.
And yet, Shantideva unambiguously calls on us to be inspired by the example of trained killers. This bothers us. We aren’t quite sure how to relate to such teachings. We put down Shantideva and reach for Eight Steps to Happiness instead. We need to get over it. We are at war. The only difference between a soldier and a Bodhisattva is their enemy. Worldly soldiers destroy outer enemies, Bodhisattvas destroy inner enemies. Other than this, it is exactly the same. Are we comfortable with this? If not, get over it. I once saw a schematic of the Foundation Program. It starts with Joyful Path, branches out into Universal Compassion, Heart of Wisdom and Understanding the Mind, and then is reassembled with the capstone of Meaningful to Behold, Geshe-la’s commentary to Shantideva’s Guide. In other words, the final conclusion of the entire Foundation Program is Shantideva’s presentation of the Dharma. This is where all of our Foundation Program studies are headed.
Why are we to take soldiers as our example? They are willing to risk their life for the sake of protecting others. They disregard the pain, inconveniences and indeed wounds of battle, but instead wear them as badges of honor and signs of their valor. They do not run away from the sound of battle, but head straight for its heart. They show comradery and loyalty to their fellow soldiers, knowing nothing builds the bonds of men like battle. The sight of their own blood does not cause them to cower, but instead fills them with strength to fight on. They live by creeds like, “strength and honor.” Why can we not be the same in our fight against delusions? Why do we resist being inspired by their example? Their enemy is wrong, their example is perfect.
In modern popular culture, nobody exemplifies military excellence like Seal Team 6. Even if one disagrees with how the U.S. government uses its military, few would disagree that it is the most powerful fighting force the world has ever seen. Within the military, there are regular soldiers and then there are the special forces, such as the Navy Seals. These are the elite soldiers. But within the special forces, there is the elite of the elite, Seal Team 6. What special forces soldiers are to regular foot soldiers, Seal Team 6 is to regular special forces soldiers. I am not trying to glorify instruments of state-sponsored killing, I am just trying to put things into perspective. If we are going to take soldiers as our example, we should take only the best. They literally go through hell to fight for others, they never stop training, they take on the hardest, most dangerous missions, they fight not as individuals but as a unit, they fight anonymously. Who should we strive to be as Bodhisattva’s? We should strive to be like them, the fearless best of the best.
The extensive Dorje Shugden sadhana, Melodious Drum Victorious in All Directions, is our battle cry. In ancient times, when armies would march, they would beat the drums of war to instill fear in their enemies. Dorje Shugden is our highest general in our war against delusions, and he leads a vast assembled army of protector deities. Who are the special forces of Dorje Shugden’s army? They are the 10 youthful and wrathful deities. They are his Spiritual Seal Team 6. And who is their commanding officer? Kache Marpo. I have a friend, a true spiritual hero, who was in a psychiatric hospital for more than 10 years battling his delusions. There is no way to understate the war he fought on a minute-by-minute basis with his delusions. There is also no greater practitioner of Dorje Shugden to be found. One day, he called me up and he said, “my goal in life is not just to become a Buddha, I want to take my place in Dorje Shugden’s mandala. I want to be Kache Marpo.” Enough said.