Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Becoming a servant of all

(6.124) Therefore, since I have caused harm to living beings,
Which has displeased the compassionate Buddhas,
Today I confess individually all these non-virtues –
Please, O Compassionate Ones, forgive me for offending you so.

(6.125) From now on, to delight the Tathagatas,
I will definitely become like a servant to all living beings.
Even if people kick me and humiliate me,
I will please the Buddhas by not retaliating.

On the one hand we must have regret for having caused harm to other living beings previously. On the other hand we must try and promise not to cause harm to them in the future. It’s a refuge commitment, isn’t it?  No matter what others may say, no matter what they may do, we must not retaliate. Rather, we try, try to accept any harm, patiently accept any harm, and try to fulfill their wishes, just like a servant.

We need to make a commitment to others to be their servant.  I think with respect to other living beings we should have this attitude of mind.  We think, “I would like to give you whatever you want, whatever you feel you need.”  We can think, “you can have me any time you want. … all of the time, I am your servant, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”  But of course at present there are many factors preventing us from giving each and every being in our life all of my time.  Often, when people place demands on our time that we can’t fulfill, we quickly become frustrated with them for being so demanding and needy, and how inconsiderate they are to keep asking when they know how busy we are. 

This is exactly opposite of the correct attitude.  Yes, there are many living beings and we have lots of responsibilities, but in our heart we should have the thought, “I would want to give you all my time, be with you all the time, helping you in every way that I can.  I feel myself to be your servant.”  We can explain to others who place demands on us we cannot fulfill, “I would want to help you, but unfortunately I can’t right now.”  We then use these times when we confront our limitations in being able to be there for everyone all of the time to strengthen our bodhichitta wishing to become a Buddha where we will have the ability to be with each and every living being every day, 24/7.  In the future when I am a Buddha I will be able to give you all of my time. That attitude of mind is what is important, and is the essence of the spontaneous bodhichitta of a Bodhisattva.  We want to help everyone in every way, but we keep bumping up into our limitations.  Each time we confront these limitations, we are reminded why we must become a Buddha.

(6.126) There is no doubt that the compassionate Buddhas
Have completed exchanging self with all living beings.
Thus, the nature of living beings is the very nature of the Buddhas,
So we should afford them the same respect.

This is quite profound. We can look in detail at the practice of exchanging self with others when we get to Chapter 8. But for the moment with respect to the advice here in this verse, we can believe simply where there is any living being, even one who has a harmful intention towards us, there is Buddha. Or where there is any living being there is my spiritual guide, the essence of all Buddhas.  Since they have exchanged self with others perfectly, completely, Buddhas are not separate from any living being, therefore the very nature of any living being is the nature of all the Buddhas. For this reason we can respect other living beings like we respect Buddhas.

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