Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: If you want to be given everything, give everything up

(7.25) To begin with, Buddha, the Guide, encourages us
To practise giving such things as food.
Later, when we become used to this,
We can gradually learn to give our own flesh.

(7.26) When eventually we develop a mind
That regards our body as being just like food,
What discomfort shall we feel
From giving away our flesh?

Sometimes we become discouraged thinking about all that has to be done, and everything that we will have to give up.  Let us be clear, we will have to give everything up.  There is nothing in samsara we do not have to give up.  We have to be willing to leave it all behind.  We need to get to the point where we realize, “there is nothing for me here.”

A pure practitioner I know wrote me once: “Recently I made this request – ‘I’m ready to take anything (lose job, money, reputation. go to prison, die) if you could give me enlightenment in this very life. So please help me’. I could not do this before. I was scared. When I was able to say this prayer, though, it was such a sense of freedom and joy.” 

Are we ready to make a request like that?  Would we feel a sense of freedom and joy in making such a request?  It is worth exploring what types of resistance we might have to honestly requesting such a thing.  Most of us are not yet ready to make such a request, and that is normal.  But what are we willing to give up and lose for our enlightenment?  These are important things to consider – what is our price – I am willing to give up this for enlightenment, but not that.  What makes it hard is our selfish wishes.  We still want to hang on to some things for ourself.  We aren’t willing to let go of these things because our selfish wishes are so strong.  This holds us back.  Eventually we will have to give up everything.  The mind of renunciation is one where if somebody offered us all of samsara for all the three times, we would not even be tempted.  We are single-pointedly interested in one thing:  waking everyone up from the dream of samsara.

The interesting thing, though, is the more we are ready to give up, the more we are given.  Giving is the cause of receiving.  We are so confused about karma that we think keeping is the cause of having things.  If we are willing to give up everything, what will we be given?

For example, how can we practice giving away our body right now?  We can take the example of a mother breast-feeding.  This is how we should view our practice of offering our body.  We put our body at the disposal of others.  We can do this at work, when we are with our family, anytime.  We view our body as belonging to others and we use it for their benefit.  We give them the ownership of our body, even though we retain control over its actions.  The supreme way of offering our body to all living beings is to offer ourself fully and completely, in this and all our future lives, to the spiritual guide.  We think, “Do with me what you wish.”  We can do this because we have confidence that he will transform us into a Buddha and use us to benefit countless beings.  We wish this very much and gladly surrender ourself in this way.  We can start small, by offering ourself to a few beings for a limited amount of time, such as playing with our kids or listening to a friend in need.  Then, gradually we can expand the scope until we can offer everything.  This is the supreme practice of a Bodhisattva. 

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