Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: To not even try is the greatest failure of all

(7.27) The Bodhisattva has abandoned non-virtue and so does not experience physical suffering;
And, because he clearly realizes emptiness, he does not experience mental pain.
By contrast, we are afflicted by wrong conceptions
And our bodies and minds are harmed by non-virtuous actions.

(7.28) Because of his merit, the Bodhisattva experiences physical happiness,
And because of his wisdom, mental joy;
So even if this compassionate one must abide in samsara for the sake of others,
How could he ever be perturbed?

(7.29) Through the power of his bodhichitta,
He purified all his previous non-virtue;
And because he accumulates vast collections of merit and wisdom,
He is said to surpass the Hearers.

(7.30) Having mounted the steed of bodhichitta
That dispels mental discouragement and physical weariness,
The Bodhisattva travels the path from joy to joy.
Knowing this, who could ever be discouraged?

When Shantideva puts it that way, it is not so bad, is it?  Indeed, it seems like something to look forward to.  But then we think, “well it must be great for a bodhisattva, but I’m such a long ways off.  I could never get there.”

On the path to developing the precious mind of Bodhichitta, we’re so afraid of failure.  We still feel “I can’t do it.  If I try and fail in my efforts, then I’ll become even more discouraged.”  We already feel discouraged because we are not meeting with success for even our daily practice, so certainly we are setting ourselves up for failure if we take upon ourselves the Herculean task of becoming a Bodhisattva!  We would rather fail on our own terms by not trying than to try our best and come up short.  Frankly, this attitude is stupid.  To not even try is the greatest failure of all. 

It is only through our efforts – failing sometimes, of course making mistakes – that our capacity will ever increase.  It is only through applying effort that we are able to accomplish greater and greater results.  It is inevitable that we will make mistakes, but why is this a surprise.  It only comes as a surprise to our pride.  But if we humbly accept where we are at, every time we fail we will be even more motivated to keep trying.  Mistakes are only a problem if we don’t try to learn from them.  When we do not have time for people or we fail, we can use this as an opportunity to reinforce our bodhichitta.  We do not want to fail, but we will continue to do so for as long as we are not a Buddha.  We can’t let failure discourage us, it’s entirely normal.  Instead, we view each failure as bringing us one step closer to enlightenment.  Ultimately, attaining enlightenment depends merely upon a mind that never gives up trying, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes.

Geshe-la said if we try every day then we will learn through familiarity. He said we will taste, we will see. Then we will have more energy and we will enjoy more.   Even if we do not have time to do our formal practice, we never need to abandon our bodhisattva training.  Dorje Shugden knows the beings with whom we have the karma to be their spiritual guide.  He is giving us their problems right now so we learn how to practice Dharma in the context of the problems of their lives.  Our job is to learn now how to transform their lives into the path.  Even if we find ourself in the army or in a psychiatric hospital or as a single mom, we can view everything as part of our formation into the spiritual guide we need to become.

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