Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Become whatever others need us to be

With respect to self-confidence, we can think, “I’m going to try, I’m going to try in my Dharma practice, my Dharma activities and so forth, for the sake of others. I will do these things because I want to help others, because I want to free others from their suffering.”  This thought will definitely give power to our actions.  We think, “no matter what I’m doing, I’m going ahead with my Dharma practice, I’m going ahead to overcome my delusions because sentient beings need me.”

(7.50) Unlike me, worldly beings are powerless.
Being under the control of delusion and karma,
They are unable to make their lives meaningful.
Therefore, I will practise virtue for their sake.

(7.51) How can I sit and do nothing
While others waste their lives on meaningless tasks?
Although it might seem like self-importance,
I should act out of self-confidence, which is quite different from self-importance.

Worldly beings are powerless, they are helpless, being under the control of delusion and karma.   Therefore, we have to take responsibility for them because we have been given all the tools we need, both externally and internally.  We know how to take responsibility for others who have no power – we can provide encouragement, we can set a good example, and we can pray.  If we do these three things for long enough, they will eventually be enough to liberate all beings. 

I like to recall that everyone I see is a being of my karmic dream.  If I am not responsible for them, who is?  Venerable Tharchin said we need to take responsibility for removing the faults we perceive in others.  Normally we think it is their responsibility to remove their faults, but it is our mind projecting them, so it is our responsibility.  Why are they helpless?  Because I have been neglecting them.  I have not given them the power.  They are just karmic appearance, they do what we have karmically created the causes for them to appear to do.  How do we remove the faults from their mind?  By removing them from our own.  Since they are a reflection of our own mind, if we purify our own mind of the faults we perceive in others, they will gradually – almost like magic – disappear in others. 

We need to find the right balance between waiting for them to come to us and going out to help them.  It is an extreme to just wait for them to come to us.  We do not wait for a drowning person to come to us, we just dive in and help.  What hope do others have other than us?  It is also an extreme to force our help on others – I am here to save you, I am here to help you.  Because if people are not asking for help and we give it, they will reject our help and this creates the tendencies for them to reject the solution of Dharma. 

The middle way is to become whatever others need us to be – not necessarily what they want us to be, but what they need us to be.  We look back at ourself from their perspective and ask what we need from that person (ourself).  Then we give them whatever they need, according to their needs and wishes.  In the beginning, we will help them with a lot of ordinary things, but this is OK, because in this way we become part of their lives.  Gradually we are able to help them with higher and higher spiritual objectives because they seek it from us.  What they really need us to be is a Buddha.  When we see that, bodhichitta will become effortless.

We should follow the example of our fellow Sangha, teachers, and Geshe-la.  We should have admiring faith for what others do.  As a result of this admiring faith, we will naturally develop the wish to do the same.  Then we can follow their example.  When we see that it works because we have good examples, then we can have confidence that if we try, we can do the same thing.

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