Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Leaving Worldly People Behind (While Remaining in the World)

Continuing with the verses:

(8.22) Living beings have so many different inclinations
That even Buddha is unable to satisfy them all;
So what chance do I, an ordinary confused being, have?
Therefore, I should give up the wish to associate with worldly beings.

(8.23) They look down on those who do not have wealth
And despise those who do.
How can people who are so hard to get along with
Ever see anything but faults in me?

(8.24) Whenever their wishes are not fulfilled,
The childish become unhappy.
This is why the Tathagatas have advised us
Not to associate with them.

Sometimes we generate the thought that we have had enough with others and we just want to get away from them.  Maybe go into retreat.  But this is the opposite of the mind of a Bodhisattva.  A Bodhisattva wants to be with everyone all the time.  She wants to be able to be there for each being all the time.  A Buddha seeks to become inseparable with each and every being.  The closest relationship possible. The goal of a spiritual being is to close all the gaps between the spiritual being and others.

What does it mean to not associate with the worldly?  Does it mean we need to run away from our family, work, and so forth and hide out in a monastery or cave?  No, it means we stop mentally relating to people in a worldly way.  If we do not have a worldly mind, we will not be associating with the worldly because such beings will simply not exist for us.  With a spiritual mind, every being in our life will be viewed as part of our spiritual practice and all of our relationships will be spiritual.

This also does not mean we don’t from time to time go on retreat.  Of course we should.  But when we do, we should bring all living beings with us on retreat.  We engage in our retreat for their benefit.  We imagine them around us.  We engage in our retreat with them, considering ourselves to be with them.  At a more profound level, we can also exchange self with others, and then “as all living beings,” go on retreat.  Then we are not just going on retreat with them, we are going on retreat as them.

(8.25) When shall I withdraw into the forest
And live among the trees
With birds and deer who say nothing unpleasant
But are a joy to live with?

(8.26) Or dwell in a cave or an empty shrine,
Or abide beneath the trees,
With a mind unfettered by attachment,
Which never turns to look back?

(8.27) When shall I live in a place that no one calls “mine” –
A place that is naturally open and spacious,
Where I can act freely and do as I wish,
Without any attachment to body or possessions?

(8.28) With just a few possessions, such as a begging bowl
And clothes that no one else wants,
I shall be free from any danger of thieves and robbers.
In this way, I should live without grasping onto “I” or “mine”.

These verses helping us to develop a wish, a strong wish to withdraw into solitude, to go on retreat. We can imagine just how wonderful this would be.  But we don’t have to wait until we go on long retreat before this is our experience.  But it can be like this for us, right now, actually.  Being on retreat is a state of mind.  If we adopt the mind of retreat, we can view everything that happens to us as part of our retreat emanated by Dorje Shugden. 

But we shouldn’t go to the extreme either of thinking we don’t need to also conventionally go on retreat just because we can transform our normal life into retreat.  We should decide right now that our future includes retreat, long retreat even.  When?  We don’t know for sure, but we can generate the clear wish and pray every day to be able to assemble all the causes and conditions necessary to be able to go on long retreat.  If our wish is pure and our reliance upon Dorje Shugden strong, eventually the conditions will star to come together.  We shouldn’t hold back thinking “it will never happen.”  We have no idea what will happen, but it is certain if we don’t generate the wish, it will never happen.  Perhaps it won’t happen in this life, but generating the pure wish now will create the causes for it to perhaps occur in our future lives. Eventually, it will happen if we decide to make it happen. 

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