Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Assuming sole responsibility for everything

We are responsible for freeing all others from suffering.  Because they are part of our world.  We are entirely responsible for freeing all suffering living beings, all living beings from their suffering. Suffering living beings are part of our world, our samsaric world.  I think we can say it is our sole responsibility, there is great meaning to this superior intention we are to develop. “I myself, I myself will liberate all living beings from their suffering. I myself. My sole responsibility.”  And so it is for everyone else.  It is their sole responsibility too.  That seems like a contradiction, but only because we think in absolute terms, not relative terms.  As it is for us, so it is for everybody else, too.  It is only by freeing themselves from self-centeredness that their personal or subjective world of suffering can come to an end.  

There is no other way.  It is only by freeing themselves from their own self-centeredness that they can bring their own personal subjective world of suffering to an end.  It is only by developing compassion themselves that they will create an enlightened world, a pure world, for themselves and others. An enlightened world in which there is no suffering.  They create that world for themselves too — a world in which there is no suffering. Such a world is created through the force of their compassion.  Otherwise, otherwise they will continue to perceive and experience only suffering. In an impure world of their own making. 

A samsaric world, a world of suffering, is built on self-cherishing. An enlightened world, a world of happiness, is built on compassion.  We create an enlightened world for ourselves and others through removing our self-centeredness, through exchanging self with others, developing compassion, conjoining that compassion with wisdom, creating an enlightened world through compassion.  In this way, our world becomes an enlightened world. We free others from their suffering.  And so it is for everyone else, too. They too have to remove their self-centeredness, exchange self with others, develop compassion, conjoin that compassion with wisdom, and create an enlightened world for themselves and others.   The compassion that we need to develop then is a compassion wishing to bring others’ samsara to an end.  We aim for a compassion wishing to lead others out of their samsaric world, out of their world of suffering.  We want to lead them out of their self-centered world.  We try to develop compassion wishing to lead others out of their self-centered world because that world is a world of suffering, and for as long as they remain in it, they will continue to perceive and experience suffering.  They will perceive not just themselves suffering, but others’ suffering too. For as long as we remain in our samsaric world we will continue to perceive other suffering living beings.

To lead others out of their samsaric world, we need to destroy the ignorance of self-grasping, the ignorance of self-cherishing in their mind.  This is exactly what our own spiritual guide is doing with us — destroying our self-grasping ignorance, destroying our self-cherishing ignorance.  We wish out of compassion to destroy their ignorance of self-grasping and self-cherishing, because is it a cause, this ignorance is the cause of their samsara and all its sufferings.  To gain the power to be able to destroy their ignorance, we determine we must remove all traces of ignorance from our own mind.  How?  By meditating on emptiness with the most compassionate mind of all — Bodhichitta arisen from exchanging self with others. It begins with our training in exchanging self with others.

To gain experience of exchanging self with others, we must meditate. Every day we must meditate on exchanging self with others.  We can do this by first exchanging self with others, then engaging in whatever is our daily practice, recognizing ourselves as all living beings engaging in the practice.  We can also mentally feel we are on retreat all the time with the special view we talked about in early posts.  Geshe-la has explained many times that we must be meditating throughout our daily activities.  What does it mean to meditate?  It means to mix our mind with virtue, to familiarize our mind with virtue.  There is no daily activity we engage in that we cannot simultaneously be meditating – or mixing our mind with virtue.  Since attaining enlightenment really just comes down to changing the object of our cherishing from self to others, with the rest coming naturally, it is very important that we meditate on exchanging self with others, especially when we are with others so that we can deepen our experience of this practice.   Of course we need some time to sit down on our meditation cushion, of course sometimes we need to do retreat, but considering how many hours there are in a day, we will make much more progress if we make this our daily practice during the meditation break.  No matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, whenever you see others, think – “me.”  It is not difficult, just train in imputing ‘self’ on others and ‘others’ on self.  Just keep doing this and acting in whatever way seems natural as a result.  If we do this consistently, we will gain a deep daily experience of what this means.  Enlightenment will come naturally.

But there is no doubt if we are meditating on exchanging self with others during our daily activities, then eventually there will arise in our mind a powerful Bodhichitta strongly wishing to be whatever other people need us to be.  When we have this mind of exchanging self with others, we strongly wish to be there for others. To be there for all others, at all times. That’s Bodhichitta.  A Buddha is someone who is able to be with all living beings every day.  We can only become a Buddha if we want to become one.  Exchanging self with others is how we build that wish within our mind.  We understand that Buddha emanates, manifests whatever is needed by sentient beings.  Buddha is with all sentient beings all the time. All living beings, all the time.  This practice of exchanging self with others gives rise to a very, very powerful Bodhichitta.  We do not need to sit down to be focusing upon others.  We do not need to sit down to love someone dearly.  We do not need to sit down to do that, do we?  Of course, we also need to sit down and meditate, do retreat and so forth, but it is in our daily life that we will gain the most experience.  That’s obvious, our daily life is much longer than our time on the meditation cushion.

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