Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: The keys to the universe

(8.129) All the happiness there is in this world
Arises from wishing others to be happy,
And all the suffering there is in this world
Arises from wishing ourself to be happy.

If this is only one verse from this chapter worth memorizing, it is this one.  Venerable Tharchin said this verse is the key to the universe and the fulfillment of our every wish.  We are simply confused about what is the cause of happiness.  In fact, we have it exactly backwards.  We can’t just choose to cherish others, we have to have reasons for doing so.  This verse provides all the reasons we need.  When we find ourselves in difficult situations, we can recite this verse like a mantra.  It will be like an inner spiritual guide that always reveals to us the correct path out of whatever difficult circumstance we find ourselves in. 

There are two main levels we can understand this:  At the conventional level, we can understand that through cherishing ourself we engage in negative actions and our mind is not peaceful, so it is the cause of all our unhappiness, and the same for positive actions arising from cherishing others.  But at a an ultimate level, literally all suffering in the whole world comes from our cherishing ourself, because the self-centered mind projects a world of suffering.  And literally all happiness in the whole world comes from our cherishing of others, because it will project a world of happiness.

Geshe-la explains in Eight Steps to Happiness that attaining enlightenment is really very simple, we need only change the object of our cherishing from self to others, then everything else will flow naturally from this.  This verse provides the core reason why we make this change.  Again, we should memorize it and repeat it like a mantra as we go about our day, especially in difficult circumstances.

(8.130) But what need is there to speak at length?
The childish work only for themselves,
Whereas the Buddhas work only for others –
Just look at the difference between them!

We know this, at least intellectually and actually from experience to some extent, we know the truth of these words.  In dependence upon our understanding and experience of this, we need to show an example to others that our happiness comes from working for others.  This is one of the most important examples we need to show as Kadampas.  It is important that we are to be seen to be happy working for others.  There are many, many people in this world now already showing this example.  Now is the time for Kadampa Buddhists to show this example out in the world.  Our tradition has broken out of the monasteries and the mountain caves, and it now lives in our homes, our places of work, and in the towns and nations we live in.

Kadampa practitioners must be seen in the world, taking responsibility in the world. Working hard in this world.  Seeking little gain for themselves other than a happy mind. We are taking responsibility, working hard, and seeking little gain other than a happy mind.  Because we seek no gain, because we are not concerned for our own happiness, we don’t experience problems like everybody else, and we’re able to maintain a peaceful happy mind, unlike anybody else.  As Kadampas, I think two of the most important examples that we must set are, (1) having no external enemies, and (2) seeking and finding happiness from a different source.  In this context, that means seeking happiness from the virtue of cherishing others and working for their happiness. That is the source of our happiness.

This next verse is great:

(8.131) If we do not exchange our happiness
For the suffering of others,
We shall not attain the state of a Buddha
And even in samsara there will be no happiness.

Imagine if we put on our publicity:  learn how to exchange your happiness for others’ suffering.  Nobody would come.  Self-cherishing would not normally think that was a good deal, would it?  Your suffering, for my happiness.  Generally, we think as long as we are happy, then it doesn’t matter if others in the world are suffering.  We think as long as we are happy, it doesn’t matter if other people in the world are suffering. If we continue to think like this, we will never be truly happy.  When we exchange self with others, we think, as long as other people are happy, it does not matter if I suffer.  If we think like this, we will eventually experience true happiness, the happiness of a Buddha.  Somehow we have to reach the stage where we feel that it is better that I suffer rather than others suffer. It is better. It is better that I suffer rather than others. It is better that others are happy rather than myself being happy. It is better.  This is a big mind.  Mothers have it for their children.  Bodhisattvas have it for everybody.

And we have to take this attitude right now into our work as bodhisattvas in this world.   We have opportunities to practice this day after day after day.  For example, if I can relieve the suffering of just one person, even if I have to undergo some hardship myself, then I will do so because it is better that they are happy.  Even if I have to undergo some hardship myself, if I can relieve the suffering of another or others, so be it. If I can make even one person happy, then even if I have to forsake my own happiness, so be it.  If we are enjoying ourself and somebody comes to ask us to help them in some way, are we bothered by this or delighted with the opportunity?  Our response depends on who we are cherishing.  We encounter this situation again and again and again. How many times have we had to make that choice?  Hundreds … is it me or them? And have we always made the right choice?

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