As a summary to the previous verses, Shantideva says:
(8.137) I completely dedicate myself to the happiness of others.
From now on, mind, you must understand this clearly
And not think of anything
Other than benefiting all living beings.
(8.138) Because my eyes and so forth are now at the disposal of others,
I should not use them for my own purpose;
Nor should I use them in any way
That is contrary to the welfare of others.
(8.139) Being principally concerned for others,
I will take anything
That I regard as belonging to myself
And use it to benefit them.
What I have is yours. That is what we must feel. What I have is yours. In these three verses we give away everything. My mind in the first of these verses, my body in the second, my everything in the third. My mind, my body, my everything. It sounds like a love song, doesn’t it? It is. I have given myself to others, therefore we should think, I am yours, and what I have belongs to others, what I have is yours. We ourself, our possessions, are the property of others. We have given ourselves to others. What we have is the property of others. We have given what we have to others. Perhaps our self-cherishing is squirming right now.
What happens then when we have given our self to others in this way? What happens to our normal sense of I? What happens to our sense of I as possessor? This meditation really is liberating in the sense that we actually lose our “self.” But perhaps it is more accurate to think that it is enlightening, in the sense that we lose ourself in others. We don’t just lose ourself, we lose ourself in others.
The best thing we have to give to others is our own experience of Dharma. Worldly things help people at most in this life, but the Dharma will help them in all their future lives. If we do not have Dharma to give, we need to gain experience of it so that we have something to share. If we do not have anybody to give the Dharma to, then we need to make connections with people and in the meantime build up the Dharma within our mind. Naturally, as we gain experience of Dharma, people will appear to receive help from us. Geshe-la also encourages us to improve our ability to communicate with others and to improve our appearance. Part of cherishing others is appearing pleasant to others.
We can also give our time to our Dharma center by working for it. By giving our time to the center, we give our time to all living beings. We complain about not having enough time, but that is because we have been selfish with our time. The cause of receiving is giving, so the more you give your time to others, the more time you will have. It’s karma. Mentally you can do this when you go about your job, or any other time you are serving others. Do not view it as ‘your time’, but instead a practice of you giving your time. Giving is a mental act. Giving time to the center gives time to all living beings, and as a result we create the karma to have all the time we need to get whatever done. Time is infinitely compressible, there is literally no limit to what can be done. To gain infinite time in every moment, in every moment give your time to infinite beings. Its magic!
People must feel that we are there for them. A Bodhisattva has a sincere wish to be there for everyone at all times. When they become Buddha they know that they can be with people, all people, at all times. People must feel that we are there for them, people need Bodhisattvas, they need Buddhas in their life. It is by generating this mind that wishes to be with all beings all of the time that will take us there. We think, “I would like to be with everyone all of the time, but I currently can’t.” But if I become a Buddha, then I can be. This wish will take us to enlightenment. Our spiritual guide is with us all the time because previously he had the wish to be with us all the time. We can do the same for those we have the karma to help.
That is what happens when you’re in love. You want to be with each other as much as possible. Do the people in our life have that feeling from us. Do they feel that we want to be with them all of the time, or do they feel like we have no time for them? There is nothing worse than the feeling that ‘we bother others.’ Sadly, I sometimes make my kids feel this because I am always so busy. Every time one of my daughters asks something of me, she said, ‘sorry for bothering you, etc.’ Breaks my heart that I have made her feel that she is a bother. The only thing that is bothersome is the fact that she says this. We need to put everybody at ease around us. One of the unique characteristics of Je Tsonkghapa is he makes everybody feel completely at ease and comfortable when they are with him. As followers of Je Tsongkhapa’s doctrine, we need to do the same.
It is true that we need to interact with people and become a part of their lives, but we need to be careful to not ourselves become ordinary by doing so. As the saying goes, we need to be in this world, but not ‘of’ this world. We are here to help, but we are always aware of the bigger picture. It is true we need to make a connection with people, but if they see us as ordinary and no different than everybody else, then there will be no way they can make any changes. This is a skill to learn, to be able to be with everybody, have them feel completely comfortable with us, yet be different, going in a different direction, looking for different things.