Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Developing competitiveness with ourself

We can now put ourselves in the place of someone we regard to be equal to us, and we look back at our former self with competitive thoughts.

(8.147) “This Bodhisattva is regarded as my equal,
But so that I might outshine him
I will acquire wealth and reputation,
And defeat him in debate.

(8.148) “I will proclaim my own good qualities to the whole world
By whatever means I can,
But I will make sure that no one ever hears
Of any good qualities he might possess.

(8.149) “I will hide my own faults but make his known.
I will be venerated by others but ensure that he is not.
I will acquire a great deal of material wealth
And encourage others to honour me, but not him.

(8.150) “For a long time, I will take pleasure
In seeing him be humiliated.
I will make him the laughing stock of all
And an object of ridicule and blame.

Again, there are two main ways we can take this meditation:  We learn a lot about ourself – we see ourselves from the point of view of the other person, and this helps us realize how we act so that we can change.  We can also see how we ourselves have such competitive thoughts towards others.  The conclusion is we need to accept defeat and offer others the victory.

When we engage in this meditation, we try consider our self to be within others, then we be ‘as competitive as possible’ towards our old self.  What does this mean?  We want our new ‘self’ to win and we want ‘him’ (our old self) to lose.  From the perspective of our old self, we want to accept defeat and offer the victory.  We want to spread our ‘own’ reputation far and wide and make sure that everybody knows only good things about ‘us.’  We want to hide ‘others’ qualities and successes, so that nobody knows about them.  As a bodhisattva, we want to be humble, and if possible, help people anonymously.  Then our motivation is free from many worldly concerns.  We want our ‘self’ to be considered higher and for ‘him’ to be considered the lowest of all.   As a bodhisattva, we want to be humble, and view ourselves as a servant of all.  We will take great pleasure in seeing ‘him’ humiliated and we will do everything so that he alone is blamed for all problems.  As a bodhisattva, we know that what is bad for our delusions is good for us.  We also want to take on others’ suffering and burdens so that they do not have to have them.

We might object, but why would we want to put ourselves down in this way, why would we want to overburden our old self and harm his reputation. The only limitation on this is for our own ‘selfish’ ends (in other words, our new self, all living beings).  We want our former self to have a good reputation and not be overburdened to the extent that it is necessary so he can better serve us.  Smart slave owners adequately fed their slaves, and so forth, for the exclusive purpose of extracting more labor and service out of them, because otherwise they would be too weak to do anything for the slave owner.  In fact, we are so cunningly ‘selfish’ in wanting to use this other person, that we want to make him into a Buddha so that he can serve us eternally!  So far from destroying the other person, we will try maximize him as a resource.  In this light, we will take great joy in smashing his delusions because we know what is bad for his delusions is good for “us.”

It seems strange at first to identify with these kind of thoughts.  If we had such thoughts from the perspective of our old self, they would be absolutely awful delusions, which would completely destroy our inner peace.  But when we have these thoughts from the perspective of others, they are actually virtues within our mind – humility, taking and giving, accepting defeat and offering the victory, etc.  In this sense, the totally selfish way of looking at things is perfectly correct, we are just completely wrong about who we are and who we are not! 

I think we are naturally quite competitive, or at least I am.  We can always find something in others that will bring them down a notch or two.  Even if we do not say it to them, we think it to help us maintain our prideful view of ourselves.  Even if we become aware of others good qualities that are similar to our own, we will find something, won’t we, some bad quality that is not as good as our own, that will mean that we are still competitive or superior. When someone is praising another individual, we may think “yes they’re right,” we may even say “yes you’re right, but…”  There’s always a but there in our mind. 

Generally when we are speaking with others, we are competitive.  Usually, the conclusion we are trying to reach in every conversation is how wonderful we are.  And even just speaking to others, in a conversation, it seems we are in competition with them?  We are trying to assert our view over theirs, trying to speak over them, trying to “one up them” in everything they say.  We always have to be the precious, the important one.  Of course, that’s the function of self-cherishing, isn’t it?  We find it difficult to accept defeat and to offer the victory.  Even when we are speaking with someone, let alone in other cases, it is so difficult to accept defeat and to offer the victory to others.

In this meditation, something quite unusual happens.  If we do it right, it has the effect of wanting to accept defeat and wanting to offer the victory.  Through this meditation we work hard for others’ gain so that they win.  We work hard for our loss.  That is what happens, isn’t it?   We work hard for the loss for our self-cherishing.   It is like using our competitive streak against our delusions.  Others always win, we lose.  From our side, we want to be defeated and we want the other person to always win.  We strive, through this meditation, to accomplish the greatest possible results for others, with no concern for our own.

One thought on “Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Developing competitiveness with ourself

  1. Thank you for sharing this! Are we actually being very honest in viewing our faults and instead of criticizing ourself directly we critizice from another prospective so to not create bad karma ? And how do i do this in my meditationbreak? How could i do this for example with my mother? Thank you for everything🙏❤️🙏 Much love Demo

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