Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Looking down on our former self

Lastly, Shantideva explains how to change places with someone whom we regard to be superior to us in some way.  This one is particularly interesting.

(8.151) “It is said that this deluded being
Is vying to be my equal,
But how can he compare with me in learning or wisdom,
Or in looks, status, or wealth?

(8.152) “When others hear of my good qualities
As they are proclaimed to the world,
May they experience so much delight
That their hair pores tingle with excitement.

(8.153) “And as for whatever he owns,
Since he is supposed to be working for us,
We will allow him just what he needs
And take the remainder by force for ourselves.

(8.154) “Thus, may his happiness decline,
While we continue to burden him with our problems.”

With this meditation we become happy, very happy, to be the servant of others.  We want to become merely the servant of others, all others.  We are ready to do whatever we can for others to the best of our ability without ever becoming discouraged, unhappy, worried.  It seems to me that we worry and become discouraged because we are not accepting our weaknesses.  Just as we can acknowledge our strengths without being proud, so too we can accept our weaknesses without becoming discouraged.  If we don’t learn how to do this, how can we improve?  Our self-cherishing and our pride will not allow us to look at and accept our own weaknesses.  We have strengths, each one of us, but also weaknesses.  We do not need to become unhappy or discouraged when we become aware of them.  At present we struggle with this due to a non-acceptance of where we are at.  This is why there is so much concealment and why there is so much pretension.   Why we hide our faults from others.

In an earlier post, we talked about how important it is that we take down our barriers if we are to help others to take down their own barriers.  We need to remove concealment and pretension and be perfectly open with others.  Of course, if we have a good reason, as Geshe-la described in the Bodhisattva Vow, if we have a very good reason, there can be an apparent concealment, but generally we don’t have a good reason.  In general, we should try to be as transparent as possible.  Kadam Morten said there are two types of spiritual guide, those that show the final result and those that show the path of how to get there.   We are not very good at many things, and we are not very important.  We can either be unhappy about that, or happy, can’t we?  We can either be discouraged or encouraged by this.  There are many things that I’m not very good at.  I have many weaknesses, and that’s OK. I am no one important.  This meditation helps us to develop this kind of acceptance.  

In particular, I think this meditation helps us develop consideration for others.  We are generally so self-absorbed that we are only thinking about our own experience of things, and then we find it intolerable when anybody who does not respect or take into consideration our views or needs.  In such situations, we feel the need to ‘fight to defend our justified position.’  Kadam Bjorn said there is not a single Dharma mind that feels ‘justified.’  If we ever find ourself feeling justified, then we can know for sure we are already wrong.  When we have consideration for others, we make sure that our own behavior does not disturb others, especially their spiritual practice.  For example, if there is a new person present in the center, we think about how our behavior might be interpreted by the other person and we make sure that we do not do anything that might put them off.  We refrain from talking to them about things they are not ready to accept or judging them for what they do.

We should also show consideration for one another.  People’s lives are difficult, and they want to be able to come to the center or come home after a long day at work and find a place of peace where they can recharge their batteries and get themselves reset for the week ahead.  We should also think about why people are coming to our Dharma centers, namely to listen to classes and so forth.  Our questions may seem important to us, but perhaps they are not important to others. 

We should also show consideration for the Buddhas.  Sometimes we think, the Buddhas love me unconditionally so I can do whatever I want and they will always love me.  This is true.  But this does not mean they are happy with everything we do.  If we respect others, we naturally show consideration for them and watch our behavior to make sure it is correct.  When we are in the gompa we should recall that we are in the living presence of all the Buddhas. 

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