Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Don’t try go at it alone

We also should not try go it alone.  We need to enlist the help of the Buddha and Sangha jewels to help us put the Dharma jewel of cherishing others into practice.  We need blessings and support.  We cannot do it alone.  We need to choose to come under their influence instead of trying to have our Samsara and Dharma too.  Sometimes our self-cherishing is so strong that we do not even want to turn to Buddha and Sangha because we know they would encourage us to not do what our self-cherishing wants.  I always keep a picture of Geshe-la and Dorje Shugden on my desk.  When I feel tempted to do something wrong, I try look at them and ask, “would I do this in front of them?”  In fact, that is what I am doing.  But sometimes, my delusions are so strong, I intentionally do not look at them because I know if I did, I wouldn’t be able to do what my self-cherishing wants to do.  Ridiculous!  I start to view them as the problem because if they were not around, I could pursue my delusions with abandon.  When we have such thoughts, we need to ask ourselves the question, “if I follow this thought, where will it lead me?”  Sometimes we need to stare into the abyss before we decide to step back.

(8.171) If, out of non-conscientiousness,
I were not to give you to others,
You would certainly deliver me
To the guardians of hell!

(8.172) You have done this to me often enough in the past
And, as a result, I have suffered for a very long time;
But now that I have brought to mind all my grudges towards you,
I am determined to destroy you, selfish mind.

(8.173) Thus, if I want happiness,
I should not be happy with the self-cherishing mind;
And if I want protection,
I should always protect others.

We need to realize a very clear relationship:  the more we try to make this self happy, the more unhappy we become as our wishes go unfulfilled.  If our only wish is to work for the happiness of others, then we can be happy all the time regardless of what happens because we can always do what we want.  Karmically, the more we work for and protect ourself, the more we actually make our situation difficult because we are depriving our future selves of help and protection.  If we want freedom, happiness and protection, then we need to give these things to others.  It is that simple.  Our attachment to harvesting results instead of planting seeds is what prevents us from doing this.

(8.174) To whatever extent I seek
To fulfil the desires of the body,
To that extent I shall experience
A state of dissatisfaction.

(8.175) The desires of the self-cherishing mind
Cannot be satisfied
Even by all the wealth in the world –
So how can we hope to fulfil all its wishes?

(8.176) When our desires are not fulfilled,
We develop delusions and a dissatisfied mind;
But whoever becomes free from such distracting concerns
Will never know dissatisfaction.

(8.177) Therefore, I will never allow
The desires of the body to increase.
A person who has no attachment to attractive objects
Will find contentment – the best of all possessions.

One of our greatest problems, one of the greatest obstacles to removing self-cherishing is our attachment to our body and to our bodily feelings.  As much as we say we do not like our body, we do.  The fact is that we do have attachment to it.  One of my former students once told me, “most people live their life by the pleasure principle, seeking to do what brings them the most pleasure.  Not me man, I head towards what hurts because that is how we grow.” Our body is one of our biggest objects of pleasure.  Think about how much people do in this world to bring about pleasurable feelings within this body – attractive forms, sounds, smells, tastes and so forth.

But Shantideva is indicating that there is no satisfaction to be had in the body, ever.  We are not quite convinced of that one, are we?  We seek satisfaction, don’t we?  The fact that we seek satisfaction indicates that we are desirous, doesn’t it?  The fact that we are seeking means that we are desirous, which itself is a suffering and indicates that we have not yet found satisfaction.  Even when we do fulfil certain desires, others manifest themselves because the desirous mind remains – it just reasserts itself towards another object, so we remain forever dissatisfied.

If we reduce our desires, we will reduce our dissatisfaction because there will be less desires unfulfilled.  When we have eliminated all our external desires, we will experience pure contentment.  Someone who is content is truly wealthy because they lack nothing.  We will become the richest person on earth as far as our experience is concerned.  A person who has no attachment to attractive objects will find contentment, the best of all possessions.

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