Wow, wow, wow ... The Bodhisattva Vow ...
Wow, wow, wow ... The Bodhisattva Vow ...
" . . . who I really am cannot be separated from all the things that surround me. Or, to put it another way, all sentient beings have their existence and live within my life. This includes the fate of all humankind—that, too, lies within me." p. 117.
This really hit me hard. It completely changes the way I understand "Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to liberate them all." They are within my life, even though they have their own existence. It is the middle way between solipsism and thinking all things have independent existence. Our "field of influence" is bigger than I used to think it was . . . indeed, it is as large as the world itself, all things are contained within it. :!: "Therefore, my direction becomes just how humanity might truly live out its life." p. 117 This is also relevant to the discussion on another thread about working for good in the world vs. resignation and apathy.
I'll post more in a bit . . . there is a lot more that I want to say about this chapter. I find it very instructive.
I like the Sekko story. i've used it many times in my teachings, the understanding being that you should prefer "the true thing" and not the imitation. but it isnt always that easy...
And the author also takes up the subject of dogen praising the "theft" that Fayuan does and explains the whole matter quite well.
And a quote.
(p.126) That's what "Together with all sentient beings, "issai shujo to tomo ni, means - together regardless of what hell one might fall into.
That means YOU buddy!
And why doesnt he better explain what "an adult" is?
May the force be with you.
Yes! A life that's too easy, too many toys...I wonder sometimes where this will take us.Regarding the question "What is a bodhisattva?" you could also define a bodhisattva as one who acts like a true adult. That is, most people in the world act like children...Physically, they grow up and become adult, but spiritually too many people never mature to adulthood.
There are a lot of good lessons to be learned in this passage. He points out the differences between living our lives being tossed around by our own desires and a life dedicated to helping others. I hadn’t realized before that the life spent pleasing ourselves is actually one that is not free, but being caught up in bondage to our desires. The harshness of the life of Zen monastery in those days must have been very hard to bear. Uchiyama calls this the reality of life, but it seems such an unnecessarily harsh reality! But maybe we are all too soft nowadays. It makes me realise how much determination you need to stick to any religious path, to not pack it in when there is some feature you don’t like or when you can’t get on with someone in the group.
Though, it may be harder to return to the life that one lived before practice because he/she knows that it's unsatisfactory and ultimately pointless. If it's easy to not stick it out, then one's resolve and determination was probably not that great in the first place and the practice was always just another delusion. I wonder, being surrounded by my distractions and toys, how I would stand when put up to the test.There are a lot of good lessons to be learned in this passage. He points out the differences between living our lives being tossed around by our own desires and a life dedicated to helping others. I hadn’t realized before that the life spent pleasing ourselves is actually one that is not free, but being caught up in bondage to our desires. The harshness of the life of Zen monastery in those days must have been very hard to bear. Uchiyama calls this the reality of life, but it seems such an unnecessarily harsh reality! But maybe we are all too soft nowadays. It makes me realise how much determination you need to stick to any religious path, to not pack it in when there is some feature you don’t like or when you can’t get on with someone in the group
Maybe we should always see ourselves in a test; always failing but always getting back up.
Even though it's impossible (or seems to be impossible) to fulfill these vows, they are the guides to always keep us on the path.The passions of delusion are inexhaustible.
I vow to extinguish them all at once.
The number of beings is endless. I vow to help save them all.
The Truth cannot be told. I vow to tell it.
The Way which cannot be followed is unattainable. I vow to attain it.
Nothing is impossible, simply "impassable".Originally Posted by Tony-KY
(Qoute from "alice in wonderland"... but none the less "true".
May the force be with you
He does. At the end of this section, "Living wide awake", and after discussing the three minds (Joyful, Magnanimous and Parental/Nourishing), he states: "Becoming an adult is nothing other than each one of us becoming a bodhisattva, where we see every encounter as our child and discover our joy and ardor in life through looking after each of our children". Now there are for sure a zillion more ways and aspects of what being an adult means. Muho, the current abbot at Antaiji, has some interesting points in the Antaiji website in that regard. But mostly, as adults, it is up to us to figure out in each moment, with each action, whether we are being adults or needy kids. I think that is easy if we pay attention.And why doesnt he better explain what "an adult" is?
"In our day-to-day lives it is often hard to know what course of action best expresses our boddhisattva vow, because circumstances pull us in contrary directions. Going one way seems right and so does going in the opposite direction (I love his optimism, cause for some of us a more frequent scenario is choosing "the lesser evil"). How do you choose between competing goods? This is a very difficult problem. Most religious systems have a set of absolutes handed down by their God that tells you what is right or wrong. Buddhism has no absolute authority laying down the law. Instead, you yourself take up the way of the biddhisattva". Damn, that's a handful. It was easier when I had a God to blame and bitch to. Guess I'll have to make an effort and grow up to take care of all this.
I also wish Uchiyama had explained more, because the way he clarifies things is unequaled. But we can be grateful for the wake up call and then renounce our wishes to be spoonfed more Truth-flavored Gerber. Uchiyama shows us where the bananas are; we can peel 'em and chew'em ourselves.
The monastery life would certainly be harsh for us, habituated as we are to a standard tall, elongated toilet as opposed to a hole in the ground. I'd hate (for a while) to have 2 meals instead of 3 plus innumerable snacks (it's like I vowed to gobble them all). But I submit to you that if there is something unnecessary and harsh, it is the anguish of those of us that pay tribute to the Ego and His Little World - and we do that inside and outside of monasteries, while riding fancy cars or while protesting for justice. What is unnecessary and harsh is our attitude. Reality just is.Originally Posted by John
Try transferring onto a slippery plastic toilet seat and then pulling your trousers and underpants on and off an inch at a time by rocking from side to side without any assistance from wasted leg muscles and hoping you won't fall off! I had to do this at the last sesshin I attended recently at an old monastery in Ireland. Using a hole in the ground wouldn't worry me too much so long as i could get up on my feet again. I also had to go without having a shower for the 5 days because there was no disabled-accessible roll-in facility - I had to use wet wipes to maintain some semblance of hygiene. I missed 2 sesshins the year before because I worried I wouldn't be able to cope at this venue. I managed it this time - so I learned - something - don't know what, though. :? Or was attempting this just being stupid? Is it my small self that protests that there should be better disabled facilities? Or should I accept that's just the way it is? The meditation part doesn't cause me any problems apart from a little lower back pain,Originally Posted by Alberto
John, I'm not sure what to say except thank you for sharing what it was like for you at that last sesshin you attended.
I feel like you cut to reality.
Sometimes I'm not even aware that I'm deluding myself or that I'm ignorant of someone else's needs. I don't know much about deities, but I am drawn to Manjushri (Monjo) mentioned on p. 116 as a bodhisattva. From what little I know, Manjushri represents the bodhisattva or wisdom. One of his hands holds a sword that can cut through delusion to reality. The other hand holds a book, the prajnaparamita sutra. I don't own any thangkas, but here is one I like of Manjushri http://www.iol.ie/~taeger/bio/manjublu.html.
Uchiyama p. 126.You have to study the actions of a bodhisattva and then behave like one
What enables me to act as if I hold Manjushri's sword, cutting through misconceptions to reality?
Zazen and an understanding of the emptiness/interdependence/insubstantiality of things has helped. I catch myself regretting past actions, grasping for what was, and let go a little sooner than I might otherwise.
Wow, John, well there is a real difficulty. Should we bring more awareness of disabilities to zen centers? They may or may not decide to consider making modifications for access to hadicapped persons, but if we don't bring the issue to their attention they probably won't know that people hesitate to practice in sesshins for those reasons.
I bow to you strength in overcoming those obstacles and showing up anyways; that's what adults do.Thank you. But some other people may just fall short of such strength and just decide to stay home. What strategies have worked historically (other than bitter legal fights) to gently bring awareness of special needs to institutions?
I don't know what has worked historically -- progress is pretty slow, but I think the best strategy is to show up for things and not give in to the subtle pressure people often put upon you, often unconsciously, to stay away and just sit at home. I think that much the same thing happens with ageism in our youth-oriented cultures, so you are all going to experience it if you live long enough! The other part of the strategy is to work on yourself by not giving in to feelings of self pity or bitterness, by just seeing and noticing them as they arise and allowing them to wear themselves out. I also try to make the best of whatever talents and abilities I have, (the same way as everyone else), and accept that this is just the way it is for now,Originally Posted by Alberto
I guess I had a very narrow understanding of who a bodhisattva was, something in terms of a person who chose to postpone her own enlightenment to make sure everybody else got theirs first. :roll: I don't even know if it makes sense, this understanding. First of all, if I and my company are thirsty and I know where to get water and head there determined to return to my friends with water, the first thing I would do when reaching the water would be to satisfy my need for it so I have enough strength to go back and bring it to the others. Secondly, why would getting enlighetend prevent me from helping others in the first place?
According to Uchiyama a bodhisattva is:
I am not sure I get this one either, the part about the repentance being the first stumbling block. :roll:A person who discovers the direction of his life in zazen, who vows and at the same time lives by repentance through zazen...
I have heard the story of Sekko and the dragon before and loved the comment:
.When you meet a real "dragon" you should be filled with joy and resolve to wrestle with it (p.121)
The word "joy" makes all the difference in the world, doesn't it? For starters, I would like to learn not to run from those dragons. :lol: Opening the windows and inviting them in is the next step :lol: . Seeing any dragons that come (people, ideas and believes) as teachers and opportunities for keeping the practice alive is a real challenge. When it comes to people, those who are easy to like and be with make the practice smooth and problem free :wink:, but it is the "difficult" ones that really help me grow, show where the shoe is tight, so to speak (excuse me this down to earth metaphor, lots of tight shoes today :lol: ). As the poet said: "When the shoe fits, the foot is fogotten". Without those hard moments and dealing with them I see no practice.
The story of Fayuan stealing food to give it to the starving monks and Guixing's rough punishment of Fayuan reminded me that it is not just our actions in themselves that matter but also the motivations behind them.
It is hard to see the overall situation when one is too involved into it, I guess.All our action should be taken with the spirit of giving life to the overall situation surrounding us (p. 122)
John, what a wise choice of an attitude! Getting bitter and staying in is one way but how does this help change the situation? A single person's experience does matter: I saw a couple of stories like yours get into a local paper and all of a sudden the issue of all buildings being available/accessible for everyone was all over the country and became no less than an issue of democracy.
Thanks for bringing this up and sharing your experience!
Originally Posted by John
Quite so. for what is a person?Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
May the force be with you
With regards to my previous post when I wrote "A single person's experience does matter...", I would like to correct myself :lol: I expressed myself clumsily as it often happens with the foreign languages (that is not an excuse though).
Of course everyone's experience matters and anyways who would decide if it does or not. :roll: What I meant to say in response to John's posts was that sometimes one person can make a difference as to raising awareness of the public about particular issues that might not be on most people's agenda otherwise. This is what I meant to say.
(lost in languages)
I got your meaning ok the first time, Irina. Your English is very good - so good I thought you were an American girl living in Sweden at first. BTW, they showed me a disabled-accessible room they have just finished when they were rebuilding part of a retreat centre I attend. It was quite good but they seem to be putting in spring-loaded fire doors in new buildings nowadays. That would actually trap me in the room because I can't push a wheelchair against a strong spring-loaded door!
The way I have heard about it is that there is supposed to be another class of people who are only interested in enlightenment for themselves (sravakas):Originally Posted by CinnamonGal
“The Mahayana school holds that pursuing only the basic path of Hinayana Buddhism is too narrow an aspiration, as it lacks the ultimate moral motivation (from the Mahayana perspective) of actively resolving to liberate all other beings from samsara, as well as oneself. Such a "Hinayana" approach to Dharma tends to focus on an ascetic, individual orientation towards the attainment of nirvana (rather than the ulta-altruistic quest of the Bodhisattva): suppression of desire, removal from the world, solitude. Its followers are referred to as ?r?vakas and pratyekabuddhas in the Mahayana sutras……”
Thanks for opening the door to reality a little wider for me. I think that your efforts are exactly how a Boddhisattva helps others to become enlightened. One thing that I noted about this chapter is that a Boddhisattvas actions have consequences. Your action to participate at sesshin certainly did for you. But your ability to gracefully accept the consequences and not leave helped others to begin seeing reality.
John - many thanks for sharing your experience with us and for your wise words. Sorry to be catching up with my posts so late. ops:
When I was a child I used to think people naturally mature and become wiser with the passing years simply as a matter of course. What a bunch of nonsense! Of course I realize now that things just don't work that way. We really have to work at it to truly become an adult. It's not just something you can measure in years.Originally Posted by Uchiyama Roshi
You know when you have these "weird moments"?
Well we had one last night during our Bookclub here reading this book...
And in this section he talks about "bodhisattvas" and how they're not driven by desires and not subject to karma (one participants interpretation) and lets just say that after a while we left that part agreing to disagree and not speak about that section again...