I really enjoyed this chapter. It made me reflect on my practice, specifically the four Bodhisattva vows we take during Zazenkai and daily zazen. How do I save sentient beings? It also made me think of the Xin Xin Ming. What is sacred or mundane? Where do we make the separation and how does that lack of equanimity affect ourselves and those around us?To save all sentient beings, though beings numberless.
To transform all delusions, though delusions inexhaustible.
To perceive reality though reality is boundless.
To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
This is a question I ask myself a lot. As Aoyama roshi points out, sentients beings also save us. It's presumptuous to think that we save anything or anyone. At the same time, it does not remove our responsibility. A theme that has come up quite a bit here of late is that things are "perfectly as they are" yet they still need to be fixed. We must accept things as they are before we can proceed. Often times, I go into a situation with preconceived notions, guns ablazing. But how do you know what to fix if you have no idea what the current state of affairs actually is?
I think we save beings in ways that we are not aware of. I think that we save beings by the very transformation that occurs to us through practice.
It's not like we can just flip a switch and say ok, today I'm going to exercise my super Buddha skillz and save everyone. Rather, and this is one of my favorite quotes from Dogen, "it is like grasping for a pillow in the dark." It's a natural expression of ourselves.. of the universe acting through us. But getting to that natural state (although who we are) takes the work of practice to remove the conditioning that reifies our sense of separation from everything.
Most of the time, the best way I save sentient beings is by smiling or not adding stress to a stressful situation. There are other ways too, but I notice that those are things I can offer.
How do you lead "donkeys and horses' to the other shore? How do you live in a way to fulfill the Bodhisattva vows? I'm always interested in these vows. I love this part of practice of doing something we know will continue without end. It's very inspiring and, like the precepts, I find it really exciting to hear others opinions on this. I always learn so much from everyone here. You have no idea the impact you all have on my practice. So in that way this Sangha saves me