Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Way of the Buddha Pt. 3

Why’m I thinking about this right now? Because tonight I am going to Toronto to take teachings on and receive the Bodhisattva vows. I’ve taken these vows before with HHDL in the course of Kalachakra. But somehow, and incredibly I might add, this seemed almost a “by the way” thing. Tonight is a formal taking of the vows.

The Bodhisattva vow seems a serious thing to me. A vow for all eternity really. A vow to be a practitioner. A vow to torment a perfectionist.

For those not sure, the Bodhisattva vow is essentially to lead the numberless sentient beings to enlightenment (in the most efficient way possible for each individual sentient being) no matter how long it takes. Ie. to keep returning to the world until the world is emptied of unenlightened ones. By the way, numberless is a Buddhist synonym for infinite. So we’re talking about a fairly long time here, I guess. The Bodhisattva agrees to forgo his/her own final nirvana until all are enlightened.

A tough choice for one whose predominant theme in life seems to be escape.

The Bodhisattva vow is a commitment to achieve the union of compassion and wisdom (as Buddhists understand these terms) and then act for the benefit of all sentient beings. The perfect amalgam of student and practitioner. He/she accomplishes this through the practice of the Six Perfections…the first of which is Giving or Generosity. There’s a one or two hundred page section of the Flower Ornament Scripture (Avatamsaka Sutra) which describes the myriad ways in which Bodhisattvas practise giving.

Me, I give down-and-outers under the Spadina bridge a toony. It’s a start.

PS. But the Puritans, or whoever, weren't too far wrong when they said Charity begins at home. And this too, is a tough hoe to row. I think when Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, he meant be kindest to the ones who annoy you the most...starting with yourself.

Digg! diigo it


Anonymous said...

I do know about the bodhisattva - in a way that a student knows, not as a practitioner knows. I studied Buddhism long ago at university, and the part that stuck with me / struck me was Mahayana Buddhism's concept of the bodhisattva and the immense compassion that went along with that - I loved that - and for me it balanced the intellectual aspects of Buddhism - the philosophies and practices to reach Nirvana that sometimes seemed too mathematical, too concrete, too austere.

But of course, the risk you take is that compassion can overwhelm - one can drown in it - as Jesus experienced when the crowds mobbed him for healing. I suppose that's where the wisdom comes in.

Compassion, to me, is another expression for love. I tend to think of love as the primal building block of the universe, rather than desire or suffering that results from that desire. Maybe it is really compassion that is the primal building block.

So Larry, that is a big commitment you have made - and I know you haven't made it lightly. Existence is indeed a tough hoe to row, but may you have much love over the span of your many lives.

Anonymous said...

Warriors and Monks, having been heavily influenced by a Taoist, I tend toward the idea that both are a requirement for balance.

I also tend toward crazy wisdom. The world to me is absolutely mad and absurd. Yet despite its madness, life is beautiful in its intensity. Monks achieve a conservation of energy; patiently taking a journey that they know is a long one. Warriors practice the art of impatience. They can only do that because of the patient ones. Best wishes on your journey.

Larry Keiler said...

I wonder if that's true, bobby. I think Warriors and Monks are not mutually exclusive. Look at the Templars. Both warriors and monks. And the Shaolin monks, masters of the martial arts.

And then, too, it seems to me that the patient warrior is the successful warrior. The one who knows how to bide his time and choose his ground. Both Napoleon and Hitler were impatient and destroyed themselves on the steppes of Russia. But then, perhaps they weren't really warriors...?

As for madness and absurdity...I hear Albert Camus chuckling. How could it not be absurd? It includes absolutely everything one could imagine. Nothing left out. What a stew!

Help! I've written and I can't get up!