June 21 How to act

Question 1.

When beholding someone with my eyes,
Thinking, “I shall fully awaken
Through depending upon this being,”
I should look at that person with love and an open heart. (verse 80)

Give several reasons why we will attain Enlightenment depending on others. Is it possible to attain Enlightenment relying on other factors? Why or why not?

Question 2. Review verse 81. Choose several negative emotions and briefly describe its antidote (translated as “remedial forces”). For example, the antidote to miserliness is generosity. When practicing generosity, we give away whatever we are attached to so as to weaken our miserliness. At the same time, we focus on the emptiness of our selves as the giver, the emptines of the gift, and the emptiness of the giver.

Question 3. Review verses 83 – 84. Why is the perfection of ethics considered superior and more exalted than the perfection of generosity? Explain why we should choose the perfection of ethics over the perfection of generosity when confronted with a situation when we have to choose one or the other. Give an example.

Verse 84 states that the “Far-Seeing Mindful Ones have allowed a Bodhisattva to do some actions that (for others) were forbidden”. How do we know that this is a true statement?

Meditation: meditate on the practice of generosity as described in the Lam Rim.


3 thoughts on “June 21 How to act

  1. Answer to question 1:

    First refuge in the Buddha Dharma Sangha presupposes the importance of other beings; the Buddha as the supreme being, his teaching taught by trustworthy beings, and sangha as the virtuous community. In order to know how to practice dharma it is necessary to rely on a teacher who has realized dharma and a virtuous community that has observable attainments to show one what and how to strive for an awakened state of mind.

    In Tibetan Buddhism it is often said that there is no Buddha who has attained buddhaood without reliance on a teacher. The historical Buddha also had teachers and he relied on the truth that all becomes a teaching. I do not think it is possible to attain enlightment without relying on others and all others as a teacher. Even though there are pratyekabuddhas, they do not exist independent of relying on the Buddha and dharma and sangha – also the entire path of the Pali Cannon has been preserved by other beings.

    On a more personal level, I could never begin to know my true self or spiritual potential without reliance on others. To have ever had the taste of enlightenment in my life has only come about because of others. Sometimes my mind has been very different when in the presence of my Teachers, that changed state of mind showed me what potential lies within and that is dependent on other beings, my self-knowledge is dependent on other beings. Sometimes in the presence of my Teachers I experience a state of happiness which is a state of freedom – this only comes about because I am in the presence and blessings of a person who has trained their mind in love and compassion.

    Refuge on any level is the only way to enlightenment. Everything is dependent upon this, everything is dependent upon other beings who have gone before, everything is dependent upon changing my mind to love and compassion in relation to all other beings therefore enlightenment is dependent upon others.

    • Lisa — a beautiful answer and I agree with you that we must have great faith and trust in our teachers and practice sincere guru devotion.

      But I think Shantideva wants us to go even a step further than this. We need to truly believe that Everyone we encounter — the homeless person on the street, your rude co-worker, your step-mother — is someone for whose sake we will attain enlightenment; moreover, we will attain enlightenment solely on the basis of that individual.

      The Buddhas don’t need us to practice tong len for them — the infant throwing a temper tantrum because he needs a diaper change does.

      So as your karma ripens and manifests in many intricate ways, how you relate to others today is how you color your future. Can you train yourself to see everyone as your spiritual friend, or just the lama on the throne?

  2. 1) As Lisa mentioned in the statement above relying and depending on our Gurus is necessary in order to practice the path and to achieve Enlightenment. If the path is the wisdom realizing selflessness and we have the freedom of body and mind (because of this human rebirth), we have the opportunity to practice correct morality now in relation to other sentient beings. These factors require us to treat others gently, with love and care, as if they were our own mother or father, because they all were at one time. As Shantideva says in verse 84 “one should always strive for the benefit of others.” In the teachings and prayers frequently used are the terms “for the sake of other sentient beings or in order to benefit all”. As Buddhists we are striving to achieve Enlightenment for the sake of peace and happiness for all sentient beings, in order to free others from samsaric suffering.

    2) If emotional dissatisfaction or unhappiness arises an antidote would be *contemplating and meditating on impermanence. Everything is transient and impermanent and we all die, this helps us to determine what is important in life. Through contemplation on impermanence and emptiness we erase our self importance and remember that this is cyclic existence and we have only a short time in this human body to practice the remedy – the Dharma. “Life must not be wasted” as Shantideva says “we should always strive for the benefit of others.”

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