1. Determined to obtain the greatest possible benefit for all sentient beings, who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel, I shall hold them most dear at all times.
Simply wishing for all creatures to be free from suffering is not enough. We need to make an effort to use our interactions with others as opportunities for developing true love and compassion.Imagine that each person you meet is wearing a t-shirt with “buddha nature” on the front and then try to make each encounter the same as though you are meeting a fully enlightened being. What would that experience be like? How do you know that the cashier at the grocery store isn’t a buddha manifesting as an ordinary person?
How can you benefit from others, for others? We define ourselves through our relationships with others — you are a parent only if you have a child, you are an employee only if you have a supervisor, you are beautiful or ugly only in the context of cultural norms. In our daily interactions with others whether caring for an infant, speaking with a co-worker, commuting, attending a class, no matter what we’re doing, we have opportunities for practicing the qualities of the bodhisattvas we are training to become: self-control, respect, patience, humility, courage to stand up for what is right, loving kindness. Our lives are so short and can end at any time, someone who you are very close with today may be gone tomorrow. So our time together is the only time we have to practice mindfulness — mindfulness isn’t something that can be cultivated by just reading books and meditating in isolation. If your father criticizes you, accuses you of something you didn’t do, this is a chance to practice patience. By not getting angry, by reflecting on karma, by controlling your negative emotions, you protect yourself, you love yourself. At the same time, you protect your father, you love your father.
Also, we need to guard against the expectation that other people should treat us with great love and kindness. Particularly in a Dharma Center, students sometimes feel that if they’re meditating on love and compassion for others, then they automatically deserve or are entitled to be treated with great love and compassion by everyone else thinking “What about some love and compassion for ME?” Likewise, sometimes people tend to criticize others for acting selfishly and “un-Dharma-like” when in fact, they are actually looking out for their own self-interest. Instead, we should cultivate gratitude and forbearance whenever someone annoys us, insults us, even deliberately provokes us. This is the nitty gritty of Dharma practice, this is true practice.
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama writes in his commentary on the Eight Verses, “Thus we can see that if we want to fulfill our wishes, be they temporal or ultimate, we should rely on other sentient beings much more than on wish-granting gems and always cherish them above all else.”