I recently listened to the Dalai Lama (through his translator) say something on a karma related subject. He said that even a simple act of virtue like feeding an animal (even ants) when it is done with an altruistic attitude (intention of helpfulness and compassion) with the idea of benefiting those sentient beings that this is what is meant by the term “bodhicitta”. The word translates from Sanskrit this way: bodhi means enlightened or awakened and citta means mind or consciousness. So we could say that bodhicitta means awakened mind and it is the compassionate act of a bodhisattva practitioner. To take it further, A person who has a spontaneous realization or motivation of bodhicitta is called a bodhisattva.
I would not go so far as to refer to myself as a bodhisattva but the Dalai Lama says even a simple act of conduct or action done in virtue with the intention of helpfulness and compassion are transformed into conditions of full enlightenment. I think of conditions being transformed in such a way that awakening, at least in moments, is favorable. So even simple acts of loving intention, he said, are like an elixir that transforms base metals into gold.
Only a true Buddhist would consider feeding ants. That has never occurred to me to do, but maybe will since the great teacher Dalai Lama mentioned it. However, I do feed stray cats. There is one little Buddha-Cat who honestly cracks my heart open every time he comes with the others to eat. He had a lot of fear right after he was born–really significantly frightened more than his brother or sisters. Now, he is warming up to me and the other neighbor here who feeds him. Here’s the thing. The others dive into the food platter — a clear plastic party platter works well for them, each having their own compartment. However, while he may be positioned to eat, he doesn’t start until he looks up into your eyes and reaches his head up so as to rub noses with you.
Each time I feed this cat, my heart opens more and he makes it easy for me to create the mindstate of a Bodhisattva. I accept any conditions that would lead me to full awakening. This sweet cat is helping me; may he remain protected and happy.
PS it is said that His Holiness rescued his cat from the slums of Dharmsala.
Sometimes Life Itself is like this photo: Dense Fog! And we can’t quite see what’s around the curve of Life and let’s face it, life is curvy. The guitar dude downstairs neighbor may agree with that one based on his behavior this morning. He’s slammed the door beneath me four times and screamed from the area of the parking lot, “You’re f____ing kidding me!!” All on an otherwise very quiet Sunday morning! Chances are he’d agree that life is curvy right now! LOL
Cha- cha- cha- chaaa-changes!! As for me, it’s a little bit foggy but I did see our new apartment yesterday, being able to look upstairs at what will be my monastic cell. Could be worse. Not sure how this is all going to go since now the move date is in question, at least my own half of it. I may be looking at boxes for a month longer than I originally thought since the only girl left in the office (the other two quit) can’t get an answer from the big boss regarding my particular apartment’s lease. Geesh!
I’m looking hither, thither and yon trying to determine how the furniture is going to be in my room and have fingers, toes, and everything crossed that they can get the horrid smell out of the place before we get in. Previous tenants had some real issues! Yuck.
Yeah, foggy. I don’t know how long I’ll have to be there before another place opens and with each box I pack, I wonder if its contents should go to storage or the garage sale/Goodwill pile. Ahh, but it could be so much worse indeed! At least there is someplace to go besides the street with a shopping cart! Actually, I’m sort of getting ‘into’ the fog lately finding the humor in it while I sing the Buddhist song about form, appearance and emptiness! That’s a song of enlightenment and always calms me and soothes me and restores happiness [lyrics below].
Meanwhile, I know the sun will shine again and all will be temporarily organized again even though there’s chaos now. Then we have the next move after this one to who knows where for certain; although I have a pretty good idea (being psychic and all).
Empty forms like a rainbow with a shining glow! — I try to hum this tune as I load the boxes.
Better go feeD my daughter’s cats now! Today’s my last day of cat duty–that drive down the Interstate is way too exciting for my taste but shouldn’t be bad today being that it’s Sunday. Good excuse to get away from the wailing guitar guys anger as he gives me opportunities to practice patience over and over as he slams the door yet again! Wow, bad morning dude?
The wall shakes when the door slams… more Bodhisattva practice for me!! thanks dude!
Oh yeah, the Buddhist song…. the words….
It goes like this:
All these forms, appearance emptiness
Like a rainbow with it’s shining glow
In the reaches of of appearance emptiness
Just let go and go where no mind goes
Every sound is sound and emptiness
Like the sound of an echo’s roll
In the reaches of sound and emptiness
Just let go and go where no mind goes
Every feeling is bliss and emptiness
Way beyond what words can show
In the reaches of bliss and emptiness
Just let go and go where no mind goes
All awareness, awareness emptiness
Way beyond what thoughts can know
In the reaches of awareness emptiness
Let awareness go, OH, where no mind goes!
Bodhisattva Practice #18 on Discouragement and Compassion (from the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva): “… without discouragement take on the misdeeds and pain of all living beings.”
I asked a vajra teacher, a Lama that I’ve been communicating with, for a 2nd best book to continue my sort of self-made dharma lessons on The Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva. Oh, maybe vajra teacher is incorrect phrasing according to custom. I think the word for spiritual teacher in Tibetan Buddhism is vajracary or vajrasattva is probably more technically correct but I can’t say for sure being an American who is trying to pick up where haven left off from previous incarnations—not that I could prove this. Which actually brings me to the 2nd best book since the 1st best was $150 (totally out of the budget).
I asked a Lama of the Karmapa lineage and was referred to a book by the 17th Karmapa (who I have heard speak on TV and really admired) called ‘Traveling the Path of Compassion’, a book on the 37 Practices, which I’m now reading.
I just finished a passage written by the Karmapa on Practice #4 which was cool because he wrote about death (specifically, there’s no death) and reincarnation—he gently points out how it is almost impossible to feel that a loved one who has died is totally gone and never present in some way! “Most people”, he writes, “have a feeling that a loved one who has passed away is still somehow still available.”
He says death is not nothingness. Nor is it a blank state; it is the time when we transfer our light to another way of being. We are, he says, not a candle that is finished when the flame goes out but instead a torch, a light shining everywhere that can be transferred one bright flame to the next.
Well, I had to include that here and write about that first before I start to write what I’m REALLY writing about today! HA! So here we go—the real reason I’m writing today! And it still relates to Practice #4 which is about attachments.
The teaching is about being attached to this life and of course if you practice the dharma or said another way if you subscribe to the Buddhist philosophy of life and therefore relate to and start to apply the teachings to your own life (in order to increase happiness and decrease suffering first for self and then for others) then what you do in Buddhist language is that you “practice the dharma”. Which in this case the word dharma means “the teachings” –but the word also translates to “phenomenon” and I’ll write on the correlation there another time. Getting back to the practice of dharma, he says that we have to release attachments to life if we are going to call ourselves a Buddhist and in particular a Bodhisattva…. [paraphrased].
By the way the word bodhi translates into “understanding the nature of things” or “enlightenment” –the root word “budh” means ‘to awake, become aware, notice, know or understand). Sattva in sanskrit means purity and reality. One could say bodhi means enlightened and sattva means existence. So, a Bodhisattva is one who lives an enlightened existence. And the 37 practices was written in the 13th-14th century by a highly respected and devotedly compassionate monk instructing others on how to live an enlightened existence. That could be one way to put it which I think would be a fairly correct interpretation based on what I’ve read and surmised and I offer it to the reader with the highest intentions.
Anyway, the point that I wish to make here is that I was reading a passage written by the 17th Karmapa on the 4th Practice of a Bodhisattva in which he refers to those who turn to the dharma when in a crisis of some sort and the rest of the time their main attraction is to life and the world or the world’s entertainments. He says that we consider our worldly possessions crucial to our lives and the very source of our happiness.
Personally, I see people who hang to each other in that same way, seeing the ‘other’ as the very source of their happiness as well. And as he points out, even if we do not think these things consciously, they are at the background of our minds—our unconscious attitudes hold to worldly things as if our happiness depends on them.
Personally, I am guilty of this fault but am, through effort now, working to keep the dharma teachings working at all times in the background instead of my attachments and aversions running the show. It’s a process! There are slippery patches and tricky spots but I’m taking those and really more consciously working with them—sometimes I go unconscious and fall back into the old habitually created karmic patterns. (There’s an actual word for that; it sounds like “bach-tah” but I cannot seem to find the proper spelling and definition…sigh! I looked thru the glossaries of 3 Buddhists text I have here on the shelf and consulted a number of online Buddhists dictionaries! ) Well, there’s another lesson in practice #4, letting go and non attachment! (I’ve been highly obsessed and attached to finding that word for a good while now! ugh! letting go!)
Yeah, so anyway there’s a word for those patterns and I’ve just turned all my writing time into google time instead trying to find that right word and in giving up now must conclude this writing!
Here’s the note from the universe this morning that somewhat resembles what I’ve been trying to convey here to some extent—using life challenges to reach non-attachment and therefore happiness is what I’m trying to say and the thing below that showed up in my email says it better than I could in 10 pages of writing which is why I’m including it. And with this, will have to wish you a good day—my time is up!
NOTE FROM THE UNIVERSE IN MY EMAIL BOX TODAY WHICH CORRESPONDS TO MY CURRENT BUDDHIST STUDIES:
It’s not that your life totally rocks, Joy, except for a few tricky spots, slippery patches, and challenges.
But that your life totally rocks, in large part, because of the tricky spots, slippery patches, and challenges.
Stranger than fiction, The Universe
By the way Enlightenment Practice #4 of the 37 Practices reads this way:
Everyone will part from relatives and old friends;
The wealth of long labor will be left behind;
The guest, the consciousness, leaves its lodging, the body behind:
To give up concern for this life is the practice of a bodhisattva.
Oh, and by the way, (in addition to my own personal experiences and the work that I do as a medium), I’ll take the 17th Karmapa’s word on the afterlife and reincarnation since he’s the official incarnation of the 16th Karmapa’s previous life… well, you know what I mean. He passed the tests involved in determining the lineage continuation–he was the 16th Karmapa in his last life, and now he’s back as the 17th Karmapa! So I supposed that if anybody should know about this reincarnation stuff, it’d be him. Or I’d like to think so; and we have to trust, eh?