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.
In my last blog post I mentioned this whole VIRTUE business–developing virtue is why we’re here, the life purpose.
Oh, and you thought you were here to save the world? Well, maybe you are–who am I to say different.
But you know we tend to pause and take inventory at certain times in life.
One time can be when we’re afraid or fearful but there’s birthdays, New Years, anniversaries and those types of markers.
I did that the other day while I was considering this whole virtue thing and realized that while we may not have created monetary or material wealth, there are other types of achievements–virtue is one.
Spirituality and morality are field levelers–a poor person can practice spirituality the same as the rich.
The good that is established in our life (even if we struggle from time to time to achieve it) will shine on.
Our good, the virtue we have created, will not be wasted–it will remain in the world even after we have dropped the physical body and moved into spirit.
Virtue does not die.
It is something our children and grandchildren can carry on, and when others meet our children, our family or when others see anything or anyone (for that matter) that was connected with us, they will think about us and maybe in those thoughts of us even feel happy.
[ The photo with this blog post was taken October 13, 2013 on my 66th birthday–me with my grandson. ]
Last evening after a ‘house-tidy’ and a glance at the bills and monies, that last part tickled and awakened ‘the familiars’ that rest in the stomach pit area; and while they are definitely weakening as I age, they don’t seem to cease entirely. And maybe they never will. I’ve learned to live with their now-and-again visits, those familiars!
What do those fear-familiars want? I think to be acknowledged, recognized for the purpose of deeper realization and awakening.
“Okay”, I say, “but just for a little while and then I’m going out the door for a walk.”
I knew it would work–the walk. That was my intuition, my inner guide making that known.
It was a brisk, windy October night and it could not have been clearer to me that I needed to walk out the door after I dealt with them.
I think it was teacher Ajahn Chah who said that it is okay to get some control of where your mind goes by shouting at yourself. I’m not into that exactly, but I get the point he was trying to make about discipline of the mind–in fact I’ve been writing about that in my blog and newsletter lately.
What’s the point of being here in this reality in these (many times) trying circumstances? And don’t’ forget we have beautiful experiences too which balance them out. And actually the idea overall or what is recommended by the spiritual teachers is to take neither polarity too seriously, meaning the good or the bad–not getting attached to either one. Good times, bad times—attach to neither.
Oh, here’s another example. For instance, we can take love and hate–those polarities too. We suffer if we attach too greedily to either emotion. If we attach excessively to family, lovers and friends, when there is death or change (and there inevitably is—remember about impermanence?), this turns to suffering. So that’s what I mean. Not saying we shouldn’t love one another but not in extreme ways.
Well, getting back to it now…. the point of or purpose of these fear guru’s in our lives (and yes, fear can be our teacher) is to teach us—remind us really because we already know this but forgot—about the impermanence of life and those things that we over-identify with which aren’t real yet when we think they are. And that, in a nutshell, causes our suffering.
For me it always brings me back to the two truths of conventional and ultimate reality–with that understanding the mind becomes comfortable and at peace.
We, in our conversations with our fear, realize that we become attached to seeing our life a certain way and then we become attached to that view, you see? We can explain that to our fears and they say, “Thank you, we simply forgot.”
Circumstances that are difficult help us to awaken; otherwise we would remain in blissful sleep. Life difficulties help us to work through and work out those issues that keep us from developing virtue.
Yeah, and that reminds me of it. Of what? One of my early channeling sessions my communication was spirit involved my question—why are we here? What’s the purpose? And the answer I received seemed too simple then and I nearly discarded it but always kept it on a shelf in my mind and over the years with all my spiritual study and life experience (today I have reached my double 6 birthday, so I have a little of that)… anyway, in all that I’ve studied and lived that answer, being here to develop virtue, makes more-and-more sense. It gets clearer every year—virtue. Like what? Well, patience is a virtue and what are some of the rest?
Well, here’s the great Benjamin Franklin’s list of virtues:
TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
TRANQUILITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Well that gives you one idea–there are many virtues.
Developing the virtues is basically about being the best human you can be–which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Anyway..,.
Going back to the topic here, let me add that it helps for me to think in terms of the reasons for what is happening; and so then I think difficulties are there to help awaken us to the ultimate reality, otherwise we may never get it.
So my glance at the bills and money situation ultimately caused a moment of remembering and deeper awakening thanks to the tea with the fear gurus.
And then I bounced down the steps and out the door into the night air, breathing deeply into the wind, shaking my shoulders. I shook my head too in order to wobble and jiggle away the tears that had been forming behind the throat and eyes.
I walked into the darkness having another conversation…. this time with my inner guide, my wisdom guru. Although I remained a bit unsteady emotionally for a while, that was further remedied by my guide (after our talk) then suggesting a pop-in surprise visit with my sister and niece. So I walked to their door and knocked. We caught up with things and then ordered pizza (which was not that good for my trim and slim goals) yet was totally and completely soul-satisfying. I must say the Pizza Hut pineapple pizza was excellent and thoroughly enjoyed each bite! So… What’s the moral of the story?
I think that the old seeds and old fear habits are always there, but that’s not “who we are” since essentially there is no self. And because that is so, those seeds and habits are just life being what life is—the nature of human existence.
Our body and emotional nature contain those habits because we are human, but we don’t have to over-identify with it all.
Why? Because ultimately there is no self.
But while we are here in human form we still make efforts to be the best human we can be. How do we do that? Where and when distress appears we do our best to transcend it. It is called transcending the world and destroying delusions.
“No mud, no lotus”—this is a saying that we could translate into “No fear/distress, no awakening”. You disagree? You say your life is nothing but total bliss and you’ve reached enlightenment 24-7? Hmmmm….. give that one a bit more thought because you may be simply asleep. Just sayen’.
Earth living and it’s downers are what keep us having realizations, keep us awake, help us to learn to breathe in and out in the present moment, releasing attachment, aversions, fears. One does get to have time-outs, rest periods, of course; but then it seems to come again for us on deeper levels like peeling layers of an onion.
Don’t get too full of ego and mistake the rest and recovery period for enlightenment–through observation it seems to me that the universe loves nothing more than to crush smug ego’s.
Maybe that’s why those ‘familiars’ don’t seem to completely ever go away, they’re always there lurking–to help us stay aware, remain humble, and so that we do not fall into lazy patterns (see above paragraph).
But none of this is who I am… the “I AM” that is beyond, beyond, completely beyond just observes this and smiles.
Further, I don’t need to become attached either way and that’s where the peace is located–in that place of non-attachment.
No aversion, no attraction.
Yes, yes, we have to deal with that which everyone else (and a part of us) agrees is conventionally real, but ultimately none of it exists. Outwardly we have to agree; after all, when my rent is due (which is the thought that started this blog post!), I cannot go into the rental office to tell the Lords of the Land that ultimately neither they, nor I, nor the apartment itself exists and therefore, I don’t need to pay my rent. Outwardly I have to agree, but inwardly I know the truth. That’s the “pickle” (as the saying goes) that many of us light-workers (as they call us) live within.
Fear guru’s help us to remember these things. My personal fear guru? Oh, he’s much gentler and kinder than he used to be; but still I don’t like his presence at any time whatsoever! Yet, the tea and cookie that I give him and little talk we have seems to comfort him (and me too-wink!) so that then we can resume the life-game here with greater ease!
Let the games begin!—that is what I say to myself when I wake up in the morning sometimes, mostly when I’m not so afraid.