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Practice

Suffering 

 View of Practice

Buddhist practice is always based on view, meditation, and action. I want to talk about Bodhicitta teachings within this context.  

According to the Mahayana perspective, the view is the understanding of the nature of reality through suffering. Meditation is like our tonglen practice or the daily spiritual practices we do, that are based on love and compassion. Then we have action. What is the significance of Bodhicitta practice in action? Bodhicitta in action is going to bring up all of our limitations in an experiential way. From this direct experience, we can acquire true actualization of Bodhicitta mind, not as a temporary spiritual experience, but one that takes place deep in our hearts, one that we can feel in our bones.  

Maybe we are in a place where there is much suffering. Our compassion will not be lost when we have true realization in our hearts. To do that, we have to go beyond our fear and hope, which arises from resistance to reality.  

To be a living Bodhisattva in this lifetime, we need to defeat or conquer fear and hope. We should be encouraging ourselves to go into that cosmic landfill and bring up all of our limitations to the surface. Then we will have a chance to study them. We can study them and then go beyond them when we see their true nature. This is the Bodhisattva's path.  

There is a beautiful prayer in the Bodhisattva's teachings. It says, “May I encounter all unwanted circumstances.” This is a revolutionary prayer, because we usually pray to not have misfortune. Christians are not the only ones who grovel in this way. Buddhists do too. When I was in the Jowo Rinpoche temple in Lhasa, I overheard all kinds of prayers—for many yaks, success, and longevity.  

But, this Bodhisattva prayer is a very different prayer, a reversal prayer. We are asking God, or Buddha, or Avalokiteshvara to send us things we don’t want. Of course, we don’t need any unwanted circumstances. All we have to do is face reality. Reality shatters our mind completely, pushes our buttons, and brings up all the limitations of hope, fear, doubt, and laziness. Then we can go beyond them, because they are seen to be as insubstantial as the clouds passing in the sky. Like when I tell the Acharya Asanga story: because he was willing to sacrifice his ego, Asanga licked the maggots out of the dog’s wound and had a direct experience of the Buddha Maitreya. By truly seeing someone’s suffering, in his case the dog that was suffering with a horrible wound, and the maggots that were eating its flesh, he was able to completely experience love and compassion.
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