The Immeasurable Path

The path of the Bodhisattva is known as the immeasurable path. Immeasurable means that on that journey everything is immeasurable. The number of sentient beings is immeasurable. So is the love and compassion of the Bodhisattva and the altruistic activity, and so is the freedom and liberation of the Bodhisattva. So how are we going to experience this?  

There is no doubt that there are immeasurable sentient beings. How can we have immeasurable love, compassion, and altruistic enlightened activities when we are so troubled by our own habitual tendencies of hope and fear? How can we generate ocean-like activities when we have a difficult time helping just one person?  

If we understand that there is intrinsic Bodhicitta in ourselves, then we do not need to try to develop love and compassion. We only need to awaken to this natural state of our minds, the very depth of our minds. When we open and unfold, that is immeasurable love. It is bigger than us, bigger than our individual abilities, bigger than our own ego.  

On the ordinary level, we perceive ourselves as finite and fragile, as very limited individuals, subject to doubt, fear, insecurity, death, and impermanence. We see ourselves as very fragile because we have not discovered our vastness; because we have identified with this false identity of ego. We perceive ourselves as being separate from everything, so we perceive ourselves as dominated by fear. Fear is inherent in the dualistic view of the world.  

However, when we go beyond that ego, ego’s fragile identity, and we open to our true character, then we are quite amazing beings. We are then capable of manifesting immeasurable enlightened qualities. We are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. When we realize this, then there is this ever-accessible, unfathomable divinity that lies within. But to realize and actualize this often hidden potential, we sometimes have to practice prayer and meditation.

Faith and Devotion 

Maybe when we encounter a very challenging situation, it may provoke us to contact that immeasurable love within ourselves. Do not run away from the suffering of other people. If people need us, we have to be the witness of their suffering. We can talk to people who are sick, lonely, and insecure. We can have direct connection with people who are hungry and thirsty, tormented by the causes and conditions of their lives. Just by being the loving eyewitness to others, it opens our immeasurable intrinsic wisdom and compassion.  

Or, we can recite prayers to the Buddhas or spiritual teachers or whatever is the object of our faith. Sometimes when we recite a prayer it can serve as a very powerful catalyst to bring up that intrinsic love and compassion.  

In Mahayana Buddhism we visualize a deity during post-meditation, because it is easy to lose our grip on meditation after our meditation. So after meditation we always visualize Avalokiteshvara, because it is the archetype or logo of compassion and love. We visualize Avalokiteshvara on our shoulder when we walk. When we sit we visualize him on our head. When we go to bed, we visualize him in our heart. When we eat food we visualize him in our throat. This is complete, simple yoga. Dream yoga, sleeping yoga, working yoga, walking yoga, sitting yoga. Totally complete. It makes sense, actually.  

For me, the most powerful visualization was to visualize some of my teachers, like Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok. When I visualize him it is impossible to do something really bad, or to get really angry, because I have such positive association with him. I would never steal or lie with him in my mind, it’s impossible. When I am going through emotional upheaval, I think about him or my teacher and liberation is right there.  

There are many methods we can use, and we have to choose which one is best for us. Recitation of mantra can be very powerful, too. Or the notion of dedicating every single activity to the liberation of all sentient beings is very powerful as well.  

Immeasurable compassion is in each of us, but it is just dormant at the moment. We have so much doubt in our mind. We have so much doubt about our own life, whether we can help ourselves and survive or not. But now in Mahayana Buddhism we are talking about whether we can save all beings, not just help ourselves. So we have to develop this immeasurable love and compassion.

Revealing the Nature of Doubt 

When we meditate on ourselves, we will actually discover that there is this immense amount of self-doubt and insecurity. It is everywhere. Doubt in relationship to our survival, to our spiritual practice, our connection to people, health, mortality. Our mind is run by these doubts which are created by hope and fear. Why do we have so many kleshas (habitual tendencies)? Because we are identified with ego.  

But, we are going to identify with the vast spacious place where there is no longer any doubt or hope or fear. That is called immeasurable love. When we have this immeasurable love we are able to engage in immeasurable activity.  

We may ask, “Since I can barely manage my own life, how can I help infinite beings?” It seems that there isn’t time or energy to do our own stuff, our personal stuff. Do we have that doubt? We have this belief that our ability and capability is not enough to even benefit ourselves.  

 But, the very idea of immeasurable action is that the Bodhisattva does not have any doubt about his own actions. A Bodhisattva has complete faith in his or her own actions as a single cause to benefit beings.  

When we are beyond that doubt, then even very small things like releasing animals or giving lunch to one person, these kinds of actions become immeasurable activities. When we go beyond doubt, every act becomes an immeasurable act. When we get rid of that doubt toward ourselves and believe in our intrinsic love and compassion, then every act becomes an immeasurable act.  

In the absence of doubt there is immeasurable joy and happiness in each of us. Joy and happiness is the natural expression of freedom that the Bodhisattva experiences beyond the mundane. It is beyond words. There is no comparison with ordinary joy and happiness.  

Ordinary joy and happiness are impermanent and dependent upon causes and conditions. It can be injured and disturbed. It never lasts forever. And it’s always based on klesha, on selfish mind. There is always insecurity about our own happiness or freedom. There isn’t really happiness in ordinary happiness. The Buddha said it’s like sitting on the top of a needle. There’s no happiness sitting on that.

True happiness comes from immeasurable love. Nothing can destroy it or take it away. We may die but we will not lose our joy, happiness, and freedom. We may be sick or poor or the object of hatred for other people. But our joy and happiness has nothing to do with those conditions.

Because of that we become the source of joy and love and generosity to other beings. This is everlasting freedom and happiness. It is pure, authentic, and absolute.

Bodhicitta mind is the Buddha, because it is the guide. It is Dharma, because it is the path. And it is the sangha, because it accompanies us. It is the deity. It is the wish-fulfilling jewel. If he walked in front of us right now, even Buddha could not grant us happiness. But Bodhicitta mind can, so it is ultimate Buddha nature. The Dzogchen teachings say that we are Samantabhadra (the Primordial Buddha) because Bodhicitta mind resides inside of us.  

In some way, nothing matters to us anymore in this lifetime. Once we become a Bodhisattva, we become fearless, ultimately confident. Whether we become successful or a loser, whether we are sick or dying, it doesn’t matter, because the mind steeped in the ultimate reality of love and compassion is unshakable. Our happiness springs from inner richness, which is love and compassion. We begin to experience the state of great equanimity, where there is no longer the sense of separation between self and others, friend and enemy. For a Bodhisattva, this insect is as important as a human being. Everyone is as important as himself. There is no longer hatred or partiality. There is all-embracing love and compassion.  

But, remember that we already have this intrinsic love and compassion. Remember to evoke it. That is all that matters to the end. Life can be very challenging. Especially when we practice Dharma, because we no longer take refuge in illusions. In that way, we have a chance to exercise and strengthen our Dharma practice, to use Dharma as a way to overcome our personal obstacles. Dharma is not intellectual knowledge. It is direct experience of personal purification. When we know how to apply Dharma directly, we begin to experience liberation. We experience the profound effect of Dharma.  

Please continue with Dharma practice every day. There are many areas which have to be improved. But do not judge Dharma practice. Maybe we can put forth more effort, more determination, more time to cultivate Dharma practice. We understand that the Dharma practice is the only source of happiness we have. It’s the most precious guide we have. 

Source: Used with permission from