Being Transformed

The essential method of Mahayana Buddhism is transformation: the Bodhisattva transforms what is negative into positive, what is bad luck into good luck, the unfavorable into favorable. Transforming all negativity into positive conditions is called gyurwa—transformation. What does this mean?  

The Bodhisattva takes every situation as a chance to see one’s limitations and go beyond them, to discover the ultimate enlightenment in oneself by bringing out one’s innate love and compassion. Every situation, every chance encounter, every heartbreak, every thought is a precious opportunity to awaken completely if we have the courage to remain beholden to the open heartBodhicitta mind. This is the Bodhisattva’s view, as well as meditation and action.  

When we practice this path we have to transform our fundamental attitude towards life, towards what happiness actually is, towards suffering, towards what our values are. We have to let go of our old karmic belief systems that are based on not understanding who we are. Those persistent views are our habitual tendencies.  

Life itself is not samsara. Samsara can never be found as an outer circumstance. It is not in the elements, nor is it in the past, present, or future. Samsara, sufferingis in our own mind, based on fundamental ignorance about reality. We have to see the falsehood of those belief systems that we have held in our minds.  

By awakening to the false, we awaken to who we are and what reality is. In this awakened state we begin to see that there is no suffering, no negativity, no circumstance that can cause hope and fear within. Our struggle is the creation of our own mind, our own resistance to reality.  

We are not running away from any circumstances whatsoever—not running away from what we are facing right now, or what we will have to face tomorrow morning. We are simply opening our heart and flowing with life’s natural direction without fighting the flow. When there is no resistance, there is a sense that everything is a blessing, whatever happens. Whether there is good fortune or bad fortune, a Bodhisattva perceives everything as a spiritual lesson in how to be content. Thus a Bodhisattva exudes, without effort, an inexhaustible generosity, love, and compassion toward all beings. Everything is Buddha’s voice, a living teaching, thus there is a sense of reverence that treats every circumstance as some kind of sacred phenomena, a sacred entity.

Everything is a Blessing 

A Bodhisattva sees everything as a blessing, as joy, because a Bodhisattva does not see any stain in any person or in any circumstances. A Bodhisattva sees all of life as being an education, therefore a blessing.  

Shantideva says, “If we can learn the Dharma teachings, the six paramitas, from sentient beings, as we can learn from the enlightened ones, why don’t we pay homage to sentient beings like we do to the Buddhas?” Everybody is a teacher, and everything they throw on us is a teaching.  

People may abuse us, they may be mean to us, be judgmental, but everything is a teaching to the Bodhisattva. The Bodhisattva does not have to fight for his own well being. The tougher life is for the Bodhisattva, the stronger he or she becomes.  

When a sentient being goes through tough times, however, he or she becomes weaker and weaker, protecting the wounds incurred by the delusion of the sense of separation.  

Why does the Bodhisattva become so happy and so mature when going through hardships, and why do ordinary sentient beings become so injured? Obviously the difference in experience has to do with the difference in perception. Sentient beings look at things in a dualistic way, in terms of good and bad, fortune and misfortune, what can be had versus what one isn’t getting.  

A Bodhisattva does not look at things in this dualistic way. Everything is good weather. There is no bad weather. If the sun shines, it is good. If it rains, it is good. There is only one circumstance, there is only good luck, because everything is a blessing. Everything can be used to bring up one’s own limitations and be a teaching to help us learn to be happy, to acquire freedom in natural unfoldment. What could be better than this, if it is the cause of enlightenment? Every circumstance is the cause to be enlightened.

Bodhisattva’s Heart Wish 

We say going to school is good fortune, or winning the lottery is good fortune. But that is understanding in a very mundane way.  

If we look at life from a Bodhisattva’s perspective, everything is good fortune, because a Bodhisattva is life. His or her heart becomes bigger and bigger, infused with more and more happiness, with greater and greater love. This happens because there is no distinction between what is thought and felt, seen and heard, tasted and touched, even smelled. Everything is the display of the Bodhisattva’s pure heart.  

A Bodhisattva can go anywhere, do anything, even act outrageous at times, because the Bodhisattva only experiences love and compassion. The Bodhisattva’s heart wish is for all the sentient beings who are connected with him or her, in a positive or negative way, to be liberated through his or her path, through his or her activities. People who love the Bodhisattva, or people who torture or try to hurt him or her, there is no difference. Both are seen as teachers.  

When encountering the challenges of life, Bodhisattvas develop and practice more compassion, more love, and more joy because their sole intention is to awaken completely for the benefit of all beings.

Adversaries are the Greatest Teachers 

Enemies may be a greater teacher than anyone else in our life, because the enemy can really push our buttons and bring out all of our limitations.  

It is very easy to love our dog, our friends, or our relatives, sometimes, and it is easy to love people who love us. But it is difficult to love people who don’t mean anything to us, especially people who are negative toward us. Especially if you are in contact with them, it is hard to have true, genuine compassion toward them.  

Let’s say you loved all sentient beings except one. That would be enough to keep you from enlightenment. Just by hating that one single being would keep you in samsara. So we have to rely on the enemy as a powerful object and teacher and go beyond our conceptual hang-ups to be truly Buddha, truly Bodhisattva. These Bodhisattva teachings are quite amazing. We are comprehending the view and now we have to keep the commitment.

Meditation: Just Love 

How do we develop this Bodhisattva practice in our everyday life? We have to understand the power of the Bodhisattva’s path. The power of the Bodhisattva path resides in the fundamental Mahayana view that all suffering is the cause of happiness; this is emptiness realizing itself.

Where do we begin with this view? How can we cultivate this path? True commitment comes from your own heart. And we have to have inner discipline, which is a sense of responsibility towards ourselves, and the commitment everyday in each moment to examine our minds. We have to respond to reality, which is whatever comes into our lives. From this perspective, all occurrences take place within empty space and are thus available to us as opportunities to awaken.  

In every moment we have to respond to situations, not with hope and fear, but from this completely new dimension of understanding. If someone loves you, how do you respond? With love. If someone hates you, how do you respond? With love. If situations are good, how do you respond? With love. If they are bad, how do you respond? Do you migrate or change your lifestyle? Just love. Love is the only solution. The way of the Bodhisattva is the wish-fulfilling jewel that can provide us with all the happiness we wish for.

Source: Used with permission from