Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verses 109-111

Transglomeration: [109] Suppose you were to object that since, in crossing me, an adversary has no intention for me to abide in patience that they merit no respect, then how is it right to offer worship to the Sacred Dharma? It, likewise, has no intention to benefit but is the affective cause for the accomplishment of virtue. [110] And suppose you then object that my adversary is not to be respected because the intention behind their actions is to hurt me; but then, how else could I exercise, let alone develop, patience if others, like doctors and nurses, were absorbed in my benefit and well-being with their actions? [111] Consequently, since patience comes about because of the enemy’s intent, and is dependent upon one with an abusive and hostile mind, in reality it is actually only my adversary that is the true cause of my forbearance, and therefore merits my respect and gratitude as equally as does the Sacred Dharma.

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 106-108 adversaries are as rare as treasure found in the house: the immediate cause of practising ‘no austerity like patience’ …
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 109-111 … even though the enemy has no intention for us to practice patience but does intend to harm, they are essential to our practice

Text: verses 109 and 110 both start with similar word-constructs involving ‘śayo’ in Sanskrit (the first lines of both verses also comprise objections to ‘treasuring’ or ‘worshipping’ the enemy (as a cause conducive to generating patience); ‘śayo’ seems to have the sense of ‘making’, ‘doing’ (109 achieving patience, 110 trapping/emprisoning me)), the ‘objector’ (the mind resisting treasuring enemies) trying to be clever by countering exhortations to treasure the enemy with ‘common sense’ prefaces along the lines of: ‘treasure the enemy? rather the enemy is …’ attacking me in some way …; the objector is being rather sitting-in-the-pub-like making ‘use yer common sense’ statements to right the world, the archetypal ‘political correctness gone mad/taken too far’

Text: these verses follow on from the conclusion found in verse 108, that the very first fruits should be offered/dedicated towards those who are our enemies because they have occasioned our practice of patience; the objections raised in verses 109 & 110 are in response to this conclusion

Reflection: [109] but the enemy didn’t have the intention to benefit, but the opportunity is to do with condition, not intention; example: the Dharma is the condition for practising virtue, but it does not have the intention that you practise; cf. also, a car is suitable and useful as a means of travelling but doesn’t have the intention (in itself – it is not sentient) to enable travel (alright, I wouldn’t ‘honour’ it, but I might admire the way in which it does its transporting too); Healing Anger, HH Dalai Lama: “… what is important here is the effect, not so much the intention on the part of the other”; determination: have patience, not reaction (to the enemy’s attack)

Reflection: [110] but the enemy intends to cause me harm, yes, and in this way the enemy becomes the condition for my developing patience, the enemy is the dependent-arising necessary for me to exercise patience, without an enemy, small or great, I would have no opportunity to practise patience at all

Reflection: these verses are an exploration of what makes something or someone ‘worthy’ of respect or veneration or gratitude or admiration, is the worthiness within the object itself (in these cases the adversary, the Dharma, the physician) or in the effect that these objects make upon oneself; Śāntideva is definitely promoting that it is the effectiveness of something that makes the grounds for its worthiness

Determination: have consideration for the (opportunity of the) enemy, not just self-protection; Wallace, ‘then for what other reason would I have patience toward him, if he is like a physician …’; this is really turning around how we usually see the enemy/adversary: normally we want to get away from the enemy, or want to get even, or obsess with how wrong or bad they are, or try to turn others against them (or with you against them), but we certainly don’t want to honour, or venerate, or be grateful to, or admire the opportunity they have brought to us … really?; this is bringing the adversary to the centre of the practice, to the centre of our lives: our problems are created in relation to those we dislike or resent or disrespect, therefore the solution to those problems will be those same people we dislike or resent or disrespect, but by liking them, by being grateful to them, by honouring them; we can’t just develop patience on our own – that would be like having a meaningful conversation with someone by talking to ourself alone in a quiet room – we need to develop patience (… love) with people, in relation to people, even those people who push our buttons; we need to not shy away from it, but we need to do this gently, building up the familiarity with the attitude …

Determination: [111] therefore the enemy is to be honoured as a true catalyst for generating patience as the Dharma is for other realisations, as those in need generate giving …