Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verse 112…

Transglomeration: For this reason the Skilful One has specifically talked about both the field (of endeavour) of sentient beings as well as the field (of merit) of the Conquerors,

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

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
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 112… …so there are two fields within which to cultivate virtue

Reflection: this verse inaugurates the climax of the practice of patience: in the simple statement that ’Buddha talked about the two fields’ (in relation to becoming Enlightened, this Bodhichitta motivation, remember) – i.e. both of them, not just the field of Buddhas, which is obvious – is emphasising that there is much more to the practice of patience in order to make it a perfection rather than just a personal practice; patience is so much more than just not-getting-angry; a fundamental aspect of developing and cultivating patience is the recognition of the multifarious cause and effect world in which we live, appreciation of which nullifies the tendency to anger we can develop when we try living and striving (in this cause and effect world) through proposing, then grasping and then building up and then defending, our sense of self; the cause and effect world is fluid, nothing remains as it is for a moment – in ignorantly proposing a sense of self into this fluid world and building this sense of self up and defending it despite this fluid world, we are creating ourselves adverse to existence; we are inevitably unsuccessful in both the short and long terms, but the grasping to our self is so strong that we don’t recognise this as unsuccessful and use these disappointments/hardships/sufferings to dig ourselves even further into adversity by trying to ‘show them’, by trying to win, by proving oneself, and thereby we cultivate our habits of denial and anger in all the effluence of our creative skill; the practice of patience is a simple reversal of this process: by recognising that the world does operate fluidly through cause and effect, our adverse sense of self necessarily lets-go and dissipates; fine, problem solved (although this ‘letting go’ ain’t as easy as eating a smooth fruity yogurt on a hot day); but there’s more: having dissimulated ourself through living with, and in, cause and effect, still we notice that there are others out there, millions of them, billions …, all just bumping into each other, some of them still bumping into me (‘leave me alone, I’m trying to dissipate’); what about them; so this verse makes explicit, now, and really starts to lean into the Mahāyāna motivation – you can’t just leave them bumping around into each other the same as you can’t just let the fly keep buzzing against the clear glass right next to the open window (well you could, but there you’d go building up that sense of isolated and unconnected self again); the end point isn’t just the dissipation of one’s own sense of self because if you did stop there, there would still be a sense of duality – you not angry anymore, the rest of the world still bumping around into itself – and if there were satisfaction and relief that you were not angry anymore – phew! – then there would be some sense of ‘tough luck, suckers, I’m out of here’ … the job wouldn’t be finished yet, you were still not dissipated, you hadn’t fully grasped the implication of what happened, there, when you loosened yourself from the constraints of self-assertion: it isn’t, and never was, all about you; patience, this verse culminates, is the full embrace of cause and effect, far beyond the dissipation of one’s own sense of self, but working to the dissipation of any sense of self; you can’t just personally stop playing the ‘self game’ and call yourself Enlightened, you’ve only released the thread, you haven’t untied the knot; the practice of patience inaugurates the embracing of the whole picture, the whole problem of existence-despite-cause-and-effect; it’s not that you’re just being nice by looking after all the rest still stuck in self-identification, it’s just following through with the process that loosed you in the first place: you don’t just hold the spoon of yogurt there, in your mouth open and salivating, thinking ‘I am satisfied’ … lips closed, scoop the spoon clean, squeeze the cream through the mouth, burst the fruit with the teeth, swallow, eyes closed; patience is never an endpoint …

Reflection: the translations from Sanskrit seem to be saying that the two fields are one and the same, the Tibetan that they are ‘like’ one another; I would read these emphases as effective (… resulting in Buddhahood) in the case of Sanskrit and causal (… of attaining Buddhahood) in the case of Tibetan; also the translations range from ‘declaring’ to ‘talk about’ these two fields: did the Buddha ‘declare’ that the two fields are the same (or similar) as a specific point, or that Buddha talked about there being two fields (of endeavour in which one can practice of virtue); the Dharmasangiti has “The Field of Sentient Beings is a Buddha-field because it is from that Buddha-field that the qualities of Buddha are attained” and the Sūtra of Perfectly Pure Aspiration has “Formerly upon the field of beings and on the field of Buddhas did I base myself.   ‘Tis thus that I have harvested the endless qualities of Buddhahood”; so certainly they are related because working in the field of sentient beings produces the result of Buddhahood, so there is a causal explanation for their identification but also a resultant understanding that they are identical in the end – ultimately – ‘empty-ly’ – there is no difference between the two fields, there is only nominal difference conventionally, and there is suffering incompatibility samsārically where the self is postulated and lived to within an inch of its very life

Perspective: both the location and the orientation of practice: kṣetra: ‘field’ of endeavour, of situation/location, Matics, ‘opportunity’, Barnett, ‘domain’; truly a Mahāyāna perspective which includes the ‘field’ in the endeavour for Enlightenment rather than simply wanting to escape from it; this is non-reclusive, in the sense of non-isolating from, even if one is in retreat, one is by no means isolated from the concern of all living beings because one cannot be in any way isolated … and be in any way Enlightened; what power!