Bodhisattvacharayvatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verses …112-113

Transglomeration: [S112b; T112cd] … and there are plenty who thereby journey towards, or have landed, the further shore of Supreme Perfection both by working for the happiness of the one and by honouring and relying on the other.   [113] And so, since the attributes of the Buddha-Dharma are found and realised both by virtue of all sentient beings and in reliance on the Conquerors, how is it that I would not have the same respect towards sentient beings as I do towards the Conquerors?

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 112a/ab there are two fields within which to cultivate virtue
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 112b/cd-113 Enlightenment is attained through both, therefore why value one and not the other?

Reflection: [112b/cd] those who have pleased other beings have attained perfection; this ‘pleasing’ will be the whole hog – happiness that does not wear out, freedom that is not compromised – it’s not just any old bit of happiness you have given to others; this is a ‘path’, a way of life, spent on the sort of giving to others that is focussed on their striving for happiness and wanting to avoid suffering (which is exactly the same as my striving for happiness and wanting to avoid suffering, of course, but which leaves out the ‘my’ bit of it, making the striving more universal, rather than despite), a Mahāyāna path which recognises, and takes one’s responsibility within, the whole of the world of interdependent causation, so that any success one has is not ‘one’s but ‘everyone’s, and therefore organically true

Determination: [113] sentient beings are equally due veneration as causes of realisations; ‘realisations’ is mostly translated as ‘Buddha qualities’ although both the Sanskrit and Tibetan refer to ‘Buddha-Dharma’, nevertheless the qualities implied are the ‘realisations’ of the Buddha-Dharma, not the teachings, so much, but the realisation of completeness, wisdom; as verse 114 will go on to qualify, you don’t get the full-blown qualities of the Buddha as soon as you’re nice to someone, rather you (begin to) share in the Buddha qualities which, after all, are innate within one anyway: when benefitting beings you are starting to find and develop and realise that quality within you which is beginning to open to Enlightenment, you are beginning to accord with that quality, you are beginning to tune in to that quality, that quality is beginning to resonate; you don’t get gifted these qualities – they are not a reward for good behaviour – you assume these qualities; certainly both the Sanskrit and Tibetan have ‘Buddha Dharma’, referring, presumably, to Dharma-realisation in particular, rather than the Teachings; certainly, also, the Dalai Lama makes the point: (A Flash of Lightning in the Dark of Night) “Without beings we cannot have compassion, and without compassion we cannot achieve Supreme Enlightenment but will rather fall into the extreme of Nirvāṇa”; now, Nirvāṇa is all well and good, it is, after all, a complete cessation of all suffering and self-grasping, but it is described as an extreme, it is not the completion of the practice (of patience), it is isolating, it isn’t taking full recognition of, or responsibility for, interdependent-origination; HH also says elsewhere (My Spiritual Autobiography, HH Dalai Lama (pg. 107)): “Nonviolence is not limited to an absence of violence, for it is a matter of an active attitude, motivated by the wish to do others good” (my italics); again, Mahāyāna

Commentary: at the beginning of day four of HH Dalai Lama’s teaching on patience (Healing Anger) he prefaces the commentary with a slightly lengthy exploration of the lack of intrinsic nature as understood through interdependent conditionality and the understanding of karma through which it operates and concluding with Maitreya’s assertion that all beings have intrinsic Buddha-nature … as the sketch for why the practice of patience is so essential or fundamental to shifting one’s spiritual practice up a gear from karmically effective spiritual self-improvement to a practice which has both universal implication and effectiveness; the point is implicit (but nonetheless there) in the first two perfections – you can’t perfect giving without others to give to, you can’t perfect behaviour without anyone to behave toward – but is wholly brought out regarding the practice of patience …

Practice: rather, again, a location, a field, in which to practise…

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