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Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verse 121

Transglomeration: And these ones, my own guides and masters, who all along, have given of themselves, who give up, even, their very bodies freely and without reserve, for the sake of all these beings; then, how can I, confused and self-deluded as I am, go about acting with such hubris and conceit among these same beings?   Rather, why do I not make of myself the ground of their lives like a servant and give devotion to them like a slave?   This, I will do.

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 120 repaying those Buddhas who have completely self-sacrificed for beings
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 121 I should be the slave of beings, as are the Buddhas, not keeping hold of my self-importance

Reflection: here is a goad of shame; I look to these models for guidance and inspiration, these beings who have perfected the life of having completely exchanged self for all other living beings to the extent that they have no consideration of their own happiness or desire (they have long left these things behind), and here I am wanting the same as what they’ve got, but I am strutting about all pre-occupied and anxious about my own happiness and the things I desire in life … isn’t there something fundamentally wrong, here, isn’t there a point that I am completely missing; this verse is trying to move me beyond ‘oh, it would be nice for the world to be nice’ – (‘I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony …’) – by bracing me with a stark juxta-positioning with what this means that I have actually got to do, I can’t keep strutting around claiming ‘Mark Redford is doing this, Mark Redford has this to offer to the world’, building up some grotesque iron identity with which to tarnish the world leaving it alloyed, greening and toneless; I have to let all of that go – I can’t take the vortex and whirl of the problem of my insufferable and whining identity with me to liberation, let alone it be of any use to all living beings / I can’t pick up this iron ball chained to my leg and run around, claiming ‘I am free, follow me everyone’

Reflection: this is so much more than just being patient with others (this has moved far beyond just the ‘austerity’ that is patience of verse 2); this is going beyond to be their ‘servant’ and their ‘slave’; being a ‘slave’ used to bridle with me when I was younger – ‘this is going too far’ – but it feels more right now: “… during all of my lives may I become a protector for those who are protectorless, may I become a guide for those who travel, a boat, a ship and a bridge for those who wish to cross the water; may I become an island for those in trouble and a lamp for those who travel in darkness; may I become an abode and accommodations for sleep for those desiring them and a slave for those who want a slave; may I become a wish-fulfilling gem for those with special wishes, a lucky jar, powerful mantras and effective medicine; during all of my lives may I become a wish-fulfilling tree, an inexhaustible wish-fulfilling cow that satisfies all embodied creatures; just as the great elements of earth, water and so forth support the life of sentient beings, so may I too become the foundation of sustenance for all; may I become whatever is beneficial for all sentient beings in the realms reaching to the end of space until they attain full and perfect Enlightenment.” (III, 17-22); but it is not too much, it is the perfecting of patience; it (patience) is not just about insulating myself from the annoying world, it is seeing the whole world (and the beings therein, naturally) as a swirling mass of cause and conditionality and the only response one can have to beings wilfully and blindly trying to calm this maelstrom down to suit them, is compassion, and the only thing to do with compassion is act on it by getting behind beings’ very eyes in their experience and do what you can to ease them out of their double-bind; this is the great alchemy of compassion and wisdom, by taking the ‘self’ out of compassion and wisdom the activity becomes exponential to the needs it meets; and the needs of beings is (I think I’m going to stay with a ‘sic’ here unless you want me to use the word …) infinite (… infiniting); the natural follow-through and outcome of patience is: involved and boundless compassion

Practice: follow the example of my elders and betters who put themselves out for others without a thought for their own concern