Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verse 17

Transglomeration: [17] Some [warriors], seeing their own blood are emboldened in their advance showing especial determination, strength and courage, while others lose heart and collapse within their own footsteps even as they advance at the sight of others’ blood.   [S18a/T18ab] These reactions [of the warrior] come from the set of the spirit, the disposition of the mind, whether it be resolute and brave or weak and faint-hearted.

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

Reflection: the difference between a firm mind and a weak, pathetic, babyish one, clinging to its own brittle sense of self and self-importance

Reflection: the Patience of Voluntarily Enduring Suffering – which these verses (12-21) are exploring, is simply that of ‘endurance’, it is the first stage of developing patience (the transformation of suffering experiences from anger comes later), the emphasis is on endurance first, and the motivation is simply to not make the inevitable (at the moment) suffering worse than it need be – keep the happy mind, later, we will transform it …

Reflection: … but it is also the courage to endure, not just the sheer gritted-teeth endurance of it, courage borne from reaction against the damage we have seen that outburst and anger can perform, courage to let the mind remain calm despite the difficulty undermining our sense of self-cherishing and self-grasping; steadfastness, standing fast in the storm with a smile that it is worth withstanding; it is how the mind is set that determines steadfastness or collapse; Geshe Kelsang reminds that this (courage, determination, fortitude) is the ‘force of familiarity’ which was inaugurated in verse 14 and having worked through the minor, and then more annoying, sufferings of verses 15 and 16 – not just gritted-teeth determination, but the force of having familiarised oneself with so many smaller difficulties that when it comes to something that really strikes at my heart and makes me bleed, I am not defeated by it but I become determined to see this kleśa out the back door

Honesty: am I – yes, I am at the moment – brought low when stuff doesn’t go my way, do I lose heart, do I despair, do I wonder what is the point, do I give up – and yes, I do; my resolve is so easily brought low; I put myself into such a self-contained and self-reliant position in order to limit the possibility that I might not succeed or might be obstructed, or might be wrong, and when I am frustrated anyway, then I feel I have lost everything and I doubt all that I was striving to achieve anyway; my resolve is not strong, I have no endurance because I have no strategic understanding of what I am trying to achieve, I just want to make myself feel OK, I just want to feel worthwhile, I don’t want to be discovered to be the sap or the stupid … I can’t bear that – I do not really practise and work for the benefit of others, I am too self-centered …

Practice: … to get some courage to really face myself and really address the faults I have rather than putting myself into my ‘safe space’ of reading and withdrawing and trying to be inscrutably wise beyond expression