Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verse 122

Transglomeration: Whenever happiness is found amid the field of beings, the Munis, the All-Knowing Compassionate Ones, instantly know and are happy themselves of it, when they are pained, the Munis are likewise instantly immersed in pain.   And so, as I cultivate happiness in that field, the Munis themselves partake in that very happiness, and as I bring pain to beings, likewise do I bring pain to the Munis.

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

Text: the irony in the twist of the text (whichever words are chosen for ‘harm’/’gladden’): if I x beings, I also x the Buddhas

Text: the Tibetan translation adds in the reference to the ‘field’ (Tib. zhing) of beings (from verse 112) whereas the Sanskrit refers to them as ‘they’ … because the text holds, still, the reference made to the ‘field of sentient beings’ in verse 112; the Tibetan hasn’t added anything in here, it has just refreshed the subject-reference; all of which bevels up that the whole discussion since verse 112 is still and all about this trichotomous relationship between the Buddhas, all beings and oneself

Reflection: the first half of the verse establishes the link in general between the feelings and experiences of sentient beings with the feelings and experiences of the Sages (and that this epithet is used to refer to the Buddhas is emphasising that the experiences of sentient beings are known by the Buddhas, it is not suggested that the Buddhas likewise feel happiness or sadness themselves by proxy – they cannot, they are Enlightened, but they ‘feel’ it because they have totally exchanged self for other so that what beings feel, they feel, and they know it because of their omniscience); the second half completes the point by specifying that if I am to make pain or happiness for sentient beings, then that pain or happiness will be known so well by the Buddhas (the Knowers) that it would be as I if were injuring or pleasing the Buddhas directly because they (the Buddhas) have completely exchanged self for others and … whoever does it to these, the least of my creatures, does it to me

Embroidered Trichotomy: there is a mirroring going on here – what I do, good or bad, to sentient beings, I do to the Buddhas (why: because the Buddhas had exchanged self for others); I (‘oneself’) am wanting to forsake being a sentient being in order to become an Enlightened Being (‘the Buddhas’), but in order to do this I need to exchange my self-cherishing for others (‘all sentient beings’), so in order to ‘escape’ from being a sentient being I need to embrace all sentient beings as my own in order to become an Enlightened Being; I have a sense of myself as one in the infinite field of all sentient beings, Buddhas are beings who have completely let go their limited sense of self to encompass all beings and the worlds in which they live, they do not just escape from limitedness (saṃsāra), they know (Muni) (and ‘suffer’) the limitedness that deluded beings bring unnecessarily on themselves and are enveloped with great and ongoing and inexhaustible love and compassion for them (for us) because illusory limitedness still persists; the Buddhas will (do … always have, never stop) help this pitiful ‘me, me, me’ to become Enlightened and so I will become a Buddha, but in doing so, nothing will have changed, I will not celebrate with a party saying ‘I’m free, I’m free’, I will have relinquished all notion and activity of self (‘I’ will have long since totally dispersed) and, understanding and knowing everything with a completely unbounded mind, ‘I’ will be absorbed in the love and compassion for those same beings in the field of limitedness on whom I relied so completely to obtain my Enlightenment …

Practice: I should try to help and please beings, not so ‘I’ can be known as ‘nice’, but because I understand that it is not wasted (whether I receive the recognition of ‘being nice’ or not), and that it is not wasted because beings, thereby, to whatever great or small extent, will actually be benefitted by whatever help and benefit I proffer, and because the Buddhas are omniscient and a priori enfolded in compassion for all beings, they will know and they will accordingly be delighted: it will be my offering to the Buddhas