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Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verse 125

Transglomeration: From now on, as means of delighting all Tathāgatas, I shall make of myself the loyal and life-devoted servant to all beings of the world.   Let these beings walk all over me, let them kick me in the head, but even at the risk of dying – may the Guardians of the World rejoice – I shall not retaliate!

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 124 confession for harm caused to Buddhas by harming sentient beings
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 125 confession follow-through: let them do anything to me, I will be the servant of the world

Text: deliberation over the words to use for (a) ‘pleasing/satisfying’ the Buddhas, of making myself the (b) ‘slave/servant’ of the world; I need to get to the intention of what these references mean otherwise it is going to be too easy to fall into a perverse sadomasochistic relationship here, which I am sure is not healthy; also (c) ‘the crowd’ of sentient beings, and also does the ‘crowd’ (d) put the foot on my head and break it and/or kill me, (is this ‘foot on the head’ as in the ultimate show of disrespect)? … Sanskrit: (a) ‘to please or satisfy’ (the Buddhas, (b) ‘servitude’ to the world, (c) ‘mass, multitude’ as in all beings, (d) ‘foot on my head’ – can’t find any explicit reference to killing, possibly the reference to ‘foot on the head’ is indicative of ‘all sorts of violent behaviour including up to …’, ‘foot on the head’ would be culturally and suggestively evocative of the ultimate violence rather like ‘taking a spade to the head’

Personal: and have you noticed, Mark, that this Vow requires that you benefit all beings even if they kick you in the head and kill you and far, far, far from benefitting them all with the hope that they’ll recognise what a visionary teacher you were or what jaw-dropping writer you may have been; this Vow never was, and certainly shouldn’t be some perverse mode of ‘me, me, me’; you have touched the minds of whosoever’s mind was to be touched in teaching quite independent of whether you had a wonderful mark-book or a cognitive infrastructure of lesson-construction or not; and you have moved whosoever’s mind’s eye was to be moved in your poetry quite independent of how many hit you have got on your blog; stop getting in the way of yourself, so much – let the benefit flow through you, despite ‘me’

Reflection: so this is like an echo/reflection of the Bodhisattva Vow established in chapter 3 but built upon the realisation, this time, that quite despite whatever nice intentions we may have had beforehand, we have harmed and damaged other beings through our self-centered behaviour and that, from this moment onwards, we will stop it (in order to fulfil this Vow); the avowal to go as far as letting people put their foot on my face or kill me doesn’t mean I’ll invite people to do that, but that beings may harm me back (as they will because of the karmic debt I have left with them through my previous behaviour) and that I would not retaliate even if they showed me the ultimate disrespect or killed me: this comes towards the end of the long chapter on the discussion of the minutiae of patience, what is therefore left implicit in this verse is … ‘I will not retaliate’ to this abuse and killing for all of the reasonings that this chapter has been exploring; this is not scary stuff, this is not sadomasochistic stuff, this is the inherent grandeur of the Vow that has been taken, this is how far a Bodhisattva is prepared to take it, either in actuality or aspiration … ‘may it increase infinitely’

Practice: bottom-line: ‘do what thou wilt’ to me, I will (use all of my mulched wisdom about how things work to make sure I do) not retaliate