Another leg of the journey to this current adventure called spiritual direction has been decades of going to school in the land of compassion. Exploration. Acculturation. Learning the language and behaviors. Willingly going native. (according to Merriam Webster: to start to behave or live like the local people)
There have been many people who inspired and taught me. This morning it is the teachers in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage who are forefront in my mind. One of their most powerful teachings was how each expresses gratitude to his teachers and their teachers, embracing the whole lineage. The beloved community in vertical.
- Shantiveda’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life
- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – various
- Soygal Rinpoche’s The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
- Dilgo Khentsye’s The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva
- Yeshi Dhonden Health through Balance: An Introduction to Tibetan Medicine
I was privileged to have two treatments from him.
I was in high school when I first encountered the Bodhisattva Vow—essentially the promise that although one has achieved enlightenment, one will keep reincarnating to do the work of awakening others until every living being achieves enlightenment. Can still see in my mind’s eye how the afternoon light streamed across the library table.
It is the antithesis of the privatized salvation in which I was raised. Expansive and merciful! Resonated then and now with teachings about the Mystical Body of Christ, the Sacred Heart and the Communion of Saints. I trust the Great Ones who have achieved this and reported back. Almost 50 years later I can see how this text went viral in my body/mind/spirit. From the text:
18. May I be a guard for those who are protectorless,
A guide for those who journey on the road.
For those who wish to cross the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.
19. May I be an isle for those who yearn for land,
A lamp for those who long for light;
For all who need a resting place, a bed;
For those who need a servant, may I be their slave.
20. May I be the wishing jewel, the vase of wealth,
A word of power and the supreme healing,
May I be the tree of miracles,
For every being the abundant cow.
21. Just like the earth and space itself
And all the other mighty elements,
For boundless multitudes of beings
May I always be the ground of life, the source of varied sustenance.
22. Thus for everything that lives,
As far as are the limits of the sky,
May I be constantly their source of livelihood
Until they pass beyond all sorrow.
23. Just as all the Buddhas of the past
Have brought forth the awakened mind,
And in the precepts of the Bodhisattvas
Step-by-step abode and trained,
24. Likewise, for the benefit of beings,
I will bring to birth the awakened mind,
And in those precepts, step-by-step,
I will abide and train myself.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”
“The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, and forgiveness.”
“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”
“Compassion is the radicalism of our time.”
“Compassion naturally creates a positive atmosphere, and as a result, you feel peaceful and content.”
“Love and compassion are the true religions to me. But to develop this, we do not need to believe in any religion.”
“The topic of compassion is not at all religious business; it is important to know it is human business, it is a question of human survival.”
“When we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.”
“In meditation take care not to impose anything on the mind, or to tax it. When you meditate there should be no effort to control, and no attempt to be peaceful. Don’t be overly solemn or feel that you are taking part in some special ritual; let go even of the idea that you are meditating. Let your body remain as it is, your breath as you find it, and remain in your natural condition of unchanging pure awareness.”
“To be a spiritual warrior means to develop a special kind of courage, one that is innately intelligent, gentle, and fearless. Spiritual warriors can still be frightened, but even so they are courageous enough to taste suffering, to relate clearly to their fundamental fear, and to draw out without evasion the lessons from difficulties.”
“Our lives have no outcome other than death, just as rivers have no end other than the ocean. At the moment of death, our only recourse is spiritual practice, and our only friends the virtuous actions we have accomplished during our lifetime.”
― The Hundred Verses of Advice: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on What Matters Most
“Sometimes, visualize that your heart is a brilliant ball of light. As you breathe out, it radiates rays of white light in all directions, carrying your happiness to all beings. As you breathe in, their suffering, negativity and afflictions come towards you in the form of dense, black light, which is absorbed in your heart and disappears in its brilliant white light without a trace, relieving all beings of their pain and sorrow.”
― The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva