The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Bodhisattva Ideal”
If you create the habit of compassion and generosity, then that habitual tendency will stay with you, and in some future life it will affect your rebirth and your circumstances. There will be much more joy and happiness. When one engages truly on the Bodhisattva’s path, one goes beyond that superficial kind of view. One goes much deeper into the understanding of how to live one’s life. And so one’s morals and ethics and values are developed because of this Bodhisattva ideal. The Bodhisattva understands these teachings that the Buddha has taught— that all things are impermanent. The Bodhisattva understands that whatever material gain we can amass during the course of this life can only bring temporary happiness and, ultimately, if that’s all we do, it will bring suffering. So this is what the Bodhisattva studies and the Bodhisattva comes to the point of realizing that.
Then there is another kind of amazing logic that enters into the mind of the Bodhisattva. It becomes part of our life experience, and becomes the most profound law that we can live by. And that is this: Think about this body of ours, this body that we cherish and hold onto. We decorate it, we love it, we keep it safe. We make sure that it’s happy. We revolve much of our time and our effort around this body and its upkeep. And then we think about this ego, this ego that is our mind and our consciousness and our awareness of self. But even beyond that, the extended effort to maintain ego is part of the egocentric structure that we call “me.” We have developed our own habits and patterns over time in order to avoid the chaos of the idea that what we are as egocentric beings might change in any way, shape, manner or form. We put amazing effort into perpetuating ourselves and our needs, into reacting with either hope or fear towards every other thing, so that we can determine whether we want it or whether we want to move away from it. That kind of self-cherishing requires us to think of our own well-being and to look at other sentient beings as objects from which we can get what we need, like love, approval, romance, money, power, anything.
The Bodhisattva realizes these kinds of ideas and habits are futile. And this is the reason why: During the course of our lives we spend much of our time amassing, structuring, creating support for ourselves, for our ego, because we fear annihilation. Once you have the belief in self-nature as being inherently real, that self has to be supported and continued, because the idea is that if self-nature were to dismantle or not be the same, that somehow chaos would result. We have no knowledge of our true nature as being the primordial Buddha ground of being, no knowledge of that primordial wisdom nature that is our true nature. We rely on this idea that self-nature must be perpetuated.
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