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ingassho

Yuanwu writes:

. . .you must not abandon the carrying out of your bodhisattva vows.  You must be mindful of saving all beings, and steadfastly endure the attendant hardship and toil, in order to serve as a boat on the ocean of all-knowledge.  Only then will you have some accord with the Path (page 28).[1]

It is written in the Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen “Earthly bodhisattvas are persons who are distinguished from others by their compassion and altruism as well as their striving toward the attainment of enlightenment (page 24).[2]  For me there are bodhisattvas in all places, in all times, and in all beliefs from religious to ethical, social workers, teachers, nurses and more everywhere in the world.  They are in your family as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and the like.  These people are there for you regardless of your challenges and achievements.

The bodhisattva looks for every opportunity to make this life easier for others, to bring peace, love, and compassion to everyone and everything.  Most do it without fanfare, they do not desire fame and fortune, nor recognition nor reward.  They quietly and consistently provide what they can, when they can, wherever they can.

They may not have great names like: Martin Luther King, Jr, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Jonas Salk, or Abraham Lincoln.  But they are all around you. They live in your neighborhood, work next to you at your job, volunteer at the church or synagogue or mosque, or for the local food bank, Habitat for Humanity, or the animal rescue shelter. They are mowing the lawn of an elderly neighbor, shoveling the snow for a disabled veteran, they come in all colors, races, and places on earth.  And yes, they are race and color blind.

The bodhisattvas are everywhere you look, if only you see with your heart instead of your eyes, if only you listen with your soul instead of your ego you will discover them. You will remember them as your favorite teacher who challenged you and supported you and encouraged you in good times and bad.  They were your band leaders, coaches, Sunday school teachers, the police officers walking the beat in your neighborhood, the cooks in your school cafeterias, and the nurses in your doctor’s office.

Or you could be like my friend Chip. As he watched Irma, a category 5 hurricane, racing toward us he decided he needed to put hurricane shutters on nine elderly neighbor’s homes. He knew he could not do it alone so he called his best friend Jimmy Esbach who owns several halfway houses and asked him if he could hire some of his residents to help with the job.  Chip willingly did the job without charging the owners and paid the workers out of his pocket. Some never even offered him a thank you after the hurricane had passed. But he did not do it for a thank you. He did it because he saw a need and filled it as any bodhisattva would have.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to be a bodhisattva all you must do is spend your life thinking of others before self, doing good and speaking good, and living like you are already a bodhisattva. Regardless of how hard it may seem in the moment, the bodhisattva does it anyway! Don’t worry about “attaining enlightenment” it will come of its own accord when the time is right.

Good luck with that! Let me know how it goes! Shokai

[1] Cleary J.C. and Cleary, T. (1994) Zen Letters Teachings of Yuanwu. Boston & London: Shambhala

[2] The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (1991) Shambhala: Boston. MA

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What is happening in the Ukraine is not new, it is has been going on since people have walked this earth. It is explained clearly in the little book that my dear neighbor Ben Ferencz gave me one day by Robert Muller who was the former Assistant-secretary General of the United Nations for forty years titled Dialogues of Hope. Muller wrote:

…it seems to me that there is a perpetuation of tribalism that goes under the name of national sovereignty. I feel that not enough people understand that they have connections to one another in the human family and that human sovereignty is much more important than national sovereignty. In our time, human sovereignty and national sovereignty have come into conflict because the national interest is placed against the human interest and is made to be primary (page 14).[1]

So what can we do about it? First, believe in peace. Second, love your fellow earth dwellers regardless of their race, color, creed, national origin, or religion. Third, stand up for organizations like the UN that have been created to help the world live in peace, harmony, and love. Finally, live by the commandments written by Muller each and every day. I still need to remind myself daily that “peace begins with me” not the other man, woman, or child with whom I roam this “blue planet.”

Muller wrote the most wonderful “Ten Commandments to Humanity.” I hope you will take them and post them someplace where you can read them daily. I hope, as well, that you will make a pledge to yourself to live each one as best you can every moment of every day. The planet just may not survive if we don’t.

Ten Commandments to Humanity

  1. You shall love each other, your planet, your family, the God of the Universe and your own miraculous life with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul and all your strength.
  2. You shall practice truth, kindness and tolerance toward each other.
  3. You shall never kill a human brother or sister, not even in the name of a nation or a faith.
  4. You shall not produce, trade, or use any arms or instruments of violence.
  5. You shall never be violent, neither physically nor verbally toward each other.
  6. You shall respect the lives, peace, happiness and uniqueness of all your human brothers and sisters.
  7. You shall cooperate with each other, help each other, inspire each other.
  8. You shall contribute your peace, love and happiness to the peace, love and happiness of the human family.
  9. You shall live in harmony with yourself, with your family, with your environment, with all humanity and with the God of the Universe.
  10. You shall live a responsible life in accord with the supreme interests of our planet and of the human family.

I invite you all to share this with your representatives at the local, state, and federal level and ask them to pledge to work and live by these commandments and if they do not you will choose someone else to represent you. If we are unable to do this I am afraid that our children and our children’s children may not have a planet on which they can live, breathe, and love.

In gassho,

Shokai

 

[1] Muller, R. (1990). Dialogues of Hope, World Happiness and Cooperation, Ardsley-on-Hudson, NY

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