“Enlightening Activity” or the Bodhisattva in the Middle of It / Session 2
[Unfortunately no audio was recorded from this class]
Vairochana Buddha, pure dharmakaya,
Lochana Buddha, complete sambokakaya,
Shakyamuni Buddha, myriad nirmanakaya,
Manjushri bodhisattva, great wisdom,
Samantabhadra bodhisattva, great activity,
Avalokiteshvara bodhisattva, great compassion,
wisdom beyond wisdom heart sutra.
Hi, how are you? Thank you for coming to session 2 of “Enlightening Activity” or the Bodhisattva in the Middle of It.
I would like to start the class with a check-in. If you did not come to session 1, could you please state what you would like to get out the class, what your expectations are. If you did come to session 1, please share what experiences you had with the assignments. Did you see a difference in the activities where you used the gathas? A different present – moment feeling? Also, what experiences did you have with the check-in, body / emotion / self-talk check?
(take 30 min for check-in and sharing)
Thanks you very much for sharing your experiences. Today I would like to touch on several aspects:
Content v. process (Making a Change for Good/ Cherie Huber p 36-38).
The voice in my head (Making a Change for Good/ Cherie Huber p 6-12).
Cherie Huber excerpts
SAMANTABHADRA OR UNIVERSALLY GOOD
I would like to start out today’s session by a further introducing Samantabhadra bodhisattva, also known as Universally Good. In the Flower Ornament Scripture, bodhisattva, enlightening being Universal Eye asks the Buddha: “Where is the enlightening being Universally Good now?” The Buddha replied, “The enlightening being Universally Good is in the assembly at this enlightenment site, near me – he has never moved.” At that, Universal Eye and the enlightening beings again searched throughout the assembly, and then said to the Buddha, “We still cannot find Universally Good.” The Buddha said, “That is so. Why can you not see him? Because the dwelling place of the enlightening being Universally Good is most profound and inexplicable. Universally Good has attained boundless aspects of knowledge, entered the lion emergence concentration, attained unexcelled freedom of action, entered pure nonobstruction, and developed the ten powers of the enlightened: his body is the matrix of the cosmos, on which all enlightened ones concentrate together. In an instant he can enter the unfragmented knowledge of the buddhas of all times. This is why you cannot see him…. This is all because of Universally Good’s power of abiding in inconceivable liberation.” The Buddha continued that Universally Good is present throughout the cosmos. He asked that the assembly should undertake the same practices as Universally Good and enter nondual true reality. Through taking up this great vow Samantabhadra could become visible.
Wow. What a resume. One should think that someone like this stands out like a lighthouse, like a beacon. But Universally Good is invisible to all present. (The practice of Universally Good pp 957 et seq) Beings are numberless I vow to save them.
In “Faces of Compassion” Taigen Dan Leighton describes Samantabhadra and his practice of perfection of meditation as being willing to remain upright and still in the middle of the soaring flames of life and our garbled karma and conditioning and interconnection with all sentient beings. Realizing that we are absolutely alone we can let go of the many ideas of self. We can completely accept our connection with everybody and everything that is. We can stop the war with reality. Universally Good describes beings who enter fully into his practice like this (pp959):
In a single atom
they see all worlds;
If sentient beings should hear of this
They’d go mad in confusion.
As in in one atom
So in all atoms;
All worlds enter therein –
So inconceivable is it.
In every single atom
Are all things of all places and times;
The states and lands innumerable,
The enlightening discern and know….
The concepts in this excerpt point to Indra’s net, a different way of viewing our selves and our relationship to others.
For the Huayan or Huayen school, Indra’s net symbolizes a universe where infinitely repeated mutual relations exist among all members of the universe. Time, previously understood as the continuous, eternal master of mortality, gave way to “Time, the emptiness of all phenomena” or aggregates.
Indra’s net, इंद्रजाल in Sanskrit, is a metaphor used to illustrate the concepts of emptiness, dependent origination, and interpenetration, in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. While the original Hindu concept was developed and explained in various Dharmic ancient India, the Buddhist version of the metaphor was later developed by the Mahayana school in the first / second century scriptures of the Avatamsaka Sutra and later by the Huayan school between the 6th and 8th centuries.
“Imagine a multidimensional spider’s web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image.” –Alan Watts
I would like to add that the drop that is you is reflected in ALL other drops. Could we for a moment consider this being interdependent with all these other drops? As Thich Nath Hanh calls it –interbeing?
We did talk about strengthening the bodhisattva archetype within ourselves. One thing all bodhisattvas have in common, they are all concerned for their fellow human beings, often especially for those who are suffering or are caught in unfortunate conditions. Each and every person, each and every one of us has the capacity to act as a bodhisattva. Sometimes in ordinary ways, in everyday kindness, sometimes in a more spectacular fashion.
And like all beings, we have the potential to act in ways that are not so skillful. Maybe we act petty, or are driven by ego or desires. A person may act as a bodhisattva and a short while later this hero may be caught up in his or her ancient twisted karma.
Whenever this happens we need to keep in mind that the word “or” and these opposites are human concepts. I don’t think the universe acknowledges our concepts such as opposites and the word “or”. A person can be a bodhisattva and a jerk, a great teacher can have flaws or blind spots. Our history has teachers who were known to have been involved with alcohol, sexual misconduct, thievery, and so on. Teachers and ancestors are human beings with the potential to be saints and the potential to have flaws. We should be fully present to it all, not turning away, not being blind to it.
Please continue the practice you took up for week 1 working with gathas and your sitting practice at home. Continue journaling in the log. If you were not here for session one and you have questions, we can do a check-in after close of this session.
Here is assignment # 2: Please consider taking up a new activity during the practice period. Choose with the spirit of selflessness, making it a gift to the universe. You could add or expand a volunteer activity for the next 5 weeks. The range can be as small or great as you wish. It is only limited by your imagination: sweeping the sidewalk in front of your house or the dharma hall, doing volunteer work in a city park, tutoring a child, working as a volunteer with an organization like the humane society, writing petitions to politicians, taking some time to listen to someone who needs to be heard, taking more time for your home practice, writing a letter through a prison dharma program. The key is that you take up the activity for and with all beings. Be unreasonable – If it turns out that you bit off too much, down-size.
If your schedule is packed and a continuous addition is not workable, please plan at least to do an extra activity once or twice. It could be stepping into a sangha volunteer position, to do the food shopping for a retreat.
If your days are beyond packed, make this your enlightening activity: Sitting down at least once a week after having meditated at home for an hour using a timer. Review the activities in your life, your possessions. Consider that whatever you do or own, does require active maintenance, thereby your time, thereby your life. Is there something you want to eliminate to create some space to be, to do something that is truly meaningful to you?