Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Dalai Lama - The Bodhisattva Volumtarily Remains in Cyclic Samsara

Lectures on the Buddhist Path to Peace

by H.H. the Dalai Lama of Tibet,
Tenzin Gyatso
translated and edited
by Jeffrey Hopkins


Dalai Lama Quote of the Week

Question: I have the strong wish to be reborn in any of the realms in a position to truly help other sentient beings in that realm. Is it wrong for me in these circumstances not to have the strong wish to leave the wheel of cyclic existence?

Answer: Your wish to stay in order to help is certainly right. One of Shantideva's prayers, roughly translated is, "As long as there is space, I will remain with sentient beings, to serve and help them." Therefore, I also am trying to practice this. Helping others is the real purpose of life; it will bring the most satisfaction. The one action of helping others out of a sincere motivation brings two results--satisfaction for yourself and benefit to others. It is most beautiful.

One might ask whether there is a contradiction between a Bodhisattva's developing a determination to leave cyclic existence by viewing it as faulty and a Bodhisattva's wishing to remain in cyclic existence in order to help others. An answer to this is given in Bhavaviveka's Heart of the Middle Way: ...because of being under the influence of love and compassion, one is not captivated by the idea of retreating into solitary peace and, with an attitude of seeking to bring about the welfare of other sentient beings, remains in cyclic existence. This attitude is really marvelous. Though you are really fed up with cyclic existence, still because of a willingness and a determination to serve others, you voluntarily accept to remain.

However, as is indicated by the frequently cited example of a lotus that is produced from mud but not polluted by it, a Bodhisattva stays in cyclic existence but is not affected by its faults. It would indeed be hypocritical to claim from one's mouth that one had taken up the practice of a Bodhisattva but actually to be happily stuck in cyclic existence with great attachment. (p. 91)

--from The Dalai Lama at Harvard: Lectures on the Buddhist Path to Peace by H.H. the Dalai Lama of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins, published by Snow Lion Publications

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