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Buddhadharma : Fall 2016
fall 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 35 You’re Ready Enough wherever you find yourself, says pema Khandro, that’s the starting point of the bodhisattva path—all you need to do is take that first step. Once upon a time, many aeons before he took birth as a prince, Shakyamuni was an ordinary being born into a hot hell realm, where he was forced to pull a chariot through the fires. Distressed over the struggles of his feeble companion, great compassion welled up in the future Buddha’s heart. This, it is said, was the first time bodhichitta dawned in his mind, and it marked the beginning of his lives-long journey toward ultimate awakening— the compassion that arose while he was in hell. This rather astonishing story exemplifies when and how we must generate motivation for the benefit of others. We’re more familiar with the Buddha’s later life story: he was handsome, intelligent, wealthy, privileged, skilled in sports, and highly edu- cated. Of course, such an ideal person, a buddha, should and could help others. But the Jataka tales of the Buddha’s past lives inform us that such an ideal life was not where he began. Indeed, it is always the case that our highest aspirations must be launched from right in the midst of our afflictions, wherever we happen to find ourselves in this life stream—even if it is in hell. What gives a hell being the right to help others? Every Tibetan Buddhist practice includes the bodhisattva vow to work for the benefit of others. However, the tradition is also full of assertions that we cannot benefit others unless we are wise and enlightened, lest our good intentions be misguided. So when, exactly, are we wise enough to help others? We all want to be better versions of DRAwINgS By antony Gormley Alife, 2000 Water-dispersed aniline dye and carbon on paper 14cm x 18.5cm