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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
19 spring 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly for freedom and liberation and we all wish to attain that freedom and liberation without any limitation. That can only be achieved if it is for the benefit of all sentient beings. You cannot have freedom and liberation without limitation only for yourself—that would be limited freedom and liberation, not limitless. So that is bodhichitta. After you have bodhichitta you become a bodhisattva, in a way. Bodhisattvas have many vows and commitments to uphold, but the most important and most comprehensive principle that you have to follow is that you will not exclude any sentient being from your motivation of buddhahood. Even if somebody is very bad to you and does all kind of harm to you, you will not exclude that person from your enlightenment. You wish to attain bud- dhahood for your friends and enemies, for all those people who are nice to you and for all those people who are not nice to you. So, for all sentient beings. If you exclude anybody from your bodhi- chitta, then you break your bodhisattva vow. And breaking it is very serious. It is not like breaking a Vinaya vow, which is serious, but not the same. The bodhisattva vow, when broken, has to be repaired in the most suit- able and appropriate manner: you must have total regret, and you must totally confess and renew your vow. Bodhichitta does not mean you will not defend yourself against somebody. You will defend yourself, you will argue with others if you don’t agree, but you can never exclude anybody from reaching enlightenment. If somebody is bad enough to chop you into pieces, you will still include that person in your bodhichitta, and if there is a chance to make that person a buddha, before you can make your most loved person a buddha, you will go ahead without hesitation. That has to be your basic vow. If you can do that then you can take the bodhisattva vow. From thaR lam, august 2009 invite your problems to tea Problems are opportunities, says Buddhist teacher Dana Marsh. Get to know them instead of always pushing them away. When problems arise in our lives we have a tendency to close ourselves off from the lessons we can learn. Instead of seeing a prob- lem as an opportunity, we use all our efforts to push the problem away from us, and in doing so we create friction. When difficult experiences come into our lives it is important to bring our attention inward and inquire into the basis of our suf- fering. I like to use the analogy of sitting with suffering as if I were inviting my teachers to sitwithmetoshareacupoftea.IfIwere to invite my dharma teachers to tea I would do it with a great deal of joy. I would look forward to them joining me in my home, and when they arrived I would greet them warmly, invite them to sit on my couch and ask them to make themselves comfortable while I poured tea. We would then take the time to get to know each other. Our greatest teachers are those circum- stances that we label as negative. This is the time to put what we have learned on the med- itation cushion into practice. When negative circumstances arrive we should invite them to tea. We should sit with our experiences of fear, jealousy, frustration, anxiety, annoyance, and so on. We should use our awareness to see the root of the experience. We ask ourselves, Where did this thought come from? Where does it reside? Where does it go? When you get an answer to any of the above you go deeper and ask about that until you get to the place where you have deep insight into the nature of suffering. You might ask your- self, Where is the “I”? Is it somewhere in my body? Then scan your body for the location of the “I”—you will not find anything. Practice working with what you already have in your life. When circumstances are difficult, invite them in. They are already sit- ting on your couch so you might as well offer them some tea and get to know the cause of your suffering. kiMscafuro