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Buddhadharma : Spri 2013
SPRING 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 33 The enlightening aspect of compassion includes our bright commitment to everyone’s freedom from suffering. The endarkening aspect of compassion is our willingness to have our hearts broken by the world, so our hearts remain open and undefensive. As we endarken, we see that we are not only continuous with the lumi- nous nature of the universe but also continuous with the great broken heart of the world; we share a tenderness that is both poignant beauty and wound. It’s as though revelation happens at the speed of electrical impulses in the brain, while embodi- ment happens at the speed of the heart, which is a slow-beating muscle. The Sutra that Vimala- kirti Spoke contains a long dialogue between Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, and Vimalakirti, a greatly awakened householder. In some ways, Manjushri speaks for the mind and Vimalakirti for the heart. Vimalakirti is ill, and he says that he’s sick because the whole world is sick. The Chinese term for nonduality is “not two,” and Vimalakirti rests on his couch in deep not-twoness with the world. Manjushri, wielding his sword of insight and clarity, asks Vimalakirti how the illness can be extinguished; from Man- jushri’s perspective, this is a problem to be fixed as quickly as possible. Vimalakirti responds with a long and detailed talk on how the human heart can be healed with time. His is a perspective from deep within embodied life, valuing its greatest challenges as exactly what the bodhisattva needs to give birth to herself. The Sutra that Vimalakirti Spoke also contains a lovely passage naming the individual bodhi- sattvas in a large assembly. There’s Unblinking Bodhisattva, Wonderful Arm Bodhisattva, Jewel Hand Bodhisattva, Lion Mind Bodhisattva, Root of Joy Bodhisattva, Delights in the Real Bodhisattva, and, one of my favorites, Universal Maintenance Bodhisattva. The deep meaning of this list is that each of us must discover the par- ticular bodhisattva we are; there isn’t a single template for our spiritual lives. Otherwise how could there be a Viewing Equality Bodhisattva, a Viewing Inequality Bodhisattva, and a Viewing Equality and Inequality Bodhisattva? In the day-to-day practice of enlightenment, sometimes we’re also going to be the Kinda Get- ting It Bodhisattva, Had Just About Enough Bodhisattva, Flying by the Seat of Her Pants Bodhisattva, and a hundred others, too. After all, if enlightenment is the way things really are, it’s already here, in large ways and small. We can see it in our companions in this amazing shared project of awakening, as the particular enlighten- ment of each person becomes apparent: insight- ful, heartfelt, or brave; wise about people or about working with material objects; brilliant in language or paint or song; unaware of how much she already understands, growing in confidence, resting in not knowing; becoming a person he never could have imagined—even if, in that most poignantly human way, someone isn’t completely aware of their own enlightenment yet. And all of it in service to our common awakening—becom- ing more attentive to the complexities of human life, more encouraging of its kindnesses, each of us in our turn helping pass the bright flame from warm hand to warm hand. ©THETRUSTEESOFTHEBRITISHMUSEUM The Moon Through a Crumbling Window, 1886 by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi