There are descriptions in the Scriptures, like those in our ceremonies, of heavenly realms, the seemingly magical attributes of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the rarefied states of mind one can find when one meditates deeply – these are not to be grasped after. That will only push the goal further away. Instead we are assured that simple acts of generosity and compassion in our daily interactions with others are the expression of Bodhicitta. We learn to not even measure or quantify the progress we make, or even think of it as progress. We just do what seems best in the here and now, patiently and without expectation. That is enough.
When we think of bodhicitta the classic image of the Buddha under the Bodhi tree on the occasion of his so-called enlightenment often comes to mind. The picture is one of serenity and peace, his face showing a contented smile. It’s easy to imagine that for us, modelling ourselves on the Buddha means we will display that same smile and air of contentment at all times. That is an understandable but mistaken view. Of course, it is appropriate that the Buddha be depicted that way – it’s inspiring, but the appearance is idealized, the product of artistic license if you like. Not quite in keeping with the day-to-day reality of our lives, especially for those of us, and we are many in number, who are living with difficulties of personal, practical or medical kinds.
The enlightened mind is the mind of acceptance. Accepting reality as it is means that, as well as finding the joy that comes from liberation, we are also exposed to the full range of possible experiences a human being can know. And let’s not kid ourselves about human existence, it is frequently hard going. And most of us haven’t even yet experienced the poor health that accompanies extreme old age.
Note: I was personally touched by this talk and saw the benefits others are likely to derive from visiting his words, published here on Jade over several days. Thanks to the Reverend for permission to do this. Listen to the talk.