BUDDHISM IN ACTION
December 2001 – February 2002
In the teachings of Buddhism it is said that you take the temporary benefit of alleviating the suffering of sentient beings as a basis, and on that basis you work towards final enlightenment. A human being has two potentials: to live a more sane life and to turn into the highest form of consciousness, and to become enlightened. Half the Buddha’s teachings show how to live healthily as a human being and, based on that, the other half shows how to transform into an enlightened being.
Buddhists, I think, often overemphasize working towards realizing their own enlightened qualities rather than really helping others in day-to-day life. They sometimes take advantage of the Buddha’s teachings, which say that through practicing the six paramitas you benefit other beings, but that the main point is that you realize enlightenment. Sometimes practitioners think that helping others is not that important and that by staying in retreat, they are being of more benefit. They stay in a nice cocoon, in nice meditation halls, with hot water, sending a little email, enjoying – but not really enjoying – spiritual happiness. If, however, like Milarepa, they think, “It’s OK if I am hot or cold, any circumstance is fine by me, I just need to get rid of the kleshas in my mind,” and they really think of compassion, then that is an excellent way of doing retreat.
I like this idea of compassion in action – to practice peace in the mind with compassion as the outcome. Peace comes through meditation practice – shamatha, mahamudra, dzogchen. You have to know how to deal with suffering when it comes directly to you, so that you do not get caught up in your own world of suffering. By knowing how to liberate emotions and seeing that you are no longer bound by them, a sense of genuine compassion arises.
Bodhisattvas are not totally enlightened. The stories of bodhisattvas describe how they give even their eyes to people in need, and how they sometimes spend many years serving someone else, like a slave, with altruistic motivation…socially engaged buddhism, tsoknyi rinpoche