“Considering that all sentient beings
Accomplish a supreme purpose
Superior to the wish-fulfilling jewel,
I shall at all times hold them to be very precious.”
This is the beginning of a text called “The Eight Stanzas of Mind Training.” This is a collection of very short and simple teachings in a genre called ‘mind training’ from the Bodhisattva tradition.
The text is a series of eight really short sayings. Easy to remember, mostly easy to understand. The point is that when I need to reflect on this teaching, I can remember it.
The point I get out of this verse is this: remember compassion. Compassion first, compassion second, compassion always. We forget compassion in our spiritual journey sometimes. We focus on studying the right sutras or doing right practices or vague things like manifesting wisdom. And sometimes we forget.
All beings are precious. We all have Awakening as our true nature. All of us and no one is left out. But we let ourselves forget that, so we aren’t kind to others. We make excuses when we want to do things that harm others and sometimes we step over them to get ahead in our own lives.
If we can keep this in mind then we can remember to reflect on it. We can reflect on it when someone does something harmful or annoying. This is not meant to mean we turn a blind eye to really serious harm. I’m not talking about that necessarily. I’m wanting to focus on when we face milder things. I’m saying let’s try to show some grace when someone cuts us off in traffic or has an annoying tone.
We get eaten up by little things and it doesn’t have to be that way.
We can instead remind ourselves of something important. Buddha Nature is our true nature. At the center of our being we have Basic Goodness and Awakening. This is the teaching of the Bodhisattva Tradition. So, everyone you meet is a Buddha-to-be. No one gets left out.
When I first heard this teaching I thought “Surely not me” I could grasp it for others but not for a wretched person like me. Many people struggle in the other direction. They think “Sure, I have awakening as my nature, but not that person or that one.”
We just don’t manifest our awakening because we are mired in layers of delusion. Mind training is about learning to see through those layers, to see the good that’s underneath and to bring it out, to clear away the delusion. That’s what we are called to do on this path.
We’re also called to open our hearts to others and connect, really connect with them. Others are precious, remember. We’ve all been kicked in the heart sometimes, so we usually have closed hearts. We don’t like to be vulnerable and to live in a whole hearted way.
But an open heart is where strength and courage come from. Being closed off and pushing people away harms ourselves and others. While it’s true we’ll be hurt if we have open hearts, we’ll be hurt if we don’t as well.
Let’s see if we can live in a whole hearted way and walk this Bodhisattva Path.