13. To repay injury with acceptance / how to use suffering on the path
Though I’ve not done the slightest thing that’s wrong, / Without a cause someone cuts off my head.
To generate compassion in my heart / And take upon myself all their misdeeds:
This is the way a bodhisattva trains.
verse 13 audio
Contemplation based on Ken McLeod‘s commentary: “Drop any concern for justice and fairness. These are ideals, ideas that your patterns easily twist and shape to their own ends. Practice goes nowhere if you follow this path. You are soon lost in interpretation, conceptual thinking, unacknowledged prejudice and bias.”
What does Ken mean by this, and do you think he is right? Should we ever intervene in situations to combat unfairness or abuse? If so, how can we do it without compromising our practice?
Homework: Be vigilant for the feeling that you are being treated unfairly. Catch it as soon as it arises, analyze the situation according to the verse 13 commentaries, and apply the remedy.
12. To repay theft with generosity / how to use loss on the path
If someone driven by intense desire / Steals all my wealth or instigates the theft,
To dedicate to them from all three times / My wealth, good deeds, and merit, everything:
This is the way a bodhisattva trains.
audio of verse 12
Bodhisattva Boot Camp begins!
For an overview of this section of the 37 practices, verses 12-19, read this. And with verse 12, we wade right into the quicksand.
Contemplation: Can you recall an instance where someone stole something from you, large or small, material or metaphorical? Perhaps your home was broken into and completely cleaned out, as in the verse. Perhaps it was a smaller or less concrete loss: your car or bicycle, your wallet or credit card, a precious object, a financial scam, someone cutting in front of you in traffic or stealing the parking space you were waiting for, someone else got the promotion or award you felt you deserved, someone used your idea and didn’t give you credit. What was your reaction at the time? How does it feel now?
In the bodhisattva boot camp verses, Togme Zangpo places us directly in dire situations designed to elicit our deepest habitual reactivity. Fortunately, he also provides the key in each situation to liberate ourselves from the corresponding habitual pattern and from the confusion and suffering of the karma that results from reinforcing it. According to Dilgo Khyentse, this set of verses is divided into several specific subsets.
Four things you do not want to happen (verses 12-15):
In our third and final class on verse 11, we began with Ken McLeod’s commentary in Reflections on Silver River and discussed a contemplation he suggests: “Suppose you were told that, no matter what you did, you would never be happy. Never. What would you do with your life?” (More on this in verse 11, part 2. Translation and audio for verse 11, exchanging my happiness for others’ suffering, are here.)
Ken suggests we might pay more attention to others, and accept them as they are rather than trying to change them to suit our preferences. We might also relate to life directly and engage with it as it is, rather than continually try to manipulate our circumstances. Answer from a class member: we could relax!
The question arose: if we don’t pursue our own happiness, how can we give it away to others in taking and sending?
We’ve had a couple of weeks off while Chodron was traveling. Tomorrow, October 19, we’ll reconvene (live from Texas!) to complete our study of practice 11: to exchange our own happiness for others’ suffering. This is the crux of bodhisattva practice, and learning how to do this is the reason we are studying the 37 practices. All the rest of the practices follow from this. For the translation and audio of verse 11, click here.
In our first week on verse 11 (audio September 21), we reviewed Dilgo Khyentse’s commentary. Please read it at least two or three times before we move on to bodhisattva boot camp next week, and take it to heart, as it holds many keys to understanding and traveling the path of bodhisattva practice and complete awakening.