Dharma Topic: Bodhisattva Inspiration

Dharma Topic: Bodhisattva Inspiration

Discussion date: Thu, Feb 23, 2006 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday, after our meditation period, you are invited to join with us in the ceremony of Invoking the Bodhisattvas’ names.

The ceremony is part of an ancient practice of Mahayana Buddhism. Four aspects of the enlightened mind are projected into deity-like beings: the Four Great Bodhisattvas of Avalokiteshvara (Great Compassion), Manjushri (Great Wisdom), Samantabhadra (Great Action), and Kshitigarbha (Great Vow). We can bow to them, pray to them, talk to them, be inspired by them.

In the ceremony we say:

We invoke your name, Avalokiteshvara.

We aspire to learn your way of listening in order to help relieve the suffering in the world. You know how to listen in order to understand. We invoke your name in order to practice listening with all our attention and open-heartedness. We will sit and listen without any prejudice. We will sit and listen without judging or reacting. We will sit and listen in order to understand. We will sit and listen so attentively that we will be able to hear what the other person is saying and also what is being left unsaid. We know that just by listening deeply we already alleviate a great deal of pain and suffering in the other person.

We pause, and then similarly involve Manjushri, Samantabhadra, and Kshitigarbha. (See below.) We allow the qualities of mind they represent to enter our hearts, and spontaneously we know where our own challenges are — where we might pay more attention in how we respond to the suffering in us and around us. 

The four great bodhisattvas have the capacity to truly inspire us, enlarging our capacities for compassion, wisdom, love, and inclusion. 

You are invited to join with us this Thursday in invoking the Bodhisattva’s names. The best times to join us are:

  • Just before the first sitting at 7 pm;
  • At 7:25, at the beginning of walking meditation; or,
  • At 7:35, at the beginning of the second sitting.

Please note upcoming Still Water Community events:  

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher  


Invoking the Bodhisattvas’ Names

We invoke your name, Avalokiteshvara.

(Bell)

We aspire to learn your way of listening in order to help relieve the suffering in the world. You know how to listen in order to understand. We invoke your name in order to practice listening with all our attention and open-heartedness. We will sit and listen without any prejudice. We will sit and listen without judging or reacting. We will sit and listen in order to understand. We will sit and listen so attentively that we will be able to hear what the other person is saying and also what is being left unsaid. We know that just by listening deeply we already alleviate a great deal of pain and suffering in the other person.

(Bell)

We invoke your name, Manjushri.

(Bell)

We aspire to learn your way, which is to be still and to look deeply into the heart of things and into the hearts of people. We will look with all our attention and open-heartedness. We will look with unprejudiced eyes. We will look without judging or reacting. We will look deeply so that we will be able to see and understand the roots of suffering, through the impermanent and selfless nature of all that is. We will practice your way of using the sword of understanding to cut through the bonds of suffering, thus freeing ourselves and other species.

(Bell)

We invoke your name, Samantabhadra.

(Bell)

We aspire to practice your vow to act with the eyes and heart of compassion, to bring joy to one person in the morning and to ease the pain of one person in the afternoon. We know that the happiness of others is our own happiness, and we aspire to practice joy on the path of service. We know that every word, every look, every action, and every smile can bring happiness to others. We know that if we practice wholeheartedly, we ourselves may become an inexhaustible source of peace and joy for our loved ones and for all species.

(Bell)

We invoke your name, Kshitigarbha.

(Bell)

We aspire to learn your way of being present where there is darkness, suffering, oppression and despair, so we can bring light, hope, relief, and liberation to those places. We are determined not to forget about or abandon those in desperate situations. We will do our best to establish contact with those who cannot find a way out of their suffering, those whose cries for help, justice, equality, and human rights are not being heard. We know that hell can be found in many places on Earth. We will do our best not to contribute to creating more hells on Earth, and to help transform the hells that already exist. We will practice in order to realize the qualities of perseverance and stability, so that, like the Earth, we can always be supportive and faithful to those in need.

(Two Bells)

[From the Plum Village Chanting and Recitation Book, 2000, pp. 17-18.]

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Feb 23, 2006


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