Dear Still Water Friends,
In the Mahayana tradition of mindfulness practice Bodhisattvas are human beings who have fully committed themselves to the Buddha’s way. Each of four great Bodhisattvas represents an important aspect of the path: Avalokiteshvara represent compassion, Manjushri represents wisdom, Samantabhadra represents practice and service, and Kshitigarbha represents the vow to save all beings.
This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will Touch the Earth four times, each time invoking the name and qualities of one of the four great Bodhisattvas. In our discussion, we will focus especially on Samantabhadra. The literal translation from the Sanskrit of the name Samantabhadra is "universally extending" (Samanata) "great virtue" (Bhadra). Samantabhadra is a person who through his or her firm practice brings happiness to others, and, at the same time, is enlivened through giving.
When we invoke Samantabhadra, we read these words of Thich Nhat Hanh:
We invoke your name, Samantabhadra. 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.
We will begin our discussion by exploring the times when we are most able to practice joy on the path of service, when giving of ourselves is easy. Then we will look at the times when it is not easy, when we resent what it seems is being asked of us. Finally, we will consider whether there are ways we can with complete authenticity bring more of the spirit of Samantabhadra into our lives.
You are invited to join us.
A related excerpt from the Hindu teacher Sri Nisardadatta Maharaj is below.
Finding Our Way
From I am That: Dialogues of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Maharaj: You must find your own way. Unless you find it yourself it will not be your own way and will take you nowhere. Earnestly live your truth as you have found it — act on the little you have understood. It is earnestness that will take you through, not cleverness — your own or another’s.
Questioner: I am afraid of mistakes. So many things I tried — nothing came out of them.
M: You gave too little of yourself, you were merely curious, not earnest.
Q: I don’t know any better.
M: At least that much you know. Knowing them to be superficial, give no value to your experiences, forget them as soon as they are over. Live a clean, selfless life, that is all.
Q: Is morality so important?
M: Don’t cheat, don’t hurt — is it not important? Above all you need inner peace — which demands harmony between the inner and the outer. Do what you believe in and believe in what you do. All else is a waste of energy and time.