In INNER KNOWLEDGE by Erik Pema Kunsang7 Comments

Rather than dividing everyone into helpers, adversaries and strangers there is a way to regard everyone we meet as relatives and cultivate true human values. The closeness and the concern that so easily is felt for our parents, children or a lover can be expanded so that in the end no one is excluded. That frame of mind brings true peace, settles disputes, forgives most hurt and heals most painful emotions.

Everything we do is steered by our intentions. The more kind and altruistic we try to make our motives in life, the more easy it is to be with other people, and with ourselves. The noblest motivation is that of awakened mind, bodhichitta: the will to attain enlightenment for the sake of liberating all sentient beings. 
Another way to understand bodhichitta is the awakened state of all buddhas that in essence is identical with the nature of our minds, and transcends all labels such as “it arose”, “it remains” or “it has ceased”. That’s the ultimate awakened mind.

In these days, when nonduality and oneness, Mahamudra and Dzogchen, like instant coffee and instant fulfillment, seem to be the measurement for a spiritual practice’s worth, there may not be much interest in a technique of using dualistic mind to progress on the path to enlightenment. But for pragmatic spiritual practitioners, every moment we live ought to be put to the best possible use. 

Unless and until our experience of nondual awakened mind is for real, there is every reason in the world to pursue teachings on, to understand and train in the most eminent kind of dualistic mind. To allow bodhichitta in our hearts is praised by the Buddha as having benefits that surpass anything else in this world. Awakened mind is the most valuable, the most worthwhile in our human civilization.

The tried-and-proven way to allow bodhichitta in our hearts, as passed down through an unbroken line from the Buddha till this day, is to form a very particular attitude towards every other person or being: that they are all our parents. This willingness to accept another person as someone very dear to us, is an attitude of great courage and open-mindedness and it changes all our relationships, as when in alchemy iron is touched by the magical ingredient. The following are the exact words which the influential Buddhist master Jamyang Khyentse spoke to one of his chief disciples, Mipham the Invincible of Ju.

Wherever space pervades it is filled with sentient beings. Wherever there are sentient beings they are occupied by unfortunate actions and suffering. All these sentient beings who are occupied by unfortunate actions and suffering, without exception, have bestowed me the kindness of repeatedly being my fathers and mothers. Each time they were my parents they helped me immeasurably, just like my present father and mother. Protecting me from numerous dangers, they cared for me painstakingly, as if it was their own life. How pitiful are all these beings, my kind mothers, who want happiness but like madmen create suffering instead! Their intentions contradict their own actions! But just pitying them won’t help. I must lead them away from the miseries of samsara and quickly establish them in the unexcelled complete enlightenment! Right now I don’t have the power to do that, so within this very lifetime I will attain the state of true and complete enlightenment that is able to liberate everyone! And therefore I will practice the most profound yoga.

About the Author
Erik Pema Kunsang

Erik Pema Kunsang

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Translator of ancient Buddhist scriptures, author, bridge-builder to modern life, Buddhist teacher & meditation instructor. Board of director at 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. Founder of Rangjung Yeshe Publications and LEVEKUNST art of life. Other LEVEKUNST articles by the same author. Erik's website & retreats.

Photo by Anja Osenberg, Germany.

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  1. Pingback: Трансформація суспільних відносин | Ґомде Україна

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    I wonder if in the evolving cultural contexts that the dharma is spreading in, we might also suggest the alternate possibility of seeing all sentient beings as having been your children. Would probably work better for some (and has an identical statistical basis!).

    1. Erik Pema Kunsang Author

      You are entirely right, Michael. Many times you can read the Buddha saying, “Regard all beings as fathers and mothers, sons and daughter, brothers and sisters.” In short, explanations just mention fathers and mothers, or just mother. The bond of intimacy and love is the most important.

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    It is always a big challenge to drop our ‘religious concepts’ and dive into human heart/mind…
    Relationships are sure far beyond concepts and ideas of ‘what should be’ and ‘what should be not’…
    When we truly manage to drop our concepts and expectations, only then will we really be approaching Enlightened Heart ~*

    1. Erik Pema Kunsang Author

      You’re welcome, Frans. It is a great joy to share some of what I have learned and understood from my own teachers.

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