The Mind of Enlightenment 

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I see quite a few people that weren't here last week. I wondered if the people who weren't here last week were able to listen to the recording. The course description is to practice concentration on bodhicitta, concentration on the mind or the thought of enlightenment. Last week I talked about a range of possible meanings or aspects or layers of this term bodhicitta, but simply put, you could talk about two kinds of bodhicitta. One, which


is basically a conventional bodhicitta, and another which is ultimate bodhicitta, or conventional thought of enlightenment, and the ultimate thought of enlightenment. So conventional thought of enlightenment is actually like thinking in ordinary relative sense, and thinking in a kind of resolute way, a really sincere resolution to realize Buddhahood for the welfare of all living beings. Again, I brought up many dimensions of that, which move towards the ultimate bodhicitta, which is enlightenment itself. So I started last week and continue


this week with concentrating or focusing on conventional bodhicitta, a kind of mind of enlightenment that thinking can express, that's expressed through thinking and through intention and resolution and vow. While we were sitting, I said, regarding all suffering beings, it is possible to think they are myself. It's possible to think each one is myself, and


the sum total of them, all of them, are myself. This kind of conventional bodhicitta is the bodhicitta of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. Who hasn't heard about Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva before? Please raise your hand. Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is in Chinese called Guan Yin, Japanese Kannon. It's the Bodhisattva of great compassion in Mahayana tradition. In the Lotus Sutra, there's a chapter on Avalokiteshvara, and they actually call Avalokiteshvara, sometimes


they translate Avalokiteshvara as regarder of the cries of the world, the one who regards or contemplates the cries of the world. In other words, contemplates the entire world of suffering beings, listens to their cries, looks at their suffering, and regards it. That's the name of that Bodhisattva. And it says at the end of the chapter that with eyes of compassion, this Bodhisattva regards all living beings. It doesn't say this Bodhisattva regards all living beings and thinks, they are myself. It doesn't say that in the Sutra.


But Avalokiteshvara does regard all living beings, all suffering beings, as herself. She does. That's the way she thinks. She doesn't think she's anything in addition to all living beings. You could say, well, isn't there the addition of the regarding of all living beings? Actually, you could add that if you want, that Avalokiteshvara is all living beings and is the regarding of all living beings. But really, the way all living beings are includes the regarding of all living beings. It's already there. So great compassion actually isn't something in addition to the entire assembly of suffering beings. You've got the entire


assembly of suffering beings, you have great compassion. It's right there. It's not in addition. Avalokiteshvara represents that compassion which embraces all suffering beings. And I think, Avalokiteshvara thinks, they are myself. They are my life. So, in this training, focusing on this conventional bodhicitta, we can train ourselves to take the word I and apply it to the assembly of all suffering beings. And think, apply it to them. I,


I, [...] I. Apply it to them and think, they are myself. And if we identify all living beings in this way, and the mind becomes, if you use the expression, habituated to this way of thinking about all living beings. That's what you do all the time. Every time you look at somebody you think, this is myself, she's myself, he's myself, they're myself. If you really get into that, then what's predicted to happen is that when somebody shows up you'll think, you'll see them as yourself. You train yourself to think of them as yourself


and as you get really accustomed to this, and this becomes your orientation, then when you see people, you think you're meeting yourself. So you see somebody and you think, I, I, I, I. Pretty far out, huh? That's a prediction that comes through focusing on conventional bodhicitta, that the I will arise, in quotation marks, the I will arise when sentient beings arise. And the result of this will be that you'll care for them with the same energy and devotion that you care for yourself. If you're not good at caring for yourself,


you should get good at caring for yourself so that you'll care for them well, too. But some people, even if they're not skillful at caring for themselves, they do try to care for themselves, but they don't try to care for some other people, some other beings. So part of this is to, this meditation is following on getting good at taking care of yourself. So this is the concentration practice for bodhisattvas, following all kinds, you know, practicing giving, practicing ethical discipline, practicing patience, practicing enthusiasm for practicing wholesome dharmas. Now, after learning how to take care of yourself, now you train yourself to see others as yourself, in all the skillful ways of caring for yourself, you will wish to offer to them. In learning to act for the welfare of living beings, in learning to live for the welfare


of living beings, I am learning to see and care for all living beings as myself. Again, not so much like care for them as I would care for myself, but care for them as myself. How do I take care of myself? By taking care of others. That's how I take care of myself. To learn to see them and care for them as myself. In learning to care for beings, this is what I'm learning. Of course, there are other things you learn in caring for beings, like you learn to listen to them, you learn to be generous to them, you learn to be patient with them, that all applies too. But to make this work pure, we also learn to see them as ourself.


Which is similar to, if I may add, seeing and caring for every and all living beings as gifts. Seeing everybody as a gift is similar to seeing everybody as yourself. Seeing that everybody that comes gives you life. Everybody you meet gives you life. Everybody that you meet confirms your existence, gives you your life. As the Zen ancestor Dogen says, when all things come forth and confirm the self, that's awakening. When you act on and witness the self in the advent of all beings, that's enlightenment.


We need to train ourselves to see whatever is coming, whatever we meet, whoever we meet, particularly living beings, particularly humans. Some people are pretty good with dogs. They see a dog and think, oh, that's me. Some people think, oh, that's my dog. But actually a lot of people who really love dogs think, oh, that's me. When they see a cat, they think that's me. When they see a cow, they think that's me. When it's a human, they say, no way. That human is not me. So we know how to do that. We learned that. Now it's time to learn a new trick, which is every being, animal, every animal, every plant, and especially the hard ones,


every human, especially the humans who are nasty, they are myself. In this lineage coming from this ancestor Dogen, we have the suggestion that the criterion, the standard, the touchstone, the pattern, the model, the norm of this school is the concentration or the samadhi of the self. That means it's the concentration on the self that is all beings.


It's a concentration on the self which is confirmed by everybody. It's a concentration on everybody confirming the self. It's a concentration on everybody fulfilling this self. The samadhi of the self as all beings is the standard of the school coming down through Dogen. The focus on they are myself is the criterion of this school of meditation. To sit upright in the concentrated awareness of they are myself is the true path of enlightenment in the Soto Zen school according to certain ancestors.


This is the same as to say the criterion of this is to train in concentrating on conventional bodhicitta and ultimate bodhicitta. This is the Chinese Zen way of talking about it and the Indian Mahayana way of talking about it. The Chinese Mahayana Zen way and the Indian Mahayana way. We have this ancestor who is the founder of the Zen tradition in China called Bodhidharma. Who hasn't heard of Bodhidharma before? Raise your hand. Bodhidharma is the supposed founder of the Zen school in China. He came from India. He was an Indian monk supposedly. He came to China from India and he met the emperor they say.


They had a talk and he left the emperor and he went to the northern part of China and sat at a place called the little forest and he faced a wall. He sat still facing a wall for nine years. For nine years he sat there and lived for the welfare of all beings. For nine years he sat there thinking, all living beings are myself. When you sit and you think, when you walk and you think, she's myself, she's myself, he's myself, she's myself, all beings are myself, when you think this, you don't do that, of course, to get any reward. You do that to practice the samadhi of the self.


You do that to save beings. You don't expect a reward. You practice being yourself just to be yourself for the welfare of all beings. You take care of the practice, what practice? The practice of being yourself for the welfare of all beings. The practice of thinking they are myself. You do that practice and you do not possess it. You're devoted to it but you don't possess it. You care for every living being without being possessive of every living being you care for. You care for the practice, you care for living beings, you care for yourself without being possessive of anything.


They are myself, she is myself, he is myself, and I don't own them. When we first start taking care of others really wholeheartedly, or almost wholeheartedly, I shouldn't say first, when we begin and continue to care for others as ourselves, if we're not completely wholehearted, we will probably slip into possessing these precious beings who we're caring for. So that's not the complete practice. The complete practice will be when we care for living beings, when we care for the practice without being possessive of it. So that's what I'm offering you for starters tonight.


One more thing, one more big thing actually, which I'll go into more detail about later, but I just want to mention so I don't forget, and that is that part of training in bodhicitta is also to do ceremonies or rituals to verbally and physically express this resolution. One of the ceremonies is to sit and think, they are myself, and to walk and think, they are myself. But also, you could say it out loud. You could say it out loud. And you could put your hands together, and you could look at somebody and you say, you are myself.


This is not a common ceremony, but I think I'd recommend it. Start by thinking it, and when you're ready, look the sentient being or sentient beings in their eyes and say, you are myself. The ceremony in Zen that we usually do about this bodhicitta is that we have a bodhisattva precept ceremony. And in the bodhisattva precept ceremony, we give bodhisattva precepts. And the precepts we give look like ethical precepts. Looks like precepts or teachings for ethical discipline. Like the ten great precepts, or the ten major precepts of bodhisattvas


are not killing, not stealing, not misusing sexuality, not lying, not intoxicating yourself. It actually is not to sell intoxicants to others, not slandering others, not praising self at the expense of others, not being possessive of the sentient beings that you're taking care of, and the things you're taking care of, not harboring ill will, and not disparaging the triple treasure. Those are the ten major bodhisattva precepts. So we give them, and then we also give the three refuges and the three pure precepts. And people notice sometimes, well this is a bodhisattva initiation ceremony, and we don't say the bodhisattva vows. We say them a lot in Zen practice,


but we don't say them in the ceremony. However, we do say in the ceremony, now that you've received these precepts, you have become the basis for the arising of the bodhicitta. So the ceremony is like a formal initiation, a formal gift, to the ordinands and the ordinees. Ordinands are those who are going towards ordination. Ordinees are those who have been ordained. It's a gift to them, so that they will ritually, ceremonially, be able to do the bodhicitta practice. In early Buddhism, the practitioners, the disciples of Buddha, did not have the bodhisattva vows. They did not receive them in ceremonies. They received these ethical precepts. And so there are bodhisattva initiation ceremonies


where the bodhisattvas receive and express the bodhisattva vows to live, to attain Buddhahood for the welfare of all beings. There are ceremonies like that. But in the Zen school, we kind of take the form of the early Buddhist ordination, where you receive teachings on ethical discipline, and we use that form to become the basis for the bodhicitta. And again, in the ceremony we say, now that you've received these precepts, the bodhicitta will arise in you. So I've said to you, I'm telling you about this bodhicitta, about this sincere resolution to realize Buddhahood for the welfare of all beings. But as I told you before, not all Zen students feel that in their heart. Some do not. They say, well, I hear about this, but I'm just at Zen Center to feel better,


or to become a better person. I'm here for me to become a better person. Well, that's a wholesome thing. I'm here to get feeling better. I'm here to receive the reward of being a better, happier person. That's why I'm practicing Zen. I'm actually practicing to gain something. People say that. And I'm actually trying to gain something for myself. I'm not into not gaining anything. I heard about it, and that's not where I'm at. And I say, well, you're practicing the precept of not lying now. That's good. But when you receive these precepts, now the bodhicitta will arise in you. It is arising in you. It is arising in you. And now you've got to take care of it. And then if you lose it, you have to do the ceremony over or some other way


to find the bodhicitta again. But in fact, in the ceremony, the bodhicitta is born. In some cases, not necessarily for the first time. So that was my brief comment which I can elaborate on later. But I wanted to say that tonight. And then we had from last week, at the end of class, Christiane asked a question. Would you please ask your question again? I will. And thank you for remembering. So I was interested in exploring the connection between You're interested in exploring? the connection between the arising of bodhicitta and action. And the question that came to me last week was, if bodhicitta is present,


does that automatically lead to skillful action? Or could you have bodhicitta and still be not so skillful in the world? Did you hear her question? If bodhicitta has arisen in you, could you possibly be unskillful? The answer is, yes. Yes, you can be unskillful. So in the bodhisattva precept ceremony, where you commit to these modes of skillfulness, like these ten major precepts, it can also be called ten major wholesome paths or skillful paths. The skillful path of not killing, for example. But before you receive the precepts, you also receive the practice of confession and repentance, where you will practice that when you do not practice these wholesome paths, and not practice them,


it could be called unwholesome. Or you could say, when you do unwholesome things, or you don't do the wholesome things, either way, you will confess and you will watch to see if you feel remorse and sorrow at not following through on these precepts. And so you will repent and then re-enter into the practice. You could actually have an authentic wish to realize Buddhahood for the welfare of all beings. That really was almost completely filling your body and mind, and feel tremendous joy at feeling this wish to live like that. And then the next moment, somebody spits in your face and you don't say thank you. You don't feel, this is myself. You feel more like, this is somebody who is not me, who is not as good as me.


Oops, I violated a precept. So, if the bodhicitta has arisen, it's good to receive the precepts because the precepts are one of the ways you take care of it. If the bodhicitta has not arisen, receiving the precepts is a conducive process to stimulate the birth of it. But it can be born and you can lose it. You don't necessarily lose it every time you slip. But you can lose it at the same time that you slip. At the same time you do something unskillful, you can lose it. Some things are so unskillful that you'll definitely lose it. No, just now. So again, last week, I used several examples. One is when the bodhicitta first arises into the psychophysicality


of a living being, it's like a candle with a flame on it. And a gentle breeze can blow it out. A gentle insult could blow it out. Not to mention a harsh insult. But even an insult is not that big a deal, actually. But even that could blow out the bodhicitta. So you have to take care of the bodhicitta with patience. You've got to have patience around it so that when the living being who has bodhicitta gets insult, the flame doesn't get blown out, maybe. And you have to be generous. So every time somebody comes, when the insulters come, you welcome them. And you're working before they arrive. Here comes myself. Here comes myself. This person looks like they're going to insult me. They have that insulting look on their face. But this is me coming. And they come over and they give you the insult.


And you're right. And it was kind of like what you thought it was going to be. Worse, maybe, or better, whatever. They give it to you. But because you were welcoming them, it doesn't blow out the bodhicitta. Matter of fact, bodhicitta probably grows when you get insulted. And you don't lose it. Because you continue to cultivate it while you're being attacked. While you're being defamed. You think how... Again, it's not exactly good to... It's not exactly good that they're defaming you. But it's good that you practice developing bodhicitta under those circumstances. So then it can get stronger and stronger. So that again, after a while when these challenges come, they just make it stronger. At the beginning, you might lose it quite frequently.


And then you have to go find it again. And... Maybe next week we can talk about the various kinds of things that help you find it. But... Next is Tracy. I'd like to offer an example. You're going to offer an example, yes? Yeah. I just kind of feel sick when I'm working with this ultimate and rather conventional distinction. So I'm going to contest something, but it's not funny. It doesn't feel good. Or... I don't know. So right before I got in the car to come here, I was... Somebody wasn't insulting me, I was insulting them. And then when you said that about the conventional,


it's like I came here to put my robe on because I've taken bodhisattva vows. So I think of myself who's committed to living for the benefit of all beings, and I just spent the last hour completely not doing that and not even thinking to notice that because I'm so busy thinking about my identity as somebody. And I convinced myself I'm somebody who's living for the benefit of all beings. It didn't even occur to me during that hour to think of that person as myself. What didn't occur to you? To think of that person as myself. It didn't cross my mind. So it's a sick feeling right now. But during that time you were thinking that you were living for the welfare of all beings? No, that's just my general opinion about myself. But at that time you weren't thinking about this person being yourself or that you were living for the welfare of this person. No, I was thinking they were an idiot. I was thinking they were an idiot. I was convinced. And you weren't thinking the idiot is myself. The exact opposite.


As far away from myself as I could imagine anyone being. And I let them know that. So now you're confessing. And is a repentance happening? Repentance is feeling sorrow. Do you feel sorrow? And I feel terrible about the pride in thinking, oh, I've taken vows. I feel terrible about that too. You feel terrible about pride? Yeah, okay. That's appropriate. To confess and feel sorrow about our pride, that's part of the practice. I have to get off the phone so I can go to my class because I'm such a cool person committed to saving all beings. You idiot. It's terrible. Terrible. That's why I was interested in the answer. You can snuff out the body forever. No. Once it's arisen, there'll be more opportunities


for it arising. But it does get lost. People who have been greatly inspired to realize the highest compassion and wisdom for the welfare of beings, they have gotten distracted and lost lost that resolution. They can hardly remember what they even lost. But they find it again. And then they start cultivating it again. Maybe more carefully than the first time. Maybe the first time it arises you might not even... I mean, some people I think it seems like it arises in them but they don't have anybody around them to tell them how to take care of it. So, then they lose it. And nobody's telling them that that's normal to lose it. So they feel really terrible but they don't know how to take care of it if it arises again. Again, I did mention this last time


as a basic proposal is that you do not make bodhicitta arise by yourself, by your own power. You don't just sit there and say okay, bodhicitta, let's have... come on. You may think that but that's really not what gave you the ability to think that. The bodhicitta arises in the communion between living beings, suffering beings, and the Buddhas. In that communion this bodhicitta can arise and has arisen. And after it's arisen it has been lost. And then it's arisen again in further communion and been cared for. So we need instructions of how to care for it. Besides the instructions of giving precepts, patience, and enthusiasm, in this class I'm emphasizing focusing on the bodhicitta itself.


Are the talks from the last class still available? So if you wanted the last class we focused on the first four bodhisattva trainings about how to take care of the bodhicitta. This one we're focusing on the fifth practice, concentration. on the relative bodhicitta and concentration on the ultimate bodhicitta moves into wisdom. Yes? Someone may be the opposite challenge to Tracy's issue tonight. If you're finding that you're making yourself available to this community involuntarily in which you are thinking of living within yourself it feels like


thinking about particles. Because you're in a public situation and you're taking all that in and it's overwhelming to you in a sense. What's the practice in that situation? When you feel overwhelmed? Overwhelmed. The practice is to continue what you just said. Continue it. And if you keep being overwhelmed I don't, so far I haven't heard any problem with being overwhelmed. Well my sense is that the resistance is that you start projecting that people aren't yourself. You start projecting that they are resistance. You start projecting that you want to distance yourself. Well then you stop the practice, right? In that example. By doing that you stop the practice. But when you were describing the practice to me and then you said it's overwhelming that sounded fine to me. I didn't see any problem there.


Then you said but then I stopped doing the practice. Now I see there is a problem. When you start regarding everybody as yourself and you feel overwhelmed, so far so good. Overwhelmed is part of it. That goes with the territory. But then when you start resisting and saying well actually this is not such a good idea, I don't want to do this anymore. Now you're not doing the practice. So if you want to know how to protect from stopping the practice, then you do the previous practices. Be patient and generous and ethics and enthusiasm. You have to do those in order to when you feel overwhelmed stay in your seat. But being overwhelmed is not a bad sign. It is overwhelming. I mean I am overwhelmed when all there is is everybody else. Then I'm overwhelmed. Now if I don't like


that, then I should go practice patience with not liking it before I actually decide to change my story and switch from they are myself to they are not myself and that's really good and I don't ever want to think of that again. So anyway, what you described originally I thought that's fine. Then when you talk about resisting it, well that's not fine. Now we lost it. So how to protect is that when you feel like you're doing this practice you still have to do these other practices which support the concentration. You have to be flexible and relaxed and ethical and joyful. There has to be some joy in this overwhelm and energy for this practice. Like they are myself and I feel joyful thinking about this. This is


like a wonderful thing to think. I'm so happy that I'm being supported to think this way about my relationship with all sentient beings. And if I lose this joy I won't be able to continue this heroic path which could be overwhelming. But if I'm joyful I can go with the overwhelm if I feel overwhelmed. But it's not just overwhelmed. The overwhelm is me. This is myself, this overwhelm. And I'm joyful, I'm patient and I'm not possessive. I'm not proud that I can do this practice. I don't possess this practice. I welcome the practice, I welcome the sentient beings and I welcome overwhelm. And if overwhelm goes away I let it go away. And just be kind of like mild total devotion to


all beings. Could you tell me your name again? Stephen. Stephen. How do you lose it? Well... If the bodhicitta is the resolution to live to realize the Buddha's skill to help people and if


you're not thinking of that what are you thinking about? If you're not thinking something like that you've lost it. If your thinking is not either literally that kind of thinking or supporting it you've lost it. You're doing something else. So developing bodhicitta means you're actually thinking about bodhicitta. You're thinking about this enlightenment. You're thinking about the welfare of people now. Not all the time, just now. And if now I'm not thinking of the welfare of others I'm a little bit distracted from thinking about the welfare of others. And not just thinking of the welfare of others but that I want to live for that and I want to get really skillful to facilitate that welfare. To think about that, to remember he is myself.


When I forget that he is myself I'm somewhat distracted from bodhicitta. Now if I switch into something even more unskillful than just forgetting, like the antithesis of he is myself or say I do not want to live for his welfare. Something like that is pretty much blown the bodhicitta out of my body and mind for the moment. So I've kind of lost it. Thinking about harming others is not bodhicitta. Wishing people ill is not bodhicitta. However if there's a thought of wishing somebody ill in myself or in others, if I'm practicing bodhicitta I think that


is myself. That ill will is myself. Now I'm practicing bodhicitta again. But if it's just ill will without any attending compassion and intention of this bodhicitta, the bodhicitta has been lost. It's not really functioning. But when we're right there attending to it without being possessive of it, now the bodhicitta is really functioning. So when it's not functioning it's not really, it doesn't really exist. It's been lost. That's why we have to practice. When the karmic waves come in and blow our mind into a karmically unskillful mode, if there's no compassion for that, bodhicitta is not existing at that moment. But that's


not the end of the story. The next moment we can say whoops, this is unskillful. And I'm going to now re-establish my communication links with the Buddhas. I'm going to confess this in the presence of the Buddhas, to re-initiate, re-enter my relationship with the Buddhas. And maybe in that reactivated relationship this bodhicitta will arise again. And it will. But it's not going to arise from forgetting all this stuff and entering into unwholesome paths. It doesn't arise that way. In a matter of fact, it can be lost. Now you can say, isn't it our true nature? Bodhicitta represents the thing about us that can turn this unwholesomeness around. We do have that capacity. So in that sense we don't lose bodhicitta. But isn't that our true nature? Well, you can say it's our true nature, but it's


not really our true nature to be unskillful and cruel. So what about that? So that's part of what we're dealing here is that that's not bodhicitta. But that's part of what goes along with it. not the bodhicitta. And that part that's not can undermine the bodhicitta. It interferes with its realization. Yes, and yes. Yes, Elena. What is the difference between guilt and remorse? Guilt and remorse? You can be guilty without remorse. If you're


cruel to someone, you're guilty of cruelty. Guilt would have two meanings. One is you are guilty of doing something unskillful. The other is you feel maybe, yes, I am guilty of I was cruel to so-and-so, but I don't regret it. I don't feel any pain about it. Remorse means literally, etymologically, re-manja, taste again. Taste the nastiness of cruelty again. But just to say, yes, I was cruel, then you're kind of admitting your guilt. But to taste it again, yuck, I don't like to be cruel. That's remorse. And that's moving into repentance. There's something about us that doesn't want to be cruel, and that is how we


recover from cruelty and go back to our compassionate vows. But guilt doesn't necessarily mean remorse. Guilt in the sense that you're guilty of the thing, that doesn't do any good really, particularly, I don't know, maybe it does. And admitting it is honest, so then you're not guilty of lying anyway. But the thing that really turns it around is to feel sorrow. And there's a wide range of sorrow, I would say, but there's a certain band of sorrow that reforms us and reactivates our wish to act virtuously. That's the repentance part, which is not necessarily there in people who are guilty and admit they're guilty. You sort of have to admit your guilt,


though, in order to practice remorse. It's hard to repent unskillfulness that you don't admit you did. Yes, Laurie? Getting back to the frame that you think of others as your students, you think of others as yourself, I'm thinking about people in my life, a number of people in my life, who, they feel like, the way they, what they describe is that they're actually more tuned in to the other than they are to themselves, which is kind of difficult, what you're saying, because I guess, I think, trying to think this through, there sort of still is another, it's just that the other is more important than the self, like there's more energy focused on the other. So, I'm just trying to think about how that would, how that maps onto what you're saying.


It seems like part of what you're saying is, you're talking about how we always think of ourselves as the most important thing, and part of what we're doing in this practice is to think of everybody as important. Is that one way to talk about it? Yeah, that's part of it. Another part of it is realize that whether you're thinking about yourself or others, there's no basis for either one of those conventional designations. Right, so what I was going to say, I think we're confused about this self and others, generally. So, is what you're saying, what you're proposing would be a way to clarify that, rather than, because it seems like it also could be just sort of like washing over this massive confusion about self and others with this new idea. It could blur the confusion by this new idea. Yeah,


maybe. It's possible. But what I'm suggesting to you is that this meditation, when it leads to you actually seeing yourself when others appear, that will make it easy for you to be devoted to them. And then, that will help you clarify the confusion. That devotion, which is not coming from, yeah, which is coming from this new vision. But there are other levels of confusion to be clarified along this path of caring for others as


yourself, rather than caring for others as others. Caring for others as others is pretty good. That's the way a lot of people do it. But the bodhicitta way is to care for others as yourself. If you care for others as others, your care may be impure, and it won't work so well to move you towards enlightenment. We want to purify our devotion to others. So we have this basic thing, I wish to care for others, I wish to attain Buddhahood so I can care for others. We've got that part, but that could be impure. Now we're trying to prepare ourselves for this meditation by other practices, giving ethical study and patience, but still this practice which you're saying could perhaps still allow some confusion, I agree. I think if


there's some confusion, it doesn't instantly eliminate the confusion. I'm saying it will tend to purify this basic intention. If you've got this intention, this is a meditation, this is the first step, there's more steps, but this is the first step in purifying the wish to live for the welfare of others. And Laura is bringing up, can't there still be some confusion in there? And that's why I'm suggesting this focus, this kind of focus is because at the beginning of practicing giving ethical study, patience and enthusiasm, at the beginning of that you might have already had the bodhicitta and you're doing these practices to protect it. Now we're moving into a practice where we're going to remove the afflictions that are still present


even though you've been practicing bodhicitta for some time. To remove the afflictions and then finally even remove any tendency towards the afflictions which can co-exist with this bodhicitta. And so you're bringing up I think some of the affliction of confusion that has been there the whole time and now... I guess I'm just wondering if it would work as well if someone were already sort of focused on the other more overly or something? Well again, they're focused on the other but do they see the other as themselves? It's not just other, other, other. It's other as me. This is me. It's different from just oh, I'm here to take care of you, I'm here to take care of you, I'm here to take care of you. Yeah, that's good, but you are me. Let's see,


I don't know who, let's try it. Ron, Marianne, Vera, and Nancy. Ron. Can you describe a little more about the actual process of meditating on a thought? Meditating on what? Just think it. Just think it. Think. Well, actually they, think of all sentient beings and think they are myself. Think of the teaching that whatever comes is yourself. Make it simple, just focus on the thought, the thinking, focus on thinking that all others are myself.


All others are my true self. That's who I really am. Just think about that until that's your orientation. That's the way you are all day long. And then tell me what happens. Tell me what kind of life that is. Try it this week. Try it all week. All day long. Try it. I will too. Marianne? I think I can feel the benefit of that. And then I think for example about pain and seeing pain in others and then having yourself projecting that interpretation of their pain and then getting kind of


confused in there about their pain and what you might be magnifying their pain to be or minimizing. And then trying to understand what to do with that pain. And then if you're not skillful with your own pain then using the idea of this is myself may not be so helpful. Do you understand the tracks that you might get into? By the time you get to this practice that we're trying in this class of focusing on concentrating on bodhicitta now we're doing the conventional bodhicitta you're supposed to have already been practicing patience with your own pain and the pain of anybody you care about. So you're already doing this practice of patience that's part of what gives you the energy to do concentration because when we have pain and we don't pay attention to


it we are subconsciously resisting it usually by various addictions which distract our energy. When you learn to be patient with your pain you start giving up some of your resistance to it and that releases a lot of energy which is then available to continue to practice patience and the other virtues that get you ready for concentration. If you notice you're not good at practicing patience with your own pain please practice patience with your own pain. That will get you ready when you start to notice other people or yourself to see that their pain is kind of like your pain. And if it's too much, what does too much mean? Too much means you start resisting it. Then you have to go back and


practice generosity, ethics, and patience again to get your energy up to do this really difficult thing of facing the suffering of others now which you weren't doing before. Now that you're being exposed to their suffering. So we have all kinds of strange stories about advanced practitioners just, you know, buckling over at the sight of other people's pain, you know. But they joyfully buckle over because they're happy that, they're joyful that the pain of those they love hurts them. They love that. That's their great joy. They wouldn't feel right if the pain of those they love didn't touch them. They must be separated from them if the other people's suffering doesn't reach them. Vera.


Well, you know, I'm a little bit confused about this. I'm complicated in my mind and I'd like to keep it simple. When you say taking care of other people the way you want to take care of yourself, that's assuming that you would take care of yourself skillfully. Kind of assuming that, yeah. Again, this is background practices of caring for yourself leading up to this developing this concentration on bodhicitta, yes. But it isn't assuming that you're perfect at taking care of yourself. It isn't assuming that you're perfect at caring for yourself. It just means that you have considerable skill. Because if you don't have considerable skill, you don't have enough energy to do this practice. So I'm telling you this practice and you might feel like, I don't have


the energy to do this practice. Well, in the last class I talked about how to develop energy, how to develop enthusiasm. One of the ways you develop enthusiasm, the main thing that gives rise to enthusiasm is aspiration, that you are intensely interested in doing these practices. It's the main thing that gives rise to enthusiasm to do this practice that we're talking about in this class. The main reason to have enthusiasm is because you really are interested in practicing it. You think it would really be good to not only have bodhicitta but focus on it and purify it. The main reason notice how it isn't so good to believe that you're separate from other people. To do


this practice does assume some skill in taking care of yourself. If you don't feel like you're skillful in taking care of yourself, review the last class and do those practices to warm up to this practice. But it doesn't assume that you perfected those previous practices because you can't have perfected them until you do this practice because this practice is how you perfect the bodhicitta which is the thing you're taking care of by the previous practices. You mentioned the word energy and I was going to say something about that. I have to realize my own limitations and I was wondering if I'm taking care or helping a certain number of people and I'm really trying to do it in a way that they are me and I'm doing it the way I was doing it for myself but there are other people who might need some help also and so I'm


thinking maybe it would be better just to say I can't help you right now because my energy is limited and I wouldn't be helping you in the way that I would want to be helping you or would it be better just to help? That sounds good so far. What you just said sounds fine. And in this class I'm talking about why you're talking to them think that the person you're talking to is yourself. Why you tell the person who you think is yourself that you don't feel like you have enough energy to take care of them keep thinking that. You say well I don't have the energy to keep thinking that. I say well if you don't have the energy to keep thinking that then you can't do the practice. But it's possible to be thinking the person I'm talking to is myself and I'm going to tell her now that I don't have the energy to gift of telling her I can't give her something


else. I can give her the gift of telling her I can't give her the other thing. I'll give you the gift of saying I need to rest. And I have the energy to give you that gift and be patient with myself for not being able to give you more and practice ethics at the same time. I'm doing pretty good here. And on top of that focus on bodhicitta. So while I'm failing to give you what I would like to give you or what you're asking me for, I do give you the gift of telling you that I'm failing at that and I'm simultaneously meditating on the mind of enlightenment which is she is myself. She is myself. This person who I am telling I can't give her


this thing, I'm talking to somebody who is myself. When you ask me a question about this, you're thinking he is myself. He is myself who I'm talking to about this. If you don't have the energy to do this, you won't be able to do it. If you do have the energy to do it, you might want to use your energy for something else. I hope not, but you might. You must have energy to do this practice. In addition to living your ordinary life, you've got to have enough energy on top of everything you're doing to moment by moment remember that the people you're meeting are yourself. Remember to think that every moment. You need energy for that. It's a great energy, but if you don't


have it, you won't be able to. But then you have to be honest and say, I can't do it. How do I get energy again? You've got to find out how to get energy. Go get the energy and say, okay, now I want to do it. I feel that enthusiasm. I want to try this amazing practice of focusing on the mind of enlightenment. Focusing on this desire to live for the welfare of others. And I got that now. I remember that. That's what I'm here for, to live for the welfare of others. And now, in order to purify that wish, I do this practice. Because I want to live for the welfare of others, but I'm a little bit thinking that they're not me. And that's not going to help. I've got to not only wish to live for the welfare of others, but I have to remember that they're me. That they're myself. I need that too. On top of my good wishes, I need to purify myself of the idea that they're not me, or that we're separate. And Nancy?


I'm kind of similar to Vera, I think. I think that I've been practicing generosity a lot. And I feel like I've been generous. And today, when I left work, this woman asked me for money. And I just, I was so tired of giving money to people that I didn't want to give any money to her. But she wouldn't stop. She said, I'm just going to walk away. And she kept walking. I said, walk. And finally, I said, okay. And I gave her $2. And I said, I'm giving you this money that I don't want to give to you. But I meant, you know, I don't want you to keep walking with me. But I am now feeling like I didn't, that I wasn't generous. I... Yeah. According to your story, it doesn't sound like you were generous. It sounded like you bribed her. I'm not giving


you this $2. I'm just bribing you to leave me alone. That's all. And I'm going to go to class tonight and tell people that I didn't give you $2. I used $2 to get you off my back. And... But, you know, I would like someday to be able to give it to you. And... If I could remember that you were my son, I would remember that. But next week you'll be able to remember. If you remember the person is yourself, then you're not so much into buying them off and bribing them. And you still might not give them $2. But you'll give them something. And you'll give them what you want to give them because they're yourself. But you don't necessarily give yourself everything that you're self asked for. That's not necessarily a good thing to do.