Wednesday, October 05, 2005

ACHIEVING BUDDHAHOOD

We have spoken a great deal about compassion and equanimity and what it means to cultivate these qualities in our everyday lives. When we have developed our sense of compassion to the point where we feel responsible for all beings we are motivated to perfect our ability to serve them. Buddhists call the aspiration to attain such a state bodhicitta, and one who has achieved it, a bodhisattva.

There are two methods for bringing about this attitude. In his book. "An Open Heart", the Dalai Lama describes them: "One, called the Sevenfold Cause-and-Effect Method, hinges on viewing all beings as having been our mother in the past. In the other, Exchanging Self for Others, we view all others as we do our ourselves. Both methods are considered practices of the method, or path."

For many of us who are just beginning on the path, the message unflolding here is new territory. It may require some of us to alter our belief and thinking 90 degrees, but in so doing we are opening ourselves to a greater opportunity. An opportunity to view life with a panorama lense rather than a finely tuned microscope. Our world is being tested as never before and along with it; our values and traditional beliefs about everything. Massive change is immenent and it will lead us in a direction that will guide not only our children but our children's children to a kinder, more peaceful and compassionate world. So let's begin our journey to achieving Buddhahood and let's not forget that patience is required, for as we have been told, it may take this lifetime and perhaps several more to achieve the noble state of Buddhahood.

THE SEVENFOLD CAUSE-AND EFFECT METHOD

"If we have been reborn time after time, it is evident that we have needed many mothers to give birth to us. It should be mentioned that our births have not been limited to the planet Earth. According to the Buddhist view, we have been going through the cycle of life and death for far longer than our planet has existed. Our past lives are therefore infinite, as are the beings who have given birth to us. Thus the first cause bringing about bodhicitta is the recognition that all beings have been our mother."

"The love and kindness shown us by our mother in this life would be difficult to repay. She endured many sleepless nights to care for us when we were helpless infants. She fed us and would have willingly sacrificed everything, including her own life to spare ours. As we contemplate her example of devoted love, we should consider that each and every being throughout existence has treated us this way. Each dog, cat, fish, fly, and human being has at some point in the benningless past been our mother and shown us overwhelming love and kindness. Such a thought should bring about our appreciation. This is the second cause of bodhicitta".

"As we envision the present condition of all these beings, we begin to develop the desire to help them change their lot. This is the third cause, and out of it comes the fourth, a feeling of love cherishing all beings. This is an attraction towards all beings, similar to what a child feels upon seeing his or her mother. This leads us to compassion, which is the fifth cause of bodhicitta. "

"Compassion is a wish to separate these suffering beings, our mothers of the past, from their miserable situation. At this point we also experience loving-kindness, a wish that all beings find happiness. As we progress through these stages of responsibility, we go from wishing that all sentient (conscious) beings find happiness and freedom from suffering to personally assuming responsiblity for helping them enter this state beyond misery. This is the final cause. As we scrutinize how best to help others, we are drawn to achieve the fully enlightened and omniscient state of Buddhahood."

Buddha says; "A man is not a great man because he is a warrior and kills other men; but because he hurts not any living being, he in truth is called great man".

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