Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog
Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog, where we explore the dharma, which we have been fortunate to come into contact with. In a word, what is “dharma”? We can say it is the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. We can also say dharma represents certain truths or “the facts of life”. But most essentially, we’ve found that dharma comes to mean an awakening of our own active intelligence about the causes of suffering and happiness. This process is ignited by the teachings we hear and catalyzed further by our contemplation and practice. Join us in appreciating and deepening our understanding of dharma through these excerpts by Mangala Shri Bhuti’s teachers and senior students.
Things that appear difficult and challenging, or nearly impossible from the ego’s point of view, the bodhisattva takes right on, with a vision of skillful means and a sense of joyful challenge to work on the ego, and progress further.
This actually puts the self in service towards the highest outcome: toppling samsara—attaining the state of nirvana, and eradicating the misery of oneself and all beings.
Looking at the world, I am amazed at the vitality and potential which manifests as such fullness on this planet! If samsara can be like this in terms of vitality and the potential that lies in the nature, think what enlightenment can be. The Buddhas and bodhisattvas become enlightened because they know how to reach and manifest their fullest potential. It is their potential as well as that of all sentient beings. So what you cannot be in this life you can be in next life, and the next life beyond that. These doors open with the belief in rebirth and in the lives that continue.
If you think this life is it—all there is—and that there is nothing beyond this, perhaps you can sit back and think, ”Well, I don’t have to make any effort to ensure my safety in future lives,” and maybe that is very convenient. But in that case, when this life is IT, the attachment to this life increases a hundredfold. After all, if you only have one dollar to spend, you become very attached to that dollar. Since this body represents our life for us—this one and only life—we get very attached to this body.
Yes, we certainly want to keep our body healthy, vital and strong, but it cannot be kept forever.
So it will be like riding up a steep hill and sliding down and riding up and sliding down, and meanwhile there is so much fear attached to it all. So here we are talking about the psychological states that result from believing in rebirths or not, and how that affects the mind in general.
It makes sense to believe in rebirth, even if you cannot logically put it all together so that it fully makes sense to you right now. That requires lots of analysis to accomplish. But speaking in a general way, about how this understanding can influence and support our mind can only be helpful.
Someone like the Buddha or Nagarjuna is deeply involved in the path of enlightenment. But not with simply a kind of blind faith. Their involvement is strictly based on wisdom and clear analysis, which brought them the full conviction to ‘believe’ in what they are doing. So if rebirth were based merely on blind faith and there were no way to validate it, I do not think that Nagarjuna or the Buddha would have been fooled by rebirth or karma at all. Since there are ways to validate these with direct perception and inference, they did believe in rebirth and karma, and encouraged us to do the same, because it is helpful.
If everything has to be there, manifesting fully already in front of you in order for you to believe in it, then we should not believe in a tomorrow because it is not here yet for us to see and validate. During the period of the cause, if you must see the effect or the fruit, then you would have to see the fruit at the same time as the cause to believe the fruit is possible at all. If this happened, that cause cannot be a cause for the fruit. But this is not how things work. The fruit comes after the cause in a sequence, and we accept this simple relative truth all the time.
So we should live our life fully now. We are endowed with the potential to manifest as enlightened beings. And so, we should—not just for ourselves, but for all beings. After all,what is the harm in this? What is the drawback? Where is the danger?
If all the necessary causes and conditions don’t come together in this life, believe and aspire that they will come in the next and the next. Always be a positive thinker. There is no drawback to this.
Understand me, I am not talking about being positive in some clichéd way. There has to be a depth of view. It is not like saying something you know is not true, simply for the sake of acting positive. This is not being positive, but merely going against the direct experience of what is.
Many say Buddhists are so pessimistic—always talking about samara and impermanence. It is not that we have to feel guilty about enjoying life, and the things of life. That is a misunderstanding.
Instead, this is about having a far-seeing view and not losing heart over the trivial things that are happening in the short term. It is about making things work through working with where things are—bringing intention and action together.
There is no such thing as an insignificant bodhisattva, or a small bodhisattva. The bodhisattvas are the sons and daughters of the Victorious Ones. When we take this vow, we commit ourselves to the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the past times and commit ourselves to live up to their vision and their character.
This is very much in sync with making life on the earth better now. This is not only about some future time, or future lives. We need the courage and willingness to make life better here now! You need to be able to believe in yourself, now. You need to be positive in how you think, now. So this is not about future terms. This is about modern day bodhisattvas. This is about how to make life on earth abundant and beneficial; and to be able to reap that benefit oneself and have a greater impact on others.
And here I am not talking about affecting human beings only.
Often we think that the society and life of human beings is the most important and significant thing. And to a certain extent, it is. But a bodhisattva is not living his or her life for the benefit only of human beings. It is for animals as well, and beings of all kinds. Diverting a flood of water from submerging an anthill, or stopping a flood in Bangledesh—are equal in a bodhisattva’s mind.
There are tremendous opportunities to serve sentient beings and we do not need others to confirm this for us. It is our own vow, our own aspiration to relate to ourselves and others as species of sentient beings, and thus enhance and protect their well-being.
So looking at someone in the human world only, they may not seem such a great bodhisattva. But examined in a larger sense, in terms of what that person is doing to protect animals from danger, or how they relate to protecting other species—that person could be a great bodhisattva.
I used to know an old lady. In the village where she lived, she was not anyone significant per se. But I would always watch her in the summertime. She would make small protection roofs for the anthills, or provide crumbs to the ants; or save bugs from the pools of water. For us this is not such a big deal, but for the bug itself, it is their life, and that life is just as important to them as our life is to us. So what she did was a great bodhisattva activity.
The very loving-kindness that we generate in our heart, is the mind of Manjushri. When you read the Manjushri tantra, this is exactly what it states: to be Manjushri is loving-kindness—making a wish for all beings to be happy and to have the causes and conditions of happiness. And in that wish, having a sense of deep joy in the responsibility of feeling one’s care and love for beings.
In the compassion practice, that heart of compassion is no different than Avalokiteshvara’s. We can identify that within ourselves.
So we can all be humbled on the one hand, and yet also be confident in other ways. In this life that one has taken on this earth, with these parents as your mother and father, growing up in the neighborhood you grew up in, playing in the dirt—the outcome of all that remains tremendously significant. Not just being born and growing up randomly. It all comes from choices that we made, and the disposition to make the choices we did. The outcomes now are significantly different than any other that might have determined how you’ve grown up.
I hope you all hear what I am saying and I hope that you will really take this to heart.
From Gomde, June 15 2014 – Uttaratantra Shastra Commentary; Talk 3