GPS for those who just entered the bodhisattva path
(Teachings in WPG 2009)
Dear WPG participants,
According to the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Bodhisattva Path is so vast and immeasurable, that the Buddha had to divide it up into 42 cultivation segments. From the lowest to the highest level, so as to be sensibly absorbed step by step; and the cultivation can be resolutely progressed segment by segment. The principal essence in one’s cultivating path is to execute the 10 paramitas (generosity; discipline or moral conduct; patience; diligence; concentration; transcendental wisdom; expediency; aspiration power; strength; and premordial wisdom}. However, for the common people of this era, like us, how should we cultivate? Especially when we are going to attend the WPG, the convention of loving-kindness, of Kuan Shr Yin compassion.
From my own personal perspective, GPS or the compass to practice the bodhisattva path, to be to the point and practical, lays on these two words: open and giving.
• Open: it has two principal meanings,
o First, it is the verb ‘to open’, which means an action of openness, as if we open a door; as if the flower opens its petals, or when we grin; it is like opening the cloud to see the blue sky; like opening the curtain to let the light enter through the window and into the room. It is as if we are in an angry mood, we open up our heart to forgive; like when we are sad, we burst out a cheery laugh. Opening up one’s heart and that of others, is the main objective of this word ‘open’.
o Second, it is the noun ‘openness'; meaning the inner state of being open-minded, letting go, being at ease, immeasurable tolerance, unlimited, unbounded.
o To cultivate the word ‘open’ is to contemplate on one’s own heart, so as to let it always be open, happy, and at ease. The spirit to be at ease, easy going, gentle, soothing, and loving should as well be applied to our relationship with mankind.
o In contrast to being open, is to be closed or in the state of closing up, or shutting out. Once we are not open, it is very easy to close up. Anger, jealousy, sarcasm, irritation, envy, hatred, rancor, sadness, and depression… are the result of a state of closing up oneself. If we truly practice the Bodhisattva way, we should then avoid words and actions which may make us and others close up.
• Giving: it also has many meanings:
o The meaning of the verb ‘to give': it is an action of giving out, it is also known as to tender, to donate, to provide, to bestow, to yield, to hand over, to give away, to make offerings, etc.
o Life is giving: meaning that when we were born, we were empty handed; and when we pass away, we will also be empty handed. In between the state of life and death, all the things that we generated and accumulated are but temporary. We temporarily use them, temporarily possess them, temporarily borrow them; they are not our inherent possessions. Hence, we should contemplate life and our possessions to be things to give, and to give unconditionally so that we can be free to enter the path, free to leave. The Buddha said that each breath, each strength, is designated to be completely given. Therefore, life is wonderful when we use it to give.
o Giving is an art of living. Giving is indeed an inspiring art, when we can truly appreciate that giving is to foster the openness in others and in us.
o The contrast to giving is receiving. Receiving is to store, to satisfy one’s desires, one’s selfishness; receiving so as to profit from it, is a strategic manipulation of the ego; it is incredibly dangerous. We should also be conscious of the fact that to receive is to provide an opportunity for others to give. When we embrace a grateful attitude, then it is an art of kind living
o When we give, we may forget fame, ourselves, become humble, which may instill in the receiver a sense of love, of selflessness, of sincerity; it is also a fine art of kind living.
o Giving happiness, loving words, words of wisdom, sincere advise, forgiveness, genuineness, with love, giving love, a gesture of humbleness, giving resolutely; giving without regret, without second thoughts; giving without manipulation, strategy; giving with all our heart… is an approach to enrich ourselves.
Kuan Shr Yin is the embodiment of loving-kindness, of boundless openness, of unconditional giving: at every moment, the Bodhisattva continuously gives us his undivided attention, and opens his heart to listen to our cries. With every second, the Boddhisattva is holding out his hands to help those in distress.
Hence, when we attend the convention, at this very moment, we should practice the behavior of opening up our heart and that of others, so that in the relationship with mankind, each action, each word is an open line, a gift of love.
May we all be blessed with openness!
We are looking forward to welcoming you at the WPG.
Ce Heng Chan