On the outside, this journey within was instigated by a couple of things: an increase in the disability of my body which has MS, and the management of Spirit Fire now being fully and superbly done by someone else. Both have included feelings of loss and a temporary feeling of purposelessness. I smiled with myself many times through the last few months knowing that these feelings and the circumstances seeming to cause them were not the whole picture. Purposelessness? How can that be possible when the purpose I aspire to, along with millions of others, is the well-being of all beings? In 2004, I renewed a vow made a long time ago, then in 2010 that vow was blessed again, and in 2011 I bowed again to the dedication of bodhichitta and the bodhisattva vow. I believe, at essence, that most spiritual traditions have a version of this dedication. The bodhisattva vow is the commitment to fearlessly engage the path of enlightenment and compassion because we are all in life together, and the effectiveness of anyone living with more compassion and awareness assists in the freeing of all beings from suffering.
My guess is that the bodhisattva vow is a label given to a most ancient tradition. The painting-teachings in Egyptian pyramids or temples of the weighing of the heart against a feather are saying similar. The term “light heartedness” comes from this ancient Egyptian code of life and ethics. The Kemetic code and the teachings of Thoth were precepts to live by and practice with all one’s being. They remind me of many Buddhist teachings as well as those found easily in the Bhagavad Gita spoken by Krishna to Arjuna. Equally, I have been fortunate to have memories from lifetimes gone by of my Native grandfather teaching me the Wisdom of the Good Red Road, and again, those teachings are at essence the same bodhisattva vow. We are all on this beautiful blue jewel of a planet together. It functions in rapturous harmony, even in storm. Only together, respecting all as sacred and vital to the whole, will life thrive.
Humans are learning a new form of being: Self-aware awareness (conscious sentiency). We are learning through our very livingness that what we do effects life, including our personal life and our lives to come. Our challenge is that in our preoccupation with a developing sense of self, thus self-gratification or disappointment, we lose sight of the immediate ramifications of our personal effects. We lose touch with the inter-dependence that the scale of the feather and heart were reminding us of. I use “Self-aware” in distinction to self-aware for this reason. Awareness of self often is describing the self that is fearful, or critical, or caught in a story, or prideful, self-loathing or self-cherishing. Self-awareness is breaking through those limiting frames of reference to a less “hooked” (Pema Chodron) sense of Self.
Everything is sentient, which is to say, somehow aware, but the human kingdom is an experiment in developing Self-aware awareness. This is the teaching of the ancient Egyptians, the ancient and modern yogis, the shamans and medicine keepers, and of the Buddha.
Bodhichitta is simply the aspiration to live a fully open heart. This requires that mind be not separate from heart, and there lies the fearless engagement of the vow. It is the human mind that perceives division and separateness. Bodhichitta is the commitment to engage the divisions of mind and let them all come undone, let them melt into the nothing that the divisions were in the first place. “Things” disappear: the stories, the drama, the self-importance, the sense of entitlement or victim, and leave us with … what has come undone: our sense of “I”. This is where the fearlessness comes in. This is where the dance comes in, too, because if we choose to engage our “self” as an enemy – which conjures fear for any sentient being – we stay in separateness within our skin and mind. But if we surrender and “let all come undone,” we will discover the open heart of Awareness.
So, the outer circumstances of body and task were only that, as they are for us all. My guess is that we all know that.
Break through, break through divisions of mind
Let all come undone
Court the edge of enlightenment
(This came through in 2007 when meditating with the Heart Sutra.
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha OM)
While I work my way toward meditating at least 14 hours a day, inspiration was sweet in watching Pema Chodron talking with Bill Moyers. I hope you will find it sweet too.