Never mind delusions of grandeur, I have just discovered I’m mired in delusions of compassion. I thought I had an idea of what compassion is and isn’t. I don’t! You know how, when you are doing Ngondro, or Chenrezig, simply contemplating the suffering of beings in the lower realms can bring tears to your eyes? For me, it was a bit Disney. I have been waiting, with high expectations, for my happy ending!
Recently, several close Dharma friends have undergone some horrific experiences at the hands of others. It brought a strong awareness that hell beings have done truly awful things, inflicting unimaginable cruelties on others that I probably couldn’t comprehend, even if I tried. What I found is that instead of heart-warming compassion, all I had in my heart was fear. Fear for myself and fear for people I care about. Aii tog, I was not happy with that discovery, I gotta tell ya!
It’s much easier to think of Chenrezig having compassion for all beings than it is to think of me having compassion for even one truly evil being, especially if it involves harming someone or something I care about. No wonder the Dharma path is so challenging. It is my mind that has to change.
It reminded me of a teaching from the Karmapa on the levels of Bodhicitta. He said that the scope of our intentions depends on how much responsibility we can take upon ourselves. The Karmapa encourages us to look at ourselves. Mahayana means someone who can take upon themselves an extremely large responsibility. Do I have that much courage or not? Can I bear that much responsibility or not? Chenrezig is doing awesomely in that department. Me? Not so much.
To develop true compassion, Karmapa sends us straight back to the preliminaries. The preliminaries are the way things really are and they are the foundation for our development. We have to fully ‘get’ death and impermanence, karma, the ugly truth of samsara and how incredibly precious this human life is. This is the foundation. This is where the work lies and this is where we begin… And end. Haha, don’t you just love Dharma?
Till next time,