This is a lesson that can easily be applied to both generally trying times, and on a day to day basis as we live our lives. Anger, even sometimes as it appears in the form of righteous indignation and similar such shapes, is quite obviously the enemy and antithesis of patience, referred to here are forbearance. It is quite easy to be consumed by anger when confronted with situations we do not understand, personal and general suffering, and instances where there does not seem to be an immediate and easily attainable solution. However, in what seems like a common sense response but The Bodhicaryāvatāra takes great care to necessarily present, one must eschew anger in order to then be filled with the perfection of forbearance. Anger clouds the mind, blocks judgment, removes hope. With enough patience things become, if not necessarily easy, bearable.
As of late I’ve found myself in a somewhat stagnant state as life falls into a seemingly endless routine, and I’m trying to avoid allowing those feelings to warp into anger, whether that be at the situation as a whole, or even the people I find myself surrounded by day in and day out. Something in this chapter surprised me, though. As I mentioned earlier, the concept of eschewing anger to then be filled with forbearance seemed like such an obvious thing yeah? But sometimes (as cliché as it can sound) the most obvious things really are the ones that tend to slip the mind the quickest, and being confronted with them in such a blatant way are what we need the most. So, with a more actively focus on banishing anger and meditating on patience, I’m finding it easier to withdraw from the feelings of negativity and listlessness that have done their best to drag me down. I’m not entirely there yet, more often than not letting myself mope a bit and be consumed by the routine seems like the easiest option, but I can feel a sense of determination to power through beginning to emerge.
I’m hoping that all of my posts won’t be related to the pandemic, but this is more of a positive one so I’m gonna run with it. Within the first page of Chapter 3, one of the “verses” stood as to me as being indicative of some of the most (if not the most) selfless heroes of the COVID-19 situation: doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. “I am the medicine for the sick. May I be both the doctor and their nurse, until the sickness does not recur.” With that connection informing my reading of this chapter, several more moments began to stand out to me. In particular “stanzas” 10, 18, and 23, which are as follows:
“See, I give up without regret my bodies, my pleasures, and my good acquired in all three times, to accomplish good for every being;” “May I be a light for those in need of light. May I be a bed for those in need of rest. May I be a servant for those in need of service, for all embodied beings;” and “So too, I myself shall generate the Awakening Mind for the welfare of the world; and just so shall I train in those precepts in due order.”
How could these moments not stand out as being representative of the men and women who continue to offer medical service at great risk to their own lives and well-beings? Many stories have come out of these same people being unable to see their own families for weeks out of fear of spreading the infection, and even in some cases being forced out of leases and other housing contracts by fearful landlords. Despite this, and the grueling hours doctors and nurses are enduring, they keep shining their lights and being the positive forces that we so greatly need during this time. As such, I wouldn’t hesitate to describe these people as Awakened being, although they may be contextually different from those described in The Bodhicaryāvatāra.
This might be too much of a stretch as a comparison, but when I read about the two parts that form the Awakening Mind (the mind resolved on Awakening and the Mind proceeding towards Awakening) I tried to view the concept through the lens of the current state of the world… And the conclusion that I drew is that perhaps we could superimpose the idea of Hope over the concept of the Awakening Mind? It seems to me that the dual nature of this state of mind is not unlike Hope in a way, which is something that we as human beings must hold onto in these times. To elaborate, if the Awakened Mind exists first in the form of a desire to achieve Awakened status and then as an active striding for said status, could Hope not be viewed the same way? By this I mean that we can look at Hope first as an idea/concept/feeling/state we must chose to attain, and then as something that must be actively pursued. To me, Hope is not necessarily something that can always be passively attained or given, but one must take care to consistently strive to grasp and then maintain it…. And upon doing so, we find the tenacity and perseverance to endure even in the most dire of circumstances.