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We’ve been in silence together today and followed a more meditative programme, absorbing the rich input of the last days. It’s as if an atmosphere of gentleness, quiet, and ease has pervaded Adhisthana, which seems unlikely in the midst of a landscaping project and a busy, living and working community; but it is so. There’s been the usual exchange of cheeky smiles, and I’ve enjoyed seeing people sitting and moving around the site absorbed in their own reflections. This practice of being silent together really holds an image of the individual and collective aspects of our going for refuge.
This evening we practised the long Bodhicaryavatara puja, the sublime verses of Shantideva. I noticed a subtle tightening in myself as I recited these words:
Let them hate me;
Let them love me;
But whatever their feeling for me
Let it bring about all that they desire.
Let them wrong me;
Let them mock me;
Let them accuse me falsely;
But let them share in Enlightenment.
Metta, fully developed, applied unconditionally, is such a lofty ideal - to completely dissolve the obstructing sense of pride, and open to bodhicitta. This reminded me of something Saddhaloka said yesterday about how easily we underestimate how broad and deep and all-encompassing our foundation of love needs to be. What I love about this puja from the Bodhicaryavatara, and similarly with the puja from the Sutra of Golden Light, is that it gives expression to the deepest and most sublime of ideals, and through reciting these verses I come into relationship with those ideals, however distant. I can enact offering myself up, and this very enactment invites a relaxation of my boundaries, a giving up of my will, a stretch beyond what I can conceive, and an experience of expansion and connection.
Just as the earth and other elements
are serviceable in many ways,
to the immeasurable beings,
dwelling throughout space.
So may I be sustenance of many kinds
for the realm of beings throughout space,
until all have attained release.
As a blind man might find a jewel
in heaps of rubbish,
so too this Awakening Mind
has somehow appeared in me.
It is the elixir of life
born to end death in the world.
It is the inexhaustible treasure
alleviating poverty in the world.
It is the supreme medicine
curing the sickness of the world,
a tree of shelter for weary creatures
staggering along the road of existence.
The causeway to cross over bad rebirths,
open to all who travel.
It is the rising moon of the mind,
mitigating the defilements of the world.
It is the brilliant sun,
dispelling the mists of ignorance from the world.
It is fresh butter risen up
from the churning the milk of the true Dharma.
As long as space abides,
and as long as the world abides,
so long may I abide,
dispelling the sufferings of the world.
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