The vow of the Bodhisattva is that she will not go into Nirvana until every single suffering being has entered Nirvana. One has to understand what this means. Our awakening is not a personal triumph. We do not have to win a spiritual sprint. We are one mind. Awakening is to penetrate more and more deeply into this truth. The world is alive. And as long as there is suffering then this living whole is shattered. Whether it is my suffering or the suffering of another, when seen from the perspective of the Bodhisattva makes no difference, because, seen from this perspective there is no ‘me’ or ‘another.’ In the Diamond Sutra, “Although the Bodhisattva saves all sentient beings, there are no sentient beings to save.”
The heart of our practice is perplexity, wonder, care, concern, in the face of our situation. One only has to pick up a newspaper to realize the truth of Shakespeare’s words, “what a tangled web these mortals weave.” How contradictory our lives are; how full of pettiness and greatness, stupidity and wisdom.
Go where the heart of the problem lies.Our practice is all about seeing into the conditional nature of the world, me and God. We are not people or things, among other people or other things in the world. It is illusory to look on this structure as absolute. It is conditional, it is relative, it is useful. It is useful in the same way a filing system is useful. The filing system does not itself impinge in any way on the material that is filed. It does not alter in any way the letters, correspondence, forms or invoices. It is the melting down of this structure that our practice is about.
Life is a constant creation. It is a moment by moment, instant by instant creation. I don’t mean by this that it is a set of discrete creations, it is not like that. But nevertheless, this spontaneity is constantly arising. And it is within this that is our freedom.
Often, when doing a spiritual practice one comes face to face with the desert, a feeling of being abandoned, a feeling of dryness and an endless sense of nothing to look forward to. At its most intense it is not a feeling to which one can give a name. At first this is very painful and one has a strong tendency to want to stir things up, try to make something happen, to try this, do that… But one has entered this desert because one has let go of the various ways one has used in the past to entertain oneself. These ways have, for the moment at least, come to an end. It is now possible for a much deeper unity to manifest, a unity that is not dependent upon an integration from outside.