The Path of the Bodhisattva
We cannot attain the ultimate Dharma immediately. But as soon as we enter into the path we can begin to develop the qualities that will guide us and step by step we will finally attain the infallible and supreme Dharma. In order to do this we must start at the beginning - that is, by abandoning the harmful actions of body, speech, and mind, which are listed below.
The harmful actions of the body are killing any being, from a person down to the smallest insect (and even, says one sutra, the egg of a chicken). However, in the latter example, for this to be a true misdeed you must be motivated by the intention to destroy.
Killing is the act that produces the gravest consequences, for it causes immediate suffering. There is no excuse for killing, either out of anger or aversion. The Dharma makes certain exceptions as far as animals are concerned. While it is forbidden to bring about the murder of an animal because of one's attachment to eating meat, buying some meat from an animal that has already been killed is not a serious fault. The problem of eating meat is resolved differently depending on certain sutra; these variances are due to the diverse circumstances and conditions in which disciples live.
So we will not deliberately kill an animal in order to eat it. But if our health depends on it, we may eat the meat of an animal that had been killed already, while refecting on the importance of a healthy and vigorous body to practise the Dharma so as to help all sentient beings. However, we will never do this only to indulge our tastebuds or satisfy our greediness, and a vegetarian diet is always preferred.
is an unwise act, causing suffering by depriving another person of their
of sexual misconduct are ranked among the principal faults of the body.
In general, this means adultery, the act of having physical reltions
with someone other than your own spouse. A great deal of trouble in
daily life comes from this; from the most advanced societies of developed
countries to the most 'primitive', most arguments occur because of problems
caused by these kinds of relations.
lie relates to the habit of deceiving and misleading others. However,
if the life of a sentient being or the Dharma can be protected by a
lie, there is some excuse to be less than completely honest.
Malicious gossip and slander create disputes and opposition between individuals or groups of people, and can bring about serious intolerance. The masters say that when we are with others we must look after our tongue, and when we are alone, after our mind.
speech, talkativeness, idle chatter, are useless. Such talk is generally
centred around desire, attachment, or aversion, and only increases our
evil intentions and false views come from the mind. The mental attitude
of greed consists of always wanting what others possess and never being
content with little. Evil intentions manifest by the mental attitude
of aggression towards others. False views are those that deny the law
of karma, reincarnation and the truth of the Three Jewels.
this group of ten harmful actions is equal to acquiring ten corresponding
virtues. This is the first step on the path of Dharma. With this base,
the correct attitudes of body, speech, and mind can be developed. We
then add the aspirations of bodhichitta and other practices that will
assure our development. When we awaken to the view of impermanence and
develop mindfulness of it, and when we recognise the nature of suffering,
we will seek shunyata, emptiness, the ultimate truth. In this way, progressively,
the ultimate Dharma will be born within us. This is why the true refuge,
the Dharma, can save us.
Dharma also means the practice of all that allows us to attain this
sangha must set an example and be a model for us. It is extremely encouraging
to heat the stories of past gurus, of sentient beings developing bodhichitta
and realising shunyata. If others have been able to do it, then why
can't we? This is a source of great inspiration. So the sangha provides
an example that helps guide us in our practice of Dharma.
know from various stories of the aryabodhisattvas' heroic efforts to
help sentient beings. We should be inspired to follow their footsteps
exactly. This should sum up our attitiude regarding the sangha.
Buddha is is the master who guides us, the Dharma is true refuge, the
sangha is the helpful friend. To take refuge in the Three Jewels is
a practice of bodhisattva.
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