Sailing the Seas of Samsara
I hope you're all doing fine and practicing well during this time of global hardship. Coronavirus has taken us all by surprise but really there is nothing new in it as a samsaric occurrence. It is good time to contemplate transitoriness of life and to re-kindle our motivation for mahayana buddhist practice. Hardships like this can be great catalysators for dharma practice because when samsara becomes concrete, veils of illusion drop like drops of water from ducks feathers. The good in hardship like this is that our lazyness, distractedness and nonsensical excuses disappear like mist in the sun. So, please do make use of the opportunity and think about these occurrences in the light of dharma. Without dharma, we'd all be drowning. With dharma we can keep our noses above the water and learn to swim.
When we feel and take into our hearts the confusion and disorientation of people and all beings (really palpable these days!), we become bodhisattvas and things start going click in our mind. Layer after layer, click, click, click, calcified views of our self and existence burst open. That's the bhumis opening and perfecting, indications of correct practice, the ultimate medicine in action. So, please remember that the vow, literally, the *vow* of a mahayana bodhisattva is to personally "I vow to liberate, all sentient beings". Without deeply feeling this motivation, one will not attain the mahayana path to buddhahood and is not likely to have indications of correct practice either. When the course of a boat is right, it is easy to go ahead and sail the seas but if the course is wrong, sailing becomes difficult and you just keep hitting the reef. Bodhisattvas, even though they take a serious and compelling vow, travel with light feet. Bodhisattvas learn to sing and dance on the fields of fire and turmoil.
This world of human beings and animals, by definition, is a samsaric realm. There is never a time when all beings on this planet do not have a need for support. However, during times like this this need is even greater. People are drowning in this ocean of suffering, scared and confused, and yet so many do not have the ripeness and fortunate karma to meet with dharma in one form or the other. But again, our own contemplation, developing of compassion - bodhicitta - and dedicating merits of our practice for all beings is what increases readiness for others. The more we feel the vow of a bodhisattva, the more it gets personal and emotionally binding, the more our practice helps others. Without emotional energy of love, care and devotion our practice becomes reduced to lifeless words and forms. This loving emotion keeps us nourished along the way.
Finally, our gurus, Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal, are fully enlightened and magnificient beings. They are beyond samsara. They have fulfilled their bodhisattva vows and became buddhas. They have done it like we are doing now. They have open invitation for everyone. "Here, grab my hand, I'll pull you to the shore. Just grab it!". When we turn to them for help, we find a safe place in all of samsara. We find a refuge, a safe place where we can come to understand what the heck is going on here. Day and night, we can grab their hand: Namo Guru Rinpoche, Namo Yeshe Tsogyal Ye, Namo Guru Rinpoche, Namo Yeshe Tsogyal Ye, Namo Guru Rinpoche, Namo Yeshe Tsogyal Ye. Spin that mantra with love, for the sake of all sentient beings, and especially for the sake of those around us who are now in deep trouble. Take refuge and share it. Keep taking refuge and keep sharing it!
May all beings be free!
Pemako Buddhist teacher,