(Continued from last issue)
Within a single mote of dust appear the jeweled kshetras of the Dharma King.
Seated in a dustmote, they turn the great Dharma-wheel.
When we see things this way, then there is no difference between ourselves and all living beings. When we cultivate at this level, all places are the Way-place, and there is not one living being that is not a potential Buddha. Yes, for a school teacher, it is hard to remember sometimes that those little "monsters" are potential Buddhas - - children, just like us, have their good and bad days, their beautiful and horrid sides. But in fact they never, and we never, lose that bright potential for enlightenment. How is it said? "The Way cannot leave us for an instant; if it could leave us, it would not be the Way."
Can we say which child may be the future teacher, or the future Buddhas? Can we stand back and say, "I’m cultivating, don’t bother me! Kids are getting in the way of my cultivation." Living beings are boundless and everywhere. In the classroom we may be crossing over and teaching our parents from lives past; or "planting the seeds" of our parents and teachers in lives to come.
Going back to the tree analogy: Bodhisattvas are prepared to advance past the flower and fruit stage. After they ripen, then they drop and rot. They "transfer" their richness back into the soil to nurture the roots of the tree, and produce future fruits. Ultimately, then, which part of the tree is the Bodhisattva? Which stage in the process is "cultivation?" You lose track of the self; the borders between self and others; worldly and world-transcending fade and blur.
Going and returning wihout border;
Movement and stillness are one source.
At this point, one wonders, "Where am I in all this? Am I these kids or my self? I don’t know anymore." That not knowing is really a kind of "knowing." It’s approaching the state where the Bodhisattva
...just like all Buddhas, awakens to the truth of no-self...
If we see it all clearly, then we don’t have to know any more where the difference lies between ourselves and others, between students and teachers, between cultivating and teaching. When we see it all clearly, then we see that Great Compassion is the source of wisdom. Until all living beings have it, I don’t really have it.
When we see living beings experiencing suffering, it is experienced directly, as if we ourselves or our own mother or father are also suffering; you feel instinctively moved to do something to relieve the misery. The Buddha says we should expand the measure of our mind until we see all living beings as the same, as identical with our own being. What better or more obvious way to put that principle into practice than to start a school! How could a Bodhisattva feel that this was interfering with his cultivation?
The Bodhisattva wishes to benefit the flocks of beings.
His supreme understanding is vast like space,
Entering all the three periods of time.
Countries, living beings, and Buddhas are also this way.
This is the practice of Universal Light of Wisdom.
Witnessing beings undergo tremendous anguish,
He gives rise to great compassion and manifests in the world.
Proclaiming the Dharma, his light eradicates the darkness.
This is the practice of the Bodhisattva Sun of Wisdom.
With the expedient power of great kindness and compassion,
He pervasively manifests throughout the world.
Speaking Dharma to beings according to their understandings and
He leads them all toward the Bodhi Way.
—ChcCChapter on Entering the Dharma Realm, Avatamsaka Sutra
Actually, as a teacher, I think I learned more from my students than I taught them.
→To be continued