Big Little Near Far Wise Foolish Boundless Compassion

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39272

    Big Little Near Far Wise Foolish Boundless Compassion


    AUDIO VERSION AVAILABLE HERE






    For the Mahayana Buddhist, helping a single person in even a small way, and any tiny good act of care, contains all the Compassion in the world, in all time and space and then some. Befriending one lonely person, even for a moment, comforting one crying child, lending a shoulder to a loved one or stranger to lean on, picking up just one rusty bottle top or fallen bird by the side of the road is nothing less than Kannon, Compassion's Bodhisattva of a thousand hands, befriending, comforting, lending, picking up, helping with your and my hands. It is an act, both small and passing, and timeless and infinite at once. Help those close by, the thing that is right in front of you.

    As well, to seek to feed millions, to hope to have an impact on the entire world, to clean the oceans, to comfort and aid those on the other side of the planet also embodies all the Compassion in the world, in all time and space and then some. I heard someone profess that seeking to have a big impact is foolish, for there is little that one person can do. However, such opinion is just plain wrong, for the mere reason that 1 person + 1 person + 100 persons and on and on, together, become a thousand thousand helping persons, a growing charity, a voting block, a town or city changing, a movement. Feeding and housing even a single hungry or homeless person is an act of unlimited merit, but so is our working in unison to feed and house those without refuge in all places.

    Think BIG, outside the box, creatively, for medicines and methods that have not been tried before. What is there to lose, with so much to gain? In the future there will be abilities and knowledge never imagined 1000 years ago, or even today. Do not let small thinking, traditional and selfish voices dissuade you, nor even those well-meaning. Also, do not forget that even one voice ... your voice, dear reader ... can become a source of ideas and inspiration to countless others. United, one handful by one handful, great mountains can be moved with time (and maybe with the help of mountain moving robots tomorrow! ) Help those both near and far, use means new and old, big and small.

    Robot Kannon, at a Zen Temple in Kyoto



    We all may not do all, near and far, big and small, but we Vow to do.

    Of course, our Bodhisattva Vows remind us dreamers that we are unlikely to succeed in helping everyone, not everywhere and not forever, not so long as this world in which we live is always changing, cruel and hard, so vast and tangled, sometimes beautiful but sometimes so very ugly. However, our Vow equally reminds us to keep on trying: "To save all Sentient Beings, though beings are numberless ... delusions inexhaustible ... reality boundless ..." If we save 1000, but fail to reach 10,000 more, our heart breaks for those missed, yet we have succeeded in helping the 1000. We can feel sadness, gladness and satisfaction at once, even as we then turn to resume the mission, never abandoning the 10,000 who remain still untouched.

    It is also good, healthy and wise to feel and offer Compassion to oneself: Our Metta chant of Loving Kindness always begins with ourself before turning to others: "May I be free of suffering ... grateful ... safe and still ... healthy ... at ease ... accepting." Like the nurse or loving parent who must sometimes rest, consider his or her own health and well-being before returning to the front-lines of care for others, we sometimes need to recuperate, put down the task, get some sleep, stop for a time, do something joyful to the heart, have some plain ol' fun. Even the Buddha, Master Dogen and countless old venerables are depicted in tales as taking a little "Me Time," self-nurturing between their talks on "no-self," making a small trip, a visit to a confidant or friend, retiring to the forest, composing poems and composing their own hearts in mountain huts. We read of their brilliant teachings and many inspiring happenings, but we hear little of the quiet times and hanging out between: Did Shakyamuni take a day off, a "Buddha break," Vimalakirti a long weekend vacation, did Hui-neng have a hobby, perhaps Dogen owned a dog that we don't know? I like to think so. Our sitting Zazen is a giving too, to self and others. Caregivers must watch for burnout before returning to the battles. Gratitude gas tanks need replenishing. A drop of self-love equally contains all the Compassion of the cosmos.

    Yes, we want to act wisely. Nonetheless, we sometimes try to do too much, to meddle in what does not need meddling, to stick our nose where it is unwanted. I think that there is no clear formula to mark off "dumb" compassion from the truly helpful kind. All we can do is keep our eyes open, be sincere, try our best to be discerning and to think of the right way to respond (or not) in a pressing situation. For this reason, Buddhism usually cherishes intent and sincerity, not success or failure, for acts done with good motives, and excuses damage done with neither neglect nor by intention. As well, we need to accept that sometimes our offers of aid will be refused, will be met with ambivalence or even anger and disdain, may backfire, might help someone for a time who then returns to their self-harming ways. We must accept this ... the best laid plans which go awry. Our mistakes and failures are no less than Kannon's 1000 mistakes and failures. A Bodhisattva can also bumble, a Tathagata can only try. Even the Buddha knew that he could not fix the whole world ... because if he could have, I am sure that he would have! All Gautama could ultimately do is do what he did day by day, while pointing us to the ultimate beyond all doing.

    For, finally, the Zen Mahayana Buddhist offers the ultimate Compassion to suffering sentient beings, namely, the seeing through beyond self and other, that we are more than these separate sentient beings, that there is not anyone to suffer. We comfort the grieving yet with hearts free of birth and death, we aid those who are lost and homeless while knowing the True Home which is everywhere, we give water to the thirsty though not a drop is ever missing from the river, we encourage the sick and scared while standing fearlessly upon groundless-ground. This is our unique and greatest gift to the world as bodhisattvas. We must offer material things, food and medicine, psychological comfort, love and cold cash ... but also the vision which sees beyond this broken world too, knowing the Flowing, Boundless Wholeness free of all desire.

    All of these are Compassion in its many facets, the manifold faces of Kannon, each and all together all the Compassion in all the world, all time and space and then some.

    The 1001 Kannons of the Sanjūsangen Hall in Kyoto




    Gassho, J

    stlah
    Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara, Kannon, Guan-Yin,
    Bodhisattva of Compassion
    tsuku.jpg
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    Last edited by Bion; 05-14-2024, 09:13 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Tairin
    Member
    • Feb 2016
    • 2733

    #2
    Wonderful. Thank you Jundo!


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

    Comment

    • Bion
      Treeleaf Unsui
      • Aug 2020
      • 3734

      #3
      "Our Bodhisattva Vows remind us, dreamers, that we are unlikely to succeed in helping everyone, not everywhere and not forever, not so long as this world in which we live is always changing, cruel and hard, so vast and tangled, sometimes beautiful but sometimes so very ugly. However, our Vow equally reminds us to keep on trying: "To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless ... delusions inexhaustible ... reality boundless ..."

      gassho
      sat and lah
      "Stepping back with open hands, is thoroughly comprehending life and death. Immediately you can sparkle and respond to the world." - Hongzhi

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