Filed in Tibetan

37 Practices of the Bodhisattva - Verse 11

Ken McLeod

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Ken McLeod continues his commentary on the 37 Practices of the Bodhisattva with Verse 11. Watch the other videos here.

All suffering comes from wanting your own happiness.
Complete awakening arises from the intention to help others.
So, exchange completely your happiness
For the suffering of others — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

What does "having a relationship with everything that arises in experience" mean to you? How do we go about achieving it?

For more of Ken McLeod's teachings, visit Unfettered Mind.

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Ken McLeod's picture

As I say in the commentaries, seeking happiness is not the best approached. In terms of the dynamics of relationships, it tends to reduce everything to "what do I get out of it?" When you are fully engaged in something, questions of happiness don't arise. This is the way of life at which spiritual practice is aimed. My intention wasn't slip the question slyly, but to say flat out "Not the best approach."

isafakir's picture

ı suddenly saw the admonition to turn the other cheek completely differently, exchanging your own happiness for the unhappiness of others... and slyly you sedgeway past the question of whether that makes you happy. ı can only say that real forgiveness cuts both ways. you can't be unhappy if you truly concern yourself with others but you can grieve for them. and feel joy for them. making good food, baking bread for others to eat, ice cream on the 4th of july for kids. that maybe is happiness.

avigael's picture

thank you, Ken. This exchange is life time work. Taking and Sending is such an excellent way to practice.

A teaching from Zen Master Eihei Dogen, intimacy with all things, has guided my moments. Intimacy with each person, animal, plant, intimacy with pain, anger, fear, intimacy with the intimacy. This practice of softening the heart at each moment, no matter how painful, allowing compassion and love to be, each moment, moment by moment, a kiss of the dance with the dish towel. ( i loved the story you told, ah)

So happy to see your teachings here on Tricycle.

George Draffan's picture

Qualities are forms: the qualities of self-centeredness are different from the qualities of compassion. Togme Zangpo says "complete awakening arises from the intention to help others" but of course not always, completely, or right away. We make our best effort, and see the results, and clarity grows over time. One quality of self-centered patterns is that stickiness you mention: feelings, behaviors, and clinging tend to stick around. We make our best effort and if it's honest, we tend not to cling to the results, whether they went the way we intended or not.
~ George Draffan, for Unfettered Mind

fishman.ellen's picture

Since quality has no form in order to cultivate it " you have to trust have to be honest with them". This quality has no form, and yet one must give it. Sometimes my actions are honest and trustworthy but wait are they? I get confused, delusions and patterns are so strong, how do I know when this quality is present and it is not the sticky hand of self orchestrating the behaviors?

Ken McLeod's picture

Granted. One can go further. In order to cultivate a quality in another person, you, yourself, have to give it. For instance, if you want someone to trust you, you have to trust them. If you want someone to be honest with you, you have to be honest with them.

That being said, if you give away happiness with the expectation of happiness, you will probably be disappointed. The problem is not in the giving away, but in the expectation.

cobham's picture

Are the trusting and honesty qualities in the relationship between oneself and another person, rather than in the person? Is there a subtle hint of expectation in that if I'm honest/trusting with you, then I expect you to be honest/trusting with me?
When you say "give away happiness", ( I'm probably misunderstanding), it sounds like there is only a finite amount of happiness and I am donating my portion to you. Usually it feels more like, one's happiness just beams out indiscriminatingly.
It's the first time I'm hearing the 37 Practices of the bodhisattva; is there a version/book that you recommend?

James Mullaney's picture

"A Course In Miracles" states that one of the marvelous things about reality is that we never lose anything by giving it away. Most wonderfully, this includes happiness.