Filed in Tibetan

37 Practices of the Bodhisattva - Verse 12

Ken McLeod

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Ken McLeod continues his commentary on the 37 Practices of the Bodhisattva with the 12th verse. Watch the other videos here.

Even if someone, driven by desperate want,
Steals, or makes someone else steal, everything you own,
Dedicate to him your body, your wealth, and
All the good you’ve ever done or will do — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

How do you honor your hurt while still forgiving the wrongdoer who inflicted it?

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

Homepage image: KateWares

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mralexander99's picture

You can't steal the moon in the window!

fishman.ellen's picture

I take the verse:
Even if someone, driven by desperate want,
Steals, or makes someone else steal, everything you own,

this way-
The stealing is the action and how I respond to that action is up to me.
Yes, one has anger at the situation and certainly that is viable, yet the anger is momentary. The deed has been done, what pray tell should one do?
Dedicate to him your body, your wealth, and
All the good you’ve ever done or will do — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

By stepping past that moment, since all is impermanent, the compassion that is possible gives freedom a chance. You feel and let go of the action. The anger feeds an energy that continues the hurt, the wound.
The practice of a bodhisattva is not easy, but neither is the path of anger or the dark side that subsumes one.

Patricia.I's picture

What should the practice of the reckless driver be? The thief that steals everything you own? Or, as in the next verse, the guy that, even compassionately, lops off your head?
That's what I wonder.
One of the problems I have with this verse, and the ones that follow, is that they only look at one point of view in the situation: the victim's. But if they can be victims, bodhisattvas can be aggressors too.
How do bodhisattvas practice with their dark side?

Sareen's picture

Whether we are the perpetrator or the victim(the thief probably sees himself as a victim of an unjust society that owes him something, or he steals to feed his addiction which arose as part of having been a victim as a child), we have the most powerful influence on ourselves. If someone has harmed us, it is most powerful to look into ourselves and see what it is about our own reactivity that made us prone to becoming a victim in this particular situation and is also fuelling our current reactivity. We bring kind attention to our own vulnerability, which will be a combination of our past conditioning and our current reaction to the pain of the present situation. These verses add the great power of forgiveness, by letting go so completely that we are able to wish deepest happiness for the person who has harmed us. At that moment, we are free of the karma connected with that conditioning. Likely the conditioning is deep and we have to do this practice many many times.

When we realize we have harmed someone else, we need to feel deep remorse for that harm and look deeply into the conditioning that caused us to act in a way that was unwise. And there is a great need for kindness toward ourselves and all involved when we do this difficult work. Our work includes the resolve not to repeat the harmful action, knowing that being human we may fall down again and have another opportunity to learn more about ourselves. So far for me, this process is without end.

Another practice I find helpful is when ending a time spent with someone, to acknowledge that we may have caused harm to one another,knowingly or unknowingly, and to consciously invoke forgiveness for self and other for any harm that may have occurred. This is really difficult if we go deep, rubbing up against everything we hold on to. Personally, I have burned through many layers doing this work, and there is plenty more work to do.

Patricia.I's picture

Thank you, Sareen, for your thoughtful reply.
It addresses the question of personal accountability and compassionate action, as opposed to just the psychological work with one's own emotional reactivity, in a situation where the repercussions of our reactivity extend beyond me, myself and "I".

jgoudreau's picture

I used this advice this morning in traffic. After I was cut off on the highway. I simply felt compassion for that person and his stresses that may have made him drive recklessly. And I contemplated forgiveness for a time when I may have cut someone off.

Ken McLeod's picture

A possible refinement, James. Rather than focus on the suffering they will experience in the future, perhaps consider the suffering they are experiencing now that leads them to inflict pain on others. As Tokmé Zongpo advises, practice taking and sending with the pain they are experiencing. This keeps it all in the present.

James Mullaney's picture

Thank you, Ken. That's a much better idea. I'd rather stay in the reality of the now, where I might actually be able to DO something that will benefit these sentient beings.

James Mullaney's picture

I often experience pity and compassion for those who hurt me by considering how much regret they will suffer in the future for hurting me. Then forgiveness is spontaneous. And at the same time, I pity myself for the pain I am experiencing. So it's the desire for the nonsuffering of all beings - myself as well as those who wrong me - which arises naturally in the buddha heart.

joethelo's picture

very well put. thank you.