great love

Reading a book titled Gesture of Great Love, the newest in the Time Space Knowledge series by Tarthang Tulku. It’s quite a different tone from TSK (my ‘favorite’), and Immediately and refreshingly arrives at the necessary urgent tone for our times. It somehow also has a friendly feeling, similar to a book given to me earlier in the year, Radically Happy.

Both books focus on day-to-day mind, greeting life with openness and ease, and both could be given to a person who isn’t on a Buddhist path necessarily. There are gentle practices, which don’t ask quite as much of the reader but are meaningful, and a, dare I say, cutsie central idea.

I can’t see yet whether the text will sustain the urgent tone, as I’m only a short way into reading, but there’s an early portion wherein the author zeroes in on that scriptwriter I mentioned several posts ago, who in my case had become quite adept at mimicking my inner guidance system, repeating the phrase “I’m tired” on a loop. Until one day I thought, “Am I tired?” Then noticed I wasn’t, actually. This voice, in the book, is “the regime”, which by heedlessly obeying, one forgets who/what they are: beyond dualities of knower and known, improver and something to improve. LOVED. Scope narrows down this way, and one can lose sight of, connection to, true capacities.

I’m fond of Taoist narratives which use swords as key metaphors. Things can happen to offset energies, affecting whether a character’s sword skill remains capable. The culprit could be a fragrant but poisonous smoke that fills the air, or a tune that sounds quite similar to a soothing one, but with an imperceptible deviated variation.

Image of Lan Wanji (played by Wang Yibo), a character from The Untamed I like a ridiculous amount.

Parsing out the deviations and bit by bit exposing them could be one plan of action, but would take countless eons. The book so far suggests we cannot… that parser and loop are hopelessly entangled. There’s no viable path except surrender, and what sense does that make? šŸ˜‰ You can see how similar this question is to the story Christianity presents, about inclining toward sinfulness one can’t address on their own, therefore enters an all-loving hero.

So I see resistance in myself: what about the Bodhisattva ideal Mahayana posits as the most worthwhile aspiration? “Beings are limitless; I vow to save them all.” I realize that in Buddhism this doesn’t mean to save as in an “I” going around acting like a savior to “beings”, and that it rather cracks open that notion entirely, as in the story of Avilokitesvara, who exhausted their capacity to empty the hell realms over and over again before sprouting eleven heads and a thousand arms.

I like how, in the version of the story below, Amitaba Buddha is sort of a father figure dusting off their child and giving them new and better armor to better fulfill their longing:

One prominent Buddhist story tells of Avalokiteśvara vowing never to rest until he had freed
all sentient beings from saį¹ƒsāra. Despite strenuous effort, he realizes that many unhappy
beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his head splits into eleven pieces. Amitābha, seeing his plight, gives him eleven heads with which to
hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them,
Avalokiteśvara tries to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that his two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitābha comes to his aid and invests him with
a thousand arms with which to aid the suffering multitudes. [WIKIPEDIA] [31]

Even so, I’ve long been drawn to the quote “The foolish are trapped by karma; the wise are liberated by it” because of this dynamic…beings as bridges opening and closing the gates, even if only to display that there are no gates, no beings to open them for. Time pointing to no time, endlessly. Is this what Dogen calls Ceaseless Practice?

No suffering, no end of suffering…

But if so, doesn’t this suggest Avilokitesvara is still exhausted? šŸ™‚ Human beings become exhausted when they attempt to hold and manage karma, respond out of ideologies, but what about the Bodhisattva? No, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva is (made of) Love. There’s no draining voice in Avilokitesvara’s mind repeating “I’m tired…” There’s nowhere for such a voice to land.

Published by Stephanie Beth

I write about meditation, inquiry and play!

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