WE ARE NOT ALL SHANTIDEVA

by | May 31, 2020 | Clear Light

Discipline. Dedication. If you do not have these qualities, then, forget it. Just lie down and go to sleep. Wake up to eat. Wake up to drink. Wake up to go to the bathroom.

I was reading a story about Shantideva at the time of the Nalanda monastery in India. Nalanda monastery was one of the most important monasteries in the history of Buddhism. About 20,000 monks were there.  Many of them were pandits. They were not just pandits.  They were incredibly famous pandits. Okay, so, pandits are like people with doctoral degrees.  The PhD versions at that time were called pandits. So, there was one pandit before he became a pandit whose name was Shantideva. He was lazy. They basically called him, ‘Bu-su-ku.’ During that time, in India, they were probably using Sanskrit or maybe Pali so I am not sure if, ‘Bu-su-ku,’ is Sanskrit or Pali but I think it is Sanskrit,. It means ‘eat-sleep-shit.’

When all the monks would go into the prayer hall, Shantideva would, then, lie down on their shoes to sleep. When the monks came out, he would still be sleeping so they had to push him to get back their sandals. Consequently, everybody was so annoyed with him.  They judged him a lot.

Then, one day, the monastery decided to prank him. They invited him to give teachings. They thought he was going to ridiculize himself something awful. So just to make sure that he would ridiculize himself, they put up a high throne for him with no stairs to get on top.

So, of course, they did not expect at all what this guy could do.  When he arrived there, when he saw the throne, his arm became long.  He pulled down the throne, sat on it and, then, the throne went back up, again. Everybody was in shock. Then, as he was speaking, he was floating. Halfway through his talk, he disappeared. For something like four years, they were looking for him so he could finish.

They were desperately looking for him everywhere. They finally found him in front of a cave somewhere in the forest. He had been hunting deer.  He had all these skins of deer in front of his cave. So, again, they had these doubts. Who is this guy? Is it him? Does he really have these powers? So, they asked him to give teachings, anyways. Then, he said something related to emptiness. I am not sure what he was saying but he would do like that and, then, the skins would jump as deer and run away. Every single one of them down to the last one jumped up and ran away. Then, Shantideva sat down. He finished the teachings which are written down to this day. I do not know how many chapters. You should know about this, right? Ten chapters by Shantideva. So, that is the story of how those ten chapters came to be.

Anyway, that idea just came into my head because I was talking about laziness. Right. So, I am talking about myself. Okay. So, if you are not really dedicated you do not try.  Then, there is going to be no result. We are not all Shantideva. We must relate to ourselves as striving human beings who have difficulty. I mean, I strive, every day. I struggle, every day. It is just that you must try not to give up. That is mainly the factor that we are looking for.

I mean, sometimes, it is okay to procrastinate. Sometimes, it is good to take a break. It is good to breath. It is good to rest. It is good to recover. Then, go back to work. This work is not work to earn a living. Of course, that is super important. The education system is teaching us how to do that kind of work. How to live, I think is more important. You do not live to work. We work to live, right? So, I think living is really the more important part. That is the aspect of work I am talking about here. The real work would be to train our mind the same way you would train a muscle. The same way you would train different aspects you want to achieve is the way you train your mind. Whatever you want to be successful with, you need to train to get that goal.

Of course, you must go through the process of failure. I mean, if you make mistakes, it is an incredibly good thing. If you do not make mistakes, it means you are not doing anything. The thing is you will make mistakes. So, then, when you notice them, that is the time to question, Hmmm.’ Am I really trying? Am I really taking risks? So, you do like that.  You check.

That is how it is. If you do not tame your mind, your mind is going to be taming you. You are going to be the person being dragged by the wild bulldog around the street. The bulldog will be chasing some chickens somewhere, some female bulldog, and she will just be dragging you along on the chase. That will be your life story. Being dragged around by the mind, by the bulldog, the undomesticated bulldog. Or the undomesticated pit bull. Or whatever. A dinosaur if you want it to be. A Tyrannosaurus rex if you are not careful. It is true. It really is true.

The ego can become so big. It is not just the mind. It is, also, the ego. We feed that aspect. We fool ourselves. We have these mechanisms of self-defense created by the ego. Then, we do not want to check. We do not want to challenge that aspect of ourselves. We are too scared. We fear our potential. I do not know. Each person is different. We all have different aspects but that is the thing. If you do not challenge that aspect of you, if you do not focus, if you do not uncover it, if you fear your own potential, if you fear challenging and confronting that fear that you have, then, you are going to be bypassing. You can have all kinds of bypasses. You take refuge in something to avoid confronting yourself. Right?

So, I mean, there are so many different aspects of taking refuge. We do have some examples, right? What kind of refuge do people take in life?

TV? Yes! Thank you!

Food? Oh yeah!

Whiskey? Exactly!

What else?

Other people. Company. Formless attachments. Formless grasping. Sensations that we get from external agents. Or how somebody makes us feel. Or how we feel when we do certain things like adrenalin. Like that. Or even spiritual blindness when we take refuge in the guru. I am not talking about the actual, traditional refuge where we take refuge in the Dharma, Buddha, Sangha. I am talking about that refuge, that grasping, that, ‘Oh, I need this,” to avoid confronting yourself. That kind of bypassing. I am talking about that kind of refuge to avoid something. Trust me. No matter what, you will have to confront yourself, eventually.  It is only going to be you. Nobody else is going to do that for you. That is something important you must be aware of.

So, how many times does it happen?

“Oh, the guru, the guru. the guru.”

“Oh, the teaching.”

“Oh, the Dharma. the Dharma.”

Or anything. Any religion. Or any alcohol. A car. Or idealization.

We get so attached to that.  Then, 20 years pass by when we realize that we have not really done much. We still have the same issues. Maybe it is even worse because we let the problem take root. We let them take form.  We let them be present. Then, the older we get, sometimes it gets more difficult to change because we are stuck in our heads. So, then, to break those habits is even more difficult. It is more of a challenge. It is not impossible. It is just more of a challenge.

Sometimes, the bigger the challenge the better the result. Right? Sometimes, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the gift. So. Everything has its good parts. That is what you must focus on. You do not have to focus on the negative parts. At least, just use it to improve, to learn, right? If you focus on the negative all the time, then, that is what is going to prevail in your life. Then, you are going to be just dragged down. If something negative happens in your life and you see it as something negative that harmed you, that is going to be a weight. That is it. It becomes a backpack full of lead.

If you choose to use it as a lesson, then, it is going to be a catapult.  You will be a living example to help others to go through the same issues. So, that is a positive way to see things, for example.  This is just an example.

So, what I am trying to say is just make sure that you can find yourself every day. Make sure that you observe your mechanisms.  Make sure that you actively do not lie to yourself or try to fool yourself before you take refuge in anything. Be aware when you are taking refuge in external objects. Do not use it as a bypass to avoid the true work that you must do. Does that make sense?

All right. I do not know. So, I can keep going forever.

Just understand that this is the true work that we are here to do as humans.

2 Comments

  1. Maureen Sullivan

    I recognize myself in both the lazy Shantideva and the very accomplished pandits. And a pit bull mind, an alcoholic mind, exhausts me. The dragging around is ceaseless. Unless I practice. Find the way of both Shantideva and the pandits.

  2. Andy Wistreich

    Let’s make a resolution to give up bypassing, and just be honest with ourselves about where we take refuge, and not follow sheepishly like members of a cult. Thanks for prodding us, Osel, to seek and find the truth and the way ourselves, guided maybe, but not mindlessly being camp-followers.

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