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Samantabhadra

Recap:

This post is part of a 5-week series in relation to the Five Bodhisattvas and a Reflection Group I put together and am part of with a few sangha friends of mine.

Bodhisattva literally means “enlightened being.” The Plum Village chant book defines it as such: One committed to enlightening oneself and others so that all may be liberated from suffering.

In our practice tradition, we are especially urged not to regard the bodhisattva’s as external separate entities but more as qualities in which to actively cultivate within our own self, for the benefit of all beings. While the Bodhisattva’s are mentioned as actual human beings – and disciples of the Buddha – in the sutras, we are encouraged to see them as representing skill-sets and capabilities in which to hone and sharpen in our own life.

We read and reflect on one bodhisattva at a time for one full week and then answer three reflection questions each Sunday, which we email out to the group of participants.

These are the bodhisattvas in the order most commonly encountered in our tradition:

Avalokiteshvara: Bodhi. of Great Compassion
Manjushri: Bodhi. of Great Understanding
Samantabhadra: Bodhi. of Great Action
Kshitigarbha: Bodhi. of Great Aspiration
Sadaparibhuta: Bodhi. of Never Disparaging

This last week was week #3.

Here is the verse, my journal entries, and my answers to our group reflection questions for Samantabhadra:

_______

We invoke your name, Samantabhadra. We aspire to practice your vow to act with the eyes and heart of compassion, to bring joy to one person in the morning and to ease the pain of one person in the afternoon. We know that the happiness of others is our own happiness, and we aspire to practice joy on the path of service. We know that every word, every look, every action, and every smile can bring happiness to others. We know that if we practice wholeheartedly, we ourselves may become an inexhaustible source of peace and joy for our loved ones and for all species.

_______

3/20

This is the bodhisattva I resonate with personally the most. This is the bodhisattva of Great Action, and I often refer to myself humorously as a Woman of Action.

There are so many lovely lines in the verse – and I find the especially lovely because I’ve personally encountered and experienced them in my life. I am someone who puts great emphasis on practicing joy on the path of service. And in doing so, I’ve seen firsthand how true it is that the happiness of others is my own happiness; how every word/look/action/smile can bring happiness to others; and how when I practice wholeheartedly, I am able to becomes an inexhaustible source of peace and joy for others.

For me, cultivating joyful-based actions is my highest and most important aspiration on my path of practice. When I set my compass in this direction, I see clearly the ripple effects that occur as a result, everywhere I go.

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Jury Duty

missoula_county_courthouseMissoula Courthouse

I was summoned for jury duty in district court yesterday. I wasn’t looking forward to going, wondering if I might be able to get out of it by promptly shouting “Guilty!!” upon entering the courtroom, before anything was even underway yet, thereby calling into question my ability to be impartial, not to mention my sanity. Having no idea of what the day would have in store, but anticipating a lot of waiting around time, I packed light, bringing with me only a pen and small notebook. Over my four-hour stint in the newly renovated courtroom #3 I then proceeded, to my delight, to fill pages upon pages of it with my observations, factual information, musings and wandering of the mind.

A writer revels in new locations like a builder scouting for virgin land. With a pen and paper in tow, even mundane surroundings come alive – my attention held in the details, goings-on, faces and mannerisms around me.

What color is this carpeting? Warm burgundy? Dark salmon? Red brown brick meets sunset? Crimson? Wine? Crimson wine? Autumn leaf? What sort of creative but poorly understood name would it boast on a paint swatch? Jovial Friend Time? Lollipop Station? Squirrel Picnic? Luscious Horse Field?

I love the art and function of writing. To attempt the capturing of moments into unobstructed words. Being a writer supports my mindfulness practice, too. It affords me the ability to tune into certain things I might not otherwise take notice of. And, in the case of jury duty yesterday, having a love of writing allows me to turn an unwanted situation into an experience of captivation and interest.

Displayed at the head of the courtroom lies a mural of three lovely Romanesque ladies of justice, in pleasing earthen tones. The blue-skirted one on the left holds a dove, the middle pink-skirted one holds two rock-like round balls, one in each hand, and the arbor green-skirted one on the right is blindfolded, holding a scale. Above them, from left to right, reads: Freedom, Equality, Justice.

Pillars flank the courtroom topped in golden flourishes, pearl-globe chandeliers hang from the ceiling. A flag is nowhere in sight. Ornate crown molding surrounds the room. A grandfather clock hangs on the wall, keeping inaccurately slow time with its overtly bulky brass pendulum.

Connected wooden seats, with a place to put your cowboy hat underneath, fill with equally summoned citizens called to perform their civic duty – an inordinate amount of us, if you ask me: around 80! 80 relative strangers, who share our residence in Missoula county and a fondness for mountains, sitting elbow to elbow in a packed courtroom. They only need to select 12 of us, with one extra as an alternate, for the trial that will start after lunch, regarding 110 counts given to a woman alleged to have broken a restraining order by way of text messages (110 of them to be exact). A woman, I might add, who’s present in the room for this process of jury selection. Does she get a say in who is chosen? It seems odd that she would be involved in this.

They must be expecting the need to weed out a bunch of us with their procedure of questioning. Questions like: Does anyone have cataracts or glaucoma, rendering it difficult to see clearly? Does anyone have a family member who’s in law enforcement? Did anyone receive the jury summons and think of not showing up? Does anyone know anyone else here in the jury pool? Does anyone have an issue with text messaging (morally speaking or for other reasons)? Does everyone understand what ‘reasonable doubt’ means? Is there anything going on for you in your life that will hamper your ability to focus on the trial?

lady-justice

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Posted by on November 19, 2016 in Everyday Practice

 

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Celebrating Life

celebrate

Today I went to a Celebration of Life service for a woman who passed away a week ago from cancer.  I had never met her but knew her wife from sangha and retreating together.  Since I hadn’t known the woman who passed away I got the privilege and honor of learning about her via friends and family during the service today.  She was a vibrant person full of humor, adventure, talent, and community spirit who loved gardening, animals, traveling, music, singing, dancing, taking pictures, biking, and writing poetry.  It was a gift to hear about her through the love and memories of those who cared most for her.  I was inspired and uplifted by the life she led.

As the warm autumn light shone in through the church windows there was joy, laughter, and tears amid those who had come together to cherish, remember, and mourn this sweet woman.  How grateful I am to have participated in this celebration of life.  To be called to remember how precious life is – how important friends and family are – how important doing what we love is – how quickly things can change – and how much there is to celebrate!

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