Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva

Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva: Verse 13

Even if you have done nothing wrong at all

And someone still tries to take your head off,

Spurred by compassion

Take all of his or her venom into you — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.

This has probably happened to you at least a few times. It’s infuriating. It may have had serious results. You may have lost your job, your home, or even your partner.

You may have found yourself steaming for weeks, or months, or even years over such an injustice.

It happens to kids all the time. You may have had an over-tried mother or an overly-tyrannical father blame you for something your sister or brother did. And guess who got punished, even when the truth came out? You did.

You may have gone to bed crying, and muttering “It’s not fair.” And it isn’t.

We seem to have a wired-in capacity to detect cheaters. We hate unfairness.

Something about it really gets you, you can’t stand it. You’re angry, you’re hurt. You really want revenge.

The teachings of the Buddha, tell us “life may not be fair,” and of course, you didn’t deserve to get blamed for something you didn’t do. But you’ve learned: “When someone harms you, think compassion.” How can you feel compassionate towards someone who ruined your life?

Taking and giving. Exchange the suffering of others for your happiness. That’s the solution. Take in all the misery in the world, and send out love and compassion.

Think about the suffering of the villain. Think about the pain of the cheater. What terrible misery drives someone to break every rule and treat others with cruelty. Take in his suffering and make it yours. Exchange it for compassion. Do it over and over.

Then you think of Ukraine, you think about the people, and the cities being destroyed by Putin’s army. You take in their suffering and exchange it for happiness you send out to them.

The Ukrainian people did nothing. Yet their children are killed, or kidnapped and sent to Russia, never to be returned. Homes are gone, children lost, there’s no more food or water.

Perhaps if we sit together, maybe then we can imagine Putin’s suffering and take it in, exchanging it for our happiness.

But will that save anyone in Ukraine? How can we be happy?

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