Friday, January 26, 2007

Books I've been reading

I recently finished reading a translation of the Sanskrit masterpiece Jatakamala, a chronicle of 37 lives of the Buddha Shakyamuni Siddhartha Gautama before the birth in which he attained the immutable state of complete enlightenment. The stories detail various difficulties that he encountered and the ways in which he avoided negative deeds and cultivated virtue continuously for many lifetimes before enlightenment.

Yesterday I completed Ajaya Kranti Shakya's text on the Shakya caste of the Newars, aptly titled, "The Shakyas." I found it informative, but his facility in English style is lacking, like most Nepali scholars.

I have also been reading Heart of Compassion a commentary translated from the Tibetan on Gyalse Thogme's classic 37 practices of a Bodhisatva, by the renowned master, the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. His quality of mind was remarkable, and his explanations on how to pick up various difficulties on the path is the best I have encountered for a long while. To quote an example:

"To meet someone who really hurts you is to meet a rare and precious treasure. Hold that person in high esteem, and make full use of the opportunity to eradicate your defects and make progress on the path. If you cannot yet feel love and compassion for those who treat you badly, it is a sign that your mind has not been fully transformed and that you need to keep working on it with increased application.
A true bodhisattva never hopes for a reward. He responds to the needs of others spontaneously, out of his natural compassion… But if someone who has done him harm later changes his behavior, is set on the path and achieves liberation, that is something that will make a bodhisattva rejoice wholeheartedly and be totally satisfied." (The Heart of Compassion,116)

The text is full of such advice to those who sincerely desire to purify their minds of all negative tendencies for the sake of everyone. It may be ironic to some, but this kind of self-sacrifice brings a deep and sincere happiness to the practitioner, a kind of selflessness that has been actually achieved in our world by great masters like Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and that we all have the absolute potential to emulate.

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