Meditation and Poetics – (Bodhisattva Vows – 3)

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, here depicted with thousand arms and eleven heads

AG: The next (Bodhisattva vow) is “Dharma gates are endless”. The gates of dharmas are endless, “I vow to enter every gate”, I vow to enter all. By “dharma gate”, that means situations are infinite. There are an infinite number of situations – this classroom, the question you asked me, each is a dharma or a “thing”  (dharma means really a “thing”, not just the law, the whole Buddha dharma or the dharma, the law of nature but dharma, in a technical sense, means just a thing – like this microphone is a dharma, my voice is a dharma, my notes are a dharma (or dharmas) – this book is a thing – “thingies” – “thingies are numberless, I vow to enter every one” (“thingie” is the local terminology around here for dharma, actually, that’s the way (Chogyam) Trungpa uses the word “thingie” – dharmas. It also means law of nature, or nature of things. So it also means that situations are endless, or every single psychological situation, every single mental situation, is a gate to enter to explore and turn to enlightened advantage.”Dharma gates are endless, I vow to enter every one”. In other words, if the mad man comes up to you, then you have to deal with him, rather than run away. He’s a dharma gate. So there is some element of an attempt to enlighten the madman or dis-illusion the madman

And as a corollary to that there is a bodhisattva understanding that you never cut off contact with anybody by saying, “I’ll never talk to him again, he’s a shit.” That common human reaction of “I’ll never (want to see him again)” is forbidden henceforth, because you’re plunged into the thick of life, (where everything is) all inter-related, all sentient beings are of your own  nature related, and so, actually, that.. that cut-off point no longer applies. You’re actually doomed to go on forever talking with madmen, throughout the endless length of the universe, until you yourself wake up, or they all wake up, or simultaneously there’s a wakening. In other words, you can’t get away from it anymore, you can’t get away from suffering anymore. Suffering then becomes a dharma gate. Suffering then becomes a gate into which you enter to understand something new. So every situation, every pain, every broken leg is a lesson (or, that’s how it can be interpreted) – “Dharma gates are endless, I vow to enter every one” .

[Audio for the above may be heard here, starting at approximately twenty-nine-and-a-quarter minutes in and continuing to approximately thirty-one-and-three-quarter minutes in] 

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