A Heartfelt & Heartbreaking Paradox?
An imaginary verse on how a Bodhisattva might think:
The only reason my heart is broken
is because so many hearts are broken.
There is no time to indulge in being heartbroken,
when there are so many broken hearts to heal.
From the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra:
Manjusri: Householder, whence came this sickness of yours? How long will it continue? How does it stand? How can it be alleviated?
Vimalakirti: Manjusri, my sickness comes from ignorance and the thirst for existence and it will last as long as do the sicknesses of all living beings. Were all living beings to be free from sickness, I also would not be sick. Why? Manjusri, for the bodhisattva, the world consists only of living beings, and sickness is inherent in living in the world. Were all living beings free of sickness, the bodhisattva also would be free of sickness. For example, Manjusri, when the only son of a merchant is sick, both his parents become sick on account of the sickness of their son. And the parents will suffer as long as that only son does not recover from his sickness. Just so, Manjusri, the bodhisattva loves all living beings as if each were his only child. He becomes sick when they are sick and is cured when they are cured. You ask me, Manjusri, whence comes my sickness; the sicknesses of the bodhisattvas arise from great compassion.
Comments: The great lay Bodhisattva Vimalakirti was skilfully manifesting sickness and being ‘stuck in Samsara’ out of compassion, so as to draw visitors to hear him share the Dharma. In fact, the entire sutra is possible because the Buddha instructed his followers to visit him. Above, he was sharing on how all Bodhisattvas love all beings in spite of their spiritual sicknesses, of how they are willing to suffer selflessly to help them be cured. All the best Bodhisattvas are necessarily ancient Buddhas – those who have attained the perfect compassion and wisdom of full enlightenment, who nevertheless re-manifest as active Bodhisattvas still on the path of helping all other beings in need, thus continuing to live up to their Bodhisattva vows of leading all beings to liberation.
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