by: Mokuho Guy Mercier :
Shantideva was an eighth century Indian monk highly renowned in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism. Like Shakyamuni, he came from a royal family, but renounced his royalty to devote himself to meditation. He was ordained a monk at Nalanda, a monastic university, where he continued to study the sutras, and write his own texts, which surprised and inspired his fellow monks.
Shantideva said , the mind of awakening presents two aspects. On one side, the wish to awaken and on the other, engagement in awakening.
When we come and sit in the dojo, we reply to this mysterious inner intention towards the awakening of the mind and we participate in awakening, even without necessarily understanding it.
So, hold fast to this mind of awakening, for it is your own treasure. Continues Shantideva.
And what is our own treasure?
It is what the Buddha called ‘ the treasury of the eye of the True Law’ or Shobogenzo the title that Master Dogen gave to his work. It is to find this treasure that we come and practise in the dojo.
Sitting, with full consciousness of what Is, we fulfil the true purpose of our existence. The mystery reveals itself in Presence. We sit and we see impermanence, the appearance and disappearance of things, neither seizing nor rejecting. Letting oneself Be, without fighting the weight and resistance of discriminatory thoughts, conditioned opinions, hopes and fears. An unconditional acceptance of what appears in our own minds, which contemplates the Treasure of the Eye Genzo. Not doing anything, but alive, attentive and curious, free from the wish to become this or that.
For to feel sensations, to hear sounds, smell odours, see light and colours, to contemplate impermanence , we don’t have to make any effort. Simply to accept ‘what comes to us’ and keep our eyes open. It is just a question of trusting ourselves, and letting ourselves Be in the present moment, which cannot be grasped, and to see ourselves in our own light. The Treasure is always there already and the mind of awakening reveals it to itself.
Shantideva continues : “At the very moment when the mind of awakening arises in us, the most miserable prisoners of Samsara deserve the name of Bodhisattva ”
We do not become a bodhisattva in forcing our will to run towards an imaginary future. It isn’t a name that rewards efforts, nor a new status to distinguish us from others!
The mind of awakening is our own Treasure of the .eye , and when in the living Presence, it lights up in us, we find the bodhisattva which we have always been , someone fundamentally good and loving. One with all things and all beings. There is no more separation, no more subject nor object, simply total engagement in awakening, which happens on its own (genjo koan) This is the secret of zazen, accepting letting oneself Be, simply that. This is how the Bodhisattva reveals itself.
“Do not abandon the mind of awakening”, Shantideva recommends, “and you will cross the thousand pains of existence, you will calm the sufferings of beings and you will taste thousands and thousands of joys. I have something to offer to beings. I renounce myself and give myself completely to Buddha, with no reservation. ”
Shantideva (685-763) was an Indian monk of the middle Way (madhyamika) of the main schools of Mahayana buddhism.
Samsara is the world of perpetual wandering, the world of illusion, of the conditioned self.